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Mini drawstring backpack

5 Aug

I have four family members with birthdays in the first two weeks of September… I have finally learned to start my sewing before the last weekend in August! Here’s the first item: a small backpack for my niece (this is the view of the back to show off the eyelets)

This is about 12″ tall – I think it’s the right size for a two year old!

I tried to use the same Hobbycraft tutorial as I used when I made my nephew’s elephant print backpack a couple of years ago.

Warning: that is a very difficult to follow tutorial. As I’d done it once before I thought I’d be ok but it took me three times as long as it should have because I kept unpicking it and redoing it. I eventually stopped following it and decided to record my method here. I maybe didn’t take enough photos to call it a tutorial, but here goes..!

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of outside fabric, 12*14″ each
  • 2 pieces of inside fabric, 12*14″ each
  • 2 pieces of coordinating 4mm or 6mm cord, 1m each
  • 2 eyelets, ideally 8mm but 11mm will do
  • Coordinating thread, a needle for thick material (I used size 100), a hammer, a safety pin.

If you want a bigger bag, you should also get longer cord.

Sew, with right sides together, the bottom (short edge) of your two outside pieces of fabric together – I use a 1/4″ seam allowance. This will give you one piece of fabric that is 12*27.5″. Then do the same with your inside pieces. Press seams flat.

Place the two 12*27.5″ pieces of fabric together, right sides together. Pin along the long edges, matching the centres up as in the photo below. Now sew along the two long edges (again I use 1/4″ seams) but do not sew along the short edges. Then turn this tube inside out and press the side seams.

Line up the centres/bottoms of the inside and outside fabrics before pinning (it’s folder over here to demonstrate the two long edges in one photo)

Now, we create the channel for the drawstring cord. Place the fabric with the lining fabric facing up, and fold/press one of the short edges over 1/4″, as in the photo below.

Fold over the outside fabric onto the inside fabric by about 1/4″ and press.

Then fold it over another 1″, press and pin.

Now you have to sew the bottom of this fold over, fairly close to the edge so you leave a nice spacious channel for the drawstring to go in later. This stitching will be visible on the outside of the bag so go carefully – and in the photo below, you want to measure the distance from the right (open) edge as this is what matters when looking from the outside – I tried to sew at 7/8″ all the way down.

Sew a 7/8″ channel for the drawstring

And do the same at the other end, it should be the same size – once you pin it, and before you sew it, fold it over and check against the other end.

I forgot to get a photo of the next bit, sorry, but now is when you sew up the final open edges. Now, you want to fold the tube in half so the two drawstring channels meet each other, it should now look like your bag is inside out but the long sides need to be sewn up.

Pin the long edges – these edges will be visible inside the bag, so try to pin it neatly. When you sew it, make sure your stitch starts *just* below the drawstring channel and goes all the way to the bottom to create the bottom corner of your bag. I again tried a 1/4″ seam. Do this along both sides, and turn it inside out and push out the corners. It should now look recognisable as a bag!

Now to put the bag straps through the drawstring channels.

Using a safety pin makes it much easier to thread the drawstring

Next, push the safety pin through one end of the drawstring cord, and thread it through one drawstring channel (e.g. left to right at the back of the bag) then when it comes out the other end, thread it through the other drawstring channel (e.g. right to left at the front of the bag). I’ve tried to show this in the picture below – one cord is the green line, one is the blue.

Now for the really fun bit – putting the eyelets in! The hole should be about an inch diagonally from the corner of the bag, at the back – the eyelet goes through the back outer and lining layers, but you shouldn’t see it from the front.

I recommend looking at the instructions for whichever ones you have, I used Prym 11mm and they have nice YouTube videos that are really helpful.

Then you just have to thread your cord through the eyelets, tie a knot in the end (adding bead spacers if you are worried it might squeeze through the eyelet). And you’re done!!

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E-reader case (kobo/kindle)

17 May

After I made my own kindle case (back in 2014!), a friend liked the design – it has a great little pocket you can protect your Kindle in when you’re not using it, or that you can use to hold your train ticket like I do… So, she asked if I’d make a case for her e-reader. She even bought the fat quarter and had it mailed to me, and it still took me three years to get around to making it – and maybe an hour to make once I started! I’ve never sewn anything for anyone outside of my family, so I think I was very nervous about giving over my handiwork to someone to judge!

I quilted the outside cover/interfacing before I sewed all the layers together. I decided to quilt it in only one direction – I wasn’t sure if it would clash with the swirls too much but I like it! I am glad because I didn’t have the energy to try to follow the swirls, it was straight lines or nothing…

She has a kobo glo, not a Kindle, but I figured it’d be easy to change the measurements. As it is, I only had to reduce the height by 3/8 of an inch (so where the tutorial says 8 inches I used 7 5/8 inches). You can see the difference below with my kindle in the case.

