big beachy striped tote

I was flipping through an issue of Lucky magazine and spotted this tote. I loved the stripes and handle treatment.

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Then I recalled that I had a very similar fabric in my stash and decided to make a knock-off for my friend Crystal who lives near a lake.

I started by making a lined zipper pocket to sew in at the top hem of the bag. I really wanted a sturdy lining so there wouldn’t be anywhere for sand to hide out. I basically just made a square zipper pouch like I’ve made before, but on a larger scale. The lining was a little fiddly, but it all worked out. (I don’t know that I’ll ever do a tutorial because I generally hack things until they turn out how I want them.)



Quite proud of that pocket! And I like how the vintage metal zipper finishes it off. Here’s how it looks in the bag. I just sewed it right in to the top hem between the straps.


The bag itself is pretty large. I figured it would fit two or three towels, snacks, extra shoes/clothes, water bottles, and anything else you might need on a trip to the beach.

I finished everything off on the inside with French seams to stop this home dec fabric from fraying.


To add some form to the floppy bag, I boxed the bottom and added seams along each of the four corners to reinforce the shape.

I was going to buy cotton webbing for the handles but it would have been around $10. Instead, I bought a remnant of nice crisp off-white cotton for less than $2 and made my own handles and pocket lining from that. Crystal said she preferred that for the handles anyway!

So leftover yard sale fabric (previously used for an apron for my brother) + vintage metal zipper from stash + $2 remnant = way less than $77 for a beach tote for my friend!

I threw in the second sunnies pouch and a pair of baby pants to finish off the package.beachstripedtote05AMade by Rae’s newborn baby pants are probably my most sewn pattern to date. They sew up quickly, make good use of small bits of fabric, and are perfect for anyone having a baby, especially people having boys as you can’t just whip up a cute dress or hair ribbon for them.


My plaids don’t match up because I didn’t have much of this fabric left and what I did was in an odd shape, but I think they’ll looking darling with a red onesie or yellow or navy sweater.



reenergizing refashions

I’m still not where I want to be with sewing, but graduation at my school was this weekend so I’m hoping I’ll be able to work less and ramp up the crafting in the next couple weeks (after I take a mini-vacation to visit my brother for his college graduation that is). To get a jump start on my sewing I took a little bit of time to rework a refashion. I made these hot pink and brass zipper jeans almost exactly a year ago. I wish I would have taken a before picture when they were bootcut.


I really liked the pink zipper, but found myself never wearing them. I don’t have a lot that goes with hot pink besides black or white, and my tendency to always cross my legs under me when sitting means having a zipper pressing into my ankle. For me, the zipper jeans trend is over anyway so I refashioned the refashion. I sewed the zippers in pretty well, so it took a lot of seam ripping, but after the zippers were out I just had to sew up the opening where they were. Voila! New skinny jeans, which fit into my wardrobe much better than the hot pink zippered ones. Plus I have two cool zippers to use for another project.


My favorite part is that these jeans are thicker than many of the “jeggings” out there since they were made from regular jeans with just a little stretch. Have you ever tried to skinny out some regular jeans?

yard sale saturday

First yard sale post of the season!

Yesterday was gorgeous and since I was in town and didn’t have plans until later, I headed out to the yard sale circuit. I got back into the groove pretty quickly and found a number of bargains.

At the first stop, I picked up two baskets for $0.50. I really just wanted the taller one to house sewing projects in, but the other one will be good for company or picnics. The picnic basket I got for $1 at another sale later in the day. It’s in great shape, UK colors and it’s collapsible! The boyfriend and I will have to go on a picnic soon.


Jackson is a big fan of the blue basket as well. It’s well suited for his napping purposes.


This cool art cover Moleskin notebook ($0.25) is for a friend.



Yarn extravaganza! This woman had a booth at the local Peddler’s Mall and was getting out the business. I got all this yarn for $4. Now to figure out what to do with it…




…though it does look nice in my new basket!


Next, a couple of household items.

A new market tote bag ($1) since some of my old ones are biting the dust. Yeah, I mostly bought it because of the blue edge but the penguins didn’t hurt either. The table was $2 and is just a sturdier upgrade of a table I already have.


