Author: Jess

I sew, I mom, I wife, I drink coffee.

Great Big Leather Tote from Sewing to Sell

My blogging bud Virginia from Gingercake Patterns just wrote a book called Sewing to Sell, and it’s about exactly that… helping you to launch or improve your handmade business. I took a look at this book, and I made one of the projects to share with you.
Great Big Leather ToteI was super impressed as I went through this book. Virginia has covered pretty much everything from A to Z in regards to starting a handmade business. Not only that, she has included 16 projects that you can make and sell at craft fairs or in your own shop.

dsc_1818I made the Great Big Tote, but I put my own spin on it. The basic look is the same, but I decided to use leather, and I didn’t have enough to make it as “great big” as the project in the book. So I made a Medium Big Tote. ;)

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The Great Big Tote from the Sewing to Sell book by Virginia Lindsay

The projects in the book also include tips for sewing a bunch of them at once and for highlighting your product to sell. If you need a few more tried and true handmade goods to add to your inventory, you have a wide variety to choose from a few different categories: useful items, best use of materials, and great sellers. There are projects for kids, babies, women, or the home, covering a range of customers.

dsc_1817Even though I don’t have any plans to sell my handmade goods, there are so many great tips in this book, about photography, finding your personal style, even having the right sewing equipment. I learned a lot, and plan on going through the book again to glean some more of Virginia’s wisdom. :)

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Plus, Sewing to Sell covers the business side of selling handmade, which is an invaluable resource. You basically have everything you need in this one book!

11060_FrontCover_FullSizeI think one of my favorite parts of the book, though, are the interviews with bloggers/handmade shop owners. I love reading through the experiences of others and hearing what has or hasn’t worked for them.

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I love how this tote worked with the leather, and you know my love for bags, big and small. All of the projects in this book are perfect to customize to your own style. The book is available in hard copy or as an e-book, and I get to give away a hard copy of this book to one of my lucky readers! Yay!!

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 Click here to enter the giveaway!

(open to US residents only, sorry!)

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Make sure you check out all the other fantastic bloggers on the book review tour!

Disclosure: I received an e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Peppermint Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (and a free treat topper printable!)

This time of year, I enjoy handing out small gifts to people who have made an impact on our lives – teachers, childcare volunteers, friends, neighbors, even postal carriers. But obviously we don’t have the money to buy each and every one of them an extravagant gift. I think that giving a small treat is a simple yet meaningful way to say “Merry Christmas, I appreciate you!”
Peppermint Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie BarsDisclosure: This post is sponsored by Hefty. I received compensation for this post and these products. All opinions are my own.

These cookie bars are sooo delicious. And it can be our little secret, but they are actually pretty good for you! This recipe doesn’t contain any refined sugar, and it uses whole wheat flour, so it’s much better for you than your average cookie recipe! And the peppermint gives it a refreshing “Christmasy” surprise. :) There’s a good amount of butter, but I’m of the opinion that butter isn’t really bad for you. Even if you disagree, pretend you don’t for the sake of this recipe… it’s that good.

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These cookie bars, combined with the Hefty Treat Toppers  free printable make giving small gifts to everyone in your life simple and delicious. :) Three different versions, because a girl’s gotta have options.

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Start by gathering all your ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. peppermint extract (If you’re not a big fan of peppermint, substitute vanilla instead!)
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Mix all your dry ingredients together. Then add the softened butter, honey, applesauce, eggs, and peppermint extract. Mix together.

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Now add your dark chocolate chips and spread the mixture into a deep baking dish. I would recommend stoneware or even a cast iron skillet if you have one. If not, make sure you grease the baking pan well.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine cooked perfectly at about 38 minutes.

dsc_1867Let your cookie bars cool before cutting into them – this is the tough part!

dsc_1877Then sample the fabulous peppermint dark chocolate combo. These cookie bars are perfectly moist and the peppermint flavor isn’t overwhelming.

dsc_1800Now grab yourself some Hefty Slider bags so that you can package these up for your friends and neighbors. Hefty created these super adorable Treat Toppers that you print out right at home. A day when I don’t have to take my four boys out shopping with me is a good day.

dsc_1922Simply print them out, fold, punch a couple of holes, and staple them to your Hefty slider bags. This is a great activity for the kids to help with. I love that these slider bags are super easy for them to use – they can always get them closed and don’t need to ask for help, at least this one time during the day. Mom for the win!

dsc_1943Add some festive ribbon and you’ve got the perfect last minute gift for that childcare volunteer you forgot to get something for… not that I’d know anything about that. ;)

dsc_1913Just don’t forget to save some for yourself, because you.need.these.in.your.life. Trust me.

