RSS Feed

Tote bags a go-go

too much to do, so little time! I totally lost my sewing mojo. Then had no time to sew. Then I made my own pattern for a top and I’ve refund the mojo. Hoorah. Another blog post will follow once I have washed and made presentable the tops on the self drafted pattern. And I will also blog about the Christmas bunting I made to try and feel a bit more festive.

this post? This is all about the tote bags.

I had (have) NO idea what to get my mum for Christmas. Zero idea. Zilch. When asked, she said she wanted a “surprise” for Christmas. THANKS FOR THAT. I decided I could either make her something or just give her an empty box. Or a puppy. Something surprising. Nah, bag it was.

I stashed a fair amount of spotty sage green fabric a while ago. It is a good solid canvas type material and perfect for a shopping tote bag. There are approximately 8 gazillion tutorials online for tote bags. So I chose around three and followed them all. They all pretty much say the same thing:

width: x inches

height: y inches

long pieces to fold into straps: z size.

choose your own dimensions in a rectangular shape. Done.

I decided to French seam the seams because I have never done that before and I love the finish. I also thought it might make them sturdier if the bag is going to be used and not languish somewhere. Aaaaaanyway. I pinned the handle straps in place (tucking the edges under the top seam) and added a little pouch as an inside pocket. Then sewed round the top, twice. Whizz bang done.

imageI also cut the corners off because a tutorial said it would make it s box bottomed bag. I have a sneaking suspicion that I did it wrong. But it looks nice. And that’s the main thing.

imageInside the bag, you can see the incide pocket.

so. I liked this bag for my mum. And I decided to make another for a secret Santa I signed up to.

imageThis is the second one, pretty much the same as the first. But hang on! Who is that sneaking in at the side there?

imageA mini version (corners intact) for my neighbour’s daughter who is turning 3 this week. I used the fabric I bought 5 years ago to cover some canvas on my daughter’s wall. Super cute doll, going to waste in the stash.

imageTote bagarama.

the first one took me around three hours to make from figuring out the pattern, cutting it out to sewing it all together. The second one took me about an hour to cut and sew, another hour to reinforce the handles. And the third one took me just under an hour. These are SUPER easy to make now I know how. So from now on, EVERYONE is getting one for Christmas. And their birthdays. Everyone.

Drafting my own pattern

i decided that I need to start using up my fabric stash by actually making some clothes. I can’t keep pawing the nice fabric and googling interesting patterns forever, I need to just bite the bullet and, you know, SEW THE DAMN THINGS.

but what do I want to sew? That stumped me. I want to make some dresses and another pencil skirt, but in a different pattern to the last one. And I want some t-shirts that look well-made-not-made-by-accident. I do wear a couple of the tops I made earlier, but I’m not completely happy with the fit or the neck line.

The other problem I have is patterns. I’ve got a few that are ok, but I really wanted some raglan sleeve tops like thatDress-turned-into-a-top I altered . But I don’t have a pattern for that.

i KNOW. I thought. I will MAKE MY OWN PATTERN. must be easy.

i started drafting it last weekend, rolled out the giant roll of drawing paper belonging to the children and traced out the first piece. And was then joined by a toddler who wanted to join in.

 

image

He traced a few lines then demanded that i trap round his hand a few times.

Anyway, I rolled the paper back up and left it for another day. Today!  I have now traced out the back piece and the sleeves.

image

All I have to do now is mark it out properly on squared paper to make the lines straight and transfer it on to fabric.

 

which is another story really. I have LOADS of 1 metre lengths. In my head, that should be plenty for a top. Going by the patterns I have, tops seem to need about 1.5 metres AT LEAST. Another part of drafting my own pattern was a determined/headstrong thought that SURELY I could do a top in s metre. Surely.

i will let you know…

One Day Hoodie

I’ve called this the One Day Hoodie because it only took me one day to make. And also because hopefully one day my daughter will like it…imageIt is another item from the Ottobre magazine I bought, with fabric chosen by the girl herself. It was meant to be completely in the star material but for some completely unknown reason I only bought half a metre of it so I had to improvise and use the cat jersey I’d bought (again half a metre of it. Why so little? Search me. Can’t remember why. Sleep deprivation or general all round madness resulting in reluctance to buy enough fabric.) for a skirt for her. I did check with her, made sure she was happy with this turn of events. She confirmed she was. And promised to wear the jumper.

Aaaaaaanyway, we all know how that works out.

back to the pattern. What I’ve learnt is that Ottobre magazine has some really lovely patterns. But boy, their instructions are on the light side.

imageThat bottom 1/3 of the page? That is the full set of instructions for the top. I figured out the cuffs no problem

imageAnd I I actually really love how neat they are.

but the hood? That took a bit of puzzling. I have to admit to doing a bit of deep thinking about attaching the hood while settling the boy when he grumbled a bit in the evening. Finally, I just decided to go with what seemed right and it worked out ok

imageThere’s a bit of…rusticness about the edging of the hood. But it looks fine to me. The jumper is in a lovely soft sweatshirt and it just kept curling at the edges. Not to worry, if I wanted perfect then I’d have bought something in the shop.

all in all, it’s a lovely pattern and was surprisingly quick and simple to put together. The difficult bit now will be getting her to wear it…

Small top for a small boy

I made a top in 24hrs for the boy. It’s a raglan sleeve jersey knit top, using an Ottobre Autumn 2016 magazine pattern and I love this. I decided that it was time the boy had some home seen clothes, seeing as his sister has so many skirts and dresses. And I spotted the Ottobre magazine in a paper shop a few weeks ago and that sewed the seed in my mind. However, I didn’t buy the magazine. ROOKIE ERROR. My head was full of the cute patterns and designs in the magazine, including a hoodie design I’d earmarked for the girl, but I didn’t have the magazine…

i bought jersey fabric from http://www.myfabrics.co.uk, a cute circus design and a knight design for the boy, purple star sweatshirt and grey cat jersey for the girl. All ready to make the patterns from Ottobre. BUT I DIDNT HAVE THE MAGAZINE.

i merrily went to the paper shop a fortnight ago to buy the magazine. But wait…THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE MAGAZINE?! Aaaargh!

Eventually, I managed to buy it from http://www.dotsnstripes.co.uk – ordered last weekend and received it on Thursday. Excellent service. And THE JOY, all the lovely patterns were there.

imageLast night I traced out the pattern, cut out the fabric (which I had already dutifully washed and dried, which is very unusual for me, I know) and today in between boy nap time and the odd twenty minutes here and there, I pinned the pieces together and sewed it up. I have to admit here that I didn’t follow the instructions. As in I didn’t follow the instructions AT ALL. They seemed pretty sparse to me and I just thought, meh, I’ll figure it out. Im sure the neck could have been neater. I’ve realised I pigging HATE bias binding. Especially jersey stretch bias binding. But I’m still completely thrilled with this top. Go me!

image

I love the raglan sleeves

image

And the cuffs were meant to be jersey rib or what have you, but I just thought that the same fabric would look nice. Remind me that it was my choice if it stretches…

image

and the bonus is that the boy is too young to refuse to wear the top. So no refusing to put it on like his big sister. Win!

 

No pattern skirt for my girl

my girl chose this fabric a few weeks ago when we were out Starting School shopping. imageIt’s a gorgeous light pink background with a super cute print. It also bears absolutely no relation to her school uniform, but let’s not think about that. (My BABY has started school! How is she FIVE?! My BABY etc etc) I promised her a skirt out of the fabric which was a pre cut 1metre offering.

that was a month ago. A fortnight ago I cut it in half and decided I would make a gathered skirt for her. With a waistband (I like waistbands) and a zip. And today, I turned it into this:

imageI did this in an afternoon. I am SUPER proud.

How did I do this? I had no pattern. So I made E stand and looped the fabric round her once, and pinned the ends together. The fabric is about 44 inches wide, E is about 22 inches all around. I pinned fairly regularly all around some gathers. And made them bigger to make sure it was taken in enough not to fall off her.

I really puzzled over these gathers. I wanted the skirt to sort of flooff out and eventually decided just to sew around the top, trapping the gathers in the thread. It worked! Hoorah! I also pinned in the zip to make sure it was in the right place for the next step.

next step was the waistband. This was slightly longer than E’s waist measurement and had a nice depth to it so that I could double it over, encasing the top hem and stitching of the skirt. I sewed right sides together at first, then turned it over and trapped the top hem in. This was tricky, I had to stitch in the ditch (assuming I’ve got the right term and am not referencing something else…) as I didn’t want visible stitches. It wasn’t totally successful But it is fairly neat so, you know, win.

imageThen I sewed in the zip and back seam

imageAnd finished off with the hem. Now, this is a long skirt, and I wanted to give E the option of being able to wear it until she turns 26, so I just turned the bottom hem up twice rather than cut the excess off. Finished with a zig zag hem, it is done.

I only hope she will wear it…

Made a Pencil Skirt (3 years in the making)

is this a record for having fabric in a stash earmarked for a certain project? I bought the Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe about three years ago. Shortly after, once I decided I wanted a pencil skirt, I bought a ridiculous amount of tartan fabric to use. And then left it neatly folded in a bag until a fortnight ago. I know. I had even traced the pattern very carefully onto some plastic tracing paper which was also neatly folded in the bag. I know.

It took until a fortnight ago for me to build up the courage to make the skirt. I realised that the fabric was being wasted and I had now made a few items that I actually wear regularly, so there was no point waiting any longer.

so here it is!

imageI am SO chuffed with this, with some reservations. I followed the size guide in the book, which was something like an 18 (waist is 31.5 inches) but when I put it on before doing the zip and facing, it immediately slipped off me. It’s possible I’ve not used the right seam allowance, but I had to take just over an inch off each side and it is still loose. I’ve lost the pencil shape as well, the exaggerated shape didn’t suit me but that could be down to the pattern too.

I struggled with some of the instructions too.

I shall add the zip and kick flare whatsit to the “WTF now?” files. There was some instruction about how to stitch the kick flare thing which I genuinely ignored as I didn’t understand what it was going about with regards to overlapping and what have you. I read and read it. NOT A CLUE. Rather than dissolve into a hot tearful mess, I just ignored it and stitched it the way that made sense to me. It looks fine.

then the zip. Again, I read it. I looked at my zip. I looked at the fabric. I read the book. I closed the book and just sewed the zip in how I wanted to. Again, it looks fine. The pattern calls for an invisible zip. CLUELESS over here just had a grey zip. And I wasn’t sure how far up I was meant to have the zip. What’s that about a hook-and-eye closure? Pfft, I ignored that too. Whatever. Looks fine.

i am really pleased with my darts though.

image

And my facing has epic pattern I matching (and the side seams although that is harder to show). I’ve not interfaced it and not ironed/pressed anything (come on, let’s be honest, I never do and it’s only once I’m half way through that I remember I should have done this and possibly even pre washed but then I ignore those thoughts and they go away) so hopefully once I wear it, the facing will settle down.

imageStill.

I love it. I’m going to wear it with purple tights, natty shoes and a black top. And an insufferable smug look on my face.

Thank you for being a star

my daughter starts school on Tuesday, so we decided that I should make a thank you present for her key worker. L has looked after E for the last 18 months or so, and in that time, E’s confidence has grown and grown. L has really helped her and I wanted to make something special to say “thank you for being a star”. And E decided that an actual star would do the trick.

in addition to the star, I thought I’d make a little pouch to put it in. Not much more to add other than I very nearly put the zip at the wrong end which would have made the chairs upside down. Happily, I realised something was wrong when I was fixing the wonky pins…

but they are done, and I quite like them. I hope L does too.