Friday, July 31, 2009

All Things River

So, sewing is my moonlight job. My 'real' job is working as a river guide on the beautiful and powerful Colorado River that flows right through the middle of Grand Canyon! It's wonderful, and whenever I am down there I feel so privileged to get to be one of the few that have the opportunity get to know that wild place so intimately.

In honor of rivers, great and small, Colorado or otherwise, I have put together a collection of river-themed items. All of the items featured here have something to do with a river or have a river feel to them. Either way, they appealed to me, and I thought they deserved to be shared!

This Pebble Ring from Lymric really is awesome! I love the rough and natural appearance, yet it still looks delicate on your hand. And the bezel surrounding the river stone is truly unique. Gorgeous.

Majkatree's Grass River Market Tote makes me feel like I am sitting right on the bank of a cool river, looking through the grass while dipping my toes in the water. Is there a better place to be? And what better way to add a little individuality to your shopping bag?

This looks like something a river nymph would wear! I love applique, of course, and the color of this Misty River Halter Top reminds me of the color of the Colorado River- red and muddy. Beautiful. The asymmetrical hemline of this top also looks really sexy. Beautifulchaos has a lot of items that I would love wearing. I really admire her work.

This Mountain Stream collage really caught my eye. Shellieartist's technique of fabric on wood allows us to appreciate the colors and textures of fabric in a different way other than the clothing and bags that we are used to seeing that media employed in. I love the fanciful settings she creates. I loved browsing through her shop and each little work of art made me smile.

I love rainbows. I love anything that has rainbow colors. I love this necklace! EarthGrrrlCrafts describes this Rainbow River necklace as outstanding, fabulous, and focal. It is. The accents of the larger beads scattered throughout the seed beads helps give it some weight and substance. I think it is classy without being childish, and playful enough to not be too classy. Know what I mean? I even just love looking at it.

Sometimes the simple beauty of the river stones lying along the banks get upstaged by the soaring canyon walls and the rushing river. These Hanging Riverside earrings by RunakoDesigns bring these little stones front and center. Their natural, simple beauty let you appreciate the little things. I bet their cool, delicate weight feels great brushing against your cheek.

Here's another great landscape: this Purple Mountains Majesty Mosaic Belt Buckle from Peicesofmemosaic. This little river runs under a sunset. See the little bird up there in the corner? I bet he's happy to be soaring over such a peaceful setting. I would be :)

A big hand to all the above artists!! Wonderful work. Thanks for bringing a little bit of the river to our everyday lives!

River Bag Line

I've decided to start a new theme-focused bag line: Rivers! These bags will feature collage-type appliques using lots of textured and patterned fabrics to form rich pictures, with a river running through each one. Here's some pictures of my first one, the Mountain River Messenger Bag:

Check back for pictures of more bags! I will also be featuring another product review of river-themed items. Coming soon!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wallet Tutorial

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a cute, thin little wallet with 4 pockets for cards and licenses, a large pocket for bills, and a velcro flap that keeps it closed. These wallets are quick and easy and usually take me less than an hour.

Here are some pictures of the finished product!

You will need:

*Several pieces of lightweight fabric. Unless you have a heavy duty sewing machine, I wouldn't use anything heavier than quilting cotton. I have tried making these with corduroy, linen, wool, etc, and all it gets me is frustrated with about 6 broken sewing machine needles! Also, 2 to 3 different complimentary/contrasting colors and patterns of fabric work best. You can make the wallet with one color fabric, but I think three different ones looks best.



*Sewing machine (with a heavy duty needle, preferably)

*Iron and ironing board

*One large button or several smaller buttons (optional)


*Velcro- I use the 3/4” strips of velcro and cut them to about 1.5” in length.

*A credit card for measuring and double checking your pocket sizes

*Something long and pointy for pushing out the corners of you seams. A crochet needle or a chopstick works great for this. A pencil or pen is not so great as it will poke through your fabric leaving a hole :(

Step 1: Cut out your pieces:

* 4 pieces 3” x 5” for the credit card pockets.

