Farewell to Summer

Our summer here is officially over.  Fall begins tomorrow. The high temperatures will linger into October but the nights will begin to cool. In November  we will experience our “fall” in Southern California.  From now until then we will have dry dusty days without rain, Santa Ana winds, and abundant sunshine. The palm trees will remain green, native plants will flourish, hillsides will continue to brown,  leaves will drop and blow in the wind, but a few splashes of fall colors maybe found.

Summer was wonderful.  Although we spent more time at home than usual, we enjoyed many opportunities to get outdoors and appreciate summer. Rather than bore you with details,  I decided to showcase a few highlights and allow the pictures to tell most of the story.

A visit to Berkeley and the University of California

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Exploring Berkeley and visiting with family.

Visiting a winery near Gilroy, California

Salinas, California-Home of John Steinbeck.

Beautiful Monterey Bay

Camping in Big Sur and exploring the California coastline.

Laughing in amazement at sun bathing sea lions.

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A Phoenix sunrise. One of two trips we made to Arizona.

Who knew Arizona could be so green?

We loved our visit to Oro Valley north of Tuscon, Arizona…

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…and even enjoyed the rain!

Our small garden yielded us tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, and strawberries.

I worked on a few sewing and craft projects.

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We spent a great deal of time with family, friends, and just hanging out.

(and of course eating and shopping!)

So while we say farewell to the Summer of 2016…

I am looking forward to what comes next!

How was your summer?

(or winter-depending on where you live)

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Summer, Sewing, & Retirement

Every once in awhile I need an attitude adjustment. This retirement thing is a work in progress. Even after 2 1/2 years I can easily fall into lazy habits, get off track, cringe when I jump on the scale, and well…basically I need to refocus! Not that I am not busy but I sometimes have found myself being busy with the business of being busy.

Huh????

Last week is a perfect example. On Monday I was at the hospital all day waiting for the arrival of our newest great-granddaughter. Very exciting! I was the on call labor coach in case the young parents needed reinforcements. I have been front and center for four of my own (of course), my sister, and four grandchildren. For six others I have impatiently sat in the waiting room. I have completed 3 Lamaze classes, read countless books, and offered too many hours to count of advice by phone, visits to nervous moms, and had more than most of sleepless nights in this miracle of babies, pregnancy, and babies being born. So there was no place I would have rather been!!

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I mean, is she perfect or what????

It was also the weekend visit of one of my oldest and dearest friends, a baby shower of her second grandchild, and a visit from our oldest grandson, home from almost two years away. During the week I met a sister for lunch, had my brother staying with us (and thrilled to have him back),  met a friend for coffee and another dear friend for our usual swimming meet up. Church, household stuff, Bible study, and oh yeah…Thommmee-the most patient and understanding husband on the planet needed some attention too.

Anyway, I realized that all of this business was causing me to stress a bit and I wasn’t enjoying the moments with all of the scheduling. I was talking too much about what I still had to do (how special did that make the person I was with feel?) so….readjusting and focusing on my friends and family became priority. Fortunately, these wonderful people love me as is and were most patient with me. I have to say, I treasure each and everyone of them!

Once I realized what I was doing I reminded myself to do what I love, make Thommmee a top priority, and slow down a bit. After all, retirement does not need a checklist!

What does that have to do with sewing you might ask? One of the things I love is sewing. My newest project is making these Sprocket Pillows.

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(for a niece)

They are so fun to make and a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

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(given to a granddaughter)

I am giving them away as fast as I make them.

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(another granddaughter)

I am not offering a tutorial as I was not able to obtain permission from the website where I found them (besides her tutorial is so fantastic). You can find instructions at cluckclucksew with a template included.

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(my friends grandson-nursery colors black, white, and gray!)

They are simple, fairly quick, and come in two sizes.

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We are leaving in a few days for a trip. It will include a visit along the California coast. Our itinerary open and flexible. Brother is back to work, baby and new parents are doing fine (we saw them yesterday). The grads have graduated, no birthdays, and the diet is out the window anyway.  No sewing next week but, that is alright.

I am ready for some quiet and time with Thommmee.

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Boys and Girls

Isn’t it interesting how families seem to have more boys than girls, more daughters than sons, or more guys than gals? In our blended family we have 4 girls and 2 boys, 4 grandsons and 7 granddaughters, 1 great granddaughter and 2 more on the way (due in April and May). Thommmee is 1 of  5 brothers and 2 sisters, I am 1 of 4 sisters and 2 brothers.

In our more local/ immediate family we seem be surrounded by girls. As a result, I spend time with the girls in efforts of cooking, sewing, shopping, etc. We all spend time together camping, vacationing, playing games, barbequing,  beach trips, and a multitude of birthday parties. When it comes to doing ‘guy’ things, however, I have often felt that I fell short. I recently decided to make more of an effort to participate in some of the things that they enjoy. Surprisingly (or not) we actually ended up having a really good time.

