Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A guest "tote"ing pointers.

Once again, I am lucky enough to have one of my favorite bloggers over as a guest today!  I'm really excited to introduce Amie, from Kitty Cats and Airplanes - if you don't already know her.  She is a fun-loving "real" kind of person(/blogger), which is the best kind.  That lace skirt she shows off down there?  It's the reason I first popped over to her blog.  Go check her out!  Oh, wait, first read this post.

Can I just say that Kim's "Life's a Picnic" series is one of the most fun that I've ever seen in blogland? And she invited me to join in the fun? I am beyond flattered. I'm Amie, and I run my own little corner of the internet called {Kitty Cats and Airplanes}.

When I graduated college I suddenly found free time on my hands, so I rekindled my life long love for arts and crafts. Too bad since then I've gotten a job! Luckily the hubs is usually ok with the kitchen table covered with crafting supplies. 

 {That's us, isn't he dreamy?} Whilst visiting KC&A, you can expect to a lot of craziness, I've got serious crafting ADD! I'm always trying something new.
I love to sew {elastic lace skirt}.

Decorate my home {button frame}.

But my favorite thing to make is jewelry {Button bracelet} and I sell most of it on {Etsy}. Because I move a million miles an hour you never know what might pop up on KC&A!

I had so many ideas for this series, but I finally settled on a carry all picnic tote. 

I found this gorgeous oilcloth in a restaurant (yes, restaurant!) while on vacation in South Carolina. It was only $7 a yard which is the cheapest I've ever seen oilcloth. I snatched up a yard and have been waiting for the perfect project ever since. It is perfect for a picnic tote because if you accidentally set it in mud, your kid barfs on it, or you spill all over it all you need to do is wipe it clean! Easy peasy. To make one yourself, you will need:
  •  1/3-1/2 yard of oilcloth
  • 1/3-1/2 yard liner fabric (I used muslin, but you can use anything you want here)
  • 1/2 a package of quilt binding
  • 3 yards of webbing for handles
  • Tape
  • Paper clips or binder clips
  • Regular sewing stuff: machine, matching thread, seam ripper, scissors, rotary mat and cutter, etc. 

Before we begin, a few tips for sewing with oilcloth:
  • Use a denim or heavy duty needle. Your all purpose needle won't be able to handle the thickness. (Regular thread is fine.)
  • A nonstick pressure foot is helpful but if you don't have one layer tissue paper on top of your oilcloth.
  • This should go without saying, but don't iron it or wash it. If it's wrinkled or has creases, lay it in a warm place or in bright sunlight for an hour and it will get soft and flatten itself out. 
  • When designing a project, plan to do as little turning right side out as possible. This stuff is a beast to turn. 
  • Lengthen your stitch a little bit. If you use too small of a stitch, the oilcloth might perforate and tear. 
It can be a teensy bit tricky, but you'll get the hang of it real fast! Test sew a few small pieces. 

This is the pattern I used. A 15"x18" rectangle with two 3"x3" squares cut out of the bottom. Cut two pieces from your oilcloth and two from your liner. Also cut out pieces for any pockets or add ons you might want. 

I used four foot pieces one inch webbing for my handles. This ensured that the handles were long enough to put my arm through and sling the tote over my shoulder. I measured in 1 inch from the squares but feel free to place them wherever you like. 

TAPE the webbing down. DO NOT pin oil cloth! It leaves little holes that will not "heal" and will leave unsightly marks. Use tape, paper clips, binder clips, and any other means possible to keep things nice and secure. 

Sew up each side of the webbing using 1/8" seam allowance. (Check out my little black lines I added in.) Leave 1 1/2 inch at the top for your quilt binding. 

Once you've sewed the handles on both pieces, paper clip your pieces right sides together. 

It actually holds really well! The only bummer is you can't sew through paper clips, so you need stop and pull them off when you get to them. Sew across each side and the bottom with a 1/4" seam allowance, but don't sew through those squares. 

Those squares will create the flat bottom to your tote! Gently press the corners to each other. 

Like so. Flatten it out to get a straight line. Make sure everything is lined up and paper clip together. Sew down using 1/4" seam allowance. 

Gently turn it right side out, try your best to not crease the oilcloth. Then, repeat all that stuff you just did for the liner. Though you don't have to sew handles onto the liner, make sure you sew on any pockets you want BEFORE you sew it all together. 

Place the liner inside the tote, wrong sides together. (You should see your pretty oilcloth on the outside and all your pockets on the inside.) Line up the side seams, and paper clip your quilt binding over the raw edges at the top of your bag and sew. If you've never sewn with quilt binding or bias tape before, check out it this awesome tutorial from {Angry Chicken}. I also have another tutorial {here} using the same method. 
And that is it! A super easy picnic tote to bribe your honey to take you out. 

A peek inside mine. I added several pockets and an elastic holder. 

It's roomy enough to hold your blanket, sandwiches, chips, napkins, silverware, a bottle of wine (peach cider in my case!) and a lot more! Big enough to hold it all, but not so huge that you look ridiculous carrying it. 

Picnics are a lot less lonely when your date isn't the photographer. :) Ah well, life's a picnic!

Happy sewing! And thanks for having me Kim! I feel honored to be included in your series. 

Well, I've gotta say, between this and Robin's oilcloth beach bag, I am kind of dying to try it now!  I was scared of oilcloth before, but think I can totally conquer it with Amie's tips!  Yea!   No, I did NOT know that you don't, 1. wash oilcloth but rather lay it in sunlight, 2. pin oil cloth but rather paper clip it, 3. use a tiny little stitch length that will perforate your fabric.  (that would have been good to know a few weeks ago, actually, but that's a story for another time).
Thanks Amie!

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

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