September 27, 2009

Rotary cutter madness

I splurged on the weekend and bought the equipment necessary to do some serious rotary cutting. I had read the Purl Bee's rotary cutting tutorial after hearing about it on the Morsbags forum.

I've been lusting after a set for a while, since a lot of my cutting involves straight lines through a few layers of fabric. Following the tutorial's recommendations, I ended up getting a 36"x24" cutting mat, a smaller portable 12"x9" mat, a 12.5" square ruler, a 24"x6.5" ruler" and an Olfa 45mm ergonomic rotary cutter. I bought them from all Ozquilts. Shipping was fast & free (it is for orders over AU$150... I did say "splurge"!)

Well, I've been having fun getting used to the new equipment. Such a guilty luxury! I've been transforming my scraps into neat little 2" squares... maybe I'll make one of Ayumills' cute fabric baskets one of these days...

September 23, 2009

New padded shoulder strap for the tea towel tote

I recently made a tote bag from a tea towel, but I wasn't satisfied with the shoulder strap. Last night I carefully unpicked the top of the bag and removed the strap.

I decided I wanted a shorter handle that was double the width and had a little padding. I have some Sew Easy 100% bamboo batting (140gsm) for just such purposes.

The three most common ways to make handles seem to be
  1. Fold long strip in half lengthways & hem down the side. Turn inside out, iron so that the seam is on one side & topstitch down both edges. This is the method bunny bum uses for her market tote.
  2. Fold long strip in half lengthways & iron. Open up and fold raw edges of both sides towards the center fold line. Fold the sides together along the original fold line and iron. Topstitch down both edges. This is the method cindylouh uses for her simple reversible tote.
  3. The Morsbag method which is detailed in the downloadable PDF instructions. It ends up with a seam down the middle of one side.
I decided to go with option #3 because it seemed to be the easiest to accomplish with batting sandwiched inside it.

I did a little math, and decided I needed a 40"x12cm wide piece of green fabric (blue pen) and a 40"x5cm wide strip of batting (red pen):

Notice my mix of metric and imperial measurements? Heh...

It easy easy to adjust the diagram for a different-sized shoulder strap. The formula is:
  • Work out the width of the final strap (here 5cm).
  • The fold on the right in the diagram will be half that width plus 1cm (here 2.5cm+1cm=3.5cm).
  • The fold on the left will be the same width, only you will iron 1cm under.
I ironed in the creases, then unfolded it, placed the batting inside and ironed it closed again:

I ran three sets of stitches the length of the handles for strength & looks (for the latter I need to improve my "ironing and sewing in a straight line" skills!):

(I swear I'm not endorsed by Sunbeam!
Just my trusty ironing board cover...)

I carefully placed the new strap in the bag and sewed it all up. The resulting shoulder strap is just right length. It sits near my hip and can go over one shoulder or diagonally across the chest & it doesn't cut into my shoulder like the last one did.

I've put the bag in my "presents pile" - it'd make a nice gift for someone overseas (I feel a bit silly having Aussie merchandise).

Also, the old strap won't go to waste: I cut it in half and soon it will be the set of handles for another Morsbag. I have already chosen a new teatowel (from my beloved local op-shop). It's designed by the same person who designed the tea towel I used for this tote!

It has joined my "to do" pile, which is growing ever so sneakily...

Related posts: From tea towel to tote!, Morsbags & Morsbags from tea towels

September 20, 2009

Recycling old pillowcases into Morsbags

On my last trip to the local op-shop, I bought a bunch of old pillow cases. Some were faded, had some stains, or were just ugly designs for a pillowcase.

I've decided out that when pillowcases have a lot of fabric folded under at the end & generous seams, you can unpick the whole lot, give it a good wash, and make two Morsbags out of the one pillowcase. That's what I did with the pillowcase pictured above:

For other pillowcases, you can save time by just making one large bag. You slice off the top where the opening is (You should have enough to make 4 handles out of this), turn it inside out, fold down the top and sew in the handles as usual, then finish it off with a french seam around the edges :) I'll try & document the process with photos when I have a little more time.

Related post: Morsbags, Morsbags from tea towels

September 12, 2009

From tea towel to tote!

I bought an unused tea towel from an op-shop recently. It's made of 100% linen with vividly coloured pictures of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park on it and I knew straight away that I wanted to turn it into a bag.

At first I was going to make a Morsbag from it. I decided that I would have to make the handles from a separate piece of fabric, as the tea towel wasn't big enough to have them cut from the same fabric. When I finally chose some green cotton, I decided it'd make a great lining too. So I went with a more traditional tote bag design, similar to the reversible tote bag I made. This time, however, I reinforced the handles with "box-cross" stitching and added a double interior pocket.

I took it for a spin, and have decided the bag sits a little too low for comfort, and that the strap could do with being a little bit wider. It's sitting on my "to be reworked" pile...

Related posts: New padded shoulder strap for the tea towel tote

September 10, 2009


Whenever I have a spare moment (and I'm always happy to make such moments when I should be doing class readings, or house chores...) I drag out my fabric stash and try to make a dent in it.

Recently, I've been busily making morsbags.
It's all about having a group of friends around to chat whilst simultaneously making shopping bags out of old duvet covers etc. to distribute en masse to shoppers to help protect marine life.

