Simple Summer Sewing Series

Simple Summer Sewing Series Day 4: Reusable Snack Bags

I am totally taking the easy way out today on this post.  I meant to write up my own tutorial on this, with pictures and a beautiful pile of snack bags all set for the upcoming school year.  FAIL.  Summer weather returned  and I spent some quality time with the girls at the pool and playground instead.  And now I am sick.   How is it that every time I finally decide to cut myself some slack and slow down I get sick?  Hopefully the girls will give me a bit of a break so I can get some rest (doubtful).  No time to write up my own tutorial, so here is the tutorial I used when I first decided to whip some of these up a while back.  Why recreate the wheel right?  Check it out here. The tutorial uses ripstop nylon to line the bags.  This, from all of the research I have done is considered to be foodsafe.  I have made several bags using this tutorial and it is super quick and easy.  I decided to go a different route this time, and lined mine in cotton fabric.


I have found though that the nylon is not waterproof and does not protect the outer cotton clean from what you have stored inside.  Lesson learned after keeping a bag of cheese crackers tucked in my bag for too long- the oils from the crackers soaked through the nylon and discolored the outer fabric layer.  Plus, nylon is a bit of a nightmare to sew with.  Solution- make the bags entirely out of cotton and do more laundry!  I personally feel better about eating out of a cotton bag rather than the ripstop nylon, and they are easily tossed into the washing machine. You can see in the image above I chose to line these in a chambray fabric and I love how they turned out.  Now I certainly wouldn’t carry around a jelly sandwich in these, what we use them for- pretzels, cheese crackers, cereal  and for other dry snacks they work great.  I wish I had made these when the girls were babies, they would be perfect for cheerios and those little puff snacks they used to love to eat!  The tutorial I linked to above works either way, you can choose to use the nylon or substitute it for a cotton fabric.  Super fast and fun to make- and kids love them.  Check out the school-themed bags I made for my girls.  A special project to personalize that lined-paper fabric is coming soon.


Simple Summer Sewing Series

Simple Summer Sewing Series Day 3: Drawstring Bags

How is it that I have been sewing for over 5 years and I have never made a simple drawstring bag?  Until now.  I think I have gone a bit crazy over these bags- but I am sure I will find uses for them…toys, knitting supplies, travel etc.  I’ve got plans to make several more, let me show you the basic directions on how to make one!


The easiest tutorial ever:

What you need:

Two pieces of fabric in your desired size- (mine pictured is large 17x20inches, Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Children at Play- Parade)

Nylon cording, ribbon, rope, whatever you want your drawstrings to be made of. (I use a knit flat braid cord)

Coordinating thread


How to:

  1. We will be using french seams for this project- if you’ve never done this don’t worry it is super easy and will keep your inside seams nice and clean since we are not lining these bags.  Line up your fabric wrong sides together and sew the sides and bottom with a 1/4 inch seam  (to keep room for your casings start and finish 2 inches from top of each side)DSCN4165
  2. Turn inside out and sew around the sides and bottom again (still keeping 2 inches from top), but with 1/2 inch seam allowance.
  3. Fold over 1/4 inch on each side (where you left your 1 1/2 inches open) and press.  Fold top down 1/4 inch and press, and again 1/2 inch down and sew your seam across.  This creates your casing for your drawstring.DSCN4167
  4. Attache a safety pin to your cord or ribbon and pull it through the drawstring channel on one side of the bag and then back around the other side so that you have both ends of the ribbon on one side.  Repeat on the opposite side with the other cord or ribbon.DSCN4169
  5. Knot your ends together and cut off excess.  Fill ’em up with your stuff and you are done!DSCN4173
Simple Summer Sewing Series

Simple Summer Sewing Series Day 2: Reusable Placemats


Nothing says summer like packing a picnic lunch and heading to the park or playground.  There is something about loading up the picnic basket, blanket and snacks that makes eating lunch outside extra special.  To avoid the inevitable crumbs, spills and “oops” on your picnic blanket (or having your kids eat directly off of the dirty picnic table-yuck) you can whip up these simple, wipeable placemats.  I used a beautiful laminated cotton (Amy Butler- rose, peacock feathers) so there are no worries about stains- just wipe them clean and reuse.  The pocket is perfect for sliding in your cutlery, and the ribbon lets you just roll them up and store them away.  Great to carry around in your purse or diaper bag too- so you’ll always have a clean surface for you or your little one to eat on (with or without a plate!).


Reusable Placemats Tutorial:

What you will need:

1 yard laminated cotton (57inches wide)

coordinating thread

ribbon or bias tape for ties

How to (use a tiny seam allowance- fabric will not fray):

  1. Cut your fabric pieces.  You should be able to get 4 placemats our of 1 yard.  Dimensions for the placemats are: 10 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches. Cut your pocket pieces: 5×10 inches.  Cut your ties to your desired length- roughly 10 inches (will be folded to form two)
  2. Fold your pocket piece right sides together and sew side seams (to form a 5×5 inch square) leave bottom unsewn and turn right sides out.  Place on top of one placemat piece, one inch from the left botton corner.  Sew sides onto your placemat and sew lines to form slots for cutlery (roughly one inch apart)  You should now have a double thickness pocket with 4 slots for cutlery.  Your bottom edge is still unsewn.
  3. Fold your ribbon in half and baste to center of right side edge.  This will form your ties.
  4. Place one placemat piece on top with right sides facing.  Take your time, do not pin or you will leave holes in your laminated fabric.  Sew around the perimeter leaving at least 2 inches open to allow you to turn it right side out.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.  Be sure your ribbon is tucked inside.  Turn right side out.
  5. Topstitch all around your placemat, closing up your opening.

