Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Purse And Camera Bag….All In One

IMG_3882My large camera takes such good photos but carrying such a large camera bag everywhere is sometimes not always convenient.  When I want to carry my camera the large bag with all my gear can get a little heavy as well.  I decided to make a bag that could be used as a purse and a smaller camera bag when needed, especially when I am carrying it for several hours at a time.IMG_0125I started out with this basic messenger bag pattern that I have made and altered before into two other purses.  I changed the flap design on the first bag I made from this pattern (the one on the right.)  The second one I made smaller and also altered the flap, changed the strap and changed some of the pockets (the black and lime green one.)comboI did another remodel of the basic messenger bag pattern for this bag.  The new bag is again smaller than the original design and I designed a different flap.  It is not as wide across the width and the sides taper some plus I changed the strap construction on this one.  I kept checking it to make sure my camera was easy to access and fit the bag as I made the changes.IMG_3783I drew up the basic shape of the flap and chose the fabrics I wanted to use in this bag.  The batik sea turtle fabric was my first choice and the rest of the fabrics were chosen to coordinate with it.  I purchased this fat quarter of the turtle fabric when we were in Hawaii a few years ago and have been waiting for the perfect project for it.IMG_3789I wasn’t sure how I wanted to construct the flap so started with wedges of the different fabrics and seamed them together with corded bias strips between each section.  I added the turtle fabric to the top as an appliqued triangle and cut out the flap shape (I altered the shape later to make it better fit the bag.)IMG_3803I did cut out the corded seamed section under the turtle triangle to eliminate bulk and as it was sitting on my sewing table I got the idea to use it in the purse somewhere – hated to waste all that work so designed the back panel using the cut out from the front.  Here is the beginnings of the back in the photo below.IMG_3805I used headliner fabric to interface the body of the bag to help keep it’s shape.  I almost always use this in my bags as my bags sure hold their shape and don’t get all saggy after using for a while.  It is similar to Soft and Stable but is available at JoAnn Fabrics and more convenient for me to purchase.  I do some simple quilting to hold it in place and trim it out of the seam allowances to reduce bulk.  Trimming it out of the seam allowances really helps as it can get pretty bulky when several seams come together.   As you can see I used plastic needlepoint canvas in the bottom of the bag to help it hold it’s shape and make a firm base for the bag plus this time I added a strip near the top to help keep the bag from collapsing.  You know how when you close the flap the front and back just colapse in together?  This keeps those sides squared up to the front and back.  So far that top strip is working really well.  I machine stitched the plastic to the inside with no problem as the plastic is soft enough that a needle goes right through easily. I will use this idea again when I have a boxy bag that I want to stay boxy looking.IMG_3822I did quilt the lining to a light weight fleece and added the pockets.  On one side I made a patch pocket but instead of stitching the entire bottom closed I left one section open.  This works great to carry my wallet.  It doesn’t flop out of the pocket and is easy to access and the bottom of my wallet rests on the bottom of the bag.  I have done this on a couple of bags now since one of my sisters told me that is what she has done.  Works great!  You could also carry a checkbook like this or any other long item you don't want lost in the recesses of your bag.IMG_3842Trimmed the flap down to a better size for the bag before adding the lining and binding the edge.IMG_3828One thing that always bothers me when carrying a heavy bag is how it cuts into your shoulder after a while.  I noticed that my camera bag had an extra padded piece that the strap is threaded through and it fits over your shoulder as you are carrying the bag.  I thought why couldn’t I make something like this for my bag too.  IMG_3886I used 3 gradated layers of the headliner fabric stitched together to make it padded enough then cut a front fabric and back fabric the same size to cover the shape.  I first was going to add another strip a little shorter to make a channel for the strap to slide through like the one on my camera bag.  A bolt of lightening hit me and I saw the piece of the excess strap that was laying on my table and decided why not use that instead and then this extra padded strip could be easily removed when I just want to use it as a purse.  Threading the bag strap through these smaller strips is so much easier than threading it through a long tunnel like the camera bag one had.   Last step was to add binding to hold the strips of the strap to the cover fabrics to finish it off.
IMG_3843IMG_3848IMG_3870IMG_3871IMG_3872After carrying this as a camera bag while in Paducah I am really happy with this extra strap padding – best idea ever!  If you have a strap that unhooks on one side you can make a padded piece for any of your bags too.  Here is the finished bag all done and I love it.IMG_3874
IMG_3875IMG_3865A flap covered pocket on the front, zippered pocket on the back, zippered pocket in the lining and the patch pocket in the lining will hold lots of things plus the large space that my camera will fit into.IMG_3877IMG_3880To finish off the zipper pulls I made a “puller” from a bead and some wire.  These make opening and closing the zipper a little easier and it dresses up the bag a bit more too.IMG_3876Will enjoy using this bag for a regular purse or to carry my camera and look pretty while it is doing it!

