totes, art shows, and styling a sweater




Totes have become my go-to gift to make for people. So far this summer, I’ve made one for my friend Leah‘s birthday, my boyfriend’s mom‘s birthday, for myself, for my mom, and for a couple of giveaways.

I made this one in a black, white, and gray chevron pattern. My mom’s friend was diagnosed with cancer a few months back and I wanted to make her something to take with her to her treatments.

I found this fabric remnant and knew it would be good for her because she is a stylish lady.



Jackson helped with quality control and inspected the pocket. I’ve been looking for a good use for the tiny pink heart remnant (I had maybe 1/8 / yard) and I wanted to put it in this tote to remind her we are thinking about her.

I had black canvas for the handles, and used two layers (one gray, one white) from my seemingly endless supply of broadcloth for the lining. I didn’t topstitch around the top like I usually do because I liked the folded over look, but I did box the bottom corners to give it dimension.



I sent the bag off to my mom to fill with things to read and do to pass the time while our friend is waiting at the hospital, and my mom passed it along to her. She seems to be doing well with her treatments.

The black and white together on the bag reminded me about a dress I was wearing the other day, and a surprising wardrobe pairing I discovered. Remember when I posted about that blue short-sleeve cardigan?

I was wearing a black and white striped summery dress and had been having issues with the straps covering what they were supposed to all morning. I was trying to solve this wardrobe crisis when I spotted the blue cardigan in my closet. I threw it on just for the heck of it and was quite surprised with how it looked.



I was quite happy with this look compared to the previous look, and had to take a picture to share with you all. The sweater also solved the straps issue and prevented any wardrobe malfunctions. This cardigan might be seeing the light of day more often!

In other news, the boyfriend and I went to an art show the other weekend. I picked up this leather bracelet for $4.


And the boyfriend bought this photo of street art.


The Big Lebowski is one of his favorite movies ever, and he’s a fan of street art so it was a good combo. I also saw some cool art quilts there, but didn’t get a picture.

I’m still not sure how I will be enjoying the rest of my Labor Day weekend, but last night we babysat the nephew who was awesome and entertaining and smiley, and today I’ve been sewing. I finished an oven mitt, started a purse for a friend’s sister, and realized I bought the wrong size zipper when I went to start a boxy toiletries bag. But my grandmother did just send me another Joann’s gift card, so I hope to be able to go buy a zipper and maybe pick up some fabric for other projects before the weekend is over.


post new job thrifting

So I got a new job, and with that job comes the need for a professional wardrobe. I’ve been slowly accumulating pieces, but it is harder than I thought it would be. I really want to present myself well since I’m in PR and I don’t want to buy a bunch of clothes I won’t like in a few months because I’ve done that in the past. Here’s what I’ve found on the cheap that I really like.

br dressA


This dress is my favorite and most expensive purchase. Don’t believe the price tag that was still attached. I found this Banana Republic suit dress with tags at Clothes Mentor, a consignment store, for $16. It was more than I wanted to pay, but the fit and quality of the dress convinced me.



These tops were $3 each at one of my favorite Goodwills. Target, boutique label, and Gap, left to right. I think I can make the lilac and gray work for the office. The cardigan is practically essential in my icy office, and the blue sweater I picked up for winter lounging.



I found these two $3 shirts at two other Goodwills in town. Ann Taylor LOFT, Express and the last one was a freebie from Amanda’s mom. I wore it to work yesterday and got lots of compliments! It is an interesting color palette.



This rayon top from Target via Goodwill would be a favorite because the fabric feels amazing, but there’s a hole in the front. I almost didn’t get it, but I want to make this top work somehow because I love the fabric.



This last item was from the same Goodwill as the Express shirt. I really didn’t like the store overall and don’t think I’ll go back, but I picked this up for $0.25 so it was worth the trip. It’s holding produce in my kitchen.

I haven’t been in a yard sale mood when it comes time to wake up on Saturday mornings, and not finding what I want at Goodwill is driving me to the clearance racks at regular stores. These finds are from the past month or so.

I have been sewing a lot of things for around the house, so once I get those rounded up and maybe finish some more curtains I’ll be posting pictures. I found a great coupon last night on Joann’s for 60% off a single cut of regular fabric and bought some really cute curtain fabric that I can’t wait to share.

mail and files

I’ve been getting some fun mail lately and wanted to share.

My mom made me a card to congratulate me on my new job. (You can check out the previous card she made me for my new place here.)


