Alpaca My Bags! Lined Tote Bag Tutorial

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This is a project I worked on before Christmas but hadn’t gotten around to writing up.  Please excuse the quality of the photos…the light at that time of year made photographing as I went along tricky!

I bought half a metre of this black & white, cotton canvas alpaca fabric from a shop called Nomura Tailor in Kyoto when we were in Japan last July with the intention of making a tote bag out of it as a Christmas present for my brother.

© 2016 Jennifer Richardson

To make a similar lined tote bag with a pocket, you will need half a metre of your main fabric…something like cotton canvas works well as it is pretty hard-wearing, but I have also made one of these bags from a shirt.  You will also need half a metre of lining fabric…I used a polycotton lining that I picked up in Dunelm.

To make the bag:

  1. Cut 2 rectangles from your main fabric and 2 rectangles from your lining fabric measuring approximately 17” wide by 19” high.
  2. Cut a 2” square from each lower corner of both the main fabric and lining rectangles.
  3. With half a metre of fabric you may not have quite enough to cut the straps as one continuous length. I therefore cut 4 strips measuring approximately 16” long by 2.5” wide from the main fabric and 4 strips from the lining fabric, which I then pieced together to form 2 long strips of the main fabric and 2 long strips of the lining fabric.
  4. For the pocket, cut a 17” wide by approximately 10” high rectangle from the lining fabric.
© 2016 Jennifer Richardson
  1. This step is optional, but if you have an overlocker you may wish to overlock all your raw edges to prevent fraying.
  2. Take the pocket rectangle and fold over the top edge by 1cm and press. Fold over again by another 1cm and press.  Now stitch along this top edge.
  3. On a flat surface, place the pocket rectangle on top of one of the lining rectangles where you would like the pocket to be positioned. I positioned mine roughly halfway between the top and the bottom of the lining piece.  Then fold the pocket rectangle forward so that the pocket is upside down with right-sides together and the bottom edge of the pocket is still lined up with where you want the bottom of your pocket to be and pin in place.  Now stitch along the bottom edge.  Fold the pocket back up and press along the bottom seam.
  4. If you wish you can add sections to your pocket. Here I have created 3 sections of different sizes to hold things like a notepad, pen & phone.  To do this I placed a row of pins where I wanted to stitch to create the sections and then stitch as straight as I could following the pins.

    © 2016 Jennifer Richardson
  5. Take the 2 rectangles of main fabric and with right-sides facing, stitch the side seams and bottom seams leaving the 2” corners open. Do the same for the lining.  I used at 1.5cm seam allowance.  Press seams open.

    © 2016 Jennifer Richardson
  6. To finish the corners and create the base of the bag, line the side seam and bottom seam up and then stitch across.

    © 2016 Jennifer Richardson
  7. Put the main fabric bag inside the lining fabric bag so that right-sides are facing and lining up the side seams. Stitch around the top of the bag leaving an opening big enough to turn the bag right-side out.
  8. Once you’ve turned the bag the right-side out, push the lining inside the main fabric. Press around the top of the bag and then top stitch all the way round.  I used a twin needle to do this.
© 2016 Jennifer Richardson
  1. To create the straps, piece together the 4 strips of main fabric and 4 strips of lining fabric to create 2 long strips of the main fabric and 2 longs strips of the lining fabric.
  2. Fold over the raw edge on both long sides of each strip by ½” and press. Your strips will now be approximately 1.5” wide.
  3. With wrong-sides together pin and stitch 1 strip of main fabric to 1 strip of lining fabric. And do the same with the remaining 2 strips.  I used my twin needle to top stitch down each side of the strap.
  4. Finally, position the straps where you want them to be on your bag and pin in place. Stitch the straps to the bag.
© 2016 Jennifer Richardson

I finished my bag off with a free machine embroidered tag reading “Alpaca My Bags” 🙂

© 2016 Jennifer Richardson

This is a variation I made, also for my brother.  For this I picked up a shirt in Primark for £3 and refashioned it into a bag!

Crafts Mixed2
© 2016 Jennifer Richardson

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Quick Baby Quilt and Matching Bib Set

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This is a quick and easy project if you’re in need of a gift for a new arrival.  From 1m of fabric I was able to make 2 matching quilt and bib sets that I gave as gifts to two friends who were expecting baby girls.

© 2016 Jennifer Richardson

To make the sets:

  1. I bought 1 metre of patterned fabric.

I found this pale blue, patchwork effect, 100% cotton poplin in Dunelm, which was 112cm wide.  I thought this would be perfect as it gives the effect of being a quilt without having to sew lots of pieces together!

  1. I cut enough fabric off the bottom for creating 4 bibs.

I quite often make bibs for new arrival gifts as I think they are always useful and I know when my niece arrived my sister-in-law enjoyed having some bibs that were different to the ones in the shops.  The pattern I use is one that was in a Village Haberdashery newsletter a while ago and can be found on their website here.

  1. I then cut the remaining fabric in half lengthways and straightened off the edges to create 2 rectangles for the quilt tops.
  2. I had enough wadding in my stash leftover from previous projects to fit the 2 quilt tops. This is a great project for using up leftover bits of wadding, but if you don’t have any leftover wadding then you will need to buy 1 metre.
  3. To back the quilts I used some pale blue flannelette/winceyette that I already had in my stash. If you don’t already have something suitable then you will need to buy 1 metre or you could instead back them with a towel or something like a brushed cotton sheet.
  4. I used some spray adhesive to stick all the layers of the two quilts together and hold them in place. I then used some coordinating blue bias binding bought from Dunelm to edge the quilts and top stitched with coordinating blue thread.  And ta-dah, I had 2 finished quick and easy baby quilts.
  5. To finish the bibs I backed them with the same pale blue flannelette/winceyette that I used for the quilts. I edged them with some blue, lace-edged bias binding I already had.  I added some Velcro for the fastening.  As I finishing touch I used some scrap bits of the fabric to make fabric yoyos which I hand-stitched on to the bibs with some little buttons.

