5 Minute T-Shirt Tote Bag Tutorial

Hello and Welcome! Today I'm sharing a quick tutorial on how to transform a t-shirt into a tote bag. Bringing your own bags to the farmer's market, grocery store or any where else will be a snap with these t-shirt totes! And with this super quick method you'll turn out a strong bag you can use over and over again!
So let's get started!

T-Shirt, any size from child's to XL - long sleeve or short, collar or no collar, v-neck....anything goes
rotary cutter and mat or scissors
straight edge ruler (optional)
pins (optional)
sewing machine/thread

A basket full of shirts destined to be totes
given away at the West Moreland Farmer's Market on 8/8/2012!
Did you get one????
Some simple tools needed.
Start by lining up your ruler on the far side of the arm seam, you want to leave the seam intact to provide extra strength for all those farmer's market peaches, onions & meat!
Trim close to the seam following a straight line. (The straight edge helped at first, but after I'd made a few totes I just eyeballed it)
Cut out the neck. Since t-shirts come in all sizes I will give you a measurement guidelines: cut the 'handles' about 3" wide and cut down into the neck of the shirt about 2/3 of the way down the arm hole. When using a rotary cutter one long cut from side to side works well. If you are using scissors to cut it out instead of a rotary cutter then use a marker and draw a line first then follow your line with scissors.
If you have a really big t-shirt like XL you'll want to fold the bottoms into the shirt to create a pocket bottom, which will still hold a lot of stuff, but won't be so bulky. Start by turning the shirt inside out and folding the bottom into itself.
Again since every shirt is a different sized just make a guess at how much you should fold over. For this shirt the bottom was huge and I folded about 4 inches on each side of the seam for 8" total. Anyway your fold it works -- a simple turn in on either side will also do the trick.
Then pin across and sew the bottom seam on the hem and back stitch at the beginning and end of the shirt. 
For the small to large shirts no pocket was needed I simply turned inside out and stitched across on the hem. 

Ta-Da! A Reusable recycled t-shirt tote ready for your goodies. I've made a few already in all sizes from child's small to adult XL. They all turn out great and soooo quick - oh and best of all they are machine washable!!

I hope you make one for yourself or come on down the Moreland Farmer's Market on Wednesday August 8th and I'll be handing out a limited number of bags for FREE! 


Blue Bird's Quilting Tips

A year ago I was bold enough to give Blue Bird's Top 10 Quilting Tips, and reading back they still hold true for me today. I continue to practice the basics and always take the time to make it right.

With a year of quilting comes a new set of quilting tips learned. The next stage of technique for this girl. So here's round 2 of Blue Bird's Quilting Tips, enjoy!

  • When transferring quilting patterns to the top of a quilt sandwich  a sharp crease in the fabric works just as well as a 'disappearing' marker and doesn't require another step to get rid of the lines. I used a hera marker for the lone star dahlia and it worked great. 
  • Take inspiration from the designers and make it your own. Recently I've been embracing the Material Obsession look and adding other background fabrics besides white; loving it. 
  • Chain piece when ever you can to save time in your piecing. I chain piecing everything! 
  • When cutting out the multitude of half-square triangles you need to make your favorite designs trim them like this to ensure a proper cut: Line up the rulers 45 degree angle with the diagonal seam, trim the corners on each side. Doing it this way instead of lining up the rulers 90 degree angle sides with the sides of the block ensures corners match and seams line up.
  • Clean and service your machine regularly.
  • Change your needle. Like right now - especially if you can't remember the last time you did ;o)
  • Try something that scares you. Sew a Y-seam, free-motion quilt a top, paper piece a NY beauty, cut out strips for a string quilt. These techniques are not as hard as you imagine and it will only build confidence in your abilities! 
  • Take a class, even if you think you know all about it chances are someone does it different and can teach you a few things! 

This year is half over already and the goals for the next six months is to use these tips combined with the basics to catapult my work into another level. But first I gotta finish up some languishing WIP. A stack of custom work, new plans, quilting tops and HST's are in my future!

What has your quilting experience taught you? Share your best tip with us!


Custom Quilt: Japanese Improv

Hello There! Welcome, come in and see what I've finished up this week. A custom quilt order. How excited I was to stitch this crib blanket! My client knew she wanted Japanese Cotton and an original design. I came up with big blocks of prints and improv piecing filling in the remaining spaces. 

We were both happy with the results. Hooray! This was my first time working with the double gauze Japanese cottons and they were a little tricky, but well worth the added effort. It feels so soft - and will only get softer with use and gentle washing. 

I had a plan for this quilt, blocks here... piecing there....but in reality I did not know what it would look like until it was put together. I love working like that; the outcome is often better than I could have planned for.

The back is pieced with a larger piece of single weight linen. It is so thin and sheer, but linen is strong and it will wear nicely. I quilted it in a loop-d-loop pattern following the dots and flowers on the front so when washed they will gather up around them. Hee.Hee! 