Repeat for other placemats and you are done!  Now pack a lunch and get outside before Summer is over!

Simple Summer Sewing Series

Simple Summer Sewing Series Day 1: Bag Holder

My first sewing series!  Each day this week I will create a project that:

  1. Can be completed in under 30 minutes.
  2. Simple instructions, no more than 5 steps
  3. Use a yard of fabric or less (use up all of those scraps!)
  4. Fit under the umbrella of going “green”.  Good for you, good for the environment, good on your budget.

I am so excited to get started.  Hopefully at least one of the projects this week will inspire you to get sewing!  For more details on this series see last week’s post here.

Day 1:

Our local grocery store sells and encourages the use of reusable bags.  I have purchased over a dozen of these reusable bags over the years- but they always seem to get “lost”.  Lost in the trunk of the car, used for swim class or taken to the library, soccer stuff etc.  Or, simply forgotten in the trunk of the car in the grocery store parking lot!  In other words, I often forget to bring them in or can’t find them and kick myself when I walk out of the store with an endless supply of plastic shopping bags.  I hate throwing them out- it feels so wasteful when they can be saved and used again.  Unfortunately they are not the most attractive looking and can get a bit out of hand- they seem to multiply on their own!  Not the most attractive thing hanging in the kitchen.

ugly plastic bags

Here comes the Bag Holder.   A great excuse to introduce an awesome fabric into your kitchen and corral those ugly plastic bags.    This is extremely simple and fast to make.  Plus, it looks a bit better hanging in my kitchen!

bag holder
bag holder

You can really make these any dimensions you like, my measurements are just an example.  This is a great way to use up fabric scraps, I actually used the dimensions of my scraps to determine how large I made mine.  Fabric is Alexander Henry Mecca for Moderns- Mercer.

Bag Holder Tutorial:

What you will need:

20x20inches quilting or home dec fabric

coordinating thread

1/4 inch elastic (roughly 9 inches)

How to:

1.  Cut your fabric to desired size.  (My example shows 2 pieces of 10×20 sewn together, had I not used a scrap I would have cut one piece 20x20inches.)

2.  Sew your seam, and finish your edges.  (I chose to use a 1/2 inch seam allowance and pinking shears) If you use one piece of fabric you sew the long edges together to form your back seam.  If you use two pieces like I did, sew up the long sides to form side seams.

3.  Create your casings by folding over the edges 1/4 inch, and again at least 1/4 inch (room enough for your elastic).  Press if necessary, although I just wing it and finger press as I sew.  Sew the casings at the top and bottom of your fabric, leaving 1/2 inch space unsewed to insert your elastic, be sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end.

4.  Cut your elastic in half.  Use a safety pin to insert your elastic through the casing, sew the ends of the elastic together and sew up your openings.

5.  Create your hanging loop by sewing a 2x8inch pieice of fabric together lengthwise.  Turn inside out.  Fold in edges and topstitch.  Fold in half to form loop and sew onto the center back of the bag (you will be sewing it at your center seam if you have one, on the inside of your bag at the elastic casing)

You could also choose to use cotton webbing, or ribbon or a coordinating fabric.  Depending on where you will be hanging your bag you may choose to use a shorter or longer loop.  Adjust as necessary, my door hook is pretty high so I chose to have a longer loop.

Now, stuff your plastic bags in one at a time through the top.  When you need one simply pull one out through the bottom- so easy!  I know these aren’t the clearest directions, but hopefully it makes sense…I will be sure to take pictures during the process next time.

Simple Summer Sewing Series

Simple Summer Sewing Series- Going Green!

How is it August already?  This summer is flying by…where is the time going?  I don’t know about you, but my summer schedule is packed!  With the longer days, warmer weather and two little girls to entertain I am not left with much time to myself…let alone sewing time.  By the time the kids are in bed (sometimes after 9pm!) I am too wiped to sit down and start a project.   I can only spend so much time in front of my sewing machine while the girls run around the house screaming at each other.  Yikes.  Don’t get me wrong, I still sew almost every day but I have to be mindful of how long each project takes…enter- the Simple Summer Sewing Series.  Say that twice fast.  Almost as hard as She sells seashells by the seashore.  I am so corny.

Anyways, I am pretty excited about the projects I am going to show this week; 5 easy and QUICK projects perfect for the beginner sewer or anyone looking for a simple project.  Best part- totally doable in less than an hour (sometimes less than 30 minutes!), so you will never feel guilty staying indoors on a beautiful day locked up in your craft room.  Yay!  Pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

I hope this will become a recurring series, this first one focused on being GREEN; simple projects to satisfy your creative urges and produce something useful and eco-friendly at the same time!

The details:

Day 1:  Bag holder- a pretty disguise and holder for all of those ugly plastic bags you save/recycle.

Day 2:  Reusable placemats- wipeable laminated cotton placemats perfect for a picnic

Day 3: Drawstring bags- self explanatory- fill ’em up with toys, use them for your knitting, etc.

Day 4:  Reusable snack bags- never (well, in an ideal world) buy another plastic sandwich bag again.    Fill them up, eat your snacks, wipe them clean and repeat.

Day 5:  Cloth napkins- go green and add something pretty to your lunchbag at the same time.

So please stop by Monday and check out what I’ve got in store for you.  I can’t wait to get started…already thinking of the fabric for each project.  That’s the best part isn’t it?

Here’s a little preview of day 1!  Gotta throw in at least one picture right?

bag holder
bag holder