Cosplay Fabrics to Come to Jo-Ann Stores in 2016

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Fabrics & Materials

Reports from NY Comic Con bring good news for cosplayers and costume makers!

Cosplay Fabrics is a Jacksonville, FL company founded by Charlene Walls and Jody Wiener. They are specialty fabric and fashion veterans who wanted to bring a large selection of unique fabrics for cosplay designers. They partnered with cosplay superstar Yaya Han to develop a selection of fabrics for cosplayers by cosplayers, and are bringing their line to Jo-Ann stores in the U.S. in the spring 2016.

Yaya Han Tumblr JoAnn Spring 2016

Yaya Han’s Tumblr.

Online fabric shopping can be fine if you’re not after a specific look, feel or shade, but anything more demanding and it’s a nightmare. This is great news for in-person shoppers.

Found via Fashionably Geek.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Latest Sewing Project: Tomatoes Aplenty

Arts & Crafts, Fabrics & Materials

My latest project came out very nicely:

A reversible custom cover for a stand mixer for a friend out of her fabrics. The “parade side” is a colorful, mouth-watering tomato print, the lining a more subdued fig print. The cover is actually being modeled on my sewing machine, which is why there are some odd bumps. 🙂

In addition to two pockets on the cover itself, I made two small baggies for the mixer heads for more storage options.

It’s nice to be reminded that sewing something structurally simple doesn’t have to mean boring; you can get great results by using eye-catching fabric.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Cross-Body Bags: Prototypes and Two OOAKs

Colors, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Leveling Up

My book bag project inspired me to try sewing cross-body bags. As usual, the first step is making prototypes to try out different fabrics and proportions. It only took two tries – the photo below shows my second attempt – to find something both pleasing and functional.

It must mean I’ve gained more experience points. Lovely!

I also made two one-of-a-kinds to sell. They’re both made with lightweight cotton duck (canvas) off the bolt and have accents pieced together from various quilting cottons; inside there’s a pocket.


I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. Perfect for rainbow lovers, from the reading kind to the parade kind and everything inbetween. 🙂

The wide accent stripes in a rainbow of colors were inspired by how a spectrograph disperses white light into color spectra (and originally made waaay back). The burgundy red bag has 18 colors, the navy 17 in the accent stripe. As usual, there’s more photos on Flickr.

Mini Bins for Chargers

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Fabrics & Materials, My Spaces

The other day I was lamenting how tangled up my mobile device chargers were and wished I had something to organize them with. Belatedly I realized that I was in a “cobblers children have no shoes” situation: the mini cubes I sell on Etsy are the perfect size, but I hadn’t made any for myself yet.

Mini Bins for Chargers

I chose remnants of a favorite, the Marimekko Lumimarja fabric in blue, beige and brown. I used the same design as my Etsy store cubes but halved the height because there wasn’t enough of the Lumimarja, then lined the bins with coordinating greyish blue fabric. No more tangles!

LEGO Sewing Machines

Arts & Crafts

Apparently there is an overlap of sewing enthusiasts and LEGO enthusiasts! I accidentally discovered a photo of one little LEGO sewing machine online and realized many more people have made their own versions. Here is Riel’s

Riel Nason Lego Sewing Machines

Riel Nason at The Q and the U.

…and this one by Denise’s son

Denise Starck Lego Sewing Machine

Denise Starck at Quilty Pleasures.

…and Danielle’s:

Danielle at 2 Little Superheroes Lego Sewing Machine

Danielle at 2 Little Superheroes.

Love the creativity and the different solutions! Reminds me of the time, years ago now, when Husband and I built our dream house with LEGOs. It included a crafts room with a sewing machine. (Sadly, we didn’t think to photograph it.) Clearly these sewing machine builders are my kind of people. 🙂

Tutorial: DIY Shoulder Bag with Mockingjay Felt Logo

Arts & Crafts, Books & Mags, Geek out!, Movies & TV

This week, leading up to the Mockingjay, Part 1 opening night, I’ll share some Hunger Games themed finds and materials, including tutorials for a simple mockingjay logo felt silhouette and a shoulder bag.


