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The 2018 Bag


The 2018 Art Bag

It was time for a new bag. I wanted one with lots of color, lots of fun things. The great thing about making something for myself was I didn’t have to think about pleasing anyone. There was freedom to put in anything I wanted without having to explain how or why. I knew what I wanted inside the bag, too. Pockets for cards and cash so I could do away with worrying about the size of my wallet, maybe something to hold a pen too.

When you stop to consider all the things that have to be in a bag, it makes the whole process a bit daunting. I’ve been listening to audiobook versions of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and in one of them, Anita says something about how it takes no less than 10 minutes (or was it 15?) for a woman to go through her bag when she’s looking for something.

Brings to mind an incident with my dad. He had had his stroke and was using a cane but offered to hold my bag so I could lift my toddler out of the van. My dad almost toppled sideways when I handed him the bag. In fairness, I had a toddler. That means carrying almost half of the nursery in the bag and then some.

Well, the toddler’s taller than I am now and cooks lunch.  Anything in the bag now is mainly for myself. The only communal item that goes in is the hand cleaner. So unless they were for traveling, the bags I’ve been using have gotten smaller.

A friend of mine once called the bags I made “happy bags” because of the colors I tend to use. I love color. My favorite is actually white which is supposed to be the presence of all colors. However, I do tend to keep reaching out for oranges when I’m painting. Then when I’ve got the orange down, I feel like I just have to have a few pinks in as well. Then the pinks tend to call in other colors. You get it, right?

Anyway, the new bag. I went on Pinterest and did the Google image search before deciding on a shape I wanted to try. When I was ready, it was just a matter of preparing the substrate. In this case, it was leftover canvas that I primed with gesso.


Then I traced the pattern onto the primed canvas. I knew I wanted to sew the bag the way I did the stuffed figures I’d made for the Christmas Fair. Since the bag was small, I didn’t want to worry about having to turn it inside out and all that. I trimmed the canvas allowing a quarter inch excess from the traced edges.

The next bits were the best. I painted, glued, stamped and sewed to my heart’s content. My collage didn’t really have an actual theme or story. I just picked up what looked like it belonged. I used Mod Podge to glue papers down though I did sew on the ticket from the Met just in case.


It took me a while to decide on the strap. I didn’t want to spend unnecessarily. I wanted to use up whatever I had in my stash. I had enough of the cotton woven strap you see in the picture. I was hoping I had one in a darker color but I’d used those up.

Then I decided to add embroidery and bits of fabric to the strap. I sewed a strip of ribbon that must have come with a gift on the back of the strap to hide my knots. I was quite pleased with myself and even more pleased that the serendipitous ribbon was the right length !


I sewed up the lining as planned and added a kind of strap to hold the bag closed. I didn’t want to insert magnets mainly because I was lazy. I just embroidered on the leftover piece of strap and made a heart from Paperclay. The cords you see were made using a Kumihimo loom and embroidery thread.


If you already sew and you’d like to make a bag of your own, I made a PDF of the bag pattern. The strap is about 45 inches long without the inch and half allowance on each end (I’m about 5’6″ and the strap is meant to cross the body). The hanging strap that keeps the bag closed is about 6 inches with 2 inches extra for folding under.

I may do a step by step in the future but this is all I can do for now. Here’s the link to the pattern:


If you do decided to give it a try, send me pictures of your work! If you have questions or need help with your bag, send me an email!



Christmas Fair Signs

It was time, I decided, to get involved in something. We’ve been living here in Foxborough for a little less than a year and a half. I’ve made a few friends from church but other than that all I really know is that I can walk to the CVS, the post office, and the library. Oh, and recently, I also found out that the dentist’s office is just an easy walk away. Maybe going to the dentist isn’t something to be whooping about but for a non-driving person like me, it’s a convenience!

But I digress.

Early this year, there was a notice in the church bulletin from the Christmas Fair committee that they were welcoming anyone interested in getting involved. I told myself then, “There you go, you can do this.”

The Christmas Fair will be on the weekend of November 11 and 12. So far, all I’d done was to sew some table runners with seasonal prints on them. Betty, the lady in charge of Handmade Treasures Booth, provided the fabric and even had them all cut to size. All I had to do was sew the edges.

