Sewing tutorial-zippered pouches

Sewing is a passion of mine. Looking over my blog one might not know that as I don’t share many of my projects. I don’t consider myself to be a great sewer and feel a bit apprehensive sharing my stuff.  During my high school and college years, I sewed almost all of my clothes.  Later I sewed for my children until they reached an age when they did not want to be seen in ‘homemade’ clothes anymore-instead striving to be just like everyone else. In the past few years I have rekindled my love of sewing but now focus more on home décor and craft items.

One of my most popular posts, surprisingly, is my Fabric Origami Bag which is one of my favorite crafts to sew. It is easy and would be perfect for kids, simple projects, or beginning sewers.   Last year I began sewing zippered pouches.  I make cosmetic bags, coin purses, and pencil cases. These are fun (and easy) projects too!  I enjoy putting together color combinations and adding the little extras.  Selecting fabrics, cutting, and picking embellishments takes more time than the actual sewing. Since we live in an instant gratification world, these bags are perfect! You have a finished piece in a very short amount of time.  Like most sewers, I have a stash of fabric around as well as extra zippers…


…which I order in bulk on Amazon.

(Much cheaper that way!)

I have decided to try another sewing tutorial (and you will need a sewing machine for this)

Supplies needed:


2 small pieces of fabric  (cotton or cotton blend)

a 10 inch or longer (longer is better) nylon zipper (you will be cutting the zipper so nylon is a must)

some type of craft interfacing or stabilizer. I use a medium weight stabilizer. It can be an fusible but I prefer to just use a glue stick appropriate for fabric)

matching thread


pinking shears (not required but nice)

craft or fabric glue

First select 2 contrasting fabrics.


For this purpose I am making a pencil type bag which will be longer and more narrow

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Approx. 8 inches wide x 10 inches wide

These measurements do not need to be exact and I seldom measure (instead just using whatever I have lying around)


Next cut a piece of stabilizer, the same size.

Glue fabric to each side of stabilizer so you now have a two-sided piece to work with.

That means you have the stabilizer sandwiched between 2 pieces of contrasting fabric.


 (not the same bag but to give you a different look at your glued rectangle)

Using pinking shears, cut the edges around the outside of the rectangle.


Next lay you zipper across the widest side of your finished piece-zipper facing down.


If you lay the zipper on the shorter side, you will end of with something more of a glasses case or (or what they used to call a cigarette case). This is ok too but for this tutorial we will stick with the pencil bag size.  You can use your glue stick to lightly glue your zipper into place or pin. I like to sew it with just the pinked edges poking out for a more decorative look even though this will be on the inside of the bag, This bag is not lined so you will get an occasional glimpse of this when opening and closing your bag.

Machine stitch and if you need to-use a zipper foot attachment to get close. Unless I am working with a very small bag, I don’t usually switch to my zipper foot.


Using your fingers, smooth the zipper up so that it is now facing up as it should be in the finished bag.

Topstitch the to keep it in place and to avoid snagging when open and closing your bag. Keep the topstitch  1/8 inch or so from the edge and to catch the pinked edge underneath.


Now fold the bag so that is inside out. The next step is to stitch the zipper to the other side of your piece. Again, allow the pinked edge to peak out ever so slightly. Sew into place and again top stitch. If you use to small of a zipper, it makes top stitching this side more difficult.


You will now have an inside out bag, top stitched on both sides and believe it or not we are almost done!


The next step is sew up the sides. If you would like to have a little handle now is the time to get that ready. You can either use a piece of ribbon, cord, or create your own using the same or contracting fabric. I usually use the same fabric as the outside of the bag. Take a piece of fabric approx. 8 inches in length. Fold in half and stitch up the side. Turn using a safety-pin (or a fancy turning gadget)  so that you now have a neat little strip. Press, Fold in half.

I always take a moment to look over my project at this point, double check to see my zipper moves smoothly and check for any mistakes. If I am going to catch a mistake now is the time to do so!  Turn you bag inside out and we will now stitch up the sides. The zipper will fall onto the front of the bag-not on the top. Depending on the size of the bag, I like to fold over about 1-2 inches.


Anything less than an inch will allow too much of the unlined bag to show when opening and closing. If you have decided to use the strap/handle, now is the time to insert. Place strap inside the bag so it will be laying against the outside fabric with the edges matched up to the edge of the bag.


See the ribbon on the inside?


Or if you are using a matching fabric strap.