Until later,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cleaning and Reorganizing My Quilting/Sewing Closet

Don’t hold this messy closet against me but this is what my quilting/sewing closet looked like the Saturday morning, April 18th and probably would still look like this if it would have been a sunny day.IMG_3963That rainy Saturday morning John was sitting at his desk and commented to me that he really didn’t know what he would do that day since he couldn’t be in the field planting corn.  I suggested that we make the changes in the closet that we had planned and had supplies for.  He thought that was a good idea so while he was out feeding the cows and checking for new calves I emptied the closet.  As you can guess by looking at the photo there was a lot, and I mean a LOT of stuff to remove.

I just can imagine that none of you ever have storage areas that get to be such messes do you?  I feel lucky to have a great closet but as you can see I was having trouble keeping it tidy. I couldn’t easily find anything and putting things away was another problem even though I did have plastic bins for different colored fabric in my attempt to have my fabric sorted.  The problem was that the large bins were extremely heavy so I had started putting it in smaller bins but then had to stack them and of course what I wanted to use was always in the bottom bin.IMG_3967IMG_3966I have a set of kitchen upper cabinets on the end of the 4.5’ x 7’ walk in closet that I can use for storage too.  This space (closet) was used as the office by John’s parents when they lived in the house and we decided to put shelves in for my fabric and quilt “stuff” storage when we moved in.  I feel very lucky to have this much space for my quilt/sewing things, although I do have to store folding chairs, table leaves and a couple of card tables here too.  IMG_3972After many trips from the closet to the family room I got it emptied.  Can you believe all this stuff was in there there?  I moved the chairs away from my kitchen table to enable me to walk around to refold the fabrics and re-pack smaller boxes for all the fabric.IMG_3975
IMG_3974As you can see I did leave a path between the boxes and worked to sort and sort and sort some more.  I tossed some things, have a box of things to give away and pulled out more fabrics that will get cut into strips and squares for scrap quilts.  I have been quilting since 1981 so have collected lots of fabrics over the years and to be honest I will probably never use my older fabrics unless they are all cut up and mixed with lots of other fabrics.

While I was sorting and organizing my stuff John was working on the closet.  We didn’t make any big changes but took out the middle shelves and re-spaced them adding an additional shelf.  This will enable me to use the smaller plastic boxes which will make them lighter and easier to handle and make it so I don’t have to stack the fabric boxes.  Hopefully I will put the boxes back with the sorted fabrics when I get done using them and keep the closet neater than I have in the past.IMG_3977I worked many, many hours to sort and organize each of the boxes and decide where they should be placed in the closet. I finished the process and am so happy.  This is what it looked like Sunday April 19th around 6 pm.  After this photo was taken I added labels to the ends of the boxes too so the contents can be easily identified.IMG_3978As you can see we have lots of folding chairs but we seem to entertain large groups fairly often so have quite the collection of chairs and need them to be easy to access and this is the best place to store them.IMG_3981
IMG_3979I am keeping the fabrics on the bottom 3 shelves, batting and other lighter things on the top shelf and larger cuts, old jeans, purse making supplies and two large bins of the fabrics that will be cut up into strips at a later date.  I can slide these big boxes out and back without having to lift them. 

This was a giant job and starting it the weekend before I left to go to Paducah kept me at the job to finish it in a short amount of time.  I am so happy about this newly organized space I am almost giddy.

