Ellen is my crafty-creative soul in the desert ;) she's not afraid to try new things, learn & grow (as is evident by her new-found sewing ability!). We should all be so brave in our willingness to try new things. To see more of Ellen's work & family life, you can visit her website or blog. She's sure to inspire your every day family life!
Let me start by saying that I come from a long line of non-domestic women - ha! I inherited a brand-new 1964 Singer sewing machine from my grandmother, who didn't sew, who passed it down to my mother, who didn't sew, who passed it on to me, who didn't sew. It sat and collected dust for years. Then, when I was pregnant with my third baby, for some reason the domestic bug hit me. Maybe I was tired of commercial baby clothes and wanted something unique and handmade, maybe it was the thought of going on maternity leave from photography and needing an alternative creative outlet, maybe it was the opening of Hip Stitch, a local sewing lounge with beautiful fabrics (this is not your grandma's sewing store) where I made a tote bag for my first sewing class...whatever it was, I decided I loved making, creating, knitting, sewing! My mom is still in shock!
This has trickled down to holidays for me as well. My daughter's second birthday present was a shirt that I made her. My son picked out Lightning McQueen fleece for his birthday last year, and he still wears the pajama pants I made from them (although they're a little highwater at this point). So for Christmas this year I knew I wanted to make each of them something (I just wish I had started it a little sooner). Amanda Soule of the SouleMama blog has a wonderful book called The Creative Family. It has lots of inspirational ideas for carving out creative time with your children. I fell in love with the bedtime bags in her book and knew that this would be the present I made the kids this year.
So we took a trip to Hip Stitch, and each of the kids picked out their fabric. It's hard for me to get there when I don't have all three, so I figured it wouldn't be a total surprise. Oh well. ;) The oldest picked out Dr. Seuss fabric, the middle picked out pink strawberries (shocker - she loves anything pink!) and I picked out a cute print of ants on tree rings for the baby.
The book had directions for a basic tote bag, with a suggestion that you can line it and/or add a pocket, but no directions. So I got directions for lining the bag on the blog Skip to my Lou, and directions for making a pocket on Noodlehead (although I made a square pocket instead of curved). I also liked the idea of tying the bags to the beds, like the post on this blog (which is also the inspiration for how I'm going to decorate my daughter's room, someday when she isn't sharing with the baby) instead of having them hanging from a hook. I have to admit I was a little nervous to be veering from one set of directions to make what I wanted, but I'm so glad I did!
Since I was making three, I made the bags assembly-line style. First, I cut out the material for the bag, liner, pocket, and ties, winging it a little since I didn't really have any measurements for a pocket or ties.
Having all the components for each bag spread out in my fancy sewing room, I mean the couch in my living room ;) helped me to visualize what I was doing, and make sure I had everything.
I made four ties for each bag (again, guessing on the size, but 2 inches wide seemed to work out ok), ironed them in half, then ironed each side to the middle and stitched them closed. Skip to my Lou's tutorial shows photos for this, even though it's for straps. I followed the general idea but just sewed them on one side for my narrow ties.
Next I cut out monograms from my handy stash of scrap paper and sewed them onto the pockets. You can use stabilizer, but I was out and didn't see another trip to the fabric store in my immediate future, and I think it worked ok. Except that I need to get better at sewing around curves apparently, because my monograms don't look so hot. Fortunately the recipients of the gifts are all under the age of 6. ;)
I sewed the right sides of the pockets together, topstitched the top, then sewed the pockets onto the piece of fabric that was to be the outside front of the bag. Now I wish I had made the pockets a little bigger. They'll probably fit a chapter book when my kids are old enough to read them (if they last that long!) but not much else. Oh well, live and learn. ;)
The rest was easier. Once the pocket is sewn on, sew your outside bag fabric together (right sides together) and lining together (again, Skip to my Lou's directions on this part were really helpful, and she posts a photo of each step!), fit your lining inside your bag (right sides together again), sticking your straps/ties in while you sew around the top (I accidentally sewed my bag shut the first time around. I know my seam ripper well). Then turn the bag inside out, stuff in the liner, and stitch around the top again, close to the edge to finish it off.
Voila! Bedtime bags! Here's some details of the baby's, hanging on the back of the chair (I love the ties - I'm glad I did this!)
And here they are in the kids' rooms, tied to the bottom of their beds.
Now to put books in each one, make some Sewing Green recycled sheets pajama pants for each one, and wrap them up...by Friday. I should be able to finish it, right?!
I hope my little blurb at the beginning will encourage you that you can always learn to be crafty! If this mom, who literally couldn't sew on a button five years ago, can make three bedtime bags as Christmas presents, anyone can! Enjoy your holidays, and I hope at least one of your presents will be handmade!
Thanks, Ellen! I really, really want to try these!!! (Of course I need a sewing machine first ;) haha - one day!)
If any of you end up making these, will you send me some snapshots of yours? I'd love to show them off on the blog!