You can pin into place. These bags are so small that it is not difficult to hold in place but pinning is a good idea. Now stitch up that side. Don’t forget to leave the zipper open so you can turn you bag and make sure your zipper pull is within the area of the bag.


Be certain the zipper teeth are held/pinned together when sewing. Yes, you can sew right over the zipper! I like to go over the strap and zipper several times to make sure it will hold. Don’t worry about the excess zipper hanging out at this point.


Flip your bag around and stitch up the other side taking care that the zipper is centered evenly on both sides so you do not get a crooked bag. This is one of the few time I actually do measure!


Taking your pinking shears, trim off the zipper on each side.

Really-go ahead!


It is now a good time to use those shears to tidy up the sides of your bag.


Now turn you bag right side out.




(with a fabric strap)


(with a ribbon strap)


Now I love embellishments so I usually add a zipper pull using a length of ribbon with beads attached.


It just depends on how long you want your zipper pull.


I like to use a variety of beads and ribbon or cord.


This is a great way to use up small pieces of fabric and leftover ribbon. My bags are always different sizes depending on which scraps of fabric I have lying around. I keep a few bags  around for birthdays or hostess gifts.

They are also good as a gift card holder!


Beads, ribbon, and strap are optional.

Happy sewing!

The Great Date Adventure

You have heard young women say, “don’t hate me because I am beautiful?” Perhaps it is said tongue in cheek or as a joke or maybe because they really believe it-or maybe they are!  I have no idea. No, I am not beautiful. Today, I am asking you not to hate me because I have the most marvelous husband ever! People often ask me how I got so lucky to get ‘one of those’ or does he have a brother? Yes, he has four brothers, all taken. Yes, I am lucky. My theory is that after spending sixteen years married to the wrong man, God decided to bless me with the right one. All I can say is after twenty-seven years-he has only improved with time.  Please don’t hate me.

Marriage, like most relationships, takes work. We don’t take our good marriage for granted-we invest time and energy into it!  Not only do we find common interests, we have friends and outside  interests also. This helps keep us fresh and interesting (we hope) so, when our church offered a couples event, we decided to take part in-


The event was arranged by Building Bridges, a local Christian Counseling Center.  Selecting a date in the city, desert, mountains, or beach, you were given an envelope with your location which included restaurants, sights, museums, parks, maps, and ideas in which you could work with. The packet  also had questions to be used throughout the day in order to connect and open conversation. Now I know many men might go running at the thought of having to open up and talk but it was actually fun-I promise!

We picked up our packet the night before and found a destination very familiar to us


Huntington Beach, California

Although I was a bit disappointed at the particular beach that was selected (since our kids live in the area), we decided to just go with it and see what happened.  Bright and early that morning we set off on the familiar 45 minute drive. It  was a perfect morning and our first surprise of the day was this marvelous sunrise.


Once arriving, breakfast was our first mission (especially since we were caffeine deprived). We immediately headed to the pier and on to a cute diner located at the end.


It was early so we only passed a few fisherman and walkers.

The suffers were already out


and it was a glorious morning on the water.


We stopped to appreciate the early morning quiet and then…



It was so early we had the place to ourselves…


…and picked a window seat to enjoy the unobstructed ocean view.

After breakfast we walked the shops and main street. Still early, most of the shops were closed.


 We decided to sit in the sand for awhile and soak up the sun…


…while we opened our packet of questions.


The questions were non threatening like,  “What is the best piece of advice you have ever received” and ‘When did you realize you had fallen in love with me?” Fun but not deep enough to make a husband go running for the hills (or throw himself into the ocean)!!

Soon enough the stores opened so off we went. Since it was a date, Thommmee humored me while I tried on shoes at the Croc  shop.


If you have never been in one of their stores or know much about Crocs, they offer so much more than  their signature clog. The shoes are so comfy and I needed a new pair of flip-flops anyway. I don’t know how it is in most places but in Southern California you can wear flip-flops most of the year! Oops…I  got so excited about the shoes, I digressed. Back to the date!

The Surf Museum was not open until noon but we did venture into a quaint little antique shop.


A street faire and farmers market was setting up and we spent some time touring the vendors.


Although the sun was out it was a bit chilly near the water.  We decided to drive  to Bolsa Chica Beach which is about 5 miles north of Huntington Beach. I had packed a light lunch. After a short (and chilly) lunch on the beach, we changed gears and drove up the coast to Long Beach. Parking at the marina (and staying in the car this time)


we pulled out the lunch questions.


