Craft – How to Sew a Cute Toiletry / Makeup Bag Travel Set

Back in the beginning of May, I posted a very long, very detailed post of the various ways that I trained and prepared to compete on MasterChef. While we all know how THAT went, I did walk out of the experience with a bunch of awesome new friends… and the super cute toiletry set I’d made mention of, near the end of that first post!

You see, I never – ever – sew for myself. I like to think of it as “I can’t afford me!”, but it’s usually more a case of a bastardized version of “The cobbler’s kids go barefoot”. Either way, I own pretty much nothing that I made for myself, save for my wedding gown.

This set was a rare thing for me. I took a bit of time out to make something pretty – albeit HIGHLY useful – for myself. The idea as inspired by a well-loved 4 piece set of a similar basic design that my friend Karen had made me for Christmas a few years ago – hers quilted from various different fabrics, embellished with ric-rac, and made from a Atkinson Designs pattern (thanks for letting me know who to reference, Karen!). They were super cute, and I loved the stand-up nature of the two little bags in the set.

For my trip, I had so much STUFF to organize, that I decided to make a big set of custom sized ones for myself. (I have a pretty OCD need for everything to match, when we’re talking things like suitcases, travel sets, etc!). The basic idea for the bags came in handy, as I was sharing a bathroom with another woman – so I made a bunch, in a bunch of different sizes. One bag for hair dye, bleach, gloves, etc… another for accessories, another for hair accessories, another for ALL my makeup, a smaller one for “day of” makeup in my purse, etc. Plus, the bright print just made me happy!

After receiving a bunch of compliments on it, I figured I should post a bit of a how-to, so you can all make them for yourselves!

So, yesterday I drafted up a few patterns – and an outline on how to make your own – and made a second set, pictured here. We documented the whole process as I went… yes, that’s a dinosaur print. I’m an adult, I can do whatever I want 🙂

So, here we go! There are three main pieces / patterns to this set – the bags, the tissue holder, and the coin purse. The bag pattern is simple to make, the the sewing procedure is the same for each, no matter what size you make. The tissue holder and coin purse use the same pattern piece, with the tissue holder requiring one other (simple!) pattern piece.

Fabrics & Notions

How much fabric you’ll need will depend on how many/ what size items you’ll be making. As an example: to make an entire set as pictured, I used 1 yard each of two different print fabrics, and one yard of very thin cotton quilt batting.

Each bag / coin purse requires a zipper that is approximately the width of the bag (more on that in the bags section!), and you’ll want thread that either matches/contrasts with the two fabrics you choose.

As for the fabric, I like to choose two prints that go well with each other, while still providing a bit of contrast in colours/ patterns. I used basic printed cotton, the kind you find in any fabric or craft store – usually with a HUGE selection to choose from!

Tissue Holder

Let’s start with the easiest piece – the tissue holder!

For this, you need:

– Three rectangles of one print fabric, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– Two squares of the other print fabric, 4″ x 4″ each
– One travel sized pack of tissues (the kind that opens on the largest surface of the pack, NOT at one small end!)
– Pins (optional

First, iron all your pieces if you so desire. I’m lazy, and usually don’t bother 🙂

Next, you’ll be folding and laying out your pieces.

Take one of your rectangles, and lay it with the right side up – this is your base. All four of the remaining pieces need to be folded in half, the long ones folded to create 6.5″ x 4″ strips.

Position one of your long strips on the base piece, lining up the two raw edges with one of the long edges of the base. Then, position one of the smaller strips overlapping it, lining up with the short edge of the base piece… like so:

Position the remaining long piece, overlapping the small piece you just put down, and lining up with the remaining long edge. Position the remaining short piece to overlap that piece, but to go UNDER the first piece you placed, lining up with the remaining short end of the base, like so:


(You can pin the corners down to make things easier, as shown!)

Stitch all the way around the edge – I like to keep the right side of my presser foot on the outer edge of fabric, as my seam allowance guide – back stitching at the beginning and edge of your seam. Trim threads, clip corners:

Finish off all sides with either a serger or a zig zag stitch, and turn everything right side out:

Slip a back of tissue in there, and you’re done! Cute, eh?

ZIPPERS!

Ok, before going any further, I should detail how I do the zippers for these – it’s the way I do them for all the bags, and the coin purses.

First, pick a zipper that is about the same length as the top edge of the bag you’re making. It can be longer, but you don’t really want it to be much shorter.

Cut a strip of fabric to either match or contrast the fabric that will be on the outside of the bag you’re making. (I prefer to match, as shown throughout this tutorial!). It should be at least 5″, by the width of the zipper you’re using (usually an inch or so). Cut that length into two roughly equal pieces:

Open the zipper a little, and place it face down on the right side of one of your fabric strip pieces. Stitch them together with a straight seam, just beyond where the actual zipper ends (immediately to the right of the metal ends, in this picture):

Flip the zipper over, and pull the fabric back so that it is resting over the very end of the zipper. Stitch it down with a straight seam, like so:

Position the other fabric strip face down on the right side of the zipper at the other end, just before the actual zipper ends. Depending on the length of the original zipper, I like to leave 1/8 – 1/4″ before the metal end doohickey, as shown.

Stitch the strip down with a straight seam, and trim the excess zipper away, including the end bit:

Flip the fabric over and stitch it down, as you did with the other side.

Center your zipper across the top of the bag that it will be sewn into, and trim the edges to fit:

Place zipper face down on the right side of the bag (see bag instructions first!), and sew a straight seam down the length of it. Repeat with the other side of the zipper, and the other bag piece:

Flip the bag over and top stitch a straight seam near the edge of where the fabric folds back, on both sides. This flattens everything out and makes it look cleaner/more finished:

Done!

Wow, this is getting to be a long entry, sorry about that!

Coin Purse

Of the bags, the coin purse is the easiest, so let’s do it first! For this, you need:

– Two rectangles of one print fabric, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– Two rectangles of the other print fabric, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– Two rectangles of thin quilt batting, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– 1 prepared zipper, as described above.

First, lay out your pieces. Place one set of fabric (both the same print!) down on your work surface, with the right sides facing down.

Place a quilt batting piece over each, and top with the remaining pieces of the other print fabric, right sides facing up. Line everything up well!

You can pin everything together and zig zag around the edge if you’d like – I usually don’t bother. I do recommend serging or zig zagging one of the long sides of each piece, though – it makes the zipper installation easier / look more finished!

Apply your zipper, as described above. OPEN YOUR ZIPPER BEFORE CONTINUING (!!!)

Fold the bag in half so that the right sides are facing each other, and stitch a straight seam around the three raw edges.

Finish edge with a serger or zig zag seam:

Turn it right side out, and you’re done!

Toiletry and Makeup Bags

Finally, the makeup and toiletry bags. These are slightly more complicated to explain, but are easy to make!

For each bag, you need:

– Two pattern pieces cut of one print fabric
– Two pattern pieces cut of the other print fabric
– Two pattern pieces cut of thin quilt batting
– 1 prepared zipper

First, you need to decide what size bag(s) you’re going to make. As an example, here’s what I use as the “final dimensions” measurements:

Large Toiletry Bag*: 12″ x 8″ x 5″

Makeup Bag: 10″ x 6″ x 4″

Sunglasses Bag: 9″ x 3.5″ x 4″

* I made a large one in the MasterChef set, but not in the set pictured throughout this tutorial. Was short one zipper, whoops!

When looking at each set of measurements, this is what they’re going to translate to, in the order mentioned above:

A = Intended length of the bag

B = Intended height of the bag

C = (One half of) the intended bottom width of the bag. Measurement above is final size, but when drafting the pattern, use half of that measurement as “C”!

Using the measurements and the letters I give above, use a ruler to draw a pattern like this:


(This pattern is made to the proportions of the makeup bag I listed above. Different sized/proportioned bags will look a little different, but still this basic shape!)

Then, draw a second set of lines around your original pattern – these will add your seam allowance. I like to add 1/4″, all the way around:

Go on and cut out the pattern pieces that you’ll need, using the outermost set of pattern lines as your final pattern.

Now, lay out your pieces. Place one set of fabric pieces (both the same print!) down on your work surface, with the right sides facing down. Place a quilt batting piece over each, and top with the remaining pieces of the other print fabric, right sides facing up. Line everything up well!

You can pin everything together and zig zag around the edge if you’d like – I usually don’t bother. I do recommend serging or zig zagging one of the long sides of each piece, though – it makes the zipper installation easier / look more finished!

Apply your zipper, as described above. OPEN YOUR ZIPPER BEFORE CONTINUING (!!!)

Fold the bag in half so that the right sides are facing each other, and stitch a straight seam around the the side and bottom edges – NOT the “C” edges, though!

Finish edges with a serger or zig zag seam:

Now, go to one of your “C” corners, and open it. Within that opening, fold it in half to line up the side seam with the bottom seam, like this:

Stitch a straight seam across the new edge, taking care to stitch through ALL layers of fabric – they’ll want to move! Trim the edge if it becomes uneven at all, and finish off with a serger or zig zag seam:

Repeat on the other “C” corner. Trim all thread ends, and turn bag right side out.

Woo hoo! You’re done! (Now go make several more bags, so you have a complete set!)

Porter House Guacamole

With the long weekend coming up, I think it’s about time to post my guacamole recipe 🙂

My husband HATES tomatoes, especially when raw. He’s ok with tomato sauce if he has no other option, and he LOVES ketchup… but finds raw tomatoes to be the nastiest thing possible. It’s something I’ll probably never understand, but have learned to work around – and today’s recipe is an example of that.

We both LOVE guacamole, but he hates having bits of tomato in his. I like the colour and additional flavor that the tomato adds, so I created this recipe as kind of a compromise. Red bell pepper adds that colour and flavor to the mix, and the taste is amazing – NO compromise there!

As with most guacamole recipes, this is highly adaptable. You can trim the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno for less heat, or add more jalapenos for more heat. Toss in a chopped up mango for even more colour, and to up the sweetness if you like – it’s really quite flexible!

Enjoy!

Porter House Guacamole Recipe

5 ripe avocados, seeded and peeled
1 lime, zested and juiced
1-2 Tbsp tequila
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper

Place about half of the avocado into a food processor with about half of the lime juice and all of the tequila. Blitz until almost smooth.

Chop remaining avocado into small, bite sized pieces and place into a mixing bowl. Toss with remaining lime juice.

Add bell pepper, onion, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and pureed avocado to the mixing bowl, gently fold in until ingredients are well distributed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Rum Runners – Cocktail Recipe

I’ve been meaning to post today’s recipe for a long time … ah, procrastination!

Anyway, as I’d mentioned in last year’s Rum Runner Trifle post, this cocktail is one of my all time favorites. I’m a fan of rum, I’m a fan of really sweet “girlie drinks”… in my eyes, there’s nothing NOT to love in this cocktail!

Here’s the thing: It’s called “rum runner” for a reason – There’s a lot of booze, and it sneaks up on you. Much like the ‘rum runners” from back in the prohibition days, this drink does a really good job of concealing the alcohol! If you’re up for it, you can also pour another oz of rum over top – dark rum, ideally! Personally, I like it without the optional dark rum float.

This is a really great drink to make larger volumes of, for parties. By the pitcher, by the cooler… just be sure to have some designated drivers on hand!

Rum Runner Cocktail Recipe

1 oz Amber rum
1 oz light rum
1 oz creme de banane
1 oz blackberry brandy
1-2 oz orange juice
1-2 oz pineapple juice
Splash of grenadine
Splash of Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice

Fill a cocktail glass* with ice – ice should come just above the edge of the glass.

Measure ingredients into a shaker. Shake, then pour contents into the cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, orange and/or lime slices, and/or a maraschino cherry.

(That’s how you’re supposed to do it. Honestly, I skip the shaker and just pour the ingredients straight into the glass!)

To make this for large groups, forget the “oz” measures, go for “parts”. 1 cup of each ingredient will yield about 8 servings… and I recommend using 2 parts of each of the juices, unless you want a really quick drunkfest!

* I like to use fancier tall glasses for this, usually some variation on a hurricane glass.

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Apple Chicken Burgers with Basil and Gouda

The other day, we were having breakfast at a local restaurant, when a menu card caught our eye. Among the various offerings was a chicken burger with roasted apple slices. Huh. That sounded kind of good, and we made the decision that I would have to take that idea and run with it – and soon. If words on a paper can make us drool when we’re already stuffed to the gills with breakfast… well, that’s some serious potential, right there.

Well, inspiration came to fruition pretty quickly – we were blissfully enjoying these burgers the very next evening. Not being facetious on the “blissful”, either – these were amazing. I’m not usually a fan of poultry burgers, but I addressed my concerns (blah flavor, dry texture) by adding some shredded apple into the ground chicken – a weird epiphany, I know. It was also out first time “harvesting” our newly planted basil, and – especially after a LONG weekend working on our side yard – that made it feel even more special.

I knew that my husband really – REALLY – enjoyed his burger, but had to laugh this morning when I went to pick up the images from the folder he’d saved them to.

Instead of just “Chicken_Burgers” – how he’d normally name it – the folder was named “Fucking_Amazing_Chicken_Burgers”. Hrm. I guess he really loved these! Can’t say I blame him, they really were ridiculously good. I’ll be adding shredded apple to all future poultry burgers I make!

Apple Chicken Basil Burgers
(Makes two big burgers)

1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup grated apple (I used golden delicious)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1/4 cup olive oil

1 apple, thinly sliced (I used golden delicious)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Gouda cheese, sliced
Buns (can be gluten free)

Mix together mayo and basil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Combine chicken, grated apple, salt, pepper, and garlic. Gently use hands to get a really good mix going, making sure that everything evenly distributed and everything is well incorporated. Divide meat mixture into 2 evenly sized balls. Flatten each ball into a patty that is roughly the size of your burger buns – maybe a little larger.

Brush one side of each burger with olive oil, flip over onto grill, brush the other side with olive oil. Grill over medium heat until fully cooked. This is poultry – please cook until well done!

While burgers are grilling, saute apple slices in olive oil and salt until they start to tenderize. You want a slight amount of crunch, but not TOO much!

To construct the burgers:

Split the buns, spreading basil mayo on both halves of each bun. Arrange a layer of apple slices on top of the bottom bun half.. Top with burger, and a generous layer of gouda slices. Crown with top bun, enjoy!

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How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

How to Carve a Watermelon Fruit Bowl – Caladium Style!

About a week ago, we celebrated the one year anniversary of our tornado. Hrm. “Celebrated” seems like a weird thing to say about a natural disaster. Observed? Marked the occasion?

Nah, we did celebrate it. On the Sunday afternoon immediately before the actual anniversary date, we have a very small party for those who helped us out following the tornado – a volunteer appreciation party. We had SO much help from friends – both the day of, and in the long months that followed – such a party was the least we could do to thank them. So.. we handed out free “thank you!” copies of Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir, and fed them all.

In addition to the Low Country Boil, party sized Pavlova, and various crudités, I decided to make a watermelon fruit bowl. A carved, fancy one – though I’d never even considered the possibility before, much less actually made one!

Having carved pumpkins before (Nowhere near as professionally as The Pumpkin Geek, but passable!), I figured I had a good idea of what to do. It was fun, and I think it turned out well… so here’s how I did it!

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Confetti Bars! (Butterscotch, Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Bars)

Short and sweet post today…

.. so I’ve been dealing with a sick husband the past couple of days. While shopping for “sick” groceries (stuff we don’t have on hand, that are good to have around for illness – OJ, chicken soup, yogurt, etc), somehow I started thinking about confetti bars.

Yeah, I have no idea either. My brain sometimes makes completely bizarre leaps like that.

Anyway, confetti bars. Haven’t had em in a long time, and have noticed that they definitely aren’t the ubiquitous party / holiday treat here, that they are back home. You can’t go to a Canadian potluck, Christmas dinner, or wedding social without coming across these things! I’m not taking any credit for the recipe itself, as it’s one that you just learn as a kid, and absolutely everyone knows. You know, aside from most of the Minnesota locals that I know!

Are they a Canadian thing? I don’t know. Whatever they are, they take like 2 minutes to make, and are super addictive. Definitely a case of “The whole being greater than the sum of its parts”!

1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 package butterscotch chips
~ 1 small package rainbow colored mini marshmallows

In a glass bowl, heat butter, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips. I like to microwave it for a minute or so, until the chips are about half melted. Stir until everything is melted, combined, and smooth.

Add in mini marshmallows, stir until all are evenly coated. Use between 1/2 and 1 small bag of them, depending on your tastes. I usually use about 2/3 of a bag, but used a whole bag for this batch (as pictured). Sometimes you want more of the “fudge” part, sometimes you want more marshmallows. These bars are NOT a hard science 🙂

When marshmallows are coated, spread mixture into a lightly greased pan. (I used 8″ x 8″ for 2″ thick bars, 9″ x 13″ is a popular size to use for thinner bars.) Chill until set. Slice up and serve!