Summer’s End

We’ve had a very busy but very fun summer. The last 6 weeks have gone in a flash, which is rather sad really. Here we are on the last day of our holiday in France.

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Our eldest starts high school today, it feels like a huge step towards teenage-hood. She requested a new pencil case earlier this week and rather than buy some plastic tat I asked if she wanted me to make one.

We decided on a boxy pouch with lots of space for a calculator and geometry set (I had to look up what that was because i couldn’t remember!). She chose some of this Road 51 bundle that I bought recently

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I decided to go the extra mile and make some quilt as you go panels for the body of the pouch. There is a great tutorial on QAYG here

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The boxy pouch was a surprisingly easy make. I used the tutorial from pink stitches blog.
A very pleasing make:

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And a happy excited daughter

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A Sewing Personal Best

I’ve been meaning to make a new beach bag since last summer and finally with the impending school break and a holiday booked, I got round to it.

Our old bag (shown below) was bought in a French supermarket many moons ago so definitely time for an upgrade.

I thought about buying a beach bag pattern I’d seen doing the rounds but with a long list of dressmaking patterns I’d like to buy, I decided I could manage without.

I used the old bag as my size guide and dug out this lovely ikea bird fabric, which is a nice home decor weight.

The handles were the ones from my Supertote which I made too short and I used Lisa Lam’s very nice clear zip pocket tutorial.

This was a super-fast make I think I started late morning and it was all done by school pick up (I’m not the speediest sewist!) and more amazing than anything I didn’t pick up my seam ripper once! That really is a first.

It’s huge with plenty of room for all our beach clobber. I’m looking forward to trying it out very soon as we are counting down the days until the end of term now!

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Zip-topia

For ages I’ve been meaning to try out the Noodlehead Open Wide Zippered Pouch (it’s a free tutorial!). I spent the end of last year making it my mission to get to grips with zips. While installing a zip is now pretty straight forward, I never really got the zip ends quite as good as I’d like. Sometimes they were great, other times terrible. This brilliant pouch means no tricky zip ends – hooray!!

I made the first one for a birthday party we were going to, then proceeded to make a whole bunch for end of term teacher presents. Then (as I was on a roll) made a couple for some friends I did a charity bike ride with. Hence the fabulous bike fabric. If you struggle with zips I do encourage you to have a go they really are a lovely easy make!

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The Whole 15 Yards

My husband travels to the good old U.S of A at least twice a year, which for me is a great chance to stock up on fabric!

The first few times I let him choose for me. This had mixed success and mostly he’s too busy to go fabric shopping while he’s away, so the process has become more refined over time.

In February he was in New York and I placed an order for him to go and collect from a local store, which had an etsy store too. This worked brilliantly until he mentioned the cab fare there was over $20. I figured I may as well just get stuff shipped straight to his hotel!

So this time I did just that. The only problem was the overwhelming choice of online fabric shops in the U.S. Where to start!?

I wanted yardage for dressmaking but quilting cottons rather than anything too specialised. I went for an etsy store again as i find them easy to browse and clear to see what you are playing for. Rock Paper Scissors in New Jersey had a really nice selection of prints and they were really helpful with my odd request to ship to a hotel address.

Choosing was very hard. I had a list of garments on my sewing to do list, so I tried to choose yardage and prints to match this list. I got a whopping 15 yards at only $12 shipping. A few half yards may have snuck in there too – just to fill up the box of course!

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My choices are were pretty good in real life – the bottom one – green Chinese lanterns  at the bottom is VERY green, not sure about that for a top now, it may become a skirt instead. The blue floral is a lawn. I can’t wait to get sewing. First on my list is the Sugar Pop top by Sew Caroline. I must get on with it while the sun is still shining.

Troublesome Tote

I’ve just finished making the Super Tote bag by Anna at Noodlehead. I’ve made a number of her bags in the past (The Go Anywhere bag and a couple of Sidekick Totes here and here). I bought the Supertote pattern AGES ago when there was a bit of a sale on and not having made a bag for nearly a year I thought I’d finally give it a go. I spent a while browsing other peoples efforts and read a few reviews, which gave me some helpful pointers about inside pockets and fabric choices.

As a lot of people say, it’s not a quick make, there are some fiddly bits like getting the gusset pinned and stitched in on both the outer and lining. If you have a bit of bag making experience under your belt it’s a pretty straight forward make.

…Except…. I had a few of my own troubles with this bag.  Some were my own doing – like miscalculating the handle length (remember they don’t start at the top of the bag!). Other problems….well, who knows….

My first irritation was that the front pocket didn’t quite cover the green lining fabric underneath (see photo below). This is because I opted to make the lined pocket and sewing outer and lining together means you loose a little length on the pocket. This just bugged me. So I unpicked the binding (which I did instead of piping) interfaced it and stitched it so it sat higher up.  There was no way I was unpicking all that curved gusset again! Fixed ( or so I thought).

 

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Secondly…I was rather disappointed that the recessed zip pieces were left with raw edges on the inside of the bag. I would like to have seen these with a double fold, so at least they didn’t look so scruffy. They are inside but actually you see then quite a lot when the zip section flops about., next time I would cut these pieces a bit longer so that I can fold them neatly under

So onto my next point and I only realised this when I was finished. The zip part (which I made from heavy denim – so could have been part of the problem) is all very loose and floppy. The zip tab ends fall down inside the bag making it a real fiddle to open and close the bag. I really wasn’t happy with the final finish and after wrangling over it for nearly a week (on and off) I was a bit miffed to say the least. Not one to admit defeat, after sleeping on it I came up with a solution…..

I put an extra line of stitches along the recessed zipper (see photos below)  this made everything much more secure and helped the zip sit much higher in the bag. I thought it might stop the top section of the bag from being so floppy (another irritation after all that interfacing!)

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I also hand stitched my zip tabs into the bag lining, so they didn’t keep disappearing, this worked really well and I’m quite happy with the whole zip arrangement now.  A shorter zip might help this problem too.

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Do you remember me mentioning that front pocket binding and how I spent ages getting it to cover the green lining?  Well low and behold when you put stuff in your bag it all goes a bit pear shaped and all that hard work counts for nothing!  The photo below shows it in action -( it actually doesn’t look too bad in this photo but rest assured it is) –  can you see how the handles are pulling the green lining up and distorting it all?

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So what lesson can I take from this bag making adventure?  Don’t over cook the details on a bag you’ve not made before – it may all be for nothing if you don’t like the finished result!

All that said – I think I do like it, I LOVE the fabric and it’s really comfortable to carry and will be great for the summer holidays to lob stuff in. I’m just mightily disappointed at the loss of form and shape once it’s full of stuff. I certainly don’t remember seeing any photos on my search of flikr and pinterst that looked like my bag…so maybe I’m the only one.

I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s found this with their Super Tote.

Additional info November 2014: I realised after speaking to a friend who had also made a super tote, that I hadn’t attached my handles properly! They need to be stitched onto the top of the bag.

Somehow I missed this in the instructions.

Now I’ve done this the bag doesn’t flop around so much at the top and the zip section sits better without the need for the extra line of stitching I added.

Even with all mistakes I made with the pattern, I used it all summer and I will definitely be making another (following the inductions better this time!)

Sewing Over-Drive

My sewing mojo has gone slightly through the roof this week. After my initial attempt at garment sewing a few weeks back I was itching to try more. I had fabric and patterns waiting in the wings so last weekend I made another Tova – this one wasn’t out of a vintage curtain but some nice cotton with a fine stripe. It all turned out beautifully with only a few lumpy bits and puckers. I made a small this time and it was nearly TOO small across the chest. I’ve pretty much been wearing it all week, it’s so comfortable and flattering.

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My other clothing make of the week (get me!) is the Josephine top by Made by Rae. I’ve had the fabric for this for a while – I bought it with a voucher I won for my local sewing machine and fabric shop.  This was fun to make and actually less tricky than the Tova in a lot of ways. I had plans for dinner with friends last night and had really hoped to get the top finished in time. On getting in at 3pm I had a top with no cuffs, no neckline or hem. I threw some dinner on for the kids and the set to it. I finished it with half an hour left to bung on some make up.  It’s a great pattern because there is elastic at the back to adjust the fit. I made the small – though the elastic measurements for this were a bit tight to I had to add on a bit more so I could breathe!

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I’ve also been sewing for my daughters birthday on Monday – but that will have to stay a secret for now.  So, a VERY productive week! My husband says I am displaying addictive behaviour. It’s true! – I am totally hooked on the idea of making clothes for my self, it’s so exciting!  I need to step away from the sewing machine as we have an 11th birthday sleepover to organise.

Tova

I’ve had my first go at solo garment sewing and it amazingly it was a success!

I bought the Tova pattern as it looked nice and easy. My friend Mary had made one and mentioned on her blog a very useful sew-a-long that Kerry ran last year.

For a my first try I wanted something in expensive which didn’t matter if it was rubbish at the end. I decided on a 1970’s habitat curtain, which had been lingering in my vintage sheet cupboard. It’s quite a stiff cotton, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be making my life more difficult with that.

Kerry kindly provided email support when I couldn’t work out the collar and explained an alternative way of sewing on the placket. The online sewing world is just fab!

The pattern suggests trying the top and making any adjustments once you have the placket sewn in. I took it in at the waist quite a lot but kept a nice a-line tunic shape. I also took it up on the shoulders as there was rather a lot of baggy fabric at the front. These are the kind of things that I would have found daunting but I remembered a surprising amount from my dressmaking course before Christmas.

Ok so the fabric is a bit odd but I’m so pleased with the fit. I can’t wait to make another. That said, I am still going to wear it to the pub tonight !

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Tumbler

When I went a away on my sewing weekend, I decided to make a covering for our living room coffee table. It’s an ancient Ikea table that has seen a lot of action and to be honest needs covering up! Its quite big so it usually just ends up covered in junk.

During the Great UK Fabric De-stash, I bought bag of precut charms. I was delighted to find the bag contained about one third Kokka Japanese linen. They are absolutely divine.

I trimmed as little as I could to turn the charm squares into tumbler shapes.

I added a border of Essex linen The backing is some dusky pink linen I bought from my local fabric shop. Its the perfect match in its muted-ness (is that a word!?)

My husband suggested a dark blue binding to complement the Essex linen. He’s good with colour my husband!

So here it is in situ and out in the garden – also being photo bombed by the cat!

I totally love how it turned out. The colours are just up my street!

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Sewing, Sunshine and Friends.

I’m just back from a wonderful sewing weekend with my friends Susy, Emily and Mary. It was fantastic to be away from the demands of family life and just sew, drink tea (and wine) chat and laugh. The weather was glorious, so we had lunch outside on the patio and could sew with the sunshine streaming in through the open doors. Heavenly! Here are a few photos: The cottage : 20140310-140125.jpgThe sewing: 20140310-140202.jpgOther activities (?): 20140310-140338.jpgA few other random things! 20140310-140420.jpg look at all our handmade bags! We all took different projects to work on and it was amazing to see what we could achieve with all that uninterrupted time. I can’t wait to plan the next one!

A Little Make

After my quilt finish I needed a quick and easy one-evening make. I’d bought this lovely tea cup fabric in the online destash and it just screamed ‘make me into a tea cosy’!! So I did. I used a lovely simple pattern by Messy Jesse
It ended up a bit snug on my tea pot as my fabrics crept about a bit with quilting. I’d recommend cutting out your rectangles a bit bigger than you need then trimming down after quilting. I used Shards from Cut out and Keep for the binding and lining and I quilted it with a turquoise Aurifil thread.

I’ve been up to other sewing but also doing lots of prep for a sewing weekend away in a few days with my very favourite sewing buddies!

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Oh and my tea pot collection, I think I need some more tea cosies!

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