The lunch questions were a bit different but still designed to spark conversation. We felt  questions like, ” If you didn’t have to work how would you spend your time?’ were directed at younger couples but we did our best to go along. By then we were ready to head home knowing that if we waited much longer the traffic would be horrible.  After we got home we kicked back for awhile then resumed our date with-you guessed it-a game of Scrabble on the patio while barbecuing ribs for dinner…


 …and dinner questions.

The day ended with two tired but happy people.

On Sunday, there was a luncheon for the dating adventurers.  As I looked around the room at the other couples, I realized we were the oldest couple there. Instead of making me feel bad, I felt good that our marriage was important enough for us to continue to keep it alive and growing. The therapist who organized the dates was there. He talked about marriage and the commitment it takes from  both. After chatting with each other and listening to his encouragements and thoughts, he passed out (what he called) ‘A recreational enjoyment inventory’ to encourage couples to find interests that they might share together. It was quite an extensive list with things like canoeing, archery, watching sports events,  hiking, cards, coin collecting, and things I never would have thought of!

Even if you don’t have an opportunity for an organized adventure or even if you aren’t married-what I took away from this is that all relationships need a commitment. Friends will not remain friends for long if the relationship is one sided. Friendship takes time to cultivate and maintain. Parents and children need to keep their relationships growing as that child matures. Couples of all kinds need to put effort and commitment into their relationships. Finding new interests  can help create new relationships as well as strengthen old ones. I guess that can be said for blogging as well. We need to be interested in others if we want to support a growing and caring blogging community.

At the end of the day it could be said that


We only get one chance at this!!!

A Mother’s Day letter to Mom

A mom is such a special person. Mom’s seem to care about all of those little things that probably don’t much matter to anyone else. Yes, they care about the big stuff too but somehow since you have been gone, it is  the little things that I miss the most.

When the kids were young I would call you for advice or just to listen.  As I have grown older (and so have my own children) I began to realize how tired you must have been coming home from a long day at work. You still had dinner to cook,  teenagers to deal with, a house to keep up, and many other things pulling at you, but somehow, you always made time for my phone calls. When maybe all you wanted to do was soak in a warm bath, you found the time to listen to me anguish over parent teacher conferences,  unexplained rashes or fevers,  parenting, and anything else that I called about. You always remembered to follow up after doctor appointments or check in on that headache that wouldn’t go away. You never forgot a birthday and as sure as the sun rose in the morning there would be an Easter, Halloween, or Valentine card in the mail for each grandchild. You understood the thrill those little ones felt from getting a piece of mail addressed to each one of them. And did you know to do this this? You did not have the childhood of story books or a mother you could call when you were raising six young children. How did you know to braid our hair or polish shoes for Sunday school? Who taught you how to help with homework or play Candy Land and Old Maid? It could not have been easy and yet…you seemed to do it all with such expertise that one would have thought you learned these things from your own mother-which sadly we knew was not the case.

You were my champion in the (so called) fight to grow up. While we had an amazing father (many could only dream of), he was strict as well as loving. You were there, the quiet force behind the man, guiding us to independence and  knowing that letting a bird fly free would allow them to grow. And we did. You were the heart of our father. Together you taught us respect, honesty, faith, integrity, kindness, patience, and most of all love.


I miss you, Mom. I miss those phone calls.


I miss our breakfasts together and sitting around the dining room table with you. You never sought the limelight but always allowed us to shine. You seemed to bask in our successes and loved us through our failures. You bandaged our scrapes and held us when we cried. You supported us every step of the way and I have tried to follow your example. When deciding what to do I often reflect on how you might have handled a situation and follow your lead. You never pried and never offered unsolicited advice-which I am still working on.


As we face another Mother’s Day without you I am reminded of how much you were loved and of how much you are missed. I am grateful for the years we had together. I know you are at peace. I am very grateful to have had you as my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom


I love you.



Weather cold, weather hot….

…we’ll have weather whether or not.

When its cold we want it hot always wanting what is not.

(something my Dad used to say)

We didn’t get much of a winter this year. Our weather has been rather pleasant. No, I am not going to whine about the drought in California nor the abundant sunshine. I am going to appreciate that what we have is what we have and that God has it covered. He always does.

Today was a wintry type day for California. Breezy and cool.


Overcast in the morning. I actually had to put a on a jacket this morning. It rained in the mountains and deserts yesterday with the possibility of more to come. There is a forecast of 30% chance of rain tomorrow but Thommmee didn’t cancel his golf game. This is good news here-but-we will see. Often the hype does not lead to much precipitation.


it is hard to believe that last Friday we were at the beach.


