Keep Calm and Carry Yarn

I am always transporting both my laptop and my current WIP (unless it is too big) with me to work. We own our own business and sometimes it is slow enough I can work on projects rather than just sit around bored (or goof off on the internet).

I have a multitude of bags that I use to haul everything. The laptop has its own special bag since its a 17″ and it was the only bag I could find big enough. My purse changes with my mood. For my WIP bag, it changes too. My most frequently used one is a black tote that says “The Unforgiving” on it (most recent Within Temptation album). But I’m crafty. I can fix this.

I found this tote at a thrift store for $0.50. My favorite color is purple which is why it caught my eye. The edging is a nice pastel purple; my camera just washed the color out.

My cat Kisa really wanted to help me.

I couldn’t use just a plain old undecorated tote though, so I threw together the front logo (OF DOOM!) and found the second on two different google image searches. I really enjoy using fabric paint, so I made stencils out of vinyl (and my vinyl cutter) at work. I’m sure freezer paper would also work to make a stencil, but I’ve never actually given it a try since I can use vinyl.

I really do have too much fun working with vinyl

My favorite brand of fabric paint is called “Simply Screen”, which is technically a screen printing paint. My Hobby Lobby carries it with all of the rest of the fabric paints. I like it because they have a good selection of colors and it is set with an iron; most of my fabric paint projects get a lot of wear. I have one shirt I made probably made four or five years ago that I wear at least once a month that is just now barely starting to crack (it says “Team Belmont” on it) so the paint does hold up pretty well.

The most important thing to remember when using a stencil (no matter if you’re using vinyl or freezer paper or something else) is not to brush on the paint, but to dab it from above. If you brush it on, you might get it under the edge of your stencil, making it fuzzy (I learned this the hard way). The second most important thing is layers. I put anywhere between two and six light coats of the paint on, letting each one dry between. This bag got three on each side. After removing the stencil (also an important step), then I ironed the design until the paint was hot to the touch. It is *very* important to not rush and make sure the paint is dry or else your iron may get decorated unnecessarily (mine is still a bit red from an old project).

Working on cars all day is hard on the nails.

The handles for the tote were too short for me; I prefer bags I can sling over my shoulder as I am known for setting things down and forgetting about them. I cut off the old handles, leaving enough extra so I could sew on a D-ring on each one. If your sewing machine isn’t a pile of junk like mine, machine sewing may be an option. As my machine is older than me and in dire need of a tune up, I had to hand sew them all. I used a really thick thread that I think is upholstery thread? (I only had the bobbin left; the spool was long gone), but any good quality thread should work. I added clips to my handles because I knew I’d want to switch them out. I originally made two handles, one for each side, but they weren’t staying on my shoulder well so I’m just using one. I have to unclip the handle to open the bag, but as the handle is really long, I’d want to detach it before seriously working out of the bag anyway.

The zipper on the tote was a little weird too. It was too long for the bag, but because of how the bag is assembled (no lining and heavily serged seams), I couldn’t sew it in place on the inside. I had to buy a replacement zipper kit for one of my favorite jackets and it came with some extra zipper stops. Not to let anything go to waste, I put one of those on the tote’s zipper. I haven’t decided if I want to cut off that extra bit of zipper and sew a line close to the stop (in case it ever fails) or just leave it as is. It got shoved back inside the tote after the picture was taken.

I may add some more designs to the bag, possibly some of the buttons I’ve been making, but it works well for now. It was also a fairly inexpensive project since I had everything but the longer straps and the clips on hand already. I really like how it turned out!