Carry on Cahoning (bag Part 2)

So, if you have a cahon that needs carrying and have prepped your fabric, next you need a plan, right?

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My orginal plan was quite literally back of the envelope. The zip down front, for easy cahon insertion and removal, rucksack straps and quilting all stayed. The pocket got ditched (the cahon is so bulky you really don’t want any extra sticky-outiness) as did the idea for a drawstring top and fold over flap. After much musing I decided that drawstring tops and zip down front are inherantly incompatible.

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My bag consists of a squarish base piece, a front piece, a main piece that wraps around the other 3 sides and a lid. After cutting my pieces to size, I sewed the zippers onto my front piece. These are separating zippers, because that was my only option locally, later I hand stitched just above the base to make them into non separating zippers.  The wrong side where the zipper is attached to the bag is is bound with some extra wide bias binding.

Next it was time to attach the other side of the zip to the main piece. As I happened to have the salvaged fabric from an abandoned broken tent lying around (as you do), I cut off some strips (already with one edge bound in black) and used them to make a facing for my zip to help keep the rain out that handily bind my raw edges at the same time.  I sewed the zip to the right side of my main piece (teeth pointing inwards), then flipped the fabric over and sewed the facing to the back (aligning the raw edges). Then I folded the zip so the teeth were now pointing outwards and my raw seam allowance was at the back, flipped my facing over my seam alowance, covering my zip, flipped back to the front side and topstitched everything into place. (Nope, I didn’t pin either. #sewingdangerously).

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Then the front and main pieces were sewn to the base. The same pale green extra wide bias binding that you can see is also used to bind all the raw edges on the inside seams. There is also a flap of tent fabric at the bottom too, for extra weather proofness.  (Sorry, I have completely failed to take a decent photo of it, you’ll have to use your imagination).

Once the main bag was assembled, onto the straps. I wanted them quilted, to add padding, so rather than sew a tube and turn it, I pressed a centre fold into my strap piece, pressed the seam allowances, quilted some batting in place, attached the webbing to the bottom, folded it up and topstitched everything in place.

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Then I could baste the straps in place to try them out. At this point there is a grab handle in between them at the back, that later got moved. Oh, and I should mention that the bottom of the adjustable straps had already been sewn in place when the main piece was sewn tot he base. (And those sliders are reclaimed, all rucksacks die eventually and when mine do I salvage all those bits and put them in by Box of Useful Bag Bits. Those things are really expensive if you buy them new!).

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Last up the lid, which is sewn into place on three sides and then has a flap that goes over the front. It doesn’t need to lift off, as the whole front unzips. I used more tent salvage to bind the top of the front piece and the flap of the lid before sewing the lid in place.

The lid fastens in place with a magnetic bag clasp (this I did  buy new). I managed to get one part into the facing of the flap before sewing it down, (with a little rectangle of fleece offcut for extra stability), but for the bag front I attached it to a patch of denim and sewed it in place.  I didn’t fancy trying to get the clasp through the quilted front, and if I did I was worried that the holes would fray. (The patch has some classy red nail varnish acting as fray stop, which you can just make out around the clasp. Oh well.)

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The grab handle is some ribbon threaded through another reclaimed bag bit and sewn across the centre of the lid. I thought this would be more stable for lifting a bulky item like a cahon than a loop behind the straps on the back.

So now, finally, months after I started, LSH has a bag for his cahon. Woot woot. I will try and get you an action shot update once dance out season is underway.

Of course, as soon as a certain someone saw the cahon in its bag he had to put it on his back. I foolishly mentioned that it was nearly as big as him, and so he had to test it out.  He’s just slightly too big to have it zipped up.

Now this monumental project is finished I’m not sure what to do next. Something simple to clense my palate maybe.  In the meantime, I may just stare at it a little more….

Slow Camels

Apparently camels have a gestation period of 13-14 months. Who knew? Maybe that’s why my new camel jumper took so long to make, about 12 months from buying the fabric to having something to wear.

