You can now sew your own reusable produce bags using my free tutorial! With my recent change in direction with the business, focusing now on knitting and crochet accessories, I decided to pull my sewing patterns that I had listed for sale in my Etsy and Craftsy shops and turn them into free tutorials here on the blog. Here's a better explanation.
Ready to make your own reusable bags? These are great for the grocery store, farmer's market, or even for collecting shells at the beach. Let's get started!
Cutting Out the Pieces
Cut two—6” x 26” rectangles of quilting cotton (cut 13” on the fold, paying close attention to layout if using directional prints)
Cut one—6” x 26” of the mesh (cut 13” on the fold)
Cut 1 yard of the drawstring cording
Fill your bag with produce and enjoy!
Have you ever bought fabric from IKEA? Did you know they sell fabric by the yard? Did you also realize that there are many usable beautiful textiles IKEA sells in other departments that are perfect to cut up for sewing?
45-60 minutes North from Aquidneck Island, IKEA in Stoughton, MA, is well worth the drive. I took a trip last week and came home with pictures to share with you, showing you how many options you have in fabric. Most especially, inexpensive fabric.
There is a self-serve fabric cutting area. No fabric costs more than $8.99/yard. Since this is a home décor store, their fabrics are geared towards pillows and curtains. Some prints are quite large, intended to be used as a wall hanging or other statement piece. While not always suitable for clothing, I have used many of these heavier weight fabrics for bags. They also are a great weight for a spring jacket, and of course pillows and curtains.
Choose your fabric, unroll, measure and cut, then apply a sticker with the barcode number, yardage and price. The cashier will take care of it when you check out.
Note: the scissors usually are really dull from however many customers roll through this place. You're on the honor system--please don't ruin it for the rest of us by cutting more than you claim on your checkout sticker!
They have recently started carrying pre-cut lengths of fabric.
They also carry their own sewing machine and a handful of notions. I'm not sure this is any better than the toy machines you can buy for kids. I have no experience with this and do not recommend it. I still very heartily recommend buying a good used machine, or something like the Brother CS6000i or the Janome Magnolia. $64.99 seems tempting, but playing with the reverse button and dial, makes me think it's not even worth that low price tag.
The same applies for their thread and scissor quality. Use a coupon or wait for a sale to get quality thread and a workhorse like fabric shears at a craft or fabric store.
Still, this shows me that a big corporation believes sewing is a growing hobby, not something dying out. That is very encouraging!
Besides the obvious fabric available in the cutting department, this store is filled with fabric options if you change the way you think a bit.
Look at the cool graphics in a table runner, napkins and tea towels. You can use these for so many things! I've made kids art aprons from IKEA tea towels for birthday party favors. You can make a variety of zip pouches from the napkins. Use the existing hems to your advantage. Cut up with abandon for patchwork. Once you look beyond the label, and think of these as smaller cuts of fabric rather than yards on a bolt, the possibilities are endless.
What if you need a larger piece of fabric and a napkin isn't enough?
Bedspreads! Can you imagine finding fabric yardage in a twin bed size for $12.99??
Shower curtains! $4.99 for a huge panel of fabric--you really can't find that anywhere else (though I hope you'll start seeing things like the clearance rack at Marshall's as sources of inexpensive fabric too!). Keep in mind the fiber content and what project you have in mind. Personally, I wouldn't want to make a skirt out of a nylon water-resistant shower curtain, but it might be perfect for a picnic blanket. Or rough and tumble beach bag.
Last but not least, curtain panels. You can find linen curtains for far less than you would buy yardage at the fabric store, even after sales and coupons. A 2-pack of curtain panels is a huge amount of fabric.
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Have you ever sewn with textiles from IKEA? I would love to hear about it, and see photos of what you've made!
Have you heard about the handmade blogger challenge to wear something you made each day during the month of May? It's a challenge started by Zoe at So Zo...What Do You Know? blog. Knitting, crochet, sewing--it all counts. Some people have made very strict rules for themselves like no repeats, the entire outfit must be handmade, etc. The goal is to get those lovingly made wardrobe items out and proudly into the world.
This is my first year participating, so I've kept the rules simple. One item per day, repeats allowed, handbags, scarves and other accessories count. Since this is an Instagram challenge, my pics are all taken with my phone. Here are some outfits from the first week of the challenge. Details about the patterns can be found on the Instagram descriptions (I can recap if anyone is interested later here on the blog).
I'm @dancingthreadsri on Instagram if you'd like to follow along!
Are you participating? I'd love to hear about it! It's not too late to start. Tag your photos with #memademay, #mmm16, and #mmmay16 (I've also been using #selfishsewing and #handmadewardrobe). The interaction has been so much fun!
This is the first in a series I'm writing as a resource to my fellow creatives in Rhode Island and the surrounding region. When I teach sewing lessons, most people think the only resource for fabric is the national chain store Joann Fabrics. NOT TRUE!! While there are many places offering expensive fabric*, especially some fabulous online boutiques, there are also many local resources that are wallet-friendly. I'll share each of my favorite fabric sources in a separate post, compiling everything as a permanent resource here on my website when finished.
Let's talk about Lorraine Fabrics. The link goes to the Facebook page--they do not have a website.
