For a long time now I have wanted to make a reusable bag made from nylon and recently I did using a self drafted pattern.
I won’t go into the issues that plastics bags have on the environment as we are all know this. I will not be hypocritical I’m guilty of using plastic bags but where at all possible I try not to use them preferring to use my own bag/s. The reason for wanting a nylon tote bag in particular is confession I buy takeaway sometimes and I wanted a lightweight bag that was kind of waterproof that I could use instead of the plastic bags I normally get given for carrying my takeaways home. We all know takeaway containers sometimes leak or there is sometimes grease on the outside of them so I didn’t want a cotton bag that would easily stain I wanted a fabric that was a bit more robust and easy care. Earlier this year in a fabric swap I picked up some nylon so it was a good way to try out my idea without having to spend money on fabric (save money wherever you can)
I had a rough idea of the base measurements I needed for the bag, on previous takeaways I had mentally measured the size of the container (on one occasion I think I held a tape measure of it) Once I decided on my base measurement square I just worked out the height of the rectangles for each side. I added ½” seam allowance to each side on all my pieces and cut out all my fabric. The bag is double thickness so made of 2 bags then stitched together. I’m sorry I am totally unorganised and have misplaced the actual measurements for all my pieces… I’m not good at this blogging thing am I 🙂
For the handles I cut them from some leftover side rectangle fabric, from memory they are about 16″ long. I made them in the usual fashion of folding them quarter folds and top stitching them closed before attaching them to the bag. When I was originally cutting the fabric I thought I could get it entirely out of the pink fabric so I cut my pieces double thickness. When I discovered I wasn’t going to have enough and would have to use both fabrics instead of cutting a base out of the khaki fabric I used the second pink one I had. It adds a pop of colour to the bag. To add strength to the base of each bag I did use a triple stitch when attaching all my pieces to each one, this gave it that bit of reinforcement. For the sides I just used a regular straight stitch.
I am really pleased with how this bag turned out. As you can see I have road tested it and it holds the takeway containers well. I thought I had made this maybe a fraction too big but it actually turned out better to make it larger as it was easy for the vendor to put the food in easier as they weren’t struggling to get the containers to sit flat in the bottom of the bag. They were happy that I had my own bag to use. This actually seems to be my go to bag at the moment since I finished making it a few weeks ago. I have used it shopping, to take Christmas gifts to the post office that would otherwise be awkward to carry. I have brought nylon now and I will make this bag again in this size but I may also make it from cotton as it is great size. It is big enough to hold everything but not too big.
I have made more Butterfly wings as Christmas gifts.
The pattern is Butterfly Wings Wifemade. It is a pattern that once you have it in your stash you can make it numerous times you just change the fabric and applique, the possibilities are really endless.
Photo courtesy of a screen shot of my Instagram account
This year I cut all my fabric pieces out of unbleached calico and hand painted them with liquid radiance. I painted a set of wings each time so I kept the colours consistent using the same combination of colours for that one pair. I love painting fabric with liquid radiance. If you are not familiar with the product it is a fabric paint rather than a dye. It isn’t a messy product so it is perfect to use in doors and providing your not doing sun printing where you need sunlight it isn’t weather dependent so you can use it any time.
After the success of using glitter felt on the pair I made last year Christmas I once again used it. This year I was a little more free hand with my shapes. I folded a felt piece in half and cut as many shapes out of it as I could so I would get 2 of each shape. I put all the pieces in a bag and just randomly selected shapes for each wing based on the colours. I deliberately chose felt colours that would go with the painted fabric.
I did have a minor construction element detour shall we call it with some (ok half) of these wings. When I did pattern magic to create the centre seam I must have had excess fabric that didn’t get enclosed in the seam so I was left with some raw edges. Unfortunately the area is very hard to than machine sew over so I couldn’t use glitter felt to cover it, the glitter coating makes glitter felt a little tougher to hand sew through. I raided my felt stash and found suitable regular wool felt so I hand stitched that in place to cover it. As these are hand painted each wing is an individual and the extra centre spine of wool felt just adds to that.
I am really glad I thought of using a nappy pin to turn the tubes. It made the job of turning the tubes and later threading the elastic through a breeze. Just before it came to doing the elastic I found a box of similar size pins at the shop, they call them large safety pins. I am glad I purchased them as I was using 4 per set of wing straps when I did the elastic. I found the pins at what in Sydney we call a $2 shop, a small independent shop that sells the most random things from gift wrapping to sink plungers very cheap. Sometimes you come a cross little gems and my large sewing pins were gems.
I do like these wings. They will be fun for the girls who get them this Christmas. They were also fun to make. I loved painting the fabric and thinking about each item I was creating. I loved the process of picking what felt shapes to use on each one. Even the process of overcoming the seam debacle got my brain thinking of what skills do I have and resources available to fix the issue. I honestly think I get more out of the items I make than the person receiving them does.
In my last post I talked about fabrics that I thought might be a skirt but I know won’t, the denim fabric used on this project bag falls within the same category. I picked the piece up at a charity shop last year. It measured about 50cm wide x length of fabric, I wanted to make a skirt from it but there was no way I could unless I added other fabric to it. When I was rearranging my storage area and culling fabric I came across it. I couldn’t let it ago so I decided to make a bag from it.
The pattern I used was Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk. I have made this pattern a lot now. I used the enlarged size that I made my rose bag and toiletry bag with. It is a nice size and holds a lot. Because of the thickness of the denim I didn’t use any lining in this bag. It does have a few dimples but for the most part there is enough structure in the denim for it to hold its shape.
On the inside I used some leftover fabric I again found in my stash. I used this fabric on the binding on my first ever blanket. As well as liking hearts I am a big fan of stars so I really like the combination of this bag having both. It is a stiffer quilting cotton so again works well to hold its shape. This fabric does soften a lot once it repeatedly washed and used but in a project bag you are not going to wash it a great deal. I added a simple little pocket that wasn’t lined or interfaced. The purpose of the pocket is so you have an easy place to stick a crochet hook or row counter, small notions you don’t want to lose in the bottom of your bag or get caught on things.
Within minutes of this bag coming off my sewing machine I was already using it. I am delighted that I have used the random piece of heart fabric that I came across in a practical way. No more sitting in my stash it now holds my little projects with a purpose.
It is not very often I do this but I have made an item of clothing from scratch in one morning and couldn’t wait to put it up on here. A top in a morning.
So a little background story. Last weekend in Sydney we experienced some unseasonally warm weather for September and it made me start thinking back to how hot the nights were last summer. If we are getting high temperatures at night in spring then we are in for another hot summer. I sleep in cotton knit t-shirts and in summer can go through several a night as I have don’t have air conditioning and don’t like to sleep in damp shirts so I am changing them all the time as I wake up sweaty (I’m being brutally honest here)
I was going to draft a pattern from an existing shirt I had but instead in my stash found a pattern that I am in the process of making another item from (the dressing gown) Kwik Sew K4088 is a men’s pattern but who says females can’t wear the items. Again being honest I don’t sleep in a bra and I am not tiny I need big comfortable baggy shirts to sleep in. From this pattern I view B but used the neckline of C, I wanted short sleeves with a round neck. This pattern was super easy to make this style with as the pattern pieces are the same for both views you can just choose the neckline or sleeve length you want from each pattern piece. I made size XXL, I thought it may be a little bit big but it is perfect for me.
I was worried about the neckline being too big but I am really happy with the fit. With the exception of joining the 2 ends of the neckband to form a circle I constructed it all on the overlocker (serger) I have a couple of tiny puckers in my neckline but I am not bothered by it. I found it fairly easy to attach the neckband whilst using the overlocker.
To reinforce the shoulders the pattern said to use fusible tape, I had a looked at one of my current shirts and it only uses a scrap of fabric so that is what I used too. For me as I am really fussy I would start scratching if I had fusible tape on my shoulders so the fabric is perfect. I pinned the fabric scrap to the back of each shoulder and then stitched the shoulders together as per the pattern.
Once the top was all stitched together I wasn’t sure if I would bother hemming it or not. I decided to just overlock the edges but instantly hated it. On one sleeve I have started removed the stitches the other I will do in the next day or so.
The bottom hemline is the same I am not happy with it and will remove the stitching. The stitching seemed to distort it and stretch it all out. On the arms I think the stitching would annoy me and you don’t really need it. This isn’t a fashion item this is a I want to sleep comfortably item.
I am over the moon with how this turned out. The fabric I used was a cotton knit I found in my stash and I have already pulled out extra fabric from my stash to make more this weekend. This is a great fitting top for me. I think in a nice print I think I could even use this pattern as a regular summer t-shirt pattern for me. It doesn’t necessarily look like a PJ top it is essentially a t-shirt pattern. This was a really easy and quick top to make and I literally did everything in one morning (traced out the pattern, cut the fabric, stitched it up) Don’t you just love it when you find a great pattern like that.
Another Christmas gift completed.
I was planning on making a dinosaur tail earlier this year for a gift for this child but the fabric I had chosen wasn’t suitable, it was a stretchy knit type fabric and I thought it was going to end it tears if I tried to use it. The pattern I used was a free pattern by Running With Scissors, it is a great little tutorial to follow. I think I pinned this on Pinterest years ago and hadn’t got around to making it until this year.
I did do a couple of modifications to the original tutorial. Instead of doing straps that go around the waist to hold it in place I used cross grain ribbon. I wasn’t sure the size of the child so I didn’t know if the straps in the pattern would fit him. I thought by using ribbons it can be tied around him no matter what he was wearing or how he wants to wear it (he could even wear it on his head if he wants) The other modification I did was inside the spikes I used a fusible interfacing to stiffen them. I’m not sure the exact one I used but it like a heavy Vilene, I have used this before in bag making and fabric buckets. The spikes are still flexible but hold their shape. The easiest way I thought to add this was iron a flat rectangle piece of interfacing to the spike fabric first and the follow the rest of the tutorial. I used pinking shears to cut the spikes once they were stitched. My spikes are a little bit shorter than the pattern and that was due to the size of the scrap of interfacing I had. When your making something you make the rules and this dinosaur has spikes that don’t go to the end of his tail. The fabric is regular homespun I brought at the local shop, I was happy to find these colours as I had it my mind to be something like this. The ribbon I found in my stash that happened to match perfectly, I did seal the ends of it with a match to stop them fraying. I also had a to add a touch of fray stops to one of the spines as it didn’t fully catch in the seam but it should be ok.
So who says you can’t make these for adults. Ok so this one doesn’t exactly fit me but if the ribbons were longer I think it would. The finished size of this one is around 23″ long (it will be fun trying to find a bag big enough to post it off at Christmas) You could make it any size you wanted by following the directions in the pattern and adjusting your fabric. This was really quick to make so perfect for those last minute gifts or for a kids sleepover or when the kids are board and want to make something.
The first of my 2017 Christmas gifts have been finished.
For a pair of siblings I decided to make matching Hipster Teddies. One of the testers who made this toy prior to its release in issue 15 of One Thimble magazine made the teddy in a check print fabric and it looked good. Recently I was able to find check fabric in 2 colourways at my local shop and I thought it would be perfect for these bears. It really was a case of buy the fabric, prep it in the washing machine as soon as you get home, cut out the pieces the next day with these bears. In my felt scrap stash I was able to find all the facial features so they matched too.
The fabric isn’t a quilting cotton it is more like muslin or a linen perhaps. It is a lighter fabric and the weave isn’t as dense as a quilting cotton. It wasn’t so open weave that I needed to use double layers on all the pieces but I was worried it would fray as I stitched it so I cut out all my pieces with my pinking shears. This ended up serving 2 purposes.
- The fabric didn’t fray as I worked with it so I didn’t have hundreds of little fabric fibres on the floor
- I didn’t need to go around and clip all my seams after I stitched them.
I’m going to cut my pieces out with pinking shears again I think as it was a big timesaver. I did have to clip into a few inner curves and cut away excess fabric from my seam line when I stitched in the limbs but that is only a couple of snips.
I added pellon inside the ears again to make them squishy. If I am not stuffing the limbs or the ears I like having the pellon or wadding in that section just to plump the area up. Toys are meant to be cuddled and I like them to have that inviting feel that makes you want to snuggle up to them.
These bears were a really easy project to make multiples of. I cut each bear out at once. Where possible if the fabric is non directional I fold the fabric so I have 4 layers and cut out any pieces that way, if your fabric isn’t thick as you long as you have enough pins it is easy to do. On these bears I used black thread and chain pieces all the ears and limbs. I knew the machine would eat the fabric so at the start and end of each seam I placed tearaway stabliser underneath it. None of my pieces got caught in the feed dogs and it only took seconds to remove all the tiny bits of paper from the stitching when I was done.
2 gifts down more to go!
Last weekend I talked about how I have lost my sewjo and maybe what I needed was to spend some time at my sewing machine working on something simple, well that’s exactly what I did.
There was so many projects I thought of doing but I ended up making a drawstring bag. Drawstring bags are very practical for me as I can always use them. In my stash I found some fabric already washed and ready to go. Earlier this year I brought what was remaining on the bolt of this button print fabric. I had no idea what I would do with it but I knew it would get used somehow. The bag is a little longer than originally planned as when I was cutting it out I forgot to trim the length down that’s ok because it still very usable.
The bag is fully lined in the same fabric as are the casings and drawstrings. The casings and drawstrings were very easy to make. For the cases I folded the raw edges in 1/4″ and slip stitched them closed by hand. I attached them to the bag with a triple stitch to add strength. To make the drawstrings I folded the raw edges into the center to enclosed them and top stitched together.
I am going to use this as a project bag for my knitting. It will easily fit a couple of balls of yarn, needles and a project in there. I can see myself making a lot more drawstring bags for knitting on the go bags in the future. I think I mentioned it before but I use a canadian crutch (forearm crutch) to walk with, when I am knitting out and about I often hang my project bag off it or if I have a backpack on I hang my project bag via a clip I have. Drawstring bags are perfect for this. Next time however I don’t think I will make fabric drawstring instead I will just use ribbon. Also I may not bother lining the bags instead just doing the seams on the overlocker. These two changes will make the bags lighter.
I actually feel like sewing again so I think my sewjo is back!