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I made what I am calling a toiletry bag but most others call a cosmetic bag.  I combined two tutorials because I liked different things from each.  The two I used were The Boxy Cosmetic Bag Tutorial from Skip to my Lou which was done by Jaime of Prudent Baby and the Cosmetic Bag Tutorial from Sew Like My Mom.

Toiletry Bag

I decided that I liked the idea of having a zipper tab so I took that idea from Sew Like My Mom as well as using iron on vinyl.  I used the dimensions from Skip to my Lou as well as the basic assembly of the bag.  The difference between the two is that SLMM used one piece of fabric for the outside and one for the lining where STML used two for each.

Toiletry Bag

Iron on vinyl

It was actually pretty easy to apply so don’t be intimidated!  The reason I wanted to use it for this project is because I am using this bag as a toiletry bag (you didn’t figure that out already, did you?).  If anything spills, the vinyl can be wiped down and it should help to keep any liquid inside the bag instead of on all of my clothes in the suitcase.

Toiletry Bag

I decided that it was a smart idea to sew the outer fabric and lining fabric onto the zipper separately just like Sew Like My Mom did.  This really helped to keep everything even, especially since the iron on vinyl makes it easier for the material to stick, hence pulling away from the zipper.  Plus, if you use pins through the vinyl you will be able to see the holes later.

Toiletry Bag

I also liked the look of the top stitching next to the zipper.  It just gives it more of a finished looked.  This is where you can easily struggle since the vinyl faces down on your machine.  I didn’t have too much trouble but did need to help the fabric through every once in awhile.

Toiletry Bag

This is my best zipper installation yet!  Yay for improvement!  I guess practice does make perfect (well, maybe not perfect but you get the idea).  I do suggest to always iron the fabric flat after sewing it onto the zipper, it will help it to not get stuck in the zipper, and so will sewing the top stitch.

Toiletry Bag

Sewing the sides together was probably the hardest part because the vinyl was on all sides.  The fabric did shift a little but luckily this bag is forgiving.  I just made sure to cut the edges evenly after I was finished sewing the sides.  Sometimes the vinyl would stick to the machine and not pull through.

Toiletry Bag

Boxed Corners

I followed the boxed corner method from Skip to my Lou.  Which is explained in more detail on craftapple.  I actually made my bag too tall because I misunderstood the directions.  When it said that she did hers 5 inches I thought it meant 5 inches on each side of the seam, but actually it means a total of 5 inches.  So the seam should actually be at 2.5 inches since that would be half of 5.

Toiletry Bag

I really like this bag, but will make another one that is shorter so that it’s easier to get my stuff in and out.  With it so tall it’s also a little awkward to unzip.  Overall, I would say this project was a success.  The bag is still very useable even though it’s a little tall.

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I made my first, what I would call, major project.  It is the Simple Party Clutch by Elizabeth Hartman found on Sew, Mama, Sew.

SMS Simple Party Clutch

Once again, I started out by reading the whole tutorial, this time making sure to read it multiple times so that it made sense.  I followed the pattern exactly except I accidentally bought fusible Peltex instead of sew in.  It worked out fine and I will explain later what I did with it.

Make the Strap

SMS Simple Party Clutch

First was making the strap, which was very basic.  I ironed down the strap as I went because it wasn’t really possible to fold the whole thing and then iron.

SMS Simple Party Clutch

When stitching along both sides, I used my blind stitch foot.  I did this because there is an edge to guide the material against.  All I had to do was move the needle all the way to the left, and then use a normal straight stitch.

Make the Pocket

SMS Simple Party Clutch

For the pocket, the directions say to match the wrong sides but really you need to match the right sides before sewing.  When sewing the pocket onto the lining piece I did not sew close enough to the edges so I am guessing that they will eventually curl .  So when it says to keep your stitches close to the edge, it means really close.  I’m wondering if using the blind hem foot for this would work.

Make the Lining

SMS Simple Party Clutch

Don’t forget to clip your corners before pressing the seam allowances.  It’s not exactly possible to get the square corner when you have corners that aren’t clipped.  Other than that, making the lining is very basic.

Make the Bag Body

SMS Simple Party Clutch

Here is where I had to think about how I was going to use the fusible Peltex instead of sew in.  It’s basically the same, except I faced the fusible side up instead of down.  This in turn made the top layer of lightweight fusible interfacing face the fusible side of the Peltex.

SMS Simple Party Clutch

Inserting the magnetic snap was super easy since I have done it before.

SMS Simple Party Clutch

My first boxed corner….much easier than I was anticipating.  I love when that happens!!  I wish I had more to say about this but the directions were easy to follow so I really have nothing.

SMS Simple Party Clutch

The bag body from the outside.  This is when I got that excited feeling that I was making a successful purse.  Even if it didn’t turn out in the end it was still looking like a purse now!

SMS Simple Party Clutch

I did all of the basting by hand because it was very difficult to get the bag into the machine.  Even with attaching the lining to the bag body I was getting frustrated trying to sew it.

I think the problem was that the Peltex was a little thicker because it was fusible.  Plus, I also used SF-101 as my lightweight fusible interfacing which is probably considered a medium weight interfacing.  So overall, I think I had way too much interfacing.  Lesson learned!

Finish the Purse

SMS Simple Party Clutch

I would recommend trimming the interfacing from the seam before flipping everything right side out.

I did not end up doing the top stitching around the opening of the purse.  I had all of the extra material there and would actually have to sew through the Peltex and do not have the proper needle.  I may try to add the top stitching at a later date but for now I am considering it a finished purse.

SMS Simple Party Clutch

So here is my final project.  Not the best, but it does look like a purse.  I am actually pretty disappointed because it was going so well until I attached the lining and flap to the outside and flipped it the right way.

The purse kind of folds when snapped, the area where the flap connects has all of the extra fabric, and I don’t feel comfortable finishing the top stitch.

I think I should have probably inserted the snap on the body right before sewing the lining shut.  Then I could have put it higher on the body, hence not forcing the flap to go so far over the opening of the purse.

I learned a lot from this project and hope that my next one turns out a little better.

My Little Helper

Here is my little helper, Lillian.  She loves being in the “hobby room” which is where I have my sewing stuff and my husband has his computer and other hobby type stuff.  Most of the time she wants to read books or play the games that cause the biggest mess to clean up.

Lillian Sewing

This particular day she decided that she was going to do some sewing first.

Lillian Computing

Then it was time to check out some neat blogs on the computer.  I sure hope she was looking at mine.

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Owl Backpack

I made this “Easy as a Cinch” bag based off of the tutorial from Make It and Love It.  (I am really starting to love her site by the way).  So check it out and see what you love about it!

It was easy to make with the most difficult part being when you sew the top edges where you leave the  1 1/4 inches open…check out the tutorial so you know what I’m talking about.  I just struggled with getting it to not sew through both pieces of fabric.  If you sew them together then you wouldn’t be able to insert the ribbon.

I also couldn’t find my safety pins so I compromised and used a pin.  Yeah, make sure to have safety pins around and you can probably finish in the half the time it took me.  I wasn’t about to run to the store at 9 at night though.

I wanted to post a picture of Lillian with this on her back but we have yet to get her to wear it.  Any time we try she starts crying or runs from us.  You would think it was the owls but nope, she likes to point to it and say “owl” and “whooo.”  I even got her to put some books into it.  Maybe I will make a tiny one for her doll and see if that helps.

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Kindle Case

I don’t know if you remember this post; ya know, the one where I made an attempt at a Kindle Case.  Well, I finally made one that works for my Kindle 3.  I am very pleased with the outcome.

Kindle Case

I still used this tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew to get the basic design, but made a few changes.

Instead of doing the buttonholes for the magnetic snap, I just used fray check, like in this tutorial by Keyka Lou.  I made the measurements 20 x 6.5 with a 3/8 seam allowance on all sides and it fits perfectly.

Kindle Case

I learned that you have to iron more than you think is necessary when top stitching.  It will help to keep everything in place.  You will also always see part of the inside fabric.

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First off, take a beginning sewing class!  It’s a lot of fun to sew with others that are at about the same skill level as you.  I learned more from my class than I thought I would, since I don’t really plan on making a lot of clothes.  It’s also helpful that the teacher knows tricks on how to do certain things and willingly shares them with you.

Pajama Pants

I took the “Learn to Sew” class at Royce Quilting (our local store).  We made these pajama pants from Kwik Sew, which I hear is a great first project to make because you learn many different aspects of sewing.

There were only 6 of us in the class, which was really nice because it was comfortable asking questions.  I felt like I learned more than if there would have been more people.

Everyone learns differently, but I suggest taking advantage of having someone around that knows what they are doing and ask questions any time you are not sure of what you are doing.  It’s very likely that someone else in the class will have the same question.

Things I learned


Protecting Feed Dogs

When transporting your machine, put a piece of fabric under the foot and put the foot down.  This helps to protect the feed dogs.  For those of you that do not know what feed dogs are they are the small metal pieces under the foot and needle that help to pull the fabric through the machine.


Pattern, Paper, and Pencil

In order to reuse your pattern, buy tracing paper and trace the size that you are going to be using onto the paper and cut that out instead of the actual pattern.  That way if you ever need to make a different size (say you lost weight!) you will still have your whole pattern.

Our pattern had general sizes with measurements, but if you don’t fit into one exactly you can just take measurements and adjust the pattern as needed.  For example, if you have long legs just cut the material longer than what the pattern says, but still follow the same curves as the original pattern.


Try not to hold the fabric too tight…just let the machine guide it through.  Also, don’t try to push or pull the fabric through the machine, it should take the fabric through the machine with little guidance.

Honestly, I think this is something most beginners tend to do but I also think the machine has some to do with it as well.  The reason I say this is because I felt like I had to really pull the fabric through the Kenmore.  It seemed to always pull the fabric in one direction.  I felt like I was always moving the fabric in order to keep it straight.  On the other hand, with my Bernina I have no problem with this.

Our teacher said that a lot of times that the faster you sew, the straighter you can sew.  I know I tend to feel like if I slow down that I will get a straighter stitch, but I don’t think that is really the case.


To get the right length for elastic pants, wrap the elastic around the part of the waist where you want the pants to lay.  Then take off two inches and that is the length that should work the best; not too tight but tight enough for your pants to stay up.

Sewing Elastic

Instead of overlapping the elastic and sewing together, put a piece of preshrunk cotton fabric under the ends of the elastic and sew the elastic to it.  Be sure to attach it securely, such as sewing a square around the edges and then an “X” in the middle.  Then just trim the fabric so that the sides are even with the width of your elastic (not done in the picture).

This technique can also be done if you have multiple pieces of short elastic.  That way you never have to waste elastic.  I hate wasting things so I was very excited to hear this, especially when I only had less than ten inches of leftover elastic.


A serger is AMAZING!!!!  Our instructor brought in her serger so that we could use it.  Not only to get us hooked, but also to make the project quicker and just so we could have experience with the serger.  Wow; it’s fast, it cuts the edges so that they are even, and is just in general a neat machine.  If I were planning on making a lot of clothes I would probably start saving for one.

Really, a serger is not needed at all.  You can easily finish the edges with a zigzag stitch or your overlock foot.  It may take a little more time, but in the end you will basically get the same result.

Pajama Pants

I really enjoy seeing a project come together.  It’s so exciting to start seeing what the finished project is going to look like, piece by piece.  I think the most exciting part was when we finally stitched the two legs of the pajama pants together.  That was the first sign that I was really making a pair of pants successfully.

I can not cut in a straight line, even when cutting along a pattern!  Some of my pieces were so far off it was ridiculous.  But thankfully a 5/8 seam allowance allows for this and the serger quickly made the pieces seem even.  If we didn’t use a serger I would have had to cut everything after sewing them together but before doing an overlock stitch or after a zigzag stitch.