I used to work at a newspaper so this is a very appropriate theme. And I worked at a kids’ gymnastics place until recently, so the cartwheel instructor classified also fits in!

I like how she always puts little details on the envelope.


She’s been quite excited for me to find full-time employment (in a field I find interesting that is suited to my skills no less).

I also got a very nice thank you note for the pillowcase dresses that I made for Haiti. The dresses were set to ship mid-August so they should be in Haiti now!


And my friend sent me some new tea to try out. I’ve been in a tea phase this summer so if you have any favorites let me know. Check out that swanky wrapping paper and card!


I also got another new job congrats card (thanks Maureen!) and a Christmas card from my godmother because my extended family celebrates Christmas in July every year. She included a JoAnn’s gift card that will be going to the purchase of some curtain fabric for the craft room.


Thanks for all the mail, ladies!

Though it’s been a month and a half since the move, I’m still working on settling into the new place. The boyfriend and I have been cruising thrift stores and peddler’s malls looking for random furniture. I’d never considered a filing cabinet as something I wanted, but I’ve been seeing a lot out there lately and this piece with its $20 price tag pulled me in.


It was a little rough (note the large black spot)…


 but some elbow grease cleaned it right up.

I put a TV on top, and now have TV in the craft room!


I’d like to use it to house some patterns, but right now it’s full of random papers and computer stuff that needs organized.

I’m hoping to post about other recent thrift store purchases and home sewing projects soon, but I’m far busier at my new PR job than in any job I’ve had since leaving school. (No more crafting at nap time like I did at the preschool!) I enjoy what I’m doing, but it’s not making me want to hop on the blog when I get home since I’m on the computer most of the day. I have been sewing and thrifting though, so there are things to blog when I get in a posting mood.

In other blog news, my teal and gray backpack has been going viral on Pinterest.

pinterest backpack for me pinterest backpack for me 2

I’m excited because my yellow sweater bag has been my most popular post for far too long, and I’m quite proud of how that backpack turned out. Thanks to all the pinners for stopping by!

The other backpack I made this summer went along with my godson Anthony for his first day of kindergarten this morning. It was able to hold all the stuff he had to take on his first day, which was apparently a lot!



It looks pretty snazzy with his school uniform! He’s such a cutie.

Well, that’s all for now bloggers. I hope it won’t be too long before my next post, but this week is shaping up to be a busy one!

p.s. I’ve just signed up for round two of the Secret Tote Bag Swap. I had so much fun in round one!

jeans into cuffed shorts

I often give my friend Amanda and her mom dibs on my clothes when I’m ready to donate because they’re about the same size as me. Last week, Amanda returned the favor and gave me some of her mom’s clothes. They all fit (!) and I think I’ll be able to use all of them as is or with modifications.

My first project is with these jeans that were in the bag. I really liked the back pocket details, but there were issues below the knees.


shiny gold pockets!

I’m betting you can guess where I’m going with these from the placement of the pins. See the worn spots by the knees?


So I cut off the bottoms using this tip and had a pair of shorts.


They were a bit long for my taste, so I cut again.


Getting there.

I didn’t want to cut them too short because I knew I wanted cuffed shorts and that would take a couple more inches off the length.


I rolled them up to where I wanted (about a 1″ cuff), turned the tops 1/4″ under so no frayed bits were showing, and pressed and stitched. Tip: I stitched my side seams first so they weren’t flaring out, and then stitched around the top of the hem.


Bam! New shorts.


I think the gold embellished pockets are even more of a feature now.

The stretchiness of the fabric means these shorts are very comfortable for hanging out in. I’ve been wearing them around the house all weekend and, in fact, I’m wearing them right now!

I tried a pair of longer length, snug fit cutoffs a year or two ago that were very washed-out and fraying at the ends. The boyfriend said they were the most redneck thing he’d ever seen. Cute cuffs, a shorter length, a darker wash, awesome pocket details and no fraying ends keeps this pair away from redneck territory. (The boyfriend noted that he never would have thought these were jeans before.)


So a quick simple refashion got these jeans off the shelf of the sewing room and into wearing rotation. Hope you all are having a productive weekend!

catching up

Since July I have:

– moved from a tiny apartment to a two-story duplex with craft room (nothing fancy, but so much space!)
– purchased my first smart phone, an iPhone 5

– finally started using Instagram – I’m photosarahcats. (I started with photosarahcrafts, but have yet to post a craft photo and at least 50% of my posts are of the kitties.)


Harvey likes the space and all the windows in the new place

– begun a new full-time job in public information and marketing

work parking lot

view from the parking lot. I even have windows in my office!