A few weekends ago my 16 year old grandson and I made plans to attend an outdoors/sportsman event near me.  We were both really excited to spend this time together but honestly I was a bit apprehensive that I would disappoint him or he would be bored hanging out with grandma. Although we are very close and enjoy a very special bond, we are usually a part of a group since he has become a teenager. He lives about 30 miles away and this would also be his first trip managing the congested Southern California freeways by himself. On a Friday afternoon he headed my way as soon as he got out of school and arrived at my house about 3:30. I had decided to just go with whatever I would normally do so we quickly got busy making strawberry jam. Now, I realize this might not be a 16 year old boy’s idea of fun but I figured it was still hanging out with grandma so…. It was fun and he learned a thing or two about making jam.  Since it was Valentine’s Day weekend, we took a jar of fresh jam and decorated it for him to give to his girlfriend ( along with his other special mementos).

While I cleaned up, he went outside with Poppa (Thommmee) to barbeque some steaks and veggies. I made potatoes and garlic bread.  After dinner we settled down to play some board games and cards. We baked brownies. We talked. We laughed.  Eventually Poppa was ready for bed but we sat up and talked well past my  bedtime. We really shared with each other and I will treasure that evening forever.

Early the next morning the three of us were up laughing and talking over pancakes and bacon (which is enough to make anyone happy-right?) We didn’t invite Poppa or anyone else to go along on this trip so the two of us headed off to the event. Now, I don’t know what I expected, maybe a bunch of dudes in overalls chewing tobacco or some other foolish notions of what hunters, gun carrying survivalists might look like (sorry if I offended anyone here-I am somewhat a sheltered urban raised girl ). Anyway, it was mostly men (hey ladies, the ultimate place to meet a guy maybe?), normal looking people, a few women, and even a few families. Nonetheless, I am fairly certain I was the only proud grandma accompanied by her handsome 16 year old grandson. We had a great time but for me this was a one time event (just the show not the grandson).

Encouraged by this adventure, the following weekend I offered to take Thommmee to the Gold and Treasure show at the Fairplex (formally know as the LA Fairgrounds). He loves to watch all of those treasure hunting, prospecting, gold digging type shows so he was all in! (maybe this is where I got that stereo-type idea of the outdoorsmen?) They were selling all types of  machines, gizmos,  and every sort of prospecting gear you could imagine. They even sold dirt and a dirt of the month club membership so you could pan for gold in the privacy of your own home…really? Again, mostly men but more women and families at this event…..normal people! I think get these ideas from the shows Thommmee watches. They must pick extremes types to keep the shows interesting.

OK. I tried. I love the outdoors. If you read my blog you know I love to camp, I sleep in a tent and cook outdoors. These two weekends were a bit of a stretch for me but these men  appreciated my willingness to try something new and I got to spend time with these great guys.  I am not complaining at all. Next weekend our church is having a ladies afternoon tea which I will be attending. Not sure this is a fit for me either. I like my jeans, sneakers and bracelets. Perhaps I am someplace in between but I would like to keep an open mind.

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Moving Forward

Last week I was merely looking forward and now I am actually moving forward!  As with most of us, we start out the year with the best of intentions and I am no different. How long we can keep it up?  Well, that depends on the person. Based on my past experience, I know that my excitement (and energy) may fade in time so I am trying to strike while the iron is hot as they say.

While my Christmas decorations still linger all over the house…

and our sad little tree, although stripped of its ornaments, still lies in wait for hibernation.

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We  bought this pitiful little tree about 4 years ago as a door buster/pre Christmas sale. I had wanted a new tree for such a long time but hesitated to spend the money. This was such a deal I jumped on it  and gave our nice full-slightly worn tree to one of our daughters. When I put this one up I wanted to call her and ask for my old tree back (which is still looking beautiful at her house by the way) but  that didn’t seem fair so we decided to just make the best of it. We have learned to love this little Charlie Brown tree and it is actually much more practical in our small home. This is true most especially  on Christmas Eve when we cram between 25-30 family members in this little place!

Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned in my last post I was excited to start organizing and purging and decided to ignore the holiday stuff for now (besides, we do enjoy our little tree as do the cats).

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Next I decided to tackle my sewing/spare bedroom.  I tossed out 2 bags of trash and 3 large bags to be donated or set aside for our next (probably unsuccessful) yard sale. After all, Why not clutter up the storage shed and a chance to maybe change my mind about a few things?

I began pulling things out of drawers and closets and created a great deal of chaos. I had scraps, lengths of fabric and craft supplies everywhere.

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When I returned to sewing a few years ago I read some advice that you should not throw away even the smallest scrap of fabric. There would always be some use for it down the road. Well, I took this to heart and complete disorganization erupted. I had stuffed and stashed in every spare inch . This was not going to be part of my organizational plan so I decided to only save the small pieces that I could fit into one container.

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Now don’t feel too sorry for me. This does not count the larger pieces of fabric, nor heaven forbid,  my FABRIC STASH. I painfully let go of some little pieces and some crazy things I would never use.

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I am sure I could find a use for the tiger scrap on top but not in my foreseeable future so I ruthlessly tossed it  out ( I kept the basket).

Then I got down to the nitty-gritty. This vacuum sealed bag of various fabric is going to the donation bin…. or the shed for the potential yard sale.

