Friday 30 January 2015

Tutorial - The Bethy Bag

I recently had the pleasure of a sewing date with Miss Bethy, the daughter & granddaughter of two good friends of mine. She had been given her own sewing machine for Christmas & is keen to sew as often as she can. After checking in with her mum we decided a simple small carry bag for sewing projects or to keep treasures in would be ideal & her favourite colours are the aqua/blues with just a hint of pink.

So I set about designing our first sewing project & in her honour, named the bag "The Bethy Bag."

On the day, I had a selection of fabric & ribbons for her to choose from, she made excellent choices.

Materials needed:
Fabric for outer bag (approx 12" x 24" wide for 2 bag pieces plus pocket piece)
Fabric for lining (as for outer bag)
Fabric for pockets (if not using same fabric as bag)
Ribbon for handles - 24" (grossgrain used for sample bag)
(optional - light interfacing - for this bag we did not use any)

Equipment Needed:
Cutting mat                              Rotary cutter
Pins                                          Scissors
Sewing machine                      Iron

1. Press fabric.

2. Cut 2 pieces for outer bag & 2 pieces for bag lining 9" across  x 12" down.

3. Cut 2 x 5" squares for pockets (can vary this size if required)
Stitch around all 4 sides of squares using a 1/4" seam, leaving about 2" in middle of one side for turn through. Trim corners, turn and press. Top stitch across top of pocket (edge opposite turn through side)

4. Mark centre point at the top of one lining piece.
Measure down 2 1/2" and pin pocket at that point ensuring it is centred & the edge you turned through is at the bottom of the pocket.  Attach pocket to lining piece, topstitching close to edge down each side & across the bottom of pocket (this will close the turn though gap.)
5. Join each bag front to bag lining piece right sides together across the top of bag using 1/4" seam. (note if fabric has directional print ensure that pieces are facing the right way up.)

6. Press seam towards the lining.

7. Open out and with right sides together, pin bag & lining pieces together (outer bag to outer bag, lining to lining).

8. Stitch down each side seam and across bottom of outer bag piece. Stitch across bottom of lining piece, leaving about 3" gap in the centre of base for turn through.

9. Make box corners. Mark corners 1" in from each seam. Cut out the 4 corner pieces.

10. Pinch corners together, matching side seams. Stitch across corners with 1/4" seam. For added strength, stitch this seam twice.

11. Turn bag through the gap. Take a moment to fully push out points of box corners. Press bag if needed.

12. Close gap at base of lining either by hand using a ladder stitch or close to folded edge by machine.

13. Top stitch round the top of the bag.

14. Cut 2 x 12" ribbon for handles. Attach handles 2 1/2" in from each side seam. Fold under ends of ribbon about 3/4" and pin about 1" of each end of handle to the bag. Secure with machine round the edge of ribbon.
(Note - when sewing with Miss Bethy, we added the handles to the top of the bag front before Step 5 - secure ribbon to bag front with a couple of rows of stitching about 1/8" from edge)

 The Bethy Bag is ready for use.

What I haven't told you yet is that Miss Bethy is only 6! 

Apart from using the rotary cutter & one of the pinning steps, Miss Bethy made the entire bag herself, including using the iron. I see a bright sewing future for her. Thanks too, to Bethy's dad for the photos of Miss Bethy's finished bag. Oh and we made the bag in just over 1 1/2 hours while 3 yr old Miss H. had her afternoon nap.

A final shot from her dad showing our bags together, what an amazing job Miss Bethy has done.

Friday 23 January 2015

Pattern Test - Flossstyle - Groovy Guys Wallet

This week I've had fun testing the new 'Groovy Guys Wallet' from Flossstyle. This wallet is suitable for guys of any age depending on your fabric choice.
Lots of pockets, zippered & open for I.D, bus passes, credit cards or other essential cards or notes.
Jessica writes great patterns, easy to follow layouts & cutting directions & when you download the pattern, there are really clear step by step photos demonstrating each step of the process to complete your project.

I settled on this colourful moustache fabric for my trial pattern & picked up some ready made bias binding in orange to use on the edges.

You only need to print off a single page for all the pieces of the wallet - yes folks - that's 1 page! - just keep the rest of the download on your computer to read through the steps. 

I trace my pattern pieces off any PDF download onto white toile (at only $1.50/mt from Spotlight it's handy to have on hand). Jessica is really savvy with how she does the layout, clearly indicating each piece & using a cute smiley face to show which way to cut your fabric according to the direction of the print. I used plastic for the see through window but you can make that pocket out of fabric if you like instead.

I chose to use a sew on snap fastener for my wallet as that's what I had on hand & I think it works just fine, but you could use a snap closure or button as suggested in the pattern.

I whipped up this 2nd wallet today as I really enjoyed using this pattern.  I also wanted to show you a more 'sophisticated' version. 
Jessica mentions you don't actually need binding cut on the bias for this pattern as it is used on straight edges & for my 2nd wallet I did use fabric cut straight across the width of the fabric & it worked fine (for me, it was an even better finish)

The possibilities are endless to achieve different looks, just think, horses for the horse mad man, super  hero fabric, bikes, cars, fishing, golfing.............the list is endless for whipping up wallets for the favourite men in your life to suit their hobbies or interests.

There has been an added extra option in the pattern that I will be trying soon, you now have the choice of adding a small zippered pocket on the outside of the wallet for coins (making 7 pockets in total). This step is included in the pattern you can download from Flossstyle.

At only $3.00 The Groovy Guys Wallet is  excellent value.

It's worth taking the time to check out all Jessica's patterns, I have made the small & large bag from her Essential Trio pattern as well as a nurses scrub hat from the bucket hat pattern & plan on making lots more. You can also keep up to date by following the Flossstyle facebook page.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Tutorial - Button Heart Hangings

Back in October last year, I received some gorgeous buttons from the Jellywares Yarn Club and used them to make this button heart wall hanging.

Also in October, the Sew Box Subscriptions box included a pack of large bright buttons along with some bright dotty material just begging to be made into a button heart hanging as well. (These fabulous monthly boxes are only available in Australia.)

Then in December, our Sewbox included some gorgeous linen fabrics along with some large wooden buttons of differing designs that had me thinking how they could become another heart hanging. One of the linen fabrics had a Paris theme, just perfect for button hearts being the city of love.
January's box included some small wooden/shell like buttons I knew would be ideal to add to the larger ones.

I also had on hand some cute colourful small flower shaped buttons and bright varigated cord that I had been pondering how to use so decided to make a mini hanging but with this one I tied the buttons on with the cord, knotting them to the fabric.

The possibilities are endless for button heart hangings depending on the style, colour or design of buttons. The hangings can be attached to a feature hanging rod or stretched over an artist's canvas.

For this tutorial, I take you through the steps for the wood button/linen one using a hanger but the instructions can be adapted to suit the finished size you wish to achieve or finishing technique you want to use.

Fabric - for central square to attach buttons plus for frame & backing
Embroidery Thread
Wadding or  Interfacing (iron on if desired)
Hanger or Artists canvas

Cutting mat
Rotary cutter

1. Choose size of hanging (for this one I cut an 8" square and my frames were cut 4 1/2" wide to showcase the Paris print. This also ensured the finished hanging would fit the 14" hanger I had on hand).  
If frame fabric is directional or has a feature print, plan layout of frame pieces & choose width to suit fabric pattern or hanger.
2. Sew side frame pieces to central square using 1/4" seam & press to frame piece.
3. Add top & bottom frame pieces, press to frame piece & trim if needed.
4. Cut interfacing/wadding to size of front piece.
5. If iron on interfacing, iron to back of front piece. I wanted a heavier wadding for this hanging given finished size & weight of button so I tacked mine to the front piece. (Hint - good way to use up those end of reels/odd colours)
6. Now comes the fun part - planning the layout of your heart shape.
7. Hint - take a photo of your layout if possible, this really helps when stitching the buttons on to check your design progress.
8. Mark the position of your buttons - for this hanging I was happy using a lead pencil knowing the colour of thread I was using would hide the dots. As you mark your button position, move them across onto a piece of card.
9. Attach the buttons using 2 or 3 strands of embroidery thread. This is where that photo you took comes in handy to check position of buttons.

10. Check your progress - for this hanging I decided something extra was needed and added the 4 buttons on the corner of the central piece to frame the heart. Do a final trim if necessary.

11. The Backing - cut a piece as wide as your front piece but 1/2" longer. About 1/4 or 1/3 down from the top, cut across the width of the backing piece. Join the two pieces together using a 1/4" seam but leaving a gap in the middle of the join (you will be turning the hanging through this join so leave at least 4 - 5"). Press the seam to one side. Note the gap.

12. Pin the front to the back, right sides together and stitch the entire way around the 4 edges using a 1/4" seam. Depending on the thickness of your wadding, you may need to use your walking foot for this step. (Hint- to ensure perfectly squared corners, I actually stitch each seam from edge to edge rather than turn at the corner, I find this gives a more precise finish)
Trim the corners, turn through and press.
** Be careful in this step not to melt your buttons**
Close the gap on the back piece using a ladder stitch.
13. Attach your hanger and your button heart hanging is ready to display.

