I'm so pleased to be part of Donktober! A fantastic blog hop from the creative (slightly bonkers) mind of Erin at Missy Mac Creations. Thanks for including me Erin :)

I'm going to share a couple of embroidery patterns, a tutorial and a short book review today, as well as a little giveaway... sheesh, it's going to be a long and picture heavy post.

I've created a tutorial for this book bag, which was made from a pair of my husband's VERY torn jeans! I wanted to make it from something hard wearing and with no money to indulge in some oilcloth I scoured the house to see what I could find! I love denim and realised it would work perfectly and allow me to do some stitching too.

I did a bit of sketching (you can see I changed my mind about the direction of the donkey's tail!) and then outlined them to create embroidery patterns.

I have no clever computer software so I took pictures and uploaded them to my computer. For the books I added some text on picmonkey, saved the images and have created a google document so I can share the patterns with you. If you aren't donkey mad the book pattern could be used for so many different things... just don't copy the lettering!

Bag Tutorial and Embroidery Details

If you'd like to make the bag please read the instructions all the way through first! You may want to make some adjustments according to your preferences.

1- Start by cutting off the legs of the jeans - I did this on the thigh, just at the point where they begin to be straight legs:

2- Cut out one of the back pockets - so I had two leg pieces and a pocket (keep the rest, we'll be using some more of the jeans later!):

3- Cut up the side of the leg pieces along the narrower seam (I wanted the thicker seam as a feature running down the centre panel of the bag):

4- Even up the panels and remove the bottom hems - my panel then measured approx 14" x 16". You can use whatever size suits your needs, larger or smaller will work just as well.

5- Transfer the embroidery designs and stitch the panel - I decided to use the reverse side of the denim so the embroidery would stand out more, it also gives a nice background texture. I used Anchor pearl cotton:

In the order they appear above, I used the following stitches for each text: outline split stitch and filled with satin stitch; French knots; backstitch; couching; split stitch; rope stitch.
The books and pages were all backstitched.

The body of the Donkey was all split stitch, the eye and nostril were satin stitch, the hooves were chain stitch, the mane was rope stitch and the tail was Vandyke stitch.

notice the Donkey is reading our blogs :)

I experimented with some of these stitches and I followed instructions from the brilliant book by Kate Hexell, 'The Stitch Bible'.

6- Once the stitching is finished, cut two pieces of lining fabric the same size as your denim panels:

7- Take the plain piece of denim and add the pocket to the middle. Cut carefully around the pocket, not too close to the seams. That way I kept the Levi's tag (for fun) and also meant I could just stitch around the pocket. This will fray over time but I really like that look! If you want to be neater you could use blanket/zigzag stitch to avoid fraying.

8- Next go back to the remaining cut up jeans and take a section off the top of the leg - it's doesn't matter that it's not straight, once it's cut you can even it up:

This time I trimmed off the thicker seam so I had a long strip - this measured approximately 3 1/2" x 18" but again just work with what you have or cut to a length you prefer:

9- Press the edges of the long side over a bit, then press the whole strip in half (feel free to press the short edges over too if you want a neater look):

10- Once folded in half, stitch along the whole length where the edges meet and then echo the straight lines along the strap:

Repeat steps 8-10 so you have two handles!

** I like the 'handmade' look of the handles sewn on the outside and the idea that they will fray nicely with time - If you want a more polished look you need to insert the handles in between the outside and lining fabric when you topstitch along the edge in the next step, so they are neatly tucked inside. **

11- Take one outside denim panel and one interior fabric piece and stitch them right sides together using a 1/4" seam:

so you end up with this:

12- Put them wrong sides together and press the top edge before top stitching:

Repeat steps 11 and 12 for the other denim panel and interior fabric.

13- Decide where you want to place the handles, pin and stitch in place on each denim panel:

Now you have a front and a back to the bag - complete with handles! So it's time to put them together...

14- Put the bag together, interior pieces facing - so it literally looks like the finished bag should - then pin around the side and bottom edges:

15- Sew a 1/4" seam around the three edges then clip the corners:

16- This bag has a French seam so turn the bag inside out, press or wiggle with your fingers so the edges are straight and then sew around the same three edges, this time with a 1/2" seam.

Turn the bag the right way round and you're all done (trust me it's taken me WAY longer to type this tutorial than it did to sew the bag together!!).

So what to put in it?? Well ours obviously has Donkey books in it!!

Erin was so kind as to send me and the kids some fabulous Donkey themed books. Huge thank you from me and the kiddies!

Here's a quick review:

First up is 'That's Not My Donkey' by Fiona Watts and Rachel Wells. I think most modern parents are familiar with the Usborne touchy-feely books and the 'That's Not My...' series. They are fabulous for little ones, great fun for toddlers and have good repetition for school aged little readers. This one is just as brilliant as the rest of them and my two loved seeing the different settings for the Donkey and shouting out about the various textures in the book.

Next is 'The Hungry Donkey' by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright. This is a fun story. They laughed a lot when... well I won't ruin it! This is a great one for anytime of day and it has lovely illustrations with plenty to look at.

Finally 'The Wonky Donkey' by Craig Smith. This was the clear 'winner' with the kids. They laughed and laughed! It has amazing and fun illustrations. We read this over and over and they show no sign of getting tired of it, thankfully I really enjoy it too.

So that's my contribution for Donktober! I had a lot of fun constructing the bag, designing the embroidery patterns and reading funny stories. I'm still new to writing tutorials so if you need any clarification or have any questions please let me know! I would love to know if you make one or use the embroidery for any of your projects.

If you managed to read this all the way through, thank you and well done!

As a bonus I'm having a little giveaway of 1/2 yard of this fab donkey print from the Jack and Jenny Collection by Laurie Wisburn for Robert Kaufman, which I bought at Fluffy Sheep Quilting. I couldn't resist sharing it with you and those wellies are very appropriate for the Manchester weather!


To win just leave a comment on this post - if you're stuck for what to say maybe you could tell me what your favourite embroidery stitch is if you have one!

My lovely followers get another chance, just leave a second comment below telling me you follow :)

International entries are welcome and Mr random.org will help chose a winner next Friday 19th October.

Good Luck and Happy Donktober!!


Don't forget to visit the other bloggers taking part and there will be a linky party for all the Donkey creations so look out for that :)