sewing

How To Make A Produce Bag

How to make a reusable produce bag.

One major but easy switch in helping us reduce our plastic use was switching to reusable produce bags. I found some great ones here on Amazon. What I liked about these ones are that they are 100% organic cotton. But, of course, instead of ordering them I thought to myself “I can make that!” So join me in this post on how to make a DIY produce bag.

This is a simple bag design with a draw string. I used some mesh that I had left over from a curtain panel that I got from IKEA. If you are an IKEA fan you have most likely seen these panels for about $4. I purchased these panels to decorate for my wedding and have been storing them for 5 years so I am happy to put them to good use now. While these bags that I made are not organic cotton, I feel better using something that I already had instead of ordering something new.

Any material could be used to make these bags, but a mesh like this or a sturdy cotton would be best. I used left over ribbon, shoe string, and cording for the draw strings. My goal was to reuse what I had, so although none of the bags match each other, that’s okay with me.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

Step one for making a DIY produce bag is to gather the following materials and supplies:

  • Fabric
  • Draw string
  • Rotary cutter or scissors
  • Straight edge
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Safety Pin
Step Two

The second step is to decide how big the bag needs to be. I did a variety of sizes for different types of fruits and vegges. A large size would be 12 inches by 17 inches, medium would be 10 inches by 14 inches, and a small bag is equal to 8 inches by 12 inches. These are great sizes to start with but what’s great about making these yourself is that the bags can be customized to meet your needs.

Measure out the size needed for the bag. The width of the bag should double the size that the bag needs to be. So if making a 12 inch by 17 inch bag, cut a piece of fabric 24 inches by 17 inches.

Cut out the bag using the straight edge and a cutting tool.

Step Two, cutting DIY produce bag.
Step Three

Next, fold the top edge of the fabric down and pin it. Fold enough fabric over to contain the chosen draw string.

Then stitch down the folded fabric using a straight or small zig zag stitch, back-stitching at the beginning and end. When stitching mesh, go slow and try to keep the fabric from stretching.

Step Three sewing casing on DIY produce bag.
Step Four

Fold the fabric in half and pin along the open sides. Do not pin or sew over the area stitched for the draw string. Sew along the edge, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance and back-stitching at the beginning and end.

Step Five

Using the safety pin, pin it to the tip of the draw string. Feed the draw string through the pocket at the top of the bag. When the draw string is through, remove the safety pin. Tie the ends of the draw string together in a secure knot.

Step Five inserting draw string in to produce bag.

That’s it! You now have a draw string bag. This took me less then 10 minutes to make. I have now made 5 of these and take them to the grocery store every time we go. Our grocery store has a great foods section where I can get most of my produce without using plastic packaging! My next goal is to make a couple of bags that are solid fabric that I can utilize for the bulk food bins. We routinely get beans, rice, and seeds from the bulk bins and using jars can be challenging, so bags might be our perfect solution.

Check out my tips for zero waste shopping here.

Have you tried this how to make a DIY produce bag tutorial? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!

Finish DIY produce bag.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Little One’s first birthday is just around the corner, I can’t believe it! He is just growing up way too fast. So, as well as planing a birthday party, I wanted to make something special for him as a gift. During our brainstorming for gift ideas a swing came up. Of course, trying to rid ourselves of plastic, I didn’t want to get him a traditional baby swing. So off to the craft store I went with plans for a DIY toddler hammock swing. I had found a couple of tutorials online; however, I wanted to make some changes to those plans.

The biggest issue was safety. In addition to gathering supplies that could safely hold 200 pounds (a little overboard for my 20 pound baby, but still), I also added a safety strap to the hammock swing using a couple of D rings. All the supplies I needed were found at JOANN Fabrics and Home Depot. (I linked all products that I was able to on Amazon since I know some people don’t have access to the same stores). Some additional changes I made included doubling the fabric and adding a layer of batting for added comfort.

You can see my post on basic sewing terminology here if needed for this project.