Morsbags are fully recycled, fun and easy to make (download instructions), hygienic (washable), portable, foldable, unique, cheap, biodegradable and reusable.
You can check out some of the creations on Flickr.

The idea is to get other people, who perhaps haven't thought about the environmental impact of not having reusable bags, to use them. You can also think of it as a Random Act of Kindness to someone who has perhaps forgotten theirs.

Using recycled fabrics from op-shops and/or old doona covers, curtains sheets, etc., minimises the amount of cotton produced solely for reusable cotton bags, which means less water, energy and pesticides being used. It also keeps production costs down and makes for some rather interesting fabric patterns - all part of the charm! It might be worth putting a call out for suitable fabric on your local freecycle network if you haven't got any lying around.

The movement also encourages people to avoid "green bags". While better than using a lot of single-use plastic bags, they are still made from polypropylene (a fossil fuel-based plastic). They are recyclable (dependant on consumers doing so) but not biodegradable.

And who can resist free cloth shopping bags? I've made a dozen or so, and have been giving them to my local op-shop. They always have a shortage of bags, and I'm not comfortable approaching people outside shopping areas to hand them out "guerilla-style". Besides, it's fun to buy things like torn doona covers from them and return with a bunch of bags!

Go on, find out if there's a group making bags near you by browing the morsmap or the forums. Join or create a pod and get bagging!

Shared under a cc-by-nc-sa license
{source: kayray}

Related posts: Recycling old pillowcases into Morsbags, Morsbags from tea towels, A zebra and some boats, Red lemur bag! & Happy Valentine's day to 15 strangers

September 9, 2009

Knee-deep in zippers

Action shot!

The postman brought me a lovely package today... 100 zippers in all sorts of colours and sizes (from 4"-10"). A real mixed bag. I was impressed with Zipperstop's service, they answered my international shipping query quickly and sent of the items promptly.

They have lots of bulk zipper packs, I bought mine for US$9.99 and about the same for shipping. They ended up coming to roughly AU$0.25 a zipper which is pretty good!

Now to work on adding zippers to things. It still scares me every time... well I have a lot to play with now, at least!

September 6, 2009

Geta's Shadow Trapunto Quilt

Isn't Geta's quilt just beautiful?

I am super stoked to have been the lucky winner of this quilt. I can barely believe it! The giveaway was hosted by Rachel over at One Pretty Thing:
One Pretty Thing- a daily website dedicated to bringing you inspiring projects for a handmade life. I'm Rachel and I scour the craft forums, sites and blogs to bring you the best tutorials and DIY.

I've been following Geta's shadow trapunto creations for some time now, and it is on my ever-growing "to try one day" list. I actually bought a second-hand craft book recently because it mentioned the trapunto technique, and Geta had made me curious about what it was all about.

Check out Geta's Blog for other creations, such as these amazing quilted bags:

She has some free quilting tutorials if anyone is interested, and a great step-by-step e-book available for purchase if you want to learn the shadow trapunto technique. It's full of photos and clear instructions.

Let's take one final look at the quilt....

I am going to be checking the mailbox every day!

September 4, 2009

Matching zipper pouch and pocket tissue holder

I couldn't resist trying two more of cindylou's tutorials:
The tutorials were easy to follow, and I conquered my fear of the zipper! I remembered a trick from Michelle's zipper tutorial - the one about stopping halfway down the zipper, lifting the foot whilst the needle is down & moving the zipper head to the other side before continuing. It didn't turn out perfectly, nor did the lining, but all in all it was fun and looks fine! And both coordinate with yesterday's tote bag... How much coordination is too much coordination?! ;)

From "singlet style" to "reversible" tote bag

A friend's birthday is fast approaching. I had some lovely brown & cream (Windham fabrics; Modern Grace from Moe 3 by Jackie Shapiro #26166) and pink fabric left over from the last singlet style shopping bag I made for another friend's birthday, and so I decided I'd make another one. I'm really won over by the pattern - I've made quite a few, because they're so comfortable to carry heavy loads with.

I carefully cut out the pattern pieces... concentrating so hard that I failed to notice that I'd set the wrong side of my template along the seam. Despair descended, followed by a quick search through my crafty "to-do" bookmarks folder. I dug up cindylou's tutorial for a simple reversible totebag and sewbunny's tutorial for a market tote, realising that I could easily salvage the pattern pieces I'd already cut out.

I decided to follow cindylou's tutorial, but went for one long strap like in sewbunny's example.

After sewing the outer fabric and the lining pieces, I decided I absolutely needed an inside pocket, using the method from's singlet style shopping bag. I undid half of the stitching on the lining, but impatience at the end resulted in my thread picker cutting a little hole in the lining. More despair followed. I ended up just bringing in the side seam a few cms, and then had to do the same on the outer fabric.

From then on in, everything went smoothly, boxed bottom and all!

I love the fact that the bag's reversible! The fabric I chose isn't really reversible though (hot pink... hehe...)

But it does mean that there's a pocket inside the bag for storing keys/a purse/wallet etc and as a bonus the bag can be turned inside out and then packed into its own nifty little pouch.

I'm glad I didn't give up every time I made a seemingly show-stopping mistake... it turned out quite nicely. I hope she likes the bold colours!

Related post: Matching zipper pouch and tissue holder
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