Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Stash-your-Trash Bag for the Car...tutorial

I saw these neat bags to use as rubbish bags in the car, at a market a couple of years ago. I nearly bought one, but decided that they couldn't be that hard and I'd make one.  Just before Christmas, I finally got around to making some as gifts for my family.  I sent one to my sister (hey Lauren!) in Geelong, and when I went to visit I was only slightly horrified to see she was using it as a bag-bag. You know those bags you hang in your pantry to keep plastic shopping bags in. I explained it was for the car, for your rubbish. I wasn't sure if she got the idea?

Anyhow, she asked me recently to make one for her new zippy little sports car. She chose this fabric, which I just love. I have also made a dress cut for baby girl in the same fabric. It stayed in my ever-growing, 'cut-ready-to-sew' pile, until she was almost to big for it.

Back to The Bag, I made one for Lauren before going to Melbourne for a girls weekend (which, by the way, was a fantastic break even though I did have baby #3 with me).  It wasn't til I was on the plane that I realised... oops... I'd forgotten to take it with me to give to her. Don't worry, she did finally end up with it, not to long ago.

Because they really are so easy to make, I'm going to attempt a....TUTORIAL for making one. Bear with me.

A note on the measurements, my cutting mat is in inches, so I tend to work a lot of things out in inches. Plus half the width of a piece of fabric is 22 inches or 56cm, if it is 112cm wide, so a fat quarter should be 22 inches wide. Thus a fat quarter should be sufficient for this bag.

If you are Australian, like me, inches may be a little foreign, particularly if your sewing skills are a little more casual than serious.  I have included both cm and inches here which don't match up exactly because I rounded up. As if you were going to measure 55.88cm. If you are like my husband and like things in mm, work it our yourself.

Gather your supplies:
Fabric for the outer 40.5cm x 56cm (16" x 22"), if your print is unidirectional, the 40.5cm (16") is the height of your bag.
Lining 40.5cm x 45.5cm (16" x 18") - preferably something waterproof, here I used a remnant of some waterproof hospital sheeting I had. I have also used Nylon Ripstop, which is a bit easier to sew.  The lining will end up slightly shorter than the outer, so if you're using offcuts of something and don't have quite enough, it'll probably be OK.
A walking foot for your machine if the lining is plastic, or baking/tissue paper to lay over the plastic to stitch through, or check out this neat tip here for sticking tape to your machine and presser foot.
50cm (20") Boning, 10mm wide
Velcro or a snap and a snap press
Cotton thread

If your fabric is slightly shorter, it wont matter too much, you will just need to adjust your top casing size. There is plenty of fabric allowance to do this.

1. First up, cut your lining piece. This it is folded in half in the photo, so the long edge here is the 40.5cm (16") edge.  (Sorry about the photo - it's terrible because I had to use the little point and shoot camera, which didn't like focusing. On anything. At all!)

2. Cut your fabric outer for 40.5cm x 56cm (16" x 22") (remember 40.5cm will be the long edge of the bag). Now cut a 10.2cm (4") strip off the end of this piece, so you now have a 40.5cm x 45.5 (16" x 18") piece the same size as the lining. This becomes the handle, so if you don't have enough fabric, the direction of the pattern isn't particularly important.

3. Take your fabric outer.  Fold your fabric so that the 40.5cm (16") sides are together, fabric right sides together - the 'tube' should be 9" wide.  Stitch down the side seam only with a 12mm seam allowance. The folds are only there in the photo as I jumped ahead of myself and folded it before sewing. oops. You can just sew without making the folds :)

4. Now you have two options here:
WHAT I DID THIS TIME: Continue stitching along the bottom edge. Machine neaten the side and bottom edges with zigzag or an overlocker.


ALTERNATIVELY, you can pick the tube up and turn it so that the side seam becomes a centre back seam.  To do this: First, machine neaten the side edge. Then sew along the bottom of the bag. Next you can machine neaten this bottom edge too.  I forgot that I'd done this on one of the bags I'd made before Christmas! I think it does hang a little better. The second picture already has the lining attached. I haven't got to this yet.

5. Now take the 10.2cm (4") strip of fabric outer that you cut off in step 2. Fold the width in half so you still have a long strip with right sides together. Stitch 12mm from the edge, along one short end and the long side. Machine neaten the edges.  Trim the corners then turn it in the right way.  I find a chopstick pretty handy to do this. The press to make it neat. Turn the ends under 5mm and topstitch the end closed.

5. Back to the top of your bag. Turn down a 5mm hem and press, then fold this over another 3cm or so (1.25") and press. This will form the top hem of the bag. The hem doesn't need to be that big, I just made mine like that. Stitch approx 3mm from the bottom edge of the hem, all the way around. (the following two pictures are more to illustrate the hem size.  As I mentioned I got snap happy earlier, folding and pressing the hem down (and photographing) before I had actually sewn the side seam).

6. Now take your lining piece. Fold it in half, again so that the 40.5cm (16") sides are together, with right side facing (if you decide there are right sides) and stitch a side seam of 12mm.  If using ripstop, you will need to machine neaten your edges, as ripstop will fray. You wont need to centre the seam if you chose that option for your outer. Don't worry about the bottom edge for now either.

If you're using some sort of plastic, you might find a walking foot on your machine easier. If you don't have one, try sewing with a piece of tissue paper or greaseproof paper between your fabric and the presser foot.  If you're using ripstop, you wont need to worry.

7. Still with your lining piece, fold the top down as you did for the fabric outer and stitch about 1" from the top. This will become your casing for the boning, so LEAVE a gap of about 4-5cm between the ends of your stitching. I didn't bother turning the ends under with the plastic lining. You will need to with nylon. (Back to the good camera...)

8. Lay your lining and outer pieces with WRONG sides together. Line them up so that the lining is at least 5mm lower than the fabric outer top edge. Stitch along the bottom edge to join the two pieces together, either on the seam you have sewn in the outer fabric in step #4, or just below that seam. Don't worry if you end up cutting off more of the lining. Machine neaten the bottom edges together if you need to.

 9. Take your strap piece and stitch it to the bag, in the top outer fabric casing. I stitched it over the centre of the side seam (or centre back seam). 

10. Now, take your Velcro pieces and trim them to fit neatly across the width of the strap. Take the hook piece and sew it to the top of the strap, where you've attached the strap to the bag.

 This is what my stitching looks like on the inside of the bag - the outer row was where it first sewed the strap on, the inner row for the Velcro hook piece.

11. Take the loop piece of Velcro and put it on the opposite side of the strap to the hook.  Refer back to the picture at #9.  Check you've got it on the right side, then sew it in place.

 12. Next, take your boning. Check how much you need by holding it inside the top edge of the outer fabric. Leave a bit of overlap before cutting it.

13. Thread the boning into the lining. Mark each piece of boning where you think it will overlap. This is where you will stitch the two ends together.

14. Double check how long it needs to be to hold the top of the bag open, then stitch the ends together at the mark you made earlier.  It is easiest if you pull the boning through the casing so you have more boning to play with and don't stitch your lining. Feed the ends back inside the lining and check it again, before stitching the opening seam closed. Unpick and re-stitch it if you need to. I'm sure there is a formula for doing this perfectly. I don't have it.

If your lining sits outside the outer fabric like this... is too big! You will need to unpick it and make it a little smaller.  

Until you can get it to look something like this...

Now, grab a plastic shopping bag and stick it inside the middle of the bag, tucking the top of the bag and it's handles between the lining and fabric outer. You now have a fancy car rubbish bag... hang from the gearstick or headrest in your zippy little sports car...
...or on the side of the high chair. Actually, I may be on to something there. Maybe that would save some of my 'under table cleaning' I find myself doing more and more frequently.

 I have to confess a design flaw. Since making this one,  I actually finished the two I'd made for our cars. I know, two items down in the 'still waiting to be sewn' stash. So, the design flaw: if you manhandle the bag too much while putting your rubbish into it, the inner lining and bag slip down inside it. I do need to come up with something to rectify this. Maybe there needs to be a small ridge on the inside of the bag (on the outer fabric) where the boning sits to prevent this happening. Or maybe a smaller bag so there is less bag inside the bag.

 I'd love to know if you have a go at making a trendy rubbish bag for your car and if you make any improvements, be sure to share them here too.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Carrot Cake in My Tea Break...20 Day challenge, week 3

I wasn't planning on posting photos of my cupboards before and after, even though I did take some. They just look a bit boring.  I was OK with that. Until Aunty Anne Marie sent me this...

 (from this week's Kalgoorlie Miner paper)

In re-evaluating the lack of photographic evidence of my cleaning prowess, I have thought it best that I stand and deliver. So, read on for the cleaning challenges that have consumed me this week. And carrot cake in my tea break.

Monday: Clean washing machine. tick. Organise linen cupboard. Tick. OMG you should have seen mountains of towels and sheets as it piled up on a chair. It was taller than me! OK, I know I'm not exactly tall, but it was pretty impressive. I decided that we didn't need 34 pillowcases or 18 towels.  I think I mentioned laundry cupboards in Monday's post. I didn't take photos then, but here is one of how it looks now. Actually I will post them soon. They are still on the camera...

And the fridge. Fridge-a-licious! Wow, if only it still looked that neat and orderly today.  Actually that was last week, but I wasn't feeling the need to share them back then. It is totally clean on the inside and out. I know we have a lot of condiments. I saw a photo of someone else's fridge on their blog. That made me feel better. I have taken to keeping jars of random things in on of the bottom crisper drawers. I make use of my Tupperware Fridgesmart containers. They are fantastic! Carrots keep in those babies for at least a month!! I have taken on board TOH's suggestion to chop up vegies and put them in the containers straight away. This will be so much better in summer with all the strawberries and melons my kids devour.  I think I could do with one or two more...


Unfortunately, in a week it has gone back to something like it was before, which was this..


I also re-evaluated my cook books. Again. I'm happy with this collection now.

Tuesday: Dishwasher. tick. Another job I had done partly only a couple of weeks ago. Bathroom vanity. tick. No fancy baskets in there, not particularly exciting.

Wednesday: Cornices. um. Fail. Incomplete. Job not attended to. At all. I have (some) very high ceilings. I'm pretty sure I'd have to put Henry on the top step of a ladder to reach. Henry is my vacuum cleaner. Not our cat. Her name is Abbie. What I should have done is vacuum behind the skirting boards. Ours are not stuck on/nailed on/ fixed to the wall, so for the past 3 days have made an excellent car racing ramp. The boys have LOVED it! But I did notice there was a lot (A LOT) of fluff and cat fur sitting in the little tiny gap between the tiles and the wall. It's still there. There's always tomorrow!

Instead, my helper and I looked at re-organising a kitchen cupboard. Sort of a baking cupboard, but with other random things in it.


My little helper couldn't keep still if she tried!

I had bought a small stacking shelf in Ikea last week, so finally put it together to use in this cupboard. At the back. You can't really see it but it's perfect for the job.

Thursday: Office. tick. Lucky I did this last week with the 'toy room/craft room/spare room or second living area'. The office is in the front lounge. That was easier than the craft room option. I'm scared of tackling my sewing room, AKA spare room . The bed is beneath a lot of stuff, that doesn't really have a home. A week's notice is good when our family comes to stay.

In the office I did have a go at tidying up the shelves and sorting the boxes on top of the Ikea Expedit 5x5 cube unit that houses our 'study' things. Until not long ago, the 2x4 unit that lays on the floor was up against the wall with another desk attached. We found the desk was really only used to dump stuff. So now the 'dump space' is smaller. The things left are 'to file'. We have a great filing system, which my husband insisted on a few years ago. We did away with the filing drawers and now use a myriad of named and numbered lever arch files. This does take a little longer to file things, but it is much easier to find something when you really need it.

