Monday, June 27, 2011

Yoga Mat Bag

Since I mentioned the yoga mat bag in a previous post, I figured I'd do a quick blog post about it. I made this bag a couple years ago. My mom loves yoga and goes to several classes per week. And I had this fun yoga fabric sitting in my stash, just waiting for the perfect project. Christmas was coming up, so I decided to make a fun yoga mat bag for my mom. Since I had enough fabric for two bags, I made one for myself as well :-)

I didn't take enough pictures while making this bag to post a full tutorial, but I can give the basic steps.

Fabric -- outer bag fabric plus coordinating lining fabric. Not all yoga mats are the same thickness. To figure out how much you need, measure the circumference of you mat, then add an inch or two so the bag isn't too tight, plus another inch for the seam allowance. Make sure you'll also have enough for the circle bottom of the bag, and enough outer fabric for the strap.
Interfacing -- same amount as fabric. Using the fusible interfacing would be easiest, and make for a more polished final product, but I'm cheap so I used the regular kind.
Cording for drawstring -- amount based on size of mat
Cord stop
Needle, thread, and other sewing essentials

General Directions

Cut Fabric:
For bag body: Determine how big your bag needs to be to accommodate you mat. From outer fabric, lining fabric, and interfacing, cut a rectangle the correct size. You don't want the bag to be too snug around the mat or it will be difficult to get it in and out. Remember to leave enough room for a 1/2" seam allowance.
For bottom of bag: Determine the circumference of your bag, then calculate the diameter (C
=2pi x radius). Add at least an inch in diameter (more to be safe). You can always trim down seam allowances, but if it's too small, you're out of luck! Cut circle from outer and inner fabrics and interfacing.
Strap: Cut a strip of fabric that is four inches wide and about 34" long, depending on how long you want it.


1. Sandwich the interfacing between the two pieces of fabric. Fuse or baste together.

2. Make the strap. Here is a really good tutorial. It even has pictures! Because the ends of your strap will be visible (unlike in the tutorial), simply finish them by turning the raw edges in 1/4" and hemming before top stitching the strap closed.

3. Attach the strap to the body of the bag. The strap should be placed about 4" in from the long edge of the bag. Pin one end of the strap 4-5" down from the top edge of the bag. Pin the other end about 2" up from the bottom of the bag. Sew in place, using an X shape for extra strength.

4. Fold fabric in half vertically with right sides facing each other. Stitch up the side leaving a 1/2" seam allowance. Be careful to keep the strap away from the needle.

Now you have an inside-out fabric tube. This seems to be where I stopped taking pictures. This is a good time to slip your yoga mat in the tube to make sure it fits. If it's a little too snug, rip out and re-sew with a smaller seam allowance. If it's too big, there's no need to rip, just sew another line and trim the excess fabric.

5. Sew the bottom into the bag. Sandwich the interfacing between your two fabric circles. Fuse or baste together. Pin the circle into the bottom of the tube, right sides facing. Stitch together with a 1/2" seam allowance. If you made an oversize circle, trim the excess fabric in the seam allowance down to 1/2". Turn the bag right side out and admire your handiwork so far.

6. Finish off the top. Turn the top edge in 1/4" and press. Now turn in another 1 1/2" and press.

7. Make the drawstring casing. Mark two button holes about 3/4" apart, and vertically centered in the top 1 1/2". Unfold bag and make button holes. Refold bag on previously pressed creases, and top stitch closed. Thread your drawstring through the holes, put on cord stopper, and tie. Voila! You now have a yoga mat bag!!

I also made a small wrist purse, just big enough to hold my wallet, keys, cell phone, and gym card. It was quite simple.

Outer Fabric
Lining Fabric

Figure out how big you want the pouch to be. Cut a rectangle that is equal in length and twice as long as you want the bag to be. Fold in half, with right sides facing. If you want, shape it by tapering in toward the top. Make a small strap, fold in half, and pin to the inside. Fold top and bottom edge in 1/4" and press. One side of zipper to each folded over edge and sew. Now, just sew up the sides, turn right side out, and you have a little purse!

Now you're ready to hit the gym.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dr. Seuss Curtains

At the beginning of the year, we moved the Monkey into a new room with a big boy bed so we could fix up the nursery for Baby Brother. We wanted to find a way to make the room special for him so he wouldn't be too upset about being displaced from his old room, but we're currently renting, so our options were limited. But with a window in the room, I figured curtains would be a good way to add some fun. The Monkey loves everything Dr. Seuss, so as soon as I saw this fabric at Hip Stitch, I knew it was just what I needed to make his new room a special place.

