Book Review + Giveaway: Sew What! Bags

Sew What! Bags cover

Sew What! Bags: 18 Pattern-Free Projects You Can Customize to Fit Your Needs is an older release from Storey Publishing. In the book, author Lexie Barnes teaches how to make a variety of bags, totes, and containers. Because the projects only require straight-line sewing and don’t require patterns, her technique is ideal for newbie sewists.

Sew What Bags chapter

The book is broken down into sewing basics including tools, understanding fabric, and getting to know your sewing machine. Color illustrations teach the reader how to sew straps, simple linings, and pockets.

Sew What Tote Bags

In the Warm-up Projects chapter, Barnes teaches readers to sew some of life’s simplest “bags,” like an eyeglass case, tissue pouch, and grocery bag tube. Her technique allows readers to measure their own belongings and create a custom-size bag to fit.

She also explains how the many projects are related to each other. For instance, once you’ve learned to sew the eyeglass case, you’ve essentially learned how to sew the five projects below: a diaper case, knitting wristlet, sandwich bag, business card case, and lip balm lanyard. Since all the projects use the same basic construction, they can be customized with an extra strap, drawstring, or flap to serve different purposes. Barnes empowers sewing through teaching basic techniques, so they aren’t limited to sewing with patterns already written.

Sew What Simple Bags

Beyond the beginner projects, this book covers totes, drawstring sacks, and messenger bags. Within each section are illustrated steps for several styles of bags in set sizes. But the reader is not limited to one style, because each project details how you can customize the bag with zippers, flaps, velcro, pockets, or a new size to fit your needs!

Sew What Messenger Bags

The final chapter dives into organizers like a tool apron or wall caddy, with neat-and-tidy pockets for kitchenware or even art supplies. Though advanced projects may initially scare away beginners, the book offers a progression of skills for the modern sewist. By the end, you, too could be customizing your bags and maybe even writing some patterns of your own.

I adore this book, from the variety of projects to the modern fabrics featured. I also love the streamlined look of the 18 projects. Without all the frills and fuss, it’s easy to learn the very basic of bag making from this book, and grow in your confidence as a sewist.


Giveaway now closed. Congrats to #138, Julie!

Would you like to win a copy this book?

  1. Enter to win by leaving a comment on this post about your favorite type of bag.
  2. For an extra entry, “Like” Storey Publishing on Facebook and leave a second comment.

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. Good luck! Giveaway ends Monday, Feb. 6.

Milk Carton & Hamburger Box with Cinnamon Heart Cookies

This month for CHA (the Craft and Hobby Association Convention), Lifestyle Crafts is releasing lots of new dies and embossing folders. My favorite releases are the milk carton and hamburger boxes. Once the dies are run through the Epic (see my past post here for info on how it works), you have a flat sheet of paper cut and scored for folding. The hamburger box comes with 6 extra little shapes for making labels for each box and the milk carton comes with 4.

Once the sheets are cut, just make the folds and glue down the tabs. All the shapes I used except for the hearts come with the kits. Easy and super cute! I filled mine with small cookies (recipe below) or you could fill them with candy. I think these would make perfect party favors or Valentines for kids or adults.

As always, if you’re planning on buying anything from Lifestyle Crafts, use the code CRAFTBUDS for a 20% discount!

Cinnamon Heart Cookies

I filled mine with homemade heart spritz cookies. I used this spritz (cookie press) recipe from The only thing I changed was using cinnamon extract rather than the almond and vanilla. I used the heart shape in my cookie press and used my finger to press down the mark left by the press:



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Sift together the flour and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg yolks, almond extract and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients. Fill a cookie press with dough and shoot cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. If you like, decorate with sugar or sprinkles at this time.
  3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven.

Then I dipped each cookie in a sugar cookie glaze, also from here and added sprinkles and red hots. You can replace some of the water in the frosting with cinnamon extract if you want a stronger cinnamon flavor.:



  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 10 drops food coloring


  1. Stir confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, and water together. Stir in food coloring if desired. This glaze must be stirred each time you use it. If it is not stirred before each use it will dry with a mottled look instead of a solid color.


NOTE: If you can find Dove’s heart shaped chocolates, they fit perfectly into the hearts. Just gently press them into the cookies after they are removed from the oven and you don’t even have to glaze them!



Book Review: The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

When I first heard about this book coming out through Interweave (Interweave coupon page here) I was instantly interested. It’s always frustrating to spend so much time on a project and then have the photographs not do the item justice. So when I was able to get a copy of the book to review I jumped on the chance. The author, Heidi Adnum, has her own Etsy shop so she understands the importance of good product photography.

The book will help you from understanding your camera and staging your objects all the way to final image editing. Specifically, the book is divided into 16 total chapters including:

  • Section 1: Getting Started
  • Section 2: How to Tell Your Story
  • Section 3: DIY Accessories Tutorials
  • Sections 4-12: Each section focuses on a different craft medium such as fabrics, purses, knitting, jewelry, art, etc.
  • Section 13: Editing Essentials Tutorials
  • Section 14: Image Handling
  • Section 15: Optimization
  • Section 16: Business Advice

Each section is filled with beautifully photographed items. Besides being fun to look at, the photographs help you better understand the advice Heidi gives and how to put it into practice.

I really appreciate the thoroughness of this book. I’ve been trying to learn to better use my camera (a Canon Rebel XTi) so the first section was extremely useful to me. Each section covers a lot of material and this first one includes Light, Aperature, Shutter, Exposure, Color, Focus, Choosing a Digital Camera, Getting to Know Your Camera, Major Digital Camera Modes. In easy to understand terms and diagrams the book helped me figure out how to best utilize the features of my camera. The first section alone is worth getting the book if you want to stop using the automatic mode on your camera and switch over to manual mode.

Sections 4-12 each highlight a different art/craft medium. In each section you’ll find information on planning and setting up, composition, common problems and FAQs, and an interview with someone in that makes and photographs that chapter’s featured medium.

The last chapters help you understand how to use computer software to digitally enhance your photos so they turn out as good as possible.

To summarize, this book is a great resource for anyone trying to improve their art/craft photography. It’s beautiful to look through, easy to understand, and thoroughly covers each topic included.


Disclaimer: I was provided this book free of charge to review, but all opinions are my own.

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Polka Dot Charm Swap

Do you take part in the yellow, aqua gray charm swap? We listened to your feedback, and decided it’s time to polka. Announcing . . .


For this fabric swap, you will choose one yard of modern fabric that features polka dots or circles from Sew Fresh Fabrics.

They have a wonderful selection of dots fabrics. In fact, Peg and Becca have graciously volunteered to do all of the hard work for swappers, and all you have to do is sit back and wait for your lovely assortment of pre-cut fabric to arrive in the mail! You will receive an assorted charm pack of 2 charms each for all 28 prints in the swap.

What an easy swap!

Please read through all rules first, then leave a comment on this post to sign up. This swap will be first come, first served. It is limited to 28 spots. (U.S. and International swappers welcome, but postage is at your own expense.)

Maybe you’ll turn them into something like this . . .

Spotted Quilt Top

Swap Guidelines

1. Fill out form below to join. Once you’ve been accepted into the swap, we’ll send you confirmation and you can claim your choice of fabric. We’ll post a linky here so you can see the fabrics we have so far and choose a coordinating print.

2. Fabric MUST BE ORDERED from Sew Fresh Fabrics. There will be a special swap listing for you to purchase one yard of fabric for this swap. Your cost will be equal to the fabric and shipping for one yard.

3. Deadline for fabric selections: Sunday, Jan. 29. Deadline for fabric purchase at Sew Fresh: Sunday, Feb. 5.


Join Us!

This swap is now full.

Remember, this swap is limited to the first 28 to sign up! Once you have received an e-mail confirming you are “in” you may link up your fabric selection below. Please choose a dot or circle prints from the category Basics, Dots & Blenders at Sew Fresh Fabrics that is not already duplicated below.

LOVE Shirt Tutorial

**Note: This was one of the first posts on Craft Buds. I’ve updated it and re-posted in time for Valentine’s season since we only had a few followers when it was first posted!**


My sister visited this weekend and we decided to make her a shirt for Valentine’s Day based on the LOVE statue in Philadelphia. It was a fast and easy project with some homemade applique letters and a little stitching.



  1. To make the letters, iron Wonder-Under paper backed fusible web or something similar to the back of your fabric (we used Pellon 725 Heavy-Duty Wonder-Under Transfer Web).
  2. Trace the letters backwards onto Wonder-Under on the back of the fabric using a stencil of the letters. You can download the PDF of the letters for personal use here. If you have problems printing directly from Google docs, click the “Download original” button in the upper right corner of the PDF screen. Once the file is downloaded you should be able to open and print it.
  3. Cut out each letter, peel off the Wonder-Under backing and position the letters onto the shirt.
  4. Iron down the letters following the instructions on the Wonder-Under or the product you are using.
  5. Finish the shirt by doing a zig zag or similar stitch around each letter and project complete! You could skip doing the stitching but the shirt may not last as long because the letters could eventually peel off.

We found the plain long-sleeved gray shirt at Target in the men’s section. They had a variety of colors and they had a few in the boys section if you need a smaller size. Here’s a close up of the letters. We chose a navy quilting cotton for the L, V, and E. For the O we used a fabric with tiny forks, spoons and knives since my sister is well known for her fabulous baking creations. You can personalize with fabrics that coordinate with something you love, or go with a more traditional Valentine’s red/pink look. This would be a cute shirt for an adult or a child!




Winter Warmers: Fresh Picks for 1.21.11

Bundle up! It’s the snow season for many of us, and that means more time indoors. Why not brush up on your sewing skills by starting a new project? Or get ready for Valentine’s Day by making a sweet gift for someone you love. Here are this week’s fresh picks:

Fleece Pocket Scarf @ Dragonfly Designs

Hand Warmer: Stay cozy inside or out in this fleece pocket scarf by Heather at Twin Dragonfly Designs. Knit your own pockets, or upcycle from a too-small sweater for a fun look!

Facing Fusible Interfacing Tutorial @ Make it Love It

Hand Cut: Do you know the different between interfacing, fusible webs and fusible adhsevie? Ashley at Make It Love It shares a very complete photo guide to interfacings and fusible sewing helpers. A must read for sewists!

The Urban Jungle Bag @ Sew Sweetness

Hand Candy: The Urban Jungle Bag combines your favorite printed fabric with smart construction and a sleek, city-girl vibe. Get the free tutorial from Sara at Sew Sweetness.

Free Valentine Printables @ Imagine Gnats

Hand Delivered: Send your sweetie a printed valentine from these adorable free downloads, from Rachael at Imagine Gnats. She shares more free printables at her Flickr album.

Thanks for checking out this week’s Fresh Picks!
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