Other than the size adjustment and a bit of quilting, I followed the tutorial from Whip Stitch exactly – the instructions are so clear. The only difficulty was recognising the need to adjust the thread tension when sewing more/fewer layers.

I really enjoyed making this, and think I might even make myself a new one! I used an old spool and bobbin of thread and was gutted to run out of bobbin thread an inch from the very end! Aaargh!

I find that once I’ve found a tutorial that works for me, I tend to reuse it. Here’s a quick list of my other favourite tutorials worth remembering!

Kids’ name bunting

8 Sep

This month my niece and nephew have their birthdays, and their mum asked me to make them some bunting with their names on.

As it had to fit on their door I only had about 36″ length to work with – for 9 letters!

For each set I needed:

  • 18 triangles 4″ tall and 3.5″ wide – 10 in one fabric and 8 in a coordinating fabric e.g. light and medium pink
  • A 7″ square of one of the triangle fabrics to make bias binding for the bunting string
  • About 2″ by 12″ of whichever fabric you want the letters in
  • About 2″ by 12″ of a contrasting fabric (e.g. dark pink) to use to make the outline on the letters
  • Pinking shears
  • Matching thread (light-medium)
  • Fabric glue and/or paper-backed fusible interfacing
  • Letters to trace
  • Craft knife and cutting mat

I had most of these fabrics in my stash, except the lighter letter fabrics which I got from the market in Durham.

First, I cut out the triangles using a rotary cutter, and sewed each pair together up the diagonal ends about 5mm from the edge. Then I trimmed the diagonal edges with the pinking shears. Since the width of the bunting was limited, I wanted to make the most of the space, and so this worked better than having seams on the inside, and it sits flatter.

Then, I had to cut out the letters. I used the Microsoft font Impact, in bold with a black outline and coloured in white, in about size 200. I was going to print it off and cut out the letters, to trace onto the fabric but then I realised: I recently bought a tablet, so I could trace the letters off that! It worked perfectly, as it is backlit it is really easy to see the outlines of the letters. I downloaded an app called Touch Lock (on Android) to make sure that I didn’t move the screen or zoom in etc while tracing. Important to remember when tracing: you might need to reverse/mirror the letters (I did, writing on the paper side).

I traced the letters onto the paper-backed webbing, ironed them onto the fabric, and cut the letters out using a craft knife. Then, I ironed the letters onto right side of the darker / contrast fabric, and ironed paper-backed webbing onto the wrong side of the darker / contrast fabric. Then, I cut out the letters in the contrast fabric close to the original letters, to give a nice outline. I then ironed the letters onto the triangles.

Next, I had to make the bias binding. I used the technique from So-sew-easy, using a 7″ square of fabric. I pinned the triangles into the binding and sewed one line down the bias binding close to the open edge.

I should have used the fabrics on the blue one differently -the navy polka dot triangles should have been swapped with the medium blue pattern outlining the letters, which would have helped the letters to stand out more – it is more readable in real life though so I am happy.

Also, when making the blue one the paper-backed webbing just wouldn’t stick. So instead of freaking out I bought fabric glue and I think it’s great! As I wasn’t intending to sew around the edges of these, the glue is better as it is stronger, especially if kids play with it and lead to it needing to go in the washing machine – I have no idea how the interfacing would hold up in the wash.

Child’s drawstring backpack

22 Dec

I wanted to make my nephew a small backpack with some cute teal elephant fabric I got from Goldhawk road a few months ago – but obviously, at the time, I had no idea what I would use it for I just loved it so bought some!

Joseph's bag.png

The photo on the left is closest to real colours – terrible winter light!

I used the tutorial from Hobbycraft’s blog, but make sure you read it through carefully and slowly before you start – it is an easy process, but they have made it fairly confusing. I wanted to use the Hobbycraft one despite the many good ones out there because I REALLY wanted to use the eyelets. Here’s the changes I made:

  • I used 4mm drawstring (because then I could get it in grey, and it’s comfier too).
  • I used Prym’s 11mm silver eyelets as the 5.5m ended up too small to fit the drawstring.
  • I didn’t use the quantity of fabric they said to use. Instead I used 4 pieces of 14×12 inches to make this a little bit smaller.
  • As the bag was smaller, I only needed 2m of drawstring, which is great because that’s all I had received despite ordering 3m!

I then filled it with lots of chocolate coins – I don’t expect a 2y old to be particularly delighted by a bag so this is to make sure he still loves his Christmas present!

I still have two sewing Christmas presents to finish off – I hope yours are all going well! :)

A circular pot holder

18 Dec

I’ve been using a tea towel as a pot holder for months, so decided it was time to make a cute pot holder for the kitchen!

