Picnic Tote

Picnic_Tote

I took a lot of photos of this one, but I think I will spare you the detailed process story—I’m kind of picnicked out. Especially given that it is most emphatically Fall now.

This was a birthday gift for a friend, a picnic tote to take to outdoor concerts, movies and shows.

And my inspiration? Ballet boxes, with separate bottom compartments to carry dance shoes. Like so:

BALLET-BOXa. Ballet Box, Lowprice Dancewear
b. Vintage Ballet Box, WhimzyThyme Shop at etsy.com
Vintage Ballet Box, ivorybird Shop at etsy.com

By the same principle, giving a wine bottle its own separate pocket means that nothing else in your bag gets smushed—or damp, if you’re toting a sweating bottle of white.

I bought a plain tote bag at a craft store, and created a separate wine pocket, just by adding a seam and a zipper to the bottom section:
Zippered_Wine_Compartment

I also attached a zippered inside pocket to hold the corkscrew:
Zipper_Pouch
To make it personal, I created my own stencil by xacto-cutting letters out of contact paper:
Stencil Xacto Stencil_2 Stencil_3Finished_Tote

Final product. I threw in a bottle of wine, and then we were ready to picnic!
Picnic_Labels a. reusable solo cups
b. favorite snacks
c. battery-powered tealights
d. corkscrew
e. hand sanitizer
f. homemade napkins
g. tote bag with zippered wine pocket

Why You Shouldn’t Invite Me to Your Wedding

Picnic for Two

Yeah. There are a few of you out there with save-the-dates floating around who should probably be paying attention.

Don’t get me wrong. I love weddings as much as—nay, more than—the next person. Because I, unlike many of my peers, have (so far) avoided exposure to that sickly-sweet redolence of excess that seems to be snaking through the wedding industry these days. $600 bridesmaid dresses. Destination bachelorette parties more exotic and extravagant than the honeymoons of our parents’ generation. A dozen weddings of obscure relatives in as many weeks. It’s easy to see why some—burnt out, worn down and slightly nauseous—are very much over it. But me? Nope. All of the weddings I’ve attended have been for dear friends and close family—events radiant with joy and sincerity, beautiful and meaningful and full-ful, and all of the other nice, warm, glowing, lovely, heart-achy, happy things. I love weddings.

I also—fingers crossed—have yet to be that girl at a wedding. No pounding of tequila, fistfights over the bouquet, or random groomsman hookups on my record as of yet. So you need not fear that I’ll over-enjoy your wedding either.

The problem I have (and the problem you’ll have with me) comes down to your wedding registry. See, I believe that “The Wedding Registry” (along with the convenience store gift card aisle) has ruined gift-giving forever. Ah, how convenient! I can sit at my computer, click a few buttons, and within seconds, that $125 heart-shaped cheese grater—which I can only assume will be the centerpiece of your marriage—is on its way to being gift-wrapped, shipped and dropped on your doorstep. Zero thought or effort on my part required.

Now, before you give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is an altruistic streak somewhere within all this ranting—she’s wants to be considerate and select something personal and meaningful!—let me assure you: there is not. “Gift-giving is an opportunity for me to tell other people what they should want.” I’ve quoted myself so many times to various friends and family, that if I were ever to cross-stitch a pillow (and let’s be real, it might happen some day), that’s what would be on it .

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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:

Napkin_Roll

Picnic roll and matching set of frayed-edge napkins:

napkins_napkin_roll

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…

Loose_Threads

And then you are done!

Picnic_Napkins