Travel Sewing: Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

Something about this last vacation made me interested in sewing useful things for travelling. Maybe it’s because I finally got to use my travel pillow I made months ago (and it was amazing! I could actually sleep on a plane! AH-mazing!!).

I’ve even been making a list of my ultimate travel sewing projects (because why buy luggage when you can make it!). You can read my ever expanding list after the review.

(source: u-handbag)

This bag definitely fills a need both at home and while jet-setting. The Train-Style Vanity Case comes from Lisa Lam’s new bag-making book, A Bag for All Reasons, that we used for last month’s Bibliostyles meeting.

I don’t often make too many bags as they’re not as exciting to me as clothes but this book really piqued my interest, mainly because I thought so many designs were clever and useful. There’s a tri-fold wallet, a convertible backpack, a snazzy iPad case (if I had an iPad), a compact grocery tote, this stand-up make-up bag and more.

I borrowed the book from Susan so I didn’t take many pictures but I did find this website, Cut out and, where the publishers posted three projects from the book for free! Pictures and all!

Speaking of my last plane trip, this case would have been perfect on that vacation. Normally I carry a couple smaller make-up bags but I never had anything big enough for all my toiletries – until now!

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

The Goal: My recent vacay got me all excited about travel sewing (too bad I couldn’t have been more interested before I left so I could have used my creations) and I loved how this design stood upright on it’s own for easy access to the contents.

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All  Reasons

The Pattern: I felt that the pattern pieces were pretty accurate and I liked Lisa Lam’s casual style of teaching. It really felt like I was taking a class with her. In the end I didn’t like the look of the raw edges at the inside lid and base. They just looked sloppy with piping covering them. I would have preferred a different construction method to clean that up (even if it was a structural decision to do it that way).

I think the fabric-tie handles are super cute! And I loved the addition of the elastic brush holders in the lid. So useful!

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

The Fabric: Quilting cotton for the outside and a chambray for the handles lining. I also used pink piping and pink bias tape to cover the raw edges on the inside. I also used a boat load of different interfacings including fusible fleece which makes the sides soft but stable.

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

The Changes: I added 3/4″ to the overall height of the bag. It’s not that large to begin with but you could easily change the proportions to make it even bigger if you needed.

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

I also added a couple beads to the zippers to make zipper pulls. Look, ma! I’m embellishing!

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

The Conclusion: This is a really practical bag that I’m going to get so much use out of at home and on the road. If I were to ever make it again I might try using dec weight fabric for the outside to make the sides even more stiff. Even though the bag stands up on its own, it is very easily smushed and I find myself poking at the edges to keep it looking straight and tall.

Train-Style Vanity Case from A Bag for All Reasons

Ok, I was saying earlier how I’m making a master list of awesome travel sewing projects. The vanity case is obviously on there. Imagine how cute that bag would look on the counter of some five star hotel bathroom (as if I stayed at five star hotels…).

Here are the others on my list:

Fabric by Fabric: One Yard Wonders Travel Neck Pillow

Travel neck pillow from the “Work in comfort” Travel Set from Fabric by Fabric: One Yard Wonders (which I’ve made).

The Bag Tag, Cheery Passport Cover, Travel Tissue Pack and Vacation Valet Travel Tray from the Jet Set from Fabric by Fabric: One Yard Wonders.

My friend Susan made most of this set for our first Bibliostyles meeting and I thought the travel tray was such a cute idea! It folds up flat and when you take it out you snap the corners together to make a tray. What a great way to keep keys, cards, tickets, brochures and receipts in one place in your hotel room (rather than have them scattered all over the place).

I definitely need a bag tag because after a couple layovers those paper tags the airlines give you look a little worse for the wear. The passport cover could double as a boarding pass holder and I’d love to figure out a way to make the tissue pack cover work for my make-up remover wipes.

Sunglasses case and phone case/wallet from the Smart Girl’s Set from Fabric by Fabric: One Yard Wonders (the book is proving to be very useful). I’m always worried about my sunglasses getting scratched out in the open in my purse and the phone case doubles as a wallet for credit cards and ID. When I travel I always try to downside the essentials and I often don’t even carry a big wallet so this little pouch is a perfect alternative.

(source: a handmade tale)

Amy Butler’s Weekender Travel Bag. I’ve never been a heavy packer. Often when we travel Justin and I can fit all of our stuff in one carry-on size bag not much bigger than the Weekender Bag.

I’d make a version out of vinyl to make it extra heavy duty (and curse myself as I try to sew through all the layers…) but a fun fabric print might be too irresistible.

***Can you think of any other patterns I should add to my travel sewing list?

The Crafter’s iPhone Case, or, another way to easily impress your friends

Cross Stitch iPhone Case

By now you may have seen these puppies on the interwebs. Or maybe you haven’t, in which case (no pun intended) check it out! It’s a cross stitch-able iPhone case! You can make whatever design you want and show off your crafty styling to all your friends. Who really needs an Otter Box, anyway? 😉

Earlier last year you could only order these cases from poorly translated Korean websites but now they’re all over the place! Well, at least two other websites that I found carry them. Justin got me this one for Christmas from Think Geek, a site that sells mostly comic book and Star Wars related chotchkies.

