Friday, April 29, 2011

I Spy Bag Tutorial

Remember last week when I had piles of flannel all over my sewing table?  I was pre-making I Spy bags for an activity for my workplace's Take Your Child to Work Day.

The kids spend the morning attending activity sessions held by different departments, attend a group activity, eat lunch, play games, and than spend about 2 hours at their parents' desks.  It makes for a much better day then making the poor kids follow their parents around at their desk jobs all day.  Bore-fest.

My workplace has a partnership with St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, so this year's group activity was to decorate cards for the kids in the hospital.  For my department's activity, we decided to have the kids make games for the kids at St. Chris.  Then my boss and I came across the I Spy bags and the next thing I knew I was planning out how to make them.  And planning to pre-make 100 of them so the kids could make one for themselves as well.  It took me about 3 days to make them, by the way.  I would imagine that it would take no longer than an hour if you were only going to make one.

Since I was making 100 bags, I kept them on the smaller side.  This is the template that I used.  It should be printed on legal paper.

You will need a 12" x 7" piece of fabric (I used flannel but next time I'll use something without stretch since the vinyl windows got a little wonky when I sewed them on), a 4" x 4" piece of vinyl, various treasures, and about a cup of rice (you can use plastic pellets but I thought rice was the safer choice in case any accidentally leaked out).  If you plan on attaching a card with the items to spy for, you'll also need a piece of ribbon at least 2.5" long and a keyring.  The finished bag will be roughly 6" x 6" with a 3" x 3" window.  I ordered most of our treasures from Oriental Trading: wooden fish, buttons, apples, sports ball beads, foam leaves, hearts, lucky coins, and googley eyes.  I also included paperclips and pennies.

After cutting out the rectangle of fabric, I cut out the square for the window.  What should I do with all of those squares?

Then, I cut all of the corners diagonally about 1/4", folded up the flaps, and pressed.

I placed the vinyl window over the square and pinned in place.  I pinned the vinyl on the bottom of the fabric even though I sewed with the bottom side down.  It was a bit tricky getting the pins out while I sewed, but I found that this was the fastest way to line the vinyl up with the window and the best way to keep the vinyl straight while sewing.  I also put masking tape over the throat plate on my machine so the vinyl didn't stick to it.

I used a double needle (my first time!) to make sure that the window was securely on there.  I didn't want to risk any treasures falling out!

Sewing the window in is the hardest part, so if you make it that far it's all down hill from there.  I folded the rectangle in half with right sides together.  Next, I threaded the keyring into the piece of ribbon, folded the ribbon in half, and lined the rough edges up with the edge of the fabric in between the layers.

I then stitched around the three open sides using a 1/2" seam allowance, making sure to keep a 3" opening so I could flip the bag right side out.  Next I trimmed the corners and then turned the bag right side out and pressed the edges flat.

At this point, I stitched 1/4" around the edges of the bag leaving the 3" opening so the kids could pour the treasures and rice into the bag.  You could do the same, or save this step until after you add the treasures and rice, but I think it might be a little difficult to keep the rice out of the way while stitching.

Here are the stacks of bags waiting for the kids to fill them with treasures and rice!

The kids loved making the bags and loved playing with them afterwards.  It was a success!  Aside from having the kids find the treasures that are hidden in the rice, you could have them look for specific colored items or even have them tell you a story about one of the items.  It's a very versatile toy and travels well!

Will you be making an I Spy bag for the kid in your life?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pretty Things Thursday: Bird Bath

This little guy sits on the patio outside of my parent's family room.  Their lucky little cat Leo gets to watch the birds all day long!  We've been promising poor Flick a bird feeder for awhile now.  Maybe this is his year!

It's a bird feeder that also acts as a bird bath when it rains.  How versatile!  Look at these neato seeds.

It has these nice flower details along the sides of the trough.

I love how it's gradually rusting over time and leaving marks on the cement.  

Now if only we can find a similar bird feeder so Flick can enjoy his birdie friends coming to our slider every day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Baking Fail

I spent a good chunk of Saturday baking cupcakes for yesterday's Easter dinners (we do double duty on holidays by hitting up both of our parents' dinners).  Too bad no one got to eat the spoils of my labor!  They look delicious, don't they?  I'm sorry to tell you that they were pretty tasteless and a bit dry.

I decided to make red velvet cupcakes but forgot to write red food dye on the store list, so they turned out to be tan velvet cupcakes.  I used a recipe that I found from an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, so I expected them to be super delicious.

