Tag Archives: sewing

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag

For the last few years I have tried to keep my New Year’s Resolutions short, sweet, and practical. One of my goals has been to get better at sewing. One of my best friends, who is a sewing extraordinaire, has been temporarily living in Boston and I’ve been trying to soak in as much knowledge as possible.

(I have tried persuading her to blog about all her amazing creations, but she’s not biting. She posted an awesome tutorial for an Elsa dress from the movie Frozen, and then decided to quit blogging while she was ahead.)

I am learning how to sew from patterns. I am a hacker, make-stuff-up-as-I-go kind of person, so patterns are intimidating. But I have made my first sewing project from a pattern – a beach bag for this summer!

I used Pattern M6338 by McCall’s which I got on sale at JoAnn Fabrics for $1.00.

Choosing fabrics is always the fun part, and I always tend to buy them before I know what I’m going to make. This never bodes well, because how can you know how much to buy before you know what you are making?

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

A while ago I purchased the boat fabric, which is the Waverly Sun N Shade Set Sail Atlantic Blue pattern. The stripes (also an outdoor Waverly fabric) were a design from last year, so I can’t share the link. The red interior/handle fabric is was a set of cotton sheets I’ve been storing in my fabric bin to eventually use.

I used the heaviest interfacing I could find at Joann’s, which was a pain in the fingernails to sew (literally), but I like the sturdiness it adds to the bag.

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

There are lots of large pockets inside, and the bag will easily hold two beach towels and all our other beachy-gear.

I usually store everything (beach towels, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, aloe, etc) in my beach bag all year long, so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice and there’s nothing forgotten!

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively  A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

My next goal is to sew something I can wear – so a robe is next on my list. I already bought my fabric and I am in loooooove. Choosing fabrics is 100x more exciting than the actual sewing part, as evidenced by all my projects on the docket that I’ve bought the material for and have yet to begin!

Do you sew with patterns? Any recommendations for a beginner like me?

DIY Tutorial: How to Add Grommets to Curtains


Now that we are using our family room regularly, window treatments were on the priority list for a few reasons:

1. Did I mention we have 9 windows in this room?
2. Daytime television watching is impossible due to glare
3. With constant sunlight streaming in, the fabric on our couch fading is a concern long term

After hunting around for a while, a regrettable impulse buy at IKEA that left us $60 in the hole, and even searching Joann Fabrics with plans to make our own, we ended up choosing with these punchy geometric Farrah Fretwork drapes in blue from Target.

(The happy ending is that the regrettable curtains are now hanging in our bedroom and look much better there.)


I like the clean look of curtains with grommets, and also think they are easier to open and close. Of course, it’s much harder to find curtains with grommets, so I decided to add them myself! It was EASY.

I purchased 4 packs of Dritz Brushed Silver Grommets from Amazon. They are silver colored plastic, very easy to install and look great!

 How to Add Grommets to Curtains

1. First I hemmed the curtains 6 inches shorter. I did this, first, because the grommet instruction requires a 4 inch header. Second, I needed to make them shorter because we didn’t want the curtains touching the baseboard heating system – fire hazard! They look a little silly right now, but one side is hidden by the couch, and the other will be behind our future entertainment console.

2. Next, I measured the width of my curtain. Don’t trust the measurement on the package if you are using store-bought curtains! It’s not always accurate  My curtain was roughly 62″ wide. To know how to space your grommets, divide this number by 16 (because you are adding 8 grommets), which, for me, comes out to 3.9″. (Doubled to 7.8″ between grommets.)


grommots83. I spent $10 on a measuring square and it made this task very easy. (Even for a typical just-wing-it-and-guess girl like myself.)  Using the tracing circle guide that came with the grommets, I marked out in pencil where the center of each circle should be – 2″ from the top of the curtain, and 3.8″ away from the center of the circle on either side of it. This sounds complicated (and was intimidating at the first go), but worked quite well. ALWAYS measure twice (or three times!) before you cut.


4. Next, cut out the circles. I started by snipping into the middle of the circle, and then cutting around the outline.

5. Next, open the grommets. Each grommet comes in two pieces – one has teeth and one does not.

grommots5grommots66. Place the one with teeth on the ground, teeth facing up. Next, place the fabric over the grommet, with center the hole you just cut out with the grommet.

7. Next, place the toothless grommet over the top. You are sandwiching a bit of the fabric between the two pieces. To get the grommets to click together, firmly press down with the palm of your hand until it clicks into place.

grommots48. Repeat – again and again and again! I was able to do all four panels in an afternoon.


