How To Sew A Drawstring Bag

It’s been raining in Philly lately, which until recently would have been a real bummer. Now I get to spend time working on my rain project! (In case you missed it, I’m teaching myself how to sew.) My first project last week was sewing a table cloth for our dining table. I found a great black linen fabric at Jo-Ann Fabric, and I am really happy with how it turned out.

A few days later, I decided to up my sewing game and make a drawstring bag. I again found the fabric (and string) from Jo-Ann. I knew I’d need a pattern to work from, and Purl Soho had a beautiful pattern tutorial that I decided to use. This project was easier than the table cloth in some ways (less fabric to manage), and harder in others (more intricate details in the sewing). I’ve learned something new about sewing in both of these projects, and I’m pretty excited to continue learning more. Next up: a cafe apron! I’ve already picked out my fabric, and it’s sitting pre-washed and ironed by the sewing machine.

I’m not going to write out a DIY tutorial for this drawstring bag because 1) I followed Purl Soho’s directions almost completely, and 2) I don’t feel strong enough in my sewing skills yet to be able to relay a project in my own words. If you’d like to make a bag like this one, head over to Purl Soho for their tutorial!

PS) Purl Soho recommends using this drawstring bag for shoes, but I say it can be used for all kinds of things. Use it in your travel suitcase for more delicate items, wrap a gift in it, or use it as your knitting bag! It’s versatile and fun to make. Happy sewing!

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Rain Project

A few weeks back, I temporarily inherited a sewing machine that’s been in my family for over 30 years. I say temporarily because it’s my mom’s sewing machine. My grandpa–who was a custom tailor at Bergdorf Goodman–sewed many a things on this machine for my sister and me growing up. If you haven’t realized through reading Scissors & Sage yet, my grandparents have been a big influence on the person I am becoming. Their values and morals–and good taste in music and in food–shaped me over the many years they came over to help take care of us.

When my dad dug out this sewing machine from our basement at home and brought it down to Philly, we hesitantly set it up on my drafting table, plugged it in, and flipped the switch. The light came on and it was ready to be used–almost as if it were waiting to be used. We read through the instruction manual and learned the basics. I’ve since tested out a few stitches on scrap fabric, but now I want to really get going with it.

That’s where my rain project comes in. The point of a rain project is to choose something that you have been wanting to get started on, but haven’t found the right moment for. It should be a project that is both ongoing and has no deadline. Work on it on days that it is raining, and time spent indoors feels cozy and right. It could be a new skill, like learning to sew, or knitting a big blanket for the first time. It could even be teaching yourself how to bake, working your way through a cookbook, or organizing every closet in your home. It’s up to you. The only requirement is that you take it nice and slow. Your rain project might turn into a snow project (yay snow days), and then back to a rain project come spring.

I’ll certainly be reporting back regarding my sewing progress. I have two projects in mind that I think will be good for a beginner like myself. (Sixth grade sewing club feels mighty far away right now.) Do you sew? Do you have any patterns that you’ve found especially satisfying and fun? Please send them my way!

Will you be joining me in your own rain project?

Cozy Fall Favorites

I’ve always said that fall is my favorite season, but it wasn’t until this past week that I pinpointed exactly why it’s my favorite season. For starters, I love the transition from long, hot summer days to slightly shorter, crisper fall days. Trees begin to change, and these vibrant colors are some of the best out there.

Fall is the season where we start our migration back into our homes after going out and being explorers for the summer–explorers in our gardens, towns, cities. We quiet ourselves as we embrace this change, and learn from nature just how beautiful a time of transition can really be. We indulge in simple pleasures, and refocus on what’s important. It’s our chance to turn over a new leaf.

When I write posts like this one, I tend to look outward for inspiration. This week, I thought I’d look inward. Scissors & Sage is two years old now, and I have a lot of really fun blog posts to show for my time here! Below, you’ll find a few of my favorite projects and recipes that embrace fall in all its cozy glory.

Nothing says fall like this trio: hot tea, ceramic mug, and knit coaster. Coziness is just oozing out of this picture! Learn to knit this coaster here. It’d make a beautiful gift set.

Looking to knit something wearable, instead? This cowl is a quick project with big results–perfect for fall layering.

It’s now okay to turn the oven back on. Wahoo! These mile-high coffee cake muffins are a real crowd-pleaser, and will provide a nice transition back into baking again.