Thommmee and I made the 45 minute drive to Huntington Beach and it was fabulous!


I couldn’t help but wonder why kids were out of school.


(see their toys in the sand?)

Just a beach day I guess. There was a large group of kids picking up trash. It seems they do this often as part of a school class of some kind. Gee, they didn’t have classes like that when I was in school! The high school students did pick up trash, were very polite, took off their shoes, waded in the water, snapped pictures of themselves and each other. Seemed they were there long after the beach was cleaned-up. Oh well. It was a beautiful day.


Of course we took our travel edition of Scrabble for a little friendly competition.


We had lunch.


Thommmee used his metal detector-looking for a big score. He found a nickel. Oh well.  He had fun. Another ‘prospector’ stopped by to exchange stories and brag about his big finds.  I tried to read a few pages on my book. Took pictures of the ships coming into Long Beach. Watched the birds.


Chatted with some fellow beach goers. Wiggled my feet in the warm sand. Put my toes in the water.


It was a great day.


I do love retirement!

Day trip-Barstow, CA

We have driven through Barstow many times over the years. This is a place I have never given much thought to. We are usually rushing by on our way to Las Vegas or headed to Death Valley for our annual Thanksgiving camping trip.  Oh sure, we have stopped for a quick break but have never gotten off the road to see what was there. Thanks to my blogging buddy masgautsen at The thoughts of life and me, we decided to see what interesting sights we could find in our own backyard. She recently posted about sight-seeing in her own town. Isn’t that a great idea?

Sooo…off we went!

Barstow is about 85 miles from where we live. The only thing I actually knew about Barstow was that there is a decent outlet mall  there and it is where the cutoff from the Interstate 10 and the Interstate 40 hook up. As it turns out, this little town is full of history and played a large part of the California railroad history too.  With the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad and the silver mine in Calico during the 1880’s,  Barstow began to evolve. Calico still exists today as Calico Ghost Town and is a popular attraction and camping place in the area.

Barstow grew and because of the railroad and its central location in the midst of the Mojave Desert, became a jumping off place on Route 66. This highway became quite famous when John Steinbeck published his book, The Grapes of Wrath in 1939. Eventually major highways/interstates became the main transportation corridors through the area and Route 66 began its decline.

The Route 66 Mother Road Museum was really fun!


Not only did it give a great history of the famous Route 66, but it offered a collection of remembrances of days gone by.


Route 66 runs nearby to where we live so…


…we are used to all the hype of the historical road with a variety of available collectables and scheduled events nearby. When visiting Chicago a few years back I got a kick out of seeing a sign showing the start of Route 66…


…since we are so near to the end!


These posters are just a sampling of the unique collections found there.

We then made a visit to the  Harvey House  .


These establishments were built to provide good food and clean facilities in the Southwest beginning in 1870’s. They were found along Route 66  in railway stations.


The first Harvey House open in Topeka, Kansas in  1876. By the late 1880’s, there was a Harvey restaurant about very 100 miles along the Santa Fe tracks.  This beautiful Harvey House is located at the Barstow Depot. The Amtrack still comes through


but is no longer open to passengers. It is open to view,  for receptions, and weddings.  Barstow is still a major thoroughfare for rail cars and is a fun place to watch trains coming and going.


There are old railroad cars (although not open) to climb on and view up close.


The Western American Railroad Museum, offers an interesting collection of railroad memorabilia…


…like this old safe.


…and even a simulator if you really want to get the full experience. A group of Boy Scouts were  visiting while we were  so we decided to pass (but it really looked fun especially if you have kids).

A collection of nail heads was quite amazing!


These dated nails were used in the railroad ties and became a sort of timeline.

You really have to see it to believe it!

Off we headed off to The Desert Discovery Center.


What a great place for kids for a very hands on experience.  One of the most interesting things about this museum is the  Old Woman Meteorite. This is the second largest meteorite found in the United States. It weighed 6070 pounds when discovered in 1975. My favorite thing, however, was the turtles. They were so cute and active. If not swimming around in their pond, they were fighting with each other to climb out. The interaction between them was hysterical!


 Desert plants are diverse and interesting…


and I tried to capture a sampling of what they had to offer at the museum.


People often don’t realize the real beauty of the desert if only you take the time to look up close.


Well, maybe not that close!

After a picnic lunch in one of the local parks,


we ended our trip with a stop at the  Mojave River Valley Museum.


With free admission to this unique little place ( to the others also!) they had many interesting items, books, and displays to appreciate.


