crochet market bag

I’ve been making lots of mini quilts, but I took a break a few weeks ago and started crocheting a market tote bag from a kit that my grandmother gave me a couple months ago. It was a good project to work on in the evenings while catching up on shows.  I gifted it to my friend earlier this week. She lives in Seattle and always has to carry around reusable bags since they discourage paper and plastic bags in stores. 

Now I’ve moved on to knitting in the evenings. I frogged a scarf I started that wasn’t working out and it’s becoming a seed stitch cowl. It may be a little unseasonable to be working on a merino wool cowl right now as it’s going to be 90 here tomorrow but it was just 40 the other night. It’s nice to be working on something that just kind of flows. 



secret tote swap round 5: made

For round five of the Secret Tote Bag Swap hosted by Lia’s Handmades, the theme was the 241 Tote by Noodlehead. I was quite excited about this theme and decided to order some fabric online instead of just heading to my local Hancock Fabrics. (I’d like to go to a local quilt shop, but their hours aren’t often day job friendly.)

I like the availability of options at Hawthorne Threads but couldn’t decide, so I created a collage of fabric options and got some feedback.


The first options (my favorite) were popular, but I thought my partner might prefer #4 which was also getting some good responses. I couldn’t commit to two as I just didn’t like it even though some others did. Was I overthinking my fabric selections? Perhaps. As the mailing deadline got closer, I realized I better go ahead and order something.


So I went with the Joel Dewberry and paired it with some white twill and a unused belt from the boyfriend as a strap. I had a metal and navy zipper that  went right along with it and even though I was nervous about making a zipper pocket like this, it went together easily.

And I did buy some of the fabrics in option one for me. 🙂 Couldn’t resist!

For my extras I made a zipper pouch with some leftover charm squares. I reorganized lately and found a bunch of things I forgot I had.


And made a key fob too. I ordered some more hardware after running through the first 10 pieces pretty quickly.


And then threw in some buttons and cupcake ribbon to round out the package.


So all in all here’s what I sent.


My partner said was happy with the package and it looks like I picked the right fabrics for her. Success!

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.


secret tote swap round 4: sent



My partner has received her tote and extra goodies, so I can blog about it now!

I started off buying some purple and blue fabrics for the outside of the bag. I had a different lining cut, but laid the fabrics down on top of a box full of fabric near the machine while working and realized the fabrics I’d bought matched a vintage piece from the Gerchow stash.



Quilted squares look so nice and orderly.


This lined tote tutorial from The Inspired Wren popped into my Pinterest feed and was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to make.

I used denim on the bottom and the quilted pieces for the sides. I eliminated the outer pocket, and changed around a lot of the proportions to make it work. I got a little thrown off when I was putting on the bottom (it gets sewn on top of the side panel, not at the bottom of the piece) but it all came together.


my partner requested a darker fabric for the bottom of the bag. check!


I added some pockets to the inside, but forgot to add a closure. Sorry partner!


I also made a quick key fob (thanks again Pinterest!) based on inspiration and the supplier link found here. The place on Etsy she recommended for hardware (bag lady of SC) was great and super fast! I see many more of these in my future.


And after reading about this sunglasses pattern on Pillows-a-la-Mode I had to make a couple of those too, one for the swap and another for a friend.


Skipped the word on the front, added a piece of ribbon to the zipper. And lined in satin for a bit of luxury…and a bit of a challenge in sewing.


I still wasn’t ready to wrap up the package and since my partner had mentioned having a Kindle I wanted to throw in a case for it. I’d made one out of a sweater for myself awhile back and couldn’t find the other sleeve so I decided to try something scrappy.


I’m pretty proud of how this case turned out. I didn’t QAYG because I didn’t completely understand the concept when I started, so I just quilted it afterwards and went in different directions on different pieces of fabrics. As a matchy-matchy person I had a hard time liking all the different fabrics together in one project, but after it was sewn up I came around.


yay leftover daschunds!


vintage sheets and some thrifted shirt pieces making an appearance on the other side

I was glad I stepped out of my usual comfort zone for the case and enjoyed the result. I’d like to work on more projects like this.


all together

In conclusion, I had a lot of fun working on this group of projects for my swap partner, and I hope she’s enjoying everything!

secret tote swap: round 2

I really like the bag I made for round two of the secret tote swap, and was almost tempted to keep it for myself! It was fun to bring the somewhat ambitious project (for me at least) out of my head and into the world.

I’d been wanting to do a pieced project with some of the fun vintage fabrics that I had from Kathy’s mom’s stash. My partner requested a lot of solid colors so I threw in some solid scraps of my own.


I bought the purple and orange to round out the rainbow, fitting the nature theme of the swap.


As I was sewing it up, I added some light blue and fuchsia scraps to give the rainbow more depth.


I used strips of the rainbow colors at the top of the inside pocket, on the straps, and as a feature for the front of the bag.

I added some diagonal quilting to the back of the bag and a few vertical lines to the front alongside the rainbow piece.


I like how the quilting shows up on the navy linen I got at JoAnn’s.


I added a pocket on the back of the bag and secured it with velcro.


And stuck a snap inside as per my partner’s request. I used a lighter blue fabric from my stash for the lining.


And that was it! My bag was complete and sent off to my partner.


My bag for the swap came to me from England. I always get excited when I see this stamp in the mail.


I got a couple of additional goodies along with my yellow and blue hexagon bag. I was pretty psyched that I had a partner who was willing to put that kind of time into hand-sewing the hexagons and I really like the fabrics she chose.

I also got a bag pattern, card and fat quarter of white hearts on a red background (not pictured).


Thanks so much to my partner over at The Patchwork Robin and to Lia’s Handmades for putting the swap together again for round two. Check out more bags from the swap on Flickr!

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.

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!