Hefty has all kinds of great ideas to help make your holidays simpler, including ornaments and crafts you and your kids can make together during the cold winter days where you’re all stuck inside all the live long day.. and tips and products to make holidays easier. Because who doesn’t like easier?

dsc_1882Happy baking, friends!

Christmas album giveaway: Lingering from Karla Adolphe

Friends, I love Christmas music. Love, love, LOVE it. There’s something magical about the entire Christmas season: the anticipation, the hope, the joy in the waiting for the birth of a baby who changed the world. The music just sets the mood for all of that. So when I come across a new and wonderful Christmas album, it just makes my Christmas-loving heart sing. Literally.

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I’ve been a huge fan of Karla Adolphe’s before I even really knew her name. She has been featured on some of the Enter the Worship Circle albums, and I was always drawn to her voice and her music. And then few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting her in person and hearing her sing live. She is the real deal, friends. She is lovely and honest and her music carries that beauty through her lyrics and unique sound.

After reviewing her Honeycomb Tombs album, I was thrilled when she contacted me to review her new Christmas album as well. I was so excited to listen to it! Oh, it does not disappoint. I have had it on repeat in our house, and it’s brought a peaceful sound to our days. In Karla’s own words: “The songs express themes of pilgrimage, longing, hope, revelation, visitation and prophecy.  I hope in them you find rest; linger with me and thank you for joining me on this journey.” c2bce1_6f9be4b5c088ee3a85e8f0aaa22fa002.jpg_srz_p_300_220_75_22_0.50_1.20_0

The soulful, beautiful sound of Karla’s songs is so unique. She has brought her own twist to some traditional Christmas songs (some of my favorites, in fact!) – they become her own, yet maintain the integrity of the song. Sometimes I don’t care for an artist’s version of a well-known Christmas song, but Karla’s are absolutely worth listening to… again and again.

What I really love, though, are her original songs she has on the album. My favorite, All Your Glory, is a beautiful reflection on the Truth of Christmas.

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I can’t recommend this album enough, and you can get your copy for only $6 on her website or on iTunes!

And I’m giving away two digital downloads of the Lingering album! Two people will win, so enter to get yourself a copy in time for Christmas :)

 Click here to enter the giveaway!

Capitol Hill Dress for the Sew Fab sale!

I’ve been trying to sew more for myself, and the pattern I’m sharing today is perfect for all that me-sewing: the Capitol Hill dress or tunic from Straight Stitch Designs!

Capitol Hill Dress

Have you heard of the Sew Fab pattern bundle sale? Well, today is the last day, and you can get yourself a bundle of women’s patterns that will give you an incredible variety for a fantastic deal, including the Capitol Hill.

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Let me tell you how much I love this dress. So, SO much! It sews incredibly quickly and easily, and as with the Ballard, Kimberly’s instruction are extremely thorough. The front pleat detail is a super unique feature, and I like that about Kimberly’s patterns, she always brings something different to the design table! She also includes a really great video tutorial for the front double pleats, just in case you (like me!) are a bit more visual and like a little more hand-holding than written instructions.

Capitol Hill 5The Capitol Hill has a bunch of different options – elbow or long sleeves, tunic or dress, gathered or circle skirt. I chose the long sleeve and half circle skirt option, because… well, Wisconsin winter. Everything about this dress is just lovely, and I’m trying to come up with excuses to wear this one

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I feel great in this dress. It fits well and is flattering and because it’s knit (fabric is a fabulous Ponte de Roma from Girl Charlee that has a great stretch and is the perfect thickness) it’s so COMFY. I kind of feel like I’m wearing my pajamas… really fancy-like jammies. ;) And a dress with pockets, well, I can’t get enough.

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My five-year-old told me I looked like a princess when I put it on, which is basically the highest of compliments you can get from a five-year-old. Depending on fabric choice, you can dress this up for a wedding or date night, or you could make it more casual for everyday wear. And I can sew it completely with my serger and coverstitch (affiliate links), it is so fast, I really could fill my closet with them. And I just might! I’ve already started on a second.

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The Capitol Hill is just one of 10 women’s patterns that you’ll find in the Sew Fab bundle, and none of these patterns have ever been released previously. There are dresses, shirts, and even lingerie! Something for you and the hubs. ;) The bundle is only $29.95, so basically $3 a pattern, which is a ridiculous steal. But today is the last day of the sale, so get yours quickly! The patterns will eventually be released individually, but not at this price.

Capitol Hill 7And just for fun, check out the twirl on this dress!

Capitol Hill 2I really can’t recommend the Capitol Hill pattern enough! I’m on my way to having a handmade wardrobe, and there will be more Capitol Hills in my closet soon!

Disclaimer: I received the patterns in the Sew Fab bundle in exchange for blogging about them, but my opinions are true and honest, and I don’t say I like something unless I really do…. and I really do!

33+ Handmade Gifts for Boys – Tutorials, free patterns, and more!

If you have boys on your gift list this year, you’ll want to check out this amazing list of handmade gifts! You’ll find tutorials and free patterns, sewing and non-sewing DIY gifts. Plus, you’ll find links to patterns you can purchase and even some shops that make gifts you can buy!

33+ Handmade Gifts for Boys - Patterns, Tutorials, and More!

Stacey from Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts and I just wrapped up our third annual Handmade Gifts for Boys series, and we always have so much fun!! (And of course, all of these ideas could be great for girls too! Stacey and I both have all boys, so we like to spend a little time before the holidays gathering up a slew of tutorials and DIYs that boy mamas would like, but girl mamas are sure to find something here too!)

Here are all the tutorials from year three:

Handmade Gifts For Boys 2014

  1. Lego Minifig Carrier
  2. Dragon Dress-up Poncho
  3. Fabric Shield and Sword Set
  4. Instant Snowman Kit
  5. Pajama Eaters and Superhero Pajama Eaters
  6. Free Teddy Bear Jacket Pattern
  7. Wipeable Chalkboard Speech Bubble Shirt
  8. DIY Superhero Wall Art
  9. Free Fleece Warrior Hat Pattern

Click here to see more tutorials and ideas from year two:

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And click here to see even more from year one:

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Thanks so, so much to this year’s sponsors:

handmadegiftsgiveaway.Mabel Madison
Sew Fearless
Patterns for Pirates
Beatnik Kids
If Only Designs

For even more boy ideas, check out this Boy Gift Ideas Pinterest board or this Boy Sewing board!

Handmade Gifts for Boys day 5 – DIY Superhero Wall Art

It’s the last day for the third annual Handmade Gifts for Boys series! And it wouldn’t be a gift series for my boys without a little superhero action. My boys are pretty superhero obsessed. So I thought it would be fun to give them something for their shared bedroom.

DIY Superhero Wall Art

Supplies:

  • embroidery thread
  • embroidery hoop
  • optional picture frame
  • woven fabric (to fit the frame)

1. Find a superhero emblem/logo to trace onto your fabric. I googled the image and put my iPad underneath the embroidery hoop to trace. You could also print it out and hold your hoop up to a window to trace.

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2. Trace the image with chalk, disappearing fabric marker, or lightly with pencil (as long as you know you’re going to stitch over the pencil)

DSC_02303. Then start stitching! For this one, I stitched an outline to begin.

DSC_02334. Then I just stitched long stitches up and down to fill in the Batman emblem.

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You can either leave the stitching in the hoop, or place it in a picture frame like I did.
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I plan on adding a few more of these so the boys can have a little superhero wall (my first attempt at Captain America didn’t quite work out, so I need to give it another shot).

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Bonus: it doesn’t add to the toy clutter in our house, but the kids will still love it!

Head over to check out Stacey’s fantastic Fleece Warrior Hats! These would go perfectly with my sword and shield set!

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You only have a short time left to enter the giveaway!

$30 gift certificate to Mabel Madison
Winner’s choice 1 Patterns for Pirates Pattern

Click here to enter the giveaway!

handmadegiftsgiveaway.

Happy boy sewing!

Handmade Gifts for Boys day 4 – Teddy Bear Dress-up Clothes (and FREE pattern!)

We’re in the home stretch of our Handmade Gifts for Boys series, and Stacey and I are having so much fun! My boys don’t play with dolls too much, but they do love to play with their stuffed animals. A couple years ago, the three older boys were gifted some Build-a-Bears, so I thought it would be great to give them some new clothes for dressing their beloved bears! And for those of you who might want to make one for your own littles, I have a free jacket pattern for you, designed to fit 16″ teddy bears.

Free Teddy Bear Jacket Pattern

Supplies

  • Non-stretchy fabric for jacket (less than 1/4 yard)
  • Buttons or snaps
  • Typical sewing supplies

Click here to download the Buddy Bear Jacket pattern

1. Cut out the pattern pieces. Lay the front pieces onto the back piece, right sides together. Your front pieces will overlap. Sew the shoulders and the sides together. *I prefer to sew my sleeves set-in, but if you prefer to do them flat, skip sewing the sides together until you have attached your sleeves.

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2. Fold the sleeve, right sides together. Sew along the bottom edge. Repeat with the second sleeve.

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3. Pin the sleeve into the armhole and sew.

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4. Fold the edges of the front pieces over 1/4in. and press.

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5. Fold the pressed edge over 1/2in. and topstitch.

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6. Place the two collar pieces right sides together. Sew along the curved edge.

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7. Turn right side out and press.

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8. Sew one edge onto the neckline of the jacket.

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9. Fold the other side of the collar down, fold the raw edge over 1/4 in. Press and pin in place.

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10. Hem the sleeves and the jacket bottom by folding the raw edge under 1/4in (press) and then folding over 1/2in. and topstitching. Attach snaps or buttons and buttonholes.

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And how cute does this little guy look?!

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The snaps make for easy dressing for little ones, but if you chose to use buttons, make sure they’re sewed securely onto the jacket, for safety reasons.

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For the pants, I used my Bottoms Up Pants pattern in the newborn size, taking 2.5in off the length.

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My boys are going to love having another outfit for their bears … and I’ll probably have to sew up a couple more outfits before Christmas, though, so everyone is happy.
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And the baby approves. And luckily, he’s a guaranteed secret keeper for now. ;)

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 Don’t forget to download your FREE Buddy Bear Jacket pattern!

Now head over to Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy and check out her fabulous Wipeable Chalkboard T-shirt!

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And of course, enter the giveaway if you haven’t already!

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Handmade Gifts for Boys day 3 – Pajama Eaters!

Handmade Gifts for Boys continues, with one of the cuuuutest handmade stuffies you’ve ever seen. And these little fellas are hungry… for pajamas!
Pajama Eaters

The Pajama Eaters pattern is created by my girl Jodi at Sew Fearless. I’ve had it in my stash for quite awhile, but for whatever reason I hadn’t sewn it yet. And oh my word, is it adorable!!

DSC_0075The pattern itself is so well done, and it walks you through the step-by-step construction perfectly. After sewing it once, I think these would come together super easily, especially if you are doing them assembly line style for Christmas gifts.

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I made my little guy with a peek-a-boo lining to match the soles of his feet, since I was using a plain blue denim for the body. I like a little surprise in my sewing. ;)DSC_0097

My boys really love stuffed animals, so I know they’re going to be a hit. I think this dude is going to my three-year-old, who will particularly enjoy the zipper. Now the Pajama Eaters are not just any stuffie, though, because here’s what’s so awesome about them:
DSC_0103They actually EAT your pajamas! Your littles can stash their jammies away when they get changed in the morning (or the afternoon… no judgment here) and then you know exactly where they are when bedtime rolls around. Since my boys all share a room but don’t all go to bed at the same time, this is so perfect for us – we can keep these on the steps with the jammies inside, so we don’t have to wake anyone up because we forgot to get them out of the dresser drawers.

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Plus, it’s an excuse to make more Bottoms Up Pants as pajama pants ;)

And the Pajama Eaters are part of our fantastic giveaway! So make sure you enter, so you can welcome a pajama hungry stuffie into your household!

 You can still enter the giveaway!

handmadegiftsgiveaway.Now head over to Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy and check out Stacey’s awesome Pajama Eater! It’s pretty much the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. And I totally want to make one just like it!

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Handmade Gifts for Boys Day 2: DIY Shield and Sword Set

Welcome back to day two of Handmade Gifts for Boys! Stacey and I both have tutorials to share with you for your boy-gifting needs! Today I’ve got a super easy tutorial for boys who love to act out David and Goliath or pretend to be a Knight of the Round Table.

 

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Supplies:

  • Felt (you could also use fleece)
  • Polyfill

1. Cut two sword shapes out of felt – 4.5 x 12.5in.

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2. Put the two pieces together and sew along the outside and then sew a straight line down the center, not quite sewing to the end of the sword. Stuff with polyfill, leaving at least 1/2 inch unstuffed.

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3. Cut two handles out of felt – see the picture for dimensions that I used.

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4. Sew the two handle pieces separately to the end of the sword. By sewing them only to the sword pieces and not to each other, it helps the sword to not be quite as floppy.

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5. Sew the two handle pieces together, sewing 1/4in. over the stitching you just did onto the sword and leaving the end of the sword open.

