Archive | March, 2012

Vera Bradley Knock Off: Simplicity 2274 Review

27 Mar

I love my new bag. It makes me want to take a trip just so I can take my bag along.

I’m pretty sure Simplicity 2274 has been on my wish list ever since it came out.  The pattern includes a luggage tag, clutch, and overnight bag.  This past weekend I went on a road trip back to my old college.  🙂  What a blast (I’ll have to save the details for another post.)  🙂  Last week I used some of my birthday money to purchase the materials for the project and get to work.  (Although I am over the top excited at how this project turned out it was a little on the expensive side.)

Love this fun print.

I used a fun yellow sunburst paisley calico print from Hancocks, a yellow dot fabric as the lining (instead of muslin as suggested) courtesy of the local Walmart, a black dot fabric (also Walmart), and fusible fleece for the handles.

After quilting the fabric I serged the raw edges of the fabric together. This made sewing the bag together much easier.

One of the hardest parts of sewing this bag was quilting the material.  (This could easily be remedied by purchasing pre-quilted material but the selection is quite limited.)  I did not want to use the carbon/tracing wheel technique because I feared the carbon would not come out of my fabric.  I actually called Simplicity’s 1 800 number.  They gave me the idea of using chalk which worked wonderfully!  I also copied pattern piece 3 (bag side) on my copier machine and cut along the tracing lines.  Then I used that as a guide.  I marked the lining side of the material with orange chalk (the fabric was yellow) and quilted it together.  This step alone took quite a long time so prepare yourself.

If you don't serge the edges be sure to finish them in some manner.

I do wish that I had added additional small pockets on the inside of the bag for a cell phone, pens, hair ties, etc.  (I really like pockets.)  Small open style pockets would be a great addition and very easy to make.

I love the side pocket on this bag!

I really like the side zipper pocket on this bag.  It was very nice on my trip this past weekend.  The only trouble I had with sewing the pocket is that I sewed the lining to the outside.  I really liked the look of a little yellow on the side of the bag so I decided to not rip out the zipper.  (Ripping out a zipper isn’t exactly fun either.)

The major change I made to the pattern was the straps.  Instead of using itchy, scratchy, jute webbing (which is also hard to find) I made my own straps.  This was also a bit time-consuming.  I cut 4 sections of fabric 8″ by the width of the fabric and sewed two of them together into a large tube.  Next I cut fusible fleece 3.5 X 62″  long.  I fused this to the fabric .5 ” from the edge.  Then I folded all of the sides in 1/2 and sewed shut.  (Sorry there are no pictures of this step.)

Top view

I actually used 2 different fabrics for the handles since I ran out of fabric but I kind of like the look don’t you?  (I just couldn’t stand to run out to the fabric store again once I was sewing.)  🙂


I love the little tabs located on the ends of the top zipper. Such a nice professional look. I'm thinking I may also add some zipper pull to the zippers.



Bring on the trips and warm weather! I"m ready now!







The Ipad Bag Sewing Adventure

22 Mar

A couple of months ago my sweet mother-in-law sent me this link for a tutorial to make a purse/bag for an Ipad.  She hinted it would make a great birthday present.  🙂  So a couple of weeks ago we all headed to the fabric store.  Okay I have a confession we actually just went to Walmart.  Boy I feel like a small town girl now!  (Confession number 2: I bought more fabric at Walmart just this morning.  I do not think it is a good thing to live so close to a store that sells fabric even if it is just Walmart.)

I used 3 woven cotton prints for this project, fusible fleece, and 2 packages of extra wide double fold bias tape.  It was fairly challenging to find 3 coordinating prints.  You could easily just use two but I really liked the finish look of 3 coordinating fabrics.  Very modern don’t you think?  (I”m sure it would have been a little easier to find coordinating fabrics if I had been at an actual fabric store.)  😉  The tutorial did not include fabric yardage amounts but I think I purchased a total of 2 yards and had lots of fabric left over.