I do have this hammock swing available in my store, click here to find out more!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Supplies for the DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Found at Craft Store

  • Outdoor fabric 1 1/2 to 2 yards, depending on how much extra you want
  • D rings
  • Batting – I had some left over from a quilt that I used. Remember, reusing is one of the 5 Rs of sustainability
  • Poly-fill – I also had some left over from another project. See, craft hoarding can save some money!
    • Find Batting and stuffing here I would use this instead if I did it again. I happened to have some old poly-fill and batting, but in the future I would go 100% cotton.

Found at Hardware Store

Additional supplies

Step One – Preparing Pieces

Each of the following pieces need to be cut out of the outdoor fabric. If the fabric you choose has a pattern to it, double check that it matches up. While the fabric I chose has a pattern, it is a little more random and allows for more flexibility. Cut the following pieces out of your fabric (and then proceed with the other cuts and measurements for the other materials that follow):

  • Fabric
    • 37″ x 12″ pieces for the seat – cut 2
    • 12″ x 11″ for the back – cut 2
    • 6 1/2″ x 11″ for the front – cut 2
    • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front strap – cut 1
    • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
    • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1
    • 12″ x 12″ pieces for the pillow (optional) – cut 2
  • Batting
    • 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 6″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 36 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ – cut 1
  • Dowel
    • 4 pieces that are 15″
  • Rope
    • 2 pieces that are 11 feet long

When starting to stitch the DIY toddler hammock swing, I wanted to make sure that every seam was very secure. So technically I sewed them twice…a little more work but so worth it. (Check out basic sewing terminology to help with following this tutorial.)

Step Two – Stitching Base

Start out by using the 6 1/2″ x 11′ pieces, placing right sides together and pinning. Starting at the base of the long side, start stitching up the side. Back stitch when first starting out using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stop stitching 6/8″ from the edge of the fabric.

You will now have to turn the fabric; however, there is a neat trick I learned to make a crisp corner. Instead of making a 90 degree turn. stitch one stitch at an angle, then turn the fabric again to begin sewing straight as shown in the picture below.

Stitch along the 11″ side to the 6 1/2″ side and back down the 11″ side, back stitching when done. This should leave the 6 1/2″ side open. Clip the corners before turning. Use this side to turn the front piece right side out. Next, press the fabric with the iron. The outdoor material will be hard to get to lay flat. Try using a pin to pop the seam out (note that it will want to collapse inward) and steaming the fabric. Once complete, insert the piece of 6″ x 10 1/2″ batting between the two pieces of fabric.

Once complete, stitch around the edges again. This time stitch on the right side of the fabric with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ seam allowance. When turning the corner on the right side of the fabric, use the traditional 90 degree turn. Continue to leave the one 6 1/2″ side open – we will deal with it later.

Follow the same procedure for the pieces that are 12″ x 11″, leaving the 12″ side open for turning.

Step Three – Assembling the seat

For this next part, use the 37″ x 12″ pieces and the front and back that had already been finished. It’s a bit tricky so please stay with me. Find the center of the 37″ side and mark either side. Next, find the center on the front and back piece on the open side. Lay the back piece on top of the right side of one of the 37″ x 12″ pieces, lining up the center marks on each side. The raw edges should be together and the back piece should be on top of the seat piece. Next, line up the front piece with the center of the other side of the 37″ x 12″ piece and pin it down.

Lay the other 37″ x 12″ piece on top, right side down, and line it up and pin. Sew around using a 1/4″ seam allowance while leaving an opening to flip right side out. It is best to leave the opening on one of the 12″ ends. Use the same method as listed above for the corners. Flip the seat right side out and press with an iron. When flipping the seat, the back and front pieces should now be hanging out of the seam.

Next, insert the batting and stitch around the seat again. Fold in the open part and stitch closed. This is the basic seat structure.

Step Four – Creating Pockets

Next, on each of the sides, front and back, create pockets for the dowel. Using the dowel, estimate the pocket size needed by folding the top part of the fabric over the top and pinning it down. Make sure the pocket is even all the way across and is snug enough that the dowel doesn’t easily move, but still loose enough that you can easily insert the dowel into the pocket. Stitch a straight line where pinned, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Repeat these steps for each of the sides and the front and back. Measure each side to ensure that all the pockets are the same width and make changes if needed.

