Piñata Travel Bag Project

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2 years ago I had an ambitious idea. Weave enough fabric to make a travel bag set for myself.  These bags will be for weekend trips, I certainly wouldn’t allow any baggage handler near these beauties.

But before physically starting the project I had to sit down and design on paper (following up on the computer) and do all the math calculations for how much I would need for the warp and weft.  For those not familiar with weaving, the warp is the “vertical” threads that are placed on the loom from front to back and the “weft” is what you place side to side.  Typically you use more materials (yarns) for the warp than the weft.

Anyway, back to calculations, which is made easier by Microsoft Excel.  Spreadsheets can take the screw-ups out of calculations (as long as you don’t have errors in your formulas!) and make life a lot easier. So I took my blank “Project File” where I have all my formulas entered and made a copy so I could work on the new travel bag project.

Pretty exciting looking isn’t it?

Pinata Warp and Weft Calcs copy

This is only one page of the spreadsheet, there are 2 others but I won’t make your eyes glaze over by detailing them.

After all the calculations were done, I needed to wind the lengths needed for the warp as well the ones to be dyed.  I was using commercially dyed cotton yarn for the bulk of the warp, but 3 light purple-y shades (centre wide stripe and the same shade on either side) were going to be space dyed.  Dyeing yarns are a fun way of exploring and playing with colour.  There are 2 different dye types though as one is suitable for plant based fibres (cotton, linen, etc.) and the other type is for protein fibres (wool, silk, alpaca, etc.)  I had picked up some packages of Dylon fabric dyes at JoAnn Fabrics in the U.S. (1/3rd the price than here in Canada) and arranged a dye day with my northern homestead neighbor Kathy.

We set up a couple long tables outside at her place, lined them with heavy plastic and got to work “painting” our yarns.  I neglected to get a photo at this stage, probably because I was wearing rubber gloves as well as up to my elbows in colourful dyes.  But I did get a pic of them hanging to dry inside the homestead on my vintage wall drying rack.


BTW, this rack is perfect for drying yarns, make sure they have dripped off outside though otherwise you make a mess of your flooring.

Once the yarns were done and dried, it was time to get them ready to go on the loom.


After I wound the commercial coloured yarns, about 4 hours of threading commenced.  Warping a loom is very, very time consuming.  From start to finish, from winding the warp to getting the loom threaded and tied onto the loom is about 8 hours, depending how wide your project is. This one is the full width of my loom (45″) so was at the top end of time needed to get done.  Once on the loom though, weaving goes fairly fast.


I started with black for weft, then changed to purple to see how I liked the colour interaction.  I didn’t.  The twill pattern was getting lost against all colours of the warp.  So back to using black.  I wove just over 6 yards of material.  Which took me about 6 weeks, mainly because of work and other life obligations.



Here is the roll of fabric building up on the front beam.  Ask any weaver and there is nothing as pretty as a fat roll of fabric to look at.


Here it is pulled off the loom, what a gorgeous sight!

Once the fabric was done, it was washed, dried and put away until I could find some time to sew the travel bags, which actually took just over a year later to accomplish mainly due to life plus I wasn’t happy with any of the luggage bag patterns I had seen to date.

I also needed to weave the straps that would be the handles on the luggage. I bristled at the thought of using commercial webbing for the straps.  So I bought some matching colours of a thicker cotton yarn and warped my Inkle loom to make the straps.  I wove 3 altogether, 2 for the main luggage bag and one for the laptop carrying messenger bag.


Here is one of the straps against the fabric, a pretty darn good match!

Fast forward to late May 2018 and I finally had gathered everything I needed for the bags; zippers, thread, D-rings for the handles, lining fabric and a really neat iron on padding material called In-R-Form (not sold in Canada, had to order from the U.S.) that makes fabric stiff, but padded as well.  Great for laptops bags.

