Things in other things


Of all the classes of things that my Singer has stitched together, by far the most populated is the bag/bucket category, things that hold other things. Mr. New Media will label it a compulsion, some kind of sickness. He comes home and finds stray toys corralled into yet another little bucket, and he snickers, gives me the this-is-how-you've-been-spending-your-time eyebrow tilt. But really, what couldn't use some corralling into a bucket or tote or gift bag or purse or large purse or purselet or wristlet, or something to which I've added a pocket to make it self-containing? Nothing.

And I've been on a bit of a roll lately. 


This book has been next to my sewing machine for a couple months. It's title might suggest that it's all about patchwork, but all the linen is what sold me on it. It doesn't get much simpler and cleaner than that. This box-bottom tote folds up neatly into its built-in pouch. It was a no-brainer that this would be my first project from the book. We're good and diligent about bringing reusable grocery bags to the store every week, but when it comes to other shopping expeditions, the ones where we come home with clothes and electronics and candy by the pound-ful, we're lousy. So having these little bags stashed compactly away in the diaper bag or car is key.


I had bought this pattern for a round bucket last year and made about a dozen of them out of burlap and heavy twill and home dec fabrics, sending them off for the holidays as gift baskets. But there are also a bunch tucked away around the house holding things like socks in my dressing area and hats by the entry. I'd been so smitten with those buckets that I bought the pattern for the rectangular, nesting version the day the author released it. I made one to hold all those napkins I'd made up, because while they all fit neatly in our old napkin holder when they were freshly pressed and sewn, rumply and fresh out of the dryer they're not quite so crisply paper-flat. And if there's something I'm not down with, it's ironing cloth napkins. The only solution was to make a larger home for the napkins, a home of wool felt and some fabric left over from my chair redo. I would totally live in that home. I made another large bucket to house loose toys in the office. Because, yes, I often set the baby down on the floor with a toy or two or nine while I download the latest batch of blurry photos. 


A long-time denizen of my to-do list, making reusable produce bags was in desperate need of fruition. I'd wanted to make them out of some kind of cotton netting, but could never find something durable enough for constant use and wash. So I used muslin instead. Not exactly transparent, but definitely lightweight and cheap. I love this stuff, actually. I love it's color, the little bits of fiber thrown into the particular muslin I get, the softness and forgiveness. I package our holiday gifts in them, hurriedly whipping them out by the dozen, unlined and with frayed edges for a rustic look. These produce bags needed to be a tad more durable. I plan on using them a lot. So I went with a french seam, which is a damn fancy way to say I stitched them, turned them, then stitched them again. Still, they're so useful and happy-making, I decided to make up a little tutorial for all the how-to hounds out there. 


In all, I made fifteen, a couple being larger to fit the lettuce we get when we feel compelled to eat lettuce. Which is, admittedly, not often. But there they are, a couple bags that are not quite like the others. They needed to be differentiated. So The Boy and I made a morning of leaf and apple printing. The leaves, fittingly enough, were chard harvested from our container garden. The apple had been sitting lonesome in the fridge for a little too long and needed to be consumed. Half was sacrificed to some fabric paint, the other half eaten. Had I given it some forethought, I would have just sliced off a thinnish cross section for the project, leaving us with more edible parts. At the end of our printing session, The Boy looked up at me and said, "Painting with the apple was fun, Momma."

How's that for happy-making?