Bitty Bag, Gift Bag Tutorial

I thought I'd give you a little last minute cloth gift bag tutorial using my Bitty bag from the kiddie cornhole game we made. A last minute tutorial, just in time for a last minute gift. It really does go together pretty quick so you should be able to whip up a few before the gift giving begins.

To start with you'll need,
  • Some scraps of Christmas or other fabric.
  • Something round to trace, (like the lid of your powdered sugar container maybe, sugary bits removed of course, sticky fabric is no fun.)
  • 5/8" wide, or other size, slippery ribbon in a coordinating color.
  • Water soluble marker or pencil (or a regular pencil if yours is lost in a box full of broken crayons, un-sharpened colored pencils and cap-less markers because the kids keep snagging it.)
  • Fabric scissors.
  • Some rockin Christmas tunes. (I just love all the scruffy beards in cute elf costumes and Santa hats.)
First, trace and cut the circle out of your main fabric choice. Mine is about 5" across. This will be the bottom of the bag. Then, using the same fabric as the circle cut two rectangles wide enough to go around the circle about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 times and about 6" tall, mine are 24" x 6".

Next, cut and sew together random squares and rectangles from the scrap pile until you have enough to reach across the large rectangle, 24" in our example. This bag has no lining so all those raw edges will just be hanging out in there. You may want to serge or zigzag over them so they look neat. Trim the strip to about 2" tall and attach it to the rectangle to create the cute band at the top of the bag.

Sew the short ends together to make a tube. Then add a gathering stitch across the bottom, the end without the cute band. Use the longest stitch on your machine and don't back stitch.

Leave long threads and pull them to create a slight gather and make it fit around the circle. Pin and sew.

Next, you take the remaining rectangle from the first step and sew the short ends of it together. Mark and then sew two button holes 1 1/4", or about a quarter of the way in from the raw edge, on either side of the band. This is for the ribbon handles/ties so make sure they are wide enough to fit your ribbon through.

Fold the top piece in half and iron. Pin and sew, right sides together, the top of the bag to the cute band on the bottom part of the bag, lining up the seams. (buttonholes should be on the outside of the bag when done.)

Now you need to make the casing for the ribbon, Just topstitch around the bag the width of the buttonholes. Thread the ribbon through the bag twice so that when the ribbons are pulled on either side it will cinch up the bag (this is where the slippery kind of ribbon is useful).

Fill with surprises for good little boys and girls, put it under the tree and your done!

They look a little like Santa's packs I think. Wouldn't it be cute to make some with red velvet and some white faux fir trim?

The measurements in this tutorial are for the large bag. For the medium I used a 4" circle and 19"x 5" rectangles and for the small a 3" circle with 15"x 4" rectangles, although I'd go another half inch or so smaller on the height for the smallest. Please let me know if anything is unclear or if you have any questions.

Happy Sewing!

It's in the Mail

No really it is, but it wasn't easy.

Isn't it funny how the second time you try to make something that went smoothly and without a hitch the first time, it can be so full of little issues that just drive you bonkers the second time.

Well that's what happened with this sweet little purse here, but finally it turned out just right (I hope). And I jotted down lots of very discriptive notes for myself so that next time it should go a little smoother. You should have these in time for Christmas Aunt M. Thank you so much.

And for anyone else who might be reading, here's a sneak peak at a new project I'm working on.

Ooh, lots of really great bits of fabric, yummy browns and beautiful blues, very exciting. Before I show you more of that though, I hope to have a little reusable gift wrapping tutorial for you here, stay tuned!

Snowboarding Season is Here!

A little bit of this . . .

Has us feelin' like this. . .

About a whole lot of this. . .

The last two pictures are from last year. We took the kids snowboarding for the first time and the pic of my son in the middle there, pretty much sums up the whole trip. And the third picture, I just don't think it's possible to stand on a snowboard, no matter what your skill level, without looking totally cool, don't they look like old pros.

We went to the same place my husband and I, along with the rest of my family, spent our winter weekends when we were dating and it had been years since we'd been back. It brought back so many memories of falling in love with him, hanging out with friends, playing board games with my family by the fire late into the night, driving the 3 to 4 hour trip together, through every kind of crazy Michigan weather imaginable (think star trek, warp speed). It was great getting out on the slopes again and, although most of the boarding we do throughout the season nowadays, is on sledding hills around the neighborhood (5, soon to be 6, lift tickets gets pricey), we will be going back at least once a year from now on. This is a family tradition I'm so glad my parents started. Thank you Mom and Dad and thanks for the trip last year!

