Saturday, November 1, 2014

Seahorse Fabric Reusable Shopping Tote Bags

In 2012, I made a set of reusable fabric grocery bag/shopping totes in a mod NYC print. They were requested as a shower gift to a bride-to-be. When her sister was married this past summer, I was commissioned to make another set of shopping totes.

This time around, I found this pretty teal colored seahorse printed home decor fabric, perfectly beach-themed:

Seahorse Fabric Reusable Shopping Bags

Using my own design, each bag was made approximately 13 inches tall x 12 inches wide x 8 inches deep. The set included 4 extra large shopping bags. Here they are all neatly folded and stacked:

Seahorse Fabric Reusable Shopping Bags

I like to make an extra zippered carrying case to store each 4-bag set. A wrist strap is stitched into the side seam and the bottom of the carrying case is boxed for a squared bottom.

Seahorse Fabric Reusable Shopping Bags Seahorse Fabric Reusable Shopping Bags

Want to make some grocery bags for yourself? I made my first batch of reusable grocery bags and posted about how to make them shortly after I started this blog in 2007. They're designed to be extra large to carry several half-gallon cartons of milk and the biggest cereal box. I prefer to use cotton home dec fabrics for my bags so they can be easily washed and dried, which is especially important for carrying food and groceries.

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Sewing Room Makeover, Part 2: Ironing Station and Work Table

The theme of this sewing room makeover project was re-use, re-purpose and re-new! I was determined to keep as much of my furniture, storage units and containers as possible while sticking to a reasonable budget.

Re-purposed: Ironing Station


I'm beginning this post with my new ironing station, since it was the main reason this project was upgraded from a simple clean-up to a full blown reorganization.

Sewing Room 'After' Reorganization

Originally, I set aside two weeks in January for my clean-up project, just to sort fabric and supplies and do a general clean sweep of my sewing room.

After I finished re-covering my chair and updating the window treatment (Part 1), I searched Pinterest for organization ideas and was inspired by these pins of ironing boards on top of shelving units:

 Ironing board on top of shelves. Perfect way to organize a craft room.  ironing station tutorial

In order to make an ironing station work in my space, I would need to completely re-arrange the furniture and storage units in my sewing room; if I needed to move all the furniture, I figured I might as well replace the old rug. And if I was going to replace the rug in my sewing room, I had to replace the rug in the guest room, too.... you can see how this simple project starting snowballing into a larger one! So I postponed the makeover until the summer when I hoped to have more time.

Throughout the spring months, I searched for a suitable piece of used furniture to re-purpose for the ironing station but didn't find anything. I was considering buying either a kitchen island or cabinet if I could find a bargain. Then I received an email from Nancy's Notions with this Ironing Center which was just about perfect! Except the price didn't quite fit my budget (sorry for the blurry image - click through to Nancy's site for the full description).

 IRONING CENTER - Furniture - Supplies - Nancy's Notions

For some reason I had forgotten we had this microwave cabinet, left over from our kitchen remodel in 2009. It's the perfect size for my ironing station AND the price was right. I decided to turn it upside down, so the section with the doors is at the bottom near the floor. All I needed now was a board to fit on top.

Ironing Station

Flash forward to July - We didn't decide to install laminate flooring until after the sewing room was empty and the rug had been removed, which meant I had about two weeks on my hands, waiting for the flooring supplies to be delivered. During that down time, I worked on several projects, including the board for the sewing station.

The board is 2 x 4 foot MDF from Home Depot, covered in quilted ironing board fabric. The fabric is wrapped a few inches around the edges and stapled to the bottom of the board.

Ironing Station Ironing Station

After the room was finished, I worked on a few small projects and decided the MDF board was too hard and needed some extra padding. Some of my old ironing board covers were made of layers of batting, foam and heavy muslin, so I decided to replicate that combination.

I used polyester batting and muslin from my stash, and bought a yard of headliner foam from JoAnn Fabrics. I cut the foam and batting a little larger than the board and the muslin a few more inches larger, then folded the muslin around the other two layers and stitched all around the edge to make a simple pad.

Ironing Station Ironing Station

To protect the padding, I cut a piece of ironing board fabric a few inches larger than my board, serged around the edges to prevent it from fraying and attached it using ironing board clips at the corners.