– left my other three jobs that I’d collected since I moved last year (working part-time at a preschool, substitute teaching, and working Fridays/nights/weekends at a kids gymnastics/birthday party place)


one job instead of three = time for drinking lemonade on the porch

– actually been making plans with the boyfriend/friends and going out and doing stuff around town (since I’m not working all the time and have a bit more financial freedom)


went to the racetrack for a night to enjoy the beautiful fall-like weather we’ve been having lately

And I’ve gotten some sewing done in there too. I made a test version of a potholder and hope to make a few more plus some oven mitts in the near future. I sewed up some orange gingham curtains for the kitchen, and hope to purchase some more curtain fabric for other rooms soon. I’m also working on a few bags right now.

So that’s been my life via Instagram! If you are on it let me know. It’s my new favorite thing. 🙂

romper from an upcycled pillowcase for Emma

I knew when I bought this strawberry printed pillowcase that I wanted to make it into a romper for Emma. I didn’t realize that it would take me almost a year to find a pattern that looked like what I wanted to make.


these pillowcases are now an apron, a romper, an a-line dress, and another apron. (left to right)

When Elegance and Elephants came out with their Pleated Playsuit pattern, I knew I had not been waiting in vain.

I cut out the pieces in May and finished all the sewing a week or two ago. If I sat down and worked on it continuously, I’m sure it would have gone along fairly easily but a lot happened between May and August.

My pillowcase wasn’t as vibrant as I remembered it. It is a bit worn, but I still like the cute strawberry print. I used red broadcloth for the lining since the pillowcase was a bit sheer with wear.


I briefly considered making the whole thing reversible, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around it and preferred to get the project done and finally send Emma everything I’ve been making for her this summer (shorts, apron, hat, romper, doll quilt – yet to be blogged, and some found GAP jean jackets).

This was my first time buying broadcloth that wasn’t at Hobby Lobby. I bought whatever was on the shelf and cheap at Hancock Fabrics and I got a surprise when I put the iron to it.


I have never had that happen with Hobby Lobby broadcloth and I’ve worked with it a LOT. But the stuff I bought at Hancock Fabrics straight up melted. (Both fabrics are a poly-cotton blend.) I was more careful while working with the rest of the fabric and didn’t have another incident but I won’t buy this kind of broadcloth again.

The pieces had sat in a pile for a while after I cut them so it was fun to see the playsuit start to take shape.


I didn’t need to make a lot of adjustments to add the lining; I cut one strawberry and one red for all of the bodice and pants pieces, including the back pocket linings and even the leg cuffs. The only pieces I didn’t cut one red and one white of were the front pocket linings and the straps. Then I just sewed the pillowcase and red pieces at the same time like they were one piece and it all worked out.

I pinked the inside seams that weren’t finished, which were all the seams on the bottom and the joining seam.


And it turned out to be a decent little romper!


I like the pattern enough to make it again in a different fabric, especially after seeing the people who have linked up their awesome versions with the pattern. I don’t know if I will actually be making another version anytime soon, but the pattern is definitely a keeper. Oh, and did I mention it’s free??

There are great details included, like the pocket lining peeking out…


and the pleat in the front bodice.


I also like the little tie spaghetti straps.

Emma should be getting her package in the next few days and I hope she and her parents like it as much as I do! I’ll do a write-up on the doll quilt soon, and there might be another tote in the near future. 😉

yellow striped tote

Yes, it’s another tote. (I can’t help it! They are the perfect quick gift.)

I’m a big fan of this one that I made for Barret’s mom. (Barret is the boyfriend’s real name.) It’s made from yard sale fabric (of course) and the colors are great for summer.


The fabric I had wasn’t wide enough to make the tote as wide as I wanted, so I took a horizontal striped piece and flipped it to add some extra width with vertical stripes. I like how the stripes run perpendicular to each other.

For the lining I used a pale yellow thrift store sheet. I added a colorful pocket made from a couple of Alegria Bouquet charm squares that I had left over from my sewing machine mat project.


I used white cotton webbing from Hobby Lobby for the handles. It gave it the clean summery look I was going for.

This tote has been adorning a doorknob in my craft room for the last few weeks. I finished the tote shortly after Sherry’s birthday, but didn’t get a chance to give it to her until the other day. She’s in town watching HD (a.k.a. the nephew) for the week while his mom transitions back to work. That kid is going to be three months old before long! And I think he will need a three-month-old birthday present. 🙂

Up next: I took a break from totes and finished that romper for Emma!