Step Five – Create Safety Straps
  • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front – strap cut 1
  • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
  • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1

For the next step use the the above pieces and iron press each of the straps in half the long way. Next, fold in the raw edge on either side and press with the iron. Fold in the ends to from a clean edge and pin. Stitch all the way around the strap. Fold down the shortest strap to create a pocket for the other straps to sit in. Stitch the edge of the pocket down. Using the medium strap, place the flat edges of the D rings on the strap. Fold over the fabric and stitch down.

Attach the two longer pieces to either side of the back piece (not the side that has the D rings attached). Make sure they are evenly placed on the center of the back side piece and pinned down. Back stitch at the beginning and the end. I chose to sew in a square around the tab of the strap to ensure it was secure. Next stitch the smallest strap to the center front of the seat in a similar manner.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Six – Sewing The Pillow

This step is optional but adds a whole lot of comfort. It’s also really cute. Create a simple pillow using the 12″ X 12″ pieces. Pin the pieces right sides together. Leaving a small gap for flipping, stitch around the pillow using the corner method as described above. Flip the pillow right side out and press with an iron. Next, stuff the pillow with poly-fill (or cotton stuffing if able) to the desired amount. Then hand stitch the opening closed using a needle and thread. There you have it – a cute little pillow! The pillow is especially great for little ones because it gives extra support and helps them sit better in the swing. The pillow can be removed for older toddlers, which makes this swing versatile for a number of years.

Step Seven – Making Supports

The next step is to cut the dowels to the length of 15 inches. Then using a drill bit, drill a hole 1 1/2 inches from each end. Using sand paper, sand the dowels down and curve the ends to take away any sharp edges.

Step Eight – Finishing The Dowels

At this point I wanted to finish the dowels, but didn’t want to use a product like polyurethane because I know Little One will end up munching on them. Instead, I used coconut oil! This is a natural alternative and is something I keep in my cupboard. Using a small glass bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave. Next, apply a small amount to each dowel with a rag. The dowels will remain wet feeling for some time, so give it a day or two to dry completely. I think the coconut oil brings out the natural beauty of the wood and gives it a really nice shine.

Step Nine – Securing The Rope

Cut the rope into two 11 foot long lengths. Finding the middle of each piece, combine and tie around the metal rings. Create a loop through the metal rings and pull the remaining length of rope through the loop that was created. I added an additional knot for security.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Ten – Inserting the dowels

The next step is to insert each dowel into the pocket on each side, as pictured below.

Step Eleven – Tie the Dowels Together

Layering the sides over the front and back and dowels. Insert the rope through the top hole and then through the second. Tie the rope with a secure knot and repeat with the other three sides. Burn the ends of the rope using a lighter.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Twelve – Hanging The Hammock Swing

Find a good place to hang the hammock swing, ensuring that it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the swing and your baby. We used a thick tree branch, but plan to use a C hook in a beam in our basement playroom for winter time. Using the left over rope tie around the tree, use the other O ring and tie to the bottom of the rope. Using the carabiner attach the two O rings together to hang the swing.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

While the fabric is weather resistant, the hammock swing will last longer if it is not left outside for extended periods of time. The carabiner makes it really easy to put up and take down. We store ours in the bin that holds our outdoor cushions.

Little One is only 12 months old right now, and has room to grow with it. My three year old nephew can fit in it, too. I absolutely love how this turned out. I know that is it many steps but it was fairly easy to make. This DIY toddler hammock swing was definitely worth the time, and is so much cuter and softer then the plastic ones available in stores.

Have you tried this DIY toddler hammock swing? How did it turn out for you? If so, left me know in the comments below!

If you want one of these awesome hammock swing but would to order one you can do so by clicking the button below!

Note

Please check that all materials are intact and strong enough to hold your child before each use. While I hope you have success with this DIY toddler hammock swing. I am not responsible for any injuries. Ensure that you have tested all the equipment before using with your child and never leave your child unattended in the swing. While there is a safety belt, kiddos can be squirmy and get free. Use at your own risk. If you have any questions about the product or how to make this please contact me at maria@littlefamilyonthebiglake.com

Hammock swing

Felt Vegetable Garden

DIY Felt Vegetable Garden

When brainstorming for something to get Little One for Easter, I wanted something that was springy and educational. Obviously I didn’t want to give my 10 month old common Easter treats like candy. Then I stumbled upon a picture of a felt garden and I thought, “I could make that!”. It’s the cutest little felt vegetable garden and he loves harvesting the vegetables and munching on them!

