Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dollar Store Crafting-Activity Bags

I don't know about you, but I think The Dollar Store should be renamed The Twenty Dollar Store.  It seems that every time I enter that store, I can't leave until I have at least twenty dollars worth of stuff in my basket!  But, they do have some good stuff!  I figure a post every once in a while of something made from dollar store supplies might be kind of fun.  First up are activity bags, each made from two place mats and a pot holder.

Supplies needed for each bag:

2 placemats (one for the body, part of one for the handles)
1 pot holder, rectangular w/ pocket and loop (if it doesn't have a pocket, that's alright, you just won't be able to make small pockets to hold crayons)
8 zip lock sandwich bags
1 2/3 yd. double fold bias tape
1 yd. or less wide ribbon (enough to go around the circumference of the bag)
1 button
needle and thread
tape measure
chalk (or whatever your preference is in marking lines for sewing)
sewing machine

Pictures for this tutorial are unfortunately going to begin part way through the process (on account of some accidentally deleted photos!)  Therefore, I will try to explain the best I can.  Begin by cutting two strips about 1 1/4" wide by the width of your place mat.  These will be used for the handles.  The rest of this place mat won't be used, unless you want to fashion a pocket from it and stitch it to the bag.  You could also get by with just one place mat if you use ribbon or something else for the handles.  Next, finish the edges of the handles with double fold bias tape.  Position the handles on each end of the place mat (on the right side) and baste in place.  Apply the wide ribbon to the edge of the place mat, covering the ends of the handles.  For added strength, top stitch where the handles attach as seen in the photo below.

Next, fold the placemat (with the ribbons and handles already stitched on), right sides together.  Stitch the side seams.

At the bottom corner of each side seam, open the seam flat and stitch a boxed corner at each corner.

Turn the bag inside out.  This is the view from the inside.

This is the view from the outside.

Your bag is now complete.  How simple was that?!

Next on the agenda is the potholder organizer.  I wanted small pockets for twist-up crayons, so I measured off ten equal spaces and stitched them from the top of the pocket to the center of the potholder.

Once I completed that, I tested the pockets with the crayons.  Oops! They were too tight.  So I picked out every other seam which left me with five pockets.

The crayons fit much better with two crayons to a pocket.

I wanted zip lock bags in the middle to hold other supplies.  I had the hardest time finding the right bags! I really wanted the kind of bags that actually have the little plastic sliders to close them.  But....all the brands were too wide and the bags hung out over the edges of the potholder.  So I had to settle on regular zip lock bags that are made just a touch narrower.  Lay the bags on top of each other, alternating every other one.  I used eight bags, four each direction.  I held them in place with large paper clips.  Mark a line down the center.

Stitch the bags in place.

A view of the back.

Trim away the excess plastic.  Now I know that some of you might think it would be easier to use snack bags.  You could, but I think they might be harder to keep in place while you stitch them.

Stitch a button on the outside and fill it with fun stuff!

And there you go...a cute bag that can be filled with all sorts of fun stuff to keep little ones quietly entertained!

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