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I picked up this pretty bird fabric either last year or earlier this year, and I started making a tote. Other than the cute birds and the super low price, I don’t know why I picked up the fabric because it feels plastic-y — not soft and not meant for clothes refashions. The rough plastic feel reminded me of reusable bags that probably shouldn’t be thrown in the washing machine but really should be cleaned somehow on a regular basis (there’s a story behind the last part of the sentence).


Anyway, I decided I could make a reusable bag for our stash of drinking recyclables, i.e. cans, bottles, etc. To encourage recycling, the state enforced a five-cent deposit on carbonated beverages and alcohol bottles and cans during time of purchase. The empty bottles and cans are returned to any store that sells pop and alcohol. Although the project was super easy, I abandoned it for months and stashed it away in one of my many, many project bins.


Other craft projects and two part-time jobs have distracted me from my sewing machine for a few months, but it’s nice to hear the familiar hum again. During a boring weekend, I spotted the abandoned tote bag and decided to complete it. For the first tote, I used an old pair of Charlie’s pants for the liner. I sewed the most basic tote — hemmed the two shorter raw edges (top of the tote) for a clean finish and stitched the two sides together.


For a more fancy tote, I could have made a sturdy bottom by folding and sewing the bottom edges, but again, I don’t need a fancy bag. My totes just need to be pretty and functional. Anyway, somewhere in my project bins, I have some red woven ribbon perfect for the tote straps, but for some reason, I can’t find it. Boo. Instead I used black woven ribbon (the correct term is escaping me) for the straps. Eventually, I’ll probably hot glue gun some embellishments to hide the raw edges of the straps.


For the second tote, I took the remaining fabric and decided against a liner — too much work for this lazy girl. After a quick hem for the top part of the tote, I turned the long remnants of the fabric into straps and simply sewed handles to each side. Easy peasy. I’m in the process of organizing my crafty and sewing stuff (just ordered a new cubby storage unit) and when I find my jackpot of embellishments, I’ll tack some on to hide the snipped edges of the straps. But for now, I’m pretty happy with the results.



jute bags

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I’m back at the apple orchard this season! Although I hate sweating the moment I take a step outside in the August heat, little curious kids amuse me with their blank stares or silly questions or statement (“My dad lets me play video games.”). Near the end of the tour, the kids receive a small treat. Last year, tour guides handed cute little honey sticks, and this year, the kids will get a cute little canvas tote.


However, the canvas totes are blank and I brainstormed ideas on how to transfer the orchard’s logo easily and nicely. At first, I thought the freezer paper method would be the easiest, but I had issues figuring out which parts I needed to keep and which to iron. So, I tossed the freezer paper method out the window because it wasn’t quick and easy. What other methods do I have in my creative arsenal?


I totally forgot about my handy dandy little iron-on transfer pen! Brilliant! I reversed the logo on my computer, printed it out, used the transfer pen to trace the logo, and ironed the image onto the two canvas totes. Beautiful! The outlines are little faded, but that’s OK. Now, which paints should I use? Acrylic paints? Or fabric paints? I had two totes and two types of paints. Let the testing begin.


Despite only needing three colors, I didn’t like working with the acrylic paint on the canvas tote. I think the canvas sort of soaked up the paint, which meant I needed several layers. And unfortunately, my paintbrush sort of wandered outside the outline and the logo definitely isn’t perfect. I kind of doubt the kids will carefully inspect my artwork, and somehow a drop of red paint fell outside the outline. Oopsy.


The tote on the left was painted with fabric paint, and the tote on the right with acrylic paint. The fabric paint was much easier to work with (took so much less time), but I need to find a better paintbrush that won’t wander outside the outline and I think I can create a better stencil for the logo. With fabric paint and a good stencil, I’m confident I can whip out more cute apple totes in no time!


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Earlier this year, I refashioned a plain purple T-shirt by adding a super cute multi-color trim to the bottom. Well, I curved the bottom hem and then added the trim, and I really liked the refashion. But I felt the shirt was missing something — I couldn’t figure out what the shirt needed. To add matching trim to the sleeves or the neckline was too much, in my opinion. So, the shirt sat in my closet for months until I figured out the missing element.

