How to Grocery Shop and Cook More Efficiently

5 grocery shopping and meal planning hacks to save you time and money

If you cook for your family most days of the week, you know how much time it can take. It’s not just the actual time spent cooking, it’s also the menu planning, list making and grocery shopping. Even if you love to cook, it’s a lot of time dedicated to a single thing. Maybe you wish you had more time for crafting, reading or another hobby. Here are some tips to streamline your planning, shopping and cooking so you have as much free time as possible outside the kitchen.

1. Simplify According to Your Schedule

If you have certain days of the week where your work schedule is busy, your kids have after school activities, or there is some other addition to the schedule, take that into account before you plan out your meals for the week. On days where the afternoons are full of work or activities, plan something extremely simple for dinner such as make-you-own sandwiches or a baked potato bar. You can even throw in a pizza delivery night every now and then. Make the meal plan work for you, so you can spend more time outside the kitchen.

2. Stock Up on Grab and Go Snacks

If you have to spend time in the kitchen making snacks for the kids in addition to the time spent making meals, you’ll be in the kitchen a lot. Stock up on snack items that your kids can get themselves so you won’t need to spend a lot of time scrounging around for food during the pre-dinner hours. There are numerous options for healthy snacks that you can keep in your pantry and fridge.

3. Try Once-a-Month Cooking

This method works extremely well for some people and others hate it, so you’ll probably have to try it out to see if it’s for you. The concept definitely cuts down on your daily time in the kitchen. Once you take a couple days to prep and cook your meals for the month, all you have to do is toss dinner in the oven or slow cooker. This method also allows you to buy meats, cheeses and vegetables in bulk so you may save some money at the store.

If you want a little more flexibility, you can take a day every month to prep dinner for half of the upcoming days. That way on days when you have a busy schedule or just don’t feel like cooking you can pull a homemade meal out of the freezer. You can either make casseroles that just require reheating or prep slow-cooker meals where you simply place all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning.

4. Try a Subscription Box

It seems like there are subscription boxes for everything nowadays, and there are even several options for home cooks! These dinner box subscriptions come with all the ingredients and instructions you need to make a home-cooked meal so you don’t need to worry about finding a recipe and then shopping for the ingredients. There is also less food waste because the boxes include the exact amount of every ingredient you need for the recipes. There are several different brands and most offer trial boxes so you can see if it works for your family.

5. Choose Recipes with Overlapping Ingredients

One of the best ways to limit your time in the grocery store and kitchen is to plan your meals wisely. Try to find recipes with overlapping ingredients so you cut your grocery list down and throw away less food. Leftover rice can be used the next night to make fried rice. Use delicious and healthy flavored mayo from Hampton Creek for sandwiches one night and Mediterranean pasta salad later in the week. Look at the things you normally keep on hand in your fridge and pantry and build your meal plan with those ingredients in mind.

With all you have going on in your life, it’s important to streamline your shopping and cooking activities so you have more time for all the other areas of your life. Freezer cooking once a month can save a lot of time if the method works for you. Dinner subscriptions boxes are another good option. Planning your menu around a set of common ingredients makes your shopping and cooking easier. It can take a while to find the right method for your family, but once you do, you’ll enjoy all the extra time you’re not spending in the kitchen.

 

What tips do you have to make grocery shopping and meal prep more efficient?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and Craft Buds was compensated for posting.

Sewing Easy Patchwork Bags + Baskets

Today, I’m excited to share a project I made from a brand new Craftsy class called Colorful Patchwork Bags & Baskets! It’s a sturdy patchwork basket that can be used to hold a variety of things, and I think I’ve decided I’m claiming it for my sewing room. :)

Patchwork Basket - Craftsy review

Colorful Patchwork Bags & Baskets (affiliate link) is a taught by Craftsy instructor Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield, who you know from her popular website and newsletter, Sew Can She. I had the chance to meet Caroline a few years ago at QuiltCon, and she is totally awesome. She’s smart and creative, and very passionate about teaching quick and easy projects that you can make for yourself, as well as sharing the creative work of others.

Patchwork Basket - Craftsy review

The class itself focuses on three types of projects, all made using Caroline’s secret weapon: gridded fusible interfacing. By fusing patchwork squares of any size (seriously… 2″ to 10″ squares… whatever is in your stash!), you can make patchwork panels and turn them into a 1) basket, 2) tote bag or 3) zipper pouch. My first project was the basket, but I’m going to have to try the cute tote bag next!