Yikes I had better start working out, snowboarding is a lot more exhausting than I'd remembered. And. . . uh. . . Unkie Tom, Aunt Rie, I'm begging you to help out with the kids on the slopes like last year, I don't think our calf muscles can make it without you. We can't wait!

My Boy Loves to Sew!

He really does! Hand sewing, machine sewing, all of it. He's already started planning his sister's Christmas gifts and they include lots of . . . You guessed it SEWING!

I realize lots of dudes sew, in fact my husbands grandpa was apparently quite a quilter so, it's in his blood I guess. But my boy is a wound up, always busy, all boy, boy. This kid was sliding into bases before he could talk, making his own weapons and fighting off bad guys and dragons since he was a toddler. He pretends to be every type of growling animal he can think of, while attacking his sisters, on a daily basis, and can not be pulled off of his bike, skate board, snowboard or other fast moving contraption for anything, once he's on it.

He's got 3 sisters, so I'm happy to let him be all boy as much as he wants, but I'm so glad this little guy thinks it's cool to sew too.

And now for the Christmas projects!

Craft Gift Exchange

Every year we do a craft gift exchange with my in-laws. It started years ago as a Christmas gift exchange that my nieces and nephews would be able to participate in. It was moved to Thanksgiving after it was almost voted into extinction because of the added stress it brought to the holiday season. It still adds a bit of stress, but it gives us the opportunity to try out new crafts we've been wanting to do, but haven't found the time for. Like freezer paper stencils.

My husband suggested the kids make t-shirts for their projects, but the thought of dozens of hard to manipulate, little squirt bottles full of puffy paint, sure to be found by the 2 year old, wasn't sounding like all that much fun to me. I remembered seeing freezer paper stencils on a few different crafty blogs and thought it was the perfect time to try it out.

Just a tip, don't try to go over not so thoroughly covered areas with an already washed and still wet spongy brush, mommy messed up robot and made him all fuzzy, better to just let the kids do it by themselves.

A quick trip to the craft store for supplies and then back home to draw pictures. I loved the ideas the kids came up with, a couple of snowmen, a monster, a robot and even some scribblings from the baby who said she was drawing a robot too.

I did all of the cutting with an x-acto knife, this was a bit more difficult than I had remembered it being, but I got it done in an afternoon.

We painted after baby girl fell asleep for her afternoon nap. One of the girls opted for fabric markers so she could get creative with colors without having to spend tons of money on different paints, the results were not as vibrant, but still very cute.

It was far more simple and far less messy than it looks. We rolled and packed the t-shirts in these cute homemade boxes. We just used some scrapbooking card stock made a few cuts, folded the ends and attached with some glue. Very cute and fun! We may be making more of these for Christmas.

Scrappy Scarf 2

Wow! What a busy and fun holiday, but at least I finished the scarf!

Notice he found a great use for the pocket already? I don't think he minded one bit that the pieces came from old pants. I'll try to get a tutorial here soon, I think these would make some great holiday gifts. No time for this right now, maybe after the holidays, they'd make great wintery or early spring birthday gifts too, don't you think?

Scrappy Scarves

My brother, the one who gave me the trunk, has been asking me for years, literally, to make him a scarf. I think he has given up on me ever making him one because, the last few requests have been for just a piece of fleece to match his coat. Well, this year for his birthday I decided it was high time he had that scarf, and it would not be just a chopped up piece of fleece, no, he has been waiting years for this scarf so it had to be a little more special.

Old Pants! Yup, way more special than chopped up fleece right? (well not those exact pants, but aren't those little feet too cute?) By now I think you know how much I love to re-purpose, recycle and reuse, who doesn't these days really. I had been saving a pair of pants that didn't make it through more than two washes before falling apart at the pocket (I'm so bad at returning things or making complaints when I really need to.) and a pair of soft corduroy pants that no longer fit, but I just couldn't part with.

When I put the two together I couldn't resist the texture and pattern combination, It was perfect! I started cutting and sewing and before I knew it I had a really cool, really long scarf for my oh so patient brother.

