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11  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / zip-up sewing kit on: April 08, 2013 12:22:54 PM

I have a friend who wants to start (machine) sewing and I thought I'd get her a starter set. But once I looked at the web I found lots of (ugly) and not very well equipped sewing kits. Most of them included stuff I've never used and left out other stuff I find highly useful. I finally decided to make her a special sewing kit with all the stuff I've found helpful.

ETA: as alteredmommy pointed out, this could be modified to any kind of kit - put in a few more loops for knitting needles or crotched hooks, add pockets for stitch markers etc., modify to fit your needs Smiley

Here it is:

room for sewing needles and threader
seam ripper (used it a lot)
chalk pens
tracing wheel
rotary cutter
folding templates (from the scientific seamstress)

1/2in bias tape maker (scientific seamstress - she has cool stuff Smiley )
IKEA fabric scissors (normal and zigzag)
magnetic pin cushion
measuring tape


1. decide on what you want to put into your sewing kit
2. sturdy fabric for the outside
3. lightweight fabric for inside + some contrasting if you feel like it
4. stabilisation - regular floor wipes or batting
5. some elastic
6. old binder for support without the binding mechanism
7. small zipper for pockets
8. endless zipper for outside closure: one side ~ 2 yards, one zipper

lay out everything you want to put inside the case and decide on a rough layout

a. inside flap
I wanted a divider with just a few pockets

cut floor wipe to a square roughly an inch shorter than each dimension of the binder
cut light weight fabric for fabric as big as flap + generous seam allowances
cut 2 pockets each twice as high as final height + seam allowance, fold in half

mark dividers with chalk pen and sew pocket and inner fabric to floor wipe
sandwich pockets in between both layers of inner fabric, with floor wipe on top
stitch around stabilisation - leaving side that will be connected to the middle open, turn around.

b. left outer side

cut stabilisation to same size as binder flap
cut inner fabric to size of binder flap + 1/2 binder back plus very generous sewing allowance - better to cut it away at later point

- pocket - for small stuff like needles an threader
I didn't want any raw edges to be seen, that's why I did everything in double layer.

sew one flap (the smaller part would have been easier Smiley ) to the zipper, right side of fabrid inside

turn around

repeat with other side

cut pocket to desired length

fold fabric around open sides, stitch closed

place pocket on fabric and stabilisation, pin and stitch

loops for pens

place post it below the pens you want to use - mark distances
take elastic and put on markings for slightly stretched distances across pens
I did have pens of different widths - thus the varying marks

align marking on elastic with marking on post-it and sew in place stitching multiple times for and backward (just flap under beginning and ending of elastic)

pockets for copy wheel and rotary cutter

measure across tools, holding measurement tape down where pockets will be sewn to inner fabric
measure from top of pocket to bottom across tools
cut fabric for pocket - twice as high + seam allowance, and width + seam allowance, fold in half
cut elastic about an inch shorter than width - zig zag to one layer at the middle, close side seams, leave bottom open
turn pocket over, stitch below elastic on top
mark dividing line on pocket

fold bottom of pocket, so that the final width measures as much as the distance below the tools.

pin to flap and stitch in place

c. right flap
scissors, pins and needle cushion

cut stabilisation to same size as binder flap
cut inner fabric to size of binder flap  + 1/2 binder back plus very generous sewing allowance - better to cut it away at later point

mark where the elastic to hold the scissors and pins will go
sew on elastic, folding edges under, stitching each seam multiple times

make a single pocket for the pin cushion as the pockets for rotary cutter and tracing wheel

d. putting it all together

mark sewing line on flaps: using edge of stabilisation as guide add 1/2 width of back of binder + 1/4 in (marge to stitch in between all those layers later)
sandwich flap in between sides, sew together

cut another part of stabilisation as big as back of binder

cut back seam allowances of inner fabric to about 1/2 in

cut outer fabric to same size as inner fabric

close on three sides, leaving bottom open, stitching at 1/4 in distance to stabilisation (marge needed to stitch on the zipper)