Patchwork Basket - Craftsy review

Aside from the gridded fusible interfacing, I used a square of Peltex sturdy sew-in interfacing on the bottom and Pellon Thermolam fusible interfacing on all sides. Instead of making fabric handles, I substituted my own canvas and leather handles salvaged from a thrifted tote.

Patchwork Basket - Craftsy review

The basket has these really cute corners which fold out and then over on two of the sides, giving you a peel of 9-10 different fabrics at once, so you can really have fun with your patchwork! Use all of your scraps… mix it up. I had fun picking out some of my favorite fabrics, like Essex linen and those Cotton + Steel apples, and mixing them with my go-to scraps and some neutrals I had on hand. Oh… the bottom is patchwork, too!

Craftsy Colorful Patchwork Bags + Baskets

 

Want to learn more? Head over and check out the video to learn a little more about Caroline’s Craftsy class! You’ll learn a lot about interfacing, drafting a custom bag pattern, and customizing your project to any size, from a teeny tiny zipper pouch to a super large beach tote or basket!

Craftsy Colorful Patchwork Bags + Baskets

My take on the class: It’s great for beginners and perfect for someone who has time to make a small project here and there, but may not want to tackle a whole quilt. You probably have many of these materials in your stash, so what have you got to lose?!

Congrats to Caroline on this new class. I hope you get to check it out! Caroline has provided a special link so you can get the class for 50% off, and best of all, this deal never expires!

Check out the rest of the projects in the blog hop here!

 


Sporty Strap Pack Sew Along – Post #3: Finishing the Bag

On the Go Bags Sew Along 5

Welcome to the second post of the Sporty Strap Pack sew along! This is the one-shoulder backpack pattern featured on the cover of our book On the Go Bags, co-written by Janelle MacKay of Emmaline Bags.

Janelle kicked off our sew along with several helpful posts for those of you sewing the Airport Sling Bag, (another one from the book!) which you’ll find here:

Airport Sling:

Sporty Strap Pack:

You may have already joined the On the Go Bags Facebook group, but in case you haven’t, check it out for all of the sew along info.You can share your bag progress, ask questions, and even enter to win prizes just for sewing along! We’ll do about 2 weeks of instruction for each bag, and then you’ll have 4 weeks to finish for a chance to enter your bag for giveaways.

Sporty Strap Pack Riley Blake

Here’s the bag again, featured in Keep on Groovin’ from Riley Blake Designs.

Adding the Zipper Flap

In the last post, we talked about getting the pockets and straps made for the bag. Now we are focusing on that zipper and zipper flap.

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Fold your interfaced zipper flap piece in half. Prepare the zipper tabs by folding in half, then opening up and folding each raw edge in an extra 1/4″ toward the center. Insert both ends of your 18″ zipper into one of these zipper tabs about halfway.

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Cut off the metal stopper end of your zipper if needed to get it to 18″ in length.

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Here’s another view showing how I inserted a zipper end in a zipper tab. Note that it goes about halfway down. This is because you want to extend the zipper with fabric, in a sense, and leave a little fabric to sew through at the very tip to where you don’t have to sew through the actual zipper along with all the layers of your backpack.

Now stitch the zipper tab to each end of the zipper as shown in the book.

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Here comes the scary part. But it really doesn’t have to be scary! Take the lining panel and outer panel that look like this (neck pointed slightly to the left) when placed right sides together, with the lining closest to you. Or refer to the pattern notches and directions in the book. Place your long ruler 1 1/2″ from the left side of the neck, traveling straight down to the center of the bag pieces. Use your rotary cutter to slice through both layers along this line. You can mark it with a pen to be safe!

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Slice! That wasn’t so bad.

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Next, take the left half of the outer body piece you just sliced and place it in front of you, right side facing up. Place the zipper flap, which you pressed in half earlier, on top so the raw edges align. Then, place the zipper on top of that, with the zipper pull side face down. The right edge of the zipper will align with the raw edges of your outer panel and zipper flap. Pin together if you’d like… we’ll be adding one more layer!

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Next, layer the half of the lining flap you cut earlier face down on this stack. Make sure it has the same shape/notches as the body piece below.

