My Big Quilted Bag Tutorial

I go to the library....a lot.  And well, let's just say the stack of books my girls and I come away with each time has torn through and snapped the handles of more than a couple of bags. So I needed something big and sturdy.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. With over 500,000 books available on my Kindle why on earth do I need to lug around a giant bag heaped with stacks of paper books from the brick and mortar library.
I guess I'm just old fashioned that way. I do use my Kindle and other electronic devices....sometimes more than I think is good for myself. So, I like.... no I LOVE the feel and smell of an actual printed book in my hands. I love flipping through the pages, using my pretty little bookmarks and enjoying the slight sound of the pages turning. I like holding that thick novel in my hands after reading the last word of page five hundred and whatever and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Somehow those "vicarious journeys" as my high school English teacher called them, are not the same on a tiny lit up screen.

So, there you have it. The reason behind my latest sewing tutorial for my "Big Quilted Book Bag".

You can use yours for whatever you want, lol.

My first step was picking out two coordinating fabrics. 
Here are the winners. 

Then I had to come up with a pattern. 
I got the largest piece of drawing paper I could find in my studio 
(FYI: large papers that come on a roll are great too for making patterns on the cheap)

 Just in case you can't see the measurements well enough they are:

Bag width: 24"
Bag height: 16"
Strap width at base: 4"
Strap width at top: 2.5"
Strap length: 15"

*TIP: I folded my paper in half to draw the pattern before cutting out so that my straps would be perfectly symmetrical and in the right place.

You will need to pin and carefully cut out FOUR pieces of fabric.
Two of the inside color and two of the outside color.

And you will need TWO pieces of thin batting cut to fit the body of the bag.

After ironing I sewed a straight top stitch all the way around to give a finished detail (1/8" from edge). This also closed up the opening at the bottom of the two sides of the bag that were used for turning it right side out.

*** IMPORTANT: When I sewed the straps of the bag I left the ends of each strap un-stitched for later. 

Now that you have TWO complete sides to your bag, each with batting inside, you are ready to move on to the optional awesome "free motion quilting".

 - if you don't have this attachment it's ok, just "quilt" the piece together using a simple pattern of straight or diagonal lines. This is just to hold the batting securely in place. 

The pattern you create will also show on the inside of your bag. It gives a great texture and dimension to the finished project. I love that the fabric I chose already had such wonderful sketchy lines so even though my first attempt at free motion stitching was wobbly and completely imperfect it still worked great.

When I finished free motion quilting on both individual sides of the bag I was ready to put them together.

Pin them right sides together so that you see the inside fabric. Sew all the way around the body of the bag (1/2" seam allowance).

I wanted a "boxed bottom". I made mine 2.5" in on each side.
With the bag inside out, fold the side seam toward the bottom fold line until it makes a triangle. Then sew a straight line perpendicular to the side seam.

Finally, it is time to finish the straps of the bag.

Taking the straps from the same side of the bag. Tuck the raw edges in on one  piece to form a finished edge. Tuck the raw edge of the coordinating piece into the finished edge about 1/4". Then straight stitch across the joined pieces. *I went back and forth over it 3 or 4 times for a good secure finished seam.

Like this:

Here are a few close-ups on parts of the bag.

Now it's time to head to the Library to fill it up!

Air Dry Clay: Tiny Houses and Ring Holders

Air dry clay is so easy to work with and the possibilities of things you can make with it are endless. It is more expensive than regular clay but you don't have to have access to a kiln to fire it and if you use a 40% off coupon at Michaels the price is not too bad for making quite a few of these small projects.

The first was a series of Tiny Houses.
I rolled out a slab of clay about a 1/4" thick and used a thin metal ruler to cut into a series of irregular rectangles and squares. Then I trimmed off the tops in lopsided triangular shapes to create the roof lines. Super simple right. :)

Then I took round black magnets (the strong ones you can get in packages at Hobby Lobby or other craft stores) and pushed them into the backs of the houses so they sunk about half way in. (*cool side note here: I thought I would probably have to add some glue after they dried overnight but because the clay shrinks slightly it tightened up around the magnets and they were securely in place, perfect!)

Using something with a small rectangular shape (the end of a letter stamp, popcicle stick, chop stick...whatever) I made various little window indentions.

