in the past week, i’ve had occasion to make two variations of a goody bag for two entirely different recipients.  both ideas arose independently and somewhat unexpectedly, and the world between them does well to illustrate the versatility of this easy, fast project.

a dear friend of mine back in chicago is taking her first plane trip, ever.  what can i say, some people manage to go all the places they need to on foot or bike or pogo stick or what have you.  however, the time has come for her to board her first plane and fly the friendly skies, in the context of an impending cross country move to an as yet undetermined location.  understandably, this trip is particularly bridled with anxiety for a few reasons.

during a conversation with her recently, it was clear that her nerves about this great uncertainty in her life were exaggerated by her focus on air travel.  so, the kids and i made a quick stop at target to load up on air travel necessities, and whipped up a quick little bag to store them in.  i did not use any pattern for this, thinking to myself, how hard can it be to sew two rectangles together?  at 11:30 at night, very, it turns out.  or, at least things didn’t quite go as planned.

the bag is a bit smaller than i intended with some unseamed edges at the drawstring that could have been avoided with more careful planning.  but, it serves its purpose, and is really only the vessel for all kinds of snacks, reading material, games, and crafts (call me old fashioned, but my two major plane activities are new york times crossword puzzles and knitting).  i used grey suiting for the bag and leftover quilting cotton for the appliqué and drawstring, the first time i have ever sewn an applique down with my machine because of the slippery suiting.  it was actually much easier than i’d thought and i like the appearance of it.

the second goody bag is a birthday gift for our neighbor carsen, who will be 5 this weekend.  almost one year ago, i challenged myself to a year of homemade gifts to encourage myself to exercise creativity and thoughtfulness in my gift giving (plus, it’s way fun for me!).  when i initiated this challenge, i had in mind what occasions meriting gifts peppered the calendar and of course, the holiday season.  what i failed to anticipate before moving to kid central was friend birthdays.  it’s fairly easy for me to crank out a little girl gift, the sweater-skirt set being my current favorite.   

but little boys for me are much more challenging.  and so, when we received carsen’s birthday invitation, i choked.  i didn’t think i’d even bother trying to make him something, because he’s old enough to care what he gets and shun what he doesn’t like.  what he does like is trains.  not in the “look mom, a train!” way that my kids like trains.  more in the, i can speak to you about the history, composition, and evolution of the locomotive on a doctoral level kind of way.

i tried thinking of excuses for this one omission to my yearlong challenge, but then, some ideas started coming to me.  ironically, i was just reading an article about how crafting similar to running allows us to solve problems by involving our brains in repetitive activity.  by not focussing on the problem, the solution often comes to you while you’re giving your brain a rest.  many of my crafting ideas actually come to me when i’m running, as did this one, so i’m not sure what to make of that, but i’ll take it.

i saw this technique on the martha stewart website a few months ago and thought it might be neat on a train sketch.  i considered some sort of decor to go along, but i wanted to give him something else that he would personally enjoy, and again the bag idea came up.  the bag could hold the gift, but also have its own functionality.  after a dead end search for train fabric, i decided to trainify some plain linen i had on hand.  i deferred to the experts on this one and used this tutorial for the bag construction, and this one for freezer paper stenciling, which i’d never done before and is AWESOME.  how did i not know about this?!

given my roughly 50% success rate on martha stewart crafts, i’m pretty pleased with the turnout of this shirt.  i had to go over the design twice with my sewing machine for it to show enough with this color combo, but somehow all the mistakes add to the charm (so i’m telling myself).  i will definitely use this technique in the future.  this was my first shot at free motion quilting, so if you’re a quilter, you’re way ahead.  and if not, this is an interesting and slightly alien way to spend a few hours with your sewing machine.  no presser foot, what?  takes some getting used to, but worth a try.

and so, a 25 year old woman and 5 year old boy will both get goody bags this week…what would be in your goody bag?

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