Bag of Health

We’ve never had a bathroom that didn’t have drawer storage.  So, I’m working on a few ideas to make the main bathroom as functional as possible, sans drawers.  I’m still searching for the perfect baskets, but I decided to make a zippered bag to store first aid supplies.  To get started, I bought a yard of silver metallic ironing board cover (hey, it was cheap, durable, and shimmered) and a 12 inch blue zipper.

Knowing I want to fit all our first aid supplies in one bag, I cut two pieces of fabric 12 inches wide by 17 inches long.  Yes, this is going to be big.  Then, I placed my fabric on the table, right side up.  Lay the zipper over, face down, keeping the bottom edge of the zipper flush with the bottom edge of fabric.  Pin in place.

If you have a zipper foot for your sewing machine, now is the time to use it.  I thought I did, looked all over for it, and couldn’t find it.  Instead, I sewed the zipper on by hand.  Sew close to the zipper without running into it.

Once you’ve sewn one side on, add the second piece of fabric putting the right sides of the fabric together.  Sew along the zipper edge again.    When the fabric is folded over, right sides out, the zipper will have a nice clean edge.

Because I sewed this by hand, I went back over and added top stitching with my machine, following along the edge of the fabric for a straight line.

Now face right sides of the fabric together and pin along the bottom.

Sew along the edge, leaving a half-inch allowance.  Unzip your zipper few inches-this is crucial to turn it right sides out when you’re done.  Leave the fabric wrong side out.  Pin the edges and sew a straight line, a half-inch from the edge.  Do this to both sides.

If you were to turn it out right now, you’d have a flat bag.  To give it a boxy shape, pinch the corners together.

I found it easiest to put one finger in the corner of the bag, holding it upright, then flattening the point like this:

Your point will be perpendicular to the edge seam.  Pin the corners to hold in place.

For my first corner, I made a straight lone across and sewed along the line.

Then I measured my width and marked the three remaining corners at five inches, just like my first one.

After sewing all four corners, cut about a quarter-inch above.

Then fill your bag up with cosmetics, travel toiletries, or first aid supplies.

To make a different sized bag, keep this in mind:

  • The zipper length will determine how big the bag is from front to back.  I had a 12 inch zipper, so I cut my fabric 12 inches wide.  For an 8 inch zipper, cut your fabric 8 inches wide.
  • The length of the fabric will change how wide it is from side to side.  I cut my fabric at 17 inches, which is really wide.  For a size more like a regular cosmetic bag, cut the fabric between 8 and 12 inches.
  • For a boxier bag, widen your corners.  I pinned mine at 5 inches, which I think would be perfect for a cosmetic bag, but that can change.

Earn Your Stripes

I know, I know.  Stripes are a huge trend and I’m the last to jump on board.  But I love the look, so I did it.  Back when we made the offer on the mountain house, I immediately thought of a green wall color with white and gray striped curtains in the boys’ bedroom.  Green because it’s V and E’s favorite color.  And stripes because they’re bold without being girly.  You saw my 20 yard pile of fabric on Monday, and I’m happy to say we’ve got hanging curtains as of last night.

For the past week, we’ve lived with white mini blinds and old hardware from vertical blinds.

The blinds blocked some of the incoming light, but not enough to let the boys sleep past 6:30.  I love curtains, the look, function, and ease, so I decided to make blackout curtains, hoping for precious sleep.  I bought 10 yards of white blackout liner and 10 yards of a plain cotton liner to use as my curtain.  Joann had drapery fabric on 50% off sale, so the blackout cost $3.49 per yard and the cotton liner was $3.99 per yard for a total of $74.80 for four 54 inch wide floor to ceiling panels.  To get started on my sewing endeavor, I first cut the fabric into 7 foot 4 inch lengths.  Once I had four of each fabric, I pinned the manufacturer straight lines together.

Using a known straight edge helped me keep the curtain panels as square as possible.  After I smoothed out the fabric, I rolled my long edges over twice, keeping a one inch margin, to make a clean back edge.

I did this to all four sides, then started sewing.  And sewing.  And sewing.  I was the energizer bunny of the sewing world that day.  Two Everett naps later, I had my four panels ready for ribbon.  Most often, I make a rod pocket when I sew curtains.  But the thick blackout fabric doesn’t bunch much when pulled to the side, so I needed to fix that.  Curtain clips are an option, but I’m too cheap to spend 28 bucks (four packages at $7 each).  Instead, I used white grosgrain ribbon I already had in my stash, not to be confused with a ‘stache; I don’t have that kind.  I cut my ribbon into 6 inch lengths, then pinned the edges over twice to prevent fraying and to add strength.  Five ribbon loops per panel was perfect for my hefty fabric.

One ribbon loop on either end of each panel first, pinning in the corners.

To place my other three, I skipped measuring and folded my fabric in half, marking center with a pin.

Pin first, then sew three strips, the first forward, second in reverse, and last forward.

With those ribbon loops, the curtains became functional.  Finally time for the fun part.  After folding the edges over twice, my 7 foot 4 inch panels became 7 foot panels, which is perfect for 12 inch wide stripes.  A yard stick made quick work of marking my stripes.  Starting from the top of each to make sure the stripes lined up, I made tick marks at each foot.  Just a light line and I started edging with my paint.  Then I realized my paint dried too quickly and it was going to take an eternity this way.  I busted out a roll of plain masking tape and tested the crispness of the line it made.  Lucky for me, the tape worked perfectly.  So I started using the tape for a crisp paint line, running it along my pencil line.

To ensure a tight seal, I used the end of my paint can opener to really press the tape down.

To get my gray stripes, I used a can of Pewter Tankard, left over from painting the inside of the drawers of our first home’s kitchen.  While at Joann buying fabric, I looked at Fabric Medium.  I decided against using it for a few reasons.  1.  I needed a one to two ratio of medium to paint.  2.  Each 2 ounce bottle cost $2.99 and I’d probably need 4 or more bottles.  3.  I’m painting curtains, so a rough texture won’t be a problem.  No one is sitting or sleeping on it.  So I started painting with my plain latex paint and a brush.  Pouncing along the tape line helps prevent paint bleeding, too.

Working in one foot sections, I edged along the tape, then quickly filled in working from the edge toward the center.  It took about 4 hours to tape and paint twelve stripes (three on each panel).  Vincent and Everett colored near by, occasionally stepping over to see my progress and chat.  I painted two stripes per panel, moved them to the floor to dry and started on the next.  I worked through the panels until my first dried and I painted the last stripe.

I finished painting and remembered I couldn’t use the curtains that night if I didn’t have rods to hang them on.  Originally I wanted to use galvanized plumbing, but parts were more expensive than I anticipated.  Each fixed five foot rod would cost about 30 bucks.  Maybe I can find an adjustable curtain rod I liked more under $30.  The boys and I made a Target run, where I found this Umbra rod I liked.  Our Target only had one, so we looked for another simple option.  Then I saw this one with two in stock.  We grabbed them and headed home.

Last night, Ben and I hung the rods after tearing down the old vertical blind systems.  I didn’t bother patching the holes because we don’t have paint to touch up.  That will happen when after scraping the popcorn off and repainting.  Each bracket is 10 inches outside the window trim, allowing the curtains to fully open.  Here are the new striped curtains:

I did some furniture rearranging to make opening and closing the curtains easier.  Neither window is centered on the room, which is annoying.

V’s bed is about 6 inches away from the wall now, and I turned E’s crib, putting the long side along the window wall.

I smile when I walk in there now.  Oh, and the blackout fabric makes the room super dark.  Mission accomplished.  It’s worth mentioning that the painted curtains aren’t soft and supple, but they sure are pretty.  Even Ben thinks they look cool.  That’s saying something!

I really can’t wait to get a few coats of Refined Tan on the walls, but for now the swatch will do.

How about a before and after?

One thing checked off this room’s to do list, about 846 to go.  Are you on board with the stripe trend?  Where have you added stripes to your home?  Which trend are you loving most these days?  Hate the most?

How To: Cloth Napkins

This is a very simple, eco-friendly project.  Cloth napkins would make a great addition to a kitchen and dining inspired gift.  Add a set of napkins to a set of pretty dishes and it’s a great, usable gift. 

To make a set of napkins, pick a pretty quilting or linen type fabric.  To get 4 napkins, buy 1 square yard of fabric.  Cut into 18 inch squares.  Fold opposite sides in about 1/2 inch.  Iron to make a nice crease.  Then, fold the other sides in 1/2 inch or so, ironing to crease. 

Fold opposites over again and press to crease.  Pin in place to hold the shape.  Iron opposite sides again and pin.

Set your sewing machine to a close straight stitch.  Allign the edge of your presser foot with the edge of the napkin and sew.  When you reach a corner, keep the needle down, raise the presser foot and turn 90°.  Continue sewing until each napkin is complete.

Herringbone Pattern Pillow

While the boys and I were wandering the aisles of Target, I spotted this beautiful Fieldcrest pillow.

The only color Target carries is this grey, and we don’t have much, if any, grey in our house.  After inspecting it for a few minutes, I felt confident that I could create something similar.  Luckily, Joann Fabric is within walking distance of Target, so that was our next stop.  I bought a relatively thick light blue fabric on clearance, then we went home and got to work. 

To make a herring bone textured pillow, you’ll need:

Fabric, at least two and a half times as much as the pillow size you want. 


An iron

Pillow stuffing or a pillow form


Hem tape

To make the pillow, first, cut strips of fabric into rough 4 inch wide pieces.  I made strips that were the entire length of my two yard piece.  Cut several strips, then fold in half and iron to create a nice, straight edge.  I chose to add hem tape, just to make sure things couldn’t move around when I started sewing.   

Once you have your strips pressed, cut a piece of fabric one inch larger than the desired finished pillow size; this is the backing piece you will sew your strips to.  Fold in half or measure to find the center of the fabric.  Mark with a pen or pencil. 

Now you’re ready to start cutting, pinning and sewing.  Place the first strip of fabric at a 45 degree angle from your center line.  Trim the end to match the edge of the pillow.  You don’t have to do this, but it will help keep everything straight.  Pin in place.  Place another strip over the top of the first piece, but make a 90 degree angle.  Cut the bottom piece at the end of the one on top.  You will sew over it, but you don’t want the pieces to be short. 

Keep overlapping pieces, pinning in place.  I would suggest doing a few at a time, then remove and sew into place.  Allign the edge of your presser foot with the folded edge of the strip and sew one at a time.  Make sure your pattern stays straight and your pieces are overlapping in the same order.

Repeat until you reach the other end. 

Follow this tutorial to create an envelope closure, then stuff and enjoy!

To see other pillow ideas, check out this felt circle pillow cover I recently shared or these inspiration ideas from Etsy.

How To: Felt Leaf Bowls

Last week, I shared a  few simple tablescapes, one of which included a set of felt leaf bowls.  I promised to share more about the bowls, so here I am.  Martha told me about this great DIY project.  When I say told, I mean her website suggested I look at these felt and tweed oak leaf bowls.  I printed the template on cardstock and bought a variety of felt and tweed. 

I thought I had purchased the right fusible interface, but I didn’t.  I took a trip to Hobby Lobby and asked for a little help to make sure I had the right interface.  What the woman suggested was “Wonder Under.”  Basically, it’s a sheet of iron on hem tape. One side is rough and the other side is covered in smooth paper.  Perfect for the job. 

I followed Ms. Martha’s instructions, but here are a few photos to help you along.  First, place the interface rough side down on the wrong side (the back) of the tweed square.  Press for 5 to 10 seconds, move the iron to overlap slightly and press again.  Do this until your entire square is fused.  Then, trace the oak leaf pattern on the paper side of the interface.  You don’t have to be precise with the tracing.  You could even make your own leaf pattern, just add the darts. 

Once you’ve traced the oak leaf, cut the design out.  Remove paper backing and place on the felt square.  Cover with a damp cloth and press for 10 to 15 seconds, or until fused with the felt. 

Cut around the tweed leaf design, getting as close as possible. 

One more step, sewing the darted areas.  I overlapped the backs of my pattern to make a deeper bowl, but Martha suggest sewing with a zig zag stitch without overlapping the fabric. 

I may make another set of shallower bowls, but I like how these look, so I may not.

What do you think?  Anyone going to give these a try?