DIY Shoulder Bag with Mockingjay Felt Logo

For the bag you will need:

mockingjay logo felt silhouette (see separate tutorial)

durable fabric; webbing or sturdy ribbon for the shoulder strap

measuring tape, pins, scissors (or rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat), sewing machine (or a hand needle) and thread

optional: decorative ribbon; iron and ironing board

This tutorial is for an unlined bag.


To cut the fabric and webbing:

Shoulder Bag Parts

  1. Cut two rectangles from the fabric: a large rectangle for the bag body and a small, narrow one for the edge binding (to go on the bag opening). The width of your rectangles should be twice the desired width plus 1” / 2-3 cm or so for seam allowances. Optionally, you can cut only one rectangle and hem the opening (like in this ikatbag tutorial) instead of using a separate piece as edge binding. I wanted a small, purse-sized bag. My pieces were approximately 14” x 8.25” / 35 x 21 cm for the bag body and 14” x 3 1/8” / 35 x 8 cm for the edge binding. This was enough for a finished bag 7.5” / 19 cm tall, 6.5” / 16 cm wide and 1.5” / 3.5 cm deep. I used up trouser fabric leftovers, which meant on one hand that my pieces were somewhat odd shapes and sizes, but on the other that I didn’t have to buy any materials.
  2. Cut a length of webbing (or sturdy ribbon) for the shoulder strap. Again, the length depends on your preferences. I measured the strap lengths on two of my favorite shoulder bags, averaged them up and added 2”-3” / 5-8 cm to arrive at 50” / 127 cm. This was enough for a finished strap length of 46” / 117 cm.


To attach the logo onto the bag body:

Mockingjay Bag Attaching Logo

  1. Lay the bag body piece down, right side facing up and the future bag opening away from you, and mark the vertical center with pins. This line will become the second “side seam” and help you to place the felt silhouette and the shoulder strap symmetrically.
  2. Lay the logo down on the bag body, moving it around until you find a good spot and pin the logo in place. You can also use a measuring tape or a ruler to gauge the placement of the logo. Optional: If you want to use any additional decorations on the bag body, this is a good time to add them. I sewed on my black and gold ribbon first and only then worked on the mockingjay logo.
  3. Sew the silhouette on. Start on the inside and work towards the outside, section by section. Go slowly, especially where there are narrow parts or protrusions. It’s a good idea to use short stitches, practice on a remnant first and check after each section that the logo still sits smoothly on the fabric, repinning if necessary, before moving on to the next section. I sewed 1/16” / 1-2 mm from the edge, and it seemed to work fine. I had to add a couple of hand stitches onto my mockingjay’s beak because I didn’t quite sew far enough with the machine. Optional: Iron the bag body piece from the wrong side of the fabric or through a pressing cloth before sewing the bag.

To sew the bag:

Mockingjay Bag Construction

  1. Fold the bag body in two along the vertical center line, right sides together. Pin and sew the bottom and side seams. Cut down seam allowances to a uniform width (e.g. 1/4” / 6 mm). Zigzag to prevent unraveling. Do not turn the bag right side out yet. Fold the edge binding piece in two, right sides together. Pin and sew the side seam. Make sure the finished width of the edge binding piece matches the finished width of the body piece.
  2. Make box corners for the bag bottom: Grab the bottom corner where the side and bottom seams meet, match the seams to create a point and pin. Mark a line perpendicular to the seam; sew along the mark. My seam was roughly 0.75”-1” / 2-2.5 cm from the point, but the depth of the box corners can be varied according to your preferences. Repeat on the opposite side, using the vertical center line in place of side seam. (Or make cut-out box corners like in this sew4home tutorial.) Turn the bag right side out.
  3. Slide the edge binding over the bag body, right sides together, aligning raw edges. Match side seams and pin the edge binding in place. Use several pins and make sure that the binding sits smooth everywhere. Sew around the bag opening to combine body and binding.
  4. Pin shoulder strap in place at side seam and vertical center line. Make sure that the strap is not twisted before pinning. Attach strap by sewing right on top of the seam combining body and binding. Optional: If you’re experienced, you can pin the edge binding and the strap on at the same time and attach both with one seam. That’s what I did, but I checked and re-checked (and re-re-checked) that they would line up correctly before putting a single stitch down.
  5. Fold in the remaining raw edge of the binding piece approximately 0.5” / 1 cm. Next, fold the binding to the wrong side of the bag body. Make sure to fold beyond the seamline combining the body and binding; pin in place. Use several pins. Measure to make sure that the binding strip is of even width throughout. Sew around the bag opening from the right side. You can disguise the seam by stitching in the ditch between bag body and edge binding pieces. This way, the raw edges of the bag body and strap will be hidden inside the tube formed by the binding, and the bag opening will look neat.
  6. Pin the shoulder strap onto the top edge of the binding piece at the side seam and vertical center line. Sew a reinforcing line along the top edge to attach the strap even more firmly.

The bag is now ready!

Mockingjay Bag

The details can be varied almost infinitely to make bags of different sizes, shapes and looks. Optionally, the strap or the bag body can be decorated with ribbon, fabrics of different colors or other patches, logos or appliques. You can even make a tote by cutting the long strap into two shorter handles instead and sewing them on the middle of the back and front panels. You can also make only the logo and handsew it onto a bag, shirt, jacket or a hat you already own.

Lucky Little Bin Seam

Arts & Crafts, Fabrics & Materials

This week has dealt me several challenges, some of them not very pleasant. It was therefore a lovely surprise to see this result with a sewing project:

Thank You Present for Customer

I made this little fabric storage bin as a thank you gift to a customer. See how the pattern lines up almost perfectly at the seam? I did not painstakingly calculate the circumference of the bin or the repeats of the chevrons, and line up my starting point accordingly; it happened by chance.

In an interview in The New York Times, Peter Dinklage gives his thoughts on luck:

“I feel really lucky,” he said, then added, “although I hate that word — ‘lucky.’ ” When I asked him why, he mulled it over for a moment, looking away. Then he focused back on me. “It cheapens a lot of hard work,” he said. “Living in Brooklyn in an apartment without any heat and paying for dinner at the bodega with dimes — I don’t think I felt myself lucky back then. Doing plays for 50 bucks and trying to be true to myself as an” — here he put on a faux snooty voice — “artist and turning down commercials where they wanted a leprechaun. Saying I was lucky negates the hard work I put in and spits on that guy who’s freezing his ass off back in Brooklyn. So I won’t say I’m lucky. I’m fortunate enough to find or attract very talented people. For some reason I found them, and they found me.” (Reported by Dan Kois.)

I do see his point. I have been fortunate myself, but this was not one of those moments. It was pure luck. And, just this week, I’m going to take my free, undeserved luck and not feel at all bad. Next week I might consider adding a pinch of guilt. 😉

May your weekend be happy and relaxing!

Making Pillow Inserts

Arts & Crafts, Behind the Scenes, DIY, Fabrics & Materials

In order to photograph and list my throw pillow covers on Etsy, I needed more pillow inserts than I had. My first plan was to buy them ready-made. After some research, however, I decided to buy half of the pillow inserts I wanted and make the other half myself.

Since I already had stuffing left over from other projects, the inserts were really quick to make: cut a rectangle, fold in half, sew two sides, stuff, sew last side closed. Ta-dah!

Pillow Insert Stuffing

And since my homemade pillow inserts are not made with that unsightly, cheap nonwoven fabric that many commercial inserts use, in a pinch I can use them even without covers as sofa pillows:

Pillow Inserts on Sofa

That’s why I chose neat-looking fabrics: a solid white, a solid light grey and white-on-white paisley print.

Pillow Insert Closeup

Even simple projects like these can be surprisingly satisfying when they fill a need. 🙂