Ironing Station

The finished board simply rests on top of the microwave cabinet. I added a piece of wood shelving inside the open section for storage. Luckily we had a piece that fit perfectly inside, so I only needed to drill some holes for the support hardware. Finally, I added two small shelving units on either side of the cabinet.

Sewing Room 'After' Reorganization

The new ironing station works great! It's located right behind me when I'm sewing, making it very convenient as a work surface and for pressing fabric.

Renewed: Work Table


While I was waiting for my laminate flooring to arrive, I also worked on my sewing table.

My work table was a plain plywood table top, handmade by my father, probably before 1990. We used to put it on top of an old oval kitchen table so we could fit everyone around the table for Thanksgiving. I added folding banquet legs to it about 16 years ago and have been using it ever since.

Sewing Room Work Table Sewing Room Work Table

Even though the table is usually covered with fabric cutting mats, the unfinished, edges were starting to get splintered and snag some fabrics, so I wanted to sand and refinish it. After considering wood stain and polyurethane, I finally decided to paint it with Benjamin Moore Natura White Chocolate semi-gloss, leftover from painting the kitchen and powder room trim.

Now it's all nice and smooth and looks clean and bright!

Sewing Room Work Table



Additional photos are in my Sewing Room Reorganization Album on Flickr

My Sewing Room Organization & Inspiration Board on Pinterest:
Follow Donna's board My Sewing Room Organization & Inspiration on Pinterest.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gadget Guard Padded Tablet Cases

A few months ago, I received a request for a custom-sized tablet cover to go with some of my Watermelon Westie accessories (blogged in March 2013). The request was very specific about the size and features needed: an envelope style flap closure with two compartments, one a padded section for the tablet and the other for holding a charging cord, stylus and other necessities - she even attached a sketch! I was thrilled, that she knew exactly what she wanted because that made it SO much easier to look for a suitable pattern!

Not finding the perfect pattern in my collection, I turned to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. After sorting through various designs, I found the Gadget Guard PDF sewing pattern by Dog Under my Desk. This pattern was already on my 'wish list', and this was a good excuse to buy it! I was confident I could make a couple of modifications to incorporate the requested design features for a customized tablet cover.

After downloading and printing out the instructions, I made my first sample Gadget Guard, sized to fit my Samsung Galaxy tablet and using the same fabrics as my sample journal cover, blogged last month.

Gadget Guard Tablet Case

The pattern instructions are extremely detailed and each step has a helpful photo illustration. The design is versatile and with a few calculations, it is easily adapted to fit any device. It can be customized so that the zippers open along either the long or short edge of the case. As designed, the case has a padded zippered compartment for the tablet, with one expandable pocket on the front for the accessories. I switched up the fabric placements a little, so it would resemble my journal cover.

Gadget Guard Tablet Case

I like the way the zippers are installed, and I especially like the way the top zip opens wide for a snug fit - and the fabric tab on the end is quite clever! My Samsung tablet with a Belkin bookstyle cover fits perfectly inside this case. I really like this pattern and would happily make more!

Gadget Guard Tablet Case

I needed to make a second sample so I could test adding on a flap closure and ruffling the front pocket so it would resemble the pleating on the Watermelon Westie Sunglass Case. For this sample, I used some black and white damask print fabrics from my stash.

Modified Gadget Guard Tablet Case

To create the ruffled look on the pocket, I tried using a gathering foot, but the two layers of fabric were too heavy and didn't gather up nicely. Then I remembered I had a ruffler foot in my collection, but had never used it before. It took only a few minutes to set up and stitch out a test piece of fabric - and it worked perfectly! It was a little tricky sewing the ruffled fabric to the zipper, though.

Modified Gadget Guard Tablet Case

The flap I added is loosely modeled after those from the Embroidery Garden iPad cases in my previous blog entry. I added it to the 'front' side of the Gadget Guard in Step 4 of the instructions, inserting it between the zipper and the 'front' pocket side. The flap closes on what used to be the 'back' of the original Gadget Guard design and the pocket side is the 'new' back.

