Charity Tote Bags

This Christmas I will be again donating to Share The Dignity “It’s In The Bag” campaign. The principle of it is that you grab a bag and fill it with every day things that a woman who is homeless or fleeing a domestic situation might need, the little things we all take for granted. The idea is that you fill an old handbag so the person also get a new bag they can use. I don’t have any handbags so I made some tote bags to fill with my collected items. I decided to make basic cotton tote bags and change the design on the front to make each one different.

Button Bag
I have wanted to make a button front bag for a long time, it was one of those random things that I see once and think I want to try that idea out sometime.  A few months ago I brought jars of different coloured buttons during a sale, at the time I had no plans for them but they were perfect in this project. On the front of the bag I drew out a rough spiral shape, I randomly pulled out buttons from a jar of blue buttons and hand stitched them on using the same thread tying each button off as I went so if one came undone they all didn’t . Once I completed the spiral I then went through the jar and found a heap of the same small blue buttons so I made a second spiral with these. This was a lot of hand sewing in front of the tv work but I am happy with the result and I made a button bag. Originally I was going to do all 3 bag fronts in buttons but I realised it would take way too long.

Free Motion Bag
After deciding there was no way all 3 could be buttons I decided the second bag would be done with free motion quilting. I used the same metallic blue thread that I used on the button bag. I was trying to think back to all the things I learnt when I did the class with Deb Louie. I had a rough idea where my seam lines would be so I just went about going from section to section with my quilting filling the bag front with stitches. I didn’t follow a pattern, I managed to get a heart or two in there and I am very good at doing curls or waves. This reminded me of when I was a kid I would get a black pen and on a piece of blank paper randomly draw lines and swiggles to create little sections that I would then colour in with different colours. Free motion is a lot of fun and I really should do more of it. I used tear away stabiliser on the back of it, removing it was another tv job as there was lots of tiny areas that I had to remove the paper from, again it was worth it.

Decorative Stitches Bag
I am actually a person who does use those fancy decorative stitches that are on your sewing machine, they are a great way to jazz up a plain piece of fabric and that is what I have used them for on this bag.  I used the same metallic blue thread again and just randomly selected stitches on the machine to do a row of stitching across the front of the bag. I never measured anything out I did a row of stitching at the top, bottom and about the middle of the bag all by eyeballing the placement. I then in my head divided up the areas and did rows of stitching to fill in the sections. I decided less was more not doing too much as I didn’t want the front to look too busy. I did squeeze in my favourite heart stitch design because if I can add in a heart particularly a blue one I’m going too!

For the front of the bags I used a cotton drill fabric, this wasn’t from my stash but I did buy it in an Easter sale. On the insides of each bag I have used a cotton that had been in my stash after buying it on sale a few years ago. A few months ago I almost gave it away but held on to it so it was great to use it in these bags, the remainder of it I have cut up and used for WIRES pouches after doing to the burn test and discovering it was 100% cotton.

These are crossover the body bags. For the straps I used some nylon webbing I had in my stash. I just stitched the straps the outside of the finished bags. The webbing is about 2″ wide so nice and sturdy. Confession I did make the straps too long. I over estimated the length so they ended up hanging towards your knees and not near you hip, I only discovered this after they were finished and I had taken the above photos. I didn’t want to cut the straps otherwise you would have ends you would need to cover up to stop fraying.

My solution to the strap situation was to fold the excess webbing and stitching down as a decorative feature of the strap. It is a little hard to describe. At the centre point of the strap I folded it and ran my fingers down about 6″ and pinched the straps so you had a loop of excess strap at the top, this was the amount that I had to stitch down. I decided it would be better if you had this excess fabric on the inside of the strap so it would like another layer of support against the shoulder. I separated the loop at the area where I had it pinched and folded the sides in so that the loop was now folded down to the underside of the strap and not the top. I flattened the loop into a rectangle and clipped it into place. On the outside of the strap you now had 2 folds that need to be held together. I did the widest zig zag I could over these 2 folds to secure them down, going over the fold a few times until I was happy the would stay in place. I did this on each bag. I then changed to a straight stitch and went around the flattened  rectangle twice on each bag to secure it into place.

I only got away with this because I used black thread on black webbing. It doesn’t look too odd, I have seen bags that have added support at the shoulder so that was the look I going for. When something goes wrong call it a design feature.

I am happy with these bags, they are big enough to hold all the items I have been collecting this year. Making them was a lot of fun, I got to be creative and try out ideas. I had to overcome problems with the straps so I had to think. I used up a lot of items just sitting in my stash. I love sewing for charity, I love that I can help with someone using the simple skills that I have.

Cassiy

Baby Animal Burp Cloths

Burp cloths are one of the most easiest gifts to make for a new baby. They are practical and you can never have to many from what I hear.

I have made burp cloths a lot of times and didn’t follow a pattern anymore the steps are really simple

  • Cut a piece of towelling and cotton the same size
  • Place cotton right side down on top of towelling
  • Stitch around edge leaving a turning gap
  • Clip corner points
  • Turn right sides out
  • Top stitch around edge of cotton topper folding the turning gap closed

You can make them any size you like. I like larger ones that you can place over your shoulder or wrap around the child as they get older. I used a large towel that I cut in half, I than cut each half into 3 pieces. Without realising it I cut the 2 halves different ways – one I cut along with width of the towel, the other I cut along the length of the towel so I have 2 different size burp cloths. Both are long enough to go over the shoulder – one set is narrower and longer, the other set is slightly wider and slighter shorter. The narrower ones were cut across the width of the towel, the wider ones across length.

Originally I was planning on using leftover fabrics in my stash but when it came to cutting these fabrics up I realised I didn’t have enough. I went to my local quilt shop and found this gorgeous baby animal print fabric on sale it is perfect. I don’t normally do babyish print fabric because I want the person to be able to use it as the child is a little older. This fabric is cute, baby animals are good for any age child. The print is also subtle so afterwards when you don’t need to use it for the child you could use it in other areas of the house when you need a quick absorbent cloth.

Another gift off my list for this year

Cassiy

Fan Dust Covers

I make no apologies some of my sewing is ugly, I cut corners and I don’t follow the rules.

After the past 2 summers I vowed I would dust make covers for 2 pedestal fans that I own to protect them in the winter months. This morning when I was doing a bit of a clean up in my fabric stash I came across a piece of fabric that I picked up at my local op shop (charity shop) a few years ago. I never find fabric at this shop so when I found this I brought it just because it was there. At the time I thought maybe I would make sewing machine covers with it, I washed it and there it sat. I never actually measured how long the piece was I’m guessing 2.5m. The fabric is a thick drill or upholstery cotton.

Ok time for ugly rule breaking sewing. I literally folded this fabric in half and cut it with pinking shears to get the pieces for the 2 bags. I folded the fabric selvage to selvage (leaving the selvages on) Using the overlocker I stitched along one short end for a top seam and down the side for the side seam. Whilst the fabric was still flat I went around the edge with the overlocker to finish the edging. You can actually see where the selvages are marked with the colours used in the fabric. Ironically it has kind of pattern matched around the seam. Sewing was made easier with the fabric being heavy as you could just hold it together without pins and feed it through the overlocker.

This project was all about practicality not style or technique. My main aim was to cover the blade sections of the fans as you can’t dust these easily. The fabric half covers the base but the base is easy to wipe over before use. It was a quick project. I could have spent a lot of time doing precise measurements and straight edges all the way around but to be perfectly honest had I done this with this project the fabric would still be sitting in my spare room and my fans would still be naked collecting dust. Spend lots of time and effort on special projects and remember it is ok just to run a few seams through an overlocker to construct projects that you don’t give a second thought to once their done.

Cassiy

 

ASG NSW Industry Day May 17

Last Saturday NSW Australian Sewing Guild members were lucky enough to have another Industry Day at McCall’s patterns in Sydney. In the Sewing Guild an Industry Day is where members gather together to hear talks from various people within the sewing industry, catch up with friends and do a little bit of shopping of some exclusive deals not offered to regular members of the public.

Our first speaker of the day was Kay Haerland who is a textile artist. I’ll be honest and say before the day I had never heard of her. She brought some of her quilts along that she had made and they were stunning. Listening to her talk on how she did different techniques was brilliant and really got me thinking. Her quilts start as basic calico and from there she builds them up with applique and hand painted fabrics and layers of different textures to create amazing sceneries that look like they are a painted canvas but due to the techniques used some are even 3D. I have an interest in textile art so I brought the dvd’s she has made because it something I would like to do more. Textile art is something that you can incorporate into your everyday sewing and not just something that needs to be placed on a wall.

Our second speaker was Hollie Bell from Tools by Hollie. Hollie invented the Seam Allowance Guide which is really useful. She is currently working on 3 other inventions which she talked about with us. The invention we most got excited about was Hollie has created a custom made dress form for herself using a scanner and 3D printer and is looking in to how she can do this for others. She told us about her plans to make this available to everyone at a reasonable affordable price. I hope she does get to fulfil her plans because the idea sounds brilliant. As someone is doesn’t really fall within the traditional dress form sizes her idea is wonderful.

Our third speaker was Yvette Stanton. Yvette is lovely, we sat on the same table at the ASG 20th Anniversary Lunch is March. Yvette is an amazing embroider and also I would say textile historian. She likes to focus on the traditional methods of doing different embroidery stitches and styles. She gave us a talk on Hardanger which is a Norwegian style of embroidery. It was fascinating to see photos of the traditional style versus the contemporary style of it, both styles look great but it was lovely to see that people are still wanting to learn the traditional style. Skills are lost unless they are learnt and passed on.

Our final speaker for the day was Elinor Lloyd-Philipps from Nylon Swish. Elinor gave us a history of woman’s foundations which basically underwear and how they have changed over the years. We all laughed at the names of the original cup sizes of bras when they were first invented – I don’t know if I would like to go to a store and ask for size Super Drooper. Although I don’t tend to think a lot of underwear the talk was interesting and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would when I saw a couple of mannequin’s in underwear sitting at the stage area.

We are lucky on the day that McCall’s offers us some great bargains, we get to purchase some supplies at discount prices. I am a pre planner so before the day I researched all the patterns I wanted and had a list. I am trying to push myself into trying new patterns and trying different styles but those I am likely to wear. I did get a couple of patterns which I can use for gifts. I purchased a couple of books on clothing fitting of pants and jackets which should help me as I venture into these items. I also picked up a couple of rolls of different interfacing and another roll of Trace and Toile because it will get used particularly if I am doing more clothing making and using bigger pieces.

Industry days are always fun. It was great to catch up with friends old and new. An Industry Day is a day where you can just turn up and know you can have a conversation with anyone in the room as you all share the common interest of sewing. At times I lose my “Sewjo” and I think we all do. Going to an event like this and talking to people makes you remember sewing is fun and it doesn’t matter what you make or how it turns out. Grab some fabric and get sewing.

Cassiy

 

Pillows – I,L,M

I have made more pillows using McCalls 3274. These make quick and easy gifts.

The L pillow was very easy to do and I would say the easiest letter in the alphabet to make as you really don’t have that many angles to push stuffing around into. With some of the letters I had to modify the shape a little but with the L  it is very clear so perfect.

On this M pillow I did change the shape around a little. The letters are all in a bubble font style so they are meant to be curvy and puffy but on some letters it means you can’t really tell what they are. On this M I made it is so the middle point was more prominent allowing you to see the shape more. I also changed the position of the turning gap which is your stuffing gap so that made stuffing the angles easier, alternatively you could do 2 stuffing gaps (one on each straight side) to make stuffing easier.

The I pillow I modified a lot. The original pattern is just a long centre piece with a rounded top and bottom that is it. I didn’t like the shape you couldn’t tell straight away it was a letter so I added to the top and bottom bar. In hindsight perhaps I should have made the 2 ends wider as it does look a bit anchorish but you can still easily tell it is a letter I.

The fabrics used was some leftovers I found in my stash. From a distance it looks stripy but when you get closer you can see a white floral pattern on it so it is child like but can see be teenageish as the kids get older.  I still have more of these to make later this year. It is a great pattern for the stash even if you do modify some of it.

Cassiy

 

 

Lou Box Top – First Attempt

The Lou Box Top by Sew DIY was the free pattern I chose as my Frocktails prize. It isn’t a style that I would normally choose as it is very floaty and not fitted so that is why I picked it, to get out of my comfort zone and try new styles. I had some cotton knit fabric in my stash that I brought at our Sydney Spoolette Spotlight outing earlier this year so last month I tried it out.

I adjusted the length by 6″ to make it a little longer. The pattern has a number of hem options but I went with a straight hem. I used the front hem pattern piece for both the front and the back as it was straight across and added to my extra inches to that instead of adding in the area marked to adjust the pattern. It was just easier for me to trace out, I don’t know much about pattern construction so I am not sure why the back hem piece had a slight curve to it but the front didn’t. The pattern comes with 2 options for the neck line I did the crew version. I am very pleased that it didn’t stretch out. I hand tacked it in place and then stitched it on with the overlocker. By going slow I discovered you can remove your hand tacking stitches before they get to the overlocker blade, it is the same as doing it with pins but you are removing basting stitches not metal pins. After the neckline was stitched on I didn’t do the stay stitching. If it starts to annoy me I can always go back and add that.

I’m happy with the finished top, however next time I will add further length to what I have already added. I prefer a longer tunic style top as I like coverage over my lower back almost to my hips. I don’t like drafts so I tuck my tops in to my skirts/pants if I am wearing a jacket or jumper which is most times. The reason this top looks crushed is that I had it tucked in all day as I wore it.

I guess you would describe the sleeves as dolman, they are baggy but don’t look too baggy. Upon wearing this I discovered that if worn under my fitted jacket the sleeves can be a little uncomfortable. There is very little room between the side seam and underarm so it pulled, I had to ruched them up to the shoulders almost like a tank top. I’ll try it under other jackets to see if it was just that particular jacket as I know that one is a snug fit. For the hems I used my hot hemmer  to iron them in place. To secure all the hems I did a stepped zig zag stitch. I am pleased how they turned out.

I am glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and gave this top a try. I normally don’t do floaty tops. I have one style of tops I wear all the time and it is a fitted knitted t-shirt style which I brought in a heap of colours many years ago and I can no longer get so I need to start looking at tops. This pattern was a great way to get used to top making. Years ago I did make a pj top which I never wear as it is too big and I have avoided making tops since but making this pattern was fun so I’m going to make a few more tops like this and other styles. This was also a very quick pattern to whip up.

Cassiy

Trace and Toile Scraps

I use trace and toile all the time to trace out all my pattern pieces toys, clothing the lot. I use it so much that I buy it by the roll. All these years I have never actually sewn on to it even though its main purpose it to be used to make toiles for garments which includes sewing them together. Last night I was cutting out a pattern and I thought I could fit a narrow piece in between 2 other pieces I had traced out and cut from the roll when I discovered the length I’d cut from the roll wasn’t long enough to for this piece. I didn’t want to waste cutting from the roll an entire length for something that was only about an 1 wide so using the scrap from the length I had cut with my other pattern pieces on it, I cut 2 narrower rectangles and I stitched them together to form a longer piece.

I was able to trace out my narrow piece except in the excitement of me cheering myself for being so frugal I started to trace on to the actual pattern piece and not on top of the trace and toile (silly silly) I released after about a couple of inches. Once the trace and toiled was placed on top and traced out I had remaining length leftover on either end so I cut that off and placed them in the scrap trace and toile zip lock bag I have to use on smaller projects.

I love working with trace and toile (just don’t place a hot iron on to it) and keep as much as my scraps as I can. Now that I know stitching pieces together works I will do this again with suitable scraps for simple straight forward pieces.

Cassiy