Day Nine: Cozy Cowl

On the Ninth Day of Sewing…

We are in the home stretch of the 12 Days of Sewing. For today’s gift idea we thought about something extra toasty to keep you warm on a chill day- a cozy cowl. The question was… how do we want to construct it? Then we had the great idea to use the same technique that we used in for Day Three’s Infinity Scarves and they turned out perfect! So quick and easy to sew, these snuggly neck warmers are a great last minute gift. You could sew up a few of them in just an evening!

Cozy Cowls using Faux Fur and Shearling

Cozy Cowls using Faux Fur and Shearling

For our cozy cowl we chose two soft and warm fabrics, a cotton flannel and faux shearling. We cut our fabrics to be 12″ x 30″- for wide fabrics you get 2 cowls with just a 1/3 yard of each!

Cowl Supplies

Cowl Supplies

Layer the two pieces, right sides together, and pin along both long edges. Stitch each side using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Pinned layers of the cowl.

Pinned layers of the cowl.

Just like the infinity scarves, pull one end of the cowl up through the middle matching the raw edges of both ends. You will be matching up the like fabrics- flannel to flannel and shearling to shearling. Take care to match up both seams and pin securely.

Carefully stitch the layers together starting just before one of the seams. We started on the flannel side- we thought it would be easier to whip stitch the opening closed on the flannel than the plush shearling. Leave about a 3 to 4″ opening for turning when you get all the way around. Turn the cowl right side out and whip stitch the opening closed.

Remaining opening to whip stitch closed.

Remaining opening to whip stitch closed.

This shearling cowl went together so quickly we sewed up another one right away using faux fur and a coordinating woven. You can totally customize this project with any combination of fabrics. The shearling is a nice choice for one side since it is so plush and warm but it would be great paired with any knit or woven.

Here are our finished cowls- you can even wear them as a hood for even more warmth.

We also used the same technique of using two fabrics to make another infinity scarf, with the full width of the fabrics. We chose matching sweater knit dots– so that the two sides ended up being reversed. Another great project and gift!

Opposites attract- dot knit infinity scarf.

Opposites attract- dot knit infinity scarf.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 9th Only! Save 20% on select warm and cozy fabrics and our Precision Stiletto is just $10! Shop Here

Day Six: Tote Bag

On the Sixth Day of Sewing…

We took inspiration from one of our favorite fabrics in the shop. This tape measure canvas has been calling to us for some time now to make it into a tote bag and today was the perfect day to do just that. You can never have too many tote bags- especially adorable ones like this! An easy project to complete in just a few hours, this handy tote bag would make a great handmade gift for anyone on your list.

Gift Idea: Canvas Tote Bag

Gift Idea: Canvas Tote Bag

Here are our instructions and tips for sewing this amazing tote bag. It includes one of our favorite methods for bag construction- a bit unusual but it will change you sewing life! At least it did for us when we first learned it.

Tote Bag Tutorial:

Note: All seam allowances are 3/8″ unless otherwise noted.

1. Gather your supplies- cutting tools, matching thread and fabric amounts listed below:

  • 2/3 yd for bag exterior- we prefer canvas or other durable fabric (you can take a lighter fabric and fuse interfacing to the wrong side to strengthen it)
  • 5/8 yd for bag lining- this can be any weight woven
  • 1/4 yd for bag contrast- canvas or other durable fabric is preferred
  • 1/3 yd for bag handles- canvas or other durable fabric is preferred
  • Fabrics used here: Measuring Tape Canvas, Plaid Sateen, Brushed Twill Magenta, Cotton Twill Black

2. Cut out your pieces.

  • Cut (2) 18″ squares from exterior fabric
  • Cut (2) 18″ squares from lining fabric
  • Cut (2) 7″ x 18″ rectangles from contrast fabric
  • Cut (4) 2-1/2″ x 27″ from handle fabric
Cut tote bag pieces.

Cut tote bag pieces.

3. If desired- fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior pieces and (2) handle pieces. (We did this on ours for a more stable tote.)

4. Prepare the handles.

  • With right sides together, match up (2) handle pieces and stitch along both long sides. Carefully turn handle right side out and press. Repeat for other handle.
  • Topstitch the length of both sides of each handle using a 1/4″ seam.
  • Find the center of each handle and make a mark 2″ on either side. Fold the handle in half and stitch along the open edge between the two marks. This creates a nice hand hold.
Sewn handles.

Sewn handles.

5. Prepare other pieces.

  • Exterior and lining- cut a 2″ square out of the bottom (2) corners of each lining and exterior piece. This will be used to create the gusset/bottom of the tote during a later step.
  • Press contrast pieces in half lengthwise, wrong sides together- they should measure 3-1/2″ x 18″ when folded.
Preparing the Exterior and Lining Pieces.

Preparing the Exterior and Lining Pieces.

6. Attaching the handles.

  • Find the center of each exterior piece along the top edge. Center both handle ends along this edge, right sides together, spacing them approximately 4″ apart. Pin in place.
  • Lay a contrast piece over the top, unfolded, and pin along the top edge. The handles should now be sandwiched between the exterior and the contrast band. Stitch in place and press seam toward the exterior.
Attached Handles- between exterior and contrast

Attached Handles- between exterior and contrast pieces.

7. Attach Lining- stitch each lining piece to the opposite side of the unfolded contrast band. Press seam toward the lining. You should now have two halves of your tote that look something like this.

One half of the tote bag.

Completed one half of the tote bag.