Even months later, I still stand by not adding more fabric to the sleeves neckline because that would look too matchy matchy (if that makes any sense), but what about a decorative side tie on the higher portion of the hem? The tie wouldn’t be used to cinch or tighten anything because the shirt fits just fine. The side tie would be purely decorative. I totally visualized the idea in my mind and believed my purple shirt could be saved. Yay for brilliant ideas and second chances!


What I did:

  • snipped open about 6 inches on the higher hem side
  • created two narrow stripes with the same multi-color fabric (about 12 inches long)
  • sewed a strip to each side of the new opening
  • added a red button at the top of opening
  • added a small panel of fabric underneath the opening


Love! That’s the first word that popped in my mind when I looked at the finished work in the mirror. I just needed to fix one more tiny little issue — the open space between the ties. When I move around in the shirt, I don’t want to feel self conscious about the gap so I decided to cover the gap with a knit remnant from my sewing stash. Beautiful! Now, I can show off my refashioned shirt at work! Woot!


One night while wasting time on Pinterest, I stumbled upon a miracle craft tool — the iron-on transfer pen. Draw, iron, and peel. Three easy steps. Hmmmmmm. Have I finally found a simple way to screen print T-shirts? Sort of. I printed out a simple and cute cat outline (image reversed) onto normal copy paper; traced the outline with the special pen; ironed the image onto a white T-shirt; peeled the paper back; squealed with delight at the faint image on the T-shirt; and painted the outline with blue fabric paint.


Finding an image and printing it out was simple (I have a Pinterest board dedicated to screen printed shirts). At first I started to fill in the thick outline with the pen but realized I just needed the outline. I planned to paint the outline blue because I didn’t want to worry about the pen washing out. I’ll test the transfer pen’s durability on another T-shirt. Anyway, I traced the cat outline with the transfer pen and cut off the excess white paper. When ironing a transfer, the smaller the paper the better for me and small hands.


Before ruining a completely good shirt, I did a test run on scrap fabric and the pen worked perfectly! But now, do I need to trace the outline with the pen again? Not wanting to take a chance, I quickly ran the pen around the outline and accidentally skipped a few areas. Also, did I need to iron the image as soon as I was done tracing? How fast do I need to be? Answer: not that fast. Once my iron was heated, I quickly swept it over the T-shirt area, warming it up a bit. With the image face down on the T-shirt, I simply ironed all over the paper for about a minute and carefully peeled back the paper to reveal a faint outline.


Woot woot! So pretty! To a bit of brightness and permanence, I filled in the outline with blue fabric paint marker, taking less than hour. The result? A beautiful kitty! I love it! I want to wear this shirt every day for the rests of my life! How cute is this shirt? Super awesome! With the test run out of the way, I’m eager to try the pen again on something a little more complicated and test the staying power of the pen’s ink.



As a Pinterest junkie, I found this neat method to create a square patchwork quilt — or in my case, a quillow. The method — weave long strips of fabric in and out of other long strips of fabric. I bought a few yards of Christmas fabric at 80 cents a yard, knowing it would be the backing for the weave method. So, where in the world do I start? I read the tutorial and understood the method, but I didn’t want my strips to have raw edges. Hmmmmmmmm.


I initially cut strips of random fabric 4 inches wide, folded it in half with the right sides together, sewed a straight stitch to create a tube, and pulled the fabric through the tube. During the process, I realized the tubes were way too narrow and a ton of them would be needed for the project. This girl didn’t have time or patience to deal with a million small tubes. Nope. No way. I really didn’t want to start over, but I had not invested too much time into the first draft.


During the second draft, I cut the strips 6 inches wide, creating a wider tube. Yes, this will work much much better. With my leftover and remnant fabric stash, I created a ton of tubes and sewed the majority of the tubes across the top of the Christmas backing. I simply sewed one open end to the top raw edge of the backing — a better explanation. So far so good as the tubes dangled freely. I sewed the remaining tubes to the side of the backing — again, just one open end of the tube.


