Handmade case for my growing essential oils collection

from Instagram: I’m happy this case is finally complete! It was my first time sewing with piping, and I got some unexpected twists in it, but I like the structure it contributes to the case. This project also taught me how to do a hinged top with the wrap-around zipper, something that looked so daunting but @sewsweetness has great directions. Now to fill it with my #essentialoils ūüėć http://ift.tt/2rnScgs

Pattern used

Crimson and Clover Train Cases by Sew Sweetness (the little individual bins were self-drafted, sized for a grouping of 4 oil bottles)

handmade denim Crimson and Clover Train Case for my essential oils - pattern by Sew Sweetness

handmade denim Crimson and Clover Train Case for my essential oils - pattern by Sew Sweetness-11


Zippered battery pouch: like a fanny pack, but sleeker

from Instagram: I had fun making this custom project for my neighbor. He loves location-based gaming and needed a slim, belted pouch to hold his @anker_official portable charger. Like a fanny pack, but not so fanny pack-like ūüėõ My new machine sewed the ballistic nylon fabric like a dream ‚̧ԳŹ http://ift.tt/2qALODk

Sewing a case for my new essential oils collection

from Instagram: A bonus of jumping on the essential oils bandwagon: I get to sew a storage case for them! I’ve had this triangle print fabric forever, but never knew what to do with it. And 3000 meters of jeans gold thread, so… denim. I can’t wait to get started on the #CrimsonandCloverTrainCase pattern by @sewsweetness that these little bins will nest in. http://ift.tt/2pVyGqS
shave kit for TechShop workshop

DIY waxed canvas shave kit workshop for makers

handcrafted DIY waxed canvas shave kit maker workshop

The fourth project in a workshop series I’m teaching at TechShop Chandler is for a waxed canvas shaving kit. It’s such a cool and functional project, and my first time working with fabric wax. This project¬†expands on the skills learned in previous classes for the lined drawstring bag, denim tool roll, and simple zipper pouch.

DIY canvas shave kit ready for waxing

We’ll also be making our own zippers from zipper tape and pulls, which is a great skill to have. It’s possible to buy zippers and cut them down to size, but with this technique we’ll be removing the unnecessary zipper coils from the tape and installing metal zipper stops. That’s the part that really makes it have a nice professional look. Plus, I selected a long pull and heavier coils than the standard all-purpose zipper so it’s a more substantial feel and nice experience to use.

I toyed with the idea of a metal zipper, which would have looked very appropriate with the waxed canvas, but I was concerned about rusting since it’s a shave kit. So I went with plastic instead.

The 5″W x 10″L x 3″H shave kit also has a nylon lining, boxed corners, pull tab, and strap on one end that acts as a handle. It’s a versatile project and I’d love to make more some time, especially because I’ve got all the instructions written out step by step!

pull tab on DIY canvas shave kit

As with all of the sewing projects in this series, the goal is for students to build basic skills and gain confidence at the sewing machine which can be applied to their own ideas and projects.

Key elements of the waxed canvas shave kit workshop include:

  • learning how to choose a needle and thread for your fabric so when you do a project on your own you have a better idea of where to start
  • learning how to assemble the pieces of a lining so that you can apply those principles to a future project
  • pressing seams, a key step to a high quality final project
  • applying interfacing to stabilize or thicken a fabric in order to give you the final results you want
  • learning how to make a zipper from zipper tape, a zipper pull, and stops that’s the exact length and color you want with professional results
  • learning how to install a zipper, opening up more opportunities for your projects to fit a shape better or hold things without the risk of them falling out like with a button closure
  • sewing straight and even seams so that the final project looks nice and clean
  • sewing stitch lines that are meant to be visible from the exterior of the project (topstitching), which can be decorative or functional, as with holding down the fabric so it doesn’t get caught in the zipper
  • making strong and clean finish straps
  • making double fold binding, a solution for finishing edges of fabric that’s applied to the outside rather than hidden inside seams
  • applying wax to the exterior canvas so that the bag is water resistant

Class is Wednesday, August 3, at 5:30 p.m. at TechShop Chandler. Sewing machines and materials are provided. All you need to do is register and show up! You can visit the Waxed Shave Kit class registration page for more information or to sign up.

learn to sew a simple zipper pouch workshop

Simple zipper pouch sample for upcoming workshop

When you learn how to install a zipper, it opens up lots of new project options. And when you sew a zipper pouch, you’ll want to sew many more. Or at least I did!

learn to sew a simple zipper pouch workshop

sewing a simple zipper pouch for beginners

I’m teaching a workshop at TechShop Chandler on June 1 so more people can learn to sew this versatile project. Students will learn many essential skills in this class that they’ll be able to apply to their own projects.

