Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New bag - large tote - black and cream

Hey there, long time, no blog; but it's great to be back after a major knee op.  A big bonus to staying put at home is that you have lots of time to contemplate the universe and you guessed it, think up new and exciting bags to make.

I'm really proud of this bag because I decided to wing it:  no pattern, no nothing, just an idea of what I wanted and a trust in my own bag-making skills to pull it all together. It was a bit of a gamble but I'm glad it paid off. Sometimes it's great to let a project evolve into itself.

I made this bag purely with my own lifestyle in mind. It had to be big enough to tote stuff to work via Melbourne public transport but light enough to be comfortable. This was my formula:
  • Must have bag feet and have a waterproof bottom (consider trams/trains in Winter)
  • Fabric should incorporate black and one other colour (it's Melbourne after all)
  • Handles should be sturdy and correct size to be carried on shoulder or by hand
  • Must have two secure pockets on outside for a) phone and b) keys
  • Must have lots of inside pockets for everything else
  • Must have a heavy-duty zip across the top for security
  • Must have wow factor
For the fabric I used a heavy-weight upholstery fabric which is great for big bags and a cream lining fabric.  I strengthened the outer fabric with fusible interfacing and overlaid the black base fabric with regular plastic to keep the base waterproof.

My method:



Add a pocket the full length of your lining piece x 6 or 7in (18cm) depth. Oh and yes I did sew it straight, it's just the angle of the camera making it look curved!

Turn lining. This is where you would construct and attach the zipper gusset.
As this is an advanced technique, I will cover it separately

Press side & bottom seams. Line up and stitch your corners


Oversew the seams

Cut 2 strips from contrast 16in x 5in fabric. Press in half lengthways, then fold in to desired width, press again and stitch close to edges and 2 or 3 stitch lines inside for stability. Thread the round bag rings through the top of the strips and pin straps to outside of bag, covering edges of pockets,stitch again.                                                  

Add a horizontal stitch line to top of straps, an inch or so down from the unfinished upper edge

With RST sew front & back together, see instructions for box corners from lining instructions. Cut a base board to size and attach bag feet through all layers.

With RST drop the outer bag into the lining and pin together, matching side
seams and stitch all around.
Turn bag through lining gap
Once turned, run a holding stitch around the top to keep the top edge crisp, then press.

Upper bag handles. Using previous method, measure and stitch bag handles. Thread through rings, stitch and secure.

The finished product. Quite a lot of work, but definitely worth it.
If you need anything explained further, leave me a note and I'll oblige.

the Flash signing off for a long rest............

Monday, May 18, 2015

Beginner's upholstery - old toy box make-over

Hi all,
This is my second attempt at re-upholstering the lid of my childrens' old toy box.  I wanted to reinvent it as a stylish new chest and use it as a footstool and coffee table.  I don't have any pictures of how it looked originally but it was well-worn and had a pink vinyl top - ghastly! Several years' ago I had stained the pine wood dark and replaced the pink vinyl top with a cottage print which fitted the decor of my house in country Victoria.

Since we have moved to a more modern house in Melbourne, it definitely needed a new make-over and I found some great fabric at Lincraft in a cream and teal pattern.  

This is the finished project.

Just because I could, I painted an old tray and terracotta pot in a complimentary teal colour to sit on top, and made some matching cushions from leftover fabric.

First of all, I removed the lid entirely from the box by unscrewing the two hinges. Setting the lid aside for the moment, I unearthed some paint brushes and cream paint and painted the box in several coats to disguise the very dark stain.  It took ages but I'm very pleased how it turned out.

Next I removed all the nails, staples and covering strip from the lid and cut out my new fabric using the old fabric as a template, then pinned and stapled the new fabric onto the lid with a staple gun, making sure it was smooth and slightly stretched.  I also added another layer of thin wadding between the fabric and the old foam for some extra padding.

I used fusible interfacing applied with an iron to the fabric

The corners are always the trickiest bit:  I folded them so they looked neat and pinned them before stapling. In hindsight, they may not be as expert as a professional upholster but they pass muster I think. It's important to keep your staples neat and where they'll be hidden behind the covering strip and nails. Trim the fabric likewise, after stapling.

I added a new braided strip with a hot glue gun which covers the staples and raw fabric edges (and a multitude of sins) and added new decorative nails.

You can see the previous fabric I used here; out with the old, in with the new!

Close up of staple positioning, and extremely ancient hammer

Bashing the nails in - very therapeutic!

Projects like this make you realise that it can be more fun to re-purpose something rather than buying something new.  My kids' toy box has lots of history and lots of my effort invested in it.  A bit of fabric, some paint and some of your time can really reap rewards.

So...give it a go.  I'm sure you must have some item of furniture languishing in your house just waiting to be done up and made useful again.

         More upholstering to come soon - Ottomans this time.

Happy reinventing...

the Flash

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Make your own reversible Placemats - Tutorial

These are easy and very satisfying to make; it's just straight accurate sewing and you can use up any gorgeous fabric or material you have lying around.  I made 2 different versions.

This one was my first attempt and I used some neutral but embossed fabric and backed it with fake leather.  I made it up as I went along, but here is how I tackled it:

Cut 6 or 8 or 10 (depending on how many placemats you need, obviously) rectangles from both top fabric and fake leather (or other fabric) for the underside; measuring 45 cms x 35 cms (17½ ins  x 13½ ins); incorporating a 1cm ( or ½ inch)  seam all around.  

Pin your pieces together right sides facing, and sew all around the edge, leaving a small gap (13 cms/ 5 inches) on one of the long sides for turning.   

I added a small piece of double-sided tape to the wrong side, to aid the leather to stick to itself when turning

Trim all the corners and the leather seam to reduce bulk and turn right side out. Carefully poke out the corners using a knitting needle and GENTLE pressure - you don't want to ruin your work by poking through the corners!

If you have used leather, this part is tedious but necessary, because you can't use your iron to get a sharp edge - it will melt the leather:  Gently ease out the seams all around and pin them ready for top-stitching. Clamp or pin the opening together.

Top-stitch close to the edge all around the placemat and again 1cm in from the edge to give a finished look.

I needed to use my pliers to pull the pins out of the leather as I top-sewed!

Below is the second version using two coordinated fabrics.  The process was much easier without the leather and you can get a better look at how I accomplished the top-stitching in this version.  I applied fusible interfacing to the wrong side of one of the fabrics to add some body to the placemat which worked extremely well, see pic here.

Like me, you may like to Scotchguard the fabrics (not the leather) once you're done.

Please leave a comment if you like what you see, or send me pics of your Placemats.  I am happy to answer any and all questions about this process.  

Happy sewing.
the Flash

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Evening Clutch for a tropical wedding

...soooo I was recently a guest at a wedding in Queensland.  I found the perfect outfit, the perfect shoes etc. but couldn't find a clutch in a particular shade of purple to match my dress.  These are the sort of challenges I revel in, so I decided to make the clutch myself in a gorgeous satin fabric from my local Lincraft store. I was a bit daunted by the slippery fabric but I'm pleased that it turned out so well. I have featured it as this months' blog pic.  It is lined in a similar, but not so slippery, fabric and has a magnetic catch under the flap.

I couldn't find a suitable 'evening' button that wasn't tizzy so I decided to go with a rectangular piece of bag hardware artfully secured with wire.

The pic shows it as a little too blue, but in fact it is the exact purple in the dress it sits on top of.

I love the edge stitching detail
Tell me what you think.