I brought pretty much every piece of equipment and my notion organizers up to the homestead and got to work sewing.  After 3 days (on/off), the main travel duffel bag was complete and literally, after I finished the very last seam, my machine broke down.  It needed servicing so off it went to get fixed.  A week later I was back in business.  Meanwhile I finally found a great messenger bag pattern off Pinterest as well as a cute box bag style toiletry case and after another couple days…voila!  All were finished!


I had enough material left over for a generous “bath sheet” size towel.  Being 100% cotton, it can be used as either a beach towel or a throw to cover up in.

2 years of planning, weaving and sewing has finally come to an end and I just love the results!  By the way, you should have been able to figure out why I called it my “Piñata” travel bag project ;)





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Beach Buddy Bag

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Everyone needs a beach buddy.

Meet my Beach Buddy.

DSC04515Pretty much 95% of the time I am lugging my humongous purse around town on various errands. I love my large purse as it has oodles of space for all of my needs as well as space for my ever present sock knitting projects. But sometimes you just need to run out on a quick errand and don’t need to take the large suitcase over the shoulder, OR, you are planning a beach or cruise vacation and only need a small satchel to house your room key, small bills and a sunblock stick. Enter Beach Buddy!


At a modest 5″ x 4″ (not including strap), you can tuck this into your beach bag or shorts pocket or let it hang from your wrist as you wander the beach sipping a margarita while hunting sea shells. It is the perfect accessory for any family/friend BBQ event as well. They are fully lined and come with a snap closure on one end and a carrying strap on the other. $20CDN.

Do you want a Beach Buddy?   I have loads of fabric options available to cover everyone’s taste.  Leave a comment below and I will be in touch.


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Flip Flop Beach Bag

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In my *real world* job, I help clients find their next new home and/or help them sell their existing home. The entire time I am dealing with people, I am carefully watching for indications of favourite colours, trends, interests, tastes and anything else I can pick up from them (unknowingly of course).  I then utilize this information to come up with a tailored and personalized closing gift.

Like this Beach Bag.

Which is for Deb (same name, cool eh?), who LOVES flip flops.  She has the largest collection of actual flip flops I have ever seen in one household, along with flip flop nic knacks, a flip flop table lamp, flip flop wall mounted decor, and many other things.  If it is in the shape of a flip flop, then she pretty much has it.  So it wasn’t hard to come up with an idea for a closing gift.

During my last trip Stateside a month ago, I hit up JoAnn’s Fabric stores as I was certain they would have some flip flop fabric.  To my surprise, the one and only pattern that they used to carry was long discontinued.  Dang it.  Next step was the internet.  What a wonderful thing it is too.  In no time I found a website (www.fabric.com) that carried oodles of fabrics depicting flip flops in a variety of colours and backgrounds.

Perfect.  With the fabric chosen and ordered, I set about coming up with a pattern to use.  I did have one that I had used before, but wanted something larger to hold more towels, lotion, books, sunglasses, camera, etc.  I located several on-line, but couldn’t make up my mind which one would be best so ended up taking ideas from 2 different patterns and incorporating them into one.

Here is how it turned out….


DSC02487The bag is fully lined and features two inside pockets, one on each side and 2 outer pockets on each end with elastic encased in the seam allowance along the top to hold things in.



DSC02485 I also made a zippered cosmetic case, attaching via a tether that you can un-clip to use in your purse.  Finished dimensions are 14″ high x 17 1/2″ wide x 11″ depth.  Pretty darn roomy.  I will be adding some additional goodies inside the bag before I deliver it next week and I know she will absolutely go nuts for it.

Meanwhile, I think I am going to make another one for myself, after all Mexico is coming up soon ;)


P.S.  I will be detailing how I made this one for a future blog post.

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How To Make A Bean Bag Heating Pad

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We all get aches and pains now and then which require the use of a heating pad, but sometimes the “traditional” heating pad that you plug in is impractical not to mention it uses up costly energy.

Instead, here is a super quick way to make your own bean bag heating pad using scrap cotton fabric and your choice of fillers.  I can’t stress enough that 100% cotton fabric is the only choice to use, if you use any other type of fabric, you run the risk of melting it in the microwave (definitely not desirable).