  • learn how to choose a needle and thread for your fabric so when you do a project on your own you have a better idea of where to start
  • learn how to assemble the pieces of a lining so that you can apply those principles to a future project
  • press seams,¬†a key step to a high quality final project
  • apply interfacing¬† to stabilize or thicken a fabric in order to give you the final results you want
  • learn how to install a zipper, opening up¬†more opportunities for your projects to fit a shape better or hold things without the risk of¬†them falling out like with a button closure
  • sew straight and even seams so¬†that the final project looks nice and clean
  • sew stitching lines that are meant to be visible from the exterior of the project (topstitching), which¬†can be decorative or functional, as with holding down the fabric so it doesn’t get caught in the zipper

Class is Wednesday, June 1, at 6:00 p.m. at TechShop Chandler. Sewing machines and materials are provided. All you need to do is register and show up! You can visit the Simple Zipper Pouch class registration page for more information or to sign up.

dog walking bag in bright blue with arrow pattern

Dog walking bag sample for upcoming workshop

dog walking bag with poo bag dispensing pocket in natural linen-3

I had so much fun sewing these samples for my upcoming sewing class at the¬†local quilt shop! There’s just enough variety (a little quilting, some fusible fleece, little pockets) to make it interesting, but it’s not a complicated project with a million fussy pieces.

The first one I made was in a natural linen blend fabric.¬†I experimented with diagonal quilting lines instead of vertical, just to see what the outcome would be. This one is just for me, and I’ve been using it whenever I take the dogs out for a walk.

dog walking bag with poo bag dispensing pocket in natural linen-3

The second one I made was in brighter, more eye-catching colors with a modern arrow print. This one is for the quilt shop to use as a sample and show people what they’ll be making when they sign up for the class.

dog walking bag in bright blue with arrow print

The bag is part of the Pet Set sewing pattern by Patterns by Annie. It’s compact and works cross-body, and has the pocket on the outside that dispenses poo bags for when your dog does his business. I like to carry my phone, kleenex, and a small can of animal defense spray because we have such an off-leash dog problem in our neighborhood.

Class is Saturday, May 28, 2016, at 10:00 am at the Chandler location of 35th Ave Sew and Vac. You can visit the Dog Walking Bag class registration page for more information or to sign up.

heavy duty tool roll made out of denim

Heavy duty tool roll sample for upcoming workshop

About a year ago I started my handmade business, Oxford Dogma, where I design and sew accessories for dogs and their loving humans. Without taking the time to develop my sewing skills and gaining confidence at the machine, I don’t think I would have been able to get such a good start with the business.

Since learning these skills has been such a turning point in my life, I decided to explore teaching others to sew as well. My first class was at a local quilt shop teaching students how to draft a custom jacket pattern for their dog and then sew the custom jacket. My next class at the quilt shop is for a dog walking bag — a simple and compact, cross body bag with a handy exterior pocket that dispenses poo bags.

My focus at the quilt shop is sewing for pets, primarily for a community with quite a bit of sewing experience.¬†But I’m also¬†teaching sewing classes at the¬†local makerspace TechShop. The goal with these classes is to help makers feel more comfortable in the textiles room and behind the sewing machine. They often are looking to expand their basic skills and pick up tips for helping achieve their creative goals and projects.

The first class was for a lined drawstring bag. The goal was to work with simple shapes (just several rectangles) and piece them together to create the final project. Basic techniques like joining pieces, pressing seams, and sewing long straight lines were the focus. The experience was really rewarding because I remember well the feeling of learning things that would get me closer to my business goals.

tool roll workshop for TechShop Chandler

Next up is a heavy duty tool roll. This project is useful on a few levels:

  1. we’ll be sizing the tool roll based on the students’ tools, so they’ll gain experience sizing fabric pieces
  2. sewing with heavy fabric like denim presents a unique set of challenges to overcome for successful results
  3. attaching straps with durable “x box” stitches¬†provides experience making¬†a durable stitch that’s tricky at first, but gets better¬†each time you do it

heavy duty tool roll made out of denim

This class will be held on April 6, 2016, from 6-9 p.m. at TechShop Chandler, in downtown Chandler, Arizona. For more information and to register for this heavy duty tool roll workshop, visit the TechShop class page.

