Companion Carpet Bag by Mrs H patterns

I have finally started dressmaking again. This time yet another sleeveless shirt dress using ‘Anaconda’ printed cotton lawn. But before I post details of that dress, I want to tell you about my latest bag construction – the Companion Carpet Bag by Mrs H patterns.

The pattern was demonstrated on Sewing Quarter on 3rd October and I purchased the pdf pattern direct from Mrs H’s website. Details of the pattern are as follows:-

The Companion Carpet Bag comes in two sizes, small and large to fit frames 8.5”and 12”. The finished sizes are 12” x 8” x 6” (30.5cm x 20cm x15cm) for the small and 16” x 10”  x 6” (41cm x 25cm x15cm) for the large.

The Companion Carpet Bag features a full width front pocket, which you can trim with piping or lace, bag feet, leather handles and optional leather snap tab. Inside there’s a zipped pocket and a slip pocket. The pattern uses an internal tubular frame, either 8.5″ or 12″. You don’t need the top snap tab as the frame holds everything closed nicely, but it’s a great accent feature!

The Companion Carpet Bag pattern is suitable for pretty much any woven fabrics, from quilting cottons to upholstery chenille. All of the versions made by me have been sewn on my (really rather weak) domestic sewing machine, so you will not need any special machines to make this carpet bag.

I have been absolutely delighted with the bag which I feel represents the culmination of all my bag-making learning rolled into one beautiful project.

The outer fabric was some gifted linen that had originally been destined for landfill, the lining is a Lemon/White pinstripe cotton donated from a neighbour’s de-stashing last year.

The zip was from my stash acquired when my father worked at the Opti-lon zip factory over 50 years ago. The handles were in my stash and still marked up with a price of £5.50 so must have been lurking for a considerable length of time as I note current price is around £14 for a similar set of handles. The magnetic snaps were in my bag-making stash and cost about 50p per set. The 8½ inch bag frame which cost £7.10 and the headliner* foam wadding bought for about £2.75 were the only new purchases – both from eBay.

The bag was not a quick make as I completed the construction over 3 sewing sessions of about 2 hours each session. It would have been a lot quicker if I had not changed my mind about the accent fabrics AFTER they had been cut out, interfaced and basted to the headliner fabric! So I had to cut new pieces to be interfaced and applied to the headliner wadding. That all takes time!

The outer pocket is trimmed with some Cream satin piping that I bought about 15 years ago at a Doll Fair. It was only when taking photographs that I noticed it is on the slant.

However, I quite like the look as it exposes a little more of the floral print on the side panel of the bag, a happy accident.

I did make one addition to the bag and that was my signature clip hook just inside the top of the bag. Attaching my keys to this clasp prevents the inevitable scrabble around the bottom of the bag in search of those pesky keys! 

The fold over tab which I made to my own pattern has been ‘fussy cut’ to feature the floral print.

However, underneath is hidden an error on my part. I did not put the corresponding magnetic snap in the correct place. So now there are two but fortunately the original incorrect placement is hidden by the tab. Phew!

The bag frame slots into the hinge and has some teeny, tiny screws which were a challenge to deal with but luckily my husband had just the right-sized screwdriver. Feeding the frame through the channels was also a tight fit but finally it does look good.

Although I prepared a nylon mesh bag base panel this was not used as I did not have any brass-coloured bag feet to hand. Still the bag base is set aside for the next iteration so will not go to waste.

    

Flushed with the success of this small-sized Companion Carpet Bag, I have now ordered the larger bag frame – watch this space for iteration #2!

* headliner is a substitute foam for the In R Form Bosal Bag & General Foam Batting.

Mabel bag – free pattern from Swoon

Whilst I am still undecided about which dressmaking project to undertake next, I have made another bag. This time inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I tried out the Mabel bag which is a free pattern from Swoon.

To make the bag I used a Fat Quarter of linen-look that I bought at Festival of Quilts for £1 plus another fat quarter of cotton print from my stash for the lining. The outer flap is made with some Cerise Pink needlecord that I had ‘knocking around’ in the sewing room! The magnetic snap and wadding came from my stash so this bag has not cost me a great deal in materials.

However, I am not ‘over-the-moon’ about the bag. It is all my own fault as I should have read the instructions and made a note of the requirements – Shapeflex and Peltex, neither of which do I have in my stash of bag-making materials. Instead I used headliner* and thus the bag is not nearly as structured as it should be. I also failed to take into consideration the ½ inch seam allowance that reduce the already quite small bag down to a much smaller bag, not large enough for my day-to-day requirements! The finished size of my bag comes out as 9″ wide x 5½ ” high x 3″ depth.

However, I continued with the construction taking note of the split in the wadding that happens within the flap and had I used the correct stiffening, would have made a much better job of forming the fold over the bag. The flap fastens with a magnetic snap.  The little (looks like a caterpillar!) handle was a new construction technique for me and looks quite cute.

I have added pockets (why make a bag without pockets?) in the form of a slip pocket on one side and a letterbox zip pocket on the other side of the lining panels. I also added a loop onto which you can attach a key ring that will stop the keys disappearing to the bottom of the bag.

Again I have learned a few more details about bag construction (such as reducing the top width of the gusset and cutting back the headliner at the top of the bag) which if I ever make this bag again, I will incorporate into the next iteration.

Meantime, this particular model is destined to be filled with small items of cosmetics etc., and parcelled up as a gift for my sister.

* a substitute for Bosal foam wadding.

Squiffy Sling by Mrs H

A recent promotion on the Sewing Quarter featured two bags by Mrs H. The first was the Squiffy Sling bag and the second the Companion Carpet Bag.

  

A while ago I purchased a paper copy of the latter as part of a gift to a friend but now having seen the frame bag made by Adrienne, I decided to purchase a second (pdf) copy of that pattern for myself. Whilst browsing the website and reviewing the feature on SQ I was intrigued by the Squiffy Bag and so purchased that pattern as well.

The Bag is described thus:-

Overview: Although the Squiffy Sling pattern is designed for beginners, the clever construction of this cross-body bag makes it an interesting sew with a quirky finished bag perfect for everyday use. The Squiffy Sling was designed for the Winter 2017 Bag Retreat with Mrs H.

Dimensions:Small: 8” x9” x 3”, Large: 10” x 11” x 4”

As this bag involves some ‘new to me’ construction methods, I decided to make the first bag in the smaller size. I used some of the fabric that came as part of a kit for making padded covers for Lever Arch files.

The fabrics are 100% cotton with one featuring a print of gardening motifs plus a coordinating plain in a lovely Terracotta colourway. I selected brass hardware from my stash and printed off the pattern and instructions. To ensure that I made no ‘newbie’ errors, not only did I read through all the instructions, I re-visited the tutorial and also took advice from a friend who had already made the Squiffy Sling bag.

The first task was to apply a fusible interfacing on the outer fabric, the contrast panel, the lining and the two pocket pieces. I also applied headliner* wadding to the outer bag. Usually when making a bag, one tries to keep everything straight and symmetrical but the charm of this particular bag is that it is ‘squiffy’!

I completed the window zip insertion for one pocket and made the slip pocket using some of the print fabric. A slight change was that I stitched a dividing line of on the slip pocket so that my mobile phone, notebook and pen would sit tightly in the pocket.

A new method of construction for me was to leave the bottom part of the zip pocket open to facilitate the bagging out of the bag. In the past I have always turned bags through an opening in the base of the lining, or slipped the lining inside the outer (wrong sides together) before stitching together at the top.

I particularly liked the fact that the lining has a separate pattern which is deliberately drafted slightly smaller than the outer thus ensuring a snug fit with no excess bagginess in the lining.

The construction of the strap was also new to me. For this bag you need only one rectangle (or D ring) plus a slider so that the strap can be adjusted in length. I shall certainly use this method again on future bags. The only slight hiccup that I had was ensuring the correct placement of the magnetic snap but by folding the flat fabric pieces over I was able to mark the placement and will now know for future makes of the bag.

Stitching all around the outer and lining before bagging out through the zip pocket was an ‘interesting’ experience but it did work well after a short tussle. Next time I will use a longer zip so that it is not such a squeeze!

  

I am delighted with the bag which has turned out well, and is just the right size. I have learned a lot and am already planning the next iteration before progressing to the Companion Carpet Bag.

*Headliner is a foam backed material used instead of Bosal in-R-form

Autumn Fields Shirt Dress

Recently I noticed that the Virginia Creeper on our garden fence was changing into its Autumn colours.

  

I love all those great hues of Rust, Terracotta, Orange, Tan, Purple, Burgundy and am pleased that having been ‘colour coded’ I am classed as a ‘Deep Autumn’. These colours are exactly right for my palette. Browsing through my stash of cotton fabrics I came across this length of pre-washed cotton print from the Lewis & Irene stable.

The print is their Autumn Fields range and this particular colourway is Acorns and Leaves on a Burgundy background. I had just 2.4 yards (2.2 metres) of 42 ins wide fabric and as far as I can remember this cost just £5/metre in the sale at New Threads Quilt Shop a couple of years ago. This length was originally purchased with a view to making a long-sleeved blouse. Now that I have ‘nailed’ the sleeveless shirt dress I decided to see if there was sufficient for dress #3.

I was able to cut out the pattern from this minimal amount of fabric but there was not quite enough for the under collar, armhole bias and one side of each pocket bag which are cut from the brown spotted fabric I have purchased ready for the lining of a swing jacket.

Construction was plain sailing and I was fortunate in finding just the right colour and size of buttons. There are 12 on the front bodice and skirt. The skirt length is just 24 inches with a 1 inch hand sewn hem.

The dress fits well and coordinates beautifully with my Burgundy tie- front cardigan.

 

A Gift – Adrienne’s Oriental Bag

Those of you who are regular followers of my blog will know that I do not like to make alterations. However, on a recent visit to my friend in London, I was gifted a partially-completed bag. This bag was most definitely not the sort of gift where you look into the horse’s mouth, it is not an alteration – more a ‘completion’.

A beautiful bag made using a charming oriental-style printed cotton combined with very authentic-looking faux leather and the finishing touch of a rectangular frame. Along with the bag came two lengths of the faux leather so that I could complete the bag with a shoulder strap.

After a week of procrastination I settled down to finish the bag. I re-machined some of the areas where the stitching was coming adrift and completed making the strap. I applied a nickel strap adjuster and would also have used swivel hooks but unfortunately I am ‘out of stock’ and being impatient, could not wait. However, it was a very simple task to attach the strap to the nickel rectangles that were already in situ.

The bag measures approximately 10½ inches high x 11 inches wide. It has a plastic grid base stiffener and 4 feet. Inside there are a window zipped pocket and a slip pocket. The frame is secured closed with a tab which has been fussy cut to highlight a bird from the print and incorporates a magnetic snap fastener. The rectangular frame opens to reveal a void of approximately 6 inches square.

     

I could not be more pleased with this lovely bag which is exactly the right size and in colours to complement my Autumn wardrobe.

I have never made a bag incorporating a frame, so this gift has given me the inspiration and incentive to make my own.

Kitty Cat Pin Cushion

As mentioned in previous postings, I regularly make and teach ‘how to’ a Dachshund Pin Dog.

Personally I am more of a cat lover so thought I would make my very own Kitty Cat Pin Cushion.

After surfing the internet I came across a free pattern for Terry cat. (http://dollmaker.nunodoll.com) that I printed off.

The instructions were rather sparse and were originally been designed for construction from towelling, so it was a good thing that I have previously made stuffed toys.

Here is the first version of Kitty made from a scrap of fat quarter of quilting cotton. I have used a felt tip pen to draw in her features. She is not perfect as her head definitely requires some ‘finessing’. 

For now though, I have a ‘jumping off point’ to perfect my pet pin cushion.

Fabric covered Lever Arch File

I always find it difficult to find the perfect gift for teenagers.

Inspired by this project when it was featured on Sewing Quarter I have made a version for my friend’s daughter’s 16th birthday.

I used a pack of fat quarters from New Threads Quilt Shop plus some fusible wadding and a length of plain White polyester cotton from my stash. I had previously purchased a kit for a similar project featuring gardening print fabric, so had the instructions to hand. I also watched the you tube video (Sewing Quarter 7th February 2018) to clarify a couple of points of which I was unsure. If you want to make this project, be aware that the seam allowance is ¼ inch which I could not find mentioned anywhere in the instructions.

   

The construction went easily enough as I made a strip of patchwork pieces from 5 of my different prints, fused the wadding and worked a few rows of quilting. The only slight confusion arose when I was folding the ends of the work to make the flaps at each end into which the file is slipped. I especially liked the glitter clear plastic vinyl that is used for the label pocket on the spine.

I hope to purchase an eyelets kit as I plan to make the coordinating inserts using eyelets to place the envelope pocket and zip pocket into the file. The gift has to be completed by Wednesday so tomorrow I shall be on the lookout for eyelets!

Joni Dress no 5

Following on from the idea put forward by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I should make only 5 versions of a single pattern before I move onto something new. This is version 5 of the Joni dress from Tilly and the Buttons ‘Stretch’ book.

Version 1 was a wearable toile, version 2 made up in a Pink floral polyester jersey was just too sweet, version 3 was a hack using the remnant fabric from version 1, version 4 was a cotton jersey that I marked down as a fail (but still counts!) so here is the final version made using some more of that beautiful viscose jersey from an eBay seller, CheapestfabricsUK.

It took just 2 hours from sitting down at the machine with the dress pieces that were cut out over a week ago. What have I been doing in the meantime? Gardening!

As I was now suffering from sewing withdrawal symptoms, an afternoon of sewing was the remedy.

I constructed the dress using my revised method by cutting 2 of the bodice front. I added a neckband to the bodice back before sandwiching between the front bodice and its lining. Unfortunately as this fabric is a little thicker than previous jerseys, the twist is rather bulky (and maybe I should have not sewn the under-twist seam quite so far into the twist?) but I can certainly live with it.

The sleeves were inserted into the flat bodice before the bodice side seams and the underarm sleeve seams were stitched in one pass. A faux cuff that measures 1½ inches was sewn to make the hem of the sleeves. The skirt panels were added before a final fitting.

With jersey fabrics I always have to allow for the various levels of stretch incorporated into the fabric and this particular one is very stretchy. I had already taken this into account when cutting out so no further adjustments were required. I have sewn a single fold up hem, stitched with a long straight stitch on the machine.

I know that this dress suits me much better than version 4 as the colours are darker and the print more bold. It will look good in the coming months worn with opaque tights and possibly boots.

Re-sized Saddle Bag – Room for Improvement!

The original pattern was for a small bag measuring 6 inches wide and 6 inches deep, free from Swoon Bags.

I definitely need something larger so decided to re-size up to a 10 inch.

I drafted out the new pattern but before I swept onto construction of the new size, I thought it would be a good idea to make the original-sized bag first. This way I could check out the construction techniques.

A good idea in theory but in practice I still managed to miss a couple of key points when making up the re-sized bag.

As this was most definitely a ‘trial’ bag I did not want to use any of my ‘special’ fabrics or the faux leather that is destined for the final iteration once I have mastered the pattern.

Instead I used some 100% linen that was gifted to me along with lots of random lengths of furnishing fabrics. This particular fabric is ‘Up the Garden Path’ by Vanessa Arbuthnot, © 2011. I do not have a bag in this colour so if it worked out well then I would have a useful addition to my collection of bags.

For the lining I would use some of the spare fat quarters of Beautiful Birds on Duck Egg Blue cotton that I purchased a couple of years ago from Dunelm Mill. If you are interested, the design is still available in a wide range of products.

Due to the larger size of the bag I thought it would be OK to use headliner foam wadding. This was fine except that again, I ended up having to apply a binding to the top of the bag rather than stitching the lining to the outer and then ‘bagging out’.

I side-stepped the difficulties of turning through the long magnetic tab by making a short tab which was inserted between the outer flap and its lining.

However, I did not allow for the depth of the bag and so the magnets are not in exactly the correct position. The one on the bag side should be nearer to the top edge of the bag. At this stage I cannot change the position so will have to ‘live with it’.

A small mistake when cutting the lining for the bag flap means that the birds are well-placed – but upside down! Other than that I think that I have done quite well with the pattern placement and pattern matching.

Having assembled the outer bag, I realised that I had not cut the panel for the outer pocket that should go onto the back of the bag – oh well, this is definitely just a trial. I have marked up the pattern pieces so that next time the outer pocket panel is not overlooked.

To make up for the lack of a pocket on the outside, I did make two pockets for inside; A small zipped pocket in which to keep valuables, plus a slip pocket for my mobile phone. As the bag is quite deep, I also added a loop to which I can attach my car and house keys which otherwise always sink to the bottom of the bag.

The long strap has an adjustable slider so that the bag can be worn ‘cross body’. As I have temporarily run out of nickel magnetic clasps, the one on this bag is brass, the remaining hardware is nickel.

In conclusion: this bag is not perfect, there is definitely room for improvement but I am nearly there.

Anaconda & Butterflies ‘BEST’ dress

Back in July I made a dress from the Lemons printed Cotton Lawn that I had bought from an eBay seller in China.

I fell in love with the quality of the fabric so when I came across some more fab-u-lous cotton lawn printed with Anaconda snakes, butterflies and floral bouquets it was no contest – I had to have some to make another dress.

I bought 3 metres of the 140 cms wide fabric from the Sew me Something stand at the Festival of Quilts. This was not a ‘cheap’ purchase as the fabric retails at £16 per metre but as it is wide at 140 cms I knew that I would be able to get a full skirt from this length.

I overlocked the raw edges the day after the Festival and laundered the fabric which then sat in my ’roundtoit’ pile until now.

The colours are absolutely right as a key piece of an Autumn capsule wardrobe and more about that in a later blog post.

I wanted to use my TNT bodice with the scoop neckline plus a full gathered skirt. I cut 3 lengths of 29 inches across the width of the fabric. I made a full copy of the bodice front pattern as I wanted to be sure about the placement of those motifs – no way could they appear anywhere near the apex of my bust!

I was able to fit the back bodice onto the fabric using A 1 inch seam allowance for the centre back seam where I inserted a zip. I also had sufficient fabric to make two x side seam pocket bags plus the facings for front, back and sleeve hems.

As the cotton lawn is so fine, I found some perfect Light Blue cotton fabric to use for the bodice and sleeve linings.

Now, ready for construction: as per my usual method, I made up sleeves first and set them aside until needed.

The lining of the sleeves has a wide band of the feature fabric so that if the insides should show at all, you can see more of this fabulous print.

Marking and sewing the darts in the bodice went well as did stitching the lining to the bodice at the neckline. I made French seams in the three skirt panels so that combined with lining of the bodice this dress would look neat and tidy which is something that I always like to aim for.

The zip was set 2½ inches down from the neckline so that there would be no interruption to the line. I used machine stitching for most of the lapped zip insertion but the final line of sewing was completed with some hand prick stitch for a couture finish.

Unfortunately due to lack of fabric I was unable to pattern match the back bodice but I think the final result is acceptable.

The bodice lining was stitched wrong sides together at the neckline and armholes before adding the neckline facings. The back neck facing is extended and sits between my skin and the insides of the zip fastener pull.

The 3 widths of fabric for the skirt were French seamed and by using the centre back seam as a starter point I then marked the fabric in quarters to match up with side seams and darts in the bodice. I marked a point for the insertion of the pocket bags and slashed to make ‘in-seam’ pockets. This method worked well on the previous dress and as it reduces the amount of fabric at my waist is something I will repeat when there is no side seam in a skirt.

Initially I had not planned to repeat the very gathered skirt but as the cotton lawn is so fine it has worked out well and I am pleased with the final result.

After attaching the skirt to the bodice I then pulled the bodice lining down over the seam. I turned up the seam allowance to the inside and hand-stitched in place over the original waist seam.

I set in the prepared cap sleeves but as I was not 100% happy with the French seams used on the Lemonade dress, for this iteration I used the overlocker to neaten the seam. I also set a few small gathers at the sleeve head to counterbalance the width of the full gathered skirt. 

The finale was to hand stitch the hem to give a finished skirt length of 27 inches.

I am delighted with this dress and at present it is being kept as my ‘best’ dress. All I need now is an occasion to wear it.