*2 pieces 3” X 5” for the velcro flap.

*2 pieces 5.5” x 8” for the outside of the wallet and the inner lining of the bill pocket.

*2 pieces 5” x 8” for the inside of the wallet and the inner lining of the bill pocket.

(By the way, you can click on any of the pictures and get a zoomed in version)

Step 2: The credit card pockets. Take the 4 credit card pocket pieces and lay them right side down. Iron the top edge down 1/2”. Then fold over 1/2” again and iron once more. This should hide the top raw edge of the fabric and your piece should end up being 2" tall. Do this to all 4 pockets.

Sew across the top edge of the pockets. ALL SEAMS SHOULD BE 3/8 OF AN INCH unless otherwise specified.

Many of your stitches are going to be on the outsides of the wallet, and therefore, visible. You can have a matching color of thread, or a nice contrasting color usually looks good, as long as your stitches are fairly straight :)

2 of the pockets will be partly hidden under the 2 pockets on the outside edges of the wallet. Take these two inside pockets and zig zag the bottom edge:

Step 3: Take one of the 5” x 8” pieces and fold it in half. Iron the fold. This marks the middle of the piece. Take the two card pockets that you just zig zagged and lay them 3/4” from the middle of the piece. Pin them down. Then sew just along the top edge of the zig zag stitches to secure the bottom. This keeps your cards from sliding down.

Then take the other two pockets (the non zig zagged ones) and line their raw edges up with the sides of the larger piece. Pin them down. Then sew (LESS THAN 3/8" of an inch from the edge of the fabric) along the sides of the pockets. This just tacks them down to hold them in place. This is not the final seam.


Step 4: Finish the inside. Take the other 5” x 8” piece and lay it on top of the other pocket piece you just finished. Both right sides should be together. Sew the top edge.

Flip that piece over so that both wrong sides are now together and iron the seam flat. Sew that same top edge again, but this time your stitches will be visible. If you'd like, you can sew once more along the top edge, but between the edge and your last stitches.

Step 5: The velcro flap. Take the two 3” x 5” pieces you cut for the flap and place them right sides together. Sew along 3 edges, leaving one of the smaller edges open. Cut the two corners along the sewn seams.

Turn inside out and iron. Sew once more along the same 3 edges but this time on the right sides of the fabric so the stitches will be visible.

Take your velcro piece (the side with the stiff plastic barbs) and place on the side you want facing down on the finished wallet. Place the velcro 3/8 to 1/2” from the edge of the flap. Sew around all 4 edges of the velcro.

Step 6: Put it all together! Ok, listen carefully! We're going to make a wallet sandwich. Take one of the 5.5” x 8” pieces (the biggest ones that we have done nothing with so far) and lay it right side up. This piece will be the lining for the bill pocket and will be mostly hidden. (I usually sew my GypsyTree tag on this piece as you can see in the picture)

Take the pieces with the credit card pockets and put these on top of the other piece with the pockets facing you. Make sure that the bottom of this piece lines up with the bottom of the other piece. The bigger piece should have about 1” of fabric sticking up above the pocket piece.

Now take the velcro flap piece and line it up with the edge of the other pieces (Heres something cool- for right handed people, put it on the left edge, for left handed people, put it on the right edge, you'll see how it works when it's done). Make sure you lay it more or less in the middle and VELCRO SIDE DOWN!!! That is very important.

Lastly, take the final 5.5” x 8” piece that will be the outside of the wallet and lay it right side down on top of everything else, completing the sandwich. Pin it together, taking care to make sure everything stays lined up and flat.

