All posts by caroline

Brooklyn Bag by Swoon Patterns

I purchased this pattern recently when attending the Bag Retreat in South Wales. When attending the Sewing Day organised by Sprat & Winkle Quilters I decided that making up the Handbag sized version for the first time would be a good project to concentrate on during the day. However, as it turned out, I did not get a lot done during that day and the bag had to wait until I returned from visiting my sister in North Wales before I could continue with the project.

For this first iteration I chose some Neutral-toned linen with an Oriental blossom-style floral motif from my stash of ‘landfill’ fabrics, whatever nickel hardware was in my stash plus some pretty multi-coloured cork bought from Purple Stitches that has long been in my bagmaking supplies.

I had not had much time to examine the sample bag thoroughly so this was pretty much an ‘exercise in the dark’. The Swoon instructions were comprehensive but as I have not made the style/type of bag before this was also a learning curve.

After several ‘false starts’ I finally managed to spend a couple of hours concentrated work on the bag. I used some remnant quilting cotton for the lining and added an extra slip pocket plus a long key keeper.

Quilting Cotton lining & long key keeper

I have learned a lot! The bag came up a little smaller than I expected though it is a good size for my personal requirements.

The Brooklyn Bag by Swoon Patterns

I will definitely make another using all quilting weight cotton fabrics and this time will order up hardware in the specific sizes as directed on the pattern. I will also adjust the length of the handles to my preferred dimensions as I found the ones cut according to the instructions to be a little short.

Project #052 completed 21st November 2022

Quilted Book Covers

This year I am taking part in the Advent Dozen organised at Sprat & Winkle Quilters. The plan is that each member makes up 12 gifts, same theme but different fabrics, which are then wrapped and labelled. The organisers will distribute 12 different gifts, each labelled 1 -12 to each participant. From 13th December, we open a gift with the appropriate number.

For my contribution I purchased 12 soft back A5 lined notebooks and have covered them with quilted removable covers. I purchased 1½ metres of printed quilting cotton fabric from my local store – New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fairground Craft Centre and used it to cover 8 of the books.

Bookshelves printed cotton

Literary Associations print

The remaining 4 are covered with odd Fat Quarters from my stash. The quilting was completed in a variety of ways – vertical lines, horizontal lines and wavy lines. I hope that the recipients will be pleased their Advent gifts.

Fat Quarter Variety Prints

I am looking forward to participating in this slightly different take on the traditional Advent Calendar.

Twelve Quilted Book Covers

Project #51 completed 6th November 2022

Faux Clamshell Table Runner

For many years now I have owned a Sissix Big Shot die cutter. Although I rarely use it for cardmaking, I have several dies for patchwork fabric block cutting. One of my favourite set of dies are the two that can be put together to form ‘Drunkard’s Path’. I have used this set of dies in several different layouts and recently re-rediscovered that by putting together two ¼ circles with two ‘arcs’ a faux clamshell is revealed.

Using some remnant fabrics, gifted to me by a good friend, I made a new table runner for our coffee table. I cut out several sets of the block before arranging in a pleasing manner. The shapes are quick to assemble on the sewing machine with simple echo quilting I soon had a finished runner. The backing is plain calico from my stash and the binding was cut in strips from a larger remnant of fabric.

I have a sizeable number of Christmas-themed items and this runner now completes the collection.

Faux Clamshell Christmas Table Runner

Project #49 completed 4th November 2022

Raspberry ‘Newlyn’ Blouse

For some time I have been wanting to make a plain blouse to go under my Autumn Leaf print pinafore dress and felt that this 1½ metres Raspberry Dobby from Sew me Sunshine bought for £12 in August 2022 would be just right. I decided to make another version of the Newlyn blouse (a hack from New Look 6731) as I think this will go well under the pinafore dress but also can be worn ‘tunic- style’ over my new Burgundy jogging bottoms.

New Look 6731

I laundered the fabric and then pressed nice and flat. Whilst doing this I noted how very fine the fabric was so decided that I would make up the blouse with French seams. The test stitching also demonstrated that none of the threads in my stash was the right colour match – I needed to visit my local fabric store, New Threads Quilt Shop at the Weyhill Fairground Craft Centre. I bought exactly the right shade in 50weight Aurifil cotton thread which was a dream to sew with. Needless to say, I did not buy just thread, I stocked up on some fabric for Christmas gift projects and some new machine needles as well.

As I have made this version of the blouse a couple of times before, the construction was fairly plain sailing. When it came to buttons I was disappointed that I could not find a complete matching set of 7 buttons in my stash. However, I did find 5 buttons for the front closure and then the buttons on the sleeve cuffs are a little idiosyncratic, being both the right size and colour but different from the 5 at the front and each other!

Idiosyncratic button selection

I am absolutely delighted with the blouse which is very comfortable to wear and coordinates (as I planned) with the Autumn leaves ‘Jane’ pinafore dress. I will wear it tomorrow!

Newlyn Blouse in Raspberry Dobby Viscose Voile

Blouse to be worn with Autumn print Pinafore Dress

Project #50 completed 2nd November 2022.

Take the Chance Dress by Pattern Emporium

Inspired by the vlogs of Karina of Lifting Pins & Needles and Whitney of TomKat Stitchery I decided to do just that!

Take the Chance Dress pattern by Pattern Emporium

The Take The Chance Shirt Dress has been designed with the relaxed structure of an easy fit shirt. It features buttons (or snaps) along the front opening, a simple placket & collar (with the easiest instructions ever!) & is finished with a tiered skirt.

For this toile version I used some recently purchased Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics, I bought 3 metres for a total cost of £10.78. This had been washed and dried on arrival and sat awaiting inspiration as to the design of dress that I would make.

Ditsy printed Owls on Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics, Kilburn

Construction notes: I printed off the design in size 20 using the layers function in Adobe, a first time of using that option. I made no changes to the pattern – just went for it! First I cut out the bodice fronts, back, collar, under collar and short sleeves. When laying out the fabric I had discovered a nasty mark across the entire width so knew that the skirt would have to be cut to avoid this mark. This means that the skirt was not cut in the tiers as per the pattern illustration but I was able to cut 2 longer panels each 40 inches wide x approximately 20 inches deep and a further 3 widths of the fabric, each 12 inches deep for the hem ruffle. I used the spare pieces to cut 4 of my TNT pocket patterns.

To begin construction I made up the skirt. I attached the pocket pieces to the main panels then followed with the hem ruffle. This latter was pleated with the pleater foot using a long stitch length of 5mm with a pleat every 6 stitches. I found that the 3 widths of fabric pleated in this way were sufficient to complete the hem of the main panels with just a short section approximately 8 inches long left over. All seams were overlocked as although the fabric was fine enough for French seams, I wanted to complete this ‘toile’ quickly. The skirt was set aside whilst I worked on the bodice.

Following the vlog by Karina I completed the yoke, grown-on facings and collar before basting the side seams and having a ‘first fit’. I noted that I needed to shorten the back bodice length by at least 1 inch, the front bodice will need to be lengthened by at least 1 inch on the next iteration. The side seams were also taken in by ½ inch on both fronts and back. Next time I will also need to reduce the shoulder width by at least 1 inch. I took the time to adjust the pattern pieces now whilst the changes were still at the front of my mind. Once I had made those adjustments to the pattern, I returned to the bodice and marked up the buttonholes. I made 5 vertical buttonholes and attached 5 of my favourite 4-hole tortoiseshell buttons.

Bodice with collar and Faux Tortoiseshell buttons

The bottom of the button placket was basted together as the front skirt panel had been cut on the fold. Next I set in the sleeves. These were very well drafted and were set in easily with no gathers or tucks to spoil the shoulder line. The top edge of the skirt panels were gathered with 2 rows of long stitches and then attached to the bottom of the bodice. As I had already hemmed the ruffle, the dress was now complete.

The finished ‘Take The Chance’ Dress

Conclusion: Working with this very fine Viscose was like ‘herding cats’ as it was so slippery. Overall this was a simple enough dress to make and the drafting is very good with all notches matching up as they should. I am very pleased with the result and with those changes to the pattern mentioned above, I am sure that the next iteration will be even better.

Project #48 completed 19th October 2022

Morgan Messenger Bag #2 – the ‘official’ one!

Bag Making Retreat in early October.

According to the pattern envelope the Morgan is the perfect gender- neutral, device carrying companion with secure top zip closure & flap in 2 sizes. The small size fits a tablet up to the size of 12.1” (30.7cm) screen inside the padded interior pocket. With zipped pocket, cargo pocket and hidden under-flap pocket, you’ll be sure to have plenty of space.

Construction notes: For this version I found a large remnant of some curtaining fabric and as the main colour was Blue, decided that I would use that combined with another large remnant of Blue quilting weight cotton for the lining. I have a large stash of nickel hardware so was able to use that, together with some newly purchased Bosal ® one-side fusible foam. After almost 2 hours of cutting out and applying various shapes of Bosal to the external pieces, I was ready to start the stitching. This time I did NOT make the error of applying Bosal to the flap before setting the zip for the under flap pocket! Once again I used a size 100 top-stitching needle for the final top stitching around the top of the bag and finished all the zip pulls with tassels!

Conclusion: For some reason, possibly the print of the fabric, this bag feels smaller than the previous iteration. Having now completed the ‘floating bridge’ method for insertion of zip closure on bags, I am more confident with this construction technique.

Morgan Messenger Bag #2 in Curtain-weight furnishing fabric
Internal ‘Floating Bridge’ Inset Zip closure
Internal Pockets

I am much happier with this bag so may even keep it for myself to use in the Summer next year.

Project #45 completed 5th October 2022

Companion Carpet Bag – re-cycling landfill fabric

Having just completed two versions of the Morgan Messenger Bag by Mrs H patterns I wanted to revisit my favourite Mrs H pattern – the Companion Carpet Bag. I had spied some lovely Lime Green Linen in the ‘proposed landfill’ stash and was determined to use it for an unusual bag! I already had an 8½ inch bag frame in my stash and together with co-ordinating fat quarters for the lining, this would be a ‘bag for free’.

I took the fabric, frame and pattern with me when attending the Bag Retreat in Wales but unfortunately did not manage to complete the construction whilst there. Also, I was seduced by the beautiful fabrics displayed by ‘Sew Hot’ in their pop up shop and purchased a metre of a contrasting cotton print (Nantucket Summer by moda ® Sail Check Plaids – Cream and Navy #55265 21) to use for the lining.

Nantucket Summer by moda

According to the pattern description 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″.

Construction notes: Due to the thickness of the linen fabric I was able to omit fusible interfacing for the outer fabrics, but it was used on the linings and pockets. Bosal ® one-side fusible foam was used for the stabiliser to give structure to the bag, together with some plastic mesh bag base and some nickel bag feet from my stash of bag-making hardware.

Colourful zip and tassel on the internal pocket

For the internal zip pocket I used a Yellow zip with Cerise pink tassel for added colour.

External pocket trimmed with Nantucket Summer

The external pocket is trimmed with piping using the Nantucket Summer printed cotton.

Flap with magnetic snap underneath

I added a flap with magnetic snap fastener to go over the top of the frame and ensure that the bag is closed up. I also added my long zip keeper but this time it was not elasticated.

Long length key keeper

The linen fabric handles were made extra long so that they can go over my shoulder, they were padded with strips of Bosal for additional comfort.

Long padded handles for use over the shoulder

Conclusion: This pattern is definitely my favourite style of handbag and so far each one that I have made has something a little different. So after making 3 bags ‘on the trot’ it is time to return to dressmaking as I am in need of some new ‘Autumnal’ dresses and blouses…..

Project #46 completed 9th October 2022

Harley dress version #2 + circle skirt

I bought 4 metres of this very bold cotton print ‘Peachy Pink Large Leopard’ back in June 2022 from Rainbow Fabrics. It was laundered and then sat in the pile of fabrics awaiting inspiration.

Peachy Pink Large Leopard Cotton from Rainbow Fabrics, Kilburn

I knew that I wanted to make a dress with full circular skirt but apart from that could not decide on what style of bodice to use. Finally, as I had the idea to make the ‘toile’ version of the Morgan Messenger Bag in the fabric remnants, I needed to get on and cut out something! I finally went with the ‘Harley’ dress. I used my self-drafted ‘Harley’ bodice and an adapted skirt from the Penny dress by Sew Over It.

Construction of this cotton fabric was straightforward. I used French seams on the skirt panels and included concealed side seam pockets – also French seamed. I left the skirt to hang whilst I made up the sleeves and then went onto the bodice. The sleeves have a deep hem facing that was hand stitched in place on the inside. Two rows of gathering at the sleeve head before inserting the sleeves using French seams. The bodice was lined with some plain White cotton with the facings appliqued on using fashion fabric. Seam allowances on both the fashion fabric and lining were pinked to help prevent fraying.

I applied a 3 inch wide facing to the front edges of the skirt panels and ran two rows of gathering along the upper edges of the back skirt panels.

Back view showing gathering in centre back

I attached the skirt to the bodice, overlocked the raw edges and then turned up the bottom edge of the bodice lining and top stitched from the right side.

Close up of Bodice & Sleeves

Buttonholes were worked on my machine and I used 12 coconut shell buttons stitched wrong side up so that the paler shade was on show.

The hem of the skirt was overlocked before turning up a ¼ inch twice and top stitching in place.

Harley dress #2 in Peachy Peach Animal Print Cotton

Conclusion: I am delighted with the dress and will definitely be making this pattern again. When you are a larger lady it is best to go big, go bold!

Project #44 completed 29th September 2022

Morgan Messenger Bag #1 – trial and error!

Further along the way of my bag-making journey I am booked into a Bag Making Retreat in early October. In advance of the retreat we were sent a copy of the bag pattern that is planned. After perusal of the pattern I felt it would be a good idea to make a ‘trial’ version.

According to the pattern envelope the Morgan is the perfect gender- neutral, device carrying companion with secure top zip closure & flap in 2 sizes. The small size fits a tablet up to the size of 12.1” (30.7cm) screen inside the padded interior pocket, whilst the large size will accommodate a laptop up to the size of 15.4” (39cms) screen. With zipped pocket, cargo pocket and hidden under-flap pocket, you’ll be sure to have plenty of space.

