Tag Archives: holiday

Quick and easy tote tutorial

This tote pattern was inspired by the best bag I ever had: big enough to carry a small selection of groceries or a creative project, but small enough that it never felt cumbersome. To expand on that bag’s great shape, I created three different sizes, each perfectly useful in its own right.

NSB - quick and easy tote tutorial header

The simplicity of this tote design provides so much opportunity to exercise creativity! Choose a fun printed fabric and embellish it with embroidery. Create some graphic patchwork and quilt it for additional texture. Paint your own fabric to be used for the outside. Make it in leather for a chic look.

This pattern goes together so quickly, I doubt you will want to make just one!

SUPPLIES

For all sizes, you will need:

  • Fashion fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Lining fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Webbing or ribbon for handles
  • Thread
  • Fusible fleece (optional; this adds body to the bag and stabilizes fabric)

TOOLS

  • Rotary cutter (recommended) or scissors
  • Quilter’s style see through ruler (I use 6.5” x 24”)
  • Self-healing mat (if using rotary cutter)
  • Marking tool (pen, pencil and chalk are all fine)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Hand sewing needle (optional)

DIMENSIONS

quick and easy tote dimensions chart

Finished tote sizes:

  • The small tote finishes approximately 9.5” tall x 8.25” wide x 3.25” deep
  • The medium tote finishes approximately 12.25” t x 10.25” w x 4.25” d
  • The large tote finishes approximately 14.75” t x 12” w x 5.25” d

DIRECTIONS

For this tutorial, we show the construction of a medium tote. All seam allowances are 3/8”.

1. Cut fashion and lining fabrics to size. If using fusible fleece, follow manufacturer’s instructions to fuse to back of fashion fabric.NSB - quick and easy tote cut fabrics to size

2. For each piece of fashion fabric, find center point of top edge. Measure and mark the distance from center point according to dimensions chart (e.g. for medium tote, measure and mark 3” to either side for a total spacing of 6”).NSB - quick and easy tote mark center and strap spacing

Next, take one strap and align raw edge of webbing to raw edge of fabric along the top, matching to the  outside of the spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 1

Repeat with other end of strap and second spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 2

On sewing machine, baste straps in place (I like to sew 1/4” from the edge).NSB - quick and easy tote baste strap

3. Pin and sew one lining piece to fashion fabric along top edge using 3/8” seam allowance. NSB - quick and easy tote pin lining to outside

Repeat for second fashion fabric and lining pieces.NSB - quick and easy tote sew lining and outer pieces

Iron to set seam, then iron lining and fashion sides down (this will help create a clean finish along top edge).

4. Take one side and reopen; lay wrong side down. NSB - quick and easy tote lay wrong side down

Open second side and lay atop the first, right sides together, matching fashion fabrics and aligning the seams at edges.NSB - quick and easy tote pin tote pieces right sides together

Sew the two side seams and the bottom seam for the fashion fabric. On the bottom edge for the lining, leave a 4” to 5” opening in the center. **NOTE: it is best not to  backstitch at the corners, as these will be pressed open and cut off**NSB - quick and easy tote sew all sides leaving an opening at bottom of lining

Press flat.

5. Create the box bottom: in one corner, pull the two fabric pieces away from each other so the two seams match; press seams open. Using the ruler, measure and mark the length shown on the dimensions chart perpendicular to the seam line (e.g. for the medium tote, measure 4” from fold to fold). I find a quilting ruler marked with 45° angle to be particularly helpful to this task, as I can align with the folded edge. NSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom outer fabricNSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom lining

Sew on machine; be certain to backstitch at the edges. NSB - quick and easy tote sew box bottom

Trim seam allowance to 3/8”.

Repeat for all four corners. Press to set seams.

6. Turn the bag right side out through opening in bottom of lining.

Edge stitch the opening closed on the machine or blind stitch closed by hand.

NSB - quick and easy tote stitch opening closed

Fit the lining into the tote body, matching the box corners.

7. Iron the top edge (this is where that ironing in step 3 comes in handy). Pin in place, if desired.NSB - quick and easy tote iron top edge

Stitch around top 1/8” from edge; stitch again 1/4″ from edge.

8. Admire your new bag!


As mentioned above, there are many ways to personalize this tote!

In one version, I added a pocket to the lining…

…which would also work very well on the outside!NSB - reusable gift wrap large tote pocket outside

For another version, I used a printed fabric and a coordinating near solid for the lining. I added embroidery to the printed fabric and made a matching appliqué for the near solid. By finishing the ‘lining’ by hand, this becomes a reversible bag!

I hope you enjoy making your own version of this tote! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

Reusable advent calendar

Who can believe it is already December 1st? As we start counting down the days to the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share a handmade project that helps to do exactly that!

Inspired by one of my favorite holiday traditions, I decided it would be great to make an advent calendar that can be reused from one year to the next.

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When designing this calendar, I wanted to capture the essence of the classic window style advent calendar, choosing to feature individual fabrics for the days. In lieu of doors, I created small pockets, which can be filled with a variety of objects, like small gifts or treats.

After determining the size and shape of this advent calendar, I began pulling fabrics from my stash, picking out a few novelty prints, which all have a fun, retro quality, and then selecting coordinating prints and yarn-dyes from our store. My color palette ended up as classic red and green, which I updated slightly by adding a pale grey for the pockets and any framing for smaller cuts.