For this project I got all my supplies at JOANN Fabrics. The felt is made from recycled materials, which is a great thing. I would have preferred natural materials, but recycled materials is way better than nothing. This project took me a couple of mornings and a lot less time to make than I originally projected. I would estimate that it took me about 3 hours total.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Check out my beginners sewing guide for terminology and some techniques.

Supplies
  • Felt
    • 6 pieces of brown felt
    • 1 piece each of colors needed for the vegetables ( I got 1 purple, 3 different shades of green, 1 orange, 1 tan, and 1 burgundy) (Amazon does have big pack you can find them here.)
  • Poly-fill
  • Wooden create
  • Thread
  • Tools
    • Sewing machine
    • Hand sewing needle
    • Pins
    • Scissors
Making the Garden Bed

The first step of this project is to create the garden dirt for “planting” the vegetables. Use the brown felt for this. I used 4 of the pieces for the rows and one piece for the bottom. The last piece is to create the sides of the rows, cutting 8 shapes that are flat on one end and curved on the other. Sew each of these pieces to the ends of the rows, creating 4 tube like rows. Then sew them to the bottom piece, leaving opening to stuff with poly-fill. I finished this up by sewing up the holes.

making the garden bed

It took a bit of maneuvering to get it all lined up, but the end result turned out great!

Making the Vegetables

The felt vegetables were very easy to make. I cut out two pieces of felt in each shape I needed for the vegetables. In the end I made 1 eggplant, 2 potatoes, 2 zucchini, 2 cucumbers, 4 carrots, and 2 beets. Use your best judgement to create the vegetables shapes. Using the sewing machine, I stitched around each of the vegetables, leaving a hole for the vegetable to be turned right side out.

I then stuffed the vegetable with poly-fill and used a hand sewing needle to stitch up the hole that was left. Using varying shades of greens to create leaves, I cut out basic leaf shapes and hand stitched them to the tops of the vegetables. Little One likes to munch on the tops…and they have held so far!

This is where you can get really creative with the types of vegetables or fruit. I plan on creating more when I get some free time (yeah, I know, like that will happen!).

Plant the Vegetables

Finally, plant the vegetables in the garden bed. I paired the felt vegetable garden with this TY bunny named Hopper, because every garden needs a bunny, right?

I’m happy to report it has been a little over a month since we gave this to Little One and he is still enjoying playing with it!

What do you think of this project? I thought it would take much more time so I was surprised at how easy and quick it turned out to be. Let me know your thoughts and/or results about the felt vegetable garden in the comments below!

DIY Felt Vegetable garden

Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology

Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology
Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology

So this post has come about in an unusual way. My husband was proof reading a post for me (thanks, honey!) and he came across some sewing terms that he didn’t know. Consequently, he said I should explain them, but I was worried about the flow of the post. So instead, I am writing this one that will have a guide of basic beginner sewing terms.

I have been sewing as long as I can remember. My first experiences with sewing were taught by my mother. As a beginner, I didn’t get too technical, just a basic stop and go on the foot pedal and hold the fabric straight. I learned more in middle and high school in multiple Family & Consumer Sciences classes that I took. But the majority of my advanced sewing skills came from my experiences in college, where I landed a job as a seamstress in the costume shop for the theater department.

But enough about me…below is the Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology and what you need know to start out sewing

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Types of Needles

There are many types of needles and sometimes it is hard to know which needle to use for which situation. First let’s break it down into two categories: hand sewing needles and sewing machine needles.

Sewing Machine Needles

Sewing machine needles come in two main types. The first type is the regular needles and is used in most situations. They are numbered – the higher the number the stronger the needle. For cotton fabric a 10-12 size is ideal. For delicate fabric it is better to move closer to an 8, and thick fabric like denim requires a 16-18. (Here is a variety pack) The second type of sewing machine needle is the ball point needle. They use similar sizing guidelines, with the major difference for a ball point needle being that it has a rounded tip. These are used for knit fabrics. The ball point is designed to loop around the fibers instead of piercing the fibers like a traditional needle.