Step 7: Sew it all together. Start at the bottom edge, about 3” from the middle and start sewing around all edges. Stop when you get back to the bottom edge, about 2” from where you started. This will be the hole where you turn everything right side out. The larger the hole you leave, the easier you will be able to turn the wallet right side out, however, it will be harder to hide the opening once the wallet is finished. I find that about 2” leaves enough room to turn it right side out but will still be easy to close and hide the hole.

Cut all 4 corners off at an angle.

*Carefully* turn the wallet right side out, and don't stretch the fabric or rip your seams. Slow and steady.

Take your crochet hook or chopstick or whatever you have, put in the hole, and poke out the corners of the wallet. Don't poke a hole in your fabric! Also, the bottom corners where the fabric is real thick probably won't get very square. Don't worry too much about that. Iron the edges flat, paying special attention to the hole- make sure the edges are folded under even so that the hole is not obvious.

Take a credit card and put it in one of it's pockets. Slide it up as far as it will go to the top stitch. Make sure that along the bottom edge, there is enough space to sew a 3/8” seam and that the card will still fit in the pockets. If there is, sew along the bottom edge with a normal 3/8" seam. If there is not 3/8” space, then just sew your stitch far enough away to make sure that cards can fit in all 4 pockets. Then sew once again between the edge and your first stitches. This will close up the hole and add a finished look to the wallet.

Then sew along the top edge of the wallet. You can sew this twice like the bottom edge if you'd like.

Step 8: The other velcro. Fold your wallet in half. Bring the flap across the wallet and find out where the second half of the velcro needs to be. Pin it in place. Now this part is tricky. You will have to sew around the velcro, through the two pieces of fabric that form the outer side of the bill pocket. With some machines this can be hard, because it's a tight little place, but it can be done. If you get frustrated, you can sew it on by hand.

Your stitches will be seen on the inside of the bill pocket, but this is usually hidden and doesn't matter. (oops- I sewed through my tag!)

Step 9: Last step! I usually like to take either one large button or several small ones and sew them on the flap on the other side of the velcro. I think it adds a really cute touch and finishes off the wallet.

Now you're all done! These wallets are great because they are nice and thin and you can put them in your back pocket without feeling too bulky.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, or if you notice any mistakes, please email me at and I will get back to you!!

You can view some of my other finished wallets here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


One of my favorite things to do is take something old and turn it into something new to be used again (I got it from my grandma). That's why I love reconstructed clothing and bags! Here are some of my favorites from Etsy. Unique, well-crafted, with sustainability in mind, these are fashion forward and individualistic pieces that just go to show that new isn't always better.

DynagirlVintage features skirts made from t-shirts. They all have really cool pockets and great fabric combinations (think Spiderman and calico!). This one, with the pirates, is awesome. Pirates. Need I say more?

SecretLentil makes beautiful layered and flowy tunics and skirts. It was hard to choose which one to feature. This one makes me want to run around in the woods wearing it on a rainy day...

These gorgeously crafted shirts and sweaters from Sewmoe look sooo comfortable! I want them all to wear all the time. I could live in thin jersey material, which is what many of her great shirts and dresses are made from. And who doesn't love an old concert tee?

My personal propensity being applique and combining multiple fabrics to create layered pictures, caused this tank by Eyesnwhiskers to catch my eye. She's got several butterfly patterns that are super cute.
The combination of fabric patterns, colors and textures in this Cancer Zodiac Dress dress by Cutiepieboutique is fantastic!! My favorite part is the chicken ribbon above the skirt! Too bad I'm an Aries. My husband, however....
I can't believe how cute this dress is! It even comes with a little brooch of vintage buttons you can put anywhere. Nice one, JazzBoogie!

And one for the guys! Another applique favorite of mine, I love the organic shape and clean lines of this vest by Ungabungatribalwear. It's formal and funky.

Don't get lost in the rows and rows of equally identical clothing! Consider something completely different that will set you apart and leave a little less waste in the world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

First Post!

Welcome to the GypsyTree blog! Stay tuned for tutorials, videos, handmade product reviews and more interesting stuff...