iron seam allowance inside on forth side

turn inside out,

top stitch folds in between outer sides and back
slide in binder pieces and close with ladder stitch or stitch closed very near the edge

e. put in zipper

startin at dividing seam (see pin) stitch zipper to fabric very close to the edge, leave about 3 inches of free curls

if possible use a edge(blind-hem)-foot for an even distance

at corners, leave needle in fabric and turn 90

put in zipper piece

cut out plastic curls for about 1/2 in on one side, slide in other side first, than put in the side without curls
zip up and check whether everything is aligned, otherwise unzip and try again

when you are happy, sew closed end of zipper together

cut a little rectangle of fabric - a little wider than the zipper plus seam allowance, twice as long, fold in half

sew sides closed an turn inside out, fold raw edges inside

put on zipper and top stitch all around


fill your sewing kit and be happy

credits: I did get the original idea seeing the IKEA sewing kit, and I adapted parts of Schnabelina's tutorial for a pen etui - she does have wonderful sewing tutorials and patterns on her blog (in German)


12  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Easter / Re: Sorbian easter eggs - with quick how-to on: March 21, 2013 07:15:55 AM
These are beautiful!  You put a lot of work into your eggs--do you have to do anything to keep them from year to year?  Are they easily broken?

Thank you!
I just store them in regular egg cartons. You only have to be a bit more careful with the wax-batik eggs. If the wax is not adhering good enough to the egg (egg still slightly wet when applying the wax or the wax wasn't hot enough) the bits that get chipped off of the egg and come again in contact with the egg  can leave stains just like crayons. Two wax-batik eggs rubbing against each other have the same effect.
How easily they break depends on the quality/thickness of the egg and any cracks pre-existing. It's certainly nothing I hand over to my one-year old Smiley, but will not break at first contact.
13  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Easter / Sorbian easter eggs - with quick how-to on: March 21, 2013 01:24:24 AM
I finally got around to make some of those Easter eggs again.

I did a few sets of eggs

group shot of all of this years eggs:

I tried something new this year - dying the eggs first and putting colored wax on them afterwars. So far I either covered the plain eggs with colored wax or did the wax-reserve-technique where you apply wax on the egg, dye the egg, put on wax again and dye until you end up with a colored egg.

Quick how-to - copied pictures from my previous post about those eggs. It's basically the same technique as the drop-pull eggs

Just to avoid confusion - I'll be describing two similar techniques at once

wax-batik: colored wax on plain/dyed egg, wax stays on

wax-reserve: plain wax "reserves" color, egg is dyed, wax "reserves" color, etc, wax is removed at the end

  • plain bees wax / colored bees wax (encaustic wax)
  • glass point needles (plastic ones might melt) on pens -> for dots and stripes
    feathers cut to shape -> for triangles, diamonds
  • spoons and candles -> to heat the wax in
  • circle templates, rubber bands, soft pencil ->  to sketch the design to the egg
  • dyes - I use plain easter egg dyes, but quite concentrated and with a lot of vinegar
    fabric dyes are supposed to cover even better, but they are quite expensive
  • eggs Wink

1. hollow the eggs
easiest and cleanest way for me:
on the day before
put in one! hole (if you have with one of those egg drills)
holding the egg with the hole at the bottum pump in air with a syringe, let sit for a while and repeat pumping in air
rinse with water, let dry

2. thoroughly clean the eggs
use sponge and water with vinegar to clean the eggs and remove any stamps they might have, rinse carefully with water and dry

3. lightly sketch design with pencil
use rubber bands to divide eggs, produce straight lines, sketch circles with templates
get ideas for design by searching images of "Sorbische Ostereier"

4. start covering your egg with wax
dip needle point, feather tip into hot wax, quickly print on egg
repeat (many times Wink )

for wax-reserve technique:
5. work your way from light to dark colors

use syringe to fill egg with dye, so it does sink down
use syringe to get the dye out of the egg, after dying
disposable gloves are great to protect your fingers
dry up egg thoroughly before putting on another layer of wax

for wax-reserve technique:
6. remove wax
hold egg next to flame, heat wax, wipe of with kitchen roll
polish the warm/hot egg.