(They also have a group of local men eager to greet you at the door)

If  hiking or desert camping is your thing, the Rainbow Basin Natural Area  would be worth the drive. Rainbow is noted for the beautiful shapes and colors of rock beds and of the fossil beds. It is  8 miles on a dirt road. We had the wrong vehicle for that trip, I am sorry to say, so will save for another day. Another interesting mention in Barstow, is the Skyline Drive In Theater which is the only one of its kind in the entire county -and San Bernardino County is a big county!.

We had so much fun with this sight-seeing adventure that I can’t wait until the next one!  We will try to do one or two excursions each month. For now, this will be our vacation!


That’s Barstow!

Happy Trails

Today is National Scrabble Day!

Thommmee and I love to play Scrabble. In the warmer months you will often find us  sitting outside  with a Scrabble game between us. This may or may not also include something cooking on the barbecue. We will be busy trying to come up with a double or triple word score while trying to outwit each other (and hopefully not burning something on the grill)!  While I don’t consider myself to be particularly competitive, when it comes to Scrabble we are all in.


Last week Thommmee had his best game ever with 387 points. Although it might not be much in the world of Scrabble, we thought it was pretty good  (anytime we exceed 300 points we are happy).


You will find us hauling our full-sized game on camping trips.

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At the beach, poolside, or vacation we carry our travel edition.


My trusty Scrabble dictionary is circa 1978.



We updated to a ‘new’ paperback dictionary a few years back.


(I don’t like this nearly as well).

Nowadays we have our smartphones nearby to checkout the newest words such as ‘selfie’ and ‘hashtag’ which were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2014.

Since Aril 13th is National Scrabble day-and I did not know such a day even existed-I decided to find out a little bit of the history of my favorite game.

Alfred Mosher Butts invented the board game  in 1933. He was an out of work architect.  It was at the height of the Great Depression and  he was looking for a way to cheer people up. Originally called  LEXIKO, the game is considered a cross between an anagram and a crossword puzzle . A few years later the name was changed to CRISS CROSS WORDS. The rise to popularity was slow. The game is now sold in 121 countries with 29 different languages available!  Did you know there are 105 playable two-letters words  according to the Official Scrabble players’ dictionary? There are 187,632 words on the official Scrabble list for tournament play. Nigel Richards, who has won the World Scrabble Championship three times and the National Scrabble Championship five times, travels the world to play in Scrabble tournaments.  I have seen some of these championship games on TV-very impressive!   Scrabble is owned by the Hasbro Company. If you have any interest in learning about the history or game of Scrabble, the Hasbro link will give you further information.

This is a great educational game and can be played by 2-4 people. Each person randomly selects 7 letters. Alternating turns, a player makes words with the letters on their tray and using the letters on the board. When the kids were younger, we would allow them to use the dictionary to find words. This game increases vocabulary while allowing for an enjoyable interaction between the players. Nothing quite like sitting around a table together and experiencing the laughter and conversation going on during a board game. If you haven’t played a game recently, dust off those boards and give it a whirl. Invite the kids, the family, a friend or a neighbor in for a good time.  You can pick up many of the old classic games at bargain price from  a thrift store or yard sale.


Happy National Scrabble Day!


Happy National PB&J Day

Who knew?

April 2 is National Peanut butter and Jelly Day.


They say that the average American eats about 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they are 18. I have to think that may have been true in my day and perhaps even when my children were growing up (although I doubt it) but based on the eating habits of my grandchildren I don’t think that statistic is true today. The history of the sandwich apparently goes back to WWII when American soldiers created this tasty treat from their rations.

I absolutely love a good pb&j and still eat them to this day. Call it my comfort food but there is nothing quite like it!

In honor of this ‘holiday’ I decided to make some strawberry jam (well that and my fellow blogger, Simply Grateful Housewife, who is always canning something inspired me)! I jumped up early and headed off to the strawberry stand to get some fresh picked seconds. I don’t need the prettiest strawberries for my jam but I do like the freshest. Our area has many strawberry fields-we are now in prime strawberry season and the stands are abundant.


I hustled home with my score and started to clean my berries.


I got my supplies together,

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 pulled out my pots, washed my jars, and got them boiling…


…while I finished up getting the berries ready.


I used the recipe from the Ball Canning site.

You  will need:

5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 lbs)


  1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.
  2. COMBINE strawberries and lemon juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
  3. ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
  4. LADLE hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
  5. PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.



So…then I had lunch.


If you haven’t had homemade jam, try it! It is so much better than what you find in the store.  Maybe even cook up a batch of your own.

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