Sharing, learning, and connecting

Last night I had a wonderful time teaching a pair of students how to sew a lined drawstring bag at TechShop Chandler. They both had some experience with sewing, and wanted to develop their basic skills so they could expand into new types of projects.

student pressing seams open on drawstring bag
Pressing seams gives crisper, more professional results
student sewing the final seams on his drawstring bag
Sewing the final line of stitches on the bag

When it comes to sharing something I’ve learned or made with others, it brings me such happiness. It’s almost addictive! Last fall I attended a retreat (dubbed “Boss Ladies Retreat”) with some good friends¬†—¬†all smart, introspective, thoughtful, and ambitious¬†women.¬†One of our activities was to explore each of our values and missions. During this exercise, my¬†ever-present tug to teach and share knowledge became much more clarified for me. The¬†most powerful element to this exercise wasn’t listing my values (I had done a lot of thinking on that over the years and felt in touch with them), but rather in how we can put those values into tangible action.

Instead of just writing down what we value, we were challenged to think about how we could incorporate those values into our daily lives and use our personal mission to serve our friends, family, and community. The thing I loved about this was how it took something very lofty and rather vague and turned it into an actionable thing. One of my missions came into focus:

Because I value progress, I live to share what I learn with friends and family to empower them with knowledge that helps provide clarity and leads to growth.

It became clear¬†why I love sharing bits of books with others who express interest in a topic, why I relate something I’ve gone through with someone who seems to be going through something similar‚Ķwhy I like to teach sewing! Being able to empower people with something that helps get them unstuck and moving forward toward their goals feels amazing.

After class, I asked the students what they’re favorite parts of making these bags were. One really liked learning the value of pressing seams. That’s something she’ll be able to carry forward into all of her future projects. The other just really enjoyed constructing something — taking some pieces and making it into something new. They also really liked using slivers of soap to mark their fabrics and how the marks magically disappeared with some steam from the iron.

I look forward to seeing what they come up with next, and meeting more students who are eager to get comfortable in the textiles room.

quick and cool grocery tote

Handmade Christmas gifts 2015

Clockwise from large picture on left: Great Big Tote, Home and Away Cable Cozy, Quick and Cool Grocery Tote, Zippy Wallet

For this year’s Christmas presents, I wanted to do some sewing, something that fit each recipient’s personal style and interests.

Both my parents and my husband’s parents like to travel, so for the guys I made Home and Away Cable Cozies. This pattern includes a zipper pouch, which went together fine, and strips of elastic to hold cables. That part was trickier. For the first one, I tried stitching down just the width of the elastic, which required tying off each thread end. For the second one, I learned my lesson and ran the stitches all the way across the panel, allowing them to simply be backstitched at each end.

For my mom and a close friend, I made Quick and Cool Grocery Totes from Sewing to Sell by Virginia Lindsay. This was a fun pattern to make because it’s an efficient use of fabric, and¬†it accommodates different fabric widths (which was good because I ran into that issue with my fabric choices). Boxing out the bottoms was an interesting and challenging experience. I couldn’t envision how they would come together, and had to just go for it (“use the Force” as a friend would say). Luckily it worked out just great!

My sister-in-law tends to like dark, basic colors (like me) and has simple, unfussy taste. I thought she’d appreciate a little Zippy Wallet¬†for unencumbered trips to the store or whatnot. It turned out cute, except I wish I had attached the snap with my new snap tools — this one is a little unrefined.

And I also made two zippered pencil pouches for my nephews that didn’t get photographed — one in a Minions fabric, and the other in Skylanders fabric. I filled them with some mini markers and Field Notes-style notebooks with their names printed on them.

It feels great to sew something special for loved ones, and I hope the projects get lots of use. One of the best parts of this project¬†is that I started making them back in August, making it a relaxing experience free of rushing and pressure. That’s definitely going on the calendar this August, too!

