Free Project: Make a Messenger Bag & iPad Case

Messenger Bag & iPad Case by Liz Kettle

photo 1(a)

Nothing says back to school like a brand new book bag! Times have changed though, and in addition to the traditional bag, we need an iPad or Tablet case too. These simple and quick projects will have you ready for back to school in no time flat so you can enjoy the last remaining moments of summer.


Multi-Purpose cloth or canvas
Fabrics of choice
Batting (optional) choose a very flat batting such as Thermore
Misty Fuse or other fusible web
Rotary cutter with traditional and skip blades
Embroidery scissors
Hand Needles: 22 or 18 chenille or tapestry or a yarn darner
Machine Needles: size 90 sharp

A note about Multi-purpose cloth: Multi-Purpose Cloth or MPC is a wonderful non-woven canvas that is perfect for bags, totes, home décor and much more. It holds its shape better than canvas and is a dream to stitch through. MPC can also be painted with any type of fabric paint and you can skip the fabric layer all together.i

iPad or Tablet Case

photo 2(a)

Using a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat, cut a piece of Multi Purpose Cloth 10 1/2″ x 24″. I prefer the larger 60mm rotary cutter for basic cutting because it cuts through everything so easily and it feels like I am done faster with the bigger blade.
Choose your fabrics. The case is made from just one piece of MPC so if you have a directional print like I do, you may want to cut it and piece it, to ensure the print is the proper direction when
the flap is folded over.
If you don’t have a directional print, simply cut your fabric 10 1/2″ x 24″.
If you do have a directional print, you will want to cut the main piece 10 1/2″ x 17 1/4″ and the piece that is for the front flap 10 1/2″ x 7 1/4″.
Piece the two fabrics together to create a piece that is 10 1/2″ x 24″.
Batting (optional): You may want to skip it for your first case. If you want to add a flat
batting, cut it 10 1/2″ x 24″.
Layer the MPC with a thin piece of batting and your fabric piece. Pin or fuse the layers together with Misty Fuse. I like Misty Fuse because it doesn’t add a lot of weight to the project and stiffen it, and I know the layers won’t shift while I am quilting it.

photo 3(a)

Choose some simple quilting for the surface. I stitched diagonal lines on the lower portion, and stitched around the text printed on the fabric on the flap portion. I use my indispensable 5″ double curved embroidery scissors to snip the threads between each of the layers. I don’t know how I lived without these scissors! They are perfect for snipping threads at the machine. The holes are faced up so they are really fast to pick up and the sharp points easily slide under the tightest thread snarl. Best of all, the gentle curve prevents me from accidently snipping my fabric. When I can’t find my seam ripper (a fairly common occurrence) I even use these to easily un-sew.

photo 4(a)

If you desire, you can also fuse a layer of fabric on the inside of the flap,
but it is perfectly fine to leave the MPC bare on the inside of the case.
If you do decide to line the flap with fabric, cut fabric and Misty Fuse 10 1/2″ x 9″.
Do not add batting to this layer. Double check to make sure you are fusing on to the back of the flap.
If you would like to create a small cut-out in the front panel of the case to make it easier to slip things in and out, do so now. I made a template to make the process easier because I make a lot of these bags. Cut a piece of card stock 10 1/2″ x 3″. Draw a line 1 1/2″ from one edge. Mark in from each edge 1 1/2″ and draw a 30 degree angle to join the lines. Cut out the resulting piece from your template. This is only a guideline you can make your cut out, any size you like, or even curved!

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Mark the opening with a chalk pencil and then cut out with shears.
The micro serrated Havel’s shears help to cut nice sharp turns because
they hold on to the fabric while you turn it.

photo 7(a)

To finish this edge use a zigzag stitch.

photo 8(a)

Load the skip cutting blade into your rotary cutter. Cut along the length of the fabric 1/4″ from each long edge and the front edge. The skip blade will make tiny slits along the edge but not cut off the fabric. Press hard to ensure you go through all layers of fabric. You can not re-cut if you don’t go through all layers. For this reason I suggest that you practice on a scrap of MPC layered with batting and fabric to get the feel of how hard you have to press to go through all the layers.
Next we will lace up the sides of the case. I used ripped strips of fabric for my case but I have also used ribbon, rayon seam tape and thick yarn. The ribbon and seam tape give the most polished look and the ripped fabric the most casual look. Ripped fabric strips, ribbon or seam tape should be between 3/8″ and 1/2″.

photo 9(a)

Fold the bottom half of the case up 8 1/2″. Thread your ribbon or fabric strips onto your large needle. Begin at the very bottom of the case and insert your needle from the inside of the case to bring it out the lowest slit created by the skip blade. Leave a tail, you will tuck this inside as you stitch to
encase it in the seam.

