Box Pouch Tutorial

Here is another little tutorial for you!! These bags are a lot of fun to make and look very effective. Perfect for travel bags, make up pouches and pretty much whatever you want...

I've used some Tortoise print fabric by Dashwood Studios, purchased from PlushAddict, along with some laminated cotton for the interior - this means the inside is plastic and wipeable, handy for a make up bag.

You will need:

  • 1 zip (to match length of your fabric)
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Outer Fabric + Lining Fabric
  • Pins
  • Ruler
Step 1
Cut out all your pieces. These pieces were about 18cm x 24cm. I added fusible interfacing to the back of my outer fabric to make it thicker and sturdier - it will help the bag keeps its nice boxy shape once finished.
Step 2
You now need to attach your fabric to the zip. I find the easiest way to do this - and for a nice clean seam with no stitching showing - is to lay an outer fabric piece over a lining piece (right sides of the fabric together) and trap the zip between the two layers. Make sure you are attaching the fabric to the top edge of the zip.
Step 3
Using a zipper foot on your sewing machine, sew the fabric to zip where you have pinned.
Once your fabric is attached, if you bend back the pieces you'll see your nice neat zip inserted! Press the fabric firmly back and run a finger (or iron - careful not to melt anything though) on the crease so it stays put.
Step 4
Repeat on the other side!
Lining side
Outer side
Bend these pieces back and you will now see all your pieces where they should be (hopefully - if not grab that unpicker and a glass of wine and start again).

Step 5
Now fold your pieces so that the lining fabric touches each other, right sides facing together, and the outer side touches each other, right sides together. Pin and sew the seams so that you form 2 loops with the zip in the centre.
Step 6
Here's the weird bit that is difficult to photograph. Turn the lining loop inside out - so that the print is facing outwards and you can see it. As you turn it inside out, it will take the outer fabric inside of it so it forms a little roll. You want to to look like this:
Step 7
Once you have your roll, place the zip over the bottom seam and line it up. Squash the layers of fabric together to it lays flat and pin across the open ends.
Step 8
Sew those bad boys closed.
Now if you aren't using an overlocker, your seams will have raw edges. You can tidy these up by either using pinking shears and just giving it a nice zigzag edged; or use the zigzag stitch on your machine to create a 'fake' overlocked look and encase the frayed edges; or use bias binding on all raw edges (time consuming but very pretty).

Step 9
Form some corners. Fluff out the bag a bit and grab the corners. Take each corner in turn and measure equally for each one so you get triangles. The bigger the triangle corner, the deeper your box pouch will be. Pin your triangle corners and sew down these lines.

For non-overlocked bags you will need to snip off the excess fabric once its sewn
 Step 10
Flip it the right way round and you've got yourself a bag!

I hope you have found this tutorial useful - if anyone has a go at making it let me know! Would love to see some more of these :-)

Leave me a comment, join the group on Facebook or give me a tweet! x

Black Lace Party Dress

It's been another age since the last post so Id thought I'd share this little creation. In between sewing up a load of Christmas presents I thought it only appropriate to throw myself a little treat in the mix...

I got this gorgeous stretch black lace from TiaKnight on eBay, otherwise known as In Fashion Fabrics. She's my go to gal for all things stretchy and jersey, a fantastic range and good quality fabrics...  

I wanted to show the versatility of the very simple stretch pattern I used on Missoni, this dress is the exact same pattern, the length is slightly shorter and the sleeves are 3/4 instead. 

The fabric has a great scalloped edge, so no hemming for me! Just have to make sure you measure carefully and have the scalloped edge sitting where you want it to. I intended this to be a bit longer but seems to work like this too. (Excuse the strange line in the photo, I couldnt find my underslip so had to improvise with ves top and bottoms!)

Sewn entirely on the overlocker as its sheer and all seams can be seen! Overlocker gives them a lovely clean black line instead :-)

Tortoise Tree Decoration

So it's starting to get a little cold and frosty out there, the lights and songs are creeping into the shops so perhaps it's not THAT early to make a few tree decorations?!

I am tortoise obcessed therefore tortoise tree decorations it is - it also happens that Swell Reptiles are having a blogging campaign for reptile lovers - take a look!

Here is a little tutorial to make some very simple tree decorations - I've made tortoises but the same rules apply to any design you choose. I've sewn these by hand however if you favour the sewing machine or are short on time, by all means whizz them up on the machine instead. Hand sewn decorations just feel more 'homely' to me - even if they are a bit shaky and dodgy, that's the point! My hand sewing skills are awful - so if I can do it anyone can.

You will need:
  • Cardboard and pen
  • Felt (1 dark green, 1 light green plus small pieces of white and red for the hat)
  • Green thread
  • 1 x black bead
  • Wadding/Stuffing/Cotton wool etc
  • 10cm ribbon
  • Superglue (optional)
  • Sequins (optional)
Step 1
Draw the shape of your chosen decoration. I free handed this tortoise outline - you could look up a silhouette on the Internet and use that for a template if you aren't too sure. Or copy and paste this image and resize as you wish

Cut out your template. This guy has a green shell detail and a little Santa hat, so cut these pieces out too.

Step 2

Fold your dark green felt in half so that you can do 2 pieces at once. Draw around the tortoise (the cardboard one).

Cut out 1 inner shell piece in light green and 1 of each part of the Santa hat from the red and white felt.

 Step 3 
Once your pieces are cut out, its time for a bit of hand sewing. Put the inner light green shell on top of one of the dark green tortoise pieces and attach with a running stitch (the really basic 'straight stitch'). If you can't be bothered or if you decide its all too much - whack it on there with a bit of glue! (Its OK, noone is looking and I won't tell).

 Step 4
Time to attach the 2 sides together.Put the tortoises next to
each other and then start to stitch them around the edge. Start at the top of the shell, just to the right. You'll need to go all the way around and stop sewing just to the left of top of the shell - leaving a gap to insert the wadding and ribbon. I have used a blanket stitch - you go over the top of the fabric, through both pieces and form a loop with the thread, you then put your needle through that loop and pull. A little demonstration can be found here.

Step 5
Stuff the tortoise with the wadding into the hole you have left at the top of the shell. This gives it a nice squishy 3D effect.
Step 6
Take a length of ribbon, about 10cm and form it into a loop. I used a bit of festive 'Merry Christmas' ribbon I found in my stash of sewing supplies. Trap this ribbon loop between the 2 layers of tortoise (what a weird sentence). Hold it in place with a pin if you feel the need. Then stitch the gap closed, trapping the ribbon in there nice and securely.

Step 7
Create your little Santa hat. Now you can just glue this together then glue it onto the tortoise. I tried this but the glue I used was a bit rubbish and I ended up sewing them all together anyway! Your choice :-)
Step 8  
Give him a little cheeky eye! These black beads are rather nice. Stitch one on (or use a little bit of black felt or draw one on - depends on how fabulously crafty you're feeling).

Step 9
Your tortoise is complete! Now go to town decorating if you wish - I've used green sequins to create a scaly kind of look - a glittery tortoise. All hand stitched on! (Due to having glue related issues - at this point my hands were covered in red fluff and the needle physically stuck to my fingers). 1.5 episodes of 'Fringe' later, here he is!

Here are some I made last year for members of the Norfolk Tortoise Club. Personalise your tortoise (decoration)!

If anyone has a tortoise, is thinking of caring for one - please get in contact with these folks if you haven't already. Not just people in Norfolk, worldwide! They provide a world of information on tortoise husbandry to ensure that people are well educated and informed on how to do this. Its important these little shelled guys and gals are looked after properly. See the Norfolk Tortoise Club Facebook page for more details.

Secret Sewing

It's that time of year when crafters begin to panic....did I leave it too long?! I'm talking about sewing gifts for Christmas. (Don't panic friends and family - not all of you are getting homemade goods!)

It doesn't make for great blogging when you can't actually write about what you are making for fear of ruining a (nice?) surprise...

Clyde guarding the goodies...

But when do you start, how many weekends do you have before Xmas, how much can you really get done?! I have JUST made a start on a list a mile long of things I would like to make for people, however subtract a few weekends of not being here, Xmas party hangover days and working - I think I may have to get realistic and recalculate nearer the time! Folks you may be getting a lovely 'welcome to spring' present instead.

Not only is sewing gifts on the agenda, where do you stop? Tree decorations, aprons, stockings, place mats, gift bags, comedy size snowman decoration.... anyone out there sew up a storm for Christmas? 

January may see a deluge of posts all about the presents I DID make, after they can be revealed! Coming up in the next week or two I will however be doing a little tree decoration tutorial! :-)

Mission Missoni

So here it is all complete!

From this....
To this!

It got a bit hair raising at the beginning as after carefully cutting out the pieces, a pin got stuck in my overlocker and essentially 'chewed' off the shoulder! After much re-threading and fixing and a careful bit of attaching the shoulder seams with what was left of the allowance it was ready to crack on....

The cuffs and hem were overlocked and then hand stitched in place to form neat edges, the neckline is banded with royal blue woollen binding.

I rather like it - its a bit 70s - and I'm not sure if I look like a frumpy librarian at certain angles but hey, I'm now the proud owner of a handmade Missoni dress from San Francisco!

Missoni Muslin

After a bit of a delay in getting round to doing another post here's an update regarding project Missoni.

In order to not waste an incredible bit of fabric I decided to actually do a trial version in cheap fabric to make sure my pattern fit properly. I used to hate the idea of doing a muslin before a real project however since learning how to draft my own patterns it has become an absolute must and really worth the time and effort for a good looking garment.

I used a pattern I drafted a while ago designed for stretch fabric - so there are no darts or twiddly bits - just a very simple shape. Its the main body and long sleeves, like a tube dress or sweater dress.

Firstly I cut out the pieces from some fabric I've had in the stash for YEARS. It finally has a purpose!!

Next up is assembling it - I'm doing it the cheats way. I'm not a fan of 'setting in' sleeves, whereby you make a sleeve and then gently ease it into the armhole. In this case as its a very casual dress made of stretch knit fabric there's not much need for that anyway.

What I do for these kind of dresses is firstly pin the dress at the shoulder seams - right sides together - and stitch them in place. 

Once that is done, lay the dress flat so the back and front are splayed out and you can see the curve of the armhole (armsyce if you want to get technical.)

From there you can match the centre point of the sleeve to the shoulder seam. If you pin this first, you can then continue outwards in both directions pinning the sleeve to the armhole. Give it a sew!

 Now you have the sleeves attached, all you have to do is put the dress right sides together and sew right up the side seam and across along the arm all in one go. Voila - dress done.

So this is the general dress pattern I want for the Missoni dress - fortunately the pattern fit right and didn't require any adjustments. It was made to measure however if you're using a commercial pattern now would be the time to put it on and get pinning any adjustments that need doing. Make the alterations and get your finished fitting muslin.

I quite like this how it is however given the colour I'm one pink lipstick shade away from being an extra on The Only Way Is Essex - so its being cut up for a pattern!

Once your muslin fits and all adjustments have been made, you can then cut it up again to form a new pattern that fits you just right, you're new alterations form a new pattern piece :-) (Don't forget your seam allowance!)

All that needs doing now is to make the real thing and hope and hope it doesn't mess up or get lost in translation...

Halloween Pouch - Drawstring bag tutorial

Happy weekend all.... now that the machine is back looking all sparkly and efficient I thought it was time to give a tutorial a go!

So this is how to make a VERY BASIC drawstring bag, it may not be everyone's way of doing it, but its A way of doing it, and it works :-)

You are going to need:
  • Spectacular fabric (amount depends on how big you want your bags) - my fabric strip is approx 38cm x 15cm.
  • Pins
  • Ribbon/string for the drawstring
  • Thread for sewing on your machine
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears (optional)
  • Curious reptile (also optional - although I didn't have much say in the matter)
Step 1

Cut a rectangle of fabric; these are 38cm x 15cm - not an exact science just have a fold of your fabric and see how big you want the bags. My print was tessellated and so it didn't matter which way up the fabric was. If you have a print that you can only see one way up, you may need to cut 2 rectangles; 1 front and 1 back piece and join them together.

Step 2
Step 1 - fold tiny side hems in
Step 1 - sew tiny hems
Fold the long edges of the fabric inwards, on the 'wrong' side of your fabric - this can be very small, and we're doing it so that when the drawstring casing is finished, there are no raw edges showing and its nice and neat. Sew these folds all the way down on both sides.

 Step 3 

Step 3 - Finish raw edges
Step 3 - fold edge to create casing
Now this is entirely optional, but I like things to look neat - finish your top and bottom edges (narrow edges) with pinking shears or an overlocker. (If you don't do it - who cares, we're not giving out awards here - and if someone dares comment on your raw edges after receiving a lovely halloween bag you may want to rethink what kind of 'treat' went in there ;-)

Anyway, make another fold in this edge - this forms the casing for your drawstring. Make sure the fold is big enough to allow your chosen ribbon/string to fit through it. The fold on these bags is approx. 1.5cm. Sew the fold at the lowest edge - forming a tube through the fabric for your ribbon.
Step 3 - sew down the casing

Step 4

Take your fabric and now fold it together, right sides facing each other. Pin along the sides to hold it in place. Place a 'stopper' pin across the top of the bag to remind yourself to stop sewing! You don't want to sew all the way up - only to the line of stitching that created the drawstring casing, otherwise you wont be able to put your ribbon in...

Step 4 - sew your side seams
Step 4 - fold and pin to where casing starts

Step 4.1 - Fend off an attack to the knee

 Step 5 

Turn your bag inside out so its the right way round! You might want to push out the corners with a pencil or ruler to get them nice and sharp.

Step 5 - taking shape...
Step 6

Your bag is nearly ready! Now take your ribbon and measure out enough to go through the bag and have extra on either side for fastening in a bow. You can either have 2 bits of ribbon - one for each side of the casing - or 1 bit - that goes through one side of casing and back through the other side giving you a bow on one side only.

Step 6 - Cut your ribbon length
Feed your ribbon through the drawstring casing - the best way to do this is to attach one end of ribbon to a safety pin. Feed the pin through the casing and keep feeling your way across, pushing the pin through all the way - your ribbon pops out the other end!
Step 6 - feed ribbon through with safety pin

Step 6 - the magically appearing ribbon
Step 7

You have a drawstring bag! Fill it with goodies, then pull on the ends of the ribbon to form the closure, tie up in a fabulous bow. 

Step 7 - you're done!
Drawstring bag!
Step 8

Go mental - make loads - fill them with treats - step back admire your handy work and have a whiskey.