Fillers can be any type of dried rice, hulled grain (like wheat or barley) or small dried beans.  You can even add a fragrance for some “aromatherapy”, like Lavender or fragrant essential oils.  Just mix the fragrance and fillers and place in a seal-able container and allow to sit covered for a day or two to distribute evenly.

DSC00972To make the heating pad, cut one rectangle (or whatever size/shape you desire) of cotton fabric large enough for its intended purpose.  This piece was a remnant of the table runner I wove and measured 19″ wide x 11″ tall.

DSC00975Fold the piece in half with right sides together, then sew up the 3 sides leaving a 3 inch opening.

DSC00981Turn right side out and press seams flat.

DSC00983Now add the filler to the bag.  To make it easier, make a funnel out of a plain piece of paper and pour the filler into the bag.  Only fill the bag about 2/3rds full as you want it to be flexible.  Slip-stitch the opening closed and voila! your very own bean bag heating pad.


Bean Bag Heating PadTo use, just heat in the microwave on high for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.

I have been using mine after each loom threading marathon session as it is an awkward, tedious and muscle fatiguing job.  I just drape it around the back of my neck and let the soothing heat radiate and release the tension for about 20 minutes and then I am able to get back at it.

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This and That & Things In Between

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Hi! How are you?!  Where the heck have you been?!!
I have been looking for you everywhere.

I know, I know… I said I was going to be posting *regularly*…but in my defense, there are just too many things happening around here that are keeping me from sitting down to this medium.

This will be a fairly short post, just snapshots of what is happening in the Southern Homestead…

Bob the loom is naked.  It is time to plan the next project now that my table runner is complete although it will be heading to the Northern Homestead as the kitchen table there is a varathaned white pine and much better suited to the bright colours than the walnut dining table here.

DSC00949I also have a B-I-G sewing project to start.  We have a very large, square patio umbrella over our hot tub that is in desperate need of replacement.  Since I can sew and am very thrifty (cheap), why pay $500-800 for a new umbrella to be made when I can make it myself?  Here is the chosen fabric, a grey and white checkerplate pattern…all 12 yards of it, and picked up on sale to boot.

DSC00939Now that Spring is here (sort of), my little plant pots are filled with dirt, seeds and love that are now showing little green sprouts of sunshine with the promise for a great harvest to come.

DSC00962But the most challenging and time-consuming project has been the basement bathroom addition….

DSC00909 DSC00955The PITA part of busting the concrete floor for hooking up new piping is done and hubby cemented over the hole, then applied a layer of self-leveling cement, which he will probably need to do again before we start tiling.  Meanwhile, the back wall is re-vapour barriered and ready for inspection by the City and he managed to drywall the outside of the bathroom wall amongst a bunch of little electrical projects that needed doing.

DSC00952He was so very busy this weekend and is sore to boot.  Poor guy had to head back to work today for a rest from all the manual labour.  I best take it easy on him if I want the project finished.

While he was busy playing with concrete and drywall, I was playing with paint (and managed to sell a property in between) in the laundry room.  The walls are a pale, butter yellow and the floor is a rustic brown shade, which still needs to be finished and will get done this week.

DSC00970The walls have been primer white for the last 8 years, I figured it was about time I got around to applying some actual paint.

I still need to get back to the de-cluttering (mostly my closet!) and with the warm weather finally here, I am rushing to get inside projects done as I have a few outdoor ones to tackle.

Life is always busy, so make sure you take the time to stop and smell the roses so to speak…or have a beer on the patio in the sun.

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Yup…I Am Still Here

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I haven’t fallen off the planet…close, but not yet.

Falling Off PlanetI am just very, very busy trying to get all the stuff done that is currently piled on my plate…2 sewing projects and one knitting project that are all commission jobs while continuing the de-cluttering of the house (Yay for garbage day today!) and toss in demolishing a basement office area to become a future bathroom ~ which has created clouds of drywall dust that wafted throughout the house leaving a fine, white residue on everything…now I have to clean too.