Let it dry overnight. Then paint with acrylic paints. Seal with clear acrylic spray.
Easy peasy.

I love having these on my fridge like a little community all together. :)

Then came the Ring Holders.
Oh the variety of designs you could come up with on this one!!!

I started these again by rolling out a slab of air dry clay roughly about 1/4" thick.
You could use cookie cutters to make the basic shape (probably don't use them again for food though)

I also used random things like the lid from a plastic baby food container for the shape of the rectangle ones.
TIP: I saved a ton of these plastic containers and glass jars and I use them for water cups and paint mixing contaniners all the time.

You will either want a concave design to set rings in or make sure you have at least one piece that sticks up to hold you rings.

On the pieces that stick up:
  • be careful not to make them too thin or flimsy, don't want them to break too easily
  • use the traditional score and slip method of attaching for security (I used a toothpick to lightly scratch the bottom of the hand formed piece and the place it would attach to and then added a drop of water to each to help them stick better when I pressed them together)
The relief images and text were created by gently pressing a stamp into the clay after I rolled it out into a slab and before I cut it into the shape I was going to use.

To make the pieces concave: I gently pressed the finished piece as it set on the inside edges of either the rectangular baby food container or a small round condiment cup and then I left them sitting in that position to dry.

Let the pieces dry overnight.

Paint with acrylic paints. *Allow your stamped design to show more by gently dry brushing paint across the surface.

Spray with clear acrylic to seal.

I know these weren't super detailed with lots of pictures but I hope they at least maybe provide some inspiration for little projects you can create using air dry clay.

I know I would love to try different little trays and things with some of the fancy cookie cutter shapes I've seen lately (like one I saw that was a teapot).....what would you try?

My Favorite DIY Art Journal

My bags are packed and I'm all ready to go jetting off half way around the world.
I leave tomorrow morning with a team of friends on a mission trip to Cambodia.

I wanted to share with you real quick the art journal I made to take on the trip.
Then when I get back I'll share some of the things I created inside the wonderful pages.

I started by gathering tons of differnt papers: scrap book pages for dividing sections, parchment paper for separating painted pages, vellum/tracing paper to separate other messy pages, recycled newsprint pages, watercolor papers (rough and smooth textures), black papers, brown papers, mixed media or all media papers, and actual canvas right off the roll cut to page size on my large paper cutter.

*All pages were cut to 8.5"x11"
Once I got them all sorted out in sections and an order I liked I used paint stir sticks to brace the pages and binder clips to hold them tightly together.
I painted several layers (5-6) of WeldBond glue on the edge letting it dry between coats. This forms a flexible binding and the pages can later be easily torn out with minimal or no damage.

I measured and created my own pattern to sew the soft book cover out of some very nice expensive fabric scraps left over from a job I did earlier this summer. I included a couple of pockets for my basic drawing supplies. The colors are gorgeous deep turquoise and chartreuse (the pictures don't do it justice). The inside is silky and the outside has a soft textured feel. The buttons are vintage (from my grandmother) and just happened to coordinate perfectly!
I used the same WeldBond glue to adhere the binding of the pages to the cover I sewed.
Sorry there's not more detailed info on the sewing as I just made it up as I went along, but I hope that this will inspire you to grab your supplies and create a special journal of your own.

I can't wait to sketch, journal, watercolor, paint, collage and more on these wonderful pages!

It was a DIY project I spent extra time on, but it is extra special so I'm very happy.

Achieving the Perfect Gray Wood Stain

Choosing the right shade of gray for your wood stain can be a tricky process but I do have a few tips to share with you that will help along the way.

The name of a stain color can be deceiving and the sample you see printed on a brochure or listed online can be very deceiving. Many "gray" or "charcoal" stains actually have a slight blue tint to them. I did not want mine to look blue so I had to do a bit of searching to find the right color.
It is best to look for your stain in store where you can see sample colors on actual pieces of wood. Please note that the wood you are starting with will affect the final color as well. For example, since I was working with un-treated un-painted white pine, which is a very porous wood, I needed to make sure to first apply a "pre-stain" to help prevent my actual stain from soaking in unevenly or blotchy.

Here I will share with you my list of supplies and how the process went.
I prepared my wood by lightly sanding with very fine sandpaper (depending on the condition of your wood you may need to do additional sanding). Wipe clean with damp cloth.

