Sunday, 16 August 2020

Sewing (and knitting) in the time of Corona

It seems the only time I'm disciplined enough to write a blog post is when someone asks me to share something I've made, so I have to thank Francey and Lorraine for making me write this. You'll have to forgive me if this doesn't look quite right as my faithful elderly laptop has finally died and I'm writing this on a borrowed machine with a different operating system. 
So! I recently posted this photo of a Knit and Go bag on Instagram. My Pinterest feed kept showing me different versions of these handy little bags and as the volunteer sewing groups I've been sewing masks, scrubs, hats, laundrybags, etc, etc for have now closed, I finally got round to making this one. Its quite a simple and quick make, though it will take a bit longer if you decide to add embroidery or other decoration.

Here is the pattern - its a variation on this one from Elena Jorge. I hope the photo is clear enough but if you start with a piece of paper 30cms long and 21cms wide you should end up with something similar to my bag. Use a suitable plate or tub to draw the curve.

Choose your fabric - remember you will be cutting the pattern on the fold and you need to ADD SEAM ALLOWANCES. I used a good 100% cotton fabric for the outside and a polycotton for the lining. Cut out one outer bag and one lining placing the top of the pattern on the fabric fold. Cut out one in fusible fleece, again on the fold but this time without a seam allowance and fuse it to the back of the outside fabric. 
I suppose you don't have to use the fleece - especially if using a sturdy fabric, but it does give shape to the bag, enough for it to stand up on it's own!

And the edge of the fleece makes a good line to follow when sewing. If you are going to add embroidery now is the time to do it.  I did some raw edge applique on this bag and hand embroidery on the first one.

Next, place the main piece and the lining piece right sides together and stitch along the two curves of the 'handle' on both sides. Clip the curves, turn through and press.  The two sides and the bottom of the bag will be open.  You can top stitch the handle edges for a neat finish but start and end the stitching 1cm in from the edge to make the next step easier.

Next, keeping the handle out of the way of your pins, match and pin together the two outer sides and the two lining sides together and stitch right across from A to B on both sides, leaving the notches and bottom seams open.
Make sure the spot where the handle and side seams meet is matched carefully. Its quite difficult to explain but much easier to do! 

Next, sew across the bottom seam on the outer fabric, then sew the bottom seam of the lining leaving a GAP of about 8cms in the middle to turn the bag through.  The white arrows indicate (not very elegantly) where to stitch.

Lastly, box the four corners matching the seams in the middle, and mark the line with a pencil or fabric marker at the point where the ruler shows 2.5cms each side of the centre line. Stitch the four box corners. Its easier to look at the picture than to explain!!

Now all that's left is to turn the bag through the gap in the bottom seam and hand sew or machine the lining closed.

And that's it. Give the bag a good press. I stuffed the bag with balls of yarn to make it easier to keep the box shape whilst pressing.

Now it occurs to me that I have very skinny arms and these measurements were fine for my arm but if you think a bit more space is needed for the arm you are sewing for. adding about 2 or 3 cms at the top of the pattern, ie the fold line.  This will make a bigger side opening.

The bag is big enough to hold two 50gm balls of yarn, plenty to be going on with when out and about. Perfect for knitting and crochet and even small embroidery projects would fit inside. 

I'm not very good at tutorials but Elena is and wrote a brilliant one on her blog Momentos de Costura in October 2016. It has excellent photos and is written in Spanish but Google can translate it for you if necessary. Her bag is a different shape to mine but the method of construction is exactly the same and its the method I copied to make my bag. So thank you Elena!  I hope you both enjoy making your bags..... and you may want to make more than one - I've made five so far!!!


Sunday, 9 February 2020

Little boxes and January

I recently posted these little boxes on my Instagram feed and there was some interest in a bit of a tutorial.  Well, I found them in a Japanese quilting book. Instructions are minimal and in Japanese but it is possible to figure them out with a bit of patience.  This is the 'how to make' page.

Ok, its a bit vague so I made another box and took a few photos along the way.  I used a heavy fusible interfacing called "fast2fuse" for the sides and cereal packet card for the top and bottom.  I used circle dies to cut the card for neatness but they are not necessary.  You can make the box any size of course but mine are small. The strip of interfacing is about 20cms long.

The interfacing is adhesive on both sides and you need to follow the instructions for your particular interfacing if it is fusible.  So, cut your fabric about 10mm larger than the interfacing all around.  Fuse the interfacing in the centre and then fold over and fuse the fabric allowances to the inside. Cut the inside lining fabric the same size then fold under and press the allowances to the wrong side before fusing. Only the centre of the lining will stick to the interfacing so you need to mattress or over stitch around the edges (see photo below) - small stitches will make for a neater finish, especially on the box rim.

Join the short edges with mattress stitch. The circle will be wonky but it will even out when the base is attached.  Cut two circles of card to fit the base snugly. Two layers of cereal box will be enough. Cut a circle of the outer fabric about 15mm larger all round than the card and gather the fabric up in the usual way, with the card inside (see photo below). Fasten off the gathers securely and sew into the base of the box along the bottom edge using either matress stitch or over stitch, whichever is the easiest. 

Make another piece the same as the base using lining fabric and push it into the bottom of the box. It will fit snugly inside and won't need stitching or sticking down.

Cut a piece of outer fabric for the lid of the box.  The lid can be the same size as the base.  Add your chosen decoration - I embroidered small floral motifs on calico and stitched them in the centre of the fabric. 

Make the lid in the same way as the base, making sure the decoration is in the centre of the gathered circle. You can add a little padding between the top fabric and the card circles. 

If you want your box to close stitch on a loop of elastic or cord as you can see in my photo above.  If your lid decoration has a top and bottom make sure the elastic is in the right place. Cut card for the inside lining circle of the lid slightly smaller than the top.  Gather as before and stitch to the inside of the lid (see photo above).

Attach the lid to the box with a row of stitches - not too many or the lid won't open properly. Finally sew a button to the front to make the fastener.  And there you have it!  Quite simple really but a lot of hand stitching. If I haven't made something clear or you are puzzling over a step do leave a comment and I will get back to you. 

This is a photo of the boxes in the book.  It's title in English is Country Quilt Days.  I managed to find a hard copy of the book but you can buy a PDF (click for the link) of the whole book and many others on Etsy for just a couple of pounds. If you do search for it search the title as the books often have different covers.


It is now 11 years since I started this blog and although I neglect it quite horribly, I'm loathe to let it go completely. I'll try to blog monthly in 2020 (I know, I'm already a week late for January).

So what happened in January? 

The main happening was a new roof! A bit of a shock as I was expecting to just have the holes and slipped slates repaired.  But the builder said the 120 year old structure was not fit for purpose and it would be best to do the whole lot! Eek! And on one very cold but glorious day a huge hole appeared for the new Velux window!  The cat was in her element!!!  

Don't worry the cat did get down safely - eventually!  And although it took most of my savings, it will see me out and hopefully add a bit to the value of the house.  AND I don't have to worry about emptying the buckets in the roof space any more!

And things started growing, slowly, including things I'd dug up and brought from my Mother's garden last year.


And I bought some absolutely gorgeously soft and warm yarn from Moel View Yarn to knit a lovely Pokiha shawl (pattern from Truly Myrtle) to keep me warm when I'm sitting sewing. It's clever shaping keeps it firmly on my shoulders without pinning.

Moel View yarn is produced just down the road from here and you can see that "moel view" through the hole in my roof! This is what the wonderful Loop of London, (which stocks Moel View Yarn) says about Paula's product:

Natural, Botanical Dyes - on darling yarns and pure ethically sourced wool. Wales.Loop is incredibly excited and proud to be stocking Moel View yarns.

Overlooking 'Moel Famau' - the tallest peak of the Clwydian range in North Wales, Paula uses only the finest yarns and gently hand dyes each skein with thought and care, using natural botanical ingredients to create colours that truly reflect the natural landscape and changing seasons.

And there were sunsets, and a sprinkling of snow, and I sewed a few more purses, and rescued some hyacinths from the supermarket which three weeks later are still filling the room with colour and perfume...... but that's enough for now.  Its late and I want my bed.  You can see what else I did on Instagram if you are curious!!!

To be continued at the end of February.......


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