My Weekender bag tips (and bag #5!)

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I have made 5 of these wonderful bags ( #1, #4, #5. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of #2 {but it is made similar to this one, only with purple, green, and white} and I haven’t gotten around to getting a picture of #3)  so far and so I thought I’d write some tips and tricks that I have found to make this bag easier to conquer.

Before we start, there is something you should know about me: I’m cheap frugal.  I don’t have much to spend in the way of supplies (and if I had the income to dispose of, I’m not so sure I’d spend it on myself, anyway. Unless it’s to go out to eat. I LOVE eating out!). In light of my frugality, I did as much research about this pattern as I could. I found a Flickr forum that talked about how much supplies would cost to make on of these bags. That sum just blew my mind: $120! Are you serious?? On a bag??!

I knew there had to be a cheaper way and still make something beautiful. I’ve been sewing for a long time, and I’m not afraid to find different materials and ways to make something. Plus, I look at it as a challenge and I love me a challenge! Winking smile Once I had the pattern, I was able to lay it out, read it, and come up with a plan. By the way, I have yet to use all of the called-for supplies, too.

1. The patter calls for upholstery fabric, of medium weight. I have used quilting cotton in all of my bags, and they come out just fine. Believe it or not, 5 fat quarters are enough for the outside of the bag (not including the bottom) as seen in this bag:

As you can see in this picture, the red fabric starts just below the top of the pocket so the red is not seen. This is how you can get that front panel out of 1 fat quarter.

2. Heavy, sturdy interfacing works very well. I use Pellon 926W1 sew ins stabilizer with great results. Doing the quilt-as-you-go method also works very well, as seen in this bag:

3. If you are of average height or taller, you’ll want to add some length to your handles. If you are wanting to add a shoulder strap as well or instead, attach the strap below the zipper at the side pockets.

4. Using a zipper foot or a piping foot to attach the front panel to the zippered panel makes things a whole lot easier! But if you don’t have on of those, it can be done with a walking foot.

5. The pattern piece for the bottom I have found is 2” too short. Cutting it 8.5” x 18” took care of this problem. Also, I have found the side pockets to be too narrow, so I have added 1.5” to make it line up with the zippered panel.

6. Some people have used purse feet for the bottom, but that isn’t something I have wanted to invest it (yet). I do, however, have quite a bit of Cordura fabric (the material that is used in backpacks, semi-trailer tarps, and the like), so I have used that on the bottom of all my bags to help with waterproofing. You just never know where those bags are going to land!

7. The pattern says to make your own piping. There is only Walmart that has any type of craft supplies near us and they don’t carry piping cord. That leaves me with the pre-done stuff and 2 packages of that works fine. You can always cover it if you want a particular color or print to match your bag, like I did with these two bags:

Of course, you can always skip the piping, which looks fine too.

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8. Add your own flair to your bag! There are many different things you could do. Use twill tape for the handles,

or quilt them.

If you’d like a shoulder strap, try covering an one from an old bag (like the one with black piping, seen above) or make one of your own using whatever hardware you have laying around.

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You can make the lining match the bag perfectly or have it coordinate but not match.

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I have made these bags with both the plastic teeth zippers and the metal teeth ones (as seen 2 pictures up). It just depends on the look that you’re going for.

Sometimes, things happen that makes you look really good. Open-mouthed smile

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So there you have it, my tips and tricks. Don’t be afraid of this pattern. It can be done with a very modest budget (you might have everything you need already!) and you, too, can have a wonderful, huge bag! This grey bag was made as a diaper bag for a friend. The teal and red bag is my diaper bag and it makes a fabulous diaper bag!!

Did I mention it was huge?

I am linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a fabric addict!

A fun “little” bag

Ellison lane is having a fun linky party showcasing our crafty items we have made to travel with. I thought this is an excellent time to show you a bag that I made my mother (but I secretly wanted to keep this for myself!).

It’s no secret that I have enjoyed making the infamous Amy Butler’s “The Weekender Bag”.  It is touted as the “holy grail” of bags. It has it’s challenges, sure, but it’s not as unattainable as many claim it to be. Yes, I’m a seasoned, experienced seamstress, but this bag is tamable.

I promise.

I have made four of these bags so far, with each one of them different. This one is no exception. I am a cheap frugal sewer, and my budget is very, very close to $0. So for me to buy the materials listed on the pattern, totaling over $150…. it wasn’t going to happen. So I scoured the internet (we have such a fabulous crafting/sewing/quilting community, don’t we?!) to find alternate ways to make this bag, before I bought the pattern. I wasn’t about to spend money for the pattern if I couldn’t make it for cheaper.

