Monday, October 24, 2011

These FO's are finally coming out of the closet...

You know you've got them. You've tucked them away out of sight so you don't have to be shamefully reminded of their existence as you work on new & exciting projects, (some of which will be destined to become the NEW UFO's of shame and the cycle continues).
In my case, most of these forlorn unfinished and neglected projects are stashed in my reusable grocery bags. Oftentimes I find myself buying more reusable bags when I am at the grocery store so I will have some for, dare I say it, GROCERIES.Yea, right.

This weekend I made a decision to free some of these projects from their hidden shame. The first 2 projects I finished are both crocheted tote bags. I chose these because both of them lacked similar finishing; a sewn fabric lining. Since I needed to set up the machine why not tackle both of them.

Sewing used to be my crafty "drug" of choice but that was so long ago and I'm a bit rusty. Given that consideration , I chose the easier of the two bags to finish first. It is called "Winner's Circle Tote" on my Ravelry project page and was worked during the 2011 Iknitarod group. Knitters are always looking for fun KAL/CAL's, especially those with fun themes. This knit-along/crochet-along was in honor of the 2011 Iditarod in Alaska. We were given several challenges to choose from and I chose to design and finish a project. Obviously had I finished it I wouldn't be talking about it here. Shame, shame!

The Winner's Circle Tote is square so lining it was easy. First of all, I carefully measured the bag & cut the lining to size, allowing a 1/4 " seam allowance. Then I sewed and ironed the side & bottom seams.

Next I checked for fit inside the tote and marked how far I needed to turn down the raw edge at the top, folded the top edge down and ironed it with a hot steam iron.

Then I carefully pinned the lining to the top inside edge of the tote and put it aside to await hand sewing, which is a wonderful thing to do while watching TV.

Completed Winner's Circle Tote
<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>

<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>

<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>

The 2nd tote was a little more difficult as it is a barrel shape and cutting the round bottom gusset was a wee bit tricky. I could have used the old pushpin, pencil & string method of drawing a perfect circle but I was too lazy to measure the diameter, hunt down the string & stuff and besides the bottom circle looked very close in size to one of my plates.Please note that this could have ended so badly and I had just enough fabric that I had purchased a couple of years ago. Talk about a gamble, but hey it's how I work.
barrel tote 9
The first thing was to measure the fabric for the sides of the lining, allowing for a proper seam allowance, (please refer to the disclaimer in this post before trying any of this). I measured this by simply laying the bag flat &placing the folded fabric on top of it, adding that seam allowance I mentioned. With right sides together, I sewed it up the side.
Steam the seams
Always press your seams as you go!

Iron hem down
Noting the appropriate height measurement for the project I turned down the upper edge twice to form a hem. Then I pressed the hem using a hot steam iron. Ironing kept the folds in place while the hem was machine stitched, no pinning required.

Barrel Tote bottom

With a plate as my templete, I carefully cut the circular bottom gusset out, adding a seam allowance merely be "eyeballing" it. Remember to read the disclaimer before attempting this.

Barrel tote gusset all cut out using plate for template


Placing right sides together, pin the gusset to the rest of the lining and carefully machine stitch.

Clip those seams!
Clip the seams around the circle.

sewing lining in
Inserted the seamed & pressed liner in the tote with wrong sides together. Pinned and hand sewed using my fasvorite stitch of choice, (I prefer using a blind stitch).

All done!
lining all done

barrel tote 3

Time for pool side cocktails...
barrel tote 2

Some of my Basic Sewing Tips:
Disclaimer:  Please note that I have ruined many wonderful pieces of fabric by trying to cut corners, knowing full well that I should be doing things by the book. Proceed with caution & take any of my time saving sewing advice at your own peril. I will be heartbroken if you ruin that beautiful, last piece of one-of-a-kind fabric.

Always, always iron your seams as you go, using a HOT steam iron. This keeps the work neat and helps cut down on pinning and I tend to be a fast or maybe lazy crafter and a nicely pressed seam will hold itself in place, especially if you are using a stiff fabric such as cotton or cotton blends.

Along the same vein, ALWAYS clip seams as needed, especially if the piece is curved as in the gusset of my barrel shaped tote & at sharp corners.

Get a magnetic pin holder. No more pins all over the floor but if they do fall off somehow, you can use the holder to pick them up again.

By all means, if you do mess up your sewing, don't get angry and lose your temper...this is a sure way to finish ruining a once wonderful piece of fabric. Believe me when I tell you that angry & seam rippers do not mix well. Walk away from it for a bit and knit something, it calms the nerves.

Happy sewing/knitting/crocheting & crafting y'all!


  1. Good for you! I need to have an WIP-busting weekend, too :)

  2. Wow, that's great. And thank you for the tips. Btw, I got to see your pillow pals at the Red Heart booth at Stitches East last weekend. Melody thought they were so cute.

  3. Thank you so much Angela!! MELODY is the uber cute one:)

    Thanks so much for your comments!!