It is in the bag!

Simple formula for lined bag with your choice of size, handle and closure!  So easy it is already “in the bag”.

 

Working with new sewists, I am continually on the look out for quick to make and clever useful projects.  More experienced seamsters can whip these out in batches. Early in the game sewists can experience easy success!    Teacher gifts, party favors, so many uses!  I am considering small bags from theme fabric to house a bar of hand made soap for an upcoming bridal shower.

Start with scraps if you like.  You will need two same size longish rectangles.  The formula is as follows:

Desired bag width plus 1 inch for seam allowances.  Desired height of bag times 2.5 to 2.75 for a generous flap.  If you have a specific item to bag, measure it now!

Play around with what you have on hand to start with and have some fun!

Right sides together, with a quarter inch seam allowance, sew both rectangles along one short side.

Open this.  Press the seam allowance towards the lining, and under stitch.  Under stitching will roll the seam towards the lining so this edge looks really clean.

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View of back side of bag after under stitching and top stitching!

 

Press and top stitch with a fancy stitch if you like.  If you plan to close your bag with hook and loop tape, include one side of the tape along the edge of the front of your bag now.

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For a firmer flap add a bit of fusible interfacing!

Align your work and trim off any excess fabric that may be caused by the under stitching.    With right sides together, pin the pieces together and draw a fancy shape for the flap, or leave it straight.  A hex ruler might be a nice tool to keep both sides symmetrical.  Stitch this seam.  A straight seam would under stitch nicely!

Optional “wrap” the corners of your fancy cut flap.

Make a strap!  A 14×3 inch rectangle folded rst lengthwise, stitched with a quarter inch seam turned and top stitched works great.  As does ribbon, webbing or twill tapeimage

Pin your strap that has been folded in half with raw edges aligned to the raw edges of the bag and the folded edge towards the center of the bag.  Set it just below where your flap ends and the bag begins so that it ends up near the top of your bag.  Baste in place.  In the photo my strap raw edges extend past the raw edge of the bag. This adds security and keeps the selvages on the strap from showing on the finished bag.

 

 

Now on for the tricky part:  See above, pull the bottom of the bag so that it covers the strap.  Pin the bag (both layers) to the outside cover only of the front of the bag on the right and left sides.  Then slip the lining of the bag over the front of the bag.  This basically turns the bag wrong side out and the lining will form a loop on top with the outer bag also forming a loop on the bottom.  The bag portion will be tucked up into the flap, but only just past the strap.    The remainder will be the flap.  If you are creating a specific size bag to fit a particular item.  Now is the second good time to measure.  (The first would be before you cut the fabric.) In the photo I used clips, as I had lined these bags with PUL.

 

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Side seam stitched with “L” seams!

Align right sides together, and make a 3/8 inch seam along this edge.  Making sure to back stitch over the strap to secure it.

Make sure the second side of you bag is lined up and symmetrical to the side you just sewed.

Create two “L” seams along this edge.  Start at the top and just about a half inch after you sew across the many layers of the sides of the bag.  Pivot and stitch to the edge creating a seam that looks like the capital letter “L”.  Then a few inches later along this edge, make another “L” seam that serves two purposes.  It leaves a clean and sturdy opening for turning and finishes the side seam of the bag.  A small bag needs a smaller opening than a larger bag.

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Second half of “L” seam!

Suggested ratio would be to leave an opening half the length of the bag side.

 

Flip it the bag right side out, this may take multiple flipping to be sure the lining is on the inside.  Poke out corners with a handy tool (chopsticks work great here!).  Pin the opening closed with the raw edges neatly tucked inside.  Top stitch narrowly to ensure that the opening is securely closed.

 

Complete the closure by adding the other half of the hook and loop tape to the inside of the flap, or add snaps, buttonholes and buttons, or whatever makes your heart happy. Kam Snaps make my heart happy!  I get mine locally at Hip Stitch and would be glad to show you how easy they are to apply.  A pattern with measurements, and possibly kits will be available in July 2016.

This makes a great snack bag, holiday gift bag, cosmetics, or think fusible fleece for an electronics bag.

Happy sewing!  Joanimage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations on the “fly”

I can’t tell you how many times I have made up a pair of boxers from the First Choice boxer pattern, or how many copies I have purchased.  It is far and away my family’s favorite.

Lets face it, there comes a time when your kids will no longer wear something “Mom made” out in public.  That is a sad day for those of us with a need to sew. Years ago when we were potty training, I saw so many cute novelty fabrics at my LQS, that I just had to make something.  Then I found the First Choice Boxer pattern, and made up a few pairs for my 3 year old son.  I was tickled to find fabric with Scooby Doo and Blues Clues. He was intrigued with the fly.  They were sweet, cute, and he would wear them, not much else but, his older sisters were ok that he was not running around starkers like a 3 year old would given the choice. These fit the bill as they are not meant to be worn in public, and serve well as PJ or lounge wear.

Ironically, this turned into a long pair from flannel, and both daughters begged me to make them as gifts for all their friends, who in their teens would wear them in public.  Luckly now we are past that stage too.

My youngest is soon off to college and I let him know recently that we will need to weed out some of his older, now capri length and way too small pj pants as they are not fit to be seen in by someone other than his parents. And that is debatable.  Dug through my flannel stash and picked out a few pieces that would be acceptable “lounging around the dorm” pants.  The kind that would be ok to be seen in by the friends of room mates that will pop by unexpectedly.  Or hang out indeterminately.

Recently I taught a couple classes at Hip Stitch in the boxer shorts.  My students had trouble with the fly, and here I am going to show you an alternative method to make a modified fly.

First, cut out the shorts (eliminating the fly facing part).  the front will look like this:

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Here I serged the edge of the fly.  Easy to confuse with the front edge of the leg of the shorts. Be sure to mark the center front of the shorts on your pattern at the top front just an inch or two in from the front edge.

Love this older Bernina that was rescued from being in storage for 30 years.  I thought it was a 30 year old Bernina, but it is a 50+ year old Bernina and a beast.  I have used it to sew shade cloth for the garden.  I love it.  The bobbin loading in the back, not so much, but this one is a work horse.

With the RST make a seam from this center front mark in a straight line towards the section where the fly ends and the curved front crotch seam begins.  I use a long basting stitch here if I later plan to open the fly.  About an inch and a half before the fly ends, change your stitch length to a 2.5 or 3.  Back stitch 5-6 stitches and continue down the front of the shorts making the crotch curve with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  When you get to the end back stitch and flip the shorts over, and half way between the seam you just made and the raw edge of the shorts, make a parallel seam back up the front of the crotch to the point where you changed your stitch length and back stitched earlier. Here you will leave the needle in the fabric and pivot to sew out towards the edge of the fly.

Before you get all the way to the edge, fold the top layer back the amount of the serged edge (3/8 inch or so).  Cut your threads and remove the shorts from the machine.

Now is the time to top stitch that folded back edge.

Open them flat. and give them a press.  With the wrong side up.  Flip the fly section over to the left, so you can see that little bit of exposed right side of the fabric.  Starting at the top, stitch on this edge only to about an inch from where you stitched off the edge in the last step.  Start a gentle curve towards the center seam of the shorts and  stitch over the first line of stitching.  Stop and the second line and back stitch.  Here I back stitched to that inner line of stitching.

And there is your modified fly.  If you would like your fly to be operable and open.  Remove the basting stitches after you have put in the elastic.

Inseam.  Center the center seam across the center back panel.  Often, either the front inseam or back inseam will be longer than the other,  Important here to center it, and trim off either edge evenly.

Shorts hem.  Here I am using my favorite #20 foot on a newer Bernina.  It is perfect for a fold over 1/4 inch twice and stitch hem.  You can line the upper edge of the hem with the inside of the toe of the foot (move the needle if you like) and go.  Really nice even edge stitching.  I use it all the time to top stitch.

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About Elastic.The pattern has a nice way of butting up the ends of a heavy elastic band.  It is necessary to connect the ends this way on heavy elastic due to the bulk.    I prefer to use a softer PJ elastic which can be seamed a half an inch from the raw edges.  In the photos I changed machines Start at the top of the elastic, sew all the way to the bottom, and all the way back to the top. Open the elastic and top stitch a quarter inch from the edge.  I like to measure a well fitting pair of shorts to determine the elastic size.

 

On the side seams, not pictured, I serged the seam, flipped it to the side, and top stitched with this foot.  I love how that looks.

Back to the elastic.  First, fold down the top by about half an inch and press.  I am usually in too much of a hurry to wait for my iron to heat so I baste this top edge down.  The basting stitches are easily removed later.

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Mark the elastic in quarters, and pin the back (seam) to the center back panel. More on that center back panel in a moment. Pin the quarter mark to the side seam (not the side panel to the center back seam).  Stretch the elastic, line it up with the edge of the fabric and with a longer stitch length, sew to the next quarter mark.

I hold the back of the elastic with the left hand pulling behind the machine, and the front of the elastic in front of the machine is held by my right hand.  My job is only to stretch the elastic, and not to pull it through the machine.  The feed dogs are taking care of that.

 

When you get around to where you started, pivot and sew down the elastic to the other side. and go around once more, remembering to keep the elastic stretched as you go, so the fabric is evenly stitched around the elastic.

 

And here are your pants.  If you have made an operable fly, you could add a snap or two to keep it closed when not in use.image

Hope this helps!  If you would like to sign up for a class, I would love to help you find your love of sewing too.  You can find me at Hip Stitch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owletts – Wallets with Owls.

 Be wise with your finances.

Years ago I was intrigued with a lazy girl pattern. I have not seen it in my local quilt shops lately, but found this link to the wonder wallet on line.  Perfect scrap project!

After making many of them for gifts, I noticed that there was a significant amount of wear at the corners.  So I thought that interfacing the entire outside of the wallet would be a good idea.

Also with the multi layers of fabric that bottom of the little wallet got super bulky really quickly, causing more wear on the wallet, and my supply of sewing machine needles.
So after much thought I made some revisions to how I constructed this little gem.

If the cover of the wallet wraps all the way around and all the raw edges of the pockets are enclosed in top stitching on the bottom, that would solve the bulk/wear/and corner turning problems I had encountered with the original design.

imageFirst, find three small prints that coordinate nicely.  I used these from Cotton and Steel that I found at my LQS.

Cut the outer layer and lower pocket 5.5 x 16 inches. medium pocket 5.5 x 5 inches and tall pocket 5.5 x 6 inches.  I used a woven fusible interfacing, which I cut the same size as the outer layer and lower pocket, and two pieces that were 5.5 x 2.5 and 5.5 x 3 respectively.  Cut a 1.5 inch strip of hook and loop tape.

Fuse the interfacing to the wrong sides of the fabric,  for the two smaller pieces, fold them in half and give them a nice press so that you can see where to apply that interfacing on one half of the piece.  Make sure that they are still 5.5 inches wide!  With these two pieces folded in half, edge stitch along the folded edge.

imageOn the largest piece. Mark a light pencil line four inches from the bottom of the longer piece on the wrong side of the fabric.  Fold up the raw edge to meet this line.  It will look like a two inch hem.  Then bring the raw edge of the other end to meet the first raw edge, and press.   The piece with both edges folded in will measure 5.5 x 8 inches.image

Fold it in half lengthwise, and mark 3/4 inch from the fold on both layers, both top and bottom of each end.  This is so the velcro can be centered.image

Place the cover on the table with the folded raw edges down and the smooth side up. On the side with the two inch fold, pin the soft side of the hook and loop tape to the edge of the cover between your markings.

Start stitching on the edge, like you would top stitch straight across, get to the hook and loop tape, stitch across it, and just before you get to the end of the tape, stop with the needle down, pivot and sew across the short edge of the tape, back across the bottom and up to the top again.  Then edge stitch to the other end of the line.

This puts a double line of stitching across the top of the velcro strip.  with a loop around the lower part of the velcro, and will secure it in place.

Layer the other two pocket layers behind the short one with the velcro attached.  Pin only the pocket layers, so that the three layers move independently from the rest of the wallet. It is important here, that you pin from the outside in, and that your pin heads are hanging over the outside of the fabric.  Flip this pocket layer down, and back around to the other side of the wallet.  You will only see the the back of the tallest pocket from this angle.image

Next, take the six inch flap and bring it up and back over itself, so that all you see is interfacing on either side.  add two more pins that also are pinned from the outside in.  from the side it will look like this:

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The bottom of the little wallet will look like this with multiple raw edges and folds.  image

Stitch the longer sides with a scant 1/4 inch seam.  image

Remove your pins and start turning right side out by lifting the top layer over the whole assembly and pulling what is left out from under it.  Poke out the corners with a chopstick or other handy turning tool.  It will look like a bit of a mess.  We will need to do some turning.  Find the pockets and flip them over to the other side, poke out some more corners and here you are!

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Top stitch the edges starting at the top of the pockets, and when you get to the top, be sure to loop Around all four edges of the corresponding part of the hook and loop tape in the center on the edge that would fold down to meet its counterpart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chalkboard Fabric Runner

What do the home sewing machine and chalkboard have in common?

Both tools became popular and available for use around the mid 1800’s.  From this article, we find the following about chalkboard history.

Even single-room schoolhouses in far rural areas of the country began enjoying the use of this innovative teaching tool. By the mid-1800s, a blackboard was to be found in almost every school and had become the single most important educational tool. Chalk boards remained the primary all-around educational fixture in schoolrooms and businesses for almost 200 years. Even the corkboard wasn’t invented for presentations until 1891.

And this video tells us more about the history of home sewing. I adore learning more about the craft that has captured my attention for decades, don’t you?

Combining the two was an interesting journey for me.  Come along and I will tell you about it.  I was challenged to come up with a pattern for a project that involved quilting (which I have not done for almost ten years) and chalkboard fabric.  Rather like cheese and chalk, Or so I initially thought.

First challenge, the chalkboard fabric I had access to is 48 inches wide.  A bit  pricey, and I am a little obsessive in the fabric efficency department.  I wanted to create a quilt strip that would be really close to  (and not over) that length upon it’s completion.  Well any genius could have told me that 4 twelve inch quilt squares would do it, but I wanted to use something that is simple and easy to grab and sew.  So I started with a 5 inch square or charm pack.  Just google charm pack table runner, and prepare to be overwhelmed by the options.

So I went back to my early quilting days, where I would become obsessed with a quilting pattern and the geometry of it, then not be able to rest until I had executed it in fabric.  Can you relate?  I wish I had discovered the “minature quilt” option much sooner, it would have saved me time, fabric, sanity, but I digress…  What were some of my favorite patterns?

Churn Block has always interested me with it’s beautiful simplicity, and Ohio Star for it’s ability to look so different depending on how the squares and blocks were organized, so I opted to combine aspects of  the two.

Starting with a five inch square (charm squares come in super handy here).  I picked four different fabrics in wonderful lime green and azure blue with some grey, and a fun measuring tape print, as the original inclination for this project came from my friend, Linda who had seen a “runner” that was hung from the wall about 2 feet off the ground, and had chalkboard fabric on the sides to mark the height of a growing child.  So the measuring tape fabric really fit the theme.

Half Square Triangles:  For each block, I needed two lights and two darks.   I drew a diagonal line from one corner to the next on my lighter blocks.  Made a seam on either side of the line 1/4 inch away from the line.  A few blocks into this, a vague memory of making HSTs in the 80’s came back to me.  Since I was using a defined stripe for some of these, I needed to sew half the blocks so that the stripes went north and south and the other half where the stripes flowed east and west.  That way they could all flow up and down vertically on my finished project.

The cool thing, is that I needed 8 of each square, and luckily a five inch square will fit 8 times across the width of fabric!  Fabric Efficient is my other middle name.  My first middle name is Reversible, but that is another story.  So with 8 of the measuring tape squares and 8 of the azure grey citrus squares, I ended up with 16 half square triangles.  With the seam on either side of the drawn line, and pressed, just cut on that drawn line, and voila!   I pressed (like Darth Vader, to the dark side) admired and set aside.image.jpg

Quarter Square Triangles:  Same thing as HSTs but with a second step.  Flip one HST on top of the other, so that the seams are matched across the diagonal middle, and the opposite colors are on top of each other.  Then, draw that diagonal line across the square perpendicular to the stitching line, and sew 1/4 inch each side.  There is a nice video here.

 

Again, start with 8 lime and 8 azure near solids, and you end up with 16 blocks.  Funny thing, though, due to the second seam, that block has shrunk.  Mine ended up being 4.375 inches.  Going back in time, now to a wonderful book that got me comfortable with quilting in the 80’s, and I am going to have to find it now, is Mary Ellen Hopkins, The It’s Ok If You Sit On My Quilt Book.   She has a wonderful sense of writing style, and the PPM concept is absolutely freeing!

PPM = Personal Private Measurement.  I was hoping to find a definition on line, but sadly, Mary Ellen has passed, and I will need to try to explain this myself.  If there are videos of her available, they would be worth the search.  She was brilliant and funny.

When making pieced blocks, and in this instance, we will be making the quarter square triangle first, as that ends up being the smallest finished block.  That 4.375 is my PPM.  Yours could be different.  I stitched these blocks on my Featherweight in the wee hours.  It is currently my quietest machine.  I used the wider side of the presser foot to gain that “1/4 inch from the line” seam.  If I had used the foot currently on my Bernina, then that seam would have leaned a little over 1/4 inch.  Do this twice on either side of the line, then cut and re arrange and seam twice and cut again, there could be a great variation between the finished size made with the Featherweight presser foot, and the Bernina.  So….

image.jpgTake the finished measurement of your quarter square triangle – and it may mean measuring across more than one of them to extrapolate your PPM.  Then trim the half square triangles to that exact same size!  Then choose a center block.  You will only need four of these, and… you guessed it, trim that one to that  exact same PPM.image

While you are trimming, get rid of those nasty little triangles hanging off of each corner.  They will only become a bother later.  Some folks call them dog ears.

Next.  Arrange your four center squares, and the sixteen half square and sixteen quarter square triangle blocks into the Ohio Star/Churn Dash arrangement that pleases you best. A digital camera/aka your phone could be handy here, to record which way you want your blocks to sit.   The sad thing about this runner is that it is only one block wide.  When you line up multiple rows of  Ohio Stars they can have fun with each other creating optical illusions.image.jpg

I kept all of my blocks on top of each other, in order, which helped me sew correctly the first time.  Eye your first two blocks.  I started with the bottom row of the two closest to me.    Flip one on top of the other and make a mental note where that seam will be, and make that seam.  Then do the same thing with the two identical sets sitting below the two you just stitched.  Before you get to the last set.  Pull the first pair off your chain (thank you Eleanor Burns), and make a mental note of how that third block is attached.  Make that seam.  Then continue until you have four strips of the bottom row.image

Ok, what is chain piecing, you ask?  Well, when sewing multiple pieces together, there is a LOT of thread waste  before/after each seam.  Ok, well maybe it is only a few inches each time, but it adds up.  So why not get that next pair ready to go under the presser foot just as you are back stitching the seam on your current pair.  Do this multiple times, and you have saved yourself a bobbin winding every few months, not to mention all the bits of thread that end up in the vacuum, or all over your black slacks, when you least expect it.  It adds up.  And feels so efficient.  Then just take a nice pair of sharp scissors and clip those blocks apart.

Continue with the middle row, then the top row, and you are making progress with 12 strips of three blocks.  Now back to the ironing board to press seams.  Flip your stacks so the seam allowances are facing up.

On the center row, press all the seams to the left, and on the other two rows, press them to the right.  This will allow your seams in the next step to nestle nicely right up against each other.

Lay your strips out again right side up, in the way that pleases you.  If you joined the digital age earlier and took a photo, refer to it now.  Flip the bottom row over to the center row, and make a mental note as to which side the seam should be.  Pin to make sure those seams match up, and make a seam at 1/4 inch.  Pay attention to the intersections made previously.  and be sure to stitch directly across them, so you do not loose any corners of your blocks with a seam that is too deep or shallow.  Repeat for all four rows, and chaining those seams is a time/money/thread saver!

Press  the seams to one side.  Then stitch the top row on to the center pinning as above.

More pressing, and you have four blocks.  Check them for accurate seaming, and then stitch the four blocks together to make a strip.

My finished piece was about 46 inches long and 12 inches wide.  I found this great fusible foam at my LQS, and thought it would give a lot of stability to my project and was 20/5 inches wide.  I fused it to the back of my quilt.

imagePerplexed as to how to attach this tiny 1/4 inch seam to the heavy chalkboard fabric, I opted for a flange.  The flange I cut was 2 inches wide.  I needed 3 strips and pieced them diagonally to reduce bulk to get the 46 inch length for each side.  With the quilt on the top, so I could see the intersections of my blocks and not loose my corners in the process I attached the flange (two inch wide strips folded in half lengthwise and pressed) to either side of my runner.  My thoughts here were to give the quilted section a finished edge to sew to the chalkboard fabric.

In hind sight, the disadvantage of doing it this way was that the feed dogs pulled the bottom fabric (flange) just enough so that it is a bit longer and fluttery at the edges.  Next time, I will solve this by actually pinning, and using a walking foot for even feed of my fabric.

Quilting presented a fun challenge.  Instructions for chalkboard fabric insist on larger stitches as not to perforate the vinyl.  So the less “quilting” on the chalkboard fabric, the better.  The fusible was fused to my backing, so I centered the quilted strip lengthwise on the foamy “batting”.  Used safety pins to secure, and quilted lengthwise with a serpentine stitch down the center of each of the three blocks and on the center two seam lines.  This left a nice flap of the outer half block and flange.  I wanted the back of the piece to be quilted, so I drew a line.  The place ment of the line was determined to be not where the next quilting line would have been between the flange and the edge of the quilting, as I planned to top stitch my chalkboard fabric there, but where the next line would have been, ultimately underneath the chalkboard fabric.  So about 2 inches from each edge of the foamy batting, I drew the line and quilted.

Next, I measured the area from the edge of my foamy batting to about an inch and a half under the edge of my quilt.  This is another PPM that for me was 5 inches.  Using wonderclips, I secured the edge of the chalkboard fabric to align with the edge of the “batting”.   Pins leave holes in chalkboard fabric.  Then I should have double stick taped the chalkboard to the under side of the quilt, or maybe tried to pin it underneath the quilt, but against all teachings of my favorite yoga teacher, I held my breath and went for it.

Stitching the top of the quilt over the quilt top,  chalkboard fabric, foamy quilt batting,  and backing made me thankful for four things.  The fusibility of the “batting” I used, as it would keep the backing in check and not end up with pesky wrinkles and tucks, the walking foot for helping to reduce the ruffle effect of the flange, the lounge at Hip Stitch, where there was a large expanse of mostly empty table for my quilt to spread out on after it had been under the needle, and most especially my favorite yoga teacher, who continued to remind me to breathe long after class.  Breathing while sewing is very helpful.

With that done, I cut four 2.5 inch wide strips pieced them diagonally, and folded in half to create the binding.  On a utilitarian quilt, I might sew my binding to the back of the quilt, wrap around to the front and top stitch, but I had had enough sewing on the chalkboard fabric for one day, and dinner was calling, so I stitched it to the front, and wrapped it to the back and hand stitched that down after dinner.image.jpg

What I love about this quilt.  I really liked being able to make four blocks, and get the urge to make the Ohio Star/Churn Dash out of my system without having to commit to a monsterous project.  I loved the opportunity to sew with Chalkboard fabric, and the foamy batting that was the perfect width for my project, yes,  that is the fabric efficient obsessive in me talking there.

Next time, I might use InsulBright and make this a table runner, where guests names, or dish explanations/ingedients could be written in chalk on either side of the runner.

Thanks fo Linda and Suzanne at Hip Stitch for the materials,  fun and challenge of this project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pillowcase Bag

I have been looking at this lovely cotton/linen blend fabric in my favorite local quilt shop for some time, and wondering what the highest and best use for it might be, when someone came in to purchase one yard.  There was a yard and a half cut wrapped around the outside of the bolt, and she did not want that.  I deemed it orphan fabric, that I must find a use for.  I love the blue, cream and aqua coordinating print, and the cream solid that was part of the line, and an idea struck.  Why not a bag?  This cotton and linen was a little heavy for a top, nice for jacket or skirt, but a bag is always useful.  So the yard and a half of the Ikat-looking print, 3/4 yard of the greek key print, and a bit of the cream called my name, loud enough for me to make the leap.

 

After making sure that all three fabrics were exactly the same width, I started cutting.  Out of the larger piece, I cut three half yard sections, and quarter yards of the greek key, and two inches from the cream.  Best practice would be to fold the cream two inch strip and the greek key 1/4 yard strip in half (wrong sides together) lengthwise and press. I was in a hurry, so I skipped this step.  Next steps are as follows:

Baste the (folded in half) two inch strip to the right side of the  top of the 1/2 yard strip with a narrow 1/4 inch seam.  Fold this assembly in half (right sides together), so that you have a 18 x 22 inch rectangle and make a generous half inch seam along that selvedge edge. Be sure that your seam is deep enough so your selvedge does not show.  Alternatively, you could trim off the selvedge, but that would require then finishing the seams.  I often err on the side of using that selvedge, unless I think it might shrink horribly.  then  by all means, cut it off!  It would be a good idea to press open here.

Take the quarter yard strip, unfold it, and make a seam along the selvedge edge the same depth as the one you just made.  The object here, is to have that greek key cuff the same width as the body of the bag.  Here, you can trim the selvedges off the cuff, after you have seamed it, as it will be folded in half, and no raw edges will be exposed on your finished project. Set this aside.

image.jpgOn the main body of the bag, twist the seam you just made to the center of the tube, matching it with the center fold of the fabric, and right sides together, stitch across the bottom with a half inch seam allowance.  This seam will need finishing, and I serged mine.  A nice zig zag would work, or even a second set of stitching at 1/4 inch would be my chosen finishing method before I had a fancy machine.

imageMeasure in from each side an amount that pleases you.  I usually like to use five inches here, and pin your straps to the cream cuff.  Make sure that they are not twisted.  Pin the cuff folded in half to the right side of the bag body.  Match the center seams, and then from the body side of the bag, where you can see the initial basting, stitch around the top of the bag with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  The object here, is to cover your previous stitching, so it is no longer visible from the outside of the bag.  In this photo, I used my favorite seam guide taped to my machine.  Any laminated card will do.  It gives enough depth to have an edge to run your fabric right up against. Magnetic seamguides  are helpful too!

Contrary to the photo, one really should remove pins before sewing.  If you are going to sew over pins, then use a longer stitch, and sew slowly.  Bur really, you should remove them as you get to them.  Sew slowly over your straps, so that you do not break a needle!image.jpg

Next, pin the straps up the 4 inch or so width of the cuff, so that they are straight.  Top stitch around the top of the bag, including the straps in the stitching.  You can get fancy and as you cross a strap, sew down the edge of it to the cream cuff, across the bottom and back up the other side, then across the strap, and on to the next one.  This will make for more secure straps!  I like to use 3/4 yard of webbing for each strap.

image.jpgAdding pockets!  I cut three 10 inch by 15 inch rectangles.  Finsished one  10 inch end with a narrow hem, and sewed up the side seams so that the unfinished edge was about an inch longer than the finished edge.  I made a French seam here, so that my bag would be finished.

This gave me an edge to attach to the raw edge of the inside of my bag.   I pinned it between the straps and sewed over previous stitching to secure the loose hanging pocket.image

Then I took the whole thing to the serger, and serged across the bottom seam.  Serged around the seam that holds the cuff, straps, cream strip and pocket.  There is a lot going on here, so sew slowly.  Then I boxed the corners.

image.jpgI cut two inch squares from the bottom corner of each bag, starting from the seam line and corner, then squashed this, so that the  bottom seam matched up with the side fold, and serged across this.  Later, I reinforced with a straight stitch about 1/4 inch in from the serging.  this will make for a much sturdier bag.

image.jpgLastly, top stitch around the top cuff, keeping the pocket free of the top stitching, and all of that seam allowance underneath the top stitching.  This will make your single layer bag sturdy and clean finished on the inside.

Note the yardage mentioned in this post was enough for three bags.  Check out my local quilt shop for  instructions to make just one, or sign up for a class!

Now you can stylishly set off for the market, or carry a project in process with you when you go out.

This is a great project for heavier home dec fabrics.  Alternatively, you could use two layers of quilting fabric, and perhaps stablilze the fabric with a fusible interfacing or fusible fleece.  Quilted fabric, or denim would be fun too!

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Sewing Green

So it is only mid-November, but the fire drill has started.  Any crafter, or person who leans towards making holiday gifts, has  been feeling the pressure for a while now.  The list making, supply shopping, material gathering…. It starts early, even before the first holiday decoration goes up at Hobby Lobby, we crafters are planning for the holidays.

Crank the pressure dial up a notch if you are planning for one or more craft shows.  Let the power sewing begin, and why didn’t I start working on this in August?  The pressure increases exponentally when your closest family members have birthdays during the holidays.  Gotta craft double time to show them the sewing love they deserve.

Today I worked on some really cheesy holiday fabric that I had promised myself that I would get to -at least a portion of -this year.  Looking back it must have been double discounted when I purchased it years ago.  Blue, lots of blue, blue ornaments with white deer on a blue background.  Tiny white reindeer on a navy background, white snow flakes on a blue checked background.  Azure dreidels on white.  These had all been culled from the stash and cut into various squares.

With the promise of easy reusable holiday/birthday wrap, I used  directions from a pattern I put together for an origami napkin.  The plan was to use (really use up) some holiday fabric on one side, with a not so holiday coordinate on the other side.  This way the wrapping could be used multiple times in a year.image

These are like dinner napkins, but ginormous, over a yard across.  Perfect for a table topper, or furoshiki.  A great way to use some of that “what was I thinking” fabric, and turn it into something cool.  Green to use what you have, and green to use it for more than one occasion and even greener to use year after year.  Kind of like unpaper towels.  You can find the free pattern in Stashed,  here, and the really cool fabric for napkins here.

Hope I have inspired you to pull from your stash and make something green and cool for the holidays.