I give to you my Mother’s Scrappy Weekender.

I decided on a red, aqua, green, and yellow color story, for this is so my mom! The star is paper pieced and I was able to get the  outer pocket lined up with the top panel. The bottom part of the front panel (that you don’t see) is a large piece of material. It coordinates with the color story, but it’s not scrappy. I’m very happy with how it turned out!

I copied followed Elizabeth Hartman’s QAYG method, so I didn’t need the layers of interfacing called for in the making of the bag ( that’s code for “cheaper”).

I decided to use a strap instead of handles and, to continue my frugal theme, the strap and hardware were harvested from a free diaper bag we received from the hospital (the bag had seen better days, so I wasn’t sad about the loss). I covered it with this strip fabric that coordinates nicely.

These side pockets were “oops” blocks, that didn’t quite make the cut for the front. Not needing 2 more orphan blocks, I decided they should become the side pockets. I had just enough of this black/white polka dot binding from another project left over to use on this bag. I love how the black plays with the other colors! You can also see the lining on the outside pockets peeking through here, too

The inside lining is an aqua and green vintage sheet that my mother just loves (she picked it out)! This was a time consuming way, since I used fairly small pieces, but I sure do love the way it turned out!

Is there anything better in Grammy’s bag then a cute little boy?!

My W(orks) I(n) p(rogress)

When we moved into our house 10 years ago, I made my husband promise not to start any new home improvement projects until the old one before it was finished.

*Ahem* I suppose I should take my own advice! It’s been some time since I did a “WIPS” list…. and it shows. I have been working on things and items and been (slowly) crossed off my “to do” list. However, I have too many projects in various states of being worked on for it to show.

Okay. Let’s get this shameful honest exposure done with.

I am working on my second quilt for a client, who wants it for her son. His room has a nautical theme to it, so she wants his quilt to match. These are the creatures that will be “swimming” on his quilt. They are all paper pieced, printed from the (FREE!!) program Quilt Assistant.

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Here are the fun creatures that are adorning my design wall/board. Hopefully, the shark and the smaller seagull will get finished today. Which then leaves the turtle left to do. Oh, and there will be a sea dragon too, only he will be printed right onto the fabric. I’m daring and love a challenge, but not stupid enough to paper piece one of those bad boys!

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This is a quilt from the same client for her daughter.

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The pink and the multi colored fabric above it will be changed out for a warm yellow print and a burgundy (per the client’s request). It’s not quilted yet, only basted, so the change won’t be too bad. These critters are paper pieced, as well. Now that I understand it, I really love Quilt Assistant! Many of these critters/sea creatures were from regular pictures, which I opened in the program and made into a paper pieced pattern. So nice!!

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I am in need of new dresses and jumpers. And here they sit, ready to be done. Someday. I did get one jumper done, though!

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I have cut out my 5th Weekender Bag for a friend of mine, who just had her 3rd baby. These bags are so big and roomy, they make excellent diaper bags! My first bag I made into  a diaper bag for me, so I know!

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I am (very slowly!) working on a whole cloth quilt for my sister in law. I needed to put it away for now, so I can get these commissioned quilts done. But it will come back out someday! (sorry for the sad picture quality! These were taken with my phone and while we now have a new camera, I’m not dragging this out just to take newer, better photos. Not that you can tell, but the color is a bright teal.)

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These are the quilts in the queue, waiting to be quilted. On the top left side is the critter quilt from above. Next to that is my sister in law’s quilt. On the bottom left side are three LARGE floor pillows that are for my girls. Followed by our bed quilt, a Swoon pattern, that has been a WIP since February of 2012. Oi!! (For the quilt police: please do not look too closely at how I store my “waiting to be quilted” quilts. I know I need a better storage place/idea for them, I just haven’t worked it out yet. )

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Yes, I have a purple floor. And? Winking smile

I am linking up with Freshly Pieced and her awesome WIP Wednesday.

Monday Meals: the easiest pizza ever!

We are the same as most American families in that we love pizza! But that’s about where it stops. We have enough people who actually eat in our house that buying those frozen pizza’s really isn’t a cheap idea, not to mention they really aren’t that great. There is a place that will deliver pizza here in town, but it’s even more expensive for our size family than the frozen pizza idea.

So what is a mother to do? Make my own, I guess. When I first came to that realization, I got tired just thinking about it! For one thing, I usually don’t have enough fore-thought to start the dough a few hours before hand, not to mention the fact that the whole kneading process doesn’t interest me in the least. Truth be told, I’m a bit lazy and as much as I love to cook, there are often other things I’d rather be doing.

However, I couldn’t escape from the cold hard fact that the natives were calling for pizza, so I went on a quest to find a good (and quick!) dough recipe. But I couldn’t find it. Ugh! I then threw up my hands, rolled up my sleeves and concocted my own recipe. After several tries, and just as many changes to the recipe, I have perfected that sought after crust.

This dough takes 15 minutes to rise. Seriously! That’s it!

And now I will share it with you. (Please keep in mind that this recipe easily feeds my family of 9 eaters. Adjust the amounts for your family accordingly)

Easy Pizza Dough

3 cups warm water

3 Tbs sugar

7 tsp  dry, active yeast ( or 3 packages)

9 Tbs oil (1/2 cup + 1 Tbs), olive or veg. oil

3 tsp salt

7 1/2 cups all purpose flour

optional: dried oregano, basil, and/or garlic to taste

Directions:

1. (If you are using dry, active yeast then there is no need to proof it. Plus, there is enough in this recipe that it wouldn’t matter anyway.) Add you water, yeast, salt, and sugar into your mixer bowl. Turn it on medium speed and then add the oil (add the dried herbs/garlic at this point if using). Add the flour a bit at a time, until it is all well mixed.

2. There is no kneading required, so cover your mixer bowl (or scrap the dough into a larger one if your mixer bowl is a small one) with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for about 15 minutes, or until doubled in size.

3. At this point, you need to make a choice: do you want a pan of pizza or individual ones? If a pan of pizza is what you want, then pat out the dough into whatever well oiled pan of your choice (this size recipe will fit a 18 x 24 sheet pan). Sauce and top it.

OR

3. My children love to “make their own”, so we always go that route.* Once the dough is doubled in size, dump out of the bowl onto a well floured surface. Divide the dough into equal portions (this size recipe is yields 8 – 10 portions) and spread out to desired thickness and size. This dough will rise more in the oven, so keep that in mind when patting out you dough. Lay down parchment paper, then place each pizza disk onto a pan, sauce each individual pizza and top as desired. If you don’t have parchment paper, oil your pan first. (I place each pizza on parchment paper and label the paper who’s pizza is who’s.)

4. Bake your pizza( s ) in a 350 degree oven for about 10 – 15 minutes.

5. Cut and enjoy!

* If the weather is nice, we like to get the grill going and use it for baking our pizzas. The baking time is less than in the oven, so keep an eye on them, otherwise you’ll burn them. The pizza dough is firm enough that it doesn’t fall through the grill.

Weigh in Wednesday: week 3

My apologies for missing last week. By bed time on Tuesday, I had walked 9 miles and was all ready to post about my good week. Then I received a nightmare-ish fact and that through everything off.  Wednesday found me still reeling from the night before, and everything else that I knew, or guessed, that was coming along with it, so I was not in any frame of mind to post anything. Plus, I did weigh myself that morning and it read that I had gained! That was a horrible way to start an already fated bad day.

I was able to get back into things yesterday, but my mileage of 2 miles is still pitiful. However, last week is behind us and I’m going to keep walking in the direction that I am determined to go. I know that life will give us a few bumps, but it’s important that we keep going.

My weight this week is… sad. I’ve gained back all that I have lost +1, making me at 270. NOT what I wanted to see this morning. But really, what else did I expect? So I am determined to keep walking and do a better job at guarding what I put into my mouth.

I walked 4 miles today, so that’s a good start. I hope to have better numbers next week!

the final reveal

It seems that the year of 2013 was my organization year. Not by choice, necessarily, or at least, not intentional, but I did many projects around here that really needed to be done. Some of them were painting, some were changing things completely around, and others were simply reorganizing a room

I need to get picture of the rest of what we accomplished, but for today I’m going to show you my laundry room. Needless to say, I do A LOT of laundry! 22 – 25 loads a week. We also have no coat closet, for the door leading into our home comes right into our dinning room. And with all the shoes, coats, snow items, and the like that we have for all the souls in our house, we need a mud room of sorts.

I am horrible at taking “before” pictures, but I found a few that are somewhat recent, to give you an idea of what our laundry room looked like before.

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As you can see, not the most fluid of organization. You can see the floor in the first picture were those foam puzzle-like flooring, which covered up the hospital-like vinyl tile that we first put down 9 years ago when we moved into this house.  It was coming up in various places and the subfloor was rotted by the back door.

  Needless to say, the room not only needed an up grade and organization to better use the space, but the subfloor itself needed to be replaced.

And this, my friends, is what you let your 9 year old son do when it’s time for bed and he has too much energy.

The wall above my washer and dryer was a good sized wall, but I needed more than 1 shelf. So I measured and came up with the dimensions of a wall sized cubby unit.

We put this up after I painted the walls and trim (you can see a part of this cubby in the photo below).

Before we could do anything else, we had to replace the sub floor. That was an interesting ordeal. When the room was added onto the house, the subfloor was put down and then the walls were built. Yes, it was a bit odd. So Adam cut around the perimeter of the room to get the old subfloor up (at one point, he cut a water pipe. Oops! That took a good point of a evening to fix.)

Then we put a new subfloor down. Since we didn’t want to put down tile, which really was our only option with the in floor heat we have in that room, we decided to just paint the subfloor and call it good. 

Since I wanted to make the laundry room a type of mud room as well, I needed a place to hold the children’s shoes (and with 7 children who walk, that’s a lot of shoes!). Adam built me a floor to ceiling vertical cubbies shelf, to hold the shoes and the bench is nice for putting on and taking off shoes

He also built me a table so that I would have a place to sort the clothes, but I also needed a place for the clothes baskets to be (for I did NOT want the baskets along the wall under the window, as they are in the 3rd picture from the top). So I came up with the idea of having a space under the table for both the tall baskets  and a space for the small round baskets to be. The best part? Adam used an old table that was languishing in our garage for my new table. Score!

And here is the result!

Adam’s tools are easily within reach and organized, while the cleaning supplies are kept together (right above the sink) and the laundry soap is right above the washer.

The dryer is where diapers are changed.

The red basket at the very top is where I put the clothes that are out grown.  When it’s full, I organize them and put them away in the correct tote, which are all kept out in the garage.

Everyone’s jacket, except Adam’s, are kept here .

This is a little bench that I picked up at Goodwill for the littles to put on or take off their shoes easier.

And the occasional coin that comes through the wash? They are now mine!

The conclusion? I am very, very happy with my laundry room and it almost makes me want to be in there.

Almost.

I am linking up to “Let’s Bee Social” over at  Sew Fresh Quilts and “Finish it up Fridays” at Crazy Mom Quilt.

Stash box #6

Emily C, you are our winner of the Stash box #6! Congratulations!!p

That’s right. I did indeed win another box! I have won enough fabric with these boxes that I’m sharing the love. Red heart First up, here are all the goodies that were in this box. There are oodles of patters, and a “learn English paper piecing” DVD, pins, Guterman Thread, precuts, and embroidery cloth, juvenile prints,

prints that have a metallic sheen to them,

reds and pinks,

blues, greens, and teal,

panels and 2 “make your cloth book” panels,

and 3 lovely batiks.

Here are the items that I have taken: one half yard cut, 3 fat quarters, and the 3 precuts (these actually went to my SIL, who is beginning to build up her stash. She received a sewing machine for Christmas and is so excited to use it! I also asked her to go “shopping” from my stash, since I know how expensive this hobby can be. I love to share my passion!) 8 fat quarters, 4 (a little less than) half yard cuts are the items that I took for myself. And here are the items that I am putting into the box: 1 green twin size sheet, one half yard of the teal dots, 6 fat quarters, 1 universal free-motion quilting foot, grey Guterman Thread 50wt, 150 basting pins, an eyelet punch, a measure gage, 2 Singer sewing machine needles, and small gold pompoms for fun. Hmmm….., looking at what I took compared to what I’m giving, I’m thinking I need to put a bit more into the box. So I will, but it will be a surprise! Would you like to win this box? Since I am not a fan of short but sweet comments, i.e “this looks nice” type of comments, please tell me what kind of Winter activity you like best. It doesn’t need to be outdoors, just something you do in the cold months that you don’t do (much) in the warm months. For those of you who live down south and don’t really have cold months, do the best you can. Winking smile (You must also live in the USA and have an active blog, young or old.) Since I live in “6 months of Winter, Wisconsin”, my favorite activity is going sledding with my children. They have so much fun (and I get a decent work out hauling things back up that hill)! The highlight of our sledding season is our community homemade sledding race, which is happening this Saturday (1-25-14). We have 4 sleds entering into the race this year: * a wooden horse on skis (he’s a 3rd annual sled), *a spare tire on skis (another 3rd annual sled), * a recliner on skis, * and a jogging stroller on skis (the last 2 sleds are making their debut appearance). It’s going to be a blast!!