Unfortunately they were not.  Even the cream cheese frosting that I made didn't help them.  I'm not sure how this recipe failed because I followed it correctly except for the red food dye.  Could the food dye have made the difference in moistness?

They taste more like muffins than cupcakes, so I ended up throwing them in the freezer for future Sunday brunches.  They'll be fine toasted with some butter and jam.  Did you make any Easter goodies this weekend?

Friday, April 22, 2011

What am I up to?

Our house has been turned into a frenzied workshop over the past couple of days in preparation for next week's Take Your Daughter/Son to Work Day at my workplace. 

I am in charge of running a session for two small groups of kids in the morning and we have a fun activity planned!

Check back next week for an explanation and a tutorial!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Colette Patterns: Violet and Ginger!

Colette released two new patterns today: Violet and Ginger.  I'm scared to say that I love them both and feel like they need to be part of my summer wardrobe.

Image from Colette Patterns

Image from Colette Patterns

Perhaps someone will start up a sew along so I can have an excuse to pick up the patterns!

UPDATE (5/5/11): Sunni from The Fashionable Stitch will be hosting a sew along for Ginger starting May 16th!  Check out her post for more information!

Pretty Things Thursday: Tree Shower Curtain

This shower curtain was one of the first things we got for our house when we first moved in two and a half years ago.  I still love its simplicity.  Aren't tree silhouettes so calming?  I don't think I'll ever get sick of them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Planning the Great Western Adventure

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Nick and I are going to be taking a cross-country road trip this August.  We have John Muir to thank for saving a whole bunch of amazing landscapes for us to visit.  This road trip has been 6 years in the making.  We originally wanted to take a similar trip right after graduating from college, but since I started my first job the day after graduation, we were forced to postpone.  I’m glad we waited until we had some money saved up so we don’t have to skimp on every detail like we would have had to do as poor recent college grads.  Here’s what we have planned for our three-week long trip.  Let me know if you have any suggestions!

First off, this is roughly the route that we’re taking.  We haven’t decided on actual driving roads yet, but we want to make sure that we mix in local roads to get the local flavor instead of speeding across the country on major highways.

Day 1 is a major driving day, but we made sure to route ourselves through the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, the first of the three “Grand Canyons” that we will see on this trip.  We’ll end up in Chicago at the end of the day and I’m sure collapse in bed the minute we get there.

Day 2 will be spent exploring Chicago.  We plan on taking the stereotypical architecture river tour and visiting some museums before we end up at Nightwood for dinner, which looks so homey and delicious. 

Day 3 takes us over to Moline, IL where Nick’s grandmother lives.  I’m excited to see her house, which Nick’s grandfather built himself, and the town that I’ve heard about for almost 10 years now. 

Day 4 will be spent driving to Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  It’s a pretty lengthy drive, so hopefully we’ll find some weird side-of-the-road attractions to visit, like a giant ball of twine. 

On Day 5, we drive to Yellowstone National Park, stopping at Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower on the way.  By stopping I mean we’ll be doing little more than getting out of our car and checking them out.  We’ve heard that Mount Rushmore isn’t worth stopping for, but it would be silly to drive right by it and not stop.  Devils Tower offers some great rock climbing opportunities if you’re into that.  Once we arrive at Yellowstone, we’ll be staying in the Lake Lodge Cabins, which we were excited to snatch up for $69 a night!  They’re pretty bare bones, which is fine with us.  Who needs a TV or internet access while on vacation?  Not us!  Aren't they adorably quaint?

On Day 6, our first full day in Yellowstone, we plan on going on a hike, possibly to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (Grand Canyon #2 if you’re keeping track). 

Days 7-9 will be spent on our OARS Jackson Lake 3 day kayaking trip in Grand Teton National Park.  This is one of the things I’m most excited about.  We will spend 3 days kayaking, hiking, and camping around Jackson Lake.  The lovely OARS people haul our camping supplies and cook us gourmet meals, which pretty much takes the hard part out of camping so I'm ok with it.  We get back on the morning of Day 9, so we’ll do a short hike, possibly to the Mammoth Hot Springs, before retiring to the Lake Lodge Cabins again.

Day 10 will include our longest hike while in Yellowstone.  We’re not sure exactly where we’ll be going yet, but I’m sure it will involve a mountain.

On Day 11 we move slightly south to the Grant Village area for a half day of kayaking with OARS on Yellowstone Lake.  We might spend the rest of the day lounging at our cabin.  Who knows!