Then I got some clothes of course.

A $0.50 robot shirt for the nephew.yardsalefinds414_06


Some ladies with good taste were selling these sweaters. $2 for the gray and purple, and $3 for the teal 100% cashmere cardigan. Both are super comfortable. The woman selling the teal told me she was happy it was going to a good home.


I sold a few things at the consignment store and came away with an awesome dress. Since I made some money, the brand new Limited dress with tags on cost me less than $7. It looks very Kate Middleton to me and it’s fully lined and has nice pockets.


And finally, I wrapped up the morning with a quick Goodwill trip. I have a big backlog of those to post about, but this time I just got two things. An IZOD madras skirt and fireworks shirt for $3 each.


I’ve had far more luck at the Goodwill near my house but decided to try a different location this time. The layout is cleaner and it’s usually less crowded and I didn’t have it in me to battle crowds and subpar dressing rooms after my morning of yard sales.

So there you have it! First yard sale Saturday of the year. As always, a shout-out to my yard sale crew in Alabama for teaching me everything I know. Hope you all are having a lovely weekend 🙂





birthday totes, bibs, and aprons

I finished my bag for the secret tote swap, but since today is the much celebrated and beloved holiday of Columbus Day the post office is closed. I think post office and bank workers must be Columbus’s biggest fans. But since I’ve not sent my latest tote out yet, I have some other totes for you today.

I made some more birthday totes in the last few weeks. This one was for my mom’s friend Sandy. She likes bright happy colors, and I’d been saving this shirt to make a bag. It was a thrift store find of course.


I paired the shirt with the rest of the pink sheet (that has lasted for YEARS since I first got back into sewing) and turned it into a fun beachy tote.


I used the sheet for the lining, straps, and part of the front since there wasn’t a whole lot of shirt to go around. I did use a little bit of the shirt on the inside pocket. Some triple topstitching finished off the front.


I meant to finish the bag before I went to Pennsylvania, but ended up mailing later because it wasn’t done in time. I made the card during a cardmaking blitz that I hope to blog about soon.

My next tote was for my friend Christine. I’m still stashbusting fabric, so I used a checked red and white fabric from Kathy’s mom’s stash that I thought suited her.

I knew I wanted to make a large bag because she’s a crocheter and has been working on afghans lately. I had a pillowcase in the stash that was about the width that I wanted to make the bag so I used it as the lining. No sewing up the sides and bottom, just insert the pillowcase into the outer bag!


I like the striped on the edge and will be saving them for another project.

I wanted to pair the checked fabric with a thicker one since it’s a loose weave and the pillowcase did the trick. Lots of topstitching on the handles and a divided inside pocket finished this bag off.


The boyfriend laughed when he saw how large this bag is, but it’s working out for Christine.

christine tote bag in action

She’s been making some great projects lately!

I made her son a bib since his birthday was pretty recent too. I’ve intended to make so many things for him since he was born a year ago, but I really haven’t gotten around to it. *guilty friend syndrome*


I made this reversible toddler bib pattern using some plaid fabric from the same acquired stash as the checkered fabric. Levi just turned one but he is already toddler-sized.

My last birthday present in this round-up is for Barret’s sister. He picked out the fabric, and I made the apron from one of my go-to patterns. After I made an apron for Barret’s mom last year, Casey mentioned that she wanted an apron. I kept that though in the back of my mind and it took several months almost a year, but her birthday was the catalyst I needed to make it happen. (Even then I almost waited until this Christmas to finish it, but Barret kept nudging.)


The prepackaged bias tape matched perfectly, as did a button from my stash.


I really like the full skirt of this apron pattern. It adds something special to a very practical garment.

I’ll be off to the mailbox tomorrow to send my tote for the swap (luckily it’s not going far) and the sailboat pouch to my giveaway winner. (Congrats to TheFamilyClass!)

I’m hoping things are slowing down a little so I’ll have a chance to post more regularly. I’ve been working against some deadlines and was out of town for a conference last week.

shirt to shirt dress

My friend Crystal came to visit last weekend. It has been way too long since we saw each other last, and it was a blast.

