Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tepee Bags

My friend Amy told me about tepee or pyramid bags. So I decided to make one. I've actually been fiddling with the idea for a while and decided to add some of my own features. You can find instructions on the Internet for the bags and lined bags. One place I read how to attach a small handle to the top. Well... I wanted a thicker wall so I quilted a piece of fabric for the exterior. And I wanted a handle that a little person could use so I made a strap about the length of one side of the tepee.

So here is my way:

Step 1: Decide on a size. A small tepee might have 4" sides. The one I made has 13" sides. For the small one, the exterior piece and the lining need to be cut at 5" X 10". For the one I made, I cut the two pieces 14" X 28". ( I used 1/2" seams.) Just always make the length twice the width and use a zipper that is at least as long as the short side. (If you use a metal zipper, you are likely to break the needle in your sewing machine - fair warning!)

Extra Step if you are quilting the top: Cut the exterior fabric, the batting, and the muslin about an inch too big. Layer the outside fabric (yellow with green tractors, the batting, and the muslin. Machine quilt the 3 layers together. I just sewed the length of the fabric about every 2 1/2". After quilting, trim this piece (the exterior piece) to 14" X 28" just like the lining.

Step 2: Line up the short edges of the fabric right sides together with the zipper sandwiched in between. Whichever fabric you want for the exterior of the bag should be on the TOP side of the zipper. Sew these 3 together, as close as you can get to the zipper teeth, and as straight as you can.
If the zipper is too long, let the end with the zipper pull hang over the side.
It looks like this after you sew the seam:

Step 3: Line up the other short edges of the fabric with the other side of the zipper and sew.

When you are done, it looks like this on the outside:
Step 4: Pull the two tubes of fabric that you've just created, so that the zipper is as centered as you can make it. Make sure you pull the fabric rather taut so that you don't get any puckers.
Optional Step if you are using a long strap handle: Make a one inch wide strap from a 3" strip of fabric using a 1" strip of batting. For my bag, I used a 15" length. Sandwich one end of the strap just in front of the zipper between the layers of the exterior fabric.
Sew across the bottom. I reinforced the seam over the zipper and the handle a couple of times.
Step 5: UNZIP THE ZIPPER. You will be sorry if you don't!

Step 6: Pull the two layers of fabric in the other direction, centering the zipper between the two sides.
Optional Step if you are using a long strap handle: Insert the loose end of the strap just in front of the zipper between the layers of the exterior fabric being careful not to twist the strap.

Optional Step if you are using a wrist strap: If you want a small handle/strap, make a loop of grosgrain ribbon or something similar and put both ends just in front of the zipper between the layers of the outside fabric. Use a length for a wrist strap or whatever you desire. (This is not shown.)
Sew this seam, over the zipper, stopping two to three inches from the end of the lining fabric. Reinforce the seam over the zipper and the handle AFTER you are sure the handle is OK.

Trim off the zipper excess from the top and bottom seams of your bag.

Step 7: Turn the bag right side out by pulling it through the opening you just left in the lining. Push out the corners of the bag. Pull out the lining. Tuck in the seam that you left unsewn in the lining and stitch it shut.
Push the lining back into the bag.

VoilĂ ! I'll probably try different things when I make the next one but there it is! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brownie Bars

I signed up to take brownies or bars for the teachers' lunch at church today. I found this new recipe and thought I would try it. I was going to take a picture when Ray brought the leftovers home but there were no leftovers! Good thing I got a small sample before I sent them! Thought you might want to try the recipe...

Brownie bars

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and press into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

1 package fudge brownie mix (9 X 13 pan size- I used Betty Crocker Hershey Ultimate Fudge Mix)
1 egg
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients (if using a brownie mix with a packet of chocolate, add it also). Spread over the hot crust. Bake about 15 minutes or until set. Cool for 30 minutes.

Top layer:
1 package (11-1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips, melted
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Spread the melted chocolate over the filling and sprinkle with walnuts. Cool completely.

Updates and the Ulu

A little update on us:

Ray is back to being a guidance counselor at the high school on an "as needed basis". He puts in a few hours every day but if we have plans, he just takes the day off - nice job!!! He has plenty of time for his biking and walking each day. He worked outside all of Sunday afternoon in one of his many gardens.

My sciatica is improving but I'm still in 'quiet' mode. However, I walked for 15 minutes on the treadmill this morning - hurray!!! It didn't feel great but was fine when I held on (Thanks Tom!). I've been getting some fuits and vegetables in the freezer. I have a peach cobbler in the oven - I'm sure none of it will see the freezer! And I keep quilting but it's all baby quilts that I can't show yet!

I do think I have mastered using our new Ulu. We got it in Alaska at The Ulu Factory in Anchorage and I love it for slicing and dicing.
The cutting board is a shallow bowl on one side
and flat on the other.
Our Ulu is very easy to use and my hand doesn't get tired as fast as using a knife.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The laughter stopped...

Our sister-in-law Betsy died Thursday night after a long and courageous battle with colon cancer. Years ago when Betsy (MaryBeth) married my brother Jim, our children were so excited because they got an Aunt B and an Auntie M all at once! Little did we know that Betsy was so much more than both the Andy Griffith Aunt and the Wizard of Oz Aunt put together. She was the perfect complement for my brother. Her wonderful sense of humor was so like Jim’s and her laugh meshed with his chuckle. They just played off each other naturally. These two had a solid faith and were always ready to help others.

Betsy was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in April of 2007. She and Jim did not wait for death; they showed us how to live – they made a bucket list and lived every day to the fullest. During the last two and a half years, it seemed that whenever I talked with Jim, Betsy was talking with someone and laughing in the background. Her laugh was wonderful and contagious. The laugh stopped a few weeks ago and it hurt all of us. We knew that death was coming. When we remember Betsy, we will always think of a wonderful, generous lady with an awesome laugh.


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