Happy, happy me,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Insulated Casserole Carrier/Tote

IMG_3946Each year I go to Paducah for the AQS Show with my sisters and friend I make some sort of gift to give to them and our hostess.  This year I made insulated casserole carriers for everyone. 

After searching the internet I came across the following web pages with tutorials and based mine on these with a few changes.  There are lots of other shapes and sizes of totes too so just Google “Casserole Tote” or “Casserole Carrier” to get more.
Two Little Hooligans blog
Sew For Home blog
Making It With Danielle blog

Here is how I made mine….all 5 of them.

Casserole Carrier/Tote for 9”x13” Pan
Materials List
1 3/4 yd cotton fabric (I purchased 2 yds for just a bit extra)
7/8 yd of Insul Bright Batting (I purchased 1 yd for just a bit extra)
OR 3/4 yd Insul Bright Batting  plus  3” x 40” iron on fleece
2” Velcro (2 – 5” strips)
Thread to match cotton fabric
Cut the following from the cotton fabric;
2 – 36”x 13”
2 – 32”x16”
2 – 3”x40”
Cut the following from the Insul Bright Batting
1 – 35”x12”
1- 31”x15”
2 – 1 1/2”x 40” OR cut these from the iron on fleece

1.  Lay the large cotton fabric pieces right sides together and center the piece of Insul Bright on each section. 
2.  Stitch around each rectangle with 1/2” seam just catching the batting in the seam.  Leave a 5” opening unstitched for turning.IMG_38993.  Trim the corners diagonally to reduce bulk and turn right sides out and press flat, folding the 5” opening edges to the inside and pin.IMG_39084. Topstitch around the rectangles and machine quilt some simple design to hold the layers together.  I used the grid below to quilt mine. IMG_3912 IMG_39105.  If you have cut fusible interfacing for the handles the next step is to fuse it 1/4" from one long edge to the wrong side of the 2 handle strips.  Press under 1/4” on each long edge and press strip in half and pin together.
    If you have cut your batting for the handles from Insul Bright press under the 1/4” seam edges on the cotton fabric and press the strip in half then lay the Insul Bright inside and pin together.IMG_39016.  Stitch close to each side of the handles and twice more like below.IMG_39057.  On one side of the wider piece (the one you cut 32”x16”) measure up 3” and center one of the handles on this line and pin to secure.  Do the same for the other side.IMG_39228.  Top stitch the handle down on each side 1” down from the quilting line that is 1/4 of the way down from the top.  I hope this makes sense but look at the photos and that will help.  I did stitch a box at the end of my stitching lines to make the handle more secure.IMG_3930IMG_3925IMG_3926 29.  Lay the fat rectangle with the straps facing the table and the long rectangle on top, centering the two pieces and pin together.  Top stitch along the edge of the long rectangle on both sides where it overlaps the fat rectangle.  Back stitch at the beginning and ending of each line.IMG_393110.  Flip the carrier over and top stitch along the edge of the fat rectangle where it overlaps the long rectangle, back stitching at each end.

11.  Place the Velcro on the ends of the two flaps and edge stitch around to secure.  Pay attention to how the flaps close so you get the pieces on the correct sides of the flaps.  I rolled the carrier up so it would fit in the machine as I stitched the rectangle of Velcro down.IMG_3939IMG_393412.  Last step is to stitch the ends of the straps together.  Overlap them as far as you want and pin.  Turn under 1/2” on each end and press.  Edge stitch around each overlapped section.  Caution – make sure the straps are not twisted before you stitch!IMG_3936IMG_3937IMG_393813. To use just set the hot/cold dish in the center, fold over the long flaps and secure with the Velcro then fold over the last two flaps and secure with the Velcro.  Raise the straps over the covered casserole to carry it.IMG_3941IMG_3944IMG_3946All done and ready to use.   Here are all five of them ready to give away. IMG_3985I am on my way to Paducah as this is posted since I wanted it to be a surprise for my sisters and friends.  Didn’t want them to look at my blog post about the carriers and spoil the surprise ahead of time.  I am sure I am having a good time so far and will post about my trip next week after I am home.

Until Later,


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