Modified Gadget Guard Tablet Case

Finally, I was ready to make the revised version of the Gadget Guard in Watermelon Westie fabric. I carefully cut the fabric so that one Westie is featured on both sides of the flap closure and two repeats of the design are on the front of the tablet case.

Watermelon Westie Tablet Case


I don't have any more of the tiny watermelon fabric that I used on the other Watermelon Westie accessories, so the ruffled pocket is made in a print that resembles a watermelon rind.

Watermelon Westie Tablet Case

This version is sized a little larger than my samples, to fit the custom size requested. The flap is secured with velcro.

Watermelon Westie Tablet Case

I thought it turned out well and was quite pleased with the finished tablet case. But what really made me smile was the note I received from my customer saying it's a perfect fit and she loves it. :-)

Quilted iPad Cases, In-the-Hoop

Last year I made some quilted iPad cases using in-the-hoop embroidery designs from Embroidery Garden. Originally, I bought only the design for the iPad mini case; later, I purchased the design for a regular size iPad case, after a friend liked the mini sample and wanted the larger size.

Both versions of the case are made mostly in-the-hoop, then are finished on the sewing machine. The flap is made first, then the body of the case is made in a second hooping.

Kris gave me two bunny fabrics from her stash to use on her cover. I used the larger scale white rabbits for the outside of the cover and the smaller print for the lining.

iPad Case

The flap, front and back are all padded with cotton batting. The front and flap are lightly quilted.

iPad Case

After the embroidery and sewing steps are complete, the case is turned a couple of times so that the cover and flap are on the outside and a pocket is formed on the back side. The tablet slips into the front and the back pocket is for holding charging cords and other accessories, secured with a snap closure. I used pink ribbon to match the bunny ears for the tab closure on this iPad cover.

iPad Case

A velcro or button closure are optional for the front flap but I did not add one because I was certain that Kris would have some cute carrot buttons in her stash.

I liked the way this case turned out, so when my niece got an iPad for her birthday last August (2013), I made one in red, her favorite color at the time.

iPad Case

The closure for the back pocket is made of black ribbon with a red snap.

iPad Case iPad Case

I forgot to add the elastic when making the flap, so stitched in on by hand afterward, along with a shank style button for a closure.

iPad Case

I recently made an iPad mini case in the same fabric for another friend, using fusible Velcro instead of the button closure.

These are handy little cases, but I haven't made more of them, partly because I don't have an iPad and my Samsung tablet just barely fits inside, and partly because the regular iPad only fits inside without a protective cover. The iPad mini design comes with 2 sizes - one for the mini only, and one for the mini with a cover.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Sewing Room Makeover, Part 1: Swivel Chair and Window Valance Update

For more than a year, I've been trying to find the time to reorganize my sewing room. Fabric and crafting supplies have been stacked and stuffed into every corner of every shelf so that there was barely enough room to work - and a lot of space was being used to store supplies for needlework and crafts that I rarely do anymore.

A total makeover and reallocation of space was needed, but I never seemed to find enough free time to tackle this project. So I decided to break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks, until I could take some time off to completely empty the room.

I had some down time in January, so I started emptying shelves and moving boxes of supplies downstairs to the dining room, for 'temporary' storage. When there was enough room to move around and take accurate measurements, I was able to devise a new, more efficient floor plan. I also started collecting storage and organization ideas on My Sewing Room Organization & Inspiration board on Pinterest.

Originally, I thought I could get the project done in my spare time, beginning in February with two relatively simple projects: re-upholstering my swivel chair and changing the window treatment.

Swivel Chair Makeover


Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

I have spent many hours in this chair, sewing and machine embroidering. It used to be a pale shade of gray blue with white vinyl piping trim. Over the years, the trim yellowed, dried out, cracked and peeled off. And then the seam on the seat started to come apart. Other than those two flaws, the chair is in excellent condition, so it only needed new covers for the seat and back. This project took the better part of an afternoon and evening, with a few breaks to feed and walk the Westies.

I tackled the seat back first, since it was easier to take apart by simply removing the screws.

Swivel Chair Makeover

Next, I removed the staples along the bottom edge using a staple puller and pliers.