Day 12, our last day in Yellowstone, includes another long hike, most likely to the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the US and pretty darn neat looking (shown below), and Old Faithful (no explanation required). 

Image Source

Day 13 of the trip is a transition day from the Yellowstone portion of our trip to the Grand Canyon portion.  We’ll be driving to Utah and pretty much just sleeping there since it will take us awhile.

Day 14 is the second leg of driving to the Grand Canyon.  I’d say this is Grand Canyon #3, but let’s be real: this is the actual Grand Canyon.  We’ll most likely arrive later in the evening, so I’m not sure how much we’ll be doing once we get there.  We were excited to book a cabin at the Bright Angel for the time that we’ll be there.  It's another bare bones cabin like we are staying at in Yellowstone.

Image Source

Days 15 and 16 are devoted to short hikes into the Canyon.  We had initially wanted to hike all of the way to the bottom of the canyon and all of the way back up, but it’s going to be super hot in late August and we just didn’t want to do that to ourselves.  We are still trying to figure out what to do during the day while we’re here because our hikes will most likely be in the morning and evening due to the heat.  Any suggestions?

On Day 17 we drive from the Grand Canyon to Colorado Springs.  Then we crash at a hotel for the night.

On the morning of Day 18, we take a cog train to the top of Pike’s Peak and then drive into Denver for an oil change, some exploring around the city, and dinner at Second Home.

Image Source
 Day 19 begins our trek back east.  We’ll drive from Denver to somewhere around Tulsa, OK.  On Day 20, we drive to the Jackson, MS area.

On Day 21 we drive to Saint Simons Island, GA.  I hope to fit in at least a walk around the island before we go to bed.  We’re staying at the Ocean Inn & Suites, which is right across from a park, where…

…on Day 22 we’ll be celebrating the marriage of our friends Keeva and Lauren!  Our road trip was already in the works when we found out about the wedding and it’s the perfect way to end our trip! 

On Day 23 we get back in the car and head up to Raleigh, NC (by way of Savannah) to stay with our friend Steve.  On the morning of Day 24 (Labor Day) we’ll feast at Big Ed’s in Raleigh.  We have gotten a ridiculous amount of food at Big Ed’s while visiting Steve in the past and it’s pretty much mandatory that we go there whenever we’re in the Durham/Raleigh area.  The first time we went was for lunch and I got a half chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies, biscuit AND roll, a soda, and a dessert for $7.  $7!!!!  Can you believe it??  The last time we went was for breakfast and Nick got this insane plate.  That's potatoes, gravy, onions, and cheese with a side biscuit with country ham.

We’ll also be picking up a bag of biscuits before embarking on our final drive—up the east coast on 95.  We’re hoping that the holiday gods shine upon us so we don’t get stuck in too much DC/Baltimore traffic.  But if not, you would not believe what a biscuit can do to ease traffic stress.  Upon arriving back in Newtown, PA, we will pick up a celebratory pizza from our buddies at Newtown Pizza and return to a cat who I’m sure will be missing the heck out of us (not that Grandpa Billy, aka my dad, isn’t a suitable babysitter/head scratcher for the three weeks that we’ll be gallivanting around the country).

Don’t worry, it’s not straight back to work for us once we get home.  We reserved two days of rest before returning to work on Thursday, September 8th.  That way, we only have two days at work and then we get another weekend, complete with another wedding!  Aren’t we excellent vacation planners?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Three's Company and My New Camera

Here she is: afghan panel numero tres. 

Are you getting bored with my stockinette stitch panels?  If you are, sorry, but you’ll have to suffer through at least 7 more before I’m finished showing them off.  While the stitching is insanely simple, it’s really relaxing to me.  One day when I have a ton of time on my hands, I would love to learn how to knit complex patterns, but for right now I am happy with the simplicity of stockinette stitched panels.

Aren’t budding plants glorious?  Even though I hate hostas and tell Nick every year that I’m going to dig them out and plant something pretty in their place, it’s nice to see that they’re sprouting.