She’s mentioned to me that she wants to start shopping at yard sales and thrift stores, but got overwhelmed when she tried it on her own. We were heading out to do some non-thrift shopping Saturday when I saw that there were two yard sales on my block.

The first one was a wash, but at the second one there were lots of plus sized clothes. Neither of us is plus sized, but I know you can get a good amount of fabric to work with in one shirt. I found one in a fabric I thought she would like and convinced her to buy it. For $0.50, I thought I could make a cute skirt with buttons in the front and get it done before she left.



When I brought the garment up to the sewing room after a marathon day of non-thrift shopping, I realized it had dress potential.

I wasn’t sure it would work, but here are the steps I took.

First, I removed the sleeves. You can see just how big this dress was on Crystal initially. It fits around her twice!


Next I took off the outer bodice panels. In the previous photos you can see where the bodice seam goes all the way up to the top.

After this step, we had what looked like a jumper. Thankfully I had a model to try it on at each stage of the process!



I took the skirt in on the sides, and realized the the bodice just needed a few inches on each side to make it wearable.



I took a piece of the extra fabric that I cut off the sides and stitched it in place on the bodice, then did the same on the other side. From there, I cut a rough armhole and did the rest of my fitting.

There was a good bit of tweaking on the fit. I basted my stitches so the dress could be easily adjusted in or out. Crystal often has trouble finding clothes that work for her, and a lot of time she needs things taken in at the tailor, so I really wanted to make her a dress that fit well.

Once I got the fit and armhole shape looking good, I showed Crystal how to make some bias tape. I also had her help on the ironing, pinning, and cutting because she wanted to get some insight into the whole sewing/refashioning process. I cut the bias tape, and she ironed it all quite nicely. I attached it to the armholes, and voila!


The dress turned out even better than I thought it might. I contribute it to the fact that we made an awesome team 🙂

She was so pleased with her new dress, and especially the fit. I know because she kept it on for an hour after we finished it and wore it when she left the next day!

I was happy to show Crystal the process of refashioning, though at first I was a little nervous to have someone watching me while I was working. I wish she lived closer so we could get together and sew. She’s sewn some simpler projects, like aprons and basic dresses, and they’ve turned out great, so hopefully now she’ll try her hand at refashioning!

I made her a lunch bag and snack pouch to take with her, so I’ll post about those next time.

I did manage to snag a photo of her wearing her new dress with her new lunch bag, so here’s a sneak peek!



And doesn’t she make it look fabulous ladies and gentlemen? I wish I had a willing model around more often!

boxy bag and birthday purse

I’ve conquered the boxy zip bag! I was nervous, but I’ve made a few different types of zipper pouches (curved top, wedge, pleated, gathered, embroidered) so it was time to further my knowledge. Guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

I used this pattern from Pretty Modern and it worked out well. It was a bit nerve-wracking since you don’t turn the bag right side out until the end when all the sewing is done. I thought I’d try to turn it and it would look like a big mess, but it looked like this!


Instead of interfacing for the lining, I used batting to give the bag a cushy interior. Look, it unzips correctly and is nice and finished inside!


One of my zipper tabs is off center but I’ll live with it, or wait until I can’t stand it anymore, rip the lining open and fix it. So far, I’m going to live with it. 🙂 The most tedious part of this bag was boxing all eight corners (lining and exterior), but it’s so worth it!

Where did I get this awesome fabric that is truly “the cat’s pajamas” you ask? At a yard sale of course! I used a pillowcase from the same day of yard sales (previously seen as a pillowcase dress) for the lining.


I’ve mentioned my sleep shorts addiction before. This pair was too big and billowy but I didn’t want to part with the fabric. I figured a pair of sleep shorts is well suited to be made into an overnight toiletries bag.

I finished another bag last weekend for my friend’s sister’s birthday. She’d seen the pleated purse I made for my swap partner and requested one for her sister. She picked the fabric and I did the sewing.


I did a matching pocket on the inside and a magnetic snap closure as the pattern suggests. I was more careful with the fusible interfacing this time so there are less wrinkles and bubbling.


Now I just have to give the bag to my friend!

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.

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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.