Hand Needles

There are many options for hand needles – sharps, yarn, embroidery, tapestry, quilting, the list goes on. The internet has some excellent guides and most craft stores have descriptions to help you pick out the right needle. There are 4 variables in picking a hand needle: the sharpness of the needle point, the size of the eye, the length of the needle, and the diameter of the needle. For many projects a middle sized sharp needle will be okay. If the project is using special fabric or technique it is best to get a needle suitable for the project. In terms of size, hand needles are opposite of machine needles – the larger the number the smaller the needle. Here is a pack that a good variety.

Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology

Fabric Terms

There are two types of composition styles – knit and woven. The kind of fabric used for each has a right side and a wrong side.

  • Right side – the side the print is on
  • Wrong side – the side the print is not on
  • Right sides together – placing the side of the fabric that has the print together, so when you stitch it and turn it back right side out the printed side is on the outside
  • Seam allowance – the distance from the edge of the fabric to the line of stitching
  • Grain – the horizontal direction of the fabric
  • Cross grain – the vertical direction of the fabric
  • Bias – the diagonal direction of the fabric.

It is important to know the grain of the fabric when sewing due to the sturdiness and elasticity of the fabric. When pulling on the grain or cross grain, the fabric may stretch one way or another. This shouldn’t happen when pulling on the bias. Depending on the result that is needed, patterns will call for different pieces to be cut in certain directions.

Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology

Tools

  • Shears – scissors used to cut larger amounts of fabric
  • Thread Snips – smaller scissors used for clipping threads and for intricate cuts
  • Pinking Shears – scissors with a saw-tooth blade instead of a straight one, used for finishing edges
  • Pins – used to hold fabric together before sewing
  • Chalk – sewing chalk is used to trace out a pattern on a fabric to know where to cut or sew, and should dissolve with water
  • Rotary Cutter – has a long handle with a circular blade. It’s used to cut fabric with the assistance of a ruler and cutting mat. The blade is retractable for safety.
  • Clear Ruler – a measuring device that has lines on a ruler for accurate measurements. It’s clear in order to see the fabric underneath. They come in different sizes and shapes, but you can’t go wrong with a basic rectangle. There are specialty rulers for quilting and apparel.
  • Cutting mat – used with the rotary cutter and ruler to protect your counter when cutting fabric. It has measurement lines to help with accurate cutting.
  • Measuring tape – a circular measuring tape allows you to take accurate measurements on long curved surfaces
  • Thimble – a tool placed on your thumb while sewing to assist in pushing the needle through tough fabric as to protect your fingers from being needle pricks
Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology

Sewing Machine Parts

Most sewing machines have similar parts that have similar functions. That being said, every sewing machine is different. So when you’re first learning to sew on a new machine it is best to consult the owner’s manual. Here are some basic terms that every sewing machine should have:

  • Foot pedal – think of it as similar to a gas pedal in a car in the sense that it makes the sewing machine go. It’s usually placed on the floor and connected to the sewing machine via an electrical cord.
  • Presser foot – this holds the fabric down when sewing. These can be interchangeable based on the project; for example, a zipper foot or button hole foot.
  • Feed Dog – two toothed metal feeds that move under the presser foot to move the fabric along while sewing
  • Spool Pin – located on the top of the machine, this holds a spool of thread so the thread can come off the spool when sewing
  • Bobbin – a small metal or plastic spool that thread is wound on and placed in the bottom of the sewing machine to create the bottom row of stitches when sewing (see manual on how to install)
  • Reverse/back stitch – bottom that reversed the direction of the feed dog to create a locking stitch or back stitch in a row of stitching
  • Thread cutter – sharp cutter near the presser foot designed to cut threads after taking fabric out of the sewing machine
  • Balance Wheel-used to advance or retract the sewing needle.
Beginners Guide to Sewing Terminology

I hope this beginners guide to sewing terminology serves a a useful tool to help with sewing projects in your future. Have any questions or comments, let me know below.

Check out some of my sewing post… DIY Hammock Swing and Felt Vegetable Garden