Month: January 2013

pockety purse organizer

One of my Christmas gifts for my mama was a chicken purse.  While the outside of the bag was cute, the super tough outdoor home-dec fabric I used was too thick (and, let’s be honest, my sewing skills were too rudimentary) to do much intense pocket sewing on the inside of the purse.  So, I designed a removable, sturdy, and easy to clean purse organizer.  The project probably took me about two hours max, and I consider myself a fairly slow sewer.  Definitely a simple and fun way to get your life in order!

You’ll need just a few things: a plastic file folder (somewhat like this) and about half a yard of fabric with matching thread.  The amount of fabric you’ll need depends entirely on the size of your intended purse/organizer.  From your general crafting stash, you’ll also need marking pens, a Sharpie, a ruler, X-acto knife, and pins.  And a sewing machine, unless you are a masochist. But no judgments if hand sewing is your shtick.

Getting started
First things first – measure the inside dimensions of your purse.  You don’t want the organizer to be very snug in there, because once you fill it up with stuff it will be even more difficult to navigate in your purse than before.  I would advise maybe giving yourself about an inch of wiggle room on either side of the purse, and maybe two inches on the top. Once you have your desired dimensions, measure and mark them out onto your plastic file folder.  This will become the removable skeleton of your organizer, giving it a backbone so that the thing doesn’t entirely collapse when you put your phone in a pocket.  Using an X-acto knife or carpet cutter, cut out the piece of plastic along your markings.


Based on your measurements of the desired purse organizer, you’ll measure and cut the fabric as depicted below.  Don’t forget to factor in .5 inches for seam allowances!  If you want to do expanding pleated pockets, don’t forget to make the pocket segments longer than the actual length of your organizer.  If you’re unsure of the size of the pleats you want to do, then I recommend just being cautious and cutting out a little more than you think you’ll need – you can always trim the excess when you’re pinning the pockets.


Sewing, or a more appealing way of saying “lots of ironing with some minor construction”
After cutting the fabric, the three S’s begin – situating, sewing, and swearing (the third S is particularly useful for me to get anything done in a sewing project). Just thinking about the big-picture layout of this – the organizer will have two sides and be shaped like an tube with only one opening (so the plastic piece can easily slide in and out).  Since you’ve cut the fabric on the fold so that both sides of the organizer are on one piece, you’ll attach the pockets to each end first and then assemble the sleeve-tube thing.  Hopefully this is clear.

First things first – take the fabric designated for the pockets and fold it down .5 inches (or whatever you have allowed for with your seam allowance).  Press, pin, and then hem about .25 inches away from the folded edge.

With the right sides of the fabric facing upward, place the base fabric on the bottom of your work surface and the pocket fabric on top of that.  Line up the pocket fabric bottom (raw edge) with the base fabric bottom and fold your pleats.  A simple method for folding pleats is picking a center line of your fabric and folding in equal amounts of fabric toward that center line.  You can eyeball this or use a ruler – your choice.


Once you have fidgeted the pleat into place, pin that baby into place.  Sew the bottom and side edges of both fabrics together, for both sides of the organizer (but don’t sew the two different sides of the organizer together yet) with a .25 inch seam allowance.  Once the bottoms are attached, sew divisions between your pockets (if each side of the organizer has multiple pockets) by drawing a straight (or straight-ish) line on the wrong side of your fabric and then sewing along that.



Then, fold the organizer halves together with right sides together and sew the bottom and ONE SIDE ONLY together with a .5 inch seam allowance.  Press the seams, turn right side out and slip in your piece of plastic!  (Alternate ending to the story: attempt to slip in your piece of plastic, find yourself foiled because you measured wrong, re-adjust and then try again).


