I love sewing bags.  So, I decided to get really ambitious for this round and design my own bag.  Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a frequent traveler, I do travel enough to want a bag that will comfortably (and safely) hold both my laptop and my “big” camera, especially when we are flying somewhere.

The fact that I designed this bag myself is the main reason I didn’t finish it in the timeframe allotted for round three: not only did it take quite a bit of time to finalize the pattern, but I also underestimated the fabric I needed (I purchased it before I had all of the design details worked out), and then I had to have my mom help me get more, since I’d bought it at a store near her, and my local store didn’t have it!  I also planned (and have all the supplies) to make a foam-padded camera insert for this bag, and I still will, but it was not quite possible for me to finish it in time for the community match deadline (keep your eyes out for it here on the blog!)  I am so pleased, however, that I finished up the bag in time for the deadline of the community match, and I am so excited about it!


As I considered the design for the bag, I looked at camera/laptop bags that I have admired and wished for.  I collected my ideas on a Pinterest board so that I could have a visual reference as I worked out the details.  I also really, really like the diaper bags that I have used for the past 3+ years (I liked my first one so much that I got a second one when my son was born, in a different fabric!), and so a few of the design elements are drawn from those bags as well.  The outer fabric is an “outdoor fabric”, which I hope will be extra durable, though it was a challenge to work with it (it is hard to press creases, and when you do, they are almost permanent, so you’d better press correctly the first time!).  I used a stiff stabilizer to give the bag more structure.  The lining is made from cotton, which I quilted to fabric from an old mattress pad in the same way as my daughter’s backpack‘s lining.

The bag has two zippered, pleated pockets on the front.  I absolutely love this detail, and I’m pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to attach the zipper “placket” so that the pockets are secure and useful.




On the back, there is another large zipper pocket.


The two sides of the bag each have a large pocket for holding a water bottle.  The width of the pocket is purposely about an inch more than the width of the bag side; I centered the gathered excess at the bottom.


The top of the bag zips (another proud-of-myself-moment, when I worked out how to insert this zippered panel).


The bottom of the bag is reinforced with plastic (Husband and I cut up a lid from an old Rubbermaid tub!) and there are purse feet.


Here’s a secret: the metal hardware for this bag was pillaged from my first (well-worn!) diaper bag.  I did purchase a package of four purse feet, but the fifth foot was one from the diaper bag, too!   I also have two more metal D-rings that are ready to add to the side-ends if I decide that I’d like to have a cross-body strap for this bag.



Inside on the back “wall,” I added a double-layer quilted divider to hold my laptop.  The divider has velcro straps to keep the laptop in place.



On the front wall of the bag, I added another zippered pocket (I love zippered pockets!), and a clip for holding keys.



On one side-end, I added an elastic-top pocket so that I could keep all those computer and camera cords corralled.


I worked on this bag whenever I could, in between other projects (PhD ornaments, pajamas, coat) and summer traveling, and I daydreamed about it more than twice as much, constructing it and re-constructing it in my mind!  I have no idea how many hours I spent on it, but I am very pleased with the outcome.

I fully intend to add a photograph of myself holding the bag, for scale, but I didn’t have a chance to get the photo(s) before the community match deadline.  I definitely wanted to make sure that I posted about the bag in time!

I made a coat!


Before Sew Mama Sew’s SOSM Round Five was announced, I saw that there was a pattern sale at JoAnn, and I tried to choose a small variety of different garments in an effort to “predict” what the final challenge would be.  This pattern, Butterick 5685, was one of the ones I purchased.  Yay!

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Based on the past few Butterick patterns I’ve sewn, I decided to make one size smaller than my measurements would have indicated, and the fit was just right. The fabric is a red cotton twill from JoAnn (my only local fabric store that sells garment fabric…).  It is called “Wrinkle Ease,” and maybe cotton twill is just naturally wrinkly already, but from my experience working with this particular fabric, I think it means “wrinkles easier!”  As much as I pressed and steamed, I couldn’t get the panels as crisp as I’d like.

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It was amazing how long it took me to cut out the pattern!  So many pieces!  But I love the princess seaming; it makes such a nice line in the finished garment.  The collar is even larger than I expected, but I think it looks okay.

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Surprise! The lining is a leopard print.  I just can’t resist putting a fun lining inside garments.  Why have a plain one when it can be animal print, haha?


I found some of the details of construction (according to the pattern instructions) to be challenging.  I should have inserted the sleeves flat and then sewn up the side seams, but based on some of the later instructions, I didn’t realize that was possible until too late!  Oh well.  I also disregarded the awkward lining instructions and inserted the sleeve into the bodice lining itself.

I don’t have any detail shots right now because I finished this coat at the very last minute before daylight was gone, so my sweet Husband rushed outside with me to get the photos in this post.

I think this is going to be a great jacket for this fall!

Yesterday, I took some photos of my craft room.

I wanted to show what it looks like “in real life.”  There actually are times when it approaches being as tidy as my “show-off” post depicted, but recently, that has NOT been the case!


it’s pretty cool that photoshop elements does an automatic photo merge into a panorama!



In these photos, you can see my SOSM Community Match Round 3 bag in pieces all over– on my table, on my floor…I had to put it on hold for working on PhD ornaments and also because my sewing machine needed to be serviced (just regular maintenance: I’d never brought it in (bad!) and the tension had gone haywire).  That’s another thing you’ll (maybe) see: there’s a big empty place on my sewing table!  It’s funny how bereft I have felt to have my sewing machine in the shop.

You’ll also have a peek into my area where I work on regalia ornaments: I have so many orders right now!  I am so grateful, but it is taking a lot of my “spare” time!

There are also piles of other works-in-progress, or works-to-start: both fabric and paper.  There are just so many ideas in my brain!!

And after I took these photos, I cleaned up!  I couldn’t stand it any more!  I needed some more tidiness…and I needed to vacuum the floor ;-)

This summer, I started working together with some other ladies from our church to plan some social activities with our Ladies’ Ministry.  We wanted a way to “advertise” all the events for the summer, and I volunteered to design a “rack card” that would have all of the information in one place.

I rounded up some digital supplies I’d collected from a beautiful beach-themed blog hop collaboration through Design House Digital (no longer in existence, unfortunately), and got to work!  Here is the result:



It was really fun to design these materials, and I used the same theme to make PowerPoint slides and other digital “advertisements” to share with the ladies.  I also was really gratified to hear the women at our church talk about how pretty it was :)  That’s exactly what I was going for!

Fonts: FFF Tusj, Sacramento, Josephin Sans

V and I have been making lots of scrapbook pages!  Her little album is filling up with layouts, and I love seeing how creative she is with her supplies.  We brought her the box of products yet again when I saw the Kids Summer Vacation Challenge on the Simon Says Stamp blog.  I have printed a number of photos from our annual Hersheypark day for V to scrapbook, so we worked on another set for this layout.

scrapbook layout made by Vivian

I asked her to tell me about the photos, and I wrote down what she said onto a tag to add as journaling.  She chose all of the supplies that she used on the page, cut the pink polka dot patterned paper into strips, and determined the placement of every single piece!  She helped me to spell out the title as we sounded out the word together, and then she placed the letters after I added Glossy Accents on the back of each one.

scrapbook layout made by Vivian

I am really impressed with her overall design sense– I think watching all of those cardmaking and scrapbooking videos is paying off! ;-)   I even see a visual triangle with those aqua metallic flowers, haha!

scrapbook layout made by Vivian

(Yes, I know that I have not yet posted about round three– my bag is still in pieces scattered around my craft room.  Things got a little hairy during the round three timeframe– we were traveling, I decided to invent my own pattern, I didn’t buy enough fabric and I needed some different foam than I’d originally purchased….. BUT, I will write more about that in upcoming posts)

The fourth round of the Sew Mama Sew Super Online Sewing Match is pajamas!  I knew that I would not realistically wear the kind of pajamas the actual contestants are sewing, so I set out to find a pattern for something I would wear!  I came across Gertie’s pattern for a camisole/slip/panties (Butterick 6031) and it is very similar to some pajamas I recently purchased!  Perfect!  And just a note: the bottoms fit more like shorts than panties, even though that is what they are called in the pattern description.


I spent about three hours on Saturday (all by myself!  Thank you, Husband) rushing between JoAnn and Hobby Lobby to try and locate the supplies that I needed to sew this pattern.  I didn’t have any idea how hard it would be to find stretch lace– especially in the widths called for in the pattern.  I ended up finding 2″ wide lace at Hobby Lobby, in addition to 5/8″ fold-over elastic (which I ended up using flat) in place of the 1.5″ and 1/2″ laces in the pattern directions.  The only lingerie sliders I could find were 3/8″ wide (and since I couldn’t decide the first day I was shopping whether I should purchase them, I went back a second time to get them).  I also purchased some “performance knit” in a berry-colored tie-die wash pattern– the last yard on the bolt.




But I was really paranoid about cutting into that fabric, since I had no idea how the pattern would fit.  I dug around in my scrap bin and found some plum knit (95% rayon, 5% spandex) that I’d used for a dress several years ago.  With some clever fiddling (and a seam up the front of the bottoms), I was able to eke out the entire pattern (view A for the top) from those scraps!  Wooo hoooo!  So my entry for round four is this plum-colored version.  I hope to make another set from the berry fabric soon (and then more versions after that!! I really do love the way this fits).






This was my first time dealing with stretch lace…really, lace at all.  It was not as bad as I had thought!  I had a bit of trouble matching the side seams on the top edge of the camisole– probably because my lace was 1/2″ wider than the recommended width.  I hope that in future versions I can do a bit better– perhaps with my lace (of which I have more!), I can place it further down to compensate.  There were some fiddly bits in the construction (I’m used to zipping along with my serger when sewing with knits, rather than using my regular machine), and I did end up finishing the side seams of the camisole and the bottoms with my serger.  I wish that I had been able to find a wider set of lingerie sliders, but the 3/8″ ones worked okay with the 5/8″ elastic for the straps.



I am immensely grateful for Gertie’s sew along on her blog.  It was wonderful to have the step by step photos to reference when the pattern instructions were especially sparse or obtuse.

The fit is PERFECT with no adjustments to the pattern.  I am so pleased!  Even better, the set is super comfortable to wear.  It makes me really excited to make more!

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I am pleased to announce that Lettered Olive Handmade is again accepting custom orders for graduation regalia ornaments.

Please send me an email (QSOgirl at yahoo dot com) or contact me through my Etsy shop to request a customized listing.  Here are some details:


Ornaments are $35 plus $6 shipping/handling (as well as 6% sales tax if your delivery address is within the state of Maryland).  

Product details:
Clear glass ball: 3″ diameter
Regalia: approximately 2.5″ tall. (NO HATS/TAMS)
Cardstock tag (1″ long) printed with the year of graduation hangs from the loop at the top of the ball.
To complete your ornament, I will need the following information from you:
— school name (for my records)
— photos of FRONT and BACK of your school’s academic regalia that show the colors of the robe and hood as accurately and clearly as possible
— year of graduation for tag

Ornament orders will be taken on a first-come, first served (as in, when a purchase transaction comes through, that ornament will be next on my list to make). Each ornament takes approximately 1-2 weeks to complete.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me for information during my sabbatical.  I hope that I will hear from you again soon!

You can view a selection of ornaments I’ve made in the past at this link:


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