photo 10(a)

Use a simple whip stitch all the way up the side of the case, around the flap edge and down the other side. Simply thread the needle through the slits along the edge. This photo shows me stitching top to bottom but you may find bottom to top easier. When you need to add another strip of fabric simply tie the two pieces in a knot and continue stitching. If you like a neater edge you can work the tails into the seam with the large eye needle or a bodkin.

photo 11(a)

Messenger Bag

Cut a piece of Multi Purpose Cloth 15″ wide by 37″ long.
Cut a piece of Multi Purpose Cloth 2″ wide by 48″ long for the strap.
Cut Misty Fuse to cover both sides of the MPC main piece and the strap.
I did not use batting in this piece because of the bulk it would add to the side seams.

photo 12(a)

With this larger piece it is easier to pre-fuse the Misty Fuse to the MPC before fusing down the fabric. Place the Misty Fuse on the bag fabric, cover with a Teflon pressing sheet and heat with an iron. This is especially helpful if you have a directional print as I did. Once again the bag is made from one piece of MPC so I cut the fabrics into three pieces to keep the text oriented correctly.
If your print is not directional, cut your fabric 15″ wide by 37″ long.
If your print is directional, cut three pieces:
The flap will be 15″ wide by 10 1/2″ long.
The two remaining pieces will be 15″ wide by 13″ long

photo 13(a)

Place the fabrics on the pre-fused Multi-Purpose Cloth and fuse with a hot iron.

photo 14(a)

In this photo you can see the placement of the directional prints.

photo 15(a)

Quilt the piece by stitching as desired. I simply outlined some of the images
using an organic free motion stitch.

photo 16(a)

If desired, use Misty Fuse to fuse fabrics to the back of the Multi-Purpose Cloth.
You can cover the entire back (lining of the bag) or just the flap area.

photo 17(a)

Trim the front flap by cutting a 10 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ strip off of both sides of the flap section.

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Finish the flap edges and the other edge with a satin stitch.

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With right sides facing, fold the bottom half of the bag up 13″. The end of the bag should be right at the edge of the flap cut outs. Pin the edges. Stitch a 1/4″ seam along each edge. I used a serger for a strong seam. If you don’t have a serger simply stitch a straight stitch and then finish the
inside edge with a zigzag stitch.

photo 21(a)

To create the bottom base of the bag fold the bag as shown
with the seam in the middle of the triangle.

photo 22(a)

Mark a stitch line 1 3/4″ from the point of the triangle.

photo 23(a)

Stitch across this line. Then trim off the remaining triangle leaving a 1/4″ edge.

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Serge the edge or zigzag stitch. Turn your bag right side out and set aside.

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To make the strap, fuse fabric to both sides of the Multi-Purpose Cloth. Stitch along the length in straight lines or as desired. Finish the edges with a satin stitch.

photo 26(a)

Center the strap on the side of the bag 2″ from the top edge of the bag.
Stitch around the edges and across the center as shown.
You can find Multi Purpose Cloth, and Havel’s scissors
and skip blades at these on-line stores:
Fabrics used in this project are available at Artistic Artifacts.

Liz Kettle

Liz Kettle is a mixed media and textile artist living in Colorado. She is
co-author of two books, Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond, and Threads: The Basics and Beyond. Liz loves teaching and sharing the joy of making the things in her articles, classes and at her fabulous retreat, Textile Evolution. Visit her blog and website,

Get the Tools You Need Here

For a printable PDF version of Liz’s Messenger Bag and IPad Case, click here.

Posted in Embroidery, Embroidery Scissors, Fabric, Free Quilt Projects, Fun Stuff, Guest Writers, Liz Kettle, Quilting, School, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sewing for the Very First Time

by Kathleen Mathews

The first time you do something is often memorable and if you close your eyes you can conjure up poignant memories of many first time experiences. Nothing has better memories for me than when I learned how to sew. My Mother did not know how to sew, she claimed that growing up in the depression, her family didn’t want to risk her breaking the machine as they didn’t have the money to fix it. Maybe, but I think that sewing can skip a generation if all you have to do to get homemade delights is to ask your Mom for it!

I was aware that my Grandmother and her sisters sewed and they had shown me a bit of how to make a quilt at a very young age. I had to bide my time to really learn until I was in Jr. High.  I can still remember the excitement of preparing for Home Ec class. We got a list of supplies and my Mom took me to a fabric store to purchase them all. I got needles, thread, thimble, seam ripper and a small ruler. This was in 1967 and I still have that little ruler.