Pin or clip everything in this stack together (not pictured)…

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Carefully removing pins as you go, stitch together everything you pinned together in the last step. Use your fingers to make sure everything stays aligned along the raw edges as you sew.

The zipper will especially want to get away from you when you are stitching past the zipper pull. No worries! Just lift your presser foot when you get close, raise the needle, unzip the zipper a bit, and continue stitching. I like to start with it in the middle, and then move it out of my way back toward the beginning so I can finish stitching in peace.

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When you have completed this step, your panel will look something like this. You can see the zipper flap naturally falls over to the left of the zipper.

Now take that whole panel and fold it in half, so the wrong sides of the fabric are facing…

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And press it so it looks like this. Fold the zipper flap over the zipper and press.

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Now topstitch two lines to the left of the zipper flap, on the outer fabric, going through the lining fabric on the other side.

Notice how my lining is sticking out a bit below my outer panel? Not concerned… we’ll trim that off in a bit, as well as the excess zipper tab peeking out.

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Okay, now it’s time to take your remaining outer body panel (the right half when you sliced it earlier) and place it right side up in front of you.

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Next, take the bag panel we just worked on. Stack it on top, so the zipper edge is facing left and the neck is pointing up. Line up the raw edges.

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To complete this “bag sandwich” you’ll add the final half of the lining panel, face down.

Pin along the raw edges as before, and stitch.

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Now repeat the same steps as before, pressing and topstitching. More details on this in the book.

You’ve got it!

 

Putting it all together

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Remember that bag panel with the pocket and straps? Grab it, and stuff the straps inside the pocket. Add some pins if you’d like. You’ll want them out of the way.

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Okay, now pin the two outer fabric panels together. the one on the bottom (right side facing up) has the pocket. The one on top (right side facing down) has the zipper. Since you don’t want the lining to get caught, roll it up like a burrito in the center and pin.

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Important tip! When sewing around the neck, you don’t want to sew too much of the strap corners. This is because you’ll want the strap free so it can swing in any direction. We’ll be covering this raw edge with the strap facing later. So either before or after you do this step, you can unpick a few stitches to get that top strap out of the way. Then, just use your fingers to manipulate it through the sewing machine so you don’t have to sew the strap too… just the outer body panels!

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Here’s another great tip! When sewing the body panels together, your lining will be pinned to the center, right? What happens when you inevitably have to sew over the tip of the lining, near the zipper? It’s okay…. just go right over it. for the inch that you need to, but pull back the lining before and after the zipper so it doesn’t get caught in your stitch line. You want it to be free for the next step…

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Take the lining panel (the one with the elastic pocket, and place it face down on the other lining panel (the one with the zipper. Pin around the edges of just the lining panels. You can pin the body pieces out of the way, if you’d like. Stitch, leaving a hole for turning.

Note: I’d love it if someone wanted to try leaving their turning hole in the side instead of the bottom of the lining. After several bags, we think this might be easier!

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Here’s what your bag will look like after the body pieces are joined and the lining pieces are joined. It’s kind of like a star fruit!

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Tip! Your bag has probably shifted a little bit. Since one panel has a zipper and one doesn’t, one will naturally be larger. Just use your rotary cutter to gently trim off the excess lining. The shape of this bag is very forgiving.

 

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Turn that bag right side out and pin the lining closed so you can hand or machine stitch it.

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When you get to this 1″ section nearest the zipper, you might have to just bite the bullet and hand stitch it. Or be lazy like me, and just leave that bit of the lining open.

Prep the Strap Facing

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This one is pretty straightforward in the book, but I wanted to give you some pics of the strap facing I sewed for the bag…

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Here it is right side out.

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And here it is stitched to the bag strap. Ta da!

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I think a matching or contrasting strap facing can work well here, so feel free to change your mind. It’s just a small scrap of fabric, so pick something you’ll be really happy with.

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Remember that strap buckle? I rarely read the instructions when putting one on… I kind of  slip it on and off in different directions until something just “feels right.” This is why my husband and I can never assemble IKEA furniture together. He wants to read the directions, and I’m all… “Eh, this looks like it could go here.” :)

Thank goodness for instruction-type people!

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Here is a fresh look at the back of the bag, which shows the strap situation a little better. When I took it to Chicago, it was a little “slidey” on me, so if that happens to you, just take it out and try, try again.

Tip: Burn and melt the end of nylon strapping with a lighter for a few seconds to keep it from unraveling.

Goodness, this was fun!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sporty Strap Pack Sew Along! I hope it encouraged you to try something new, and that it was fun and not too intimidating. Those who know me also know that I’m often sewing during my son’s nap times or late at night. I may have only small amounts of time to work on a bag, and then I get interrupted… Then I come back and make a mistake, losing my train of thought. It happens! We can all be brave and try something new, and let our seam rippers do their jobs. :)

And now, here’s where you can link up your bag for prizes…. 5 winners will be randomly selected from all entries submitted by June 15th! Don’t forget to enter your finished Airport Slings by May 30th… you’ve still got time!

 

And if you have a moment, we’d also like to invite you to upload a picture of your finished bag (any one from the book) to an Amazon review, to share with the world. And share it on the Facebook group, because we want to ooh and ahh over it. :)

 

Sporty Strap Pack Sew Along – Post #2: Straps + Pockets

On the Go Bags Sew Along 5

Welcome to the second post of the Sporty Strap Pack sew along! This is the one-shoulder backpack pattern featured on the cover of our book On the Go Bags, co-written by Janelle MacKay of Emmaline Bags.

Janelle kicked off our sew along with several helpful posts for those of you sewing the Airport Sling Bag, (another one from the book!) which you’ll find here:

Airport Sling:

Sporty Strap Pack:

You may have already joined the On the Go Bags Facebook group, but in case you haven’t, check it out for all of the sew along info.You can share your bag progress, ask questions, and even enter to win prizes just for sewing along! We’ll do about 2 weeks of instruction for each bag, and then you’ll have 4 weeks to finish for a chance to enter your bag for giveaways.

Sporty Strap Pack Riley Blake

Here’s the bag again, featured in Keep on Groovin’ from Riley Blake Designs.

Making the Straps

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In the last post, we got all of our pieces cut out and stabilized or interfaced. Here are the right sides of the strap pieces. You’ll see the 2 small and 2 large ones. The nylon strapping gets pinned onto 1 of each, with the longer strapping pinned to the shorter strap, and the shorter strapping pinned to the longer strap.

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In the Facebook group this week, Melissa asked me if the stabilizer for the curved strap goes right up to the end of the fabric (as pictured above), or if it gets pushed back a 1/4″, to allow for an easier time sewing the seam allowance. My answer: Push the stabilizer 1/4″ back from what is featured in the picture, so it’s not butting up against the edge of the strap. This will go through your sewing machine easier.

Truthfully, I didn’t trim back my stabilizer on any of my Sporty Strap Packs, because my sewing machine sews right through them! I reduce bulk after sewing with a pinking rotary cutter, so the straps lay nice and flat after topstitching. But that suggestion on cutting back the stabilizer to be a little smaller than the straps will help you out if your sewing machine has a rough time going through multiple layers. :)

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Here are the interfaced sides of each strap after they are sewn to the matching one. See that little nylon strapping hanging over the edge? We’re gonna trim that off next.

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I like to use a pinking rotary blade to trim off the entire curved edge of both straps, including the nylon strapping. You can also notch the curves with regular scissors or pinking shears.

Now turn those straps right side out, press….

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…. And add your two layers of top stitching! Mine are about 1/4″ from the edge, and another 1/4″ inside that.

If your nylon strapping didn’t stay perfectly centered, you can rip out some stitches in the end and reposition the strapping to try again. Make sure to do this before topstitching, though.

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Here is how they look attached to the outer panel of the Sporty Strap Pack. I recommend pinning and basting in place. Make sure you baste them to the panel that has the neck slightly slanted to the right side. (See the note in the book about the notches on the pattern piece if you need more help figuring out which side is which.)

Making the Flat Pocket (and Pocket Flap)

I’ve used contrasting pockets on this bag, but you can also choose to match the fabrics for the outer bag and pockets, like the one on the book’s cover.

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When we were writing the book, Janelle came up with this neat idea to have one curved pattern piece that coordinates with multiple patterns. So all you need to do to “curve” the bottom corners of your pocket flap is find the appropriate curve line on the pattern piece and line it up as shown. Repeat with the second corner of your pocket flap.

