Category Archives: Fabric – Cotton

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

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

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

‘Flora’ a Peter Pan collared blouse

In the search for a neat collared bodice, this time I have hacked together the Violet blouse from Seamwork