Thursday, August 13, 2009

My sewing marathon is done!

I am so thrilled that I have finished ALL the sewing projects Diana asked for, in plenty of time for her to bring them to school in two days.

Door Sign
First up, she wanted some kind of sign for her dorm room door to indicate whose room it was. So I found a design from Embroidery Library that I had purchased some years ago and had added the words "Peace, Love, Happiness". I don't see the design on their site anymore, though.

Diana liked it, but because she's a foodie, she wanted it to read "Peace, Love, Really Good Food". So I added a tongue to the happy face and changed the words, and embroidered it on some old denim cut off from a leg of my old jeans. Since the sign had to be really lightweight, I glued the fabric to a piece of firmaflex and backed it with a piece of suede.

Duffel Bag
For the occasional weekend trip or trek back home, Diana wanted a bag that could be stored in minimal space. The dorm rooms are tiny (hers is 10' x 15'), so storage space is at a premium. I made her a duffel bag that could easily be rolled into a small bundle.

Don't ask me what pattern I used; I didn't. It's just a tube with a zipper and two circles for the ends. Dimensions: about 14" for the ends (plus seam allowance) and a length of 28".

I had found this lock-and-key fabric at Joann's Fabric a few months ago and gotten a few yards because Diana is really into locks and keys at the moment. It's a lightweight woven, and would have made a nice blouse. For some reason, Diana really wanted it as the outside of the duffel bag. Hmm.

I ended up fusing the fabric to a backing of heavy canvas, left over from when I covered my work table. I used Pellon Wonder-Web to fuse the two layers together. This is the first time I've used Wonder-Web, and so far I'm quite impressed. It gave a very firm bond and was easy to work with. You can see in the picture above that the seams show on the inside.

To give the bag a little shape, I added cording to the ends. The straps were made with the face fabric, stabilized with a fusible stabilizer and strengthened with a strip of canvas inside. I used a cushion zipper (I buy them by the roll) for the closure. Also, I added a removable shoulder strap.

Laundry Bag
Diana had definite ideas on what kind of laundry bag she wanted. Nothing free-standing, like a hamper. Nothing so big that it would encourage her to put off doing her laundry. And she wanted something no one else had. It was her idea to put the "Biohazard" symbol on the bag. And, she said, she wanted just the word "ew."

I digitized the Biohazard design in Embird Studio and added the lettering beneath it with their font generator plug-in.

Again, this was done without a pattern. The bottom is 14" across (15" with seam allowance), and there's a layer of Timtex sandwiched in between the two pieces to give the bottom a little firmness. The body of the bag is about 22" high, with a 1.5" casing for the drawstring.

The back of the bag shows the pocket for the detergent bottle. It's 3" deep and 6" wide and tall enough to keep the bottle in place. The top has a casing through which I threaded elastic. It was all stitched in place by machine.

The strap is a 6" wide piece of the same denim fabric, folded down to 1/5". One end is secured in the bottom seam and the other is stitched to the outside of the bag near the top. Diana only wanted one sturdy strap to carry the bag. There's a drawstring closure.

I'm so glad to have been able to complete all these projects for Diana to take with her to the next great adventure of her life. Now her boyfriend Alex has indicated a desire to learn how to sew, so I'll probably be seeing more of him in the coming months.

Don't be afraid of sewing projects like these without patterns!! Three of the things I made for Diana this week are just cylinders. I used an online circumference calculator to help me figure out what size I should make the tubes based on the diameters I wanted. The rest was really just figuring it out as I went along. This is functional stuff, meant to be used and abused, rather than fancy projects. And yet, somehow, I think the things I've made for her this week will see many years of hard use. And she'll think of me every time she reaches for them.


  1. giggle, giggle, laugh. My daughter is still using the bags and carriers I made for her 30 years ago.

  2. Welmoed - I love the "stuff" you made for Diana to take to school. I did the same w/my daughter 11 years ago now (that hardly seems possible!) - I am now helping her organize her flat as she is back in school & needs some serious study space - she is still using some of the bags and organizers.
    Like you I frequently sew without patterns - for years I made hockey bags for my nephews, ski bags for the girls, and now make garment bags & organizers for my daughters' Ren Fest & belly dance costumes. I treat them like your tshirt quilt - as puzzles to be solved. I hope you realize you will be doing this for the rest of your life - it always gives me pleasure to know I can make something useful for the ones I love.
    Sue in MN

  3. Welmoed, love all the items, but the laundry bag is my favorite - what a hoot! You are so awesome. :)


  4. What a great sense of humor your daughter has! Love the ideas she came up with.
    Best of luck to her this year!


I would love to hear your thoughts... Please share!