Triplets

IMG_20170718_174136

Production line sewing, three bags, made from three canvas remnants from my “bag stash” that were bought from my local fabric shop.  Two to be gifted this week and one spare.

IMG_20170718_174152

The broad stripes lead nicely to a little playing (and you gotta have a pocket, right?).

IMG_20170718_174206

These totes are pretty roomy and have nice thick straps to help spread the load.

IMG_20170718_174223

Plus the ubiquitous mitred corner. Oh and solid colour base, cos white would not be practical!

Hopefully they will all gets lots of use.

Arrrghhh

Today is the last day of term, then we have one day to pack and sort out and then we’re going away. I do not feel organised at all. On the sewing front I have a pair of trousers cut out to make and take and a half made t shirt. On the campervaning front I’m a feeling in quite a bit of trepidation about the whole traveling thing. My friend has just started a blog prior to journeying around Europe with  her 4 kids, which has made me feel in equal parts inspired and completely disorganised in comparison, so now I’m busy printing out car bingo and downloading podcasts from the BBC before we go.

DSCF0484.JPG

I did however run up this bag last night for The Girl’s teacher, the fabric just screamed “tote” to me when I was in the shop. It has a denim bottom, mitred to add depth and is lined in red polycotton with a patch pocket inside. I really rushed it and it’s not quite as good as I imagined (I didn’t have enough webbing for my plans for a start), but I’m still pretty chuffed as it looks pretty professional.

 

 

Gift Bag

What’s that you say, I might be getting a teensy bit obsessed with making Erin’s Presido pattern.

You aren’t the first, when my son saw the half made bag the following conversation happened…

“ANOTHER BAG!”
“Is that a problem?”
“It might be a problem if you keep on making bags”

This was the leverage he used to get me to make him some trousers (the bag was finished first but it only just made it to it’s recipient so I didn’t blog it sooner).

There’s not much more to say on the pattern, this one has the pocket on the outside like last time and I used some more scraps from that dress to make a lotus flower applique decoration, because I thought it would go down well with the recipient.

technical drawing and pattern cutting

“technical drawing” and pattern cutting

petals cut and ready to go

petals cut and ready to go

part way through

part way through

After trying out arranging the petals I realised that you could pretty much do anything with them and it ended up looking like a lotus flower. So I just went for it. The fabric doesn’t fray so I just used a straight stitch, much quicker. I’m pretty pleased with the result, although slightly less pleased that in my enthusiasm I sewed it on lopsided, but I decided to call it a design feature. Also, don’t look too closely at the applique, some of my petals aren’t sewn on as neat as they could be.

Finished bag

Finished bag

The greeney fabrics are all upholstery remnants from my stash bought for bag making at some point. The lining is part of a remnant of the fabric my mum just used to recover her sofa cushions that I had to wrestle off her. The zips are recylced from a worn out coat of my husbands. Speaking of zips, the main zip on this was a complete pain. I don’t think using two such thick fabrics helped (my previous linings have all been thinner but I wanted to use something sunny for this one and that was the obvious fabric choice), plus I think I was getting a little blase at remembering to read and follow the instructions after all the times I’ve made the pattern and I ended up sewing the zip on too close to the edge. It looked great, but it kept sticking. I unpicked my top stitching, (which was hard work as the thread matched so perfectly) and pressed out a few wrinkles in the lining around the zip, tacked it by hand, pressed again and re topstitched it. It’s a lot better now but far from perfect, but I honestly didn’t think I could do all the unpicking needed to reinsert the zip without damaging the fabric, unpicking one of the bag handles alone would have been enough of a job. Also it’s a usable bag without a zip, so hey. (Needless to say it took a while of the bag being left on the shelf while I sulked in between steps before I reached this conculsion).

pockets galore

pockets galore

All my pockets were made from remnants that I had lying about. I put a small pocket inside the zip pocket as per Erin’s instructions. I made a simple rectangular pocket for the inside too. And I tried making a pocket on the side out of some mesh from the lining of hubby’s coat which has elastic at the top to pull it in. The idea was a kind of meshey outside pocket you could put the wrappers and used tissues that come from being out and about with children in, until you reach a bin. The idea is good, but my mesh scrap was the wrong shape so the pocket is pretty shallow and the elastic didn’t work as well as I wanted. Hey ho.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with this bag too and the only thing I purchased to make it was the flanged piping (which I’m getting pretty adicted too).