Snuggle up with one of these homemade soy wax candles. They’re perfect for any room of your home.

Believe it or not, Halloween season is almost upon us. These spooky chocolate cake doughnuts are festive and pretty tasty.

It’s a perfect time to check-in with your recipe box. Mine, from Rifle Paper Co., fills me with a lot of joy. Start simmering those stews, people!

Let fall colors guide your crafting this season. These DIY leaf flowers make a beautiful centerpiece, and are a definite conversation-starter.

Felt is a great crafting material for cooler months. I made this two-pocket cell phone sleeve using gift packaging from Madewell!

There are a few more things on my mind this week:

  1. I recently discovered a company called Parachute. Have you heard of them? Their website and blog focuses on all-things sleeping. From selling luxurious bedding hand-crafted in Italy, to blogging about how to choose the right pillow, they’ve got it covered. And they cover it well.
  2. It’s time to try something new. I’ve got a few new crafting techniques and projects I’m interested in testing out soon, and I’m really excited about them. Our new apartment is the perfect blank canvas! Are you hoping to start a certain project soon?
  3. I don’t usually drink caffeine, but settling into a good book or knitting project with a chai tea latte sounds pretty excellent right about now. My favorite is Oregon Chai’s powdered mix.

What are you doing to get ready for fall? Are you excited, or are you already missing summer?

100th Blog Post & GIVEAWAY!

I thought I’d celebrate my 100th blog post (!!!) and the end of summer with a giveaway. It’s thanks to you readers that I continue to enjoy blogging about my various projects, so it’s high time for me to give back! I’ve been a bit MIA this summer between our trip to Greece and moving to a new apartment in Philly. All of our belongings have been in boxes for what feels like weeks now. I’m still trying to pin down my crafting supplies and baking ingredients. They’re here somewhere…

For this giveaway, I’ve teamed up with Sticky9 once again. I absolutely love this company. (Click here to see my last giveaway with them in January.) Their printed matte photos are high-quality, and who doesn’t like to physically hold pictures these days? It’s a rarity, and it’s a shame. I’ve combatted that by creating a DIY memory game using our photos from Greece.

My favorite part of this project is that you can use photos from any kind of life event, trip, or celebration. You can create the game for yourself, or give it to someone special. The photos could be of a special birthday, a newly engaged couple, a vacation, a beloved pet or child, you name it. Plus, this game is well-suited for most anyone–from a young child to a grandparent.

Anne and I have been loving our game because it brings back so many great memories. The supplies and game rules are simple, so let’s get to it.

DIY Photo Memory Game

Materials:

  • 13 unique photographs, each printed twice
  • 1 title photo to represent the game*

*Sticky9 Square Prints come in sets of 27. This is perfect: 13 photos (2x) + one extra for the title photo.

Rules (for two players):

  1. Turn all photos upside down on the floor. Scatter the pairs randomly to create either a grid (easier) or a collage (harder) of photos.
  2. The first player turns over two cards at random. If they don’t match, turn them back over for the second player’s turn. If they do match, put them to the side and play again. Continue your turn until you turn over two cards that do not match.
  3. Continue playing until no cards remain. The person with the most matched sets wins.
  4. Optional:  Play best of three to determine who will wash dishes after dinner, walk the dog early in the morning, or do the laundry next.

Like I said, this game is great for anyone. It can help children learn (especially if it’s pictures of them growing up), and it’s wonderful for adults and older adults to practice those working memory skills. Most importantly, it’s plain old fun!

One lucky winner will win a set of Sticky9 Square Prints to make their own DIY memory game. It’d be perfect for the next time you have friends over for drinks or host a game night. Help me celebrate my 100th post on Scissors & Sage, the end of summer, and YOU!

To enter, leave a comment below telling me what photos you’d use for your memory game. Let me know! I’ll email the randomly-selected winner on Monday, September 21st.

Happy commenting!

PS) Can’t wait to find out if you’ve won?  Visit Sticky9 now to pick out your very own Square Prints or one of their other awesome products!

DIY Gardening: Starting Seeds in Recycled Egg Cartons

Good news: Ellen Drews is joining us for another gardening tutorial! Last spring, Ellen shared her DIY container gardening technique (pictured below). Today, she’s going to teach us how to start our own seeds in egg cartons! Have you ever done something like this before? I can’t wait to give it a try!