Weigh in Wednesday: week 2

This week went well. We attended a (late) Christmas party and I did better than I usually do with how much I pile onto my plate. We were the caterers (yes, it is weird to cater your own party …) and so you know the food was good and temptation was high. Before you think that I’m quite proud with that statement, let me explain: when I say “we”, I mean “Adam”. So I can say the food was excellent because Adam did it, not me. One may think that I’m biased to say  that my husbands food is amazing, and you’d be right. But then so would be the hundred’s of people who have eaten his food, too. In other words: I’m in good company! Rolling on the floor laughing

Start weight: 269  Todays weight: 267

Yay for 2 pounds gone!!! I told Adam this morning that I had lost 2 pounds and his response? “Did you burp?” Grrr… you can bet that I was looking around for something to throw at him!! Even though he makes fun of the walking videos I do, he really is supportive of these choices that I’m making. He just needs to learn a better time to joke… I can exercise each day and I can be watchful and careful about what goes into my mouth. But I can’t make myself lose the weigh nor cause my metabolism to increase. So my prayer has been that I will do my part and I’m relying on the Lord to help my lose the weight. He is so good, isn’t He?! Perhaps 2 pounds isn’t anything to be joyful about, but I am choosing to be joyful about that loss. Besides, a body has to start somewhere! 

I walked 7 miles this week. My goal was to walk 10, but I’m okay with 7. I didn’t walk Friday or Saturday (and Sunday’s are always my “off” days), otherwise I would have walked more than 10. I have found many of her video’s on You Tube and have been using many of them, so I’m not getting bored doing the same one day in and day out. I’m even making getting my kids to do a few videos a week with me. They don’t get outside during the Winter very much (duh!) and they need exercise too. PE class, anyone?

See you next week!!

Monday Meals

We have many things that go on over here, and it’s not just sewing! Owning a catering business we, naturally, work with a lot of food. Each Monday, I will attempt to highlight one of our families favorite meals. While many of these dishes don’t have exact measurements of ingredients, I will do my best to approximate for you.

This is a dish that I came up with once and it was such a hit, that I keep doing it. You can use ground beef or chicken, canned tomatoes with chilies, canned tomatoes without chilies, or spaghetti sauce. You can use whatever canned beans that you like, you can skip the onions or sweet peppers if you like… In other words, this dish is very customizable. I also love cornbread, so it is usually a must to serve with this dish.

Mexican Spaghetti

1.5 pounds dried spaghetti pasta

1 10 oz can of diced tomatoes (the kind with chilies in it add a nice kick, if you so desire) OR 1 jar of spaghetti sauce

2 8 oz cans of beans (black, pinto, kidney, etc.)

1-2 sweet peppers (green, red, and/or orange),diced

1 medium onion, diced

6-8 chicken breasts, diced OR 2 lbs of ground beef

chili seasoning to taste

sour cream,

shredded cheese

Directions:

1. In a skillet, brown the meat, seasoning it with chili seasonings (or whatever seasoning you wish). Drain the fat (if using ground beef). At the same time, start the water for the pasta, adding salt to the water for flavor.

2. In the same skillet, brown the onions and sweet peppers until nicely browned.

3. Add the tomatoes and beans, cooking gently on medium heat.

4. When the water is at a rapid boil, add your pasta and cook until done. Drain off the liquid. Place back into the stock pot and butter the pasta, to keep it from sticking to each other.

5. Portion out the amount of pasta desired on to a plate. Then scoop out the meat mixture onto the pasta, add the desired amount of cheese with a dollop of sour cream, serve hot, and enjoy!

Yankee Cornbread

3 Tbls butter

3 Tbls sugar

2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, 1 Tbs of vinegar added to a cup of milk will “sour” the milk and you will get similar results)

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups cornmeal *

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:

1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. In my opinion, corn bread taste better when baked in a cast iron skillet, heated up before used. To do this, place the skillet into the oven to heat it up well.

2. Mix all of the ingredients in order into your mixer. Mix on medium speed until well combined.

3. Before pouring the batter into the skillet, put 1 Tbs of butter into the pan and let it melt. Then add your batter (the butter will golden up the crust of the corn bread).

4. Bake until done, about 20 min. (a toothpick or knife should come out clean with the bread is done)

See that lovely golden crust? Mmmmm!

5. Slice up this bit of yummy-ness, butter it well, and serve hot!