The finished quilts measured roughly 55x73cm (21.5”x28.5”).  They are a good pram size and I have been told they are great for car seats too!  They could also be used as a changing mat.


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Gift tutorial: Japanese paper pendant

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This is a quick and easy tutorial to make a Japanese paper pendant that can make use of any scraps of paper left over from making my tea bag folding cards, the tutorial for which can be found here.  I have attached my pendants to keyrings, which I think will make great stocking fillers for Christmas!

© 2015 Jennifer Richardson

You will need:

  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Silicone craft glue
  • 1 X Cabochon setting (I am using a 25mm square antique bronze setting)
  • 1 X Glass cabochon (I’m using a 25mm X 25mm X 7mm transparent square)
  • A scrap piece of Japanese paper (at least big enough to fit your setting)
  • Cord/key ring fob to hang pendant from (I’m using an antique bronze key ring fob)
  1. Take your scrap piece of Japanese paper and place your glass cabochon on top of it and move it around to find a section of the paper you particularly like. I am using a 25mm X 25mm X 7mm transparent square glass cabochon to fit a 25mm square setting.
  2. Holding the glass cabochon in place with one finger, take your pencil and draw around the cabochon.
  3. Using your scissors, cut out following your pencil outline giving you a piece of paper that should fit your cabochon setting.
© 2015 Jennifer Richardson
  1. Spread a thin layer of silicone craft glue to the inside of your cabochon setting.
  2. Place your piece of paper into the setting right side up. Press down lightly to make sure the paper has stuck and there are no creases or air bubbles.  Here I am using a 25mm square antique bronze setting, but you can use any shape, size or colour.  It doesn’t have to be a pendant setting.  You may wish to make earrings or cuff links instead.
  3. Give the back (flat side) of your glass cabochon a polish to remove any finger prints and apply a thin layer of silicone craft glue. Place the glass cabochon into the setting on top of the paper and press down to remove any air bubbles.  Polish the top side of your cabochon.
  4. I have attached my Japanese paper pendant to an antique bronze key ring fob matching my cabochon setting. To do this I used a pair of pliers to open the jump ring at the end of the key ring chain and fed this through the loop of the pendant then used the pliers to close the jump ring again.  If you want to wear the pendant as a necklace, however, you may wish to thread a piece of cord through the pendant loop instead.
© 2015 Jennifer Richardson

I bought all my supplies for making my Japanese paper pendant key rings from eBay.


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Card making tutorial: Tea bag folding with Japanese paper

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You will need:

  • Cutting mat
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scalpel/scissors
  • Glue stick
  • 15cm X 15cm blank card
  • 15cm X 15cm piece of patterned paper
  • 5cm X 15cm piece of complimenting patterned paper
  • 6cm X 15cm piece and 9cm X 9cm piece of coordinating coloured card

1. Take the 15cm X 15cm patterned piece of paper. Here I am using Japanese paper, which works really well for this, but you can use any patterned paper.
2. Using a pencil and a ruler draw a grid 5cm X 5cm squares on the back.
3. Carefully cut along the grid lines using a scalpel or pair of scissors. You will have 9 squares.

© 2015 Jennifer Richardson

I am using one of the most basic tea bag folding techniques following the instructions provided by Card Inspirations here:

But if you type tea bag folding into Google or Pinterest you will find many more examples.
For this tutorial you will only need 8 of the 9 squares, but don’t throw away the final square as I will have another tutorial to show you what you can do with any paper scraps!
4. For each 5cm X 5cm square: With wrong-side facing up, fold the paper in half, open out and fold in half the other way. Turn the paper over so the right-side is facing up and fold in half diagonally once and open out. Turn the paper over again so wrong-side is facing up and push the diagonal folds in and up to create a folded 2.5cm X 2.5cm square.
5. Once you have folded all 8 squares, using a glue stick start to slot one square inside another to create an eight-pointed star as shown below.
6. Using the glue stick, stick your eight-pointed star to the 9cm X 9cm piece of coloured card (I’ve used a golden yellow) and carefully cut around the points of the star using a scalpel or scissors to create a border approximately 0.5cm wide.

© 2015 Jennifer Richardson

7. Next cut a 5cm X 15cm piece of coordinating patterned paper and a 6cm X 15cm piece of the same coloured card you used to back the eight-point star.
8. Stick the piece of patterned paper to the coloured card using a glue stick so that you have a 0.5cm border down the long sides.
9. Apply glue to the back of the coloured card and position it on your blank card where you want it to be (I positioned mine approximately 2cm in from the folded edge.)

© 2015 Jennifer Richardson

10. Finally, stick the eight-pointed star to the front of the blank card positioning it half way between the top and the bottom and so the top and bottom points are lined up with the edge of the coloured card.
I finished my card off in keeping with a Japanese theme using some Japanese Mizuhiki paper cord to tie a clamshell knot (or Daki Musubi in Japanese) which I glued to the centre of my star. This image posted on Paper Wishes illustrates how to do this:

© 2015 Jennifer Richardson

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