For the pocket I cut my fabric 12″ x 9.5″.  You can make the pockets anyway that you like.  Since the project was a gift I simply sewed down the middle of the pocket to make 2 pockets.  I was hoping that the pockets would be large enough to hold an iphone.  If you were using this bag for other purposes (besides an ipad) it might be nice to make a small 1-2″ pocket for pens.  I also added a fun little label that says “specially made by Amanda.”  🙂


As I was sewing on the last 12″ of bias tape I BROKE the bobbin mechanism on my sewing machine!  I am still unsure of what happened.  I was upset of course about the machine but even more so about the fact that my mother-in-law wouldn’t get her bag on her birthday.  (I think she got it the day after though.)  I was able to go over to my parent’s house and borrow one of my mom’s machines to finish up the project.

Overall I found the bias tape application to be quite difficult on this project.  In the past year I have become a big fan of bias tape and have used it many times on different projects.  I used fusible fleece in order to give the bag shape and protection for the ipad.  I think it would have been much easier if I had used just a medium interfacing.  If I ever make the bag for myself I would probably also want to add about 2″ to the straps.  I just prefer longer bags myself.




20 Mar

Menu Plan March 19-25

Spring is here!  Although I was really hoping for at least one good snow this winter I”ve decided to just enjoy the glorious weather we have been given.  (I’m still not convinced we won’t have snow on Easter though.)  After making dinner tonight (in a house without air conditioning) I think we will be focusing on lots of CrockPot or stove-top meals.  🙂       


  • Breakfast: Applesauce Spice Muffins, Milk
  • Lunch: Leftovers from my birthday. 🙂
  • Dinner:  Baked Cod, Sweet Potato Fries (oven baked), Salad




  • Breakfast: Yogurt with Homemade Granola
  • Lunch: Sneaky Potato Soup, Salad
  • Dinner: CrockPot Beef Enchiladas-our favorite crockpot meal!


  • Breakfast: Sausage Breakfast Casserole, Toast
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner:  Spaghetti with Sesame Italian Bread
  • Snack: Popcorn


  • Breakfast: Homemade Granola Bars made from the Homemade Granola earlier in the week, Fruit
  • Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwiches on the road
  • Dinner: on the road.  I am going on a road trip this weekend to see a friend, details to follow next week.  Can’t wait!  I’m planning on taking a medium sized cooler full of snacks for Eli and myself.  🙂


  • Breakfast: Granola Bars, hard boiled eggs, bananas.
  • Lunch: on the road
  • Dinner:  Chicken Veggie Casserole

February Reads

6 Mar



It has been wonderful to carve out a decent amount of reading time this month.  Most of the books I read this month were not typical.  As many of you know I recently started a tutoring business so many of the books relate to that new aspect in my life.  We have also been working lately on some of the more mundane tasks of adulthood-gathering tax information.  Yuck huh? 

How to Pay Zero Taxes by Jeff A. Schnepper’s. I can’t decide if I”m proud or a teeny bit embarrassed that I actually read or skimmed this entire book.  The book itself is a good 1.5 inches!  I found this book to be absolutely intriguing.  Nerd alert!  I had no idea all of the different legal exemptions that can be written off of your taxes.  One of my goals this year is to do a better job in the area of finances.  The first aspect of that goal I have decided to tackle is the area of taxes.  This book is wonderful and I highly recommend it for the motivated person who wishes to see their tax bill shrink!  As a side note I would NEVER recommend doing your own taxes (you miss way too much that a CPA would not).  After reading this book I am incredibly motivated to keep stellar financial records and write off more items from our taxes! 

Zondervan 2012 Minister’s Tax and Financial Guide: for 2011 Returns by Dan Busby.  If your husband is in the ministry I highly recommend purchasing and reading this book!  Tax returns for ministers are much different from regular returns.  There are different deductions, allowances, etc.  I wish I read this book 3 years ago when Brandon and I got married.  After reading it I have a much better understanding of taxes for ministers. 

