Tips For Using Drawstring Bags to Wrap Gifts

Friday, May 11, 2018

As much as I love wrapping paper or a cute paper gift bag, my favorite way to give gifts is wrapped in a handmade Lined Drawstring Bag. Especially if the gift itself is handmade, I like to coordinate the bag with the same fabric or similar colors. I thought today I'd share my tips for using these bags for wrapping, plus which size I use for different gifts. With Mother's Day this weekend, there's still time to make a gift bag!

So first, why make a handmade gift bag? A few reasons. I think it instantly adds a little something extra to whatever you're giving. The bags are reusable, so they're an eco-friendly alternative to gift wrap. Adding a handmade element can also help jazz up store bought gifts too, making them more fun and adding a personalized touch. For quilts, I find drawstring bags are a great way for the recipient to store the quilt while it's not being used. Finally, they're just fun to make, so it's a good excuse to make one!

One quick thing I like to do before gifting is to tie up the strings in a bow! It's simple, but is a nice finishing touch!

I'll share a few gift ideas that should comfortably fit into each size included in the Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern, starting with the Everything Bag, which is the same size as the free tutorial.

Everything Bag (tutorial size)

- Bubble bath/lotion/soap set
- Swap goodies (pincushion, candy, fabric, cute scissors)
- Small flower pot + seed packets
- Baked goods
- Scarf or other small accessories

Tiny Bag

- Enamel pin
- Jewelry
- Gift card
- Candy
- Earbuds

Snack Bag

- Small toys like Tsum Tsums, toy cars, Littlest Pet Shop, etc
- Make-up
- A few fat quarters and a spool of thread
- A cute mug and some hot chocolate mix or tea
- Candle

Project Bag

- Set of potholders or dishtowels
- Small stuffed animal
- Knitting/crochet kit (yarn, pattern, needles)
- Dvds
- Framed photo

Artist Bag

- Baby quilt
- Art supplies
- Children's book and a toy
- Small electronics (tablets, ipad, large headphones)
- Quilt kit

Laundry Bag

- Throw quilt
- Large toy
- Handmade pillow
- Dishware
- Small kitchen appliances

Customize your drawstring bag with these variation tutorials:
Easy Going Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial
Easy Going Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial

Patchwork Drawstring Bag Tutorial - In Color Order
Patchwork Drawstring Bag Tutorial

Striped Drawstring Bag Tutorial

Lined Drawstring Bag Pocket Tutorial

Find all the variations and tutorials here: Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorials and Variations.

Here is where to find the basic bag tutorial and pattern:
Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial
Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern

Happy Making!

April Monthly Report

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Happy May! It's time for April's monthly report. See past reports here.

I actually sewed quite a bit this month! I didn't finish many projects, but I made progress. It's been slow getting back into a groove, mostly because I keep getting sidetracked. All of the house projects I've been tackling are eating up my time.

One project I did finish this month was a set of coasters to use in my sewing room! I saved these quilted square cutoffs from my Dreamin' Vintage Sew Portable Travel Set that I made a few years ago, not wanting them to go to waste. I finally decided to turn them into coasters. I used binding scraps to finish them, so they're extra scrappy!

I pulled out my scrappy pineapple blocks and made a new block, bringing my total to nine blocks. I love how these are turning out, and I'd like to start working on this project more regularly again.

Most of my sewing this month was on samples for my class at Glamp Stitchalot in November! Here is a little peek.

Lots of block sewing, including these fruity cat blocks. Fruit prints are from Sugar by Erin McMorris. Block tutorial can be found here.

See the plus quilt I made with this collection last Summer, here.

I am trying to get back into knitting too, it's a very relaxing activity for me, and I've missed it. I decided a hat would be a good way to get back into it!

I love matching my project bags to my knitting, of course. Using a lined drawstring bag made from Nordika for this one.

To keep myself accountable for my stash goals, I'm tracking my yardage for fabric and yarn each month. Read more about how I track my here. Here is how I did in April:

April Fabric
Used up: 4.5 yards
Brought in: 3.75 yards
Net: -.75 yards
Year to date: +22 yards

April Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: +218 yards

I managed to buy no fabric until the very end of the month. I was working on my Glamp projects and I ran out of the neutral dot from Mochi. I was only short a 8"x2" piece, boo! Since it's a work project I didn't want to sub it out, so I ordered some more, plus a few other colors fell into my cart.

Speaking of finishing projects, we were able to cross our pantry off the list this month! Here's a little before/after of our kitchen pantry. It's at the top of the basement stairs, and as you can see it was pretty gross and non-functional when we moved in. So, we tore out the old shelving, did a lot of wall repair, primed, painted, installed new shelves, and ripped out/replaced the old linoleum. It was a big project, but was so worth it. We have so much more storage space now, and it looks a lot cleaner and taken care of. I used this tutorial from Young House Love for the shelves.

A fun thrifting find from April, this candy colored wizard of oz sheet!

Last but not least, George bunny taking a break from running around to wash his face!

Have a great month!

Free Quilt Pattern: Fenced In Throw Quilt

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Photo by Holly DeGroot.

Happy Tuesday! Today I have a free quilt pattern download to share. The Fenced In Quilt Pattern was originally released in my short-lived newsletter, but I thought I'd make it available for download!

Fenced In can be made with 15 fat quarters or 50 jelly roll strips. For my quilt I used my friend Holly's Brushstrokes fabric collection.

Find fat quarter bundles of Brushstrokes in Holly's shop, here.