I shot them in all of their sprouting glory with my new camera, the Fujifilm HS20.  My Canon Powershot just wasn’t taking the quality of pictures that I wanted, especially in low light, so I started researching cameras for everyday use and for our upcoming road trip across the country, aka our Great Western Adventure.  Purchasing a new camera has been quite frustrating, as the camera that I envision does not exist.  I really liked the picture quality of the Canon Rebel T3i, but having to switch lenses in the middle of hiking in Yellowstone or the Grant Canyon didn’t really appeal to me.  I would be super paranoid about fingerprints and my dirty hands and dirt in general damaging the expensive lenses.  Also, they are quite expensive (the body and lenses that I would want add up to around $2000) and, because I would have to lug around all of those lenses, they would be heavier than I want.  I’d also be sacrificing tons of zoom.  The type of zoom lens I would need for a DSLR that compares to the zoom on a point in shoot is in the upper hundreds to thousands of dollars range, and I’m just not willing to spend that kind of money right now.  Back in January, the day before I was about to suck it up and deal with the cons of the Rebel, FujiFilm announced that they would be releasing the FinePix HS20, which has a 30x manual zoom, in late March 2011.  The manual zoom is what caught my attention and I patiently waited the 3+ months for the HS20 to reach American soil. 

Once March rolled around I tried to find the HS20 in an actual store where I could hold it and try it out, as that is a logical step to buying a camera, but the only option that I had was for a store owner to order it for me.  I didn’t want the pressure of the store owner ordering the camera just for me when I wasn’t even sure if I wanted the camera, so once the HS20 became available on Amazon, I decided to order it and try it out at home.  I could always return it if I hated it. 

The HS20 arrived on Friday and my first reaction was impressed mixed with a little frustration.  It was night time by the time I pulled the camera out of the box, which I didn’t think would be a big deal because it prides itself on taking great pictures in low light settings.  It did take some great pictures in low light, but it also took forever to focus.  I think there might have been a better setting to use in low light, so I admit this might have been user error.

I took the camera outdoors on Sunday and the very bright mid-day sun.  The pictures are pretty good.  Mid-day sun isn’t the best lighting and the images are a bit washed out, but I like the detail that was picked up. 

I love love love the manual zoom.  While the HS20 isn’t perfect, it’s a better option for me right now than the Rebel T3i.  Now I am tasked with learning how all of the settings work!

Monday, April 18, 2011

What a Waist!

Saturday was super gloomy around these parts, so I had plenty of time to try another go around with the Crepe dress.  This time I had mild success.  As Tasia of Sewaholic suggested, I cut out the bodice in the size that fit my bust (size 0) and will grade out to my hip measurement.  After tracing the seamlines with black thread, I basted the bodice together. 

Yes, it's still too big.  I'm wondering how this could be since my bust measurement is exactly what size 0 is fitted for.  The back was a bit baggy too.

I started pinching in fabric to try and make this thing fit correctly.   In her Crepe sew along, Gertie suggested taking in the length and side seams to adjust for a smaller bust.  These methods worked!  Hurrah!

The fitting is still a little off.  The darts fall in the wrong spots, and, after double checking the markings on my muslin with the pattern pieces, I realized that the indicators for where the sash goes are way too high on my torso.  I'm going to do a little more research on my body measurements, but at first guess I think this is because I am long-waisted.  If this turns out to be true, I'll have to add length in the waist area to accommodate this.  Yes, that means another muslin.  At least we're making progress!

I also cut out and traced the seam allowances on the pattern pieces in preparation for the Crescent Skirt sew along, which starts today.  I'm excited to finally be participating in a sew along!  I just have to pick up some muslin from Joann after work and I'll be on my way to making a wearable skirt.  Stay tuned for progress updates!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pretty Things Thursday: WPA Philadelphia Zoo Poster

Can you imagine a world where the government was concerned about the wellbeing of artists?  Believe it or not, they used to!  Enter the Works Progress Administration, better known as the WPA, an agency created under FDR's New Deal in 1936 that employed artists to create public service posters.

The Library of Congress has a collection of about 900 of the posters that were created from 1936-1943.
From the Library of Congress website:

"These striking silkscreen, lithograph, and woodcut posters were designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in seventeen states and the District of Columbia."

Simply put, they are awesome.  And lucky for us, Pennsylvania was one of those states.

In 2008, a book came out that showcases the WPA posters called Posters for the People.  I thought it would be a perfect gift for Nick, but since I was in grad school at the time and $50 was pretty steep, I ended up getting this guy instead.

It's one of my favorites from the collection and now it gets to hang on our office wall!  Aside from supporting the simple things in life—visiting the zoo, going to the national parks, riding your bike, etc.—they are nice to look at.  It's very clear that they were created by artists, not advertisers.  And that's why they are awesome.