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It is difficult to get a true picture of how much fabric is in here. Most of it was given to me anyway so I  am fairly certain I would never have a use for most of it.

Things were starting to come together…

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I arranged some almost finished spools of thread in a decorative way so not to clog up my thread organizer.

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The closet was a bit more challenging but I kept at it…

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…and managed some organization.

Finally I surveyed the room and I have to say was somewhat pleased with the result.

It’s not perfect but everything has a place and all of my fabric is in a storage bin or neatly organized. I think my  guests next week will be comfortable.

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Lastly, I took a moment to not only appreciate two days of hard work, but to admire the view outside my sewing room window.

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Now it’s time to put away the Christmas decorations.

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Then I can begin my new sewing project.

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Yes…

I really did go out and buy more fabric!

Looking Forward

What a great time to look forward!  Nothing like the thought of a new year to inspire us to set goals, make plans, decide to eat healthier, and to get moving. For me, not only am I faced with a new year but I am beginning my third year of retirement!

I eagerly jumped out of bed this morning, (well, maybe I lazily I climbed out of bed) full of optimism to begin the new year. Grand ideas have been swimming through my mind these past weeks about what I might do and what changes I might make. The Christmas cookies were finally gone, any leftover treats either consumed, given away, or tossed. The last of the gifts have been given, and the left over wrapping paper stowed away in anticipation for next year. The day was sunny and the spirits high.

After my healthy breakfast (and coffee without cream), I decided to tackle cleaning out my closet and drawers. Why this seemed more important than putting away the holiday décor I can’t say but I was in the mood to organize so I went with it!  I purged and tossed, I set aside things to be donated and organized everything in sight.

My make-up drawer is ready for the new year.

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 I could not bear to take a before picture.

A few loads of laundry later it was lunchtime. I had whipped up some fat busting cabbage soup

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and consumed multiple glasses of lemon water.

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Fortunately I planned ahead and went grocery shopping yesterday to make sure there were plenty of healthy options on hand. Reminds me of a favorite quote:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

OK, so the rest of the day? I talked to some of the kids by phone, chatted with my sister, texted some family and friends, and watched some You Tube videos for inspiration for new sewing projects. I did not watch the Rose parade going on about 30 miles away. No football for me. Overall if was a very nice way to start the new year. The gym will probably have to wait until next week.

Happy New Year

and welcome to 2016!

All is quiet on the home front

I suppose it happens to the best of writers, the novice writers, bloggers, and just about anyone else that writes. Now It has happened to me. I have nothing to write about.

I stare at the blank page and try to think of something interesting to say. Unlike  Gwendoline, excited about an actual book she is having published, I cannot even seem to complete an actual post much less an entire book! With my very generic name-mommermom-I could write about anything really. I was going to update my cheesy-zucchini-rice. Getting all excited about sharing it, I took pictures and wrote down the changes but then it hardly seemed worth mentioning in a full post. If I were a more confident seamstress I could post another sewing tutorial or offer an update on the project I am currently working on-sewing 150 of my zippered bags.

wpid-20150605_080640.jpgIf I were a true gardening blog, I would tell you marvelous stories about our little garden and how exciting it is to cook up some fresh zucchini.

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(which I may still do as the garden yields more veggies). Sarah over at Coffee to Compost helps to keep me motivated.

I could share the sad saga of our cat,

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that we had put down after 16 years of being a faithful and beloved pet. There has been no vacation this year as we stayed home and nursed our ailing Kitty Boy until the end.

If I were a great photographer like Two Trails One Road ,  I might share some amazing photos.  I could post about the weather (again) but with all the heartache, flooding, and weather related tragedies going on in so many places, it seems a little shallow to talk about the May gray that is now turned into June gloom.

I take time to read many blogs and have chuckled to wonder what happened to Marlene’s grinder  or the next gorgeous painting taking shape over at The Contented Crafter, what adorable sewing projects Scooby or Sewlovable have stitched up or delightful recipes Rosemarie’s Kitchen has shared. Masgautsen might have taken another delightful trip or an enjoyable long weekend. She always seems to have such fun.  Lani recently got back from a beautiful Hawaiian vacation and I envy how comfortable she is in far away lands! I could tout the joy of retirement (which only gets better) but that can soon become an old topic for those who have been at it awhile or those who get up early to head off to work. Colin is no longer tramping in the woods but has moved on with an exciting new blog and Stonecrop Sister is also making changes to her blog. I too would like to make changes but am at somewhat of a loss as to the more technical aspects of WordPress.

Actually, life is good. Thommmee, 12 grandchildren, 6 grown kids, our large family, wonderful friends, church activities, gardening, sewing, cooking, catching up with many more blogs, and life in general keep me plenty busy! I have even started reading again.

Right now…

I just don’t seem to have much to say…

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…

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…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:

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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

scissors

pinking shears (not required but nice)

craft or fabric glue

First select 2 contrasting fabrics.

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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)

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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.

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 (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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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See the ribbon on the inside?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

Really-go ahead!

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

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Now turn you bag right side out.

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Yes…finished!

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(with a fabric strap)

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(with a ribbon strap)

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

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

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

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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!

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Beads, ribbon, and strap are optional.

Happy sewing!