I love it when a plan comes together

Remember that random pile of fabric that I was starting a new project with rather being disciplined and doing something from my to do/finish pile? Well, I have absolved myself from any guilt as I have now finished another Presido purse from Erin’s wonderful pattern and this is the best one yet!

Image

It started when a neighbour was admiring my Spotty Presido. I said that I might have enough of that fabric left* to make her one. However she said that she’d be fine with lots of different scraps of fabric. Now I have just joined a stashbusting group on Facebook. The theme this month is seasonal change in your wardrobe which has made me realise that due to me being very new to sewing clothes, I don’t have much fabric suitable for clothing in my stash. (Although I do have items I could make on my to do pile, which is arguably stash, so I don’t really have an excuse not to join in.) What I do have in my 3 large boxes of stash includes quite a few upholstery remnants that I’ve picked up over the years, thinking “this would make a good bag”. And this thought kept swirling around my head and wouldn’t go away. My neighbour likes blues and purples and lots of colours, so I had a rummage and a plan was born.

I started with the lining. I had just enough of this funky camper van fabric left from making my niece a PE bag to cut a front a back piece for the bag. For the sides I used the leg of an old pair of linen trousers from my husband. I realised that the trousers had unused pockets still sewn up from when they were bought on the back, so I unpicked them and added them to the bag with an extra camper van on one as they were looking a little plain. The bag side got an extra pocket too.

Completed lining

Completed lining

I was pretty pleased with how things were going. I like the two tone look, the camper vans might be a bit much all on their own but with the green they look pretty stylish. Plus I award myself points for inventively squeezing a lining out of what was to hand. At this point my husband predicted that the lining was going to end up being the outer fabric again but I had other ideas.

For the outer I had a plain purple textured remnant of fabric like the blue that ended up inside the birthday bag – perfect weight for the bag and the right kind of colour. I had learnt my lesson that this fabric was too plain on it’s own to have the impact I wanted, but I didn’t want to make the inserts as in the pattern. Somewhere on the wibblyweb I have seen a version with the pocket featured on the outside but I’m darned if I can remember where. Anyway, whoever you were, thank you for your inspiration. I put a featured blue pocket with a satin stripe in it on the front of my bag to spice it up.

blue stripey pocket feature with reclaimed zip

blue stripey pocket feature with reclaimed zip

This time of following Erin’s instructions the cunning zipper end fabric bits that help make it look a little more professional are nearly lined up with the rest of the pocket, but they still step in a bit. Dashed if I can work out what I’m still doing wrong there, I read the instructions really thoroughly. Also I carefully pattern matched the pocket top and pocket bottom (the bits above and below the zip), then ruined my hard work by sewing the top on upside down. The non matching stripes are annoying but seemingly not irritating me enough for me to have been bothered to unpick it and resew. Also the zipper lies a little wobbly rather than flat, but I don’t think anyone but me will notice. And its recycled from a trashed coat of hubbies so more brownie points for me there.

Spot the outer pocket lurking in the background waiting to be sewn over the inner one after its finished having the pen pockets tested

Spot the outer pocket lurking in the background waiting to be sewn over the inner one after its finished having the pen pockets tested

To save my shiny blue fabric I lined the pocket with a thin denim piece my mum had given me – strange shaped offcuts from a skirt she made that was cut on the bias. I made the inner pocket in this fabric too and it got a heart appliquéd on because I had it lying around in my sewing box cut out (it was cut out from scraps lying about from the girls birthday dress in order to wind my husband up – I threatened to patch a hole in the knee of his trousers with it. Unsurprisingly he objected).

stripey sides

stripey sides

The side is some similar upholstery fabric in greeney stripes with one stripe of purple that matches the other fabric well. Its the same bumpy style of fabric too, but has some white stuff (fire retardant?) sprayed all over the back of it which makes it noticeably stiffer. I cut it on the fold so I didn’t have to seam it and pattern match. Another top tip picked up from a source I’ve forgotten (sorry, must pay more attention when late night blog browsing). As well as taking off the seam allowance I made it shorter still as with the other two presido bags I have found there was more fabric in this piece than the front and back pieces and struggled to match them. This tactic worked well with the lining but on the outer I ended up with too short a stripey piece and ended up having to put a couple of tucks in my purple fabric at the corners to get them to fit together. Maybe it didn’t work this time as the bottom/side piece was stiff and the front/back pieces were stretchy. Anyway, blame me, not Erin.