In those days, Home Ec was only for the girls and that difference was part of the excitement as we sat at tables. One the first day, we learned how to use some of our sewing items and to thread the machine. Finally we got our first assignment, an apron. I went with my Mother to Marshall Fields to buy my pattern and fabric. I looked in the easy section of the Simplicity catalogue and chose a dress.

Yes, from an early age I was a sewing rebel! This dress had kimono sleeves and finished with braid. The clerk assured my mother it was an easy first project. And it wasn’t but I sure did find out what a seam ripper was used for. After a couple of weeks, ta da, I finished my dress. It even had a zipper. (Feel free to ooh and aahhh.)

Here was the significant detail – it fit! I loved it. The fabric was a clever blue and beige kettle cloth and to this day, I love that color combination. It was a glorious feeling! I will never forget the sheer pleasure and joy of completing that first project.

I was off to the races after that, I made myself a pink and white gingham peignoir set. Because really, what 13 year old girl doesn’t need one of those? My Mother had me make a blue and white set for my aunt. I sewed culottes for my Mother and party dresses for my sister.

I sewed and sewed for the next 17 years. I loved it but after a while, it became a bit routine. I was no longer making all my clothes; I felt the need for that triumphant rush of completing that first dress. What to do?

How did I revisit the joy of conquering sewing? I took a quilting class and learned the completely old school way how to make a quilt, 100% by hand. I was older now so I could wait for the gratification and within several months I had made two sampler quilts. I was thrilled and I still have the book we used.

And naturally I still have those quilts! They hang in my current sewing studio and I get a kick out of looking them. It reminds me that while there is only one first time, you can discover that joy and sheer fun by seeking out new projects and skills.

Did they all give me that rush? In a word, no. Don’t talk to me about paper piecing. But I have learned to Longarm, I’ve done traditional quilts in a modern way and done improvisational piecing. I never want to lose that terrific high of doing something for the first time.

This year I plan to perfect my free motion quilting and work with wool. For the very first time. Want to join me and feel that first time sewing delight? Or perhaps you’d rather create your own new goals?

Just don’t bring up paper piecing.


Posted in For Beginners in Sewing, Guest Writers, Kathleen Mathews | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How to make a scarf: Chenille Style!

Chenille Scarf by Ruth Chandler

brittany wearing chenille scarfThis technique uses a special rotary cutter that has a guide on the bottom of the blade to prevent all layers of fabric from being cut. There are two ways to accomplish the fraying that makes the chenille. First, you can cut the fabric at a 45 degree angle, second you can stitch the fabric at a 45 degree angle. Without this angle the fabric will not fray nicely and you will be disappointed with your results.


There are two different options to choose from
when making your chenille scarf…

Option #1 – Fabric cut at 45 degree angle:

Stitch lines 1/2" apart from end to end

Stitch lines 1/2″ apart, from end to end.

  • First, press your fabric. I like to use a light starch spray such as Best Press. It will allow you to get a more controlled cut.
  • Lay the fabric out on a large table with the cutting mat under the fabric.
  • Using your ruler, find the 45 degree angle.
  • Line it up on a selvage edge of the fabric and draw a line along the ruler on the fabric. You will have to move your ruler keeping it lined up with the marking line until the line reaches across to the other selvage.
  • Now is the time to decide how wide you want your scarf, I would suggest no narrower than 6 inches and no wider than 12 inches.
  • Use at least 4 layers of fabric but no more than 6… I used 5. More than six layers and the scarf will be too bulky and the cutter will have a difficult time cutting through all the layers. Not to mention the wear and tear on your hands!
  • Now for the layering – the bottom (or first) layer needs to be right side DOWN.
  • Place the other layers right side UP on the first (or bottom) layer.
  • Pin the layers together, matching up the edges and smoothing out any wrinkles. Take your time with this step and use lots of pins, especially with the rayon.
  • If the edges are a little off that is okay, we will trim it up at the end.

Now it is time to stitch. Stitch from one end to the other, length wise. I used the markings on my machine throat plate to guide the stitch lines, but if you are not comfortable with that you can mark lines with your marking pencil. Try to keep the markings as faint as possible so they are easier to wash out. The chenille cutter has instructions on the package, it is important to read these so you can choose the right blade guide for your scarf. My stitch lines were a ½ inch apart so I used the medium 6mm guide. This worked well on the 5 layers of rayon that I cut at the 45 degree angle.