Oh, and try and fit in that job/work schedule into the mix too.  So don’t fret, I will be back posting regularly once the crunch stuff is out of the way.  Tah-Tah for now.

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DIY Knitting Needle Carrying Case

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Necessity breeds…too many ideas and not enough time.

Last year I made a knitting needle case for myself to travel back and forth with between the Northern and Southern Homestead’s.

Knitting Needle Case CollageI hate it.

The tutorial I found on-line *looked* nice enough, and my chosen fabric was perfectly suited for me (horses of course), but the end result was that it lacked enough room for my needle and accessory collection as well all the pockets were not deep enough.  If you didn’t pick it up the right way, everything would fall out the top.  Major PITA.

So before Christmas I did some more googling and searching on-line for other ideas as I wanted to make a *New and Improved* version for my daughter for Christmas (she has been enabled by her mother in the knitting department since last summer) and she needed someplace to store all her supplies instead of her couch turning into an acupuncture clinic.

I ended up pilfering ideas from 3 or 4 different sites and combined them into something that would work for her (and ultimately for me) as it needed to be tall enough to accommodate the longest needles with a flap that would fold over and hold things in place when rolled up.  This is what I came up with…

DSC00580It has a flap about 5″ in length to fold down over the needles and then it is folded into thirds and secured via a button on an exterior flap.  Fabuloso indeed!  She loved hers so much, she took it into work to show it off….which lead to me making another one for a co-worker.

So while I was making hers, I figured I had better write down how I made it so I would remember when I got around to making a new one for myself.

Start off with 5 different fabrics of your colour choice.  Be bold with colour, this is your chance to break out of your ‘beige’ mold and go with something cheerful and bright. The outer fabric I chose is an upholstery fabric remnant as you want something sturdy and durable for the exterior.  I love the remnant bins at fabric shops, you can really get some good deals on pricier fabrics and you only need a small amount anyway.  The inner pocket materials are utilized from ‘Fat Quarter’ quilting squares, you don’t need much and the sizes are perfect for the inner pockets.

DSC00514Materials Needed To Make Your Own:

Outer Fabric: 18″ wide x 21″ tall
Inner Lining: 18″ wide x 21″ tall
Contrast Pocket fabric: 18″ wide x 10″ tall (to be folded in half width-wise)
Contrast Pocket fabric: 18″ wide x 16″ tall (to be folded in half width-wise)
Contrast Pocket fabric: 18″ wide x 22″ tall (to be folded in half width-wise)
1 Piece of Outer fabric 10 1/2″ x 4″ (for flap securing the case closed)
1 Large Button (1 1/4″)
1 package of double fold Bias Tape in co-ordinating colour
Thread, sewing machine, erasable fabric marker, ruler

*Note ~ all seams are 1/2″ unless otherwise noted.

With right side of inner lining facing up, place the folded inner pockets along the bottom edge, lining them up so that the tallest is first, then place the middle one, then the shortest one, having raw edges even along the bottom.  Pin in place.

DSC00528Baste outer side edges, excluding the shortest pocket lining (more on that later).

With a ruler and erasable marker, measure and mark lines (I made some that were 1″, 1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″) to accommodate different sized needle widths, pin down the pockets across the width of the case.


DSC00542Starting in the center, stitch along the line from top to bottom.  The next step is IMPORTANT if you have circular needles, fold back the lowest pocket out of the way, then stitch the next 2 or 3 lines. The lower pockets will be 3″ to 3 1/2″ in width to accommodate circular needles so however many line spacings you marked out, use those as a guide to space out the pocket for the circulars on the lowest pocket.  Then repeat until all lines have been stitched.

DSC00538Give the project a quick iron to flatten things out and set aside for the next step.

DSC00545Fold the outer flap piece (the 10 1/2″ x 4″ one) in half length-wise and press.  Press under  again a 1/4″ along the two long edges and one short edge.  Fold piece in half (wrong sides together) pin in  place and top stitch along all 3 sides.

DSC00548Measure down from the top of the Outer fabric (right side facing) 9 1/2″.  Place upper edge of flap at this mark, having raw edges even at the sides. Pin and baste in place 3/8″ from outer edge.