Using an old brush I applied the pre-stain following manufacturers directions. It went on clear and dried very quickly.

Almost immediately, I began brushing on the Cinder Stain (which was actually a stain and sealer in one) with a high quality stain brush.
Note: brush in the direction of your wood grain and keep a clean cloth (rag made from old white t-shirt is great) to wipe any runs or drips if necessary.

Multiple layers of stain will darken the final color. If you put your stain on too thickly it may be sticky, uneven and take longer to dry.    (patience & thin layers = better results)

*If your stain is not a stain and sealer in one you will likely want to finish with a clear protective top coat of polyeurothane, polycrylic, or finishing wax to protect your piece.

Clean your brushes right away and properly to make them last longer (with mineral spirits or paint thinner following manufacturers directions).

P.S. I love the GoJo soap for cleaning my hands  (helps to wear rubber gloves while staining too!)

Here are a few pics during & after the staining process.

Here again is the final piece! A gorgeous hand-crafted bed with the perfect gray stain.
I think I have found my new favorite stain color!

And the little boy this bed belongs to thought it was pretty cool so that made my day! His grandfather did an excellent job building it and I feel privileged that they asked me to do the stain work.

More Ways to Use Soda Can Roses.....for Teacher Gifts!

A friend of mine asked if I could make some pens with soda can roses on them and a couple of sets of soda can rose magnets that she could give as Teacher Gifts. I thought that was a great idea so I got a bunch of my supplies out to see what I could come up with for her.

Tip: this time on the roses I cut my circles out and lightly sanded them with sandpaper on both sides and spray painted them before cutting and quilling them into roses.

Pens: I used basic Bic pens with the roses hot glued to the top.
Tip: I also used the very end of the quilled rose to bend down slightly and wrap around the pen. I secured it with masking tape.
The entire pen is wrapped in coordinating  washi tape. Love this stuff! You can find all different colors and designs online or at local craft stores.

Magnet Sets: The roses are glued to strong round magnets with Weldbond glue. I thought it would be cute to use soup can lids as the holder for the magnet sets. I also drilled two small holes in the lid so that I could bend a small hanger out of craft wire to hang from jump rings for display. I love how it came out! I tied coordinating ribbon and jute rope around each hanger to finish.

Soda Can Roses


I'm so excited about this post! I have had this project in the works for such a long time and have procrastinated on getting the tutorial together and posted, but here it finally is in time to inspire your Spring and Summer Creativity!

I've been recycling and using soda cans and parts of soda cans since I was a kid. Back then I was makeing t-shirt clips (remember these from the 80's my friends, lol)

Guess I'm dating myself a bit but oh well....I am a product of one of the coolest music and movie eras ever and proud of it, by golly!

Well, I've updated my DIY projects since then and found that cutting out and rolling these simple roses from my saved stash of soda cans was the beginning of some unique and beautiful accessories.

So let's start by washing and saving some soda cans.

Now, maybe it's just me but isn't there something fabulous about having things in multiples!
(*Especially art supplies and crafty things!!!)
I LOVE having a ton of these roses laying on my art table to create with!!

From this point I used my roses to make refrigerator magnets, rings, necklaces, earrings, decorate picture frames, accessorize candles, make photo holders, and create an awesome ornament/decorative ball.
And this was only the beginning! There are so many more possibilities!

Here is my Supply List:
  • soda cans
  • box cutter
  • scissors
  • quilling tool
  • Glue: WeldBond, Gorilla Glue, Hot Glue
  • hot glue gun
  • magnets
  • Krylon spray paint
  • bottle caps (for necklace)
  • ring blanks
  • flat upholstery tacks (for the candle pick)
  • small wood blocks
  • drill & small drill bit, or hammer and small nail
  • craft wire & round nose plyers (for photo holder)
  • jewelry chain and findings
  • wooden picture frame decorated with scrapbook and acrylic paint
  • small soft toy ball (for ornament)

Want a closer look at some projects:

These are the types of glue I used:
WeldBond - strong, dries clear, long drying time
Gorilla Glue - strong, dries kindof brown color, long drying time
Hot Glue - not as strong, dries semi-clear, quick drying time

A couple more "process" images to help inspire your designs:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful and inspirational.
I would love to hear from you and see pictures of all the things you create with "Soda Can Roses"
Happy Crafting!