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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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!)

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway!

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED – SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM TO FIND OUT IF YOU WON!

I’m very excited to be taking part in my first Sew Mama Sew giveaway. Hello!!! if you’ve come to visit for the first time. I won’t take up your time with lots of info as I know you have lots of blogs to visit.

The Sew Mama Sew giveaway happens twice a year and it’s a great way for people who sew, sell or make handmade things to link up and have a bit of a party. Everyone visits lots of blogs comments, follows and hopefully wins a few things in the process. I’ve taken part a few times but never hosted my own giveaway….

So here’s what I’m giving away….

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  • Feed the Animals coin purse pattern by the Straight Stitch Society
  • 3 fat quarters of solid cotton to make your coin purses.
  • a mini scrap pack to add some fun details to your animals.
  • 3 zips
  • and a selection of buttons

This is how you enter:

  1. Leave a comment – tell me where you keep your loose change…your pocket?  your purse? do you have something special that you’ve made or has been given to you?
  2. If you want a 2nd entry please follow my blog (via bloglovin, wordpress, email etc) and come back and comment and tell me which.
  3. Please make sure I have a way of contacting you if you win.

This giveaway is open internationally. The winner will be drawn at random on Saturday and the last entry must be received by 1am GMT on December 14th (5pm December 13th PST). Good luck and thanks for visiting, I hope you stick around !

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I’m very excited to be drawing a winner for my Feed the Animals zip pouches. Thank you all so much for taking part, I really enjoyed taking my very first Sew Mama Sew giveaway and lots of your comments made me laugh…so without further ado the winner is…

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Deb – Who said: in my purse, in pockets in my purse, and dropped down in my pocketbook. :( there’s no rhyme or reason.

Congratulations Deb I’ll be in touch via email to sort out your winnings.

Have a great Christmas everyone!

Sewing up my Christmas List

The Christmas countdown seems to be in full swing in the shops. Which always makes me panic and want to get organised (unless you are my husband who will waits until 20th December). I feel pleased with myself this year for getting started early for once.

Last weekend I made the Christmas pudding and cake and had enough fruit left to make mincemeat too. Can’t wait to have my first mince pie made with it (but definitely not in October!).

So I’m feeling a bit less panicked. I’ve written some lists, we’ve negotiated with the family where we are spending Christmas Day AND I’ve done some sewing.

In my quest to conquer the ever-tricky zip pouch I decided that’s what everyone in my family is getting this year. I’ve made 3 and I have 4 more to go. I may do more if I don’t get too bored with them.

Each one I make I refine the process a bit more. Understand what to do to avoid those scrunched-up zip ends or ones where the lining is showing.

One of them required a whole half hour of unpicking (it was just about finished) when I realised the lining kept getting stuck in the zip. So lesson learnt!

My lovely friend Mary showed me how to make them a while back but as I’d forgotten, I also grabbed the chance to buy Elizabeth Hartman’s perfect zip bags pattern when it was on sale recently.

Elizabeth has lots of clever tips but also does some things which I haven’t bothered with again. So I do feel I am finding my own way.

I’m not sure why I’ve been so intent on mastering these, probably because they look so good when you do get them right and make such great presents.

Here’s what I’ve made so far for my kids. I’ve kept to basic shapes and single fabrics for ease and speed but there are lots of nice variations for scraps and pleats in the pattern.

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Zippy Pouches

This week I got together with my friends for (what is becoming) our regular sewing day.

This time we decided to have a go at zips. With my zip knowledge still in its infancy and Steph and Julia having never done them, we decided to go for something simple. I found this great little tutorial for Ear Bud Pouches.

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As you can see from my photo below, the main challenge was not attaching the zips but sewing in a circle! (If anyone has any tips for this I’d be grateful). My second attempt on the right was marginally neater than the first. I drew around a cup so I had a line to follow but I still have a way to go before it even looks passable!

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We were also a bit baffled as to why our first attempts at the pouches had turned out so small. Then after further investigation of some photos online we realised we’d sewn our fabric too close to the zip teeth. Such a small thing but it made such a difference to the size and shape!

I will keep trying at these and hope my children can find some use for the funny shaped ones in the meantime!