Green Grocery Bag Challenge

Did you see Sew,Mama,Sew’s latest promotion called the Green Grocery Bag Challenge? They started a project to encourage people to wrap their holiday gifts in reusable cloth bags.

I’m so happy to see my Simple Tote Tutorial was included in the campaign.

Stop by the The Green Grocery Bag Challenge Facebook page where Sew,Mama, Sew is continuing to offer wrapping ideas, sewing patterns and tips for reducing waste this holiday season. You can also join the GGBC Flickr group to share photos of your own bags and gifts wrapped in reusable bags.

On a related note, I wanted to mention that my reusable bags received some great feedback at my craft show last weekend. I ended up selling about five, and used one for a drawing to giveaway. So give your gifts this year in some adorable handmade bags or clever reusable wrapping!

A Preview

I haven’t had time to sit at my sewing machine for two weeks, yet I have been holding back on you! I finally finished adding some new one-of-a-kind bags to my shop, so now they can all be found in the New Products section.

Some are meant to be functional and practical, like these Artist Totes below. (my sister has already claimed the one with the blue lining)

Others are fun because they are impractical, like these patchwork party clutches below! (Update: I sold the one in the middle at my craft show, but I can always make another if someone has a custom request.)

Some of these new patchwork handbags could be carried for daytime running around (pink and grey version listed here and maroon and grey version listed here) or

They could complement a trendier look for a girls’ night out. (Update: I sold the middle wristlet below at my craft show, but I plan to make another since I really love that city scape print.)

I have been wanting to try a new messenger bag/laptop bag with a flap in a more modern romance look. Check out the link to that laptop bag – it has the coolest newsprint fabric inside the flap! (Note: I also made myself a funky new handbag, shown below, out of plaid suiting with lace, sequin and stud accents.)

I am happy to offer all of these styles as custom designs, in addition to what I patch and piece together based on my own inspirations. I provided more details in the descriptions in my shop, if you’re interested in more specifics.

Sorry for the bag overload today! I’m super excited about all these one-of-a-kind designs. I’m hoping to develop most of these patterns into a collection, so this is a preview of a regular series of goodies to come. Thanks for hanging out with me today!

New Shopping Totes

I am excited to show you a couple new products I just added to my shop. I hope you don’t mind.

I made these stylish shopping totes, which are a little more girly and a little less patchwork-y that my other products. You may notice more of my non-quilt sewing projects are headed in that direction this year.

I made them using fabrics from Sandi Henderson’s Farmers Market collection. I always thought that line was so whimsical and charmy and cheerful!

They have flat bottoms, making them sturdy enough to carry heavier items, like books or a laptop or produce from the grocery store.

They measure 13 inches wide by 14 inches tall, and they are lined with heavy fusible interfacing to make them more sturdy.

They have an inside pocket big enough to hold coupons or recipe cards for shopping or a charger cord if you’re carrying your laptop.

I made another shopping tote to add to the mix, with fabrics from Tanya Whelan’s Ava Rose collection. What a wonderfully girly collection that was! This shopping tote isn’t lined with any interfacing, so it can be folded up and tucked into your purse for spontaneous shopping.

The outside is a rose fabric with polka dots on the bottom. But wait, turn it inside out, and you get a polka dot bag with a rosey bottom.

It measures the same size as the totes above  – big enough to fit a magazine or some goodies you pick up at the craft supply store.

I only made one in each color, so get ’em while they’re hot! Tell all your friends, especially the non-sewing ones.

Stay tuned for a couple more new products coming…

I Got Stuck

I made a lot of progress on my table runners last weekend, pieced, pinned and ready to be machine quilted.  But then I got stuck.  If you have a pet, you can appreciate my dilemma.

Callie on my tablerunners

So I decided to make something else – how about a quick book bag!

Garden Party Book Bag

I made this book bag in less than an hour, no, really, less than an hour.  I based this on Randi’s tutorial but made mine a little bigger to fit a magazine or two.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love magazines? I LOVE magazines.  So this size works good to carry my magazine(s) to the cafe.

Book bag - inside

I also added a crochet flower from my stockpile for pop and accent.

crochet flower

Making this bag gave me the idea to make another one sized to fit my laptop, but equally as pretty.  I was encouraged when I read beki’s creative process for tweaking her bags.  I’m going to work on that next weekend, maybe after Callie gets off my table runners so I can finish them!

Artist’s Tote

I have never had the opportunity to visit an Anthropologie store.  I think there might be a new one in the Madison area but I’m not sure where.  I am purposefully avoiding finding it because I have a feeling I could spend too much money there.

I received a catalog this week, and just browsed through it.  When I got to this page, I was so drawn to these Artist Totes.

Front of Artist Tote

I put the catalog away for a day, but kept thinking about those unique totes.  I am one of those people who usually carries two bags – one is a purse and the other is a tote bag because my purse isn’t big enough for other stuff like my journal or sketchbook.  I don’t really like carrying two bags, but I’m not very good at purse shopping and never buy a big enough one.