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I ordered this fabric before going on a screenprinting course last year. The inks used on the course would only work on paler fabrics, so I planned to print on some  of this grey marl fleece backed sweatshirting, but when I found that was sold out I decided upon some green instead, however worrying it would be too dark, I chose the latte as well. Turned out the green was fine to work with, so I decided to use the latte for a test garment.

People Tree Peter Jensen Bear Print Women's Jumper Burgundy Melange ...

Small problem, I don’t wear this colour, at all. I was wondering what I could do with it, and musing on the fact that it was more camel coloured than latte coloured when inspiration struck. Camels! I wanted to make an all over camel print jumper, inspired by the all over bear print people tree jumper that my friend has.

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Turns out camels are surprisingly difficult to draw (go ahead, have a go, I’ll wait….., see, told you).  Luckily my niece is an arts student and she kindly rustled me up a quick sketch and emailed it over, which I traced over and shrank and then ordered it made into a custom screen from thermofax screens with some birthday present money.

More delays whilst I played around with screen printing and then in January I decided the time was now and made a pattern from an old beloved worn out sweatshirt, cut out my pieces and got printing. Which is when I realised that the camel was never going to work quite the same way as the original bear inspiration as a) it’s directional and b) I only had one sized screen (the bears come in a variety of sizes). LSH persuaded me that less was more and I ended up with a mainly camel coloured jumper with a few camels on (more on the back as he wasn’t looking when I printed that).

I was pretty pleased at how my self drafted pattern came out. Patch pocket: good. Ribbing at sides as per original: worked perfectly. Adding extra ease into the sleeves to account for this fabric being thicker than the original: spot on. Nice long cuffs that when folded down reach my thumb: check. And then I added the collar. Arrgh (see evidence above). Horrible, wrong, not what I intended. Despite this being my second attempt at the collar (having tried a collar first and redrafting the pattern pieces as it wasn’t right). I think partly my neckline is too wide (not much I can do about that) and this fabric is thicker than the original hoodie and behaves differently.

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It sat, nearly done, in the naughtly corner through all the cold weather. Finally I redid the collar, taking length out the back and height out and reapplying the eyelets with interfacing added to the back now so they stay in. It’s not perfect, but I’m happier with it and the fabric is so snuggly and cosy I just know I’ll be wearing it anyway. Once I find something it goes with.

So, I now have a camel jumper, that came out nothing like I planned but is very snuggly and comfy to wear. Maybe now I can start on the “real deal” green version (with a few tweaks to the too wide neckline and probably a rib finish).

Oh and this is the twin of the Hobbit Hoodie, we were both wearing them today!

 

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Hoodie 2.0

(or Yay, I finally sewed something)

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First there was Hoodie 1.0, AKA the Hobbit Hoodie (short and fat).

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Then there was the beta (aka test) version of the What-No-Decent-Mens-Hoodie-Patterns?-Surely-Even-My-Drafting -Has-to-Fit-Better-Than-the-First-One Hoodie (known as the bike hoodie for short).

Now meet, Hoodie 2.0, the Vaguely Steampunk Cogs Hoodie (in teal).

This is basically the same pattern as the Bike Hoodie (i.e. self drafted raglan with hood and pockets from a free Lekala pattern) with a few very technical and highly skilled fitting tweaks. (Bear with me here while I describe these for fellow pro’s and don’t worry too much if you find my description too indecipherable, you probably just don’t have my amazing fitting skills, so just nod in awe instead.) I took a thumbs length out of the underarm sleeve, tapering it down to the nothing at the cuff seam and I took half a thumb out of the middle of the raglan seam tapering to nothing at either end of the seam. Oh and I redrew the side seam so it was actually straight and perpendicular to the hem. I know, I know, technical stuff.

My other change was to line the hood. Which I did by underlining, as I wanted to keep the main fabric folded over to the inside and I wasn’t sure how else to achieve this didn’t want to show anyone up any more by redrafting the pieces to make that happen.  Basically I cut out and sewed 2 hood pieces, one in my main fabric and one in leftover fabric from my stash (my initial thought was to buy something, quite pleased I double checked I really needed to, not least as this stuff feels very soft and warm). Then I tacked (basted) them together. Then I folded the front edge over and pressed in place. Oh and I wanted to use twill tape to thread through the channel but as last time I had trouble getting safety pins through my eyelets I tacked this into the crease of the foldover before sewing my edges down (so it wouldn’t shift and get caught in the stitching), crossed my fingers and by jove it worked, when I unpicked my tacking I had succesfully sewn my drawstring into the casing but left it free to move. Less haste more speed and all that.  Oh and I used the same twill tape to cover the hood/hoodie seam and to make a hanging loop (always useful).

Finished last night, roadtested on a family day out today, thumbs up, made me smile lots and hubby seemed to like it too. The fit is definitely better again (although as always there is room for improvement) and I wish I’d cut the inerfacing tape I used to stabilise the front with in half as due to my narrow seam allowance it shows. But as Points To Improve On go, that’s pretty minor.

Gosh all this Science is hard work (especially after a late night sewing finish). I hope you had a great Easter Weekend too.

Beta Bicycle Hoodie

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After the so close and yet so far Hobbit Hoodie, I knew I wanted to make Long Suffering Husband another hoodie for his upcoming birthday. Things were discussed. Very complicated things. I also had a look around for a better pattern and didn’t get very far, I was beginning to think I’d have to draft one myself. Eek.  And then I spied this grey (terry?) knit in my local fabric shop. It’s not much thicker than a t shirt weight and not great quality, but it was cheap so I snapped up 2 metres and got drafting, making a raglan pattern using an existing top of his as a guide and pinching the pockets and the hood from the Lekala pattern that I used last time.

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Turns out 2m wasn’t quite enough but I decided to use some nice thickish black t shirt knit for the pockets and hood (with a pieced bicycle central stripe as directed) and with the black ribbing I think that looks pretty good.

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If I’m being critical the fit isn’t perfect, there’s a lot of excess fabric pooling along the raglan seams at the front and it has a bit of a bat wing thing going on, but it’s sooo much better than the Lekala/hobbit version so it’s definitely a step in the right direction. In particular it’s long enough to stop drafts getting to his lower back and also reaches the end of his wrists which he’s quite pleased about.

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I didn’t bother with holes for cord in the end as I’m not sure he’ll actually wear the hood up. Which made me wonder why I’d made the hood, but then you can’t really have a hoodie without a hood. The hood looks quite odd up, so in hindsight I probably should’ve bothered, but I’m not worried enough to change it unless I get complaints!

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Bag of Tricks

all packed and ready to go

all packed and ready to go

Earlier this summer I made a bag for hubby, to replace one that was starting to look a little the worse for wear (despite mending) and had a tendency to gape.

photobombed by an owl

photobombed by an owl

The main fabric I used was some thick organic cotton fabric from Wheeler Fabrics in Machynllyth especially for the purpose. Lovely stuff, not cheap but great quality and we liked the subtle pattern. Not waterproof, but then neither was the original bag.

the inside basic construction

the inside basic construction – with the original bag top right

Nearly everything else was from stash. I lined it with some leftover khaki fabric that is a really tight weave and if not waterproof, its slightly water repellent. I made the lining first to check the sizing as I was winging it self drafting.

pen pocket, check

pen pocket, check

I was all for filling it with pockets (I love pockets), but the Man was not so keen. He did relent and say a pen pocket would be useful…

coffee cup pocket

coffee cup pocket

… and maybe somewhere to put his sealable reusable coffee cup that goes everywhere with him.

pocket ready to attach

pocket ready to attach

Apparently an essential feature with the deep pockets on the outside.

lining the pockets with his old waterproof coat

lining the pockets with his old waterproof coat – this piece needed a small mend before I could attach it to the outside pocket

I lined these with scraps of various things, including his old waterproof coat. The front pocket started rectangular and had the “fold lines” stitched.

mitre

mitre

Then I mitred the bottom corners and stitched in place. I didn’t cut the excess fabric, but left it there.

ta da

ta da

It seemed to work ok.

pockets on

pockets on

I zig zagged at the top of the sides when sewing them on, to add strength at this stress point, and I zig zagged along the bottom edge too.

snaps on

snaps on

After sewing them on I decided to topstitch along the edges to add definition. And I added some snaps with my new favourite tool. I could only get nave blue ones the right size/weight locally, which was annoying, but not enough to do anything about.

side pocket with pieced lining and contrast sides

side pocket with pieced lining and contrast sides

I didn’t have quite enough fabric (only having bought a metre) so I used some left over green cord, which ended up being a nice feature. As this was just used as the sides of the side pockets, I constructing them differently, cutting a long strip of green for the sides and base and sewing it around 3 sides of the chevron front piece – which is how the original pockets were constructed. The insides of these pockets are a mish mash of different fabrics and are constructed in the same way to the outside.

reinforcing the top of the back

reinforcing the top of the back

The original bag has some kind of reinforcing along the top of the back. I managed this by cutting a strip off a thin plastic chopping board, rounding the edges slightly to avoid them tearing the fabric and sliding it inside a strip of cord sewn across, with a handle peeking out.

in action

in action

All the pocket fastenings come from my box of stuff culled off old bags. I put them on in the way that makes sense to me, which is apparently upside down, but hey, they work and are still adjustable. I had to buy extra strapping for the shoulder straps as I didn’t have a long enough piece, it looks like the right kind of stuff but is annoyingly slippier, not what you want, but hubby has managed to get it to stay in place in the end (makes it harder to adjust thought).

in action

in action

So, the verdict, pretty good. Looks the part, but is a bit wide and the top still gapes a bit despite me adding flaps to the top of the front and sides designed to sit under the main flap. I love the external pockets though and my flaps have much better coverage than the originals (if I say so myself). With hindsight, I rushed making it a bit, and should have started from scratch design wise rather, than copying a less than perfect design. But then, instead of making it around Scotland, it would probably still be sitting on my to do pile, which is no use to anyone. And is it is, it’s still being used regularly (I saw him with it today), so I’m not too disappointed. Next time however….

Sleeves – a work in progress

“I have a sewing project idea I wanted to ask you about”, said my husband (he knows how to get my attention) “removable arms”. My initial response was that I wasn’t sewing him robotic arms, but it turned out he meant
removable sleeves, also known as arm warmers, made for cyclists. “You could use up some of your left over bits of knit fabric, they wouldn’t have to be identical”. Right, interest well and truly piqued.

I did a quick online search and the ones I found are all flash looking in high performance fabric with “gel grips” (to hold them up I suspect). Oh, and they were black, cos that’s all technical right? (although hubby found some garish bright ones on sale online somewhere).

Hubby doesn’t think so much of high performance fabric. He doesn’t do high performance cycling, just commuting, and in his words, the high performance fabric smells horrible after you’ve worn it twice and doesn’t last long.

I started with an old t shirt and some grey marl ribbing of not that great quality (at the time I bought it I was so excited to find ribbing I didn't notice).

I started with an old t shirt and some grey marl ribbing of not that great quality (at the time I bought it I was so excited to find ribbing I didn’t notice).

So, I made a prototype from an old t shirt and which I draped around his arm and pinned to get the right size. Then I made a fairly sizable double layer cuff from my least favourite ribbing in the stash (I had no idea if this would work or not and ribbing is hard to come by in these parts) to go at the top. I guesstimated how much narrower to make it. My thought was that if yoga pants stay up with a wide knit waistband then this should stand a chance and it would probably be more comfortable than using elastic.

Sleeve shape cut after it was draped and pinned

Sleeve shape cut after it was draped and pinned, looking promisingly sleevish

I also added a cuff at the bottom of the sleeve after consulting with hubby. I cut it randomly narrower cos it felt right and he was pleasantly pleased with the result.

There wasn’t enough t shirt left to make a whole second one so I cut up another t shirt. I thought I’d drawn out the pattern I’d “used” first time around correctly, so it should’ve been the same size, but actually it came out baggier. Still, I left it like that for him to test.

Worn under a t shirt they looked suitably cycley (somehow the matching cuffs make the mis matched fabric look like a trendy design feature).

ready for a test ride

ready for a test ride

So, what was the verdict?

He was pretty happy when he tried them on. When he got back from work he commented that cycling is more jiggly than sitting still, so I need to modify them with a tighter top cuff so they don’t fall down. He also realised they work best put over his shirt sleeves (which I thought would be obvious). But I think they have potential (and probably better quality ribbing would work better too, if I can bear to spare some).

I like the fact that I managed to rustle something in an hour or so – quicker and cheaper than ordering online! This sewing malarky can be quite fun and useful at times can’t it.

What’s the most random sewing request you’ve had? And did you make it?

Mesenger bag of Doom

Grab yourself some sunglasses and turn the brightness setting down I used the garish VW tablecloth fabric to make a messenger bag, another thing from my ever expanding Christmas makes list, this time for a young woman who once foolishly told me that she likes camper vans.

all finished bar the button

all finished bar the button

It should have been a fairly straightforward make. I decided on some approximate dimensions, sketched a plan, nearly everything was rectangles and the fabric had big squares printed on it, what could go wrong?

and what a button

and what a button

It was the fabric. Cheap, cheerful, misaligned prints, non square squares, and it’s not strong. I thought I was being cleaver, marking it by folding it (it holds a finger crease), using selotape to hold it together, where necessary pinning in the seam allowance (pins/needles leave holes), but it simply wasn’t up for the task.

turn and tear

turn and tear – my not so invisible “mend” runs down from the orange square on the left into the white one with a camper van on

My first indication was when it tore slightly next to the corner at the bottom. At the time it was inside out, lining not inserted and I “mended” it with gaffer tape on the inside. Then, once I’d attached the lining and tried to turn it through the 5 1/4″ gap that I thought was generous, the fabric simply wasn’t flexible enough and it ripped.

More gaffer tape was applied on the inside, the mend was not too bad, I topstitched the top down and thought it would do. Then hubby tried it on and the strain from the strap (which I had attatched to just the outer fabric) ripped it there too. Arrgh.

Rippage

Rippage

That was harder to fix with gaffer tape and not as neat. I then restitched the tape for my d rings so it went through the lining fabric too, hopefully that will give it some strength. However, I’m not confident on the robustness of this bag nor the fact there are small patches of gaffer tape on the outseide I’m going to give it anyway, as I think the fabric will cause a smile, but I’ll add in my plan B present.

side view

side view

The lining is some random orange fabric that came in a pile of stuff a neighbour had rescued when her friend was having a clear out.

pocket peeping

pocket peeping

It has several pockets, 2 square ones in the waterproof fabric that sit under the flap and a large one (more of a compartment divider really) and a pen one on the inside that are made out of a shirt my husband was given but for some reason never wears.

pen pocket

pen pocket

The strap and fastenings are from my box of dead bag salvage bits and its adjustable, clips on and off and has a soft shoulder pad bit. It’s way classier than the rest of the bag.

So, experiment 1 in waterproof bag making – cheap table cloth fabric is not really very suitable. Hopefully lesson learnt.

Done to a T

Last night I finally started, and finished a late Christmas present that I’d been cogitating on for a while. It’s a bag, for a child, whose name begins with T.

T'bag

T’bag

It’s made from scraps, recognise that pink fabric for the T? The purple is some home dyed calico from an abandoned project that’s in my stash. And the pocket on the bag is a scrap of fabric from a t shirt that has already been cut up and refashioned but yet to be blogged about. The lining is left over from the Christmas Shirt.

Now with added frogs

Now with added frogs

The idea for the bag came after our children were given Christmas presents by a folky family we know. I wanted to make a present in return and use some of left over fabric that I was making presents for my kids for. Except I wasn’t sure how suitable either material was for bag exterior, so I threw some of the purple fabric I was using to make a waistcoat muslin for my husbands Christmas present (still unfinished, the muslin that is, let alone the real thing) into the mix. Plus for some reason I decided that I wanted to make a bag where the sides were zips, so that it could be used to take some toys out and then zipped flat to be a playing mat. So I bought 2 zips that fully open, the colour choices were rather random, I opted for turquoise. And my daughter chose a button.

That was as far as I got. But I kept thinking about it. And about how to have zip sides without leaving a big hole for stuff to fall out of. Making two Presido Purse’s helped too.

Anyway, the thinking must have helped, because it all came together pretty easily. First, I drafted a pattern, based on the zip length.

Self drafted pattern

Self drafted pattern

Basically there’s a long rectangle that’s the bag front, then a very short one the depth of the zips to be the bag base but wider to create tabs that fold inside and prevent things falling out underneath the zips, then another long rectangle to be the bag back, with an extra bit to go accross the top before the trapezium flap. Then whack your favourite seam allowance around the outside.

Adding the zips

Adding the zips

I cut this template out from both my main and my lining fabric. I added the T to the front of my main fabric and found the scrap of purple jersey with a frog on lying about and whipped up a patch pocket and added it to the back. Then I basted the zips in place, face down (right side to right side with the fabric) and facing inwards, unsurprisingly like Erin’s tutorial.

Close up of the tabs

Close up of the tabs

At this point, I realised (luckily before I sewed the lining on) that I hadn’t thought about where to attatch the strap. Normally this is easy, sew it to the top of the sides, but, err, the sides are zips. After a bit of headscratching I worked out that I could probably attatch handles to the fold over bit of the back (between the back and the flap) but that it might work better with D rings. I went and raided my stores and found two plastic D rings and a clasp that had been cut off a long defunct rucksack and some navy blue soft woven tape (hey, the more colours the merrier) and added the D rings above the zips (zig zagged to add strength and prevent fraying).

Emergency D rings

Emergency D rings

Then to add a quick pocket to the lining (I’m a big fan of pockets). I didn’t match the pattern this time, but I did do a quick extra line of stitching to make a pen holder up the side.

Spot the pocket

Spot the pocket

Next I was ready to sew the lining to the main bag, all along the outside leaving just what would be the top of the front open.

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

Then I turned the bag the right way round, folded my raw edge inside at the top front forgot to press it flat as I had a phonecall and topstitched all around the outside (I went straight down the whole side along line of the zips rather than around the outside of the flaps, so that the line of stitching would create a natural place for the flaps to bend inwards) before adding the adjustable strap to the D rings and putting a couple of hand stitches to hold the bottom of the tabs in place on the inside.

Strappage

Strappage

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

Then I just had to put a button hole in the tab and sew on the button my daughter had chosen especially, which had purple, turquoise and pinky red flowers on it that picked up the colours of the bag.
And voila, a bag with adjustable strap an external and internal patch pocket, that you normally open by unbuttoning the tab but if desired you can unzip the sides too to make a playmat.

Opened out as a playing mat

Opened out as a playing mat

Secret Sewing #2

When I was making that skirt there was a large strip of fabric left over in both the green polka dots and blue floral fabrics as I cut my two long tier pieces sideways as they were wider than the fabric. Quite big pieces as the panels were only 8″ deep, so I had over half the fabric width left. Plus I had got my fabric over twice the length I needed although I didn’t realise it at that point. And I got thinking about bags, because I like making bags and I thought it would be nice to run one up that coordinated with the skirt.

As bags need more fabric than hats, I ran up this bag before running up the first three sunhats (the ones that were suppossed to leave me with cool scraps for the skirt pockets) because I wanted to cut the fabric first. That’s right I started a skirt, stopped it partway to make a bag, then made 3 hats, before trying to finish my quick make skirt which then lurked in my dining room for months unfinished. I did finish the bag really quickly but as I wanted to post it with the bag as a surprise extra that lurked with the skirt for months too. This kind of thing is is why my blog is called prolific project starter!

The bag was really simple. I was wary of making it too big (something that I’ve done in the past when winging bags for myself) especially as it was it quite a lightweight fabric so wouldn’t hold too much. So to get the size right I drew round one of my favourite bags, which is made by Skye Batiks and is a much treasured present from my big brother. I didn’t want a big flap on this bag though.

I made the bag in 3 pieces. The main piece, which is both sides and the base. And two pieces which are each one sides and half the strap. I hope this rather basic illustration gives you the idea.

The pattern

The pattern

The width of the main piece is the bag width plus twice the seam allowance (as there’s a seam each side). The depth of this piece is twice the bag depth, plus the width of the base, plus twice the seam allowance. I didn’t make the base very wide, about 3 inches I think.

The sides of the bag are the base width at the bottom and taper up to the strap width, which was not much less on this bag (the difference is more marked on a bigger bag) but helps keep the top opening together rather than bagging out. The length of those slopey sides matches the depth of the bag. Then the side continues straight as half the strap. I considered making the strap pieces longer but not joining them so they could be tied to the perfect length, but I actually just used my favourite bag measurements again as the person I was making it for is not much shorter than me. For the pattern I drew out the final panel size then added my seam allowance all around.

And I put a small pocket on the outside and inside, cos I love pockets, but not too many as then I can’t remember which one I need to look in! As I had decided to make my bag reversible, I made the two pockets as identical rectangles, flowery on one side, spotty on the other, so that when the spotty side was outermost the outer pocket would have a flowery lining to match the bag lining and visa versa.

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Sewing up the bag is quite simple. There are two U shaped side seams joining each side panel to the main piece and giving the main piece it’s shape. They go down the front side, along the base, and back up the back side. Then the strap needs hemming in the middle. If you’re worried about measurements this can be done a bit later when joining the inside and outside together to make sure everything lines up. If the bag wasn’t lined or reversible I would’ve cut a fourth piece to line the strap, making it more comfortable and hiding the raw edges. Something I did do was sew an extra rectangular base piece on just attatched at the side seams on one of my fabric choices. This is invisible in the finished bag but adds strength. I could’ve ironed interfacing on the base instead.

As it was I lined up the two bags right side together with the pockets on opposite sides (so there wasn’t too much bulk in one place when the pockets have stuff in and also so if the outside pocket is on the front of the bag the inner one sits against the body, which seemed a good placing to me). I sewed one continious seam along one top side of the bag and round one side of the strap. The bag needs turning right way out at this point. Then I top stitched along both top edges and the strap sides.

Finally I decided to try something new with this bag. I added a button closure. It needed a buttonhole in the middle of one top edge, and two buttons, sewn back to back on each side of the opposite edge. This means whichever way out the bag is you can button it shut easily and you can see a button front and back on the bag. I was really pleased I worked out how to make a reversible button closure. Shame in all my excitement I didn’t put the buttonhole further down, my large buttons stick out over the top of the bag, which I’m not so chuffed about.

Overall I was pretty pleased. And it fitted the skirt in for posting. What do you think?

Flowers

Flowers

Spots

Spots

A Friendly Guide to Tiered Skirt Maths

When I read sewing blogs I’m interested in learning new sewing techniques, how to make French seams or sew knit fabric or trace pattern pieces, that kind of thing. I don’t notice lovely explanations of how to calculate things so much, because, err, numbers are my friends (after all I have spent a ridiculous 8 years at Uni playing around with them, so we got to know each other a little).

So when I wrote about making a tiered skirt (here), I concentrated on the (rather rough and ready) sewing and forgot about the calculations, until I read Beth’s comment. So Beth, this tutorial is for you.

So, say you want to make a skirt …

Geeky maths drawing of a skirt

Geeky maths drawing of a skirt

Ok, so maybe you don’t want to make that skirt, but if you use your imagination the red line is the waistband, the yellow is the hem (the skirt is spread out flat on the floor), and the blue line is the length. Lets work out some numbers.

First choose your length (blue line), get your tape measure out and measure your favourite skirt or yourself/chosen victim. So far so easy.

Next, work out how big the waistband needs to be (the red line). This is actually the size of the waistband casing. To enable the skirt to get pulled on and off properly this needs to be the hip measurement plus 1 inch (2.5 cm) ease. If it were any smaller we’d need to start faffing about with zips or something, rather than nice easy elastic.

Now onto the hem. Here there is some choice, depending on how full you want your skirt to be. The absolute smallest it could be would be the same hip measurement plus 1 inch ease you’re making the waistband, which I guess would make some kind of pencil skirt with an elasticated waist.

The fullest kind of skirt you’re likely to want is a full circle (my daughters ideal), so lets work out the measurements of the fullest that you’d want it to be. Ready for some maths? I’ll hold your hand. We need to start by working out the distance from the waistband to the middle of your body, but don’t worry, I wont be talking about different types of fat therein and trying to sell you amazing new diet foods. Just find the calculator app on your smart phone and divide your waistband measurement (that’s the hip measurement plus 1 inch, remember) by 6.3 (if you’re interested what we’re doing here is finding the radius of the waistband circle by dividing the circumfrence by twice pi). Now add this answer to your chosen length (to find the radius of a full circle hemline), then multiply the answer by 6.3 (approximately 2 pi again) to give you the hem circumfrence of a full circular skirt of your chosen length.

If you want a half circular skirt, your hemline will be half this length, for a quarter circle skirt, a quarter of this.

Quick recap time, with an example for a child about 5:

  • I choose my length of 12 inches
  • I measure hips at 20″, so the waistband casing needs to be 21″
  • Then I divide 21 by 6.3 to get 3.3 (rounding it to one place after the point)
  • Adding 3.3 to my 12 inch lengthgives me 15.3
  • 15.3 times 6.3 is 96.4
  • So for a full circle my hemline is 96.4, for a half circle it’s 48.2 and for a quarter circle it’s 24.1, although I would round these to 96 and a half inches, 48 inches and 24 inches respextively for my sanity (plus my cutting is not that accurate).

Next, lets work out the panel sizes for a skirt like this. I’ll assume you have 3 panels, but it’d be easy to adapt for 2 or 4. Choose how deep you want each panel, for my 12″ example I’m going to have each one an equal 3″ deep, but you don’t need them all the same depth. My panels are going to look something like this (imagine they’re laid next to each other before gathering and seaming).

No, not building blocks, panel pieces.

No, not building blocks, panel pieces.

Start with the bottom panel. The width of this panel needs to be your hem circumfrence (24″/48″/96.5″ in my example above depending on how twirly you feel) plus your preferred seam allowance each side. The height needs to be your panel depth (mine is 3″) plus seam allowance at the top and hem allowance at the bottom. So with a half inch seam and hem allowances I would cut a piece 4″ by 97.5″ (for a full skirt on my example). You could also cut 2 panels at half the width and have 2 side seams, if so add seam allowance at each side to both of them. So I’d cut 2 pieces both 4″ by 49 and a quarter inches.

Top panel next. This will be gathered in at the waistband, so if there’s a difference between this and your actual waist the easy option is to stick to the hip plus ease measurement plus seam allowances for the width. 22 inches in my example. Or if you want to stick to a full circle circle then you can use the waistband radius that you found (my 3.3″ above), add it to your top panel depth (3″) and multiply by 6.3 (i.e. ( 3.3 + 3 ) × 6.3 = 40″ ). Plus seam allowances of course. If you’re not adding a seperate waistband casing but folding over the top of your panel piece to make the waistband then add this to the depth. So mine would be 3″ (depth of panel) plus 2″ (twice my waistband depth) plus 1″ (two lots of my half inch seam allowance), which makes 6″.

Finally the middle panel. The height is just the panel height plus twice your seam allowance. Easy option, add the width of the bottom and top panels together and divide by two to get a width half way in between. Or for the full circle method, waist radius plus depth of top two panels multiplied by 6.3 (e.g. ( 3.3 + 6 ) × 6.3 = 58.5″ ).

Still with me? Now you can make your own tiered skirt. If you have a question please put it in the comments box below.