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To find the center point of your pocket flap and flat pocket, fold them in half and use your finger to make a crease. Then apply the magnetic snaps as explained in the book. If you’ve never used a magnetic snap, I think you’ll find them quite easy to master, and they add a lot of bang for your buck as far as making your pockets look professional.

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Here are both my curved pocket flap and flat pocket pieces with the magnetic snap attached. Note that I’ve inserted the magnetic snaps into the stabilized pieces. I make the tiniest hole with my seam ripper, and then force the magnetic snap prongs through the layers. This way, I can avoid having to use fray check. But that’s always an option if your holes end up being very big and you want to prevent them from tearing.

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After the magnetic snaps are in place, stitch the flat pockets together leaving a gap in the top side (see the pins). Do the same with the pocket flap. See where I’ve pinned it? The top flat side is where you’ll turn it.

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Now turn that flat pocket right side out, and add two lines of topstitching 1/8″ from the edge, and 1/4″ from the top edge to close that turning area. Place the pocket on your bag front (the one with the straps attached) as shown, using the measurements from the book as your guide.

Pin the pocket in place and stitch around the three bottom sides.

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After that pocket is stitched on, place your pocket flap on the bag so that the metal snaps connect. Pin the flap in place and use a single line of stitching 1/8″ from the top edge to attach it to the bag front.

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Here is the flap opened after sewing it to the bag. Plenty of room between it and the top of the pocket, which is great for stashing your cell phone or keys securely!

Making the Elastic Pocket

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Remember that corner template? We are going to use this again. Refer to the book to make sure you are cutting the correct curve for the elastic pocket. Curve the two bottom corners of both pocket pieces. This will be along the 10″ side.

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Now stitch them together, leaving a gap in the curved bottom for turning.

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Turn the pocket right side out. Here, I am using a frixion pen to mark a straight line 3/4″ from the top, which will create my elastic casing.

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Rip out a few stitches on both the right and left sides of the pocket, just above the line you sewed in the last step. Insert your elastic and safety pin, referring to the directions in the book for completing the elastic pocket. I hope these photos help give you extra visuals to explain the process!

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Here is the almost finished elastic pocket. Just stitch to secure the longer end, and trim off that elastic.

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Next, pin the elastic pocket to your bag lining piece which has the neck curved slightly to the left, as shown above. See your pattern piece and notches for further clarification. Remember, the bottom of the pocket is still opened, with the seam pressed in 1/4″. We’ll be stitching that down as we sew all around the pocket’s left, bottom and right curve.

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Here’s picture of the gathered pocket sewn onto the lining and the flat pocket sewn onto the outer bag with straps. Although, the pocket flap should also be sewn on… I just hadn’t gotten a picture of that yet.

We’ve accomplished a lot today!

If you have any questions about the Sporty Strap Pack Sew Along, feel free to ask them in the On the Go Bags Facebook group! I’ll respond to any questions on the group or will incorporate them into future sew along posts.

Thank you for sewing along with us. It means so much to me and Janelle, and we are humbled and grateful every time we see one of your creations!

If you have a moment to go post a review of the book on Amazon or CTPub.com, that would be so generous of you. Pssst… you can even add your bag photos and comments to the review page!

 

On the Go Bags Sew Along Sponsors

Aurifil * Blend Fabrics * ByAnnie * C&T Publishing * Craftsy * Pellon * Riley Blake Designs

Sporty Strap Pack Sew Along – Post #1: Supplies, Cutting & Interfacing

On the Go Bags Sew Along 5

Today is the first post of the Sporty Strap Pack sew along! This is the one-shoulder backpack pattern featured on the cover of our book On the Go Bags, co-written by Janelle MacKay of Emmaline Bags.

Janelle kicked off our sew along with several helpful posts for those of you sewing the Airport Sling Bag, (another one from the book!) which you’ll find here:

Airport Sling:

Sporty Strap Pack:

  • Post #1: You are here!

You may have already joined the On the Go Bags Facebook group, but in case you haven’t, check it out for all of the sew along info.You can share your bag progress, ask questions, and even enter to win prizes just for sewing along! We’ll do about 2 weeks of instruction for each bag, and then you’ll have 4 weeks to finish for a chance to enter your bag for giveaways.

Sporty Strap Pack shoulder backpack

Let’s Get Started!