DSC00550Place inner lining over outer fabric, right sides together.  Pin sides and bottom, then stitch a 1/2″ hem on the 3 sides, leaving the top edge open for turning.


DSC00558I find most 100% cotton fabrics fray like crazy, so for extra security, zigzag seam, then pink edges close to zigzag stitching or serge edges if you have one.  Turn right side out and press.

Take a length of bias tape 1″ wider than the top width.  Fold under each end a 1/2″ and pin in place (on outside) wrapping around the length of the top edge.  Top stitch top edge closed.


DSC00568Make buttonhole in outer flap appropriately sized for purchased button.  Fold up case into thirds and mark spot where button will go.  Hand sew button in place.

DSC00584DSC00580DSC00579 DSC00573 DSC00574There, now you have a beautiful, sturdy, and more importantly, a functional carrying case to hold all your knitting supplies.

Now I really must get to making mine….

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My Husky & I…

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Huskystar that is…will be very busy the next couple weeks….so many sewing projects to do, so little time.  Actually, a lot of other projects on the go as well.  There is one knitting project, a whole lot of house de-cluttering going on, and let’s not forget my newest hobby ~ Bob the loom.

I think I need to get a day planner and start blocking hours for each project, as well as regular chores and work.

Meanwhile, here is a snippet of what I am working on….not included in this pic is a blue floral print for a blouse for my Mexico trip that is half done.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back at it…no time for idle chit chat!

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Looking for a Christmas Gift?

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Are you wracking your brain trying to think up of a gift
for your Sister, Mom, Grandma or Aunt Edna?

OR, are you planning a winter getaway in the sun and need an Island Purse?

Look no further than these glossy pics…

These are the last of my handmade vacation purses in stock and
I am selling them off at a 60% discount!!

Oh…and I almost forgot, each purse comes with a matching makeup case inside (that is an $8 value – FREE), attached on a tether…so you won’t lose it…or the purse if you attach the tether to your belt loops.

Each Purse is only $20.00 CDN.   First come ~ First Served.
(shipping extra, email me for rates to your locale, pymt via Paypal only)

Purse Collage1Email me at gitana1962@live.com if anyone is interested.

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A Loom With A View

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Yes, a new hobby has been born.  As if I don’t have enough of them….gardening, sewing, knitting, cooking, fishing, to name a few…so I am adding a new one to the resume.


On a Loom

The old-fashioned way of making fabric.

I have no idea at the moment how to do it, but that is the fun of trying out new things.  I can picture myself in the not so distant future retired, sitting in the front room of the cottage overlooking the ever changing landscape of the lake, weaving colourful projects for friends and family alike.

I do believe my family thinks I am bonkers, but hey, if you don’t have a hobby that makes you happy, then you just may well be a very bored sad person.  As hubby puts it…

Happy Wife ~ Happy Life!

and I am indeed happy.  One of my cousins mentioned that she thinks I was switched at birth from an Amish family…could be, but most likely not, how would I write a blog and use electricity if I was Amish?  Silly girl…. I am a Canuckian/Ukrainian through and through.  Right down to my perogie and borscht fetish and often use of the word ‘Eh?’.

So over the course of the next couple months, you may hear me cursing as I try and figure out this loom business, with the good, the bad and ugly mistakes that are sure to follow.  I figure the biggest hurdle was getting the thing apart and transported home and then put back together again.  A giant Tinkeroy set conquered of which I couldn’t have done without the help of my son-in-law, furniture-taker-apart-and-put-it-back-together extraordinaire.  He was awesome and it only cost me a few beers and a steak dinner.  Well worth it if you ask me.

LoomHere is my 45″ Nilus Leclerc Counter-Balance Loom, made in Canada, circa 1970′s.  I think.  There is no date on it that I can find, but the book that came with it is dated 1971 so I assume the loom was made around that time.

Next on the To-Do list is to get a good weaving instruction book, view some you-tube videos and acquire some yarn….and get to weaving.

Then all I need is a good view…

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