  • chenille pix trio 309x640Start at the right edge and stitch lines ½ inch apart end to end, until you have filled the whole scarf.
  • Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each row to hold the stitching.
  • Lay the scarf out on the cutting mat.
  • Prior to this next step, engage your chenille blade in preparation for cutting.
  • You may want to snip the ends of your rows first with scissors, to get started.
  • Now, slide the cutter guide into the first row of stitching under all layers EXCEPT the bottom layer – do NOT cut the bottom layer of fabric!
  • Slide the cutter along the row and repeat this process till all rows are cut.
  • Be sure the guide is flat on the table, it will work more smoothly.
  • Sometimes a few fibers from the fabric will catch on the guide, simply pull the fibers out using a pair of tweezers.
  • If you want a little fringe at the ends of the scarf, you can cut through all layers to separate them. I would suggest not cutting the fringe any longer than 4 inches.


close up of chenille scarf after washing

Here is a close-up of the chenille scarf
after it’s been washed.

Now comes the magic part! Throw the scarf in the washer. I suggest a few towels also. Wash on a regular cycle. When you pull it out it will be frayed! Dry it with the towels, (you may have to shake your towels outside to get rid of stray threads) and when it is dry you will have a beautiful scarf! If the edges need to be trimmed to make it less ragged on the edges, use your straight rotary cutter to trim the outside edges.

Option #2 – Fabric stitched at 45 degree angle:

  • This technique takes a lot more time and thread.
  • Press and starch the fabric.
  • Lay the fabric out and cut 5, 8″ wide strips the length of the fabric.
  • You should have 5, 8″ x 72″ strips.
  • Lay the first strip right side DOWN.
  • Layer the next 4 strips right side UP.
  • Pin all layers together.
  • Find the 45 degree angle on your ruler and mark across the scarf starting at one narrow end and working down to the other.
  • Stitch along the markings, be sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end of each row.
  • Stitch all rows.
  • Prior to this next step, engage your chenille blade in preparation for cutting.

  • You may want to snip the ends of your rows first with scissors, to get started.
  • Now, slide the cutter guide into the first row of stitching under all layers EXCEPT the bottom layer – do NOT cut the bottom layer of fabric!
  • Slide the cutter along the row and repeat this process till all rows are cut.
  • If the guide is flat on the table it will work more smoothly.
  • Follow the above directions for washing and drying.

I hope you enjoy making a scarf to match your personal style. As always, I love it when you send me photos of your finished work.


Click here for more more projects by Ruth Chandler

Posted in Fabric Art, Free Craft Projects, Fun Stuff, How To, Ruth Chandler, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 ~ by Terry White

On The Eleventh Day Of Havel’s Holiday Project,
My True Love Is The Snip-A-Stitch

Finishing the Edge:

1. Use the same thread in the top and the bobbin of your sewing machine. Choose a nice edge finish stitch.

I use an edge foot because the stitch seems to look so much better with it.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (1)

Snip-A-Stitch is a great tool for any kind of work on the sewing machine. You can see the little notch in the blade…this notch gets you very close to the fabric to cut the end threads without cutting the fabric.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (2)

This is what the edge of the album cover looks like.

2. Position your album on the cover and mark where the folds should be. This cover is just like the book covers we made as kids to cover our school books.

Press the folds with an iron.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (3)

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (4)

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (5)

Here is the album inserted in the fold of the cover.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (6)

Here is the back of the album cover.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (7)

Here is the side view of the album cover.

Next: On The Twelfth Day Of Havel’s,
My True Love Is The Rotary Skip Blade


For a printable PDF, please click here.

Posted in Fabric Scissors, For Beginners in Sewing, Free Craft Projects, Free Quilt Patterns, Free Quilt Projects, Fun Stuff, Guest Writers, Holiday Projects, Patterns, Quilting, Quilting & Embroidery, Terry White, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 ~ by Terry White

On The Tenth Day Of Havel’s Holiday Project, My True Love Is The Rotary Pinking Blade

Time to Make the Back Label and the Spine Label:

1. Apply fusible web to fabric before cutting.
(This will keep the back label and spine label from fraying.)

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 (1)

2. When using this blade, be sure to always hold it upright so that both sides of the blade cut through.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 (2)

I used an archival permanent drawing pen to write on the labels.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 (3)

Then, I positioned and fused them in place.

Next: On The Eleventh Day Of Havel’s,
My True Love Is The Snip-A-Stitch


For a printable PDF, please click here.

Posted in Fabric Scissors, For Beginners in Sewing, Free Craft Projects, Free Quilt Patterns, Free Quilt Projects, Frequently Asked Scissors Questions, Fun Stuff, Guest Writers, Holiday Projects, Patterns, Quilting, Quilting & Embroidery, Terry White, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments