Simplicity 2396 – Mark II

On Thursday 28th July I will be conducting a workshop to make a bag from this pattern. We will be making either version A or B. Meg at New Threads has recently bought in some lovely heavier weight cotton fabric that is just ideal for, amongst other things, bag making. I decided to use some of the new fabric to make a sample bag and chose the Dark Blue colourway with the charming print of Pink roses. The lining fabric also came from New Threads and is a neutral Beige printed with circles.


Simplicity 2396 is quite an easy sew, it seems that the most time-consuming part is cutting out as you have to cut out each pattern piece from the main fabric, wadding or fleece, interfacing and lining. However once that has been done the bag comes together quite quickly and is ideal for a beginner to make.
As I had already made the bag once before, this time I decided to add a few extras. Firstly as I was not adding a contrast band to the top of the bag, I inset a narrow strip of contrast fabric from my stash into the joining seam between the main bag panel and the top band. I included a small “fussy cut” flap with magnetic clasp closure as I feel this is more secure than the loop and button fastening that is shown on the pattern envelope.


Front of the Bag

I also added a small loop with parrot clasp to clip on a purse charm, but most of the changes were made to the inside. I cut each of the main panels into three sections and set zip and slip pockets (similar to those in the Carousel bag) into the middle sections.

internal divided slip pocket

Internal divided slip pocket

internal zip and slip pockets

Internal Zip pocket with Slip pocket behind

Taking inspiration from Sheila’s bag on Saturday where she had top-stitched her dark-coloured background printed fabric with a contrast Bright Pink thread, I did the same on this bag. In order to get the saturation of colour without resorting to a triple stitch, I simply used two threads in the needle and lengthened the stitch to 3 or 3.5.


Reverse of the Bag

I was very pleased with the finished bag which I passed to Meg to use as a display for both the fabrics and pattern. Hopefully we may get some more sign ups for the workshop as well.

Carousel Bag-making Workshop – 23rd July 2016

Saturday 23rd July dawned bright, sunny and VERY warm. My car was packed and I was ready to tutor another workshop at New Threads based at Weyhill where we would be making the Carousel Tote Bag . There were originally four ladies booked for the workshop but unfortunately one had to cancel at the last minute so that left three – Alex, Joann and Sheila. Alex has attended one of my bag-making workshops on a previous occasion and it was lovely to meet up with her again and to hear all about the two naughty Beagle dogs that she has at home.


Alex concentrating on sewing the Bag Flap!

After an introduction, the ladies set to and cut out all the pieces of fabric, lining, interfacing and fusible wadding. The day was warm and even warmer in the workroom as we fused interfacing and wadding to the fabric pieces. However, once that task had been completed it was down to the interesting stitching and putting all those pieces together. In the Carousel Tote bag there are two different methods for zip insertions which I am sure will be repeated in other bags.


Joann                                                                               Sheila

Alex’s bag was made in two contrasting Batiks in Bright Turquoise and Bright Pink, Joann also used Batik printed fabric, this time in Pinky/Earthtones with a contrast lining in Lime Green. Sheila’s bag was a charming print of little Pink roses on a dark background. Top stitching was in contrasting Pink which co-ordinated with the Pink lining. By the end of the day we had 4 almost completed bags and I feel sure that the ladies will now go forward with confidence and make more bags to this pattern.

  joann's bag with button

   Joann’s completed Bag

Well done!

Bettina Dress Mark 3 – Tropical


Tropical Bettina Mark3

I just love this style and I have received many compliments when wearing either of the two previous versions of this dress. I bought the colourful Tropical print cotton fabric from Fabricland when I visited their Basingstoke branch on Thursday last week and have been anxious to get it sewn up. Having completed the preparation for a bag-making workshop next Saturday there was now no reason to hold back – I went for it!

The short cap sleeves are self-lined and the lapped zip in the centre back seam is hand picked. All seams are overlocked as is hem which is a narrow ½ inch with a single row of top-stitching. I know that I really should have pattern-matched the large floral motifs but it is such a busy print and I was a little short on fabric so it is, what it is – no pattern matching!


                                Full length view of Back             The hand-picked lapped zipper

The next version of this pattern will be a little different as I plan to make a V-shaping at the back, like the original Betty dress from Sew Over It. The dress may even be sleeveless, it all depends on the pattern layout for that circular skirt which takes so much yardage. The fabric will be an ”in your face” bright Red poppy print so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Stashbusting Butterick B6024

Before my marriage I made a patchwork quilt for my prospective father-in-law. Some of the leftover fabrics have been loitering in my stash. This charming ditsy floral print in pink, aqua and lilac on a white background has finally made it to the top of the pile.


Bearing in mind my recent disappointment with Simplicity 1080 I hesitated to cut into one of my newer lengths of fabrics and decided that now would be a good opportunity to use up some of my stash.

Large_0388515  LINE DRAWING

Butterick B6024 is a tunic top with lots of tucks. There are two versions of the number of tucks in the front and three different sleeve options. I elected to make view D but with the shaped back hemline featured in view A. I had in the back of my mind that if the tunic did not work out for day wear then it would be possible to convert to nightwear. 

I cut the Large size for the shoulders, neckline and armholes then graded out to XL for the tummy and hips. As it turned out, I could have kept to the Large cutting lines as the tunic is generous in size.

The construction was fairly straightforward other than the fact that to begin with I pinned all the tucks the wrong way around but that was soon corrected. I used flat fell seam finishes so that should the tunic end up as nightwear there will be no uncomfortable lumps and bumps at the seams. I have the slit in the neckline but have tacked the top edges together to stop them “flapping” about. If I make the tunic again, I will omit the centre front slit and change the sewing order for the neckline binding so that it is first stitched to the WRONG side before flipping to the Right side for top stitching in place thus avoiding ANY hand sewing in the construction of the tunic!



In hindsight I am not particularly keep on the extra long shaped back hemline and so this may be changed back to a level hem – but as my regular readers will know, I “do not do alterations” so this may never get done now that the garment is completed.

“Small” Mistake with Simplicity 1080

1080  1080line

I had noticed this pattern popping up frequently on Pinterest and various dressmaking blogs and was fortunate that Meg at New Threads donated a copy of the pattern for me to try out. As I had recently made up a Simplicity pattern using the Large size and having checked measurements, I went straight ahead and cut out the version  B using a Blue background, bird-printed cotton from Fabricland, Salisbury branch.

I found the instructions overly complicated with lots of what I considered to be excessive sewing procedures. Topping the shoulder seams with double stitched binding was just one of  those procedures. But I went ahead and finished the tunic top. Once completed, I tried the tunic for its first and only fitting. What a blow – it was just too tight. The tucks for the bust shaping were much too high, the armholes/cap sleeves were tight and binding. The pockets looked ungainly, all in all just not a good looking garment on me.

So, I offered the tunic top to a friend who is a good size smaller than me. She also found the entire bust and shoulder area too small. With that the tunic top has been “hanging around” awaiting photography and listing on eBay. Just in time, my sister came for a visit. Now she is 4 (yes 4!) sizes smaller than me and finally I had found someone whom the tunic would fit.


Catherine in Simplicity 1080

a “fit” at last!

Catherine did feel that the bust area was only just big enough, so where on earth did I go wrong?  Who knows (and quite frankly, who cares?) but the pattern has been consigned to the charity bag. I have plenty of patterns old and new that I can make up with confidence that they will fit. So onwards and upwards, I shall get stitching with my new fabrics – I feel some more Bettina dresses coming on!

Bettina Dress Mark II – Birthday

I was very pleased with the previous version of this dress and as I am currently “into” Green I have completed a new “Birthday” dress using this pattern and some very Green printed cotton that I bought from Franklins, Salisbury branch.


Front View

There is not much to say about the construction. I again used my TNT bodice pattern with the self-lined cap sleeves. There is a lapped zip in the centre back seam and all seam allowances have been overlocked.


Back view with lapped zip insertion

The hem is a ½ ” machined in place with a single row of top stitching. The Bright Blue elasticated belt that I made recently matches up quite well with the print and so I am good to go and twirl!

Martha Market Bag mark II – LONDON


After a busy day that included laundry and gardening, I settled down in the sewing room for a couple of hours and have completed the second Martha Market Bag. As mentioned in an earlier post, I had originally planned to make this bag when I attended the UFO day at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground but managed to omit some vital “ingredients” when preparing the “kit”.

By using the “London” printed canvas that I bought at the Sandown Quilt Show plus some lovely Black corduroy from my stash I have produced a “unisex” bag that my husband can also use when he visits local bookstalls and shops.

Some changes to the original pattern means that the bag has additional internal pockets. There is a slip pocket with stitched divisions for pens and a mobile phone, a zipped pocket with slip pocket behind and the bag also has a small tab with button fastening for that little extra security. I used plain calico for the pockets and bag lining, the corduroy is used for the bag base, handles and button tab. For this bag I have omitted wadding but I did use Vilene F220 medium weight fusible interfacing just to add stability and strength to the outer fabrics and handles.

So that’s it for bag making for the moment. It is my birthday early next month so I need to get stitching a new dress for the day – now what fabric and design shall I make?

Martha Market Bag- Anchors Away!

Saturday 25th June was one of my favourite type of days – all day to stitch and chat at the UFO day, New Threads, Weyhill Fairground. My friend Adrienne and I were joined by 2 other ladies, all of us keen to get ready, steady and stitch.

Adrienne took her Jelly Bean quilt to work on and this time around, I took a variety of bags and some half-completed patchwork.

I have already posted a picture of the patchwork – a Drunkards’ Path block in shades of Blue which I made into a cushion cover. For bag-making I decided to try a new pattern. The Martha Market Bag which is a large tote bag designed by “ithinksew” and available for free download from the website.


The Martha Market Bag is designed as a market or grocery bag; with its extra-secure handles and large volume, it is the perfect bag to carry many heavy items in. The finished size is approximately 20” wide x 20” high and 5” deep.

I packed two sets of materials into polythene bags. Being very organised each poly bag contained the pre-cut fabric outer and lining, handle webbing or fabric, co-ordinating thread, interfacing, wadding and pre-made zipped and slip pockets complete with my Carousel Cottage Crafts printed label and finally magnetic snap fasteners. However, I did slip up as had I mis-read the materials list and packed only sufficient webbing or fabric for ONE handle, not two. Bother!!

All was not lost as I was able to prepare and stitch the bag linings and one side of the outer for each bag. Now back at home I am able to finish off my UFO’s in the chaos that is my sewing room.

The first bag to be completed is “Anchors Away”. I used a great canvas fabric printed with a variety of anchors in different colours and sizes on a White background that I purchased last week at the Sandown Quilt Show. The base section of the bag is made using a Red Quilting Cotton purchased from New Threads. I already had a large reel of Red webbing for the handles. The lining is my usual stand-by of White Polyester cotton with the pockets made in remnants of textured White damask fabric originally purchased several years ago at Oswaldtwistle Mills. I knew it would come in handy some time!


The Martha Market Bag pattern is a great design. It goes together simply and quickly. You can decide whether or not to add pockets and/or magnetic snap so each bag can be a quick sew or take a little longer and will always be unique.

Now onto the next bag – this will be a Book Bag for my husband using the same LONDON print that I used for the Ethel Bag which is now winging its way to Germany.



“London” Ethel Bag Mark II

A couple of weekends ago, I attended the Sandown Park Quilt Show. This was the first time in two years that I have felt able to drive to and visit a show under my own steam.

The drive to Sandown was pretty tortuous as it involved a long slow drive along the M3 (high volume of traffic and roadworks) followed by more of the same on the Eastbound M25. However, I did eventually arrive and was met by a friend with whom I shared the day.

The show was not too busy and I was able to meander around the various stalls – oohing and aahing at the great variety of sewing bits and pieces available. It was great to be back in the swing of things.

As you will know – I am “into” bag-making! I bought several lengths of fabrics which so far have not even made it into the bag-making box as I have immediately started cutting out and preparing them to take to the UFO day next weekend!

The first make was a second version of “Ethel”using a canvas weight fabric printed in Black and Grey onto Cream background and featuring LONDON landmarks. I had decided that regardless of the outcome of the EU referendum, I would make a bag for my internet sewing friend Antje who is based in Germany.

When printing off the pdf pattern I made doubly-sure that the size was correct as I believe my previous make was a little smaller than it should have been.

I interfaced all the outer pieces and lining sections of the bag with Vilene F220 medium weight fusible interfacing. Then I used Bosal ® In-R-Form Unique Sew-In Foam Stabiliser for the main outer panels which gave the bag that extra special support and makes for a very professional-looking finished bag. I made a few changes to the basic pattern.


Front of Bag showing the Twist Lock on the Flap


Internal Letterbox zip fastened pocket


Internal divided pocket

This time I made an extra long strap in contrasting Black corduroy fabric and affixed to the bag with nickel rectangles, swivel clip hooks and also a strap length adjuster. I repeated the small flap and added a nickel twist lock for security. Inside the bag are two pockets. One has a “letterbox” zip closure and the other is a slip pocket with several sections designed to accommodate pens, mobile phone etc.

I have posted the bag off to Antje and am keeping my fingers crossed that it arrives safely and that she will enjoy her “London Ethel”.

Die Cutting for Patchwork and Quilting

At the Monday meeting of P&Q at Franklins in Salisbury, this month was dedicated to die-cutting. Maureen, Pat and I all took our die cutting machines and assortment of dies to the shop so that we could demonstrate these “really useful” pieces of equipment.

All three of us die-cutting enthusiasts have Accuquilt GO! Machines whilst I have an additional Sissix Big Shot which I bought when I originally “got into” die cutting.

My introduction to this method of preparation for quilting was the desire to make an “Applecore” quilt. I have since made at least three quilts using this particular die which I must admit is my favourite.

applecore die

The ladies at the meeting were all very impressed with the speed and accuracy of cutting of blocks and particularly those pieces which had curved outlines e.g. Applecores and Drunkards’ Path.

drunkards path cushion cover

Since the meeting I have made a Drunkards’ Path cushion cover and continued to work on some cat applique blocks that I intend to use for an “Owl and the Pussycat” quilt for my lovely cat “Jazz”. I am using a cat die for the “Pussycat” and alternate blocks will be made from remnants of the “Owl” print that I used for my “Bettina” dress. 

4 blocks