The Sporty Strap Pack is a practical one-shoulder backpack pattern that you can sew in one fabric or coordinating prints for a little pizzazz! I took this version with me to Chicago for a girls’ getaway with my mom, and it was just the right size to carry my DSLR camera, a light sweatshirt, and my wallet. I love wearing this bag!

I was inspired to design a one-shoulder backpack for my friend who needed a small bag to take her dog out to go on walks, to carry a treat, plastic baggie, a sweater, and a bottle of water. I soon realized that this would be a great smaller backpack to replace my big diaper bag as my son grew into toddlerhood and didn’t require so many things to leave the house.

Sporty Strap Pack Riley Blake

The fabric featured on this bag is the fun Keep on Groovin’ from Riley Blake Designs. Yeah!

The bag front features a magnetic snap pocket and the inside features an elastic pocket. Each time I make this bag, I change up the pockets just a little, with a contrasting flap or something to spice it up. The back of the bag has a zipper and a covered zipper flap, which I’ll show you here….

Back of Sporty Strap Pack

See the zipper? It’s hidden underneath the zipper flap!

The straps are kind of neat to sew, too. Each top and bottom strap has a piece of nylon strapping coming from it, and is topstitched for detail and strength. Finally, you can add a plastic buckle with an adjustable slider to customize the pack to fit you.

Supplies & Fabric:

  1. I used a quilting cotton, but you can also sew this bag with a canvas fabric. Both are plenty sturdy with the proper interfacing. I’ve used Pellon SF 101 Shape Flex as my interfacing and Pellon Fusible Thermolam as my stabilizer. If you are using canvas, I’d still recommend interfacing and stabilizer.
  2. As for the type of fabric print that works well for this bag, I’m going to suggest going with a small to medium-scale print, or something like the solid Essex linen featured on the cover. I’ve found that large-scale prints (huge florals) and such don’t work as well with the kidney shape of the bag. If you’re determined to use a larger-scale print, why not tone it down with solid front pocket and flap? I’ve shared some other examples of the #sportystrappack on Instragram in case you need some inspiration!

What fabric and hardware am I using?

Sporty Strap Pack materials list

Here is the complete fabric and supplies list from the book! Please note that I’m going to suggest an 18″ zipper instead of the 16″ zipper listed. This was an error in the editing of the book, and has been changed in all digital and reprint editions. If you’ve already purchased a smaller zipper, you can make your zipper tabs a bit longer to compensate.

Other than the zipper, the only real hardware you will need is a magnetic snap!

 

Cutting Fabric:

Are you nervous to make that first cut? Don’t be! I completely messed it up, but realized my error and was able to fix it, no problem! Hopefully these cutting tips will help you all breeze through the cutting of the Sporty Strap Pack!

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Trying to save time, I folded my blue dot print and orange car print in half from top to bottom. This worked fine for the blue, since it’s not a directional print, but not so well for the cars…

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Oops! On the left lining piece, you can see that the cars are right side up. On the right lining piece, they are upside down. Luckily, I had enough fabric that I could cut a new right lining panel, and you should, too! But to save yourself the time and effort, just cut any directional fabrics one at a time! Do not cut through two layers, or you might make a mistake like I did.

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Here I am cutting out that lining piece the right way… one at a time. Always a smart move with directional fabrics!

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Once you’ve cut your body pieces from the outer fabric, go ahead and trim off that curved to give yourself a clean edge. Then cut a long strip 3.5″ wide through both layers for your straps.

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Cut that long strip into your short strap and long strap. See how easy!

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Next, I’m going to show you a tip for centering a print.

Here, I’m cutting out my front pocket. Because I know I want it to be 7″ wide and I also want at least some of the car circles to be centered, I’m going to fold my fabric right sides together and fold it carefully so the circles are centered. Then, I place my ruler at the 3.5″ mark.

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When I unfold my cut pockets, the van circles are perfectly centered!

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Next, just trim that long pocket piece into two pockets of the correct height.

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I used the same centering trick for the pocket flap… Just divide the width of the pocket flap by two, and that will be  your measurement for cutting along the folded fabric. Cut along the fold to get a pocket flap of the correct width, then cut two pieces to the correct height.

If you aren’t using a directional fabric, it’s your lucky day! You can skip all of these tricks and just cut normally through two layers of a folded piece of fabric to get your matching pieces.

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Here’s my elastic pocket piece. Because my print is only slightly directional, I just cut through two layers to get my pieces.