What's your favorite WPA poster?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crescent Skirt Sew Along

I know I’ve said this before, but I am serious this time: I am going to do a sew along!  Tasia from Sewaholic is running another sew along, this time for her recently released Crescent Skirt Pattern.  I’ve already posted my sew along badge, so there’s no going back this time!

As with Tasia’s Pendrell blouse, the Crescent Skirt is designed for pear shaped ladies like myself.  I will be making View C so I can wear it to work.

Image from

I already have my fabric purchased and washed.  Look how prepared I am!  I have been coveting Anna Maria Horner’s Innocent Crush line ever since it came out, and I figured now was my chance! I decided on Loves Me Loves Me Not Golden, although Loves Me Loves Me Not Grape was a close second. 

Image from

The sew along starts on Monday and for the first week we’re going to cover making and fitting a muslin.  I am a muslin devotee after the Pendrell incident.  One of these days I will try my hand at making the correct size!  I hate the thought of putting so much time into something only to have fitting issues, and having to work out fitting issues with the fashion fabric gives me anxiety.  I’m hoping to not run into any problems with the Crescent but I’m making a muslin just in case. 

Speaking of muslins, I revisited my Crepe muslin on Monday night.  The plan was to pick out the stitches, retrace the pattern in the size as dictated by my bust measurement, and then grade out for my hips.  After a couple of minutes with my seam ripper, I decided that my time was best spent trashing the original muslin and starting over.  It’s just cheap muslin after all.  Tonight I will be attempting round 2 at my Crepe muslin.  Here’s hoping I have good news for you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

About Time for a Runabout Update

Even though it’s been two weeks since I finished the muslin of my Runabout Jacket and I haven’t posted about it, I have been working on it.  The weekend after I finished up my muslin was so busy that I didn’t get a chance to take it apart until sewing class, and I spent most of the class plucking out the basting stitches.  I had to be very careful not to remove the stitch guide lines that marked where the pieces get sewn together.  It helped a lot that I used two different colored threads: black for the guide lines and blue to sew the pieces together. 

Since then I’ve been cutting out the fabric for my finished jacket.  I’m using Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern Fresh Poppies Fuchsia as the outside fabric and Amy Butler’s Solid Pink for the lining.  To make the jacket easier to put on and take off, I’m going to cut the sleeve lining in, you guessed it, lining fabric.  I found an exact match to the other pink lining fabric at Joann.  Can you believe my luck?

Image from

Image from

Of course, my good luck didn’t carry me through this entire task and I ran into a couple of snags.  It’s a good thing that (most of the time) I can laugh about it and move on.  First, I ran out of fabric when I was cutting out the outer fabric.  I had one sleeve left to cut out, and the remaining fabric just wasn’t long enough.  My instructor asked if I had laid everything out before I started cutting, and of course I didn’t.  Another lesson learned!  Because I used my muslin pieces to cut out the fashion fabric, I had to place them face up while the fashion fabric was face up.  It's a little different than usual, but once I got over the weirdness the cutting went smoothly.

Second, in a moment of frugality/insanity, I only picked up ½ yard of lining fabric for the sleeves instead of a full yard, thinking that I wouldn’t need that big of a piece since it is 58” wide.  Note to self: check how the pattern piece should be laid out on the fabric before you go to the store.  My sleeve needed to be lined up parallel to the straight of grain and I only had enough fabric to line it up perpendicularly.  I briefly considered just using what I had since the fabric didn’t have much give, but then decided that since I’m spending all of this time to make the jacket then I shouldn’t cut corners.  There is no use being lazy after spending months making a garment!  I made a trip to Joann on Saturday and I learned another valuable lesson.

Because I’m using cotton, I was afraid that my jacket wouldn’t hang quite right due to the lightness of the fabric and that after 5 minutes of wearing it I would be a wrinkled mess.  To remedy these issues, my instructor suggested that I apply interfacing to the wrong side of the outer fabric.  It will add a nice stability to the cotton and make it less apt to wrinkle easily.  My instructor hates Pellon interfacing and instead uses Palmer Pletsch PerfectFuse interfacing.  I’m going to be honest: I have trouble liking anything Palmer Pletsch because of the crazy 80s styling on all of their products, especially their logo.  Is this shallow of me?  Of course.  But in a world of Lisette, Colette, and Sewaholic patterns, can you blame me?

Regardless of my own issues, I used the PerfectFuse interfacing and I have to say that my instructor has a point.  I used PerfectFuse Light for my cotton and it provides just the right amount of structure without being rigid.  It was really nice to work with too.  