The binding is a vintage linen in blue. I haven't used this much but I really like the feel of it. It would make a glorious shirt someday. The fabric is nani IRO in a few different prints. The blue with swirling flowers is gorgeous! So glad I got to play with these pieces. 

This is one of a few custom items I'm working on. It is really interesting working on a design for someone else. It pushes my boundaries and leads me to places I wouldn't have ended up on my own. 

And that is what creativity should be about. Finding roads less taken with new people along the way. 

ps. and I just hit 100,000 page views today! WHAT!? Thanks each one of you for every little click you make!

Linking up with sew and tell at AmyLouWho

Galaxy Quilt: Finished!

So this post has been in the works for quite some time now. Early last year my friend J and I started talking about a quilt for his bed. Only a few requirements: no flowers, dark man colors and it had to fit onto a queen sized bed. With those parameters I set out to make an epic man quilt; Nailed It!

The design part of Galaxy took a lot of thought. I knew it needed a bold geometric foundation...as this is a man quilt! The offset squares in dark/light values make a dynamic backdrop for 12" sampler blocks made from the 2011 Summer Sampler SeriesI can't recommend this sampler series enough! Excellent directions and beautiful results. I could see myself making all these blocks over and over again. After making the six pointed string star block I felt like I could sew anything. 

The Minnesota block ended up being one of my favorites. I just love the way the colors and shapes play off each other.

Galaxy measures a whopping 90" x 88" and was quilted on a long arm by me. It was the 4th quilt I have quilted on the long arm and by far the most challenging. I sewed corner to corner on the dark/light background and then for the blocks did more detailed quilting to make an impact on each design. My best trick with the quilting details was to make a statement by not quilting some areas and heavily quilting others. This made for some cool effects.

The back of the quilt is completely pieced together with left over yardage. I had bought a lot of different colors and patterns and used up the ones with little flowers on the back. There was also a happy accident that made the back even more stunning. I had originally planned for a pieced scrappy boarder on the front but once it was on it just didn't work. So I decided to sew them up and use it on the back...as it turned out it was the exact width I needed. Amazing how things come together sometimes.

The way the quilt lies on a bed is magical. There is no way I could have known that the blocks would lie across the top pillows so perfectly, or that the center square would radiate so nicely from the bottom corner of the bed or that the blocks seem to burst out of the center gradually until becoming heavy on the outside. These are all wonderful coincidences that make me happy. 

Thanks for taking the time to read about this quilt! I really do appreciate every one of you that stops by! Happy quilting!
ps. Rhonda's Finish Along at Quilter in the Gap is ending 1st quarter and this was my UFO, find the original post here

Modern Mini: Lone Star Dahlia

Hello! I am excited to share with you my entry for the Modern Mini Quilt Challenge at Ellison Lane Quilts. I have been working on this relatively little quilt for a few weeks now; many, many naps times later this is what I ended up with. Little isn't necessarily fast in quilt land!
Hung by the Chimney with Care
This quilt started with a Lone Star pattern, but turned into something so much more. I wanted to try out the pattern and audition colors for a quilt for my bed. I am still undecided as if this will be 'the one' but I am sure glad I tried it out on a small scale before attempted 7x7 rows of diamonds!

The colors I used were from all different fabric lines and it was really fun mixing and matching. 
Yellow: Ocher Kona
Green: #102 Moda
Light Grey: Coal Kona
Dark Grey: Charcoal Kona
Orange: #80 Moda
Blue: Mari Michael Miller Cotton Couture
Red: Cran Michael Miller Cotton Couture
Purple: Berry Kona
Quilted Swirls and Straight Lines
The quilting pattern came rather organically. I had a plan for straight line quilting the back ground with small lines and then decided to take it to the next level and make it all diamonds. The swirls in the center remind me of the center of a flower with petals on the perimeter.
Quilting Detail
This whole quilt pushed my comfort zone. First time working with diamonds; which gets easier as you go (just make sure the seam ripper is near by!). First time just winging it from start to finish not really knowing what this quilt was going to look like in the end. Pushing myself was rewarding...I am really happy with it!
Quilting detail

The Back. Scraps and White. Brilliant idea for hanging with dowel and pockets
The back is the left over scraps, i just love the row of diamonds, that is my favorite! The quilting looks as cool from the back as from the front. The quilt measures 33"x33" just under the requirement. One night while in the middle of making this I had a panic moment wondering if it was too big to be a mini...thankfully the cut off is 36"x36", whew! 

Modern Mini Challenge

Thanks for stopping by! I am so grateful to have finished my quilt in time and for the opportunity to enter into this amazing contest filled with so many beautiful quilts (and amazing prizes!) Competition is stiff, so wish me luck!

p.s. this post will be linked up this week to a bunch of parties...find them here and other places: