Quilted Tote Bag

Last month I went into Joann’s without much of an objective (and a cocktail loosening up my brain - don’t worry, hubby drove 😉). It had been a couple months since I had been in, and I might have gone a little crazy. I bought four nerdy fabrics that I had no specific purpose for, but knew I had to have because finding affordable Disney, Harry Potter and Star Wars fabric that is good for something other than kids or fleece blankets doesn’t always happen!

Photo by my incredibly talented friends, Adam Dooms (www.adamdoomsmedia.com) and Shelby Ilyse

Today’s post is going to focus on the project I came up with for this fun sugar skull Star Wars fabric (I don't see this specific fabric online, but there are quite a few fun options available on Joann's website right now). Usually I do things like skirts, but the style of this print reminded me of purses I’ve been seeing in Disney World (or more recently on Instagram, since I live in Colorado), so I decided to make a quilted tote bag - my attempt at a Vera Bradley style bag.

I have never quilted anything until this project, so I was a bit nervous, but I also figured that the print (with it’s black background) would be very forgiving with me using black thread.

I Googled around for some quilted bag tutorials, and the one I’m adapting from for this project is the Hushabye Tote. This tutorial has internal and external pockets, and says that this bag could work well as a diaper bag (note to self for future gifts). I decided to just make mine an extremely simple tote bag with no bells and whistles, though, because I’ve been wanting one to carry books/music/instruments to my weekly rehearsals. I was actually surprised with how “small” this bag turned out since the original poster said it would make a great diaper bag, and I made my fabric pieces slightly larger than they said to (about 16” squares). Maybe with the pockets it would be good for a diaper bag, but I think I would definitely make it a bit wider to be more similar to diaper bags I’ve seen women use. I also noticed that some tutorials mention putting cardboard in the bottom of the bag, but I decided not to do that, because I like the idea of being able to throw the bag in the washer and dryer (which I might have had to do already, because I spilled chile on it).

So without further ado, here’s how I made my adorable new tote purse!


  • Outer fabric (~½ yard) - This was the Star Wars fabric for me
  • Lining fabric (~½ yard) - You could use the same fabric as your outer, but I went with a plain black quilting cotton
  • Fusible fleece (1 ⅓ yards)
  • Medium-heavyweight fusible interfacing (1 yard)
  • Matching thread (or contrasting, depending on the look you’re going for!)
  1. Wash and iron your fabric. 
  2. Cut two 16” squares of your main fabric, lining fabric, fusible fleece and fusible interfacing. (Note: some my pictures show a rectangle because I was considering making a longer bag, but decided to cut it down after I had finished step 7)
  3. Cut a strip of your main fabric that is ~4” by 42”, and a strip of fusible fleece that is 2.5” by 42”. This is for your strap.
  4. Press the strap fabric in half, then line up the fusible fleece strip down the middle and iron into place. Re-press the strip in half, then press the extra fabric over the fleece on either side.
  5. Sew three seams down the strap piece lengthwise. Cut it in half to make two straps.
  6. Iron the interfacing to the lining, and the fusible fleece to the outer fabric.
  7. Quilt the outer fabric and fleece as desired. I did 1” squares (ish) on the diagonal. They’re not perfect, but the print of the fabric was very forgiving.
  8. Attach one strap each to the right side of the fabric, about 4” from the edges of the fabric, using a scant ¼” stitch (so it lies inside your seam allowance later).
  9. Place the outer pieces right sides together and stitch up the sides and bottom.
  10. Cut out 3” squares from the bottom corners, and box them. Grab the right angles of each piece, and pull them away from each other, which flattens the fabric, giving you a more-or-less straight edge, which you then sew up (I had to google around to fully understand what boxing entailed. It’s not hard, but it’s hard to describe. That's why I’m including pictures!)
  11. Sew the lining pieces right sides together on the sides and bottom, but leave a 6” or larger gap at the bottom, which you will use to turn the bag right-side out.
  12. Box the corners of the lining.
  13. Turn the lining right-side out and place inside the quilted bag (which is still inside out). Line up the seams on the side, and pin in place. Sew all the way around.
  14. Turn bag right side out by pulling through the hole you left in the bottom of the lining.
  15. Stitch up the hole in the lining. If you really care, you can do it by hand, but I figured since I was using black fabric, black thread, and this sat at the bottom of my bag (which hopefully no one will look at too closely), I just used my machine.
  16. Top-stitch all the way around the top of the bag.

