Monday, December 31, 2012

Chris gets Crafty: Purse with Secret Photo Lining

Last year for Christmas my girlfriends and I decided to exchange homemade gifts.  Since it was a last minute decision we agreed that we could still come with an ornament for each person instead.  Not being a crafty person I brought an ornament.  The other three all made really cool gifts, leaving me feeling like a big oaf.  I vowed that this year I was going to make it up to them! 

In January I purchased this book from the Photojojo store (they have lots of fun photography gift items) because I thought I might find some neat ideas for things to do with all the photographs I take.  It was in September that I decided to use the book as inspiration for the Christmas craft.  There were plenty of things that I could do on my own; some of which were on the cheesy side or things that I just didn’t think my friends would use or appreciate.  I came across the directions for the Purse with Secret Photo Lining and thought that that seemed like something my girlfriends would like and maybe even use.  The only problem?  I don’t know how to sew.  I can fix a hole in a seam and I can sew a button on.  I can even do some simple hand sewing (I used to make pillows and doll cloths as a kid).  But, I’ve never used a sewing machine.  So, I asked my mom if she would be willing to help me out with the project and she agreed.
To start, I shopped for fabric; opting to use remnants (fabric isn’t cheap) and even an old throw pillow and place mat that were in the Goodwill pile.  I then choose just the right photo to go with each piece of fabric and printed them on photo fabric paper (which was a task in and of its self!) and prepped them for use.  My mom and I went to the craft store to buy some items I was unfamiliar with and choose buttons.  We were unable to find colored elastic cording and we improvised by using hair ties.  One afternoon I cut the fabric and pinned as much together as I could before bringing it all over to my mom’s house.
Once at my mom’s she gave me a lesson on how to use the machine and let me practice on some scrap material.  I wasn’t very good and was really paranoid about not sewing a straight line.  My mom kept telling me that my friends were not going to inspect every detail (though, I’m pretty sure that Shelly will).  Still, I went at a snail’s pace in order to sew straight.  The first night we sewed all the linings and completed the first ‘practice’ bag.  Things went smoothly until we discovered an error in the directions.  Luckily we were thinking ahead and didn’t actually sew anything!  On the second night we flew through the bags and completed all three.  I was able to do most of the basic sewing with guidance from my mom at times while she did the more elaborate tasks.
All in all I think they turned out pretty good!  I can’t say that I will be taking up sewing as a new hobby, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.  Mostly I just had fun creating something for my best friends and enjoyed spending time and learning something from my mom!  I warned my friends not to expect something so nice next year.
I don't have an easy way to include the instructions here.  You'll just have to buy the book or check it out on Amazon (I think you can actually view the pages that include this project).  But, here are a few pictures to prove that I actually made (a portion) of the bags and also a few of the items my friends created for me! 
Fabric Sheets

Soaking the fabric after printing
Laying fabric sheets out to dry
Photo selections with fabric and accessory choices
Lining pinned and ready to be sewed
I'm sewing! 
This is the same sewing machine my mom learned to sew on. 
She has a new one but prefers this old machine.
First completed purse
Mom threading the needle
I'm sewing again!
Notice my look of concentration.
Sewing the 'hair tie' on
Finished products!
I did it! With the help of my mom, of course!

And now for my friends awesome homemade items!
Almond oil sugar scrub made by Jenny
Yarn wreath made by Becky

Reversible apron made by Shelly

The other side of the apron
I gave Deanna (not part of the main exchange) the 'practice' purse.
She just so happened to give me a homemade gift too; Apple Butter!


  1. I was very impressed with your gift, Chris! I would love to learn to sew someday...maybe you can teach me!

  2. You did a great job....chef aprons are next! You will be making the pattern too! Great gifts everyone made.

  3. I agree! Great job! Very unique and meaningful since they are picture you took!

  4. Such a great idea - once again you are an inspiration.