This is not a curtain installation tutorial. There are about 9,405,937,058 of those on the internet, and they will all tell you to “hang them high and wide” to make your window appear bigger. Unlike most people, we did NOT need to make our windows feel any bigger. We just left a little space between the finial and the wall and tried to replicate it on each side.  We chose chunky Allen & Roth curtain hardware from Lowes.

grommots2 And I’ve officially started dreaming up our TV console we plan to build. This is a Photoshopped version of what I’m thinking of. (You can see our current tiny one we are currently using here).

Have you added grommets to curtains before? Where do you like to shop for curtains? They are tough to find!

DIY Tutorial: $3.00 DIY Padded Camera Strap Sleeve

Step by Step Tutorial: DIY Padded Camera Strap SleeveShutterbug speaking here. I love using my padded camera strap because the extra padding helps prevent the strap from digging into my neck, particularly so on vacation days when I tend to wear the camera all afternoon.

However, my current DIY camera strap had seen better days and it was time for a new one, so I snapped some photos of this process this time around.Step by Step Tutorial: DIY Padded Camera Strap Sleeve

This camera strap cost me about $3.00 to make.

I bought one fat-quarter and a small piece of felt from Joann Fabrics. You should measure your own camera strap – my strap is 17″ wide, and I made mine 7″ tall. The fabric scrap should be about 1″ more on both sides for the hem.Step by Step Tutorial: DIY Padded Camera Strap SleeveHow to make a DIY padded camera strap:

1. Once you’ve cut your pieces, center the felt over the wrong side of the fabric. Fold over the fabric on the short sides and sew a straight line. Do both short sides.

2 and 3. Fold and pin your corners

4. Sew the long sides. Trim off excess fabric.

5. Fold the fabric in half, wrong side out. Lay your strap over it to make sure it’s the right length.

6. Mark a line along the strap, giving yourself extra room to turn it inside out. Sewing along the line.

7 and 8. Fold down extra flaps. This will give you double the neck padding on the backside of your strap.

9. Turn your strap inside out – this may take a while. Go slowly to avoid tearing and seams. I used a long paintbrush to help turn it inside out.

Step by Step Tutorial: DIY Padded Camera Strap SleeveAnd there you have it!

Step by Step Tutorial: DIY Padded Camera Strap SleeveI’d recommend a medium to dark color fabric so maximize the life of the strap. You can add more felt if you need more padding – but it will make it more complicated to turn inside out.

Do you have any favorite camera accessories?

DIY Fabric Boot Stuffers


You know you live in New England when you look forward to boot season  more than flip-flop season. I love boots. They are my soul/sole footwear of choice.

Unfortunately, boots, when stored improperly, flop. This causes the material around the ankles to sink/wrinkle/crease/crack over time. Some people have boot hangers,  but who has the hanging space for four pairs of boots? Not me. I have used the plastic boot shapers for years, and I hate them. They are a pain to put in the boot (especially boots without zippers), so I chucked them all. When I saw fabric boot shapers at T.J. Maxx a while back, a bell went off in my head. I could make those!


Materials Needed: (the quantities below will be enough to make 4 boot stuffers)

  • 1 yard fabric (I used a 100% cotton batik)
  • 1 lb bag of polyester stuffing
  • 64″ yarn ( four 16″ pieces)
  • 12″ ribbon

1. Cut fabric to four 14″x19″ rectangles. If you have wide-calf boots you may want to go up to 16″x19″ (or just measure your leg where the top of the boot hits your calf).

2. Take 16″ of yarn and lay over the shorter side (14″) of the fabric. Let yarn overhang edges by 1″ on each side. (This is the easiest way I could come up with to cinch the fabric closed).

3. Fold over the short end by 1″ with the yarn tucked inside. Sew a straight line across.

4. Cut 3″ of ribbon and fold in half (pretty side out).  Repeat step 3 for the other short end, but half-way through lay down the folded ribbon and include in sewing line. This isn’t necessary but added a cute little loop to pull your boot stuffers by.

5. Next fold the rectangle in half long-ways with the ugly side out. Sew a line straight down to create a tube. Start and stop sewing your line before you get to the part that is folded over – both an inch from the edge.

6. Turn tube inside out. Cinch one end of the tube with yarn and tie tightly. Stuff until full and cinch and tie tightly. Snip extra yarn off.

Voila! I happened to have all these materials in my craft closet, so this project cost me $0.00! But if you were to go to the store you could easily get all these materials for $10.00 – bringing this project down to $2.50 a boot stuffer, or $5.00 for a pair of boots.

It may even make a nice DIY Christmas gift for the boot-lover on your list!