The only thing I bought for this bag was the flanged piping (spot the newly learnt technical term), which is black with gold flecks. I was a bit worried that the gold flecks would look tacky, but they’ve come out just fine. I love how professional the piping makes the finished bag look, I’m becoming addicted and it’s only the 3rd time I’ve used it (thanks again Erin for your sewalong piping tips). But the only shop I’ve found so far to sell it has just 3 or 4 colours and they told me they’re not getting any more in once they’ve sold out, so I will have to find a new source or tackle making my own. This time I sewed it to both sides of the straight side of the side/bottom piece, rather than round the curved front back pieces, and this was definitely easier.

DSCF5080[1]

Front and back completed, now came the time to sew them together with a zip. I was really pleased how they had both come out, the lining looks good enough to be an outer, yet it’s not really outery fabric. Then I had an almost cunning plan whilst looking through my zipper box. I found a big long zip salvaged from a tent. One that went around the door and had two zipper bits each double sided. I thought that if I used a double sided zip the bag could be reversable, unfortunatley I forgot to think about the toplogy of the bag (‘scuse the technical maths term for the shape – specifically here I’m referring to the fact that the handle makes the bag have a hole in it, like a dougnuht, ok, enough maths, I know not everyone loves it like I do).

Anyway, I sewed on a cut down to size double sided zipper but, when you turn the bag inside out you cant use it as the handle gets in the way, like this…

Image

If you actually want to make a reversible presido purse you’d need a double sided open zipper, not sure where you’d get one from, certainly not my zipper stash.

Apart from that cutting the long tent zip down to size worked quite well in the end. I used less than half of it and only one of the zippers, so I still have a super long double sided zip I can use for something else. Did I say it went well? Except for the bit where the zipper tape was unravelling as it got caught being unpicked and I couldn’t find my clear nail varnish so I used some gold thinking it would be inside the seam, but as it was at the end that sits inside the bag it is visible. Oh and because the ends of the zip were cut off it is possible to zip the zipper off the end before the ends are sewn into the seam. I was very careful not to do this. And then I forgot and did it anyway. Gahhh. After much gnashing of teeth and head scratching this was solved by a trip to my friendly local shoe shop where they cut off my lovely fabric end stop from the beginning of the zip and reset it for me. This meant one end was a cm or so longer than the other, but it still seemed to match up ok so I trimmed the zip, unpicked and resewed the endstop (a campervan one side, demin the other) although it doesn’t look quite as neat as it did before after all that mucking about.

My zipper (extra long as per pattern instructions so that you can fully open the bag), complete with campervan end stopper and dodgy gold nail varnish to stop the tape fraying.

My zipper (extra long as per pattern instructions so that you can fully open the bag), complete with campervan end stopper and dodgy gold nail varnish to stop the tape fraying.

Then I was very careful with the end of the zip until I had sewn on the handles (purple and green linen with piping just down the sides (not around the anchor bit) that I remembered to assemble so as to not have raw edges showing at the end this time), sewn the lining on, turned the bag (which feels like it shouldn’t work but does) and folded the remaining raw edges under, carefully trapping the zip ends in to prevent further accidents and topstitched all around.

At the end I had a little piping left so I replaced the tag on the zip with it even though it meant hand sewing the ends of the piping to stop it fraying (I don’t really have the patience for handsewing).

And voila, one thank you present bag which was happily received.

Image

*apart from the stuff that’s earmarked for a make for a friend, I haven’t forgotten you Y

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

A little something extra

Remember my lovely curtains. Well, they got me lots of compliments but I think it was more down to the fabric I choose rather than my sewing skills (after all a curtain is just a rectangle of fabric with hooks).

But it got me thinking about what to do with the leftovers (I’d got extra to ensure pattern matching) and I realised that they wanted to be a bag. (This is not unsurprising, I like utilatarian sewing in general and bags in particular and the curtain fabric was the perfect weight for a nice strong bag).

I loosley based the bag on one I already had (which was another present bought for me from Skye Batiks but they don’t seem to make that style anymore). It’s large, with pockets inside and out, strong, well made and beautiful. Quite hard to live up to then!