While I played around with all sorts of design ideas for these curtains, Bryan persuaded me that simple was better, and he was right. Just a panel of the Dr. Seuss fabric sandwiched between a coordinating solid made these curtains just right. All the different Dr Seuss characters gave me seemingly infinite colors to choose from, but since the Monkey already had a blue comforter, I decided to pull the blue from Horton the Elephant.

These curtains we're quite simple to make. I used the 44" length of the fabric for the vertical distance, and simply purchased a cut of fabric that was long enough to cover the width of the window. I purchased the same amount of the blue solid fabric and cut it in half to make the two accent panels.

Because it gets quite sunny out here in the Southwest, and because the Monkey sleeps better in a dark room (don't we all?), I lined these curtains with a blackout panel. Because most curtain liners are sold in standard curtain panel widths, it was quite simple to lay out the curtain over the blackout panel, pin, and hem. Voila! Perfect size curtain panel!

I'm really happy with how this curtain came out! It blocks the light really well, and adds lots of fun to an otherwise boring room. But the best part was seeing how excited the Monkey was when he first saw his Dr. Seuss curtains! He went right up to them and started pointing out all the characters. He settled in nicely to his new room, and he still loves his curtains!

He loves them so much, I went ahead and bought an extra cut of the Dr. Seuss fabric, just in case his room in our next house has more or wider windows.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lots O' Legos!

Legos are a big hit in our house. Bryan and his brother grew up playing Legos together. In fact, we have a couple book boxes full of Legos from when Bryan was a kid that will eventually get passed on to the Monkeys. While the Little Monkey is still a little too young for Legos, he has lots of Duplo, mostly gifts from Bryan's brother. So when I saw some Lego fabric at my favorite local fabric shop and showed it to Bryan, he said "You should make the Little Monkey a bag for all his Legos!"

The fabric is a very heavy, almost canvas-like fabric, making it perfect for a bag that will hopefully be used for years to carry lots of pointy blocks. Bryan wanted me to make it big so that the Lego collection will have "room to grow."

With nothing for scale, it's kind of hard to get a sense of size, but this bag is about two feet tall. Maybe taller. I chose the heaviest weight interfacing I could find (for durability) and chose a red lining fabric and drawstring. All the different colored legos in the fabric gave me lots of colors to choose from for lining and drawstring, but something about the red spoke to me. Or maybe it's just 'cause I like red :-) I chose to do a drawstring closure because I figured it would be the easiest for the Monkey to open and close himself.

As is typical of me, I just dove right into this project without too much forethought. After all, how difficult could it be to make a bag? Let's just say there were lots of "learning experiences" in making this bag.

Learning Experience #1: While circular bags are difficult (as I discovered making a yoga mat bag), ovals are even more difficult. Not only are the curves difficult piece and sew correctly, but the oval means it must be aligned exactly right to work. I think from now on, I will make square or rectangle based bags!

Learning Experience #2: Make the button holes for the drawstring BEFORE finishing the top hem. Otherwise, you end up going through the whole hem and there's no place for the drawstring to go.

Learning Experience #3: Keep seam allowances in mind when calculating how much fabric to cut, how much interfacing to cut, and where to place the holes for the drawstring. When it came time to finish the top of the bag, I remembered that the interfacing shouldn't be part of the drawstring pouch. So I had to cut down the interfacing to give me room to turn down the fabric the correct amount. Then, because I forgot about seam allowance when measuring for placement of the drawstring holes, I placed them a little too high. Fortunately, this did not ruin the bag, but it was a close call, and the drawstring track (Or is it a pouch? What do you call it?) is a little narrower than I wanted it to be.

Learning Experience #4: Drawstrings don't have to be that much longer than the diameter of the bag when fully open. I used a little (ok, a lot) too much cord. Not a fatal flaw, just something to keep in mind for the future.

In the end, this was a fun project. I love the fabric. I learned a lot from making it. I loved the smile on the Monkey's face when he saw his new Lego bag. But I really love seeing it get used every day, and knowing that it will continue to be used for years.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Little Monkey

In April, we welcomed another little monkey into our family.

Born with a head full of dark hair, an olive complexion, and dark eyes, he's about as different from his big brother as it gets!

With a NICU stay, reflux, and colic, things got off to a rough start. But with mama's milk, time, and some meds, things finally started settling down.

Now, at two months, he's a happy, smiling, cooing little chunky monkey!

So, that's why things have been quiet here. But now that things have settled down and we're all getting some sleep, I hope to post more frequently. I have quite the backlog of projects to blog about. And what seems like a billion projects waiting to be soon as I get my sewing machine back from the shop!!