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Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Calendar & a “just in case” bag

Disclaimer: I only had my phone available since my camera battery died while I was at my parents, and half of the project was done there, the other half at my in-laws. Meh.

Yes, it is the 5th of December. But I’ve finally finished (and started) an advent calendar for Christmas. Yay me! I got ideas off Pinterest,

and just did what I could with my supplies (or lack thereof). First, I cut 25 tags out with my mother’s Sizzix machine. Old school, for all of you out there using Silhouettes. I covet you. Don’t tell anyone Smile. I chose to do a scalloped looking tag, and on our long drive back from Utah (twice in a week!!), wrote down activities.

Advent Calendar (4)

This one says “watch ‘it’s a wonderful life’ & eat popcorn.” I tied on some curled ribbon, and then cut out a bunch of envelopes (by hand) from wrapping paper excess. You know when it’s too big for your present, and so you cut off the extra, and then it gets crumbled and you end up throwing it away anyway? Yeah, I used that stuff whilst my mother-in-law was wrapping presents. We had a symbiotic relationship. Big word, right? The pattern was one I just made up, and folded, and changed until I had it right, then cut it out of cardstock, and cut through several stacks of wrapping paper at a time. I taped them into envelopes, and then taped across the top before I punched 2 holes in them. (to strengthen it).

Advent Calendar (2)

Next, I had 2 lovely assistants help me paint an old frame. Or semblance of a frame. I don’t know if you can really call it a frame. It had weird corners. Weird, right?

Advent Calendar (1)

Anyway, they had fun, and that’s what counts, right?


I stapled jute (after tying a knot on the end to make sure it didn’t slip through the staple) on the back of the frame. I measured out where I wanted them to go. I did one side, then strung on the envelopes, 5 per string. I stapled the other side on, with a knot again, and made sure it was tight. Then, I went onto good ol’ Microsoft Word and printed up date circles and cut them out (again by hand…see you don’t need a fancy pants machine…though it’d be nice…) I glued all those on with a gluestick, and stuck in my tags I’d written on. In some of them, I stuck a piece of Halloween candy. Don’t mind the random sign on the back of the calendar. When you live with your in-laws and their generosity, you make do with the sign covering a hole in the doorSmile

Advent Calendar (6)

To cover the weird corners, I cut out pieces of felt into festive shapes and hot-glued them on. Good times

Advent Calendar (5)

Hopefully it will be fun, and I won’t get asked a million times when the girlies can open presents…Maybe just a thousand times now. Smile

Advent Calendar (3)

Okay, now my “just in case bag”. My husband always teases me because I always have so much stuff, groceries, craft supplies, etc. “just in case”. He laughs, but most of the time, he’s grateful his wife is so prepared Smile (let’s see how many smiley faces I can get in this post…hee hee) My friend gave me one of these for my birthday, and I’ve adapted it and made it a few times since then…Okay, so onto the bag. You’ll need:

fabric (2 12”x8” pieces, same or complimentary, and enough for the closing strap, 3 1/2”x10”, or 3 1/2”x4” depending) and matching thread

about 1” piece of elastic…raid your stash of excess

about 1” piece of Velcro

15 snack size Ziploc bags, plus a smaller Ziploc bag (mine was 3”x4 3/4”) like what you use to organize little beads or what not….

Stuff to put in the bags (more on that later)

Okay, first thing is to sew your lovely bag. Take your 2 piece of fabric and sew them right sides together, all except one of the 8” sides (1/2” seam). Do the same with your closing strap, leaving open the 3 1/2” side.. Now, the strap can either be just long enough to close the bag, or it can wrap around the whole thing. That’s the difference between the 4” or 10”. Take your pick.

Just in case bag (4)

Then, clip the corners, careful not to cut through your sewing.

Just in case bag (5)

Turn the bag base and the strap inside out, poking out the corners with a closed pair of scissors and press them flat. Press the unsewn side inside 1/2” too.

Just in case bag (6)

Stitch around the outside of the bag and strap, close to the edges, including the open edge. Then, sew your strap onto the base part (on a shorter side), making sure middles are matched, and it’s sewn securely on. Don’t want your strap to fall off! Awkward…

Just in case bag (9)

Now, sew your Velcro so one piece is on the inside of the strap (outside of the bag is where the strap is, so that picture above is the outside). Sew the other piece of Velcro on the outside…If you’re doing a long strap to wrap around, sew the Velcro close to the strap like I did. If you’re doing a shorter strap (3” long finished), sew it 2” down from the opposite edge on the outside. Does that make sense? Just think of where the strap will close and that’s the general area, in the middle, that you want to sew it.

