Friday 25 October 2013

Out of season holiday bag

It's Minerva Blogger Network time and yet again I've failed miserably in the "match the project to the weather/season when the post goes out" stakes. In my defence, we have to order the fabric for our projects three months in advance and I clearly wasn't thinking October weather when I planned this make back in June. Anyway, if you can suspend your disbelief for a second, I present my October project - a holiday bag!!!

I chose the same strawberry print fabric that Winnie used for her full skirted dress, and If I'm honest I did have a bit of a "doh" moment when I first saw her post. Why didn't I think to use the fabric to make a dress?! It's perfect and the lines of strawberries and gingham are very reminiscent of Horrockses fabrics. Anyway, my strawberry fabric became a bag, and a damn fine one at that. It's reversible and the lining fabric is a plain red gingham (what else?!) I love how the two fabrics look together.

I made this bag specifically to take on holiday in August and it co-ordinated perfectly with my entire holiday wardrobe! The pattern I used was Amy Butler's Swing Bag, which I tracked down after seeing Karen's typewriter bag on her blog. Karen declares the bag a veritable Tardis and she's not wrong - it held absolutely tons of stuff on holiday - water bottles, arm bands, purse, bunch of bananas, beach ball, fondue set, cuddly toy - you name it, this bag will hold it, no problem.

The one thing I didn't take into account when I made the bag was where to put my phone/keys, lippie etc. I wasn't fore sighted enough to include a phone section or a zipped pocket. I did have a bit of fabric left over though, so I whipped up a matching zipped purse to use with the bag - perfect for stashing all your important bits in one place.

If you want to make your own bag using the same fabrics then you can buy the kit here. The kit comprises a metre each of the strawberry fabric and the red gingham. It doesn't include any interlining because I had some plain calico at home that did the job pretty well. If you did want bag interfacing material, then Minerva stock one which is available here.

I promise that my next Minerva project will be weather appropriate! x

The kit was given to me free of charge as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. All views my own.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Raincoat inspiration

As lashing rain seems to be flavour of the month, I thought today was the perfect time to do a bit of research into making my own raincoat. As usual, I have an exact picture in my head of how I'd like it to look, but can I find a pattern to match it? Nope.

Here's my checklist for the perfect raincoat pattern:-

- Single breasted
- Full length sleeves
- Medium sized collar
- No hood (I'm an umbrella girl!)
- Knee length
- Reasonably fitted but not tight
- Possibly princess seams

I didn't seem to have any luck at all with modern patterns, and there don't actually seem to be many that are specifically for raincoats. The exception to this is the Sewaholic Robson pattern - a classic double breasted trench style that seems to get the thumbs up from everybody who's made it. I've seen Winnie's red version in real life and it's awesome. But sadly for me, it won't work because double breasted anything just looks hideous on me.  So I went down the vintage route. This also wasn't as straight forward as I was expecting - raincoats in the olden days were either double breasted or voluminous, or both. 

A lot of the 1950's and 1960's coat patterns I saw (not specifically raincoats) were either swing coats or A line in shape. They often fall straight down from the bust line, and although they have an elegant look, they're just too big for my frame.

I want to have a large enough coat to protect me from the rain but don't really want to be dwarfed and/or look pregnant in the process. I think the more fitted look from the late 1960's/early 1970's is a bit closer to what I'm after. Here's a shortlist of what I found:

A classic Crombie style coat, which would have to be worn with the belt to get any shape.

This Simplicity pattern isn't bad, I like the long sleeved option but the collar might be a need toning down a bit. 

I love the princess seams on this McCall's pattern, this is very close to the fitted look I'm after.

Whereas the princess lines on this one may be a bit too exaggerated, even for me?

The single breasted green version ticks a lot of boxes.

This is more or less the same pattern, but much classier looking (except for version C!) It might just be a bit too A line in shape though.

Lots of potential there, but I think I've now got to the point where I need your help. Do I start scouring eBay and Etsy trying to find one of the vintage patterns that have taken my fancy? Or do you know of a modern pattern that's very similar in style to what I've just described? It doesn't have to be a specific raincoat pattern, it could just be a regular coat pattern that I can make with waterproof fabric. If you have any ideas or suggestions for patterns, please let me know in the comments, I'd be SSOO grateful. Thank you! x 

Thursday 17 October 2013

Reversible Bag tutorial

Remember the bag I made last year from the lovely Geocentrics fabric range? Well Annie from The Village Haberdashery got back in touch recently, to tell me that a few new lines have been added to the collection and would I like to test them out? Of course I would! It just so happens that I've been planning to put together a tutorial on reversible bags as I've had a few requests from readers, so this was perfect timing. My tutorial will be for a large shopping bag with a wider base at the bottom. If you'd prefer a simpler tote bag or book bag, then I'll also show you how you achieve this with just a few tweaks of the same tutorial.  

I chose Interlock in Sprout to make my shopping bag, teamed with a plain navy lining and Diamonds in Sky with a red lining for my tote bag.

Shopping bag 

Tote bag

One thing to note - if your lining fabric is darker in colour than your outer fabric (as mine are), then I'd recommend interfacing the outer fabric to prevent the darker fabric showing through. It will also give your bags a little more structure.

Fancy making a reversible bag? OK, let's do it!

You will need
For each bag:
½ metre Geocentrics light canvas fabric (or similar) for outer bag
½ metre medium weight interfacing if your outer fabric is light coloured
½ metre lining fabric (quilting weight fabric is ideal)

For the reversible shopping bag
Cut out the following:
2 x rectangles of outer fabric, each measuring 20 inches wide x 16 inches long 
2 x rectangles of lining fabric to the same dimensions
2 x rectangles of medium weight fusible interfacing to the same dimensions
2 x handle pieces each measuring 20 inches wide x 4 ½ inches wide

For the large shopping bag only: if you're using a directional print, make sure the print runs crossways in a landscape format.

1. Apply fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the outer bag pieces (not shown).

2. Fold one of your handle pieces in half lengthways, wrong sides together and press. 

Open out, fold in both outer edges to the centre and press.

Fold in half again and press.

3. Now top stitch along both long edges. Repeat for the other handle piece.

4. We're now going to pin the handles to the lining pieces. Place a lining fabric piece right side up and mark along the top edge, 6 ½ inches in from each side.

5. Pin one end of a handle piece to the right of the first mark - the raw edges of the handle should line up with the raw edge of the fabric.  Then pin the other end of the handle piece to the left of the second mark as shown. Make sure the handle doesn't twist as you pin it.

6. Take one of your outer fabric pieces and place it on top of the lining fabric, right sides together. Pin along the top, checking that the handles are fully enclosed within the two pieces of fabric.

Repeat for the other bag side and handle pieces.

7. Take one of the pinned sections and sew right across the top edge, using a ½ inch seam allowance and back stitching over the two handle tops for extra strength.

8. Take the remaining pinned section and sew in exactly the same way, but this time leave a 4 or 5 inch gap between the two handles. This is where we will turn the bag inside out later on. Don't forget to remove all pins holding the handles in place after you've sewn the top edge.

The two sides with top edge sewn. The piece on top has a turning gap.

9. Press open the seams on both pieces.

View from right side with seams pressed open

Turning gap

If you want to add a label, now's your chance! Make sure you position it a couple of inches from the top of the lining piece so it doesn't get in the way of the top stitching later.

10. Open both bag side pieces out so that the two outer fabrics are on one side and the two lining fabrics are on the other. Place the pieces on top of each other, right sides together and pin all the way round.

Make sure the two seams are right on top of each other.

11. Sew all the way around the giant rectangle.

Now for the gussets! This is a slightly tricky bit so I'll try to explain it as carefully as I can. You'll be making four gussets in total, one for each corner of the outer bag and lining. 

12. Take one of the corners, pull each side of the bottom seam tightly outwards as far as it will go until it flattens into a triangle. Make sure there isn't any excess fabric. The bottom seam should run right through the centre of this triangle and the side seam should run directly underneath.

The seam you can see here is the bottom seam

Feel to make sure the two seams lie on top of each other. Pin into place.

13. Measure 2.75 inches down from the top of the triangle and draw a straight line across.

14. Sew across this line several times for strength.

15. Trim the corner off, leaving a small allowance. Repeat for the remaining three corners.

16. Turn the bag the right way round through the hole you left between the handles.

This is what it will look like when it's first turned out

17. Press well and ensure all the edges are poked out as far as possible.

18. Push the lining into position inside the outer bag.

19. Press into place, ensuring that the lining is pressed just a smidgen below the outer fabric. A good way of pressing the squared off gusset edges is to position the bag on the edge of the ironing board.

20. Top stitch right around the top edge of the bag just in from the edge so that the turning gap is stitched closed in the process.

You now have a lovely neat reversible shopping bag, so go and fill it with goodies!

I'm now going to show you how this tutorial can be adapted to make a plain tote bag or book bag. This bag is large enough to hold an A4 folder and/or a magazine.

For the plain tote bag bag
Cut out the following:
2 x rectangles of outer fabric, each measuring 13 inches wide x 15 inches long 
2 x rectangles of lining fabric to the same dimensions
2 x rectangles of medium weight fusible interfacing to the same dimensions
2 x handle pieces each measuring 18 inches wide x 4 ½ inches wide

For the tote bag only: if you're using a directional print, make sure the print runs crossways in a portrait format.
Follow steps 1 to 3 as per shopping bag instructions. For step 4, the measurements for pinning the handles to the bag pieces are slightly different because of the shape (see below)

4. We're now going to pin the handles to the lining pieces. Place a lining fabric piece right side up and mark along the top edge, 3 ½ inches in from each side.

Follow steps 5 to 11 as per shopping bag instructions.

As there are no gussets on this bag, when you've finished step 11, simply snip off the four corners diagonally. Then follow steps 16 to 20 as per shopping bag instructions. You now have a gorgeous tote bag. Easy!

I hope this tutorial is clear. Please let me know if you spot anything that doesn't make sense. And don't forget to let me know if you make a bag, I'd love to see your finished creations! 

Thank you to Annie from The Village Haberdashery for supplying the gorgeous Geocentrics fabrics for this tutorial.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Polka dot collection

I've been collecting this classic 1950's tableware since I was 18, when my dear friend Rose gave me three little cups and saucers she'd found in a junk shop. She'd originally bought them for herself, but soon realised they were much more to my taste. Smart move, I absolutely loved those cups and saucers at first sight! 

Over the years, I've picked up more pieces in junk shops, vintage fairs (I talk about a lucky find in this post) and on eBay, and the three teacups and saucers have now grown into quite a collection. The range was designed by Jessie Tait for Midwinter in the 1950's and is called Red Domino. 

A backdrop of Midwinter Red Domino 

Now for a twist… an illustrator friend of mine - Carol Seatory - recently listed a few handmade pieces in her Etsy shop. Her work is quite retro in style and always incorporates found, upcycled or salvaged materials at some point in the process. I particularly like her collages, which she makes using vintage fabric and wallpaper. The two that initially caught my eye were Swimming Hat...

... and My favourite Dress (look at that pleated skirt!) 

But imagine my face when I saw this?!!! A Midwinter Red Domino Teapot collage! 

Look, I've even got a matching teapot! 

If ever anything had my name on it, this was it. I love the way you can see the texture of the vintage fabric up close. Needless to say, the collage now lives with me! 

I'm fascinated by people's collections, and the reasons why they start collecting things in the first place. If you have a collecting story to tell, please let me know, I'd love to do a roundup. x

Sunday 6 October 2013

Simplicity 2154 bow blouse

Way back at the beginning of the summer, Simplicity asked if I'd like to try out one of their patterns. Er, yes please! After days of umming and ahhhing, I finally chose Simplicity 2154, a 1960's retro pattern which includes a pencil skirt, fitted jacket, cardigan and bow necked blouse. 

The skirt and jacket would make an adorable 1960's air hostess outfit, and the cardigan looks like a useful pattern, but let's be honest here, the sole reason I chose the pattern was for the bow blouse. I've got a bit of a weakness for bow blouses - my Pinterest boards are littered with the things. I've admired Winnie's chiffon polka dot version from afar and was lucky enough to see it in person last year (it's gorgeous!). I also really like Amanda from Bimble and Pimble's version she made for the Mad Men challenge. Anywaaaay, summer and school holidays seemed to get in the way, but I did eventually get round to making up the pattern and we're only a few days into October... 

For fabric I chose the fabric that has no name. I haven't got a clue what it is, it's almost certainly synthetic and comes from Classic Textiles on the Goldhawk Road. It's the same fabric Karen used for her lovely Anna dress and in her words, "It's red with white polka dots, barely creases, has a lovely drape", which is everything you need to know about it.

Let me tell you that this is the PERFECT fabric for this particular pattern, drapey, slinky and easy to cut out and handle. It's also quite fine which comes in mighty handy when you're working with all those layers around the collar area. I don't think there was anything I didn't like about this pattern while I was making it. The instructions were comprehensive and the sizing was spot on - I made a 14 and didn't make any changes at all. 

The only thing that was nagging away at me before I started sewing this top was the thought of putting in a side zip - you all know how much I hate them (yawn). Then I remembered I'd actually made my second Alma blouse without a side zip and still managed to get it over my head. So as an experiment I decided to sew up the side seams zip-free, just to see if I could get it on. And it worked!!  Relief and joy flowed throughout the land. I think it helped having miracle fabric that does whatever you ask it to and generous openings at the front and back neck. I could probably have brought in the side seams a bit for a closer fit, but I didn't want to sacrifice the zip-free status. If I want a tighter, sexy secretary look, I'll just tuck it in. And as it's sleeveless it's perfect to wear under a cardi.

Tuck it in next time please Jane...

My favourite details are the collar and bow. If I was designing my perfect collar, this is exactly what it would look like, I just love the size and shape of it.

Back view

It also has two darling little peephole details at the front and back. The button fastens with a handworked thread loop which isn't as difficult as it sounds, I used this excellent tutorial, and it was a cinch!

Now, onto the bow. The big, floppy Mrs Slocombe-esque BOW.

I carefully read all the construction details on Winnie's and Amanda's posts and came to the conclusion that I wouldn't interface it as the pattern advises. The bow definitely looks much floppier without interfacing, but I think I prefer it that way - I was scared it would turn out too starched. It also allows me to channel my inner Mrs Slocombe, which can only be a good thing. 

So what's my final verdict on this pattern? Well I like it....a LOT! In the few days since I finished it, I've worn it every day, pausing only to wash it when it threatens to walk to the washing machine by itself. If I was allowed, I think I'd probably wear this blouse for the rest of my life!  Happy Sunday! x

This pattern was given to me free of charge for review. All views my own.


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