Easy Guernsey knitted hat

After completing my Guernsey Wrap, I had¬†enough yarn left for a hat.¬†Luckily there’s already a pattern for an easy Guernsey hat!

The pattern called for size US8 double pointed needles, which I don’t have so¬†I used size 10 instead. This wasn’t an awesome plan because the hat was too loose and floppy. A run through the washer and dryer helped tighten it up a bit, and I think it will be a cute addition to my cool-weather wardrobe.

The rest of the project details can be found in my Ravelry projects.

Guernsey Wrap detail

Knitted Guernsey Wrap

dark grey Brooklyn Tweed Guernsey Wrap

I started this Guernsey Wrap from Brooklyn Tweed¬†in July while on vacation back home in Iowa. I’d been looking for something to knit that would be a good challenge but not too complicated since it had been awhile¬†since I’d knitted anything.¬† Shawls kept coming up during my search, but they seemed too delicate or feminine for my taste. I wanted something practical like a shawl, but with a more¬†timeless design.

I like the way the designers at Brooklyn Tweed create projects that merge traditional with modern. And this particular pattern was just knit and purl stitches. Nothing complicated, but the pleasing panels of varied stitch patterns add texture and interest. It also has a graphic pattern which I prefer over more organic designs.

In order to properly block this wrap, lace blocking wires are required. Which means I had to buy a kit of lace blocking wires‚Ķhopefully I’ll make something again in the future that needs them so they’re not a one-use purchase.

I’m really happy with the wrap and¬†I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it since it’s a neutral color. The worsted yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca¬†in Salt & Pepper, and it’s so soft and snuggly — I love it. Specs for this project can be found on my Ravelry page.

Zippered knitting project bag

Zippered Knitting Project Bag

Full immersion into sewing made me forget about knitting for a spell. And recently I was re-inspired to pick my needles up again, which is a good excuse for…a sewing project! Specifically, a zippered bag to hold my current knitting project, the Guernsey Wrap from Brooklyn Tweed.

Guernsey Wrap in progress in zippered knitting bag
The interior patch pocket holds the yarn labels and needle package

Process Notes


  • 15 in. nylon zipper
  • exterior: Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Light; Country Classics quilting cotton in Teal Blue; Kona Cotton in Charcoal; heavy cotton denim
  • lining and strap: linen blend in natural;¬†Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Light
  • Pellon SF101 fusible woven interfacing on exterior pieces; sew-in fleece interfacing on lining pieces
  • light grey top stitching thread for top stitching the denim panel


  • 75/11 sharp needle for piecing the exterior panels
  • 100/16 jeans needle for the denim portions
  • 90/14 sharp needle for construction and top stitching

For the exterior panels, I cut strips 15 in. wide, with pieced height totaling 13 in. I cut lining to 15 x 13 in., with some trimming to square it up after piecing.

For construction, I basically followed the Open Wide Zippered Pouch tutorial on noodle-head.com, adding an interior patch pocket and exterior strap.


It was really fun¬†putting¬†some nice fabric scraps to good use on this bag. I went with denim on the bottom section because it’s sturdy, and the lining is a light color so it’s easy to see what’s inside. I love the color combo, especially the way the natural linen coordinates with the blues.

Zippered knitting project bag

Zippered knitting project bag

The zipper tab isn’t awesome¬†— it’s great on the top side, but on the bottom side the folded edges are poking out. It was a bear to get on straight, so I didn’t feel like ripping it out and trying again.

On the strap, the accent fabric with topstitching worked really well. But it would have been better to rotate the strap 180¬į so the edge with the folds was facing down and the clean edge was facing up. I was so focused on remembering to insert it in the right place that I forgot to check the orientation of it.

When drafting the size to make this bag, it seemed plenty large, and maybe even too large. But the final bag, at 13 1/2 in. wide x 9 1/2 in. tall x 4 in. deep, is definitely not too large. Stuffing it with yarn somehow shrank it! It remains to be seen whether the Guernsey Wrap will still fit as it grows.

If I were to do it¬†over, I’d increase the height by a couple of inches and skip the fleece interfacing on the lining. But all in all I really like this bag, and it’s good to have a home for my knitting project.