Sunday, 13 March 2011

Bags of fun on a rainy afternoon.......

A step by step guide to making a pretty little bag

You will need:

0.5 metres of any fabric
0.5 metres of any other fabric
Matching thread
2 buttons
Small amount of bondaweb 
And some bits and bobs! Collected buttons, jewellery, vintage fabric and scraps of pretty fabric that you like.

This bag is basically a simple lined tote design with slightly sloped sides. I love all fabric and  enjoy putting it together! I often get carried away with the amount of diferent fabrics I use, I think this is because of a love of patch work quilts. I always begin by going through my fabric boxes and finding a few bits that work together. Laying everything out on the floor. This is why I have a ridiculous amount of baskets and bags filled with fabric, beading, thread and buttons. Most of these are bought at car boot sales, flea markets or the famed sunday market, however some fabrics are left over from more organised projects. If you're worried a good way to choose a colour scheme is to buy a small vintage handkerchief or old printed cloth and use the colours from that, you can then take this to a haberdashery and buy a few bits in those colours. I am obsessed with selvedges and ensure that I keep these whatever I am making.   

The fabric I am using is some thick upholstery fabric I bought from a car boot, you can see both sides of it above. I'm going to use it inside out as I love the rusty colour. The maroon chord is for the lining and is left over from the Christmas stockings I made this year. I bought the old handerchief in Lewes amongst a bag of linen some time ago and the rest is scraps from various patchwork projects.

1) Decide the size and shape you want your tote and draw it out on folded newspaper add 1.5cm as a seam allowance all the way around, cut on fold and open up so pattern piece is symetrical (A). Decide how long you want your strap, I suggest 60cm long 8cm wide, draw and cut out of newspaper (B). Cut out another template for fastening the button that is 20cm by 8cm (C).  

2) It is up to you which fabrics you use for what, try not to plan too carefully enjoy it and see what happens. Pin templates carefully to fabric before cutting out, alternatively draw around in chalk aiming to get as much as possible out of your fabric.
Cut 2 x (A) for lining maroon chord and 2 x (A) for outside of bag upholstery fabric. Cut 1 x (B) upholstery fabric and 1 x (B) maroon chord. Cut 1 x (C)  uphosltery fabric and 1 x (C) maroon chord.

3) Cut out some shapes in different fabrics and lay them on your fabric to see what you like. I know your supposed to use bondaweb but i'm a bit of a bodger the truth be told and never do! However I suggest you cut around your applique shapes on some bondaweb and steam it on to your shapes, peeling off the backing and sticking it in place onto the fabric, (I just pin mine but it's better the proper way!). Now zig zag using a satin stitch around the shapes, (satin stitch is a zig zag with a very short stitch length).  I decided to use this embroiderie anlglais hanky for a pocket on the front, I put a button hole on it and stitched a ribbon along the top. I'll talk about button holes in a bit!

4) Do a quick zig zag stitch around all your cut pattern pieces. Pin together (A) lining and (A) outside of bag right sides together. Make your pins at a right angle to edges and you can just sew right over the top. Make sure you do a back stitch at the the start and finish to secure it. Leaving a seam allowance of 1.5 cm sew pieces together. Turn the outside of your bag the right way out and press it flat put the lining snuggley inside.

5) Pin right sides together (B) and (C) sew one side only together leaving 1.5cm seam allowance. Press seam open and bind the other raw edge with a strip of fabric. The reason I do this is that the upholstery fabric and chord are very stiff and it will be very difficult to turn inside out. What i mean by binding is; get a strip of another fabric the same length and 5cm wide. Fold over each edge 1cm and steam down then fold in half and press again. Put this around your raw edge and stitch it along the edge holding it in place with pins at a right angle. This (I think) is a pretty and easy way to incorporate another fabric and I do it in lots of places where there is an unsightly edge! Complete the same process with (C). If you have a thinner fabric and would like to you can sew both edges of (B) or (C) and turn it inside out using a knitting needle, ironing flat afterwards.

6) Mark how big your button is on the end of (C), if you have a button hole setting on your machine this is dead easy! However my ancient beast does not! So I do a narrow satin stitch along the line I drew. I then widen  the stitch at the end doing a few on the spot and go back the other way, widen it at the other and and do a quick back stitch. I now cut the button hole open  

6) Now here is where I cheat again i'm afraid and the selvedges I was talking about really come in handy! I hate this bit of making a bag, (I really do!) I always mess it up as I'm not naturally patient and it's fiddly! So this is what I do, (shhh don't tell anyone!). I do a wide zig zag with a short stitch length all the way round the top of the bag sewing the lining together with the outside. I then cut a wide band approximately 7 cm wide off the selvedge of my upholstery fabric it's the same in length as the circmference at the top of my bag plus 3cm. I seam the edges of the band togther right sides together so it's a big loop. I then  pin it to the inside of my bag at the top. I sew this as a seam all the way round the opening  of the bag . I then fold the selvedge band over the top of my messy zig zag edge and pin. At this point tuck your button strap underneath the selvedge binding  and sew the selvedge flat along the outsde of the bag, this will sew your buttin strap in too. Basically you've sewn a strip onto the top of the bag and folded it over like a collar, then sewn it down to hide the mess underneath! 

7) Bind the ends of your strap in the same way described earlier. Hand stich onto your bag. I added a junky brooch here too. Sew your buttons on securely in place and hey presto! I'm going to give this to my Ma as a birthday present and she's promised faithfully she will not look at this! So if your reading this Mother you are bad!!!!

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