When I have more time, I will create more tubes to complete the side rows and fill out shorter tubes. My remnant stash doesn’t include a ton of long pieces so I had to sew small fabric pieces together to create a longer strip. During the first few days on the project, I didn’t want to waste all my free time creating and sewing tubes. I wanted to weave! Weave in. Weave out. I wanted to create some magic. The process is a little time consuming, but I love the end look — so far.


Weave in. Weave out. That’s the basic premise of the method. Using the long strips dangling from the side of the backing, I carefully weaved in and weaved out the side strips with the top strips. After making sure the squares were lined up, smoothed out, and tightly woven, I pinned everything in place and sewed the partial woven areas. Once the sewing portion was complete, I laid the project onto the floor in front of the TV and started weaving again.


I am nowhere close to being complete with the quillow, but after a few days, I had a good start. Because this is the first time I’m using the weave method I wanted to use the odds and ends of leftover fabric. If I feel ambitious to try the method again, I will probably find coordinating fabric. Half of me would like to try the method again using prettier material, but the other half of me says, “This is a ton of work. Just be happy you tried the method in the first place.”


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I love when quilt shops organize fabric bolts by color. So pretty. I cannot explain why I could just stand here and gaze at all the lovely colors. Yes, I know I’m weird. About a month ago, my sisters and I took a trip to Minnesota, and of course, we needed to shop. As Krissy and Becky headed to one store in a strip mall, I noticed a cute little quilt shop nearby and immediately decided to check it out.


Pine Needles Quilt and Sew may be a small store but it is full of amazing items. The different machines — quilting, sewing, embroidery — look incredibly intimidating to me, and I am in awe of the beautiful work that can be produced. So many ideas and so little space and time.


See! Just when I thought I had TOO much fabric stored in various places in my house, this adorable sign says I don’t have enough. Hmmmmm. If I don’t have enough fabric, then I need to buy more, right? I noticed numerous cute little sayings all over the store, but I think this one is my favorite.


Hey, the small strip of multi-colored dotted fabric on this tote looks familiar! I picked up the fun colorful fabric as a table runner at a local consignment store. Some of the fabric has been used in a few refashions, but I still have a good amount left — somewhere. I wonder if I have enough left to make a cute spring-summer skirt …


OK, how adorable are these bundle packs? So adorable and cute. First, I love the small size of the squares and pinking sheared edges. Two, I love the complementing fabric in the bundle. Three, I would LOVE to make a little blanket with the tiny squares but I know I don’t have the patience to deal with tiny little squares.


Um, how gorgeous is this little clutch? Simply beautiful. Whoever designed and made it did a fabulous job, and I’m pretty envious of the talent and patience involved. A huge thank you to the staff at Pine Needles Quilt and Sew for allowing me to take photos and answering all of my questions. I had a wonderful time exploring the store.

Online Sewing Class


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I have a pretty great sister. During a recent trip to my sister’s dairy farm, she and I worked on various sewing projects. She completed the top part of a quilt for one of her kids, and I sewed matching infinity scarves for her and daughter.


Anyway, Becky had a tote full of leftover fabric from various projects and offered them to me. She’s pretty great, isn’t she? I spent an afternoon digging through the tote, pulling out pretty fabric, and thinking the new stash of scraps would be perfect for a quillow or two.


Upon my return home, I eagerly completed two quillows. Although I had a few minor issues, the quillows turned out nicely and I still have a healthy stash of leftover fabrics for two or three more quillows. Thanks so much, Becky! And thanks for all the kitten photos.


Online Quilting Class



How beautiful is this fabric? I love it.

Over a recent weekend, I received an amazing opportunity to rummage through a huge fabric stash and sewing supplies that once belonged to Charlie’s grandmother (and great-grandmother, I think). My collection of thread, elastic, lace, and bias tape are well stocked now. The most difficult part was looking through all the fabrics because I wanted to keep almost all the fabric!


Two squares (a little over 12X12 inches).

So much beautiful and vintage fabrics, but so little time and too many project ideas. Some of the thoughts that ran through my head, “I could make a vintage-looking quillow.” “I could start a quilt using random pieces of fabric.” “How many skirts do I need?” “How skirts do Tova and Shelby need?” “My sewing machine is going to busy!”