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6. Stuff the handle with polyfill and stitch the end closed.DSC_0688

7. Cut two shield shapes out of felt – 13.5 x 10.5in.

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8. Cut a small rectangle for the handle – 2 x 6.5in.

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9. Sew the handle to the back of the shield with two small rectangles of stitching.

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10. Sew whatever design you want to the front of the shield.DSC_0720

11. Put the two shield pieces wrong sides together and stitch around the shield, leaving the bottom open.DSC_0723

12. Stuff with polyfill and stitch closed.

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If you have older kids, this is a super easy project that they could tackle themselves. It would be a great gift for them to make their younger siblings, cousins, or friends!
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Then watch your favorite little boy win the battle of a lifetime! And bonus: when he whacks his baby brother, it probably won’t hurt, because it’s basically a big giant pillow!

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And when he gets wounded in battle, you get to rescue him :)

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Adding these to our dress-up bin will be perfect for all the good vs. evil action that happens around here. They’re so quick and easy to make that you can make them for all the little boys on your Christmas list!
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While your little ones are out battling dragons or saving the world, make sure you enter our giveaway, there’s still plenty of time to enter!

handmadegiftsgiveaway.

 Click here to enter the giveaway!

Now head over to Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy and see this aDORable Instant Snowman Kit that Stacey has today!

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Handmade Gifts for Boys Day 1: Lego Minifig Carrier Tutorial

Welcome to day one of the third annual Handmade Gifts for Boys series! Stacey and I have a week full of tutorials and giveaways to help with your boy gift giving! (Or for girls too ;) So make sure you come back every day this week to see all the fun we have in store!

My boys spend about 95% percent of their time playing with Legos, and they have a particular fondness for the Lego Minifigures (affiliate link). I decided to make them a carrier so that they can cart them around the house – or even take them in the car – easily!

Lego Minifig Carrier Tutorial

Supplies needed:

  • less than 1/4 yard of non-stretchy fabric (I used quilting cotton)
  • fusible interfacing
  • fold over elastic (affiliate link)
  • KAM snaps (affiliate link) or buttons
  • basic sewing supplies

1. Cut two rectangles of fabric and one of interfacing. Mine were 8×11, but you can adjust your size to fit your needs. Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the inside fabric.

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2. Cut two pieces of fold over elastic the length of the fabric (in my case that was 11 inches. Pin them across the fabric.

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3. Sew the ends of the elastic down first, then a vertical line one inch from the edge. This will leave a space for the mini figures to slide in. You will want to either use a straight stitch or a very narrow zig-zag stitch and then stitch back and forth a couple times.

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4. Continue in one inch intervals all the way across the elastic. Repeat with the second elastic and trim all your loose threads.

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5. Cut a 3.5 x 6inch rectangle for the carrier’s handle.

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6. Fold it in half with right sides together and sew along two sides with a 1/4 seam allowance (or trim the seam allowance when you’re finished if you use a larger seam allowance). Clip the corner.

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7. Turn this inside out and fold the raw edge under 1/4 inch. Press and topstitch the open end closed.

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8. Pin it in the middle of the outside fabric.

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9. Sew the ends of the handle with a small rectangle. You can also sew an X in the middle.

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10. Put the two fabrics right sides together with 1/4 inch seam allowance and sew around the edges, leaving a two inch opening.

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11. Clip the corners and turn right side out. Press the raw edge of the opening under (and press the rest of the fabric). Topstitch around all four sides.

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12. Attach snaps or buttons/buttonholes to both ends.

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Now slide the minifigs in, and your littles can carry their toys wherever they go!

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When snapped closed, the handle is perfect for little hands.

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The elastic keeps everything securely in place, and there’s room for plenty of them! You could make your carrier a little larger if your boys have lots of “Lego guys” (as we call them in our house) and you need to make room for more.

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For us, though, this size is perfect. It will also hopefully prevent all the frustration that comes from trying to carry too many minifigs around the house, but your hands are too small. A familiar scenario in our home…

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But wait, there’s more! We have a fabulous giveaway! We’ve put together an amazing bundle of fabric and patterns for a lucky winner!

handmadegiftsgiveaway.

$30 gift certificate to Mabel Madison
Winner’s choice 1 Patterns for Pirates Pattern

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Now make sure you head over to Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts and check out her awesome DIY Dragon Poncho tutorial!

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And don’t forget, my Bottoms Up Pants Pattern is on sale for 22% off, but only through today! So grab your copy! (If you purchase it and then win the giveaway, I will happily refund you)