Just in case bag (16)

Now, pin your Ziploc bags together in groups of 5. It’ll make things smoother, I promise. They are slippery little boogers, that’s for sure.

Just in case bag (10)

Pin one set of bags so the edge lines up on the inside with the edge opposite your strap.

Just in case bag (11)

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but you center the bags on the base, and line up the edge just below the edge of your base. Sew down with a medium-long stitch length, about 1/4” from the edge. I just use the edge of my presser foot. Then, reverse all the way back, and go down one more time. I go over it 3 times to make sure the bags won’t come out. Then, pin the next group of 5 so the edge matches up with the edge you have just sewn.

Just in case bag (13)

Can you see in the middle that the edges just meet? Sew down it the 3 times again, 1/4” from the edge. For the final set of 5 bags, pin the bags so the edge of the new bags is lined up with one of the stitch lines. You’ll basically be stitching between the 2 bags you’ve just sewn on. BTW it’s not easy to take pictures of Ziploc bags.

Just in case bag (14)

This is what the stitches will look like on the outside. If you don’t want to see them, you can always hot glue ribbon or rick rack on the stitches. I don’t really care, so I left it. If you do, make sure to burn the edges so your ribbon doesn’t fray!

Just in case bag (15)

Now, use the piece of elastic and sew in a pen holder. You know how hard it is to find a pen in your purse? Hopefully this will change that! I put mine so it was right at the edge of the bags.

Just in case bag (4)

Okay, now (or maybe you’d rather do this before sewing any bags in? Dunno, your choice…) Take the smaller Ziploc bag and sew it in by the first bag set you put in (sew around 3 edges, not the opening!). I like to have it in there to put a card with my info on it, just in case…hee hee. Maybe an emergency phone number, address if it falls out of your bag, etc..

Just in case bag (2)

Then, you leave the Ziploc part open, and slide the card in there, and close the bag. Ka-pesh?

Now you can go ahead and fill the bag, or add some fun décor to it (buttons, flowers, whatev). I decided to make a ruffley flower. I took a piece of fabric that was about 1 1/4” wide, and about a yard long.

Just in case bag (17)

Sew along one edge, close to the edge, with a basting stitch. Pull it tight to make a pile of ruffle.

Just in case bag (18)

Then, use a hot glue gun to wrap the ruffle into a flower shape, starting with a little roll in the middle, and working your way out to a big beautiful flower. Fluff it out as needed, and shape it, using glue to help it’s shape, and glue onto the edge of the strap, above the Velcro you sewed on earlier.

Just in case bag (2)

Just in case bag (3)

Cute, right? Sorry, blurry again!

Now, get your supplies and fill ‘er up!

Good stuff

Just in case bag (3)

Here’s what I put in these bags (everything is either from the dollar store, or Wal-Mart). Each comma separates everything I put into 1 bag. Make sense?

For gals: safety pins/needle/thread (wrapped around a piece of cardboard), Tylenol/ibuprofen/drug of choice Smile, a few packs of single sanitizing wipes, a manicure kit (with clippers, tweezers, file, and cuticle pusher things), Band-Aids/gauze, chapstick/travel flat sample of lotion, post-it notes pads, pen, Kleenex (there’s a pack from dollar tree that are flat!), alcohol pads, a little mirror, a folded plastic bag and elastics, and leave some space for them to put in their essentials, like eye drops, glasses cleaning cloth, etc. You get the idea. Make it for whatever purpose!

For guys: (I've made one for my brother-in-law to keep in his saddle bag on his motorcycle). Safety pins/needle/thread (again on cardboard), LED light (this can go on the outside if you sew an extra little loop at the top of the bag too), some wrap for sprains (you know the stuff that sticks to itself? band-aid type stuff?) rolled flat-ish, floss picks/eye drops, Tylenol/ibuprofen, q-tips, post-it pad, pen, Kleenex, tweezers/fingernail clippers, manly chapstick like Burt’s beeswax (that’s the only kind my hubby uses), duct tape wrapped & masking tape around something flat, sanitizing wipes, lighter, alcohol pads, band-aids. When I made it, I made it so the beginning fabric was 14x8, and I added 20 bags instead of 15.

Hopefully this will inspire you to make a great, helpful gift for someone in your life. Or yourself! Plus, the great thing is you can easily switch it from purse to purse (or diaper bag!)

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  1. Cute bags!I love it!
    Would you be interested in guest posting? i'd love to have you on my blog someday!

    Great job!

  2. Awesome projects! Thanks for inspiring :D

  3. would love it if you could share this on my link party Serenity Saturday at

    Natasha xx


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