Drawstring Treasure Bags

A friend of Kirsten's had a birthday party last month, and I happened to know that he is rather fond of dinosaurs. So I got him some big dinosaurs, but I also got him a pack of 24 mini-dinosaurs all about an inch long or so. I figured they'd be perfect to play with at home or doctor appointments, but was worried it'd be relatively easy to lose track of all those little guys.

I grabbed a pair of my husband's old Levi's that had gotten too worn at the knees and hem and had ended up in the scrap fabric box in my closet. I cut a generous section from the calf area and quite liked the outer seam and wanted to incorporate it into the bag still. I used that as the bottom edge and initially sewed up the bag using just the denim fabric. Well, it didn't gather very well at the top so it didn't draw tight and keep closed. So, I sewed a bit of cotton fabric to the top and added the drawstring pocket in that material, after which it closed nicely. I have an embroidery machine so I added his name to the front of the bag in a dark green before sewing it all together. The drawstring is just a new shoelace. His will fit all the small dinosaurs and a few big ones too, or a handful of cars or small books. Whatever treasures he cares to put in it.

After I made one for her friend, I stitched up one for my daughter too, just a little smaller and filled it with a matching set of dinosaurs. Hers is a knit fabric, so I first sewed the bottom shut, since that's the edge that will stretch, then sewed up the sides and then sewed a little pocket at the top.  Again, I used a shoelace for the drawstring. The nice thing about using a shoelace is, thanks to the aglets at the tips, it won't fray. There are tons of drawstring bag tutorials online, here's a whole page of them at Sew Mama Sew. I just looked at a few, then did my own thing.  One tip is to pin a safety pin at the end of your drawstring to work it through your pocket, much easier to get it through that way.

Friday I'm in Love {21} - Pinterest

This Friday has no particular theme, just collections of images and things that I have pinned to my Pinterest Inspiration board. It's just a collection of images that inspire me for some reason; whether they make me want to do something in particular or just invoke my imagination in some way. It's full of images from my favorite artists and photographers.

The first is Blaze Bratcher, one of my favorite bloggers and artists, and she is an absolute sweetheart. If I ever fulfill my dream of being a children's book author, she is the first person I would call to do the artwork for my books. I have several of her prints framed for my daughters room and I still want to commission a work from her just for Kirsten, but I'm waiting for her to get a little older so I can have it be of something she truly loves rather than something I pick for her.

From one of my favorite photographers, Alysia Cotter, her photograph The Pier. I bought one of her photographs, "Crash Into Me", in October, 2007. I love her photos almost dream-like quality.

Ruffled Tablecloth Tutorial

I wanted a simple ruffled tablecloth for my daughter's table, however I found it impossible to find a child's tablecloth, let alone in the right dimensions. Since the legs of the table are a bit marked up I really wanted one that would perfectly skim the floor. So, I did what every other insane person with no sewing skills would do... I made one.

Ruffled Tablecloth Tutorial | Candy Hearts & Paper Flowers

If you know how to sew you may want to skip my ramblings, since you probably have the tools to round the edges and a better way to ruffle the tablecloth. This was just my method with minimal sewing tools, a machine and a pair of scissors and a large handful of pins. Oh and this take a lot of thread, I had to go to the store halfway through my project to get more thread. I realized after typing all this up that I didn't take as many pictures as I thought I did. Hopefully, it's still easy to understand.

Since I had no clue how it would turn out, I didn't want to spend a ton of money on fabric, so I headed to the local hardware store and picked up a paint dropcloth.

I measured across the table in both directions, then added double the height of the table to the floor to each measurement, then since I was adding a 4 inch ruffle, I subtracted 4 inches from both lengths. This gave me a 2 inch margin of error for my seems, if you are an experienced seamstress, subtract 6 inches for a 1 inch margin of error. Then I cut a rectangle that was the total length by the total width. Iron this.

To round the corners, I put the child's table on top of my dining table. I placed the table cloth on it so two adjoining sides just touched the table when pulled taut, then I piled books on top of the child's table so the table cloth wouldn't shift while I was cutting. Starting at one side I just pulled the corner fabric taut down to the dining table and cut the fabric so it skimmed the dining table (floor) until I got all the way around to the adjoining side. I then shifted the tablecloth to an opposite side of the table to do the next corner.

Now measure along the circumference of the table cloth and take that number and multiply by 4 for a nice full ruffle. Cut 5-6" wide strips from the drop cloth, until you get enough to sew together to make the ruffle. I did 6" wide strips, again I wanted a large margin of error for my seams. I trimmed everything up afterwards, next time I would only do 5" for a 4" wide ruffle. I didn't really know what I was doing and wanted to make sure I wasn't messing anything up.

So I sewed the strips together to get 1 long 6" wide strip. Then I ironed the strip, and ironed down 1" edges to get a 4" wide strip. Then I hemmed the edges and trimmed my excess fabric.

Now the crazy part!!! Since I have a super long strip of fabric there is NO way I was going to do the typical ruffling method of a really lose straight stitch and pulling one thread carefully for that much fabric. For sure I'd have broken a thread and ended up very frustrated. So I looked around the internet for a bit for ruffling methods. What I did was very easy, though it required very careful sewing. I was using a heavy-duty thread since I was working with such a thick rough material, so about 3/4" from the top edge of the ruffle I laid down one end of a new spool of the thread and zig sag stitched over the top of it, being very careful to keep the thread in the middle of the stitch and not catch it with my sewing machine needle. I used the widest zigzag stitch I could.

Ruffles made simple: zigzag over a thread, pull the straight thread to bunch up the ruffle | Candy Hearts & Paper Flowers
Zigzag over a thread, pull the straight thread to bunch up the ruffle

Once I was done I measured the fabric strip and using safety pins I pinned the fabric at 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 the length of the fabric. Using the pins as guides I could make sure the fabric was somewhat evenly ruffled and make sure that my final length of the ruffle would match what I needed to sew around the tablecloth. So holding tight to the thread that you laid down in the middle, gently start pulling it and bunching the fabric up.

After it is uniformly bunched and the right length, use about 8 pins to roughly pin it to the tablecloth to check for length. If you are satisfied with the length, unpin the ruffle and sew the ends together. You should now have a big long ruffled ring of fabric. Now carefully measure and center the tablecloth in the center of the table and every 3-4" inches pin the ruffle to the table cloth so it will just skim the floor. (I pinned mine up on tv trays, it was easier to see the length.)

Pin the ruffle so it skims the floor; use a table or tray tables to bring it to eye level | Candy Hearts & Paper Flowers
All pinned on, waiting to sew

Once it is all pinned you are going to sew right in the center of the zigzag stitch you did earlier with a straight stitch.

You are done!

I had no idea what I was doing and figuring things out as I went along and it took me the better part of an afternoon and evening. I also have a 2 year old daughter that I was getting interrupted by fairly constantly. She didn't like that I was holding her table hostage! However she loves her pretty table! Now to make slipcovers for her little chairs, I bought a "Making slipcovers" DVD, time to break that out again.