NSB - advent calendar window fabrics

Inspired by talented embroidery artists, like Yoko Saito, Rebecca Ringquist, and my coworkers Susan and Kitrina, I decided to embroider the numbers for each pocket. I began by finding a font I liked for the numbers (Desdemona), which I printed onto Sticky Fabri-Solvy™. To pick up the colors in my fabrics, I selected three hues each in red and green.

NSB - advent calendar embroidery supplies

I had fun experimenting with different stitches and let the shapes of the numbers inform some of my designs. For a bit more visual interest, I embroidered the even numbers in green and odd numbers in red, adding an occasional silver stitch for effect.

NSB - advent calendar pocket rows

I am particularly fond of the last row of numbers, because each number has some red and some green. Plus, 22 is a pair of candy canes and 24 is a little house, which were so fun to stitch out.

Though embroidering the numbers took some time, the rest of the construction was very simple. And I am so pleased with the result!

NSB - reusable advent calendar complete

While the calendar I made will house little treats and gifts, in keeping with the concept of reusability, I love the idea of filling each pocket with an ornament that can be added to the tree after retrieving from the calendar. Alternately, it would be very fun to track the days by moving a small holiday token forward each day.

If you like this calendar – and want to make one for yourself – stay tuned later this week for a tutorial on how to make one of your very own!

Fanciful Felt Fairy Ornaments

I am excited to announce a new class at Nancy’s: Fanciful Felt Fairy Ornaments!

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If you have visited our store in the past couple months, you will have seen wee figures dotting the landscape. These delightful figures are made following instructions from Sally Mavor’s new book Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures.

This charming new class is taught by Kitrina, who also teaches Hand Embroidery Basics. She will take you through the construction of these dolls: making the bodies, embroidering the clothing, creating their faces, and adding hair. She will also share some of her own tips and tricks for constructing dolls with ease.

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Taking place the first two Saturdays of December (12/5 and 12/12, 10:00am – 12:30pm), Fanciful Felt Fairy Ornaments is great for adults of all skill levels. The class fee is $75, which includes a copy of the book and supplies to make three fairy ornaments.

NSB - fffo details 2

Perfect to make for your own holiday decor or to give as gifts, these ornaments are full of sparkle and charm!

If you are interested in signing up for this class, give us a call at the shop (206-282-9112)! Additional class details can be found on our website.

Celebratory Bunting tutorial

It’s that fabulous time of year when we get to pull out all sorts of fun and traditional decorations! If you are looking to add something new to your holiday decor repertoire, look no further than this fun celebratory bunting! It’s a great use for fun seasonal prints or festive solids!

celebratory buntingFollow this pattern to make a fun and festive bunting to celebrate any occasion. Great for parties, showers, weddings, or simply for room décor!

 

This pattern will create a bunting with flags that are 9” tall x 9” wide; the flags will span a total length of approximately 48 feet.

 

SUPPLIES

  • ¼ yard cuts in 8 different 44” wide fabrics (no need to preshrink for this project!)
  • 18 yards of trim (ribbon, braid, tape, twine, or other sturdy string)
  • Thread (can match or contrast color of ribbon/braid/tape)

 

RECOMMENDED TOOLS

  • Rotary cutter (we use both a pinking blade and a straight blade)
  • Self healing cutting mat
  • Ruler for use with rotary cutter (ours is 6.5” x 24”)
  • Marking tool of some kind (we use Chaco-Liner)
  • Sewing machine with zigzag capability

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To begin, iron all fabrics and stack together. Using a rotary cutter with straight blade, trim stack of fabric so long edges are aligned and all fabrics are 9” tall.

trim fabrics to 9 in

  1. Using your ruler and marking tool make a mark approximately 1” from the selvedge on bottom edge, then measure and mark 4.5” on the opposite edge. From this second mark, measure and mark 4.5” on the bottom edge. Continue all the way across the fabric width.

mark opposite edge every 4.5 in

  1. Take your ruler and set on first mark made. Angle ruler so it meets the second mark on opposite edge. Using your rotary cutter with the pinking blade, make a cut from first to second mark following ruler’s edge. Reposition ruler from second to third mark and cut. Repeat across the fabric width. You will end up with 8 triangles per fabric for a total of 64 flags.cut from first to second markflags cut out

**Note that if you use a directional print that you want to be correct side up, you will have only 4 triangles that are the correct direction.

 

  1. Take one stack of cut flags and determine flag order, including repeat. If you want your bunting to have a random effect, you will need to dismantle all the flag stacks as cut and reassemble. When happy with the order of your flags, place in one big stack.

determine layout

  1. It is time to assemble your bunting! In addition to having your flag stack at hand, you will need your trim available and easy to unwind. Begin by measuring one yard into the trim (there is a 36” tie allowance on both ends of bunting for ease of hanging), then lay the first flag on trim (right sides facing same direction), aligning straight cut edge to length of ribbon. Using a zigzag stitch no wider than your trim (our trim is ¼” wide), sew flag to trim. When you reach the end of your first flag, add the next flag and continue to sew, adding another flag when ready, until you have sewn the entire stack.

sewing flagssewing zigzag stitchCONGRATULATIONS! Your bunting is complete! Hang it up and enjoy!

completed celebratory buntingSPECIAL BONUS:

With the fabric that is left over from cutting your flags, you can create a mini bunting! We used our fabric scrap to create flags that are 4” tall and 4” wide and sewed to two yards of the same braid (18” allowance for tying).

mini bunting cutmini buntingThis pattern can be followed exactly OR you can use it only as a guideline. Let your imagination run wild: change the basic shape for your flags, include more than one shape, or use shapes of different sizes! The possibilities are limitless! Here are some other fun ideas:

alternate shapes