Monday, 20 February 2017

Simple Tote Bag Tutorial



I recently made a simple tote bag to display some hand-patchwork and thought it would be a nice idea to show a step-by-step guide to making a lined tote bag.


I didn't use any formal measurements because I was stash-busting and wanted to utilise the full width of the remnant fabric. I used a standard 1.5cm seam allowance throughout.

Step one:


Cut the outer and lining fabric out. The final size will be half the length of the fabrics shown here. The fold in the centre of each fabric will be the base of the bag. The lining needs to be about 2cm shorter to help with the final finish (it will make sense later). If you are decorating the outer section of your bag it would be easier to do it at this stage before construction.

Step two:

Optional pocket. I used a section of outer fabric for a pocket. To make it easier to attach, iron the seam allowance under before pinning and sewing on the pocket to the lining fabric.




Step three:

Construct the outer bag and lining bag by folding the fabric and sewing the 1.5cm seam at either side of the bag. To help get a sharper point, snip the corners of the seam allowance so when they bags are turned the right way around they will create a nice finish.



Step four:

Turn the two bags the right way round. Place the outer fabric bag inside the lining. I trimmed a little off the top of the lining here (if you follow my instructions from step one you can skip this step). Fold the outer over the lining bag. Turn again so you will have created a rolled hem that encases the top raw edge of the lining fabric.


 Step five:

Decide on the length of your bag straps and cut out the lengths you require. I cut two lengths of the outer and lining fabric and sewed them lengthways with right sides together using a 1.5cm seam allowance. I used a ruler to help turn out the strap. You could also use a knitting needle or wooden spoon to help with this process.



Step six:

Iron the straps and then pin into position underneath the rolled hem of the bag. I chose to place the straps either side of the pocket opening but you can adjust to where you think they are best placed.



Step seven:

After pining the straps into place secure the rest of the rolled hem into position and sew to fix the outer and lining fabrics together. If you want to make the straps really strong you could reverse sew back and forth over the strap a few times. Once you have sewn the rolled hem you now need to flip the straps upwards and pin into position.



Step eight:

Sew again close to the outer edge of the top the bag all the way around. This final row of stitching will secure the straps into their final position. Turn the bag to the right side and give it a good press with the iron. Now you have an easy tote bag which is perfect for gifts x


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Merchant & Mills Camber Set Top #2

I completed my second M&M Camber Set using the overlocker at work (I work in a school with quite a well-resourced textile department). Having said that after working there for three years I only recently discovered the overlocker at the back of a store cupboard under a whole bunch of stuff. I read the manual and set about the onus task of threading it up! Lots of swear words later I got it running smoothly!


I messed up the first self-bias-bound neckline so much I had to cut it off, redraft a new section of bias and re-do. Luckily it worked on the second attempt after lots of ironing, pinning and basting.
I also had to cut the front as two sections as I didn't have quite enough fabric. I top-stitched the seam to make it a feature. This fabric is the last of my John Lewis Splodge viscose that I have made a Liesl & Co Everyday Skirt with.

The Camber Set is a well drafted pattern and I cut the same size as my previous version, but a combination of a different fabric and sewing some sections on the over-locker has resulted in a much more generous fit. Maybe I don't really need to grade from 8 to 10 at the bust to hip which I do on other patterns because the overall fit is quite roomy. I am not going to change anything yet as the drape of the viscose means it hangs nicely.

Here is the finished Merchant & Mills Camber Set top.

It looks very wonky but its just how it is hanging!






It works nicely tucked into trousers or skirts. Left loose I suspect it is a little too long and wide but I am going to wear it as is for now and make my decision after a few wears. A nice little wardrobe basic.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

#2017SVE Secret Valentine Exchange 2017

For those of you who haven't heard about the marvellous Secret Valentine Exchange (SVE) it was set up a number of years ago by the lovely Ute and Sanae.
I took part last year and thoroughly enjoyed the experience (you can read about the 2016SVE here) and thought I would definitely take part in the 2017 exchange.


I almost missed out this year as I didn't hear about it until a day AFTER the deadline for signing up (because I am not on Instagram anymore it is easy to miss these things). I commented on Sanae's blog post saying I was upset to have missed the deadline...

I got a lovely reply from Sanae which confirmed I had missed the SVE boat.
BUT, the following day I received an e-mail from the lovely pair asking if I was still interested in participating as quite a number of people had difficulties signing up using their mobile devices etc.... Of course I said yes!

So my SVE buddy was Kate from Cornwall. She loves the colours of the sea; blues, greens and purples. She has an Instagram account @k8c1962 which is lovely stream of hand craft, crochet, luscious hand-drawn patterns and beautiful scenery. I admit to a bit of research (friendly-cyber-stalking) before embarking on my hand-made gift to Kate.


I used only stash fabrics to produce a good sized tote bag to showcase my English Paper Piecing Patchwork I made at the London Craft Club at the National Gallery. I used a few fabrics provided at the workshop but also included some scraps of my own including Liberty Tana Lawn prints (the blue crystals and Betsy prints).

Here are some photos of the finished bag. The patchwork was hand-appliquéd onto the blue fabric before the construction of the bag.


I used a bright blue medium weight cotton (remnant fabric from my SOI Tulip skirt from 2014) for the bag outer along with a baby blue polka dot cotton lining that I bought in a Cath Kidston sale quite a while ago.



I also wrapped up an A5 Liberty print sketchbook (Kate is always doodling and sketching) and some pretty MUJI origami papers. Here is the final Secret Valentine Exchange parcel.


My SVE didn't end there, although this was not an 'official' Secret Valentine Exchange.....

After attending the Janet Bolton workshop at Selvedge in January I created a hand-sewn applique and embroidered piece using monochrome colours. I had it in my mind that this would be the piece I would send to my SVE buddy. When I got Kate's details I realised that the colours and personality of that piece might not be quite right. I instead chose to send it to a new friend Kathy who I met on the Janet Bolton workshop. She lives in New Jersey and had travelled to London to enjoy some sight-seeing and the embroidery workshop. I had mentioned to Kathy about the SVE project and she thought it was a wonderful idea.

Here is the final piece. All hand patch-worked, appliqued and embroidered.


After gift wrapping.


Here are the parcels ready to go in the post!


Last week I received my parcel from my SVE buddy. It turns out that Kate (that I had made my SVE gift for) was my partner! She had been busy and made me four beautiful gifts!
I had mentioned that I liked the colours red, bright pink, green and monochrome and the pattern company Marimekko. She was very creative and produced the most lovely things.


Beautifully wrapped in such lovely paper with a hand-made card too!


First a beautiful black linen bag. This fabric has been hand-dyed by Kate made with the remnants of a costume she made. The linen originally came from her grannies haberdashery shop. A very precious piece of stash busting here Kate. Thank you.  


This funky little felt brooch was attached to the ribbon of the parcel. So cute and I love the hand-stitching.


My favourite piece is this striking red leather purse made from a recycled leather jacket! How cool! I especially love the vintage ribbon with the Marimekko-esque flowers. 


The final gift is a hand-made bag in black linen. The appliquéd decoration is actually a woven sample that Kate produced whilst studying Textile Design in the 1980's. The texture and colours are brilliant.


In conclusion to this epic post, I feel very lucky to have participated in this year's Secret Valentine Exchange. I had so much fun making the Janet Bolton inspired embroidery piece for Kathy and learning English Paper Piecing techniques for Kate's SVE gift.

A big thanks goes out to Ute and Sanae for organising such a beautiful project that brings joy and happiness into peoples lives x

I am already looking forward to SVE 2018!

This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Illustration Commission

Last year I was commissioned to create a series of illustrations for a book that will be used at Primary school level to support cognitive thinking. I produced seven A5 and A4 black and white sketches to illustrate different scenarios to help explore ideas and prompt discussion.


The technique I used was a combination of line drawing with cross-hatching for texture. I used Staetdler pigment fineliner pens because they come in a range of thicknesses which allows for quite intricate work.

I have cropped some of the sketches for you to see and I am hoping to get a copy of the final book later in the year so I can share in more detail then.



In other news my Grainline Linden sweatshirt was featured on the Foldline Sweater Sewing Patterns blogpost this week!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Hand-Painted Postcards


During this grey and drizzly weather and with the onset of Valentine's Day I had an idea to send some of my lovely single friends a little card in the post to say 'hello'. I grabbed a couple of these great little watercolour postcard sketchbooks from Cass Art and got out my paints for a bit of fun. You could always use card or watercolour paper cut to A6 size if you can't get hold of the postcard books.






I focussed on using colours I loved and had a play with the paints. The main technique I used was dripping colours down the paper but I also painted washes of colours onto wet paper too. The tie-dye-esque looking postcards I created by wetting the paper first then painting circles of paint and dragging the paintbrush from the centre outwards.



Now, I just need to get my favourite pens out and start writing!!

This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.