Please ask any questions if I did not explaining the steps well. I'll do a few more eggs in the next days and will try to take pictures of the steps in between.

14  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Re: Meta Mittens - The Mitten Project on: February 07, 2013 12:32:54 AM
Wow - I can't knit, but I admire your sheep mitten! They are beautiful! This would be perfect for a friend of mine who loves sheep.
15  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Re: A window upgrade on: January 14, 2013 05:19:15 AM
What a great improvement! I wouldn't have seen that it is crooked. Don't even mention it.
16  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Re: Crochet Cherry Blossom Baby Blanket on: January 13, 2013 01:16:36 PM
Wow! I usually don't like pink, not even for little girls, but this blanket is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.
17  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Re: bibs with sleeves - with tutorial on: December 09, 2012 02:40:27 AM
I just have a question about the elastic on the sleeves- do you zig zag the entire elastic along the sleeve hem (stretching the elastic as you go), and then just fold the hem over the elastic? Thanks!

Yes, that's exactly what I do, just forgot to take a picture of the result, before I folded the hem over the elastic.
I was lazy on some of the sleeves and used the already hemmed part of shirt, on those I just added elastic on the inside without hemming again.
18  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Re: bibs with sleeves - with tutorial on: December 07, 2012 09:51:15 PM
Great idea and many thanks for the tutorial - especially with Christmas round the corner.

Thank you - yeah how about some holiday themed bibs. I like how you can play with contrasts with this pattern - some festive green, red and gold might be wonderful.
While searching for a pattern I found a one-piece version which seems quite easy, but doesn't give you the option to play around with different colors or add a layer to stop moisture from sipping through to just the front. I might try the other pattern one day, just out of curiosity.
19  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / bibs with sleeves - with tutorial on: December 07, 2012 11:00:22 AM
I do have a wonderful cookbook for babies - which has only one tiny flaw. They say bibs with sleeves are only necessary once the child starts to eat on his own. They do not now my child! Without bibs with sleeves I'd have to wash her clothes after every meal.
So I started to sew some bibs of my own.

I found a tutorial on a french-german blog, which seems to have been taken down in the meantime. I can't find it anymore. The author was quite enthusiastic about the speed it would take to sew one bib: 20 minutes max! I do need more time, but then I like to embellish my bibs and finish the top with bias tape, that might account for some of the added time.

I took some pictures along the way and digitalized the pattern.

material needed:
1-2 old/cheap towels,
some cotton fabric (old shirts) for the sleeves - the material should not be to thick so the child can still move easily,
shower curtain (optional),
some elastic
bias tape or celcro or snaps for closure


1. print pattern and cut your pieces

print pattern without scaling - the square should be 5cmx5cm/2 inx2in
The pattern is quite large - but I use it for my 9 month old, too.
If you are sewing for a very small child you might want to print at 95%.
Cut you pattern pieces:
   1x front (terry cloth), optional 1x front from shower curtain
   2x sleeves
2. serge all raw edges
embellish your front, serge/zig zag front and shower curtain layer together

3. sew sleeves to front piece

4. add elastic to sleeves

I find it easiest to zigzag the elastic to the sleeves at this point, before hemming and closing the sleeve.
The proper way would of course be to a) close the sleeve first, b) hem it, c) thread in elastic
5. close the sleeves

turn bib right side up, turn upper part of sleeves down and sew bottom of sleeve close.
hem the sleeves
6. finish upper part of bib with bias tape
or add velcro/naps to close bib.
If you really want to you could add bias tape to all raw edges, I'd advise to start with the lower part of the sleeves and bib, and then add the bias tape on top.

I'll ask the mods to add the pattern
Please ask if any of the instructions are unclear - happy sewing!
20  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Re: Monster Butt pants on: November 15, 2012 12:55:44 PM
Very cute!

If you're still looking for a pattern there's a free multi-size pattern with an E-book with lots of pictures (but German description) at http://www.roswithapax.de/monkeypants
I always wanted to try this for my daughter, but I'll wait till she starts to crawl Smiley
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