Back of Artist Tote

I came home to find a package on my doorstep – my new tote! At first I was a little surprised at how big this tote is, but after carrying it around the house, I am beginning to love how big it is, big enough to carry my purse, notebook, camera, snack, even my laptop. I also love that it has two leather handles but also a shoulder strap.

Now I need to remember to recycle any future Anthropologie catalogs to eliminate further temptation.

My Weather Wish

The weather in Wisconsin often dictates our weekend plans. This weekend we were hoping to go hiking again and to our favorite pub for lunch. But it was overcast and rainy for two days. Know what that meant? I worked non-stop on sewing projects! Here’s my to-do list:

Finish sewing the binding on this crayon roll in Farmers Market fabrics from the October 2008 issue of the American Patchwork & Quilting Magazine:

Done.  I think this turned out so cute! Makes me want to go color.

Finish sewing this chocolate lollipop tote using a pattern by Film in Fridge:

Done. Great tutorial, by the way. This one is a little bigger than the other totes I’ve made, but I think I can fill it quite easily. (wink wink)

This project was not on my list, but the fabric was cut and ready to be sewed together, so I also finished making two more pillowcases. I love how these turned out! This project makes me want to lounge in bed longer!

Because I’m only 5’5″, I always have to shorten new pants, so I have these two pairs that need to be shortened before I can wear them for work, which I really hate doing, which is why this one cannot be checked off my list yet (darn it):

Sometimes I secretly wish the weekend will be rainy like this so I can spend it in my sewing room. Got my wish this time!

My New Lunch Bag

I finished making an adorable new lunch bag, which is based on the Simple Tote pattern from the Bend-the-Rules-Sewing book, using the Chocolate Lollipop fabrics designed by Anna Maria Horner.

I have made several other projects from this book, and now this lunch bag completes the set. This was another classic case of having this fabric sit on my sewing table for awhile, not wanting to cut into it because it’s so pretty to look at.

One of my favorite parts about this lunch bag is the lining, which is iron-on vinyl, ironed over the lining fabric.

Yes, iron-on vinyl! Isn’t that cool?! It was much easier to use than I anticipated. I was afraid of melting the vinyl and ruining my iron (which isn’t that great anyway so it would have been a good way to get a new one!). The directions that came with the vinyl were very clear and easy. I bought a yard of this vinyl from JoAnns, not knowing how much I would need, or how much I would like it.

The verdict is I like the vinyl very much and would definitely make more projects with it. I also love this pattern, with the clever idea of making one handle very short to wrap over the longer one, keeping the bag closed.

Thanks for these cool ideas, all you designers and inventors out there! I just wish someone at work would ask me about this awesome bag (so I could show it off in person a little more).

Etsy Shopping

I was etsy shopping late one night, and found more cool handmade things (of course):

I ordered a Patchwork Pillow from The Little Room etsy shop because I loved these colors, which reminded me of the ocean. I love making these pillow covers, so I like to order similar things from other creative people to see how they approach their sewing projects.

I love how Liz packaged it – wrapped in a tissue paper sewing pattern. Clever girl!

I ordered an iHug from the Punchanella etsy shop because it was too cute to pass up, and because I love the Ginger Blossom fabrics. It has an elastic strap to wrap around your iPod while it’s in this pretty case.

I ordered a stash of Ginger Blossom fabrics from the Fresh-Squeezed Fabrics etsy shop because Sandi Henderson’s new Farmers Market fabrics be available soon. I didn’t want to miss out on this collection before it’s gone.

By the way, does anyone know when Sandi’s new Farmers Market fabric collection will be available? I was hoping to use some of it for a swap I am participating in, but I’m afraid I’m running out of time and will have to buy something else (something else equally good, of course).

I found another great etsy shop, which has cool lunch bags and market totes, although I haven’t ordered anything yet. I’m trying to keep my etsy spending in check! And my sister is wondering why a person needs so many bags. Come on – are you kidding?!

Recent Etsy Finds and More

I ordered these great handmade goodies from a recent shopping spree. I just had to share them with you.

First I got this unique and adorable crayon caddy from C Berry Baby’s shop.

crayon caddy - rolled up

She made it from Sandi Henderson’s Ginger blossom fabrics, which are so colorful and girly. It has a pretty ribbon closure, and even came filled with crayons!

crayon caddy - unrolled

I also ordered this great market eco-tote from Jenny Hofer Designs, which she made in Amy Butler’s Lotus fabrics.

market eco-tote

Then came these awesome scrap bags, not from, but from j.caroline creative. They are called short-end remnants, so each piece is about a four-inch square.

fabric scraps

I love to get scrap bags because I don’t have to invest as much money or buy a quantity of fabric; instead, it feels like trying it out. These scrap bags came with a great variety, even several Amy Butler fabrics (which I’m carrying around in my purse, due to my fabric addiction).

That sums up my shopping fix for another month. Check out these shops at yourself; you won’t be disappointed!