I was feeling inspired and made it up in a Sunday afternoon when the kids were running around. I made it up as I went along and not all the edges are as straight as they might be. I started off hemming the top of a strip to be pockets around the outside. Then I sewed it on to the main piece along the bottom and added vertical seams (with ‘T’ bars at the top for strength) to divide 7it into 4 pockets, two for each side.

Putting pockets on the outside first.

Putting pockets on the outside first.

Then I sewed the sides and base together. I tried out the overlocking foot on my new machine which enables you to sew right along the raw edges with a zig zag in a passable imitation of an overlocker (serger). Next I mitred the corners to add depth to the bag. This put the pockets along the bottom of each side. I anchored my triangles to the bottom seam, thinking they might add a little strength to the base of the bag.

Mitred Corners

Mitred Corners

I hadn’t thought that as my pockets are the width of the bag, once it was mitred they now run round the corner at one edge and finish on the bag side, but it works ok.

Then I made a lining from the same lining fabric as my curtains (I’d forgotten when I was buying curtain fabric that I didn’t need to order as much of the lining material as there was no pattern matching, so I might as well use it). I made the lining the same way as the main bag just slightly narrower (~1/4″) than the main fabric and with one small patch pocket on one side and a larger patch pocket on the other.

I had a wide narrow piece of bird fabric left that was perfect to be a wide shoulder strap (good for spreading the weight of the contents of the bag). I added a mobile phone sized patch pocket towards one end and lined it with the lining fabric and topstitched along the long sides. Then I attached it to the main bag fabric at each side, with 2 or 3 rows of stitching for added strength (as where the handle is attached is often the first place to go on bags), and finished the raw edges.

After completely mucking up the topology and sewing it togehter with the lining inside out and the handle trapped inside a bit of trial and error, I worked out that I could join the pieces neatly by starting with the main fabric bag inside out and the handle folded in where it was joined on and pushed down to the bottom seam, then the lining, also inside out, was placed inside it (so the right sides were together) and pinned into place. Then I sewed two lines of stitching, one along the top of each side, to join the two pieces together (leaving spaces at the handles) and turned the bag the right way out through one of the spaces where the handles were (this wouldn’t work with narrow handles). To finish I topstitched along each side and slipstitched the lining around the handles by hand. It’s my neatest bag ever, well, lining to main fabric wise (don’t take a set square to the pockets) and I was pretty pleased. Unfortunately I was concentrating so much I forgot to photograph how I did it. Wanna see how it came out?

Birdie bag

Birdie bag

20131126_085737

Not bad, if I say so myself. Then I had to decide who it was for. After some thought I realised it was for a friend who moved abroad and has two small children a similar age to mine and therefore a lot of stuff to carry around like me and who would almost certainly would benefit from a treat for her self.

Then I realised that I could make another purse too. I didn’t bother with interfacing this time as the curtain fabric was pretty stiff. I shortened my pattern piece slightly, but I reckon it could be a bit shorter still. I also re read Lauren’s instructions and discovered my pattern was supposed to slope inwards slightly, so I ammended that too. I wonder what else I’ve done wrong with this pattern!

The making went slightly easier this time, I even glued the second side before the first was completely dry 20131125_235200

Although it needed regluing before sending, whoops.

20131126_085621

I got the bird nicely aligned though.

20131126_085756

Here’s the inside of the bag. And here are the two sugar mice I found to stop her boys from getting too jealous. (It was putting them, wrapped in bubble wrap, in the purse, that made it burst and need regluing.)

20131126_085840

Well, I’m glad to report that she was pleased, although the boys tried to claim the clippy clasped purse. And I was delighted and surprised to recieve a knitting needle case in return. Making one has been on my to do list for a while. Now I’ve no excuse not to sort my needles out!

20131205_134746

There were some extra presents too. The case is lined with yellow fabric and the needle pockets are graduated in height.

20131205_134806

The main fabric is green with embroidery and mirrors on. I think it’s upcycled but no idea what from.

20131205_134858

And it rolls up and ties shut. I’m very pleased with my lovely surprise! If I’d ever got round to making one (currently my needles are rattling arou d in a cardboard tube that a bottle of whiskey came in) I would never have used such exciting fabric. Thank you D!

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.

20130614_152545

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