Once concept - four different looks:

Hints & tips for alternative looks:
* For my original  pink heart, you will see that one was outlined with hand quilting in a heart shape using 3 colours of thread to compliment the buttons. 
*For the pink heart, my middle section was cut 7 1/2" x 8" and the frame cut 2" with the zig zag pattern of the fabric going opposite direction to the centre panel.
*If using an artists canvas to mount your hanging, you will need to allow enough fabric to fold over to the back to staple to the canvas. It is better to use a thinner wadding or interfacing is attaching to canvas.
*Use a water soluble pen to mark the centre points of the fabric to ensure the heart is centered when attaching to the canvas - you can see the purple marks on the yellow fabric.
*If you want to achieve the frame effect such as on the example above, I cut 1 1/2" wide strips across the fabric then ironed each strip into thirds & stitched to the fabric using a walking foot once the interfacing had been added.

I would love to see any button heart hangings you create, don't forget to pop back & post a photo!

Totally Tutorials Blog

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Pattern Test - Zelda Top

Once upon a time, in years gone by, I used to sew most of my own clothes. For about 30 years I sewed a range of outfits for myself and even for some friends. But then.......patterns started not fitting, I would have to choose a size more than 5 - 6 times larger than I was wearing according to the measurements on the pattern & still they either didn't fit or were out of proportion for my short, 'cuddly' self. So for nearly 10 years I have not made a single item of clothing for myself.

But then, along came Pearl Red Moon with her Zelda top! 

The combinations of fabric, layout, contrast or feature pieces are endless with this pattern as well as 3 options for neckline finish. It can be made from knit, cotton, voile or any fabric with a soft drape. There are guidelines on the pattern layout if you decide to combine different fabrics for different pieces in the top as well.

I was so excited yet somewhat nervous to be accepted to do my first pattern test. I have seen friends make some wonderful clothes for their children and was on the look out for the possibility to try one for myself. I saw the call out for pattern testers & decided it was time to be brave & have a go. I see so many comments on line about commercial patterns not fitting, that people have to buy sizes they don't wear and their disappointment in the final fit so I knew I wasn't alone.

With my past experience of crazy sizing, I was a little apprehensive but decided to trust the pattern & make the size according to my measurements................and it FITTED !!!!! Yeah, a win. 

But I jump ahead of myself. Pearl sent the pattern & instructions, there are 5 sizes in the pattern & Pearl has thought of those of us who may be more generously proportioned, according to the pattern I would be a M/L - the middle of the 5 sizes. (so many patterns I've looked at online seem to be only for the more skinny gals)

Her printing instructions are clear & easy to follow. There were 60 pages to download for the pattern but I settled in with a cup of coffee for an afternoon of cutting & taping pages together (I found it quite therapeutic & it took me back to my teaching days). 

Yes, that is a lot of pages but it is making a top for an adult not a child & compared to the cost of paper patterns not an issue. Pearl has since added the option of 'print to store' where you will only need to send 3 x AO pages to print to somewhere like Officeworks - easy! (You do have the option of printing at home with the 60 pages as well)
 I forgot her suggestion to cut out pieces as you went & taped the whole 60 pages together before tracing off each pattern piece but it was still fun.

I added a step where I traced off my size from the paper pieces so I had the option to make other sizes using some cheap white toile from Spotlight. This is also easier to pin to the fabric. Pearl has really clear layout instructions for cutting out too.

I made the collared top from cheesecloth (muslin for American readers) and it came together so quickly & easily. I see this as an ideal swimming cover up.

As you can see by my photos, I didn't stop at one top ( all that was required for the pattern test) Over the next couple of days, I made two more & have extra fabric waiting to be made up. 
Oh, & probably worth a mention, the instructions are so clear & easy, I didn't even need to refer to them to make tops 2 & 3.

For this version I used a Cotton & Steel voile that had a strip down on edge of the fabric, ideal for the long side piece that comes across the front.

I love the relaxed fit, I pop it on in the morning, no adjusting or fiddling with it during the day & best of all, I can make it in cotton or voile so finally have some cool summer tops to wear. My 2nd & 3rd top I decided to make with the neck line facing to the inside.

My gorgeous sister-in-law Lou from Blue Triangle Design (a photographer & graphic artist) took my photos for me, she has done a wonderful job as I hate having my photo taken.

Here's some close ups of the collared option & see how the back sits so well with the tuck & shaping.

And the even better news is that Pearl has more patterns in the pipeline from her Boho Banjo designs, I've seen the next one, a dress, & can't wait to see more revealed.
The Zelda pattern is only $14.00 AUS & is really great value. 
Why not pop on over & check it out, you will be glad you did.