Cleaning is super easy (pull out the plastic, wipe it down, and then wash the cloth part of the organizer) so when your coffee spills or makeup explodes, all is not lost!  And who doesn’t love lots of pockets?



in my copious free time

I also like to doodle.  While I dislike admitting that I’m a medical student and I dislike even more when medical school enters into my free time, sometimes in my free time I doodle about being a medical student. (If you are at all familiar with Michelle Au and her excellent scutmonkey comics, I basically aspire to be her.  If you are not at all familiar with Michelle Au and/or her comics, go. Do it. You will not be disappointed.)



sprucing up priceless heirlooms (or something of the sort)

Last year, I received this beauty for Christmas from my boyfriend.


I know, right?

While it might seem like he actually hates me and wants to punish me for some horrible transgression (farting too much in bed), this gift is just a reminder of how well he and his mother (who noticed the item in the consignment shop where she works) know my taste, for better or for worse.

The cats came with the paint job you see in the before picture, as well as the atrocious lampshade.  Aren’t their pinpoint eyes and noses so disturbing?  At one point in the process of me moving from Evanston to my new digs in Chicago, I left this lamp sitting on an end table in my boyfriend’s apartment for a few weeks.  The cats disturbed his roommate so much that one day I came over to find that he had turned the lamp around so the cats were staring at the wall rather than him playing on his iPad.

Anyway, when I got settled in I figured I’d spruce up the lamp a little bit by giving it a fresh coat of paint.  All it took was one little bottle of lime green craft paint from Michaels, and I had myself a brand-spanking-new (ish) radioactive cat lamp (of course that is the name of a glam rock band).  If you’re painting your own kitten-y objets d’art, metallic gold paint is also a really sweet option.  I went with lime green because I already have a gold pig.  Yes, my home is a creepy graveyard of absurdly colored animals. No, you’re not invited over.


hats & sandwiches: was there ever a better combination?

I am the sort of person that loves to extend holidays – not because I particularly love the holiday, but my preference for handmade gifts (with a simultaneous and unfortunate inability to do anything crafty quickly) means that I am still making and sending off gifts probably until about February.  Ah well.  This is one such gift.

I knitted another Eagle Pine Hat, which is probably one of my favorite things I have knitted all year (seriously – this knits up so quickly, doesn’t require any tricky color work even though it looks like it, and is an excellent unisex and/or hipster pattern). Below is a photo of the hat, which is way less important than the wrapping paper, which is like 95% of the reason I made this blog post.  So keep reading, but take a moment to admire my beautiful knight (knit) in shining armor bookends.


You see, this gift is for a friend who happens to share my serious admiration for sandwiches.*  I thought I would celebrate this mutual obsession with the wrapping paper, since the box (yes, I am a hoarder and save teabag boxes for these very occasions) was the perfect shape for the most excellently proportioned sandwich. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s bags, which are just about the only wrapping paper I can afford.


*I won’t go too deeply into my sandwich sermon here, but if you are a fellow sandwich lover or if you are uninitiated and want to see why sandwiches are the greatest American food of all time, I recommend these resources:

  1. The Very Best of Sandwich Design at Flavorwire
  2. The book Scanwiches, which is exactly what it sounds and incredibly genius.

allons-y, alonso

How do I start a craft blog?  How do I even start any blog at all, except with the desperate hope that people won’t think I’m super inane? Right now I do feel a bit of a need to justify myself to the crafting world, so here’s a small selection of the things I’ve been making recently just to prove that I do have some fine motor skills.  Most of these ideas were NOT my own, so credit is duly given in the links below. (:


Clockwise, starting from top left (links to patterns and tutorials):

I’ve got lots of plans for the coming year, including but not limited to: documenting my major sewing successes and frustrations (mostly frustrations, but heavily edited for profanity), auditioning my foray into making my own knitting patterns (your advice and editorial comments would be much appreciated!) and other DIYs.  I’m currently trying to decorate a generic shoebox apartment but with little space and even less money, so hopefully I can provide some good wall art how-tos.  Only time will tell how useful or fun this exercise will be, so I should just get the show on the road (: