{ Happy Sewing } … Party Loot Bags

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Quiet Time, Tutorials | 4 Comments

princess & the pea fabric loot bags

This is one of those super easy projects that I turn to every time one of my kidlets is having a birthday party. Emma turns 8 tomorrow and we threw a birthday breakfast celebration with a few special young friends on Sunday. We have always had birthday celebrations in the afternoon which has typically meant the whole morning is devoted to organizing and decorating with over-excited kids underfoot. and the day is thus consumed. This time I thought that if we did it in the morning instead, pyjamas and all, we would still have half the day left for some other fun family adventure.

While I enjoy the idea of loot bags, giving some little special thing or collection of things to guests to thank them for coming, I am not a fan of all that instantly disposable plastic. Preferring to offer something that’s pretty and that continues to be useful after the bedlam dies down, I make these little cotton sacs and typically fill them with some crafty stash. The bag hopefully lives many lives afterward. I often find one around the house filled with a collection of wild animals, lego pieces, marbles, pinecones … you name it.

Here’s this year’s stash: a few sweet colouring pages, glitter glue, plastic lacing bundles, googly eyes, mini pompoms, wooden beads, jewellery findings, mini bottle of sequins, paint brush & a pretty flower.

fabric loot bag contents

For a pyjama breakfast party, what better fabric than Princess and the Pea …

What I used:

– For each bag you will need either 1 piece of fabric 24″ long x 6.5″ wide, or if using directional fabric as I did here, 2 pieces 12″ long x 6.5″ wide.
– 1 yard elasticized cord, or a few inches more if it’s not elasticized.

What I did:

Use 1/4″ seams unless otherwise indicated.

Measure and cut your fabric pieces. A clear acrylic ruler & rotary cutter make this easy, but they are certainly not essential. I have a long 6.5″ wide ruler that I place on my fabric to aid in fussy cutting the perfect piece … just zip around the edges.

cutting fabric for loot bags

If using one long piece of fabric, fold it in half widthwise, right sides together. If using 2 pieces, place them right sides together, making sure to match fabric top ends together. As per the following diagram, mark points on either side ¾” and 1½” down from top. Start stitching from top edge on one side. Backstitch when you get to the 1st point. Raise your needle & advance the fabric to the next point. Backstitch to secure stitching. Continue around the base (If using 1 piece of fabric, backstitch at bottom and start again on other side) & up the other side. Treat 3rd and 4th marks the same as the first two.

loot bag instructions

Press top few inches of side seams open. Press under 1/8″ along top edge. Press under again just over ¾”. Stitch ¾” from top edge. Turn bag right side out.
Cut cord length in half. Use a bodkin or safety pin to thread it through the casing, starting and ending along the same side. Knot ends together. Do the same with the other length of cord on the opposite side.

princess & the pea fabric loot bags 4

A yummy cake & a few colourful decorations were peacefully organized the night before, and thus we were set for the festivities.

balloon wall

Rainbow Charm Quilt

At our January Quilt Guild meeting we did a charm (5″ square of fabric) swap. We each had to bring a print and a solid of our chosen colour for as many people as were participating. Among 15 of us, this little rainbow bundle of fabric was what we each left with.

rainbow charm swap

I knew right away that I wanted to create something for my colour-loving almost-8-year old, and I wanted to use all the exchanged fabrics, whether they were colours I would normally be inclined to sew with or not. Wanting to keep things simple and graphic I opted for a very pared-down log cabin pattern … which I realized, after I had finished the whole thing, was not a real log cabin. I now know (I should really stop assuming I know what I am doing when I have not done so much as a moment of research on such a simple thing) the log cabin is a very easy block to sew. My version, while I may prefer it aesthetically, was a tad frustrating to piece together. None-the-less, it all worked out.
log cabin construction

I cut each square into 4 and bordered these little squares with white, a tone-on-tone patterned white and an off-white from my stash, all in random order, to balance the intense colour. This is what I ended up with.

rainbow quilt

You can see I offset one column of blocks by half a block to subtly break the pattern.

I didn’t want to do a back of just one piece of fabric and when I asked the intended young recipient what she thought, she suggested a reversible quilt, so she could have more options. Full of smart ideas she is, this girl of mine. I pulled out my ruler, large sheet of paper and sharpened pencil and got to work. I definitely wanted to fly with the rainbow theme, but keep the overall look a bit sparser than the front. Ta-daa!

rainbow quilt back

I used a few fabrics that are so very Emma, like the Heather Ross mermaid and other pretty ones she had chosen during fabric store trips with her Mama, with a few of my own fabrics thrown in there too.

rainbow quilt back detail

For me, hand quilting just multiplies the love in the giving. I found six or seven colours of pearl cotton (I was only able to find No.5 weight which is a bit too heavy to easily hand stitch with in fine fabric. I will be ordering a finer gauge next time around) and outlined the squares on the front, co-ordinating thread colour to fabric colour.

rainbow quilt front detail

I did no want the quilting lines to interfere with the diamonds on the back, so I stopped at the edges of the diamond arc paths and switched to basic white quilting thread to continue the squares in these areas.

rainbow quilt back detai3

I opted for this happy print of mine, Confetti, to bind it.

confetti fabric

I needed something that gently defined the edge without overpowering the quilt or boxing it in (as a strong colour would have) and that played well with all the colours already dancing around the quilt.

rainbow quilt corner detail

Both the maker and the recipient are pleased with the outcome.

Should you wish to make a quilt top like this, here is the cutting guide for the “Real” Log Cabin block shown above, using a quartered charm square for the centre:

– Cut each charm (5″ square) into 4 (2.5″ square)
-a- 1 piece 2″ x 2.5″ white or off-white fabric
-b- 2 pieces 2″ x 4″ white or off-white fabric
-c- 1 piece 2″ x 5.5″ white or off-white fabric

Using the “Real” block diagram above as a guide, sew the bottom piece -a- to the centre square, press seam open. Sew the 2 sides -b- on. Press seams open. Sew on the top piece -c- & press seam open.

That will leave you with a block measuring 5.5″ square. Divide 5″ (that’s 5.5″, less your 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides) into whatever width & length of finished quilt you desire, multiply these 2 numbers together, and add 1 for the offset row, and you have the number of blocks you need to make. My finished quilt is on the small size, 45″ x 60″, so I made (9 x 12 + 1) 109 blocks. Divide this number by 4 to calculate the number of charm squares you need, in my case, 28. Sew together finished blocks into long strips the length of your quilt. Make your offset row 1 block longer, line up the centres of the end blocks on this row with your other row ends & cut off the excess at each end, pin & sew these strips together to finish your top. Simple as that.

And I won’t give you instructions for the diamond side at this time, as I figured it out as I went along, and I don’t want to lead you astray. Trust me, it’s better this way. I will refine my process and practice the diamonds a few times prior to writing instructions, then when you try it you will think fondly of me.

{ Happy Sewing } … Thread Catchers

thread catcher

One of the challenges given at our last Quilt Guild meeting was to make a thread catcher. What’s a thread catcher, you ask? (I asked the same thing). It’s a small bowl for holding all those gazillions of cut threads we accumulate on our table (or floor) while sewing. It took me a moment to warm up to the idea, but once I got going … well, I have found my new favourite thing to make.

helen's garden fabric buckets x3

I designed these little fabric bowls or buckets with a folded top edge to be able to show off two co-ordinating fabrics, in one sweet little functional item. These three all use fabrics from my Helen’s Garden collection. If one adjusted the size, just imagine all the treasures one could keep or display in these lovely bowls.

knitting supplies

favourite plant

little friends

They can, of course, be used as a taller container without folding down the top edge. This really nicely shows off a favourite pattern, like Enchanted below.

helen's garden fabric bucket enchanted

In hopes that you are as excited about making these as I am, I have been working on a pattern for a myriad of sizes that will shortly be available here. Stay tuned …