Swivel Chair Makeover

Here's the core of the seat back after the old fabric was removed. It's a wooden base with a gray foam cushion wrapped around it.

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

Rather than starting completely from scratch, I clipped to mark the centers along the top and sides of the old cover and carefully took apart the seam so the front and back pieces could be used as patterns for cutting out the new fabric. I chose a fun turquoise blue and white floral print from my stash of home dec fabrics (and decided not to add any piping trim to the new cover).

Swivel Chair Makeover

With the right sides together, I matched the clip markings on the new fabric pieces and pinned them together, easing in along the curves where needed.

Swivel Chair Makeover

I stitched the two pieces together, trimmed the seam, clipped the curves and then turned it right side out and pressed it well. Then I stretched it over the seat back cushion, smoothing the fabric and stapling along the bottom, trimming where necessary and folding to hide the raw edges (sorry, I neglected to take any photos of that step!).

Now it was time to tackle the seat. It was a little more difficult to remove from the frame of the chair because it kept swiveling. I ended up turning the chair upside and hanging it on the edge of my table to remove the screws. Then I removed the staples on the bottom of the seat, first for the dust cover and then for the old fabric cover. A small pry bar and pliers worked great for pulling the staples out of the wood. Just like the chair back, the seat cushion had a wood bottom with a foam cushion attached to it.

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

Since the old cover was torn in places, I didn't bother to use it as a pattern for the new cover. I just traced a circle around the seat on the back of my fabric and added a seam allowance to cut it out. For the boxing strip along the side of the cushion, I simply measured around the circumference of the seat and cut it a little longer.

After sewing the boxing strip to the circle, I tested the fit of the new cover on the cushion, then stitched the back seam so it was nice and snug. I sewed around the circle a second time, trimmed and pressed the seam. Here's what it looked like from the wrong side of the fabric:

Swivel Chair Makeover

The new seat cover and dust cover were then stapled onto the seat cushion base.

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

Finally, I re-attached the seat and back to the frame of the chair and it's makeover was complete!

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

This chair is from IKEA and was called 'LOVE' - and I just LOVE it's new look! The color and floral print are such a happy combination!

Window Valance


This sewing room has evolved over the past 15 years. Originally, is was a spare bedroom where I also kept my needlework supplies and occasionally set up my sewing machine. When we moved into this house, my sewing room was the second or third room that I redecorated, removing little boys' wallpaper and painting it a nice soothing blue with green accents. The top section of the wall is sponge painted with various shades of ocean and sky blues and greens. When I was finished painting, I found these sage green drapery panels that helped block out the sun and keep the room cool. I didn't spend too much time working here other than to pick out threads and linen for my cross stitch and needlework projects.

Window Treatment Update

After a few years, I started spending more time sewing and machine embroidering, rearranging the furniture several times and adding shelves and a bookcase for storage. I'm tired of these plain green curtains, so I decided to replace them with a fun new window treatment to go with my newly improved swivel chair.

This mod floral print is another home dec print from my stash, and since I didn't have much of it, I made a very simple window valance. I pieced together 3 panels of fabric to get the width needed (2x the window width), serged the raw edges all around for a nice clean finished edge, hemmed each side and then blind-hemmed the bottom edge. Last, I folded the top down and stitched across twice to form the header and casing for the rod.

Window Treatment Update

The gauzy panel was an early attempt at making a roman shade, but the rings that the cords are supposed to slide through had decayed and crumbled in the sunlight and it could no longer be raised. Plus it attracted too much dust, so it had to go too.

Instead of replacing it with another shade, I applied a vinyl film to the window that looks like rice paper, for privacy and light filtration (it matches the film I used in my powder room in 2012).

Window Treatment Update

This photo is a little dark, but both changes really brighten up the room and provide lots of natural light while I'm working.

* * * * * * * * * * 

After these two projects were complete, we estimated that the rest of the sewing room makeover would take about a month, so I scheduled a 'vacation' from sewing for July and August. We not only re-organized the furniture, we removed the old carpet, installed laminate floor, added a section to my shelving unit, built a new ironing station and a few other things. It was an exhausting project and I'm very happy with my new work space - it turned out great! I'll have a couple of addtional blog entries to share my new and improved sewing 'studio'!


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