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Don’t forget to cut out your interfacing and stabilizer (pictured above). You might notice here that in the center column, my long top strap piece isn’t long enough (just a few inches short). It’s okay to piece stabilizers together if needed to get a long enough strap piece. Just fuse one to the fabric, then fuse the next piece beside it.

Here are all of the interfaced and stabilized pieces!

Sporty Strap Pack pieces

From left to right: These pieces get interfacing (the lightweight stuff)…

  • 2 lining body pieces (facing opposite ways)
  • 1 short bottom strap
  • 1 long top strap
  • 1 elastic pocket (I chose blue to contrast with my orange lining fabric)
  • 1 pocket flap
  • 1 flat pocket
  • 1 strap facing (I chose blue to match my outer bag)
  • 1 zipper flap (I chose orange to contrast with my blue outer fabric)

Sporty Strap Pack pieces

From left to right: These pieces get stabilizer (the heavyweight stuff)…

  • 2 outer body pieces (facing opposite ways)
  • 1 flat pocket (I chose orange to contrast)
  • 1 pocket flap (orange to contrast)
  • 1 long top strap
  • 1 short bottom strap
  • 1 elastic pocket (I chose blue to contrast with my orange lining fabric)

That’s a wrap for today! If you have any questions about the Sporty Strap Pack Sew Along, feel free to ask them in the On the Go Bags Facebook group! I can’t wait to see what fabrics you choose for your bags. For some inspiration, check out these others…

On the Go Bags Sew Along Sponsors

Aurifil * Blend Fabrics * ByAnnie * C&T Publishing * Craftsy * Pellon * Riley Blake Designs

Portable Sensory Play! Toddler Sensory Wagon with Dirt + Rocks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #allEssentials #CollectiveBias

Dirt and Rocks Portable Sensory Bin - Craft Buds

 

My toddler son LOVES to play in the dirt. I have the feeling that I could get him a truck full of backyard toys, and he’d still prefer a few plastic shovels and the big sand pit in our backyard. The only problem with this is that we live in the south, and summers can get very hot! So, I wanted to create a portable dirt and rocks toddler sensory play station that would allow my son to get down and dirty and just be kid. The goal was creating something that could easily roll from the sun to the shade, depending on the temperature.

Toddler Sensory Play Dirt

Step 1: Gather materials

I was considering using a huge plastic, under-bed storage tub for our toddler sensory play tub. But then when I saw the wagon, I had an “a-ha” moment! I picked up a bag of dirt ($1.37) and a bag of pea pebble rocks ($3.47).

Dirt and Rocks Sensory Play for Toddlers

Step 2: Dump out the bags

To get your child involved in making a “dirty” sensory play wagon, get a couple of plastic containers an pour dirt and rocks inside. I’ve found that allows the kids to be a bit more interactive than just scooping it from the bag. Plus, those bags are HEAVY. Give an example by taking a plastic shovel and scooping from the little container into the big wagon or another bigger container, whatever you choose. Then let the kids follow your lead.

Toddler Sensory Play Bin

Step 3: Have fun!

Toss in some construction trucks, monster trucks, little cars, trains or whatever your kid most enjoys to get dirty! Since we already had the wagon, this entire project cost less than $10, and that included a couple of new trucks to play with. If you already have dirt and rocks in your backyard or gravel driveway, even better!

Laundry pile

Step 4: Clean up

I plan to roll this wagon straight into my garage and keep the rocks and dirt inside for lots more toddler sensory fun. Of course, when all the dirty play is done, clothes go straight to the laundry, which is adjacent to the garage!

I recently tried some all® fresh clean Essentials™ Fragrance Free from Amazon (we love saving money on diapers, wipes, pet food, and lots of other household essentials on Amazon). As I mentioned earlier, my family is on a quest to rid our home of harmful chemicals. A brand new laundry detergent, all® fresh clean Essentials™ is sulfate free and gets clothes very clean without harshness. I’ve read that sulfates can cause respiratory issues or allergic reactions, and my husband has allergies to lots of household products. Make sure to use as directed on the packaging. The result? Kids can be kids… and parents don’t have to worry about their clothes fading or getting beat up in the washer. Check it out!

 

Have your kids enjoyed sensory play when they were toddlers? What other kinds of toddler sensory bins have been popular with your kids?

 

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