The finished product! 

This whole project only took me a few hours (spread out over two evenings), and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It was a happy accident that it ended up being smaller than I thought, because it works very well for a roomy tote-style purse. I showed it to my parents and both of them were surprised I had made it - which, considering my mom loves Disney bags and I’d never made anything like this before, is high praise!

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Simple Gathered Skirt

There’s a cute little fabric shop in town that I don’t let myself go to too often because it is a bit out of my price range, and unless I’m trying to make something really nice (like my wedding dress or my velvet dress), I usually can’t justify spending that much on fabric.

But I do follow them on Instagram, and when they posted a picture of a linen they got in, I knew I had to check it out. 

When Nathaniel and I went to Paris a couple years ago, we checked into our hotel and then went wandering around. It ended up pouring, and we found ourselves drenched, in front of the Moulin Rouge. We both love the movie, and I’ve always just kind of been enamored with Parisian style and the whimsical culture those super-duper curated Instagram photos convey, so when Elfriede’s got this Moulin Rouge linen in, I (thanks to the help of a gift card from my mother-in-law) splurged. It fades from black and white to color, and I just knew it would make a lovely skirt.

Feeling very Parisian with these stripes and a scarf from Disneyland Paris!

I’m a big fan of twirling, and I have made a handful of circle skirts (Timey-Wimey Dress, Mary Poppins, my wedding dress, among others) since I started sewing. I love the simplicity, and, especially when I was a beginner, the ease of just using an elastic waistband and the minimal number of seams was perfect. But this fabric, because of the black-and-white to color print, didn’t strike me as ideal for a circle skirt, so I decided to try my hand at a gathered skirt with a flat waistband and a zipper in back. Gathering has (thus far) kind of scared me because of it’s potential to be bulky and difficult to sew - I have no other good reasons 😜 - but this project seemed perfect to start with. I would still have a skirt full enough to twirl around (plus the drape of this linen is lovely).

Paired the skirt with lots of polka dots for this rainy day look

I really only took two measurements for this skirt - my waist and the length that I want it to be. For the length, I decided I wanted it to hit just below the knee, which for me was about 23” (woohoo team shortie!). When I was researching gathered skirts online, most tutorials said to cut 3 pieces - a front and two back, but I decided not to waste this beautiful (and somewhat expensive) fabric on seam allowances. I’ve included the sizes of the pieces I cut (approximately - with the gathered pieces, an inch or two difference in the gathered width shouldn’t make too much a difference). I decided my lining should be slightly shorter than the main fabric, so it doesn’t show. And while it is also a gathered piece, I didn’t think the lining needed to be as full as the main skirt. I also decided that I wanted my waistband to be 2” high, but you can make yours bigger or smaller depending on the look you’re going for. The ease in the waistband is so you can move, breathe, sit, live, etc…

  1. Prewash and iron your fabric.
  2. Cut your fabric pieces.
    1. Main fabric: 3(Waist) x (Length + 1.5” for SA & hem)
    2. Lining fabric: 2(Waist) x (Length - 2” + 1.5” for SA & hem)
    3. Waistband: (Waist + 1” ease + 1” for SA) x (2 x Height) + 1” for SA)
    4. Interfacing: (Waist + 1” ease) x Height
  3. Press the waistband in half lengthwise - this will make it much easier to line up your interfacing.
  4. Attach your interfacing - I used fusible interfacing.
  5. Gather the main fabric and the lining fabric, so they are as wide as your waistband - and leave 0.5” ungathered at each end to be the seam allowances. It might be beneficial to mark the ¼, ½, and ¾ marks of each piece, so you can keep your gathers as even as possible. 
    • My gathering method was to sew two seams with the longest stitch possible on my machine, and then grab the threads at the end of the seams on one side of the fabric and pull them - you will want to be gentle, because it is possible to break the thread, and then you’ll have to start over again (that’s why we’re using 2 seams - I’ve even seen some tutorials which recommend 3. I also know of people who can magically just gather on the go as they sew, but I am NOT ready for that 😜
  6. Pin the three pieces together - the right sides of the waistband and main fabric will be facing each other, and the lining will be oriented the same way as the main fabric (but it didn’t matter much for the lining fabric I got, as I couldn’t tell the right side from the wrong side 🙈). Also, you are only sewing one edge of the waistband right now!
  7. Sew the three pieces together. Press rough edges up toward waistband.
  8. Insert invisible zipper. Your main fabric and lining will both be attached to the zipper, but will be separated the rest of the way below the zipper (step 11).
  9. Finish top of zipper at the waistband (optional, insert hook and eye closure)
  10. Secure the waistband - you’ve got a couple options here. If you like the look of topstitching, you can have a visible seam on the waistband just above the gathers, or you can “stitch in the ditch”, which is what I decided to do. Basically, you’re sewing right where the gathers and the waistband meet, which hides this seam.
  11. Close the back of the skirt up. Do the lining separate from the main fabric. Press the seams.
  12. [Sort of optional] Hang the skirt overnight - the allows the fabric to settle, so you can see if the bottom of the skirt is even. This is more important for fabrics cut on the bias, but can’t hurt in this case, especially if you’re trying to make the bottom as even as possible.
  13. Hem the main fabric and the lining. I chose to do a double fold hem, but depending on the look you’re going for, feel free to play with other options.

