Sunday, February 19, 2012

Reusable Snack Bags

Like a good enviro-conscious Seattleite, I've been trying to reduce my usage of plastics and non-compostables.  I realized the majority of Ziploc bags we use are to hold dry snacks, and it seems like an awful waste to keep buying them, using them, and throwing them away.

My friend Eileen stumbled upon some fabric reusable pouches on the internet, and per usual, I decided to try my hand at making a few!
 These bags are lined with rip-stop nylon, which is washable and food-safe.  I eye-balled the size, and you can easily adjust to make these bags bigger or smaller.

Be sure to pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabrics before getting started.

To clean these bags, you can turn them inside out and wipe them with a clean cloth...or, you can throw them in the washing machine with your next load of laundry.

Materials Needed:

  • 14 x 6 in rectangle rip-stop nylon fabric (inner liner)
  • 14 x 6 in rectangle cotton fabric (main pattern)
  • 4 x 6 in rectangle cotton fabric (accent color)
  • Two 1.5 in sets of velcro (soft, sewable velcro works best. Do not use adhesive-backed "no-sew" velcro)

 If you look at the finished pouch on the left, you'll see the placement of the velcro straps.  One set will be on the patterned cotton, while the other will be mirrored on the nylon.  Sew velcro in place, allowing a 1 inch border from the edges of the velcro straps and the fabric edge.  Repeat for the nylon block.
Take the accent color block, and press a 1/4 inch seam along the longer side.
 With the "right side" of both the pattern and accent blocks facing up, place the accent block on the opposite side from the velcro straps.  Match the unfinished edges of the two blocks, with the pressed seam at the arrow below.  Sew the block in place, 1/8 inch from the edge.
Place the nylon block above the cotton blocks with the velcro sides facing up on both, like below:
 Bring the nylon block on top of the cotton blocks, as if turning the pages of a book.  The velcro should be sandwiched inside the two blocks (a bit difficult to see in the following picture), so the "right" side of both blocks are touching.  Sew along the perimeter with a 1/4 inch allowance from the edge, leaving a 2 inch gap in the center of the accent block (dotted line below).
From the 2 inch gap, turn the pouch inside out.
 You should have something that looks like this:
 Press the edges, including the gap on the accent block.  Be sure to tuck in the fabric like this:
Lay the fabric such that the nylon side is facing upwards.  Fold the patterned side and match it with the accent block (red arrow below) and sew along the dotted line twice: once with a 1/4 inch allowance, and again with a 1/8 inch allowance from the edge.
Here's a close-up so you can see the 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch seams.  Your reusable bag is now complete!
 Ready to hold some snacks!
 A comparison with a plastic sandwich-sized bag.  If you make it a bit bigger, these pouches could hold your sandwiches, too!
 Digby hopes the snacks are for him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Inexpensive Fabric Wall Art

Decorating an apartment on the cheap is difficult, especially since I'm mostly over the posters-and-photos-without-frames look that I so heavily embraced in undergrad.  Looking for something more cohesive (and more affordable than wall stickers like Blik), inspiration struck while browsing fabrics at Stitches.  I found some Echino fabrics that were beautiful, but way too expensive to quilt or make clothes ($20/yard!).  With just fractions of a yard, some posterboard, and staples, you can put together some easy decorations for your walls.

The best part about this project is that it does no damage to the fabric, and very little to the foam core board.  If you get tired with these hangings, the fabric can be reused for other projects.


  • 1/4 - 1 yard of fabric (depending on the size of your desired board)
  • 1 piece of foam core board
  • stapler
  • scissors
  • X-acto blade or box cutter

Measure out your foam core board and cut with an X-acto blade to the size you want.  Cut your fabric to the size of the board, with a 1/2" to 1" margin.  Alternatively, if your fabric has a particular design or image you would like to frame, you can cut the fabric first and then the foam core board to fit.
 Iron the fabric.
 Place fabric print-side down, and center the board on top.  If your pattern has any lines, be sure to align such that the patterns are how you want them (parallel to the board, diagonal, etc.).
 Starting with one side, fold up the fabric and staple.  Most staplers will swing out (pictured below), which makes this task really easy.  Continue every few inches until the side is secured.
 Pull the fabric taught, and staple the opposite side.
 For the two remaining edges, be sure to fold in the fabric corners so they don't show on the other side.
 Ta-da!  Your wall hanging is complete!

There are many ways you could mount these boards.  For something invisible, you can sew a string across the back of the board, and hang with a nail like a traditional frame.  I opted to use push pins on the top and bottom edges of my boards.  If you decide to remove the fabric, the staples come out easily with the help of a flathead screwdriver or anything else small and flat to pry them out of the foam.

Here are some Echino boards I made for my bedroom.  I also had some leftover from a Birch Fabrics quilt I'm working on, and used it to decorate the other half of my room and the living room.