Napkin sewn together (right sides together) and extra fabric cut.

But my willpower was strong, and I tucked away fabrics that caught my eye and made the wheels in my mind spin. However, I couldn’t keep my eyes off one piece of material. The quilt-like fabric was just too pretty and interesting to give up, but at the time, I had no idea what I could do with it. As much as I love the pattern, I couldn’t see myself wearing it as a skirt — a cute little tank top, maybe. Maybe. Maybe not.


Pulling the fabric through the little gap. Almost done!

During the drive home, cloth or fabric napkins leaped into my mind. PERFECT! I know my sister and her family use cloth napkins, and I like the idea of using resusable napkins. The process was very easy and simple thanks to the square pattern on the fabric. I cut out 12X12-inch squares (about 12.5 inches to allow for the seams) and sewed two pieces together with the right sides facing each other.


Sewing a cute little border to keep the napkin together.

I left about a 2-inch gap on one side and snipped off the extra material. After pulling the fabric through the gap and poking out the corners, I sewed the gap closed with a simple stitch and proceeded to sew a fancy border around the napkin. Piece of cake! I took the time to experiment with some of the fancy stitches, and the six napkins all have different stitches.


Beautiful except I could probably iron them a little.

If the season finale of American Ninja Warrior didn’t distract me, I probably could have completed the project in a few hours. But when a bunch of shirtless guys run around on my TV I have a tendency to pay attention. A little over three hours to complete the project isn’t too bad. Anyway, I absolutely love the six cute cloth napkins that I can add to our towel drawer and cannot wait to use! Yay!



OK, remember the upholstery project I completed for my dad a few months ago? The last piece of the project was creating curtains for the game room in the basement. *sigh* I like that curtains is an easy task, but all I’m doing is hemming. Boooooo! I’m not a big fan of hemming. Blech.


With leftover fabric from the upholstery project, I cut the fabric into three pieces because my dad wanted three panels. I pretty much parked my tush in front of the TV with the fabric and my box of clips and carefully folded and pinned the fabric. An easy but so evil necessity, and the TV helps a bit.

My Riley cat helps me — or hinders — with hemming the curtains. I can’t move this beautiful fluffball — he looks so comfortable and happy. I would just be the biggest meanie if I moved him.


Pretty! As long as my dad is happy with the way the curtains turned out then I’m happy too! I think the length could be an inch longer, but it’s a small issue I can ignore. Fingers crossed I don’t need to make more curtains anytime soon.  😉



New photo albums and plenty of pictures have been sitting in two or three totes for years. A couple of years ago, I decided to organize my parents’ photo albums because the pictures were scattered in different places and the photo albums were falling apart. At the time, I covered new photo albums with some cute fabric and organized a good amount of pictures.


While dog sitting for my dad and my sister a few days ago, I wanted to make a dent in the photo book project. With a huge table in the living room and my dad’s collection of NCIS DVDs, I spent a week organizing pictures, covering more albums with cute fabric, and looking at a ton of old photos. While working on my parents’ photo project, I decided to work on a few of my own albums.


How pretty are these new fabric covered photo albums? So pretty. I was so happy the fabric store started a huge clearance sale when I browsed for super cute fabric. Good photo albums are hard to find these days, and once I find my certain style of a photo album, I grab it. I’ve been covering ugly photo albums for years, and I don’t mind taking extra time to make an album pretty.


My collection of photo albums through 2011 or 2012 because starting with 2013 I switched to digital photo books. Thanks to the two sites I use — Shutterfly and Walgreens Photo — I receive some really good discounts (75% off or free) and never pay full price for a photo book. I use two sites because each site has features I love (i.e. random picture button and great selection of themes).


I just fell in love with the fabric on the center photo album and bought a yard, which is more than enough for two albums. After spending a week with three dogs, I made a huge dent in the photo album project and added more pretty albums to my dad’s collections. I also like emptying out one project tote and feel ready to tackle the other two totes (I think). I’m not finished with the project, but I like the huge dent I made.