Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Zip Pouch Masquerading As A Clutch

I had some offcuts of this lovely Tsuru fabric from a quilt I'm making...well a future quilt than has not been started and is just sitting there for another time when the sewing machine and I will become reacquainted.

I went to a conference last month and decided that since I was staying in the hotel I didn't want to carry a bag around but I wanted something that would accommodate my phone, notepad and pen and other bits and pieces, so this is what I came up with.

Just a regular zip pouch, nothing fancy, but a bit bigger than the usual sizes I make. This one finished up at 10" x 8". I added a wristlet which was handy as morning tea and lunch involved standing with a plate of food and I needed both hands.

I stitched the fabric offcuts together and then quilted two panels using diagonal lines. I really like the effect of the quilting. My favourite print is that dark blue floral, I'm definitely going to have to hunt down some yardage of that one.

At the risk of being controversial, which I usually avoid here - is it just me...or does the yellow feather print remind you of *ahem* something else? Or is that just my filthy mind?

I had some large pieces of the bird foot print fabric remaining so that won the prize of becoming the lining.

So it's kind of a clutch / zip pouch / bag, but it works when you need something a bit bigger than a regular little zippy. Fingers crossed I can get a start on the quilt before Christmas...although that will be here before we know it!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Quiet Fox Applique Pencil Case

How cute is this little guy? Cass from Cass Can Sew is a deft hand with designing software and she has been putting together some appliqué patterns lately which are available to download for free! 

This is the Quiet Fox pattern - I sized my fox down by 50% (I think? Or was it 3/4 size? I can't remember!) and made a mini foxy to appliqué onto a simple denim zippy which is now a pencil case for the girls. I added a couple of little embellishments with some buttons and embroidery and the fox itself was made using some orange quilting cotton scraps and some natural linen scraps fused using bond-a-web type stuff. I embroidered his nose and eyes using some regular black thread.

Yeah he's pretty cute if I do say so myself. The bright orange contrast against the dark denim looks good so I might make Lucy a denim skirt or pinny and add a fox using this appliqué pattern. 

If I get some time to sew...hardly any of that happening around here lately :( While husband is away I tend to go to bed early and read (currently Burial Rites by Hannah Kent or online newspapers) or binge watch TV series (Orange Is The New Black season one) on my laptop. Too tired to think about cutting out a new project!

You can download the Quiet Fox pattern here - it also makes a sweet colouring in page for little kiddos. Lucy coloured hers and Anna cut out all her pieces and glued them back together. Great activity for them! Cass has also just released a Russian Dolls template which is also very gorgeous!

Monday, October 6, 2014

30 Minute Basic Skirt Tutorial

This tutorial was originally shared over at Jenny's blog Mend and Make New as part of her Handmade Kids Clothes swap festivities.

This is a very quick little tutorial that will have you churning out bunches of skirts for all the little girls you know! I say 30 minutes but that depends on your experience and tools - if you have an overlocker you could probably make it even quicker. When I first started sewing it would have taken me a bit longer.

I'm not re-inventing the wheel here - skirt tutorials are a dime a dozen out there in sewing blog land. This is just my tried and true method for a quick project with winning results - these skirts are plentiful in our house.

In the cooler months Anna loves to layer skirts over leggings and wear boots. Once summer comes around again, she wears her skirts with a tee and some pretty sandals. For us, skirts are an all year around garment.

You don't need much for this project - in fact you probably have everything sitting in your stash right now!

You need:

- Up to 1/2 metre / yard of fabric - I used the whole width from a 45" bolt.
- Elastic for waistband - I like 1" wide for kids garments.
- Large safety pin
- Coordinating thread
- Sewing machine and overlocker (if you have one)
- An existing skirt to measure the length (particularly handy if your child is at school when you sew the skirt!)

1. Take your existing skirt (or your child if they are close by!) and measure the length from waist to above the knee. Add 3" to account for waistband and hemming, then cut your fabric so you have one long piece 45" wide and the length you desire + 3".

2. If you have an overlocker, serge the raw edges along the top and bottom. If you don't have a serger you can skip this part - this is just a little cheat to make hemming and creating a elastic casing at the waist really quick and easy, keeping up the 30 minute time frame :)

3. Cut fabric in half so you have two pieces to form the front and back skirt panels.

4. With fabric right sides together, use your overlocker and stitch the side seams.

If you don't have an overlocker, french seams are a great finish on a skirt like this - quick, easy and very neat - check out this tutorial here for how to sew a french seam. You can also keep it super simple with a straight stitch then trim the seam allowance with pinking shears, or use a zig zag stitch to finish them.

5. Flip your skirt inside out so the wrong side is facing you. Fold the top over 1.5" to create the waistband casing for the elastic. Press.

6. Stitch into place, leaving a 2" gap for inserting the elastic. Because I am super lazy, I just stitch right over the top of the overlock stitches. It keeps my stitching in a nice straight line.

If you are not using an overlocker, fold the raw edge over 1/4" and press. Fold over again 1.5" and press. Stitch in place.

7. The amount of elastic you need will depend on the size of your child. Usually their waist measurement, then deducting 2-3" works for me, so the elastic has some stretch and the skirt stays up.  (so if the waist measurement is 19", cut 17" of elastic.) Alternatively, check out any patterns you have for elasticated garments - they will have a size chart.

Use the large safety pin to attach to the end of your elastic. Push it through the casing. Pin the tail of the elastic outside the gap in the waistband so you don't lose it.

8. Overlap the ends of the elastic and use a zig zag stitch to secure it.

9. Flip the elastic into the waistband then top stitch the gap closed.

10. Fold up the bottom edge and press at the desired length, then stitch the hem in place.

If your edges are not overlocked, fold up 1/4" and press, then fold up 1" to conceal the raw edge then press again. Stitch.

DONE! Woohoo, told you that was quick!

Now place skirt on child (or stick up on a wall with washi tape) and admire.

Fabric details: Pink birds cotton dobby purchased from here.

This type of skirt would suit a variety of fabrics - quilting cotton, corduroy, double gauze, poplin, polycotton. Anything light to medium weight. Knits would work too although the drape would be a bit different.

Happy skirt sewing!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sewing Machine Reviews

When shopping for a sewing machine, there are so many different types on the market that it can be confusing to find the right one to fit your experience and needs.

Sometimes reviews are often just advertorial pieces by the manufacturers that talk about the sewing machine in glowing terms. There are not many real reviews by real users. So in an attempt to rectify that, my wonderful readers have submitted reviews of their own machines - the good, the bad and the ugly!

Thanks so much to all the fabulous people who took the time to write up their review! I have categorised the sewing machine reviews into groups by manufacturer. I hope this information helps anyone looking to buy a new machine!

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