You have the option of blue, black and white cases (you can probably find more colors on other sites) and each come with three little embroidery thread packs and a needle. I didn’t bother using their thread and instead picked from my own stash.

Not really knowing what I wanted to do I went with a simple chevron style design and mixed up my threads and stripe thicknesses.

Cross Stitch iPhone Case 

It took a LONG time. Seriously. I don’t often do cross stitch or embroidery but it seemed like this took longer than it ought to have. I could do about four full lines in an hour. Believe me, I caught up with both seasons of Downton Abbey working on this thing. Part of the reason is that unlike cross stitching or embroidering on cloth you can’t go around stabbing your needle in all willy-nilly. You have to find the designated hole and slip the needle in. Come at it at an angle and your needle dives into plastic and you have to try again. Precision takes time.

Cross Stitch iPhone Case Front

Watch out for your tied off knots on the back. One of my sides was so full of bulging knots that now the case doesn’t fully “hug” the phone on the left side and I find myself constantly trying to push it down correctly.

Cross Stitch iPhone Case Side

Also, my now purple hair has rubbed off onto the white plastic staining it slightly. But don’t think that just because you’ve got nice normal hair that you’re exempt. I’ve had cases like this before so I should have known better that to buy the white but anything that is on your hands or face will get on the phone case and dingy it up – makeup, ink on your fingers, hand dirt, dye from your jeans pocket. I’ve even had lining fabric from a new purse rub off on cases before. You might have better luck with the black or blue but eventually that plastic will discolor.

What’s cool about these cases is that if you get bored you could rip everything off and start again. With so much use the threads are bound to get dirty over time. But since this design took me ages to do I think I’ll keep it for awhile.

One Yard Wonders – Orangizer Wallet


I’ve already made something from this awesome book!


I like making wallets. Even though I already have a bunch of handmade ones I just love sewing all the little pockets and feeling organized when I finish.


I wanted to make this wallet because my old oilcloth wallet I was using was getting torn up and the magnetic snap wallet had ripped through the oilcloth. I intended to re-use the magnetic snap on this new wallet but the darn snap was so strong that it practically ripped this fabric, too! So I ditched the snap and used a big button instead.


Maybe the magnetic snap will worth with super thick heavy duty fabrics but for now I’m sticking that thing far back in my notions box.


I followed all the directions except for the zipper instalation. I didn’t want the raw edges of the zipper exposed even inside the zip pocket so I stitched the zipper in between the front and lining piece, rather than behind both pieces.


Otherwise the wallet went together pretty smoothly. I love quick little projects like this!

The fabric is leftover from this little girl’s dress. I’m on a roll with stash busting lately!!

***Oh, and guess what?? At my monthly sewing meet up last week one of the lovely ladies (who also loves this book) suggested that we form a new kind of book club –  a sewing book club. Basically it means that each month or so the group picks a sewing/craft project book. We then later all meet together and show off and review projects made from that book. We’re starting with One Yard Wonders: Fabric by Fabric. If that one goes well I’m thinking the new Colette Sewing Handbook would be fun to do next. But I need help! I need to come up with a nifty name for our book club – something that incorporates sewing and books. I’m not good at name picking. So give me your ideas and let me blatantly plagiarize you!! Many thanks in advance!

Gold Tip Shoe Restyle

Gold shoe restyle

I have a funny story for you – About three weeks ago I visited my extended family. One night we went to meet my cousins who rent an RV space at a lake in the area to camp. Not expecting to go to a camp ground, the only shoes I had were some patent nude flats. It was cold that night so I sat by the camp fire to keep warm.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that tiny bits of ash and embers in the smoke had floated onto my shoes and burned them! They went from nice and shiny to having tons of tiny pock marks where the shiny surface had melted!

Sad burned shoes!

I tried in vain to find another pair just like these – my favorite flats. I thought I’d have to finally say good by and toss these puppies in the trash but then I got an idea – paint them!

Here’s what I did and what you will need –

  • Painters tape
  • Small paintbrush
  • Glitter paint
  • Sand paper (optional)

Now, I’ve seen some people online use glitter spray paint but the craft store was all out of gold, which is what I really wanted. Instead I went with a bottle of Martha Stewart glitter craft paint in Smokey Quartz (which is really more like watery glitter glue. It’s just clear paint with tons of glitter in it).

I didn’t want to paint the entire shoe because I really like the nude color and the pock marks were only on the top front of the shoes. I marked a line with painters tape on either side of both shoes.

Next I scrubbed the shoes with 320 grit sand paper just in case the paint wouldn’t stick to the shiny patent surface.

Sanded and ready to paint

Then I painted one layer of glitter paint, let it dry then covered it with a second layer. Two layers were all I needed but I easily could have added a couple more for a super glittery surface. With this paint you really can’t put too much on at a time. The clear paint itself is a little watery and it starts getting tiny bubbles but those disappear as it dries.

Happy glitter tipped shoes

I took off the tape and voila – partially gold shoes that have now been saved from the trash heap!

Glittery shoes

The paint has held up so far with no problems which is good because I plan on putting these shoes back into heavy rotation.

Have you ever painted shoes before? What did you use?