So, from this description I realised that the bag would be quite an involved and complicated sew. As I knew that I had no need of the large sized bag, I planned to make the smaller version. I had just over a 1 metre remnant of cotton fabric from cutting out a ‘Harley’ dress and decided to use this to make an ‘in your face’ BOLD bag!

BOLD cotton print fabric

Construction notes: Although the instructions are very comprehensive, I did manage to make some minor errors in the construction. As envisaged, the bag is a complicated make. I usually budget 4 hours to make a blouse or shirt, 6-8 hours for a dress, but this bag took 10 hours of intense work!

I have a large stash of nickel hardware so was able to use that, together with ‘headliner’ foam instead of the recommended Bosal ®. I made an error in applying the foam to the front flap BEFORE inserting the zip for the hidden pocket and that made the zip facing and insertion a little difficult. The tab at the end of the inserted zip is not my best work and I added an elasticated key keeper.

Morgan Messenger Bag – internal pockets

I left the bottom of the internal zip pocket unstitched and it was fairly easy to turn the bag through to the right side before stitching the opening closed again. The top stitching around the top of the bag was completed using a size 100 top-stitching needle which worked well – something to remember next time.

Morgan Messenger Bag – small version

Conclusion: This could be a very useful bag for someone needing to carry a lot of ‘kit’ around. As I do not have a need for this type of bag, although I will be making again at the retreat probably using fabric from my stash, it is not something that I will keep.

Project #43 completed 23rd September 2022

Sofia dress #2

After the disaster of the Annette handbag, to restore my confidence I decided to make version 2 of the Sofia Dress by Victory patterns.

Sofia Dress by Victory Patterns

I have had this bold printed cotton lawn in my stash since December 2021 and as I have previously made the Sofia thought it would be suitable as a (relatively) quick make. Well I was wrong!

Riviera Walk Marlie Cotton Lawn by Lady McElroy

As I had a generous 3 metres of the wide fabric I cut out elbow- length sleeves plus an almost maxi-length skirt. First thing to do was a test swatch of shirring. This worked out well so on with the construction.

Test swatch of shirring

I like to get the sleeves constructed first, followed by attaching concealed side seam pockets to the skirt panels. As the overlocker was still threaded up with White thread, I finished all the construction with French seams. The first thing to do with the sleeves was the shirring at the cuff. I started with the first row 2 ½ inches from the raw edge and managed to get just one row completed before the sewing machine decided not to play! Several broken threads and ‘bird’s nests’ of shirring elastic and top thread meant that it took a long time to shirr a band of 4 rows for each sleeve. After that experience I was not looking forward to shirring the bodice front and back, but continued with the construction of the sleeves. The underarm seam is Frenched and a narrow hem top stitched in place.

Now I was ready to shirr the front and back bodice. I had exactly the same problems as on the sleeves. I applied plenty of seam to the first bodice piece and finally managed to shrink down to approximately 20 inches in width. Before shirring the second bodice piece I took the time to change the elastic, this time using a brand new spool from a multi-pack recently purchased from eBay. I also changed the top thread spool. I decided to ignore the usual advice and rather than hand wind the bobbins, I used the bobbin winder on the machine but ran the thread through only one of the tension hooks. For this second bodice piece I stitched the rows of shirring ½ inch (1 cm) apart (the previous piece has shirring circa ¼ inch apart). The shirring worked beautifully! After steaming the second bodice piece, I stitched the sides with French seams.

First fitting of shirred bodice

Next step was to add the shoulder pieces. Before I attached them to the dress I made little straps with KAM snaps ® to keep my bra straps in place and ensure that the shoulders of the dress stayed put. These are a much better solution to the safety pins that I have been using on Sofia #1.

Lingerie strap keepers

Again French seams were used to insert the sleeves which gives a much neater finish to the insides of the garment.

Now to attach the prepared skirt. As I had made the skirt panels to match the bottom edge of the bodice pieces this was relatively straightforward to do with French seams. Next was to attach a length of ¼ inch elastic to the seam allowances and turn up the hem of the skirt. This was completed about 7am as I woke early! The elastic insertion was steamed and dress given a final press, Voila! Sofia #2 is complete.

Sofia dress #2 in Riviera Walk cotton lawn

Conclusion: I love this dress and it has turned out much ‘smarter’ than I expected. I will keep in reserve as a ‘Party’ dress especially as I plan to attend the Sprat & Winkle Quilters Christmas Dinner in December. The only change that I will make for the next version will be to lengthen the front and back bodice pieces so that the shirring finishes closer to my natural waistline rather than as the ‘Empire’ line of the pattern.

Project #42 completed 16th September 2022