8. Now for the cool part! Sewing the bag together.

  • Match up the two halves, right sides together and carefully pin all the way around. Take extra care to match up any seams and pin securely.
  • Stitch all four sides leaving a 4″ opening in the bottom seam of the lining for turning. Leave the (4) cut out corners unstitched.
  • Carefully press all seams open.
Sewing the two tote bag halves together.

Two tote bag halves pinned right sides together.

9. Creating the gussets.

  • At each corner, match up the raw edges and seams creating a new seam- pin carefully.
  • Stitch across each of the new seams being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end for security.

10. Turn bag right side out and tuck the lining inside the bag, folding the contrast band along the pressed fold. Topstitch around the top of the exterior fabric using a 1/8″ seam. Also topstitch each handle in place to the contrast band.

Topstitched exterior and bag handles.

Topstitched exterior and bag handles.

11. Hand stitch the opening in the lining closed and your tote bag is complete!

We hope you love this tote bag as much as we do. Isn’t that a cool way to construct a bag- two halves make a whole in a couple of easy steps! A great gift idea for fellow seamstresses, readers or really anyone who loves a good tote! Customize the fabric to suit their personality or how they will use it and this bag is sure to be a winner!

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 6th Only! Save 20% on select twills and canvas. Plus, get 2 sets of our favorite pattern weights for just $35! Shop Here

Day Two: Zipper Pouches

On the Second Day of Sewing…

We thought we would share one of our go-to handmade gifts- a zipper pouch. They are easy to sew, don’t require a lot of supplies and are totally customizable to suit any recipient! All in all, a great gift idea that is sure to be used and well loved.

Matching Zipper Pouches in a variety of fabrics and sizes.

Matching Zipper Pouches in a variety of fabrics and sizes.

The best part about making your own gifts is that you can make them to suit the person you are giving them to. For these zipper pouches, that can be done in a variety of ways. Fabric choice is the easiest and most powerful- choose a fun print that matches their interests, their favorite color or a great pattern or texture they would like. Another easy way to customize them is size– think about how the person will likely use their treasured pouch and size it accordingly. You can even make multiple pouches in different fabrics and sizes for a whole gift set- perfect for traveling. Maybe slip in a treat or matching accessory for an added surprise!

After making a ton of these little pouches we have mastered the process, making it easy to follow and produce great results every time.

Here is our step-by-step tutorial for these adorable zipper pouches!

1.Gather your supplies-

  • Fabrics- We like to have between 1/4 yard and 1/2 yard of just about any woven fabric. Cotton, canvas, linen, suiting- experiment with different textures. Below we used a barkcloth, a tweed and a cotton.
  • Zipper- Choose a size larger than your largest pouch, you can always trim them shorter.
  • Fusible Batting- Single-sided fusible
  • Ruler, Rotary Cutter, Scissors, Matching Thread, Wonder Clips
Zipper Pouch Supplies

Zipper Pouch Supplies

2. Cut out your exterior, lining and batting pieces all the same size. The size is entirely up to you- these steps will work with any size. We find that 12-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ is a great size to suit most uses. Press the exterior pieces to the matching fusible batting pieces.

Cut fabric and batting pieces.

Cut fabric and batting pieces.

3.Prepare the zipper-

  • Trim the zipper to be 1″ shorter than the width of your pouch. (Be sure to move the zipper pull to the center before you cut… sadly speaking from experience!)
  • Cut a 1-1/2″ strip from some of your extra lining fabric for the zipper ends. Press it in half lengthwise, wrong side together, and then press the raw edges to the center making a binding.
  • Stitch the binding to either end of the zipper- sandwiching the end between the folded layers.
Prepared zipper and fabric pieces.

Prepared zipper and fabric pieces.

4. Attach the zipper- Center the zipper on one of the prepared exterior pieces, right sides together. Layer the lining piece on top, sandwiching the zipper in between and stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance. (Wonder clips can be very handy to keep all the thick layers in place. Pins can kind of distort things a bit)

One side of the inserted zipper.

One side of the inserted zipper.

Press the exterior and lining fabrics away from the zipper and so that they are wrong sides together. Repeat for the other exterior and lining pieces. You should now have something that looks like this…

Attached zipper and finished pouch body pieces.

Attached zipper and finished pouch body pieces.

5. Stitch the Sides- Fold the pouch along the zipper so that the exteriors are right sides together. Match up all the layers and stitch around the 3 open sides- be sure to open the zipper a bit for turning before you sew. To make this step really fast, we serge around all 3 sides. You can also stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance and then finish the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch.

Sewing pouch sides- right sides in.

Sewing pouch sides- right sides in.

6. Creating the Gusset- Here comes the trickiest part… starting at one base corner fold the layers so that the side seam and the bottom seam line up. Basically fold the corner the opposite way that it currently is. Then, trim the corner off- the more your cut off the wider your pouch bottom will be. We usually cut about 1″ to 1-1/2″, measured from the tip of the corner. Stitch along your new raw edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance and finish as desired. Repeat with the other corner- make sure you cut off the same amount!

7. Finishing- Turn the pouch right side out and you are finished! Add a fun zipper pull for an added special touch. Fill it with goodies, another size pouch or whatever and you are ready to gift!

Finished Zipper Pouches

Finished Zipper Pouches

We hope that helps inspire you to make a few more handmade gifts this holiday season!

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 2nd Only! Wonder Clips are only $5 per package of 10 clips and Save 20% on select novelty woven fabrics- perfect for pouch sewing! Shop Here