Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pocket tutorial

A pocket for a handbag might be easy enough to make, you say? Yes, I agree, there are numerous ways of making pockets that are quite OK, but I have worked out one that really works for me, and the people I have made bags for are very happy with this design too. The advantage is that you make the pocket on its own, and add it to the bag as you stitch the bag and lining together, the pocket hanging freely inside the bag with easy access to cell phone, keys and whatever you want to keep in the pocket. I was looking for my notes while making a new bag, and that's when I realized that I should have it all in my blog. And if anybody else can find it useful to, why not!

So, here goes:
You need :
three pieces of fabric:

  • A: 3 1/2" x 4",
  • B: 8 x 4" and
  • C: 8 x 24".

  • a 4" zipper,
  • a 3" piece of grosgrain ribbon,
If you want to be able to attatch your bunch of keys, a metal ring or a carabiner hook or similar might be a good idea too.
Seam allowance: I generally use a standard seam allowance, aligning the right edge of the sewing machine foot with the edge of the fabric (that should be about 5/8" I think).

Fold piece A in half lenghtwise and press. Fold the edges towards centre fold, press and fold along centre fold. Stitch a narrow seam along edge of the strip along both sides and cut the stitched strip into 4 tabs. Next, you fold pieces B and C in half. The 8" folded edges will be placed alongside the zipper as shown in the picture above, using the tabs (placed behind the large fabric pieces) to separate the pieces. The tabs at the edges should be placed about 5/8" in from the edges. The ribbon will be stitched onto the back of the fold to strengthen the opening of the cell phone pocket. To do this, begin with the folded C piece, stitch the zipper along the edge, adding one tab at each end, the ribbon on the back and the third tab on the far right. Stitch another seam along the edge about 5/8" from the first, stabilizing the tabs and catching the lower edge of the ribbon on the back. It should look something like this when you're done. Ideally one should use a matching ribbon, but I used what I had and I'm not too bothered, as it wont really show.
Next, attatch piece B along the other edge of the zipper, catching all three tabs. If you want to add a ring or hook for your keys, use the fourth tab now. Thread the ring or hook onto it, fold it in half and pin it to the middle tab, attatching it while you stitch a narrow seam along the edge of piece B.
Now you have all the pieces stitched together, with the zipper attatched and the opening for the cell phone pocket next to it. Now fold the long C piece in half, right sides together, bringing raw edges of pieces B and C together (4 layers) at the top.
Stitch a seam along each side, backstitching at both ends. Trim corners and turn pocket inside out. It's beginning to look like a pocket now, isn't it? Add a seam 5/8" from the zipper seam along the upper edge to close the upper piece, and a seam on each side to make a sturdier edge and to enclose the raw edges on the inside (shown with red lines in photo). Now to make the cell phone pocket, stitch a seam starting at the right edge (1) on top of the lower seam above the cell phone opening and onto the middle tab (2). Keep needle down and turn 90 degrees and stitch a seam down to the bottom of the pocket (3) to separate zippered pocket and cell phone pocket. Keeping needle down, turn pocket 180 degrees and stitch back on same seam about 1 1/2" (4), turn 90 degrees and stitch a seam to the right edge of the pocket (5) to form the bottom of the cell phone pocket. You might want to measure with your own phone where you want this seam to be - you don't want your phone to slip all the way into the pocket so it is difficult to get out, but it should not be too shallow so the phone falls out either.
That's it, your pocket is done and ready to be stitched to the edge of your lining so that the upper edge can be caught in the seam when you stich bag and lining together.

Now this pocket consists of four layers of fabric, making it very sturdy. I like that, and also the fact that I see the front of the fabric inside the pockets. However, you could make the pocket from a fabric like canvas or linen that is sturdy enough in itself, and looks the same on both sides. You would only need to cut pieces B and C at half the length, and just hem the edges you stitch to the zipper.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday sewing

I'm waking up from the holiday coma and today I ventured into the sewing room again to get some work done. I finished trimming all my x-blocks for the second quilt and stitched them together in rows. A bit of ironing here and I can stitch the whole thing together - I might actually finish the top this year, but no promises...

I also finished the body of my sister's bag and auditioned some fabrics for the lining. This one won. It will give her something to read on the bus ;-) I'm also going to make a hanging pocket with a zipper and room for a cell phone. I have made a similar one on several bags now and really like them. As I was looking for my notes (which I couldn't find, of course) I thought it might be a good idea to document the different steps and measurements for future use. There might be a tutorial in it, in fact. We'll see. It will have to wait until daylight so I can get some decent photos anyway. It looks like we'll be snowed in tomorrow as well, so the sewing room might actually be the best place to be.
Correction: The mittens mentioned in the previous post are actually Norwegian, and the pattern can be bought here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In between time

Enjoying some quiet time after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and before New Years Eve, with family and friends gathered around some lovely meals. I'm going to another party today, but for the rest of the week I expect to get time to venture into the chaos which is my sewing room. I'll start off with some tidying up tomorrow morning, and then I get to sew to my heart's content - looking forward to that!

I got some lovely presents this year. My sister visited Estonia earlier this month and look at these lovely mittens I got! I've heard these described as Latvian mittens earlier, but I expect they share the same tradition in all three Baltic countries. I like the cats on the front, and the fact that their curly tails are repeated in the border, but look at the fish on the thumb - it took me a while to discover that, but I just love it!
The minute I put them on I felt the urge to go outside and have a snowball fight, and this morning we woke up to snow, so now I can ;-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fantastic journey

Fruity surprise

Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I just finished a couple of placemats for the parents of a childhood friend. They both turned 75 earlier this autumn, and I had no clue until after the fact. I considered sending them flowers, but decided to make these instead, as a pre-Christmas surprise.
The other one has two blue suares and one green, and one is quilted with green thread and the other with blue, so they are different, yet matching. Click on the picture to go to Flickr and see the other one if you like :-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Assembly line

It happens every year. "Oh no, I'm taking it easy this year, not making lots of presents - I don't want all that stress during December". And no sooner have the word escaped, I start thinking that it would be nice if I just made a little something for so and so, and while I'm at it, I might as well make some more as that would make a nice present for... - And before you know it I have an assembly line production going.

Well, I don't really mind - it's all part of the hustle and bustle and fun of preparing for Christmas, isn't it? So yesterday I made six of these little fabric baskets, using the tutorial from Pink Penguin.Very nice and easy, and made even easier by the fact that I used only one fabric on the upper pieces and ribbon for handles.
At about 3"x5" they are sweet little things, just right for filling with some homemade goodies, which I have yet to make - I think I'll make some dough for ginger bread cookies today, and some fudge and spicy almonds later in the week, and that will be it, as far as holiday baking is concerned, I think...
Well, I have said that in previous years too, of course. We'll just have to wait and see...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I think I'm in love again...

I've been doing a bit of web surfing lately, and I keep coming across all sorts of loveliness which has me reaching for my credit card, but so far I have managed to quell the urge to spend madly...

But have a look at this book by Anne Kyyrö Quinn and that gorgeous cushion on the cover. I'd love to have a go at making one like that, but I keep telling myself sternly that I'd probably give up halfway across - that's an awful lot of felt to cut and stitch, I imagine. I think it might be made like this awesome wreath found via Whip-up. With at least 286 felt circles to cut and fold, this is a project I'll only admire from afar - I know my limitations!
Now I might just be able to stick with this (unless it sticks to me...) lovely model of a Scottish tenement house from Finch & Fouracre found via India Knight via Jane Brocket - wow, I'm amazed that I actually remember the circuitous route that brought me there...

Or maybe I should rather go for this "Tinyment" (love that word!) which comes ready to fold. At 6 cm tall, all that detail is amazing - it's even got it's own little TV aerial!

Not that I haven't had enough to spend money on lately - I've been dragging home bags full of Xmas-pressies every night this week, but at least I'm almost done! I had to give up on finding my sister a new garlic press, though (found her something much nicer, though!) - you'd have thought that such a humble utensil would be available at a reasonable price, but no. All the shops that sell cookery stuff seem to have gone down (or up?) that same superior designer road and expect me to fork out at least £45. For a garlic press? As if.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Extreme makeover

After a hearty Sunday breakfast inspired by Nigella, (strips of tortilla wraps fried with spring onion and mixed with scrambled eggs, served with baby tomatoes - mmm!) I decided it was time to get my act together and get started on that Christmas sewing. First of all I grabbed that thing that has been weighing on my conscience for a while now - the granny mousie! I keep saying that I wont take on any commissions, and only make what I want to make, and then if somebody wants it after I have finished, we can discuss it. hat sounds great in theory, but sometimes it is almost impossible to say no. A co-worker mentioned that she had this mouse somebody had made for her years ago and she wanted it redressed in more Christmas-like colours. I told her I don't usually do things like that, preferring to quilt, but she said: "I'll take it to work anyway and you can have a look and tell me what you think".

Well, what can you do? Before I knew it I had agreed to make a new outfit for mousie, and despite assurances that there was no rush, I have been thinking about it ever since. So today was the day. Better get this out of the way before I start what I really want to do. I haven't really bought much holiday fabric in recent years, apart from some with snowman motifs, and they weren't really appropriate for this. But eventually I managed to find some pieces among my scraps that were just about big enough. I spent the better part of the morning constructing, testing and resewing, but eventually I got it right.

I changed the style of the apron - no ruffles this time, just a simple lined piece with rounded cutouts on the sides to accommodate the arms. And that's where the title comes in - the arms were originally stitched on to the apron, but it made more sense to me to attach them to the body itself and adjust the clothes accordingly. And if moving the arms to a new position doesn't constitute an extreme makeover, I don't know what does! So there Granny Mouse is in her new Christmas finery. Let's hope my co-worker likes it!
No for some dinner, and then I'll get started on some place mats. Better stitch while the iron is hot, so to speak ;-)