Photo by Holly DeGroot.

 It takes advantage of strip piecing, which means the blocks come together fast!

Photo by Holly DeGroot.

I chose to finish mine with simple diagonal lines through each block. For more info on my quilt, see this post. Download the free quilt pattern here.

A few details: This quilt finishes at 54"x66". To make it, you'll need the following:

- 15 fat quarters OR (50) 2.5” jelly roll strips
- 3 1/2 yards of backing fabric
- 62” x 74” piece of cotton batting
- 1/2 yard of binding fabric
- Coordinating thread

Photo by Holly DeGroot.

I loved making this quilt, and I hope you'll make one too! You can't go wrong with strips.

Share your progress and finished project photos using the #fencedinquilt and #jenibaker hashtags on social media!

Photo by Holly DeGroot.

Happy Quilting!

March Monthly Report

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Happy April! It's time for March's monthly report. See past reports here.

I didn't finish many projects this month, but I did make more progress than I did in February, so that's something! Even though we moved here over three months ago, I still haven't fallen into a good work routine. I'm definitely looking forward to feeling more settled. Maybe once the weather gets nicer? We'll see.

I stitched up a Giant Vintage Star Quilt from a beautiful Liberty selection from Alice Caroline Fabrics. Still trying to decide how I want to quilt it!

I am pretty close to being out of thank you cards. I remembered I picked up a box of plain kraft cards/envelopes from Target last year. I decided to put my Circut Maker to work and use it to cut the "Thanks" out of some cards. Add in some fabric scraps and voila! I was really pleased with how well this worked out. I made a little video of how I made them here.

I stitched up this cute little mouse for my Mom for Easter! The pattern can be found here. It was fun digging through my Liberty for the ears and her little dress. I can't wait to make one for myself too!

No gift would be complete without a Lined Drawstring Bag to put it in! This sweet house print from Yours Truly by Kimberly Kight reminded me of my Mom, and I pulled the other fabrics around it.

To keep myself accountable for my stash goals, I'm tracking my yardage for fabric and yarn each month. Read more about how I track my here. Here is how I did in March:

March Fabric
Used up: 2.75 yards
Brought in: 19.75 yards
Net: +17 yards
Year to date: 23.25 yards

March Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: +218 yards

I really went off the deep end fabric-wise this month. Red Beauty Textiles, which had an amazing Nani Iro selection, closed in March. I used this as an excuse to build up my double gauze stash. Add in my birthday as an extra excuse to treat myself and there was no hope! On top of that I ordered another quilt back and finally checked out a local quilt shop. I'm going to try to buy ZERO fabric in April, because this trend is not good for my stash!

Right at the end of March I pulled out a leftover quilt top from my book (Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle). I got a quilt backing made and basted it, so I hope to finish it up this month.

Last but not least, I decided to sit in on George's Easter picture this year! He is such a love bun. He was spoiled all day with extra treats and pets :)

Have a great month!

English Paper Piecing with the Cricut Maker

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy Wednesday! I'm excited to share my next project made with the new Cricut Maker. Find my review of this machine from last week here.

This post is sponsored by Cricut, all opinions, images and text are my own. I've used affiliate links in this post, which means if you click through and buy something, I make a commission, at no extra cost to you.

After spending some time with the machine, I got to thinking how perfect it would be for working on English paper piecing (EPP) projects! I could have the machine cut both the paper templates and cut the fabric pieces to size. I know there are a lot of ready-made paper pieces available now, but I had a lot of fun coming up with my own design to make an iPad case a few years back (see that post here). The downside to making something unique is having to cut out all the pieces. Enter the Cricut Maker!

I was glad to finally have an excuse to cut into some prints from Daisy Chain by Annabel Wrigley for this project.

If you're new to English paper piecing, I highly recommend All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland. It's a great resource, especially if you're interested in designing your own blocks!

Again, I made a video showing how I uploaded the images that I used (available for you to download below), cut the paper pieces and fabric pieces from start to finish.

Materials Needed for EPP Block:
- 3 fat quarters quilting cotton
- Medium-weight cardstock (11"x11" sheet, or two 8.5"x11" sheets)
- Coordinating thread
- Hand stitching needle

1. Download the image files for this project: Paper Diamond Template and Fabric Diamond Template.

2. Using the Cricut Maker machine, cut out 30 paper diamonds. From two fabrics, cut 12 diamonds each. From the third fabric, cut 6 diamonds. (Here is the tool set I was using in the video.)

3. Baste diamonds using your preferred method. I hand stitch my fabrics in place, going through the paper. You could also use a glue pen!

4. Arrange your basted diamonds using the photo above as a guide.

5. Begin hand stitching your diamonds together. I use a simple whip stitch, but feel free to use whatever hand stitch you're comfortable with, just be sure not to stitch through the paper templates.

6. Press block well from both the front and back. Snip basting threads and gently remove papers. Give the block another good press.

7. Make more blocks for an entire quilt (with additional pieces in between motifs for filler, or applique block onto a bag, pillow, or even a dishtowel! My favorite attachment method is a simple top stitch along the outer edges of the block.

Here are a few ideas for what to make with your block:

I used my block to spruce up a simple Lined Drawstring Bag! This is the Artist size bag. (pattern)

I love using applique blocks on pouches, like this one I use for embroidery projects.

Make a few and stitch them onto a big pillow.

Or, make a bold and colorful dishtowel! (tutorial)

Happy Quilting!


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