Showing posts with label summer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label summer. Show all posts

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Pillow Case to Tote Bag

I’ve been trying to use up the fabric that I have had in my boxes for a long time and came across a gorgeous pillow case that I discovered months ago hidden deep in mounds of bedding in a charity shop.  I loved the colours and the flowers but wasn’t really sure what I was going to make out of it.

This week I decided to make it into a tote bag – some stitching and lining later and I ended up with a finished product that was so much better than the pillow case I’d started out with.

Tote bags are great for days out in the sun, trips with the family and carrying as a shopping bag.  If you make them out of recycled fabric then not only are they preventing the use of plastic bags but ethically and sustainable produced too.  Combine that with a relaxing afternoon spent sewing and you have a sustainable, ethical and fun filled bag!

Get those machines out and get sewing!

1.        Decide how big you want your bag to be and cut two rectangles 1.5cm bigger than that all around.  Cut out two rectangles of the same size from a plain lining fabric.   Then cut two long strips that will make up the handles.  I did mine either side of the pillow case and to a 6cm width


2.       Now place the large rectangles right sides together for both the patterned and the lining fabric.  Sew both sides and the bottom of the fabric.  Now turn these out so that you can see the pouch that will make up your bag.

3.       Take the thin strips and fold them in half lengthways.  Sew a line from top to bottom about 1cm away from the raw edges.  Take a safety pin and pin it to one side of the fabric.  Point the pin into the tube of fabric and begin to ease it through pulling the fabric gently as you go.  This should thread through leaving you a tube of fabric with the right side facing you.


4.       Press your handles, bag and lining to leave neat, crisp lines.

5.       Place the lining so the raw edges are facing you and put it inside of the patterned fabric.  All your raw edges should now be hidden.  Fold the tops over to create a neat seam between the patterned and the lining fabric.  Pace the handles flat about 4cm away from each edge and tuck them in between the lining and patterned fabric.


6.       Pin and ensure everything matches up and sits as you want it to.  Make any adjustments and  then stitch a line around the top of the bag ensuring you stay the same distance from the top as this is a visible stitch.

IMG_20130822_091714.jpg And there you  have it - just trim your loose threads - your finished product!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Summer dress

So following on from my last post I've been making a summer dress for a toddler.  The pattern is versatile and can be adapted to anyone of any size - adult or child.
To make this you will need a sewing machine, measuring table, thread, scissors, shearing elastic, a safety pin and fabric of your choice.

You need to start by taking a chest measurement from the fullest part of your chest.  Then follow this simple formula that I found in this fabulous book

Chest measurement / 4 = x
Chest + x = y
y / 2 = z

So for my dress for a 3 year old the chest is 53cm and z = 33cm.
That is the width of the top of your fabric and makes the top of the diagram - now follow the diagram below.

The first box is for the smocking so for a three year old I did a length of 15cm but you need to decide how long you want the smocking to be for your garment. Then continue the box down to equal the length of your dress ( for me it was 46cm top hem to bottom hem ).  The wings on either side are coming down so the bottom point is a third of your Z measurement on both sides ( for me 11cm ).  Adding this gives the dress a full skirt which really adds to the finish.

Mark this pattern out and lay fabric out.

Cut out the fabric to the shape above twice ensuring you leave a 2,5cm seam allowance on top of all your measurements.  Now you have two pieces of fabric in this shape.

Place the fabric so that the right sides (or part of the fabric you want to be the outside of the dress) are facing together.  Now sew the seam along both sides using a straight line stitch.  You will need to seal the raw edges of the fabric to avoid fraying which can be done using an overlocker or a simple zig zag stitch.
You now should have something like this.

Complete a hem along the top and bottom of the dress.  Do this by folding over around 1cm of fabric and stitching around the fold.
Then repeat this process again folding the fabric over.  This time ensure your stitching stays the same distance from the edge of the fold as this will show on your finished garment.  This will result in no raw edges and a neat hem.

Now you move onto the smocking - prepare your machine as explained in the last blog post.   Now sew a line along the top of the fabric about 0.5cm from the edge and when you reach your starting point guide the machine around a cm below your first line and continue.  
Use the back stitch setting for a few stitches at the start and end of your smocking.
  Your fabric will gather more as you continue.  Try to make sure you keep sewing straight and don't allow the fabric to bunch under the needle as this will show.

You now have a finished garment if you chose to make a strapless dress however I have chosen to add some simple straps to finish it off which makes this perfect for a child running around in the summer.

You will need to decide for your pattern how long you need your straps to be but for this dress I have made four strips of 25cms long.  I cut strips of 4cm and folded them over so the right side of the fabric was facing each other.
I then stitched a straight line around a cm away from the fold.  Trim the raw edge and you will have 4 strips like this.

Now take a safety pin and attach to the end ensuring you are not too close to the edge as then it could fray.  Push the safety pin into the tube and begin to thread it through.  This is fiddly and requires some patience (you can also buy a hook that makes it easier).  As the safety pin comes through the other end the fabric should easily turn until you have a neat tube.  If you find the tube gets stuck just pull it gently in the opposite direction so that you remove the bunching and begin again.

Tuck in the raw ends and stitch.  Now attach with a straight line stitch to the top of the dress matching the distance from the seams on the front and the back of your dress.
Trim your loose threads and you have a great dress that you made yourself!  The sleeves fasten at the top in a cute bow.

I hope you have a fab time making this!  It's such a satisfying project because it doesn't take too long but looks so professional! Share your pictures when you finish and get ready to proudly say 'I made this!' :-)

Sunday, 30 June 2013

I love smocking!

Summer is here - for this weekend at least! And the arrival of sunshine means light flowing skirts and summer dresses.  Yay!
The simplest way to make one of these is using smocking which I LOVE!
It adds a professional, finished look while creating a good fit.  When I wear something I've made and used smocking people are the most surprised that I made it - yet it's so simple!

So how to smock . . .

You need a sewing machine and some shearing elastic ( usually 70p or there shouts).  You simply want to wind the elastic onto your bobbin taking care not to stretch the elastic.  This must be done by hand and not using the machines bobbin winder. 

Now use a standard cotton thread for the needle and thread the machine as usual.  This thread is going to show so choose an appropriate colour for your garment.

Now start sewing - you want to start with your skirt or dress already hemmed at the top and your seams complete along both sides.  So you should have a tube of fabric that seems a bit big for you.

Start about half a cm from the top and keep sewing round.  As you meet the line of stitching where you began move slightly down so you continue your stitching about a cm below the last line.
You can keep this going for as long as is required - a skirts waist band would be shorter and a dress would need a longer stretch of smocking.

  This should create a gathered effect as seen in the skirt I posted a photo of.
I LOVE the effect of it and think it is just so simple to learn and make.

So get practicing and in the week I'll post measurements and a full how to guide of a cute smocked summer dress - perfect for little ones and adults alike.

Who knows maybe the sun will last that long for all you UK readers :-)

Till next time - happy sewing!