Before we get to her wonderful post, I did want to take a second to let you all know that Anne and I leave for Greece tomorrow! (Follow me on Instagram to see some pictures of our trip.) We will be home in three weeks, and I’ll be back to blogging in late July with more projects, recipes, and some pictures from our trip. I’ve got an exciting collaboration and giveaway coming your way later this summer!

Without further ado, Ellen:

As a backyard vegetable gardener in Somerville, Massachusetts, I am always cooking up ways to feed my gardening addiction on a tight budget. I love finding ways to use recycled materials to grow my vegetables safely in the city. This year in my container garden, I decided to see the process from start to finish. I was going to start my own seeds in my own DIY greenhouses: egg cartons!

Starting seeds indoors is an important concept for vegetable gardening. There are some vegetables that prefer to grow right where they’re planted (i.e. cold-tolerant plants like spinach, or delicate root-crops like carrots). For these crops, I put seeds directly into my container garden as soon as the soil has thawed.

Other plants must be started indoors and then transplanted to the outdoor garden as seedlings, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil. These warm-season crops evolved in hot climates with longer growing seasons and so they have a long, leisurely lifespan. Where I live in New England, we can have frosts as late as Memorial Day, which would most likely kill a seedling before it had a chance to bear any fruit—the ultimate prize of the tomato plant. Starting tomato seedlings indoors as early as April allows you to get your plants going so they will reach fruiting maturity by midsummer.

Seedlings are available for purchase at farmers’ markets, grocery and hardware stores, and big-box stores like K-Mart. However, there are awesome benefits to starting from seeds:

  • Choose varieties! There are thousands of beautiful heirloom seeds out there and many cool ones are available through seed companies with the mission of saving these varieties (Seed Savers Exchange, Hudson Valley Seed Library, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds are some of my favorites).
  • Save money on fancy organic seedlings and use the seeds you already have. I’m still using seeds that I bought or traded two years ago (with proper storage, seeds can last up to 5 years).
  • Avoid the pitfalls of buying cheaper, mass-distributed seedlings at stores like Home Depot and K-Mart. Devastating diseases can spread across the country via these discount seedlings. For example, in 2009, late blight on tomatoes spread across the east coast because many people bought tomato seedlings from K-Mart, Walmart, and Lowe’s—all of which carried a fungus originating in a handful of greenhouses in Alabama. (Read one article about it here.)

So, now that you’re convinced that starting your own seedlings at home is a good idea, I’ll show you how I started mine this year!

Starting Seeds in Recycled Egg Cartons

Materials:

  • Plastic or cardboard egg cartons, empty (avoid Styrofoam or heavily inked cartons)
  • Nail or awl
  • Organic potting soil or mix (Look for varieties that contain compost. You want your seeds to access as many nutrients in their little cells as possible.)
  • Seeds!
  • Spray bottle or watering can with a gentle sprinkle

Step 1: Using the nail or awl, punch three holes in the bottom of each egg cell to allow excess water to drain.

Step 2: Fill the egg carton cells with the potting soil. Use your fingers to gently press divots into each cell and re-fill the divots with more potting soil. You want to give your seeds as much material in each cell as possible without compacting the soil. For many weeks, the nutrients in the soil will be all they will get so you’ll want to fill ‘em up!

Step 3: Put 1-2 seeds in each cell, following the directions on the seed packet for how deep to put them (it will be under “seed depth”). Cover with a light topping of potting soil.

Step 4: Soak the cells with water using a spray bottle or a gentle sprinkle of water. You want water to drip out of the holes at the bottom of the egg carton to ensure that you have really soaked all the soil. BUT you also want to be careful that you don’t dislodge the seeds or compact the soil so it’s important to be gentle when watering!

Step 5: Place egg carton seed-trays indoors in a sunny window or under grow lights. Seeds should germinate in about a week! I also got fancy and used the lid of the egg carton to create a greenhouse effect over my seeds. The plastic roof kept moisture in and trapped some heat from the sun. I also punched holes in this “greenhouse” roof to keep things from getting way too humid in there.

Here’s what my tomatoes and tomatillos looked like after they grew up a bit! Now that it’s June, it’s a bit late for starting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant like I did here, but it is a great time to start seeds for fall crops such as broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, chard, fennel and kale.

And here’s what my garden looks like today!

Leave a comment if you’ve found other ways to use recycled materials in your garden!

Note: All photos were taken by Ellen Drews.