I had the front complete before his birthday party, mid October, and was confident I could attach that fleece he'd asked for, to the back and have it to him the next day for his actual birthday. When I got to the project the next day I realized the amount of black fleece I had left was far to short to work, darn those tall people and their long scarves.

So I whipped up a shorter, matching, scarf with the scraps, used the fleece I had on hand and gave that to my somewhat shorter brother-in-law for his birthday. It's hard to tell from the photo, but for this one, I used the angled cuts left behind from the pant's seams and the cuts I made for my brother's scarf so this one has a much more patchworky feel I thought I wouldn't like as much as the clean straight lines of my brothers, but it actually turned out pretty neat.

My poor brother has waited another month now for that scarf of his and last night I finally got the fleece to finish it, my goal is to have his birthday gift to him before my birthday this week. Can I pull it off, all while entertaining 4 young-uns, finishing craft gifts for the Thanksgiving gift exchange at my in-laws and cleaning the house for the potential holiday company that could overflow from my mom's to our house? I love a challenge.

A Playmat!

So, I've mentioned the crafting that ensues whenever a certain niece comes to visit, right? Well, it just so happens that this particular niece and my eldest are in the same class in school this year. And, one of the teachers just happens to be pregnant.

And, the class was throwing a surprise shower for her. And so, of course, the last time this craft loving niece came for a visit I was smothered with tiny bits of fabric and puppy dog eyes as the two girls begged for me to help them make a baby blanket for this wonderful teacher and her sweet new babe. How could I refuse.

We soon decided that the blanket should actually be a playmat since some of the other moms were working together to knit a blanket and everyone agreed this would be much more fun. Their teacher was keeping the sex of the baby a surprise (so fun!) so the girls decided they wanted to go for bright, cheerful and playful patterns for the fabric.

Cute jungle animals in bold colors with a matching polka-dot stripe (my favorite). The toughest decision was the satin edge trim, brown, black, red, blue oh what to choose.

Once home the girls got right to work. They chose the layout, trying many different combinations, taking photos then looking at each of them on the computer (OK so I made them take the photos and look at each before making the final decision, which was to go with their original layout design, they knew what they wanted the second they had seen it, why couldn't I just leave it at that?).

They had fun pinning and sewing the top of the mat, I love the way my nieces lip twists up in this photo as she sews, too cute, so serious. Then I took over adding straps to the corners for toys to be secured, like the girls wanted, attaching the fleece back, stitch in the ditch style and finishing it off with the red satin trim.

I added a tie and tucked it under the trim before attaching it so that the playmat can be rolled up, tied and taken to whatever play date adventure this little one may be off to.

Their teacher, of course, loved it. I included some photos of the girls working on it in the card. She cried a little, but I don't think we can take credit for that since she was tearing up the entire day. She was so surprised by the whole shower and all of the truly wonderful things she received including a scrap book of quotes from each of the kids on how to care for a baby and a beautiful wall hanging painted by them.

It really was a fun day, but the best was when a classmate, a little boy said, " They made that?! Wow their talented!" The girls were beaming and the teacher felt very special and loved. It was perfect. I love how a handmade, homemade gift makes the giver and the receiver feel so special.

New Life for a Well Used Trunk

A few years ago one of my brothers got me a really cool wicker trunk for my birthday. I loved it! And considering all the rugrats running around this place all the time, it held up pretty well.

At least when you consider the fact that it's been used as a blanket box, a toy box, a boat, a car, a house, a spaceship and anything else a wee one can imagine sitting inside of.

Not to mention the fact that it just happens to be the perfect height for a little seat or a stool for peeking out the window to watch the big kids playing.

Obviously it was in desperate need of a little attention. So I ripped off the wicker, asked my husband to brave the bitter cold and retrieve the staple gun from his work truck, thanks babe, and got to work.

I filled the spaces with some green foam I had lying around, I knew I saved that stuff for a reason, it really needs a solid piece of wood or something, but I didn't have any of that lying around. Hopefully no one needs to peek out the windows any time soon.

The fabric is a really cool shimmery sage stripe, it's from my Aunt who's an interior designer and always has leftovers for me.

I did most of the work while the kids were in bed, but I did have one little helper today when I reattached the lid.

He is now guarding the box that he worked so hard on from his baby sister's behind, because, well, it's still the perfect height for a little seat and now it even has a cushy top.

It looks pretty good I think. I may touch up the wicker on the bottom, but maybe not.