Note: I did end up taking the waist in a couple inches (with folds in the back on either side of the zipper). I’m not sure if it’s because the fabric stretched, if I mis-measured my waist and/or fabric, or if there is something else I missed entirely… In many ways I’m still a novice. Everything I’ve done is pretty much self taught, so I still run into random snags here and there.

And there you have it! Luckily I have a bit of extra fabric, mostly from the black and white end, and I have some ideas on how to use it 😉 And here’s hoping I can wear it in front of the Moulin Rouge someday soon!

Stay tuned!

PS: If you’re looking for a quick, simple video tutorial, this one is great!

How Disneybounding Kick-Started my Spring Cleaning

Because I’m a huge nerd and love Disney, I decided to do the March Disneybound Challenge again this year. You might remember I did it last year, too, because everyday I shared my outfits with you guys on Instagram, and then summed it all up in a blog post. Well, looks like I did that all again this year (sorry, not sorry).

This March, I’m proud to say that I only repeated 2 characters/bounds (Ariel, minnie), and on those repeats, I either had new accessories or the outfit was completely different! I did use pieces of clothing that I used last year, and I had to reuse some articles of clothing for multiple bounds, but I tried to be as original as I could (without just buying all the clothes 🙃).

I have a little more color versatility than I did a year ago, but I still lack some basics (like solid colors). There are some characters that I just can’t pull off because (for example) my purple pieces don’t layer/pair well with other items, or the only orange thing I own is plaid (kudos to me for having something orange this year, though!!) I also kept realizing how much I want more cardigans.

My wardrobe still includes things that I love on the hanger, or the idea of having just in case, but I don’t wear them. It’s ridiculous. And since I griped about wanting all my clothes in one place, I haven’t done much to actually make that a reality…yet. I’ve got some good excuses. You might remember that I mentioned wanting to re-vamp my creative space (and even did a little bit) early in 2017, but those plans got a bit derailed because we ended up having to remodel our kitchen due to a leak that caused mold, which made it more difficult than I would have liked to get everything else done April-October (and still have time to pursue hobbies other than organizing my house). Then of course we got swept up in the holidays, and now somehow we’re well into 2018!

So what did I start doing mid-March? Well, organizing my craft room, of course! And it’s one heck of a job, let me tell you. I take most of my outfit selfies in that room, too, so I had to push my piles out of the way enough to get a photo that didn’t look like I live in a hoarders house (remember, people, Instagram is NOT real-life, as much as we might try to make it).

And, with it officially being spring, I’m actually really excited to get this project done. And then move on to the rest of the house. Because of our kitchen remodel, both the extra bedroom on the main floor and the guest room in the basement are disaster zones because we ended up having to move a TON of stuff around. We had to move EVERYTHING out of the kitchen, mostly into the main floor extra bedroom, and some downstairs to the wet-bar area that we turned into our temporary kitchen. And THAT meant that much of what was in the wet bar area needed to be moved, and it went into the guest room. Our garage currently has all our old cabinets, some of which will get hung in the garage for Nathaniel’s workbench area, and the rest will go in our laundry room for extra storage. We only JUST got rid of our old stove (donated it!), which is a good step in the right direction, too.

Big Hero 6 - Honey Lemon
Disney Sidekick - Stormtrooper
Fab 5 - Minnie
Zootopia - Judy Hopps
Peter Pan - Michael Darling
Marvel - Black Widow
Pixar - Bing Bong from Inside Out
Disney Heroines - Merida from Brave
A Wrinkle in Time - Meg Murry
101 Dalmatians - Cruella De Vil
Underrated Characters - Flit from Pocahontas
Disney Princess - Giselle from Enchanted
Aladdin - Jafar
The Little Mermaid - Ariel
Parks Attraction - Star Tours
Mulan - Mushu
Characters who are/wear green - Elliott from Pete's Dragon
Disney Villains - Scar from The Lion King
Fantasia - Mushrooms from the Chinese Dance of the Nutcracker Suite
Star Wars - R2-D2
Moana - Te Fiti
Frozen - Anna
Rule breaker - Hermione Granger
Disney Dogs - 101 Dalmatians
Alice in Wonderland - Cheshire Cat
Cinderella - Pink Dress
90's Style - Gummi Bears
Disney Cats - Toulouse from The Aristocats
Disney Prince - Eric from The Little Mermaid
Vintage Inspiration - The carousel in Disney World mashed up with Carrie Bradshaw
A character you've never bounded - Dumbo

With a full time job, animals, a husband I like spending time with, rehearsals two nights a week, personal music projects, sewing/crafting projects and a social life, it’s been REALLY hard lately for me to feel like my home is at all put together. But I need to feel proud of my house. I need to be comfortable with people coming to visit rather than apologizing profusely any time someone walks in the door because I don’t think it’s clean enough. So I am going to dedicate more time to this, and hopefully that sense of cleanliness will become a feeling of calm in my life.

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Sentimental DIYs

Last week I had my 3rd wedding anniversary. We're at a point in our lives where 1) we've given each other a LOT of gifts so coming up with something original is hard, and 2) we don't have a lot of extra money laying around.

A few months ago I was reading Spoonflower's blog, which gave me the idea to write my vows out by hand and turn them into a pocket square for my husband. I loved this idea because it was unique (literally no one else will give him this) and I hadn't yet given him a pocket square. It was also surprisingly affordable. I ordered two fat quarters of high quality, custom fabric for under $30.

For the side with the handwritten vows, I just used a dark black sharpie pen and carefully wrote them out, then scanned them into my computer. For the patterned side, I found some fun Doctor Who fabric (because I will be making him a TARDIS blazer at some point in the next few months!). I ordered each printed on the Organic Cotton Sateen, but you could get silk if you want something fancier, or I'd imagine you could use other fabrics they offer, too.

I followed the instructions laid out in this blog, and opted for the top-stitched finish for my project. The actual cutting and sewing took less than 45 minutes (I wanted it to be perfect), and I couldn't be happier with out this turned out. 😍

The uncut yard of fabric used to make 4 custom tea towels

Because I subscribe to Spoonflower's blog, I get a lot of fun DIY emails from them, and another project I ended up doing semi-recently is actually quite similar to the pocket square. For Christmas I made tea towels for my parents and my mother-in-law.

For my parents, I found a couple fractals (my dad makes them using a computer program he wrote, I've posted about making scarves with them in the past) and put a black border around them, and for my mother-in-law, I scanned hand-written recipes from her mom, and put a brown border on them (the brown complimented the color of the recipe cards). The borders on each were 1.5 inches, which worked great with the thicker linen and double fold hem.

I ordered just one yard of Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra and uploaded one image with two fractals and two recipes, which fit perfectly! That means that 4 towels cost me less than $30, and as far as sewing skill goes here, it's nice and easy - lots of straight lines. The most challenging part was the corners, because they got pretty thick with the double fold hem on each side.

What I love about both these DIY's is that they're both nice and simple, but have the potential to be extremely meaningful. I could just buy "normal" fabric and create the same projects without the sentimentality attached, and I'm sure people would still be happy to receive these as gifts. The handwritten notes, recipes, and works of art are the cherry on top, making these creations unique and meaningful.

I've used Spoonflower several times over the past few years, and am always pleased with the quality of the fabric and with the artwork available to browse through. I look forward to more projects yet to come using their services!

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