20161218_175952

I used the tutorial from Nancy Zieman, although I made a few changes:

  • I used normal insul-bright rather than quilted, so added a layer of white cotton fabric to the inside
  • I didn’t have the circle cutter, so just used a side plate which was about 8 inches
  • When I’d finished, I realised it’d be really useful to have a hanging loop, so I used an extra piece of binding (folded in half, sewn  up, then attached using a ridiculous amount of thread).

I had this cotton in my stash, from making my sister a purse a while back, so just had to buy cotton thread (as I normally keep synthetic but that might melt…) and the bright red binding – and waaay more insul-bright than I need so there might need to be more “insulated items” coming to use that up..!

This took me a lot longer to make than the tutorial suggested it would, but I hadn’t sewn in months and was using it as a “getting back into sewing before making Christmas presents” activity, so I am happy :) I have already cut out the fabrics to make another identical one!

Back after two months: kindle case and eye mask

13 Dec

I’ve been missing since the end of Sew Selfless September – a combination of moving house (moving out of my parents’ and into a flatshare with a uni friend, halving my commute in the process) and being quite ill (mainly very very sleepy).

Anyway, I finally decided to get a little bit of practise in before I make my sister’s Christmas present, and made TWO things:

I made a Kindle Case using a tutorial from Whip Stitch – it is a really good tutorial and fits perfectly but make sure you read a couple of steps ahead to make sure you have understood, I made a few mistakes… I also had to do two lines of topstitching on the far left edge because my batting was VERY thick (about 1cm)

Kindle Case Inside

Kindle case!

I know that people who love books tend to feel it is important to love the feel of a book, and while I definitely won’t stop buying and reading paper books (I am reading one atm and have others on my Christmas list) it is so much more comfortable to read a kindle, it doesn’t matter if I finish a book when I am unable to buy one as I’ll have others stored, and I can look up definitions of words I don’t know without a huge interruption to reading as is needed if I consulted a dictionary while reading a paper book.

But I’ll never read a kindle in the bath.

IMG-20141212-WA0014

Then I decided that in my new flat the curtains don’t quite cover it enough, so I then also made an eye mask, this time loosely using the pattern from the red kitchen. I didn’t even realise that she had done a double row of topstitch, I did it because it looked a lot neater – and it was easier to first do the inside one and then do the one closer to the edge with the first line holding the fabric in place. Ta-da!

IMG-20141212-WA0012

I feel ready to attack some vintage fabric for my sister’s Christmas present… eek! :)

Laptop cover: Sew Selfless September

7 Oct

This is the last of my SSS items! I didn’t actually finish it in September, but that is due to a combination of: making the beanbag cover from my last post when I should have been doing this, then being ill, then my sewing machine going haywire after I’d only sewn about a quarter of it. Anyway, my sewing machine perked up again on Sunday so I decided to finish it and hope that it could still count.

Sew Selfless September_bigger

Click to go through to Sometimes Sewist’s SSS intro

My boyfriend has decided to replace his 8-year old laptop (surprisingly) with a shiny new, fast, smaller one since he is starting his PhD. He got a MacBook Pro 13″ (normal, not air). Ages ago he chose this zig-zag fabric without us knowing what to do with it, and when he got the MacBook I hoped that the single fat quarter which we bought would be enough for – and it turns out that it definitely is!

I decided to opt for an envelope-style, as he wanted it to be waterproof and I felt that needed something which was covered on all six sides. So this needed a FQ of outside fabric, a FQ of batting (I used quilting cotton batting), and a FQ of waterproof fabric (mine was navy nylon).

Laptopcase_bottom

Here’s the stripes all lining up next to the flap:

Laptopcase_tom

And a close-up of the binding which I used to close the edge where the case opens to let the laptop in/out – it is not perfect by any means and I think the envelope style makes it a little harder to have neat edges – I wonder if somehow a zipped-up case might have actually made it easier to have all the raw edges enclosed and everything a bit neater? Anyway, I made my own bias binding for the first time! It was only about 25cm worth but still.

Laptopcase_binding1Laptopcase_binding2

I haven’t written out all of my instructions but I kept all of my measurements and doodles, so feel free to ask, though there’s so many out there already that unless you are as fussy as me I am sure you can find what you want.

He is really happy with it and it kept his laptop dry when he and the contents of his bag got quite wet during a cycle in the rain (yay British autumn) so it serves its purpose!

I didn’t have any sew-on Velcro and my metal snappers/fasteners risk scratching his laptop so it doesn’t fasten for now, but the flap is just long enough to get away with that until I can get to Hobbycraft / John Lewis.

If that is allowed to count in my Sew Selfless September, then I managed to complete my task successfully! Though if it doesn’t I don’t mind much, as I was able to make plenty of things for people and three people have benefitted well from it :)