Running a Side Business: How to Create a Second Income  by Richard Stim and Lisa Guerin.  As I continue to work on the business aspects of my tutoring business I have found a lot of help through many of the books from our public library.  This one touched on many of the legal aspects of running a side business that I had not yet thought of.  There were also a decent amount of links to other sources inside the book.  Although there was a section on Advertising & Marketing I was disappointed that there were no examples.  A nice book to browse through from the library but not one we will be adding to our own bookshelf.

Adopted for Life by Russel Moore.  While at Southern Seminary I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Moore the author of this book.  Having actually known his wife and family (and 4 boys-two of which are adopted) it was very interesting for me to read a book about a family I was acquainted with.  (I got to know the Moore family well during a small retreat I went on with their church a couple of years ago.)  What is so interesting about this book is that the book is about a Christian’s adoption into God’s family AND about the need for Christian families to adopt children into their homes.  Whether you are interested in adoption yourself or not I would highly recommend reading this solid thought-provoking book.

The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Nap Time Problems by Elizabeth Pantley.  This book was a great read.  Elizabeth Pantley is one of my favorite authors when it comes to raising babies.  Although we probably wouldn’t agree on discipline I find most everything else she has to say to be very helpful.  This book was filled with many wonderful ideas but I think it is more applicable for children who still take their naps in their crib.  We continue to struggle with Eli taking a nap now that he is in a toddler bed and can get himself up out of bed.  He can also open the door knob no matter what type of child lock we place on it!  I have read Pantley’s The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Babies and Gentle Baby Care.  I would highly recommend both of these books.  The No-Cry Sleep Solution is the perfect book for those who do not want to let their child cry it out but instead want to help teach their child to put themself to sleep.  I read it first when Eli was a little baby and it was such a blessing to our family!  The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers is next on my book list so I will keep you updated.  🙂

Elijah’s Cowboy Vest: Simplicity 1923 Review

3 Mar

Wearing the cowboy vest the 4th day in a row!

My little boy has recently turned into quite the cowboy.  Hardly a day goes by in which he isn’t wearing his cowboy boots.  🙂  This past week I decided to make Eli a little cowboy vest to go with his daily ensemble.  What do you think?

What a delight this little boy is in our lives.

 I used Simplicity pattern 1923 view C with 3 buttons.  I made Elijah a size 2 which seems to be just a little big.  He should get a lot of wear out of it though.     




I did line the vest as the Simplicity 1923 pattern suggested.  Instead of using a typical thin, slippery vest lining material I used a regular cotton.  Actually I cut up an old blue sheet that we no longer used.  🙂  This made the lining easy to sew and gives the vest a nice casual look. 



I am very pleased with how the vest turned out.  I made sure to press often as I sewed  and used pins even when I was tempted not to.  (Sometimes I’m a lazy sewer.) 


The only part of the pattern I disliked was sewing step 7.  I had trouble understanding how the side seams together while at the same time not seeing the seams.  I simply sewed the side seams together and then finished them with a serger.  They are visible on the inside but I still think the vest looks fairly nice.  I also may or may not have put the buttons on the wrong side for a little boy.  I couldn’t remember is it left over right for a boy or right over left.  If I can’t remember hopefully no one will notice if it is backwards.  🙂 


Overall I really enjoyed sewing this project.  It was very quick and easy to put together.  One could easily sew it from start to finish during your little one’s naptime.  🙂  I may attempt making another vest for Easter that is on the fancy side.  What do you think? 

It was wonderful to find such a cute pattern for little boys.  I have found that it is much more difficult to find cute patterns for boys than for little girls.  (I would estimate that there are about 4 times as many patterns for little girls as for little boys.)  Regardless of whether you are sewing for a little girl or boy the next time you find a .99 pattern sale I would recommend picking up Simplicity 1923. It also contains a button up shirt with rolled up sleeves, long shorts (they look like capri pants to me), and a sweet little dress.