Utensil Roll

In continuing the picnic theme, I also made a sleeve/roll for transporting utensils. This is again very easy, and could be modified to fit anything from silverware to art supplies.

For this particular version I used a cotton print. I’ve also made a sturdier version out of faux leather (pinking the edges instead of fraying them) that I used as fancy gift wrap for a set of bar utensils.

Utensil Roll Steps 1–9

See fraying tips here. Because this was part of a wedding gift—a picnic set for two—I only created two utensil sleeves, and put two forks in one sleeve and two knives in the other. This is totally flexible though, and can change to suit your needs.

All wrapped up, with places to go:


Picnic roll and matching set of frayed-edge napkins:


Picnic Napkins

Picnic Napkins

These napkins are incredibly easy. I started by selecting a few coordinating prints in bright colors from the fat quarters section of the fabric store. I used the same fabric for both sides of each napkin, but you could use two different fabrics for each, and voila—reversible!

To make each napkin, cut two squares. Mine were approximately 9″ x 9″, but you could make larger dinner napkins or smaller cocktail napkins. Be careful to cut along the grain and to keep the corners as square as possible. This REALLY helps down the road when you fray the edges. Some of mine—those that (ahem) maybe weren’t so square—turned out worse than others. You learn as you go, you know?

Pin the two squares together back-to-back, with right sides facing out. Sew around all four sides, leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance. I used a zig-zag stitch, because why not. You can use thread that matches your fabric, or, assuming you are confident in your ability to sew a straight line, choose a bright, contrasting color for some drama. Gettin’ crazy here.

Then comes the never-ending fraying. Use a pin to remove individual threads along the edge of the fabric. The best way for me to describe it is to not describe it at all, but to instead show you a very close up picture:

Fraying Edges

Yeah. Thread by thread. You will do this to both squares of fabric, along all four sides. It will take a long time. I suggest you pop in a movie or two, depending on how many napkins you’re making. I find that BBC’s 6-episode Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful go-to for just such an occasion.

Anyway, this is the thread pile that was accumulating on my couch. And my coworkers wonder why I have bits of thread stuck to my clothes all the time…


And then you are done!


Skyline Tote Bag

Every year, my friends have an intensely festive Christmas party that involves the exchange of Secret Santa gifts. A lot of thought is put into these gifts—recipient names are usually drawn about a month in advance. Expectations run high, and those who fail to measure up are never allowed to forget it. Good-humored but merciless mocking is as much a holiday tradition as the exchange itself.

This year, I played Santa to a friend who is originally from St Louis but who now lives in Chicago—she loves the two cities. Inspired by pillows on Etsy, I decided to create something that incorporated both skylines.

This gift exchange also has a strict budget. I bought a large button-down shirt at a thrift store for $3 and used that as the primary material. I zig-zag stitched the skyline effect and then sewed up a tote bag loosely based on this tutorial.


Chicago on one side…


St Louis on the other. I also added the pocket from the button-down shirt as an external pocket. Crazy easy.


Detail of stitching.

Ruffle-front Jacket

I just finished up this jacket as a gift for my mom’s birthday. It’s basically a drawstring capelet with raglan sleeves—not terribly difficult to make. Because it’s adjustable and not very fitted, it works well as a gift—you don’t have to worry so much about getting the size exactly right. The one problem I foresee is that it could make the wearer fidgety—constantly ruching and unruching the ruffles.

Simple Modern Sewing, Shufu To Seikatsu Sha

I picked up this fabric at a thrift store in Niles, Michigan. It’s medium-weight and quite soft, but I’m not actually sure what type of fabric it is. The black-and-white twill ribbon is from Paper Source.

Sparkly Pompon Wristlet

The good news is that this project was cheap (less than $10), easy (mostly hand-sewn), and quick (it only took one evening to make). The bad news is that it only took one evening to make because it HAD to only take one evening—I decided to make this for a going-away coworker the night before her last day in the office. Thank goodness for multi-tasking (two episodes of BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, two episodes of Doctor Who, and one long phone call later—basically 5 hours—and I have a whole new appreciation for Project Runway).


Inspiration: I found these felted wool pompon wristlets at Paper Source. I thought they would be fairly simple and satisfying to recreate.

Sparkly pompons

I walked into the Blick on North Avenue, where there were lots of hipster artist types buying things like glass breakers and carving hammers and screen printing chemicals. I picked up 3 bags of 80ct SPARKLY pompons (ages 3 and up), paid, and walked out. I might have been judged a bit.

Stringing Pompons

I strung 8 rows of 10 pompons each, using extra-strong, button craft thread.

I then strung the rows of pompons together, through the first pompon on each strand.

Stringing Pompons

Next I strung thread through the last pompon of each strand.

I strung thread through the second pompon in each strand, then the third, the fourth, etc, creating an 8-pompon x 10-pompon panel. I repeated the process from start to finish to create a second panel. I connected the two panels by stitching together the pompons on three edges (carefully positioning the stitches to conceal them as much as possible), leaving the fourth side for the opening.

For the lining, I cut two panels of red felt approximately the same size as the pompon panels. Then I connected the two lining panels with a zipper.

I stitched the remaining three sides of the lining panels together, then trimmed the seam allowances.

Pompon Wristlet

I inserted the zippered lining into the pompon pouch. I stitched the top row of pompons to the top of the lining on both sides, again careful to conceal the stitches.

Last step: I strung approximately 20 pompons together and attached them to the bag for the strap.

Finished product: Pompon wristlet

Tacky? Yes. It does not photograph well—particularly with my crappy digital camera and less-than-stellar skills—but this sucker sparkles magnificently. At a glance, it looks beaded or metallic, and weirdly expensive. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!