With all of my outer and lining fabric pieces cut out, I’m all ready to start assembling the jacket for real.  Look at all of fabric pieces.  I made sure to pin the muslin pattern piece to each fashion fabric and lining piece so I can keep track of what everything is.

 I’m not sure how to go about transferring the markings onto my fabric, so I’m going to stop here until sewing class next Wednesday (we’re off this week while our instructor is away for business).  With all of this free sewing time, it looks like I’ll finally get a chance to work on my Crepe dress.  Hurrah!

Monday, April 11, 2011

All Aboard for Spring Cleaning

Since the government decided to wait until the last hour possible to decide on a budget, we ended up not going to DC this weekend.  We postponed until May, which I think will work out better since it will be warmer and I'll be able to wear my Roundabout Jacket (it better be finished by then).  Hopefully we'll have new cameras by then as well.  We had no trouble filling up our plan-less weekend though.  We got in a 9-mile run on Saturday morning and a 8-mile bikeride on Sunday, some Spring cleaning, some sewing, and a delicious Saturday night meal.

Last weekend I whipped up some more soft scrub to clean the shower.  This recipe is from Make Your Place, which I use to make my other cleaning products.  It's really simple to make and you only need a few ingredients, most of which you already have if you make other cleaning products.  You'll need castile soap, baking soda, tea tree oil, crushed up asprin, and some water. 

Yes, that's an empty bottle of The Olive Branch shower gel from Lush.  I am a Lush junkie.  If you take a peak into our medicine cabinet, you will see many a jar of Lush products.  Every time I go in there I find something else that I love.  I would suggest that you try some of their products but I'd feel guilty converting yet another addict. 

I was excited to use the awesome mortar and pestle that I got for Christmas to crush the asprin.  Once you add all of the ingredients, it should look like this.

Then you add enough water to make a paste.  I keep the bottle in the shower so it's easier for me to clean the shower regularly.  Just make sure if you have guests over they know it's not shampoo!  I used to keep the soft scrub in an old Pert Plus bottle and there's a very good chance that one of our recent house guests used it for shampoo because we forgot to tell him otherwise.  Whoops!  One batch lasts for three to four shower cleanings. You might need to add a little water each time because the paste hardens a bit over time.

I used the soft scrub, along with a few other cleaners that I have made in the past, to clean pretty much the entire house.  It's amazing what a little cleaning and airing out the house can do.  It's so fresh in here!  I am very ready for warm weather now.

After I finished cleaning, I settled down at my sewing table to finally tackle a train pass holder, which has been on my project list for close to a year.  I had been using an old name tag holder to hold my train pass but it had a few issues: 1) the tag that attached the plastic holder to the lanyard broke, so I just had the clip on the plastic holder, 2) the lanyard would just hang out of my bag with the plastic holder sitting on top and I was always worried that it would slip out of my bag while I was sleeping and I would be out $140 dollars for that month (yes, SEPTA does charge that much for a month's worth of train commuting), and 3) there was nothing holding the train pass in the plastic holder, and it would sometimes slide out of the holder over the course of my train ride.

To remedy these problems, I decided that my holder needed something that hooked it to the zipper inside my bag and a closure.  Here are my old and new train pass holders side by side.  Which do you think is better?

Easy choice, right?  I was excited to finally make something out of scraps from a previous project.  This fabric was left over from a yoga mat bag that I made last year.  The design is pretty basic, but that didn't stop me from messing things up along the way.  I guess that's what I get for not drafting and thinking through the entire design before I start cutting.  Lesson learned!

Working with the vinyl was a little tricky in the beginning.  It kept sticking to the bottom of the presser foot so I ended up sliding a scrap piece of cotton above the vinyl (making sure not to stitch it onto my pass holder, of course), which solved all of my problems.

Can you believe I couldn't find a swivel hook in Joann?  I had to order this thing online!  Thanks, guys.  It works perfectly though, and I will no longer be startled awake thinking that my pass is sliding off the top of my bag.  My train nap minutes are too precious to waste on paranoia.

Even though the button is slightly off-center, I can nap soundly knowing that my pass won't slide out the top.  I got to use my automatic button hole foot and my button foot for this project!  The button foot is amazing since it sews on the button for you.  What a brilliant invention!  Isn't this pass holder so much prettier than the plastic one?  Hopefully it will make every morning happy when I take it out for the conductor to see!