Last week, she asked if I would like to make signs for our booth. Of course, I would! I had been itching to use the Cricut and I had so many ideas for signs made of cut paper.

I decided to do some image searches for ideas and came across a stuffed doll. It was painted and decoupaged. Sewing it was a cinch because the stitching was done just on the outer edges, like a silhouette. This was a cute project for sure.

The link to the source led me to Stampington and Company’s Somerset Place. I did a quick read and knew I had the beginnings of my Christmas Fair signs!

First step was to paint the fabric with gesso. I had some leftover canvas from the bags I make. This one’s all wrinkly because I washed it. I know better now.


Then I penciled in the general shape of the doll. I used acrylic paint thinned enough so it was like watercolor and did some washes to shade the head and neck. I also used watercolor pencils to add a bit more color. The hair was dabbed on with a firm-bristled brush. I painted in part of the dress only so I could keep the shape visible for the next step.

Painting the Doll

I didn’t have the kind of tissue paper that was used in the instructions but I did have some paper napkins with a Christmas print. I removed the second layer of the napkin and decoupaged the printed layer onto the doll’s dress, making sure I didn’t put glue outside of the dress.

Decoupaged Napkin

It was a rainy day when I did this so it took the Mod Podge a bit longer to dry. Well everything took longer to dry so I worked on a few other things in the meantime. When it finally felt dry, I peeled off the excess paper carefully.

Time to sew! I put another piece of canvas behind the painted one and sewed around the shape twice as suggested. Of course I forgot to take a photo of that step so the one below shows the doll after I’d stuffed it. I had to move the stuffing around a bit to get it shaped right after I took this shot.

Sewn and Stuffed

The original instructions were for the bottoms to be sewn just like the sides but I needed my doll to stand so she could hold up a sign. I cut out two ovals from a board–it’s that sheet on the left under the twine.

I used the first oval to push in the stuffing. I also used hot glue to stick the bottom edges of the doll onto the oval. This was something I made up as I went along, by the way, so I’m quite sure there are better ways of doing this!

Anyway, I covered the second oval with leftover canvas and again used hot glue to stick it to the bottom of the doll. It was just a matter of matching the shapes. It worked pretty well although I didn’t like the way the joined edges looked. There was a bit of a gap that gave an unfinished look. That’s where the twine came in handy!

Finished Bottom

She's all done!

More twine, tiny wooden clothespins, the sign, and she’s ready!

Ready For the Fair

I have a few more to make. Some of the signs will have to be really be just regular 2D ones but this one’s a keeper!

#handmade · #wearableart · art · artwork · crafts

Wearable Art

I have a thing for creating art that’s wearable. Don’t get me wrong–I have nothing against art that’s hung on walls or that’s set on a shelf. I do those too. But art doesn’t have to just be there.

Just look at those designer clothes that have prints taken from an artist’s watercolor piece. The patterns on fabric that are used for quilts and clothes are made by artists too. Take a look at all the beautiful work on Spoonflower or Patternbank! Just recently, I discovered VIDA and uploaded some of my artwork on scarves and tops.

But this is a website about paper and for quite some time now, I’ve been thinking about putting the odd bits of paper I’ve stashed to good use. I don’t know about you but I have a habit of thinking twice before throwing cuttings from a project into the recycling bin, particularly if the pieces are big.

The best way to find good ideas about projects is to do a search. Nowadays, I find that if I go to Pinterest, it’ll be rare for me not to find something. So that’s what I did. And, I found lots of pins about paper beads!

I remember making paper beads years and years ago. In fact, it was one of the projects I had my preschoolers do. Ours were big and clunky beads, perfect for little hands. But the pin that caught my eye today was this video tutorial.

The beads used here are fair trade beads. You can certainly make your own and then use them to make this Memory Bracelet:

If you’d like to give your support to the Kenyan women who made the beads, you can order them from The Bead Place where they sell the kit. Individual beads are also available, I think, and there are several Easy shops that offer them as well.

If you need tutorials and more ideas, there’s a wealth of them on this page on Pinterest.

For now, I think I’d like to try my hand at making less clunky beads from my paper scraps. It’ll be a good project to do while watching a video or two on Netflix, I think. More on that, by the way, in a future post.