Home office

Bookcase storage next to office desk

 In between Thursdays jobs, we made carrot cake. Keegan's favourite cake would undoubtedly be carrot cake, only for what he calls the 'carrot icing'. After buying carrot cake last week for a last minute afternoon tea play date, he asked for the left over cake when we were visiting them again a few days later. I'm afraid there was none left. Fortunately when a couple of my girlfriends came over for dinner on the weekend, one of them made carrot cake for dessert. Thank you Tarah!!  Saved!... I thought, but it was not to be. Keegan still wanted to help me make one, so by Thursday I had relented (plus the left over of Tarah's was well and truly gone). Unfortunately I didn't have much in the way of cream cheese...just one tiny tub left from one of those 4 individual tubs that you snap apart. You know the ones.

I baked it in the Tupperware Kugelhopf  Form, which always gives a nice evenly baked cake (no sticky middle) and works wonders for slicing up even sized pieces of cake.

We only iced the pieces we ate, until we shopped for more cream cheese. 

I bought this teacup after the last Florence + the Machine concert in Perth. I wonder if Florence would like some carrot cake with a cup of tea...?

My very close, but far away, friend Belinda and I have a thing about having a cup of tea together, so this one is a cup of tea for you Bel... Except that it went cold while I was taking photos. I'll have to get a bit quicker at that bit.

I'd like to say, so there. See, I did do some cleaning, decluttering and organising. I've also been working out how to use Photoshop and Picasa. Which is why there are two watermarks on some photos. Hmmm. All these things to learn. So, photo overload today, but I hope you enjoyed the screen show anyway!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Conquering the Cleaning Game

I am finally winning the cleaning game. Today, I even managed to vacuum and mop my floors, on top of the other jobs, plus finish off the laundry cupboards! What a record achievement. Amazing what happens when you have a whole day at home with minus-one-kindy-kid.  Today I conquered!

For those who know me, you will know my floors often go a few days between sweeps (I'm being generous saying a few days...). If you are fortunate enough to stay with us, you might even find yourself wanting to sweep the floor yourself, as my brother Adrian found himself doing last time he stayed.  I wish I had thought to take my camera out today, you would see here a photo of Nathan sweeping with the mini/kid-broom. I'm sure one of The Organised Housewife's 'New Habits' is going to be sweep the floor daily. This will be the one that I will have to work hardest to achieve!

I really liked yesterday's New Habit - new one in, old one out. I have a lot off too big jeans (thank you Michelle Bridges!) and went shopping on Saturday to re-stock my wardrobe (thank you husband!). How much better do I feel! Hooray!!

Then the "5 minutes only" task, collect rubbish out of your car. Easy! That's because I have this fantastic rubbish bag in my car, I call it the 'Stash your trash bag' which I saw at a market a couple of years ago and decided to make myself. And so this brings me to a tutorial I have been working on for some time. This has kicked me into action to get it finished. I will post it soon, but here is a sneak peak for you.

I know, same fabric as Anya's "party dress" from my Party Pants and Pop Frocks post, but this Stash your trash bag now lives with my sister, Lauren, so the won't get together.  Plus it's a bit small for her now, so time for a newie.

Perhaps I will even conquer the fear of posting the first tutorial this very week!

con·quer [kong-ker] 

verb (used with object)
1. to acquire by force of arms; win in war: to conquer a foreign land.
2. to overcome by force; subdue: to conquer an enemy.
3.  to gain, win, or obtain by effort, personal appeal, etc.: conquer the hearts of his audience.
4. to gain a victory over; surmount; master; overcome: to conquer disease and poverty; to conquer one's fear
And for more definitions that I can not bring myself to type, you could visit here but only if you want to be shocked. I was. So perhaps... don't look.