Wednesday, January 29, 2014

pretty little tote {a tutorial}

Hello, remember this little tote from a short while back? Quite a few you asked about the pattern I used (there was none since I simply made up the tote as I went), so I decided a proper tutorial was totally in order. Ready? Here we go.

Materials needed:

main exterior fabric - cut two 12.5" x 15" rectangles
pocket fabric - cut one 12.5" x 12.5" rectangle
lining fabric - cut two 12.5" x 15" and one 12.5" x 12.5" rectangles
interfacing (I used Pellon SF 101) -  cut two 12.5" x 15" and one 12.5" x 12.5" rectangles

you will also need two 14" long, 1 1/4" wide webbing for the handles (or you can make your own handles if preferred)

Following manufacturer's directions, fuse interfacing to the wrong sides of two main exterior panels as well as main pocket panel. Set the main panels aside, we'll now work with main pocket and pocket lining panels only.

Place them right sides together, if you have directional fabric make sure you placed both parts in the right direction. Stitch along the top edge of your pocket panels. Don't stitch along the sides or the bottom !!!

Press the seam open, flip the panels (wrong sides are now touching), press again and top stitch along the finished top edge of the pocket.

Place the pocket on top of one exterior panel as shown in the picture, pin and baste in place. 

Now place the second exterior panel on top of the exterior panel with attached pocket (right sides together) and stitch all the way around the sides as well as the bottom of the exterior panels. Do not stitch along the top!

Clip the corners to reduce bulk, press the seams open, and turn right side out.

Place handles 2" away from the middle of the main panel, pin in place making sure you don't twist the handle. (there's going to be 4" between the handles - see picture above)

Stitch over the handle couple of times to make sure it's attached securely. Attach the second handle and set the exterior of your tote aside for now.

Place two lining panels on top of each other, right sides together, pin.

Stitch along the sides and bottom the same way you did for the exterior panel, but make sure to leave about 4" opening in the bottom for turning (see the picture).

Snip the corners and press the seams open.

Place the finished exterior inside the lining, as shown in the picture above.

Align the side seams and pin or clip (I used Wonder Clips) to hold in place.

Stitch all the way around, remove the pins or clips and press the seam open.

Turn your tote right side out through the opening in the bottom.

Push the lining in, smooth out the top and clip or pin to hold it all nice and straight while you topstitch along the top of the tote. 

Double topstitch along the top as shown in the picture. Make sure to go slow so your topstitching will be as straight as possible.

Make a mark 2" from the bottom of the handle on both sides and clip the sides together as shown in the picture.

Stitch along the folded side of the handle (starting and ending at 2" marks) making sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end.

Repeat the step with the other handle. Don't they look pretty? and way more comfortable to hold this way :)

Now all you need to do is stitch the opening in the lining closed and you are all finished!!!

Congratulations! Hope you had fun making this Pretty Little Tote. 

Any questions? Let me know.

Also, if you make a tote using this tutorial, I'd love to see it. If you post it on instagram please use  #prettylittletote so I can look it up.

Thanks for reading. Svetlana

Thursday, January 23, 2014

economy block quilt {all finished}

all.   done.   !!!

I'm so, so very over the moon happy to have my Economy Block quilt all finished. And it turned out just the way I imagined, yay!

I worked on these blocks over the last two weeks, taking my time to fussy cut tons of favorite prints, using lots of scraps as well as digging through my stash.

I used Rita's tutorial to make these blocks. I made 196 of them and they each measure 5.5" unfinished. I love how Rita's way of making the blocks just a bit larger and then trimming them to the right size made for absolutely perfect blocks. And I ended up with really "pretty trash" after each sewing session :)

I knew right from the beginning I wanted to use minky for the backing. It makes for such wonderfully soft and cuddly quilt. It doesn't quilt that easily, though. Especially when it's as big as this guy is.

I went with straight line quilting about 1.5" apart using three different colors of thread (I copied this idea from Jolene's amazing basket quilt). The first few lines went pretty smoothly, but the more I quilted the more minky started shifting and giving me trouble. So, I ripped out a few rows of quilting, turned the quilt upside down and quilted it minky side up and all the problems were resolved, no more puckers or pulling. Phew!

 Finished size of this quilt is 70" x 70" and with all those gazillion seams and minky backing it's quite a heavy, very warm quilt. Just perfect for these freezing cold temperatures we've been experiencing lately.

Plus, it will be perfect for an I Spy game or two :) My favorite.

Talk to you soon. Svetlana

Linking up to Finish it up Friday.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

boxy pouch

As soon as I came across this fantastic tutorial for a boxy pouch I knew I had to make one rightaway. 
And I mean rightaway!!! Right after all the dinner dishes were cleaned and put away last night I pulled out tons of scraps and got to work. (It really helped that my husband took the kids to their lessons, there's nothing more conducive to a productive sewing than a quiet house)

I decided to go with low key color scheme, I also used some of the orphan HSTs that seem to multiply every time I look away :)

This pouch was really meant to be, I even had a perfect metal zipper in just the right size. I decided to use leather handle instead of the fabric one because I think it gives the finished pouch a lovely polished look.

All in all, this was a perfect way to spend an evening. 
So, if you are considering making a boxy pouch, I would very highly recommend this tutorial. It is clearly written with lots of pictures to guide one along and I especially love that this is a fully lined pouch. No raw edges, just the way it should be (in my opinion :)).

Thanks for stopping by. Svetlana

Friday, January 17, 2014

pretty little tote

I while back I came across a picture of this lovely tote bag on Pinterest. And, since I had that exact same Suzuko Koseki fabric in my stash (waiting for just the right project), I decided to make one as soon as I would have time. You know how that goes, right? Many months passed by and I never had time to make it.

Yesterday though, I really, really needed an instant gratification project to work on so I finally made time and sewed up this pretty little tote.

I was planning to go with gray Essex Linen for the main body of the bag but as soon as I placed this beautiful Suzuko Koseki cheater print next to Riley Blake's gingham I knew this was a match made in heaven. And that red cross hatch was such a perfect addition, too. Lovely, isn't it?

Then I decided more gingham would make this bag even more happy looking, so I used Riley Blake gingham in pink for the lining. I think linings should always be so fun. Makes me smile every time I look at it.

I then added bright yellow webbing handles and my pretty little tote was finished. It's a perfect size for a magazine and a book or two. Yes, I still carry books with me when I go places :) Electronic reading simply doesn't do it for me.

Now that I got this tote out of my system it's back to Economy Blocks. I have made 130 of them so far, only 68 more to go :)

Talk to you soon. Svetlana

Linking up to AmandaJean's Finish it up Friday.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

fussy cutting {how to}

Hello, happy Saturday to you all.

It's been all about Economy blocks and fussy cutting around here (and on Instagram #econmyblockalong, and Flickr) lately. 

I made a great progress on my blocks - 86 made, only 110 more to go :). Yes, I do have grand plans and want to make this quilt big, and colorful, and full of fun fussy cut centers. It will be a perfect I Spy quilt.

I'm usually not a huge fan of fussy cuts as it always feels like such a wasteful way of cutting fabric, but fussy cut centers is what makes these blocks. So, I put all my prejudices and frugality aside and got cutting. 

Here's how I fussy cut my fabric (I'm sure there are many different ways of doing it, but this way works best for me so I wanted to share).

I place my pressed fabric on the cutting mat (keeps fabric from slipping and sliding all over the place). I use vinyl sheets  to make a template. I prefer to use grid sheets as it makes centering the template easier.

I then center my template over the picture I want to cut out, trace around the template using disappearing fabric marker and cut on the line with scissors.

Easy and precise. Just the way I love it.

So, are you thinking of giving these wonderful blocks a try (tutorial here)?  I hope you do, they really are so much fun. And a great way to use up scraps as well as some of those cutsie fabrics you had to have but now have no idea what to do with :)

Hope you all have a very lovely and productive weekend. Svetlana

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

scrap therapy

Yesterday I found a remedy for extremely low temperatures and being house bound for days with three kids who are getting on each other's nerves - sewing, lots of sewing using pretty, bright, happy fabric. 

Turning my disorganized ginormous scrap pile into these lovely Economy blocks proved to be a real sanity saver, and so very fun too. I once made a pillow using this block. I paper pieced all six blocks and by the time I was finished with the last one I was sick of it and never wanted to make another Economy block again :(  So this time I decided to follow Rita's instructions (no paper piecing involved). I do like her method a lot better.

I'm getting all giddy with excitement knowing that not only is this going to be such a fun and colorful quilt, I'm also finally putting my scraps to good use. Yay!!!!

What have you been up to lately? Any new projects in the works?

Linking up to Lee's WIP Wednesday.

Monday, January 6, 2014

winter wonderland sewing

Hello, happy Monday to you all!

I thought we would all be back to our regular routine of school and work as this was supposed to be my kids first day of school this year, but our winter weather decided otherwise.

See, this is our backyard. Beautiful, that's for sure but also very, very cold (wind chill dropped all the way down to -40 degrees!!! today).

Schools are closed and our houses look like queen Elsa from newest Disney movie Frozen came and did some decorating :) Not bad, I say, but it would be quite nice to go out and enjoy all this beauty without freezing in seconds.

So, I decided happy bright fabrics were just the cure for winter blues. Hopefully by the time I finish stitching these epp lozenges together I will actually know what to use them for. I thought of making a pillow at first, but now I'm thinking a tote bag might be a way to go???

I've also made quite a progress on my Tone it Down quilt. I have 12 blocks finished so far but I'm simply not sure how I feel about it right now. I might be getting a little tired of low volume :( Or maybe I just made it too busy? Can low volume be too busy? See? Maybe I just need to get out to clear my head. Let's hope for nicer weather soon :)

Hope you're all staying warm and safe. Svetlana

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Hello, how's everyone doing?

We're enjoying a relaxed but very cold and snowy winter break. It's been snowing for days and roads are in terrible condition, but I'm quite enjoying our being house bound, as I got a few more blocks for my Tone it Down quilt finished.

This one is my favorite so far. I was planning on using only green, blue, gray, and low volume fabrics for the quilt, but it felt like it was missing something. So I decided to add some peach/ pink, yellow, as well as some grayish black and I think the whole color scheme works a lot better this way.

I also did tons of epp, I keep all the supplies in my Sew Together Bag which makes making a few hexies here and there so much easier.

These lovely enlongated hexagons (lozenges) might be my very favorite epp shape ever and I'm planning on turning them into a scrappy pillow cover. Should be fun :)

Hope 2014 is off to a good start for all of you, too.

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