Located in an old mill in Pawtucket, RI, since 1991, they carry discontinued fabric. Bolts that simply haven't sold in quilt shops, etc., and they offer it all at a huge discount. There are two floors, and you'll notice quickly--hand written signs everywhere. Word of advice: obey the signage. I find that following the rules and being extremely nice to staff who can be a bit cranky is well worth getting fabric for almost nothing.
*I'll share the online resources in an upcoming post.
If you see something you like, buy it now. Because everything has been discontinued, it may not be there the next time you go.
The first floor has trims, notions, specialty fabrics like satin and sequins, fleece, wool, linen, quilting cotton...the list goes on and on. About half of the floor is filled with upholstery and home décor fabric. They even carry some Sunbrella, but it might be a print from a year or two ago, not something in the current Sunbrella catalog.
Please excuse the slightly blurry camera photos. While there is no posted sign saying "no pictures," I wanted to be on the down-low with my reporting. I never want to be the excuse for a newly-posted sign.
Don't quote me on this because I did not look at every roll and bolt, but I didn't see anything more than $17/yard. That's pretty amazing for outdoor and upholstery fabric!
Venture to the second floor (skipping the first entirely like I do most trips) and see where sewing becomes magical and affordable again. You know how sewing your own clothes is supposed to save you so much money? And then you buy fabric, even with a coupon, and end up spending $40 on a dress for your 10 year old (not including the pattern, notions, your time, etc.?) Well, the second floor of Lorraine's is where you can really save money by sewing your own clothes.
How is this possible???
EVERYTHING is $2.99/yard. I'll give you a minute to stop jumping up and down from delight...
I'm not going to lie...sometimes what you'll find is a complete crap shoot. I've found Cloud 9 organics for $1.99/yard (before the price increase this past year). Today there was Lotta Jansdotter, Windham, and Michael Miller fabric for $2.99/yard. There is also the largest collection of ugly polyester you will ever find under one roof. There is organization by fiber type, but after that you're on your own. There are racks of pre-cuts, which are usually 1-3 yard cuts and they're rainbowtized. Word of caution: the precuts do not specify fiber type. You're on your own to figure out if it's cotton, poly, wool, etc. The more time I spend in the bargain loft, the more projects I think up.
So where is this fabric gem?
593 Mineral Spring Ave
For me, it's about a 45 minute drive. Well worth it, but also not a store I can pop over to without planning. If you go, let me know what you think!! Even better, send me a picture of something you've made with fabric you purchased there!
BEST labels ever for your handmade gifts.
Pattern for this magnificent quilt is available here.
Can you stand the cuteness of these embroidery designs from Kiriki Press? Also available as complete kits. The hedgehog is on my must-make list.
Have a lovely weekend!
The Lil' Rhody bag is here! This is a project that has been in the works for a few months, and I'm happy to show you the final product.
A hand embroidered bag, made with all natural materials (cotton lining, linen exterior, cotton thread), with the shape outline we Rhode Islanders love so much.
This makes a fantastic memento if you've spent time in Rhode Island vacationing, visiting friends and family, and especially if you've been stationed here in Newport.
Block Island is even included in the outline!
You can find them at RaNEW Salon and Spa in Newport, as well in my Etsy shop. Mother's Day is just around the corner...
There is also a Maryland version available in my shop, that I will show you in a future post. Which state would you most like to see embroidered on a bag next??
Like many mothers of active children, I spend a fair amount of time shuttling people to activities and then waiting. Reading at these activities doesn't work right now because I miss out on watching all the fun. Hand sewing is the perfect way to keep my hands busy, stay out of trouble, not stare at a screen, and still be able to watch the latest flying front kick or back stroke.
Until recently, I've brought my sewing to events in a drawstring project bag, which works quite well. The biggest pet peeve of mine has been thread snips. What to do with them? They either end up all over my lap or tangled at the bottom of the bag. An exterior pocket was in order. While I was at it, I prefer zip top bags, and I had been saving some selvedges that had especially interesting graphics, or meant something to me like the sheep and crabs.
The portable sewing kit was the end result.
The thread snip pocket. No more lap full of threads making me look like the crazy sewing lady! I still look crazy embroidering everywhere I go around Aquidneck Island, but the people who know me understand it's for fun and work. Those who don't? If they ask I'll gladly tell them. If they don't, well then have fun with your Candy Crush.
Some of my favorite selvedges. It's such a shame that people usually just throw these away!
Inside pockets to corral various thread skeins, marking pens, scissors, lip balm, and even my phone and keys if I'm keeping things simple.
You can see by the current contents that it holds quite a lot. This is intentional, as I am usually either stitching multiples of something and like to churn through as many as I can in one waiting period, or I have a few different projects so I don't get bored.
Portable sewing means more than just sewing while my children are doing their thing. I can take the kit almost anywhere including outside in beautiful weather, a friend's house, to the park, on vacation...you name it. TSA may not like all the sharp pointy things, so I haven't tried flying with it yet, but it goes most everywhere with me lately. How else am I going to make sure everyone has the chance to buy their own Lil Rhody bag?? See the crab mug above? I'm working on a Maryland version of the bag too!
How do you sew, knit, crochet, etc. on the go??
Knitters are the best! I knit badly, but I love to sew lovely bags to keep their projects, needles and hooks in order. I also teach sewing, and you can find many sewing resources here. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.