My Big Quilted Bag Tutorial

I go to the library....a lot.  And well, let's just say the stack of books my girls and I come away with each time has torn through and snapped the handles of more than a couple of bags. So I needed something big and sturdy.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. With over 500,000 books available on my Kindle why on earth do I need to lug around a giant bag heaped with stacks of paper books from the brick and mortar library.
I guess I'm just old fashioned that way. I do use my Kindle and other electronic devices....sometimes more than I think is good for myself. So, I like.... no I LOVE the feel and smell of an actual printed book in my hands. I love flipping through the pages, using my pretty little bookmarks and enjoying the slight sound of the pages turning. I like holding that thick novel in my hands after reading the last word of page five hundred and whatever and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Somehow those "vicarious journeys" as my high school English teacher called them, are not the same on a tiny lit up screen.

So, there you have it. The reason behind my latest sewing tutorial for my "Big Quilted Book Bag".

You can use yours for whatever you want, lol.

My first step was picking out two coordinating fabrics. 
Here are the winners. 

Then I had to come up with a pattern. 
I got the largest piece of drawing paper I could find in my studio 
(FYI: large papers that come on a roll are great too for making patterns on the cheap)

 Just in case you can't see the measurements well enough they are:

Bag width: 24"
Bag height: 16"
Strap width at base: 4"
Strap width at top: 2.5"
Strap length: 15"

*TIP: I folded my paper in half to draw the pattern before cutting out so that my straps would be perfectly symmetrical and in the right place.

You will need to pin and carefully cut out FOUR pieces of fabric.
Two of the inside color and two of the outside color.

And you will need TWO pieces of thin batting cut to fit the body of the bag.

After ironing I sewed a straight top stitch all the way around to give a finished detail (1/8" from edge). This also closed up the opening at the bottom of the two sides of the bag that were used for turning it right side out.

*** IMPORTANT: When I sewed the straps of the bag I left the ends of each strap un-stitched for later. 

Now that you have TWO complete sides to your bag, each with batting inside, you are ready to move on to the optional awesome "free motion quilting".

 - if you don't have this attachment it's ok, just "quilt" the piece together using a simple pattern of straight or diagonal lines. This is just to hold the batting securely in place. 

The pattern you create will also show on the inside of your bag. It gives a great texture and dimension to the finished project. I love that the fabric I chose already had such wonderful sketchy lines so even though my first attempt at free motion stitching was wobbly and completely imperfect it still worked great.

When I finished free motion quilting on both individual sides of the bag I was ready to put them together.

Pin them right sides together so that you see the inside fabric. Sew all the way around the body of the bag (1/2" seam allowance).

I wanted a "boxed bottom". I made mine 2.5" in on each side.
With the bag inside out, fold the side seam toward the bottom fold line until it makes a triangle. Then sew a straight line perpendicular to the side seam.

Finally, it is time to finish the straps of the bag.

Taking the straps from the same side of the bag. Tuck the raw edges in on one  piece to form a finished edge. Tuck the raw edge of the coordinating piece into the finished edge about 1/4". Then straight stitch across the joined pieces. *I went back and forth over it 3 or 4 times for a good secure finished seam.

Like this:

Here are a few close-ups on parts of the bag.

Now it's time to head to the Library to fill it up!

Air Dry Clay: Tiny Houses and Ring Holders

Air dry clay is so easy to work with and the possibilities of things you can make with it are endless. It is more expensive than regular clay but you don't have to have access to a kiln to fire it and if you use a 40% off coupon at Michaels the price is not too bad for making quite a few of these small projects.

The first was a series of Tiny Houses.
I rolled out a slab of clay about a 1/4" thick and used a thin metal ruler to cut into a series of irregular rectangles and squares. Then I trimmed off the tops in lopsided triangular shapes to create the roof lines. Super simple right. :)

Then I took round black magnets (the strong ones you can get in packages at Hobby Lobby or other craft stores) and pushed them into the backs of the houses so they sunk about half way in. (*cool side note here: I thought I would probably have to add some glue after they dried overnight but because the clay shrinks slightly it tightened up around the magnets and they were securely in place, perfect!)

Using something with a small rectangular shape (the end of a letter stamp, popcicle stick, chop stick...whatever) I made various little window indentions.

Let it dry overnight. Then paint with acrylic paints. Seal with clear acrylic spray.
Easy peasy.

I love having these on my fridge like a little community all together. :)

Then came the Ring Holders.
Oh the variety of designs you could come up with on this one!!!

I started these again by rolling out a slab of air dry clay roughly about 1/4" thick.
You could use cookie cutters to make the basic shape (probably don't use them again for food though)

I also used random things like the lid from a plastic baby food container for the shape of the rectangle ones.
TIP: I saved a ton of these plastic containers and glass jars and I use them for water cups and paint mixing contaniners all the time.

You will either want a concave design to set rings in or make sure you have at least one piece that sticks up to hold you rings.

On the pieces that stick up:
  • be careful not to make them too thin or flimsy, don't want them to break too easily
  • use the traditional score and slip method of attaching for security (I used a toothpick to lightly scratch the bottom of the hand formed piece and the place it would attach to and then added a drop of water to each to help them stick better when I pressed them together)
The relief images and text were created by gently pressing a stamp into the clay after I rolled it out into a slab and before I cut it into the shape I was going to use.

To make the pieces concave: I gently pressed the finished piece as it set on the inside edges of either the rectangular baby food container or a small round condiment cup and then I left them sitting in that position to dry.

Let the pieces dry overnight.

Paint with acrylic paints. *Allow your stamped design to show more by gently dry brushing paint across the surface.

Spray with clear acrylic to seal.

I know these weren't super detailed with lots of pictures but I hope they at least maybe provide some inspiration for little projects you can create using air dry clay.

I know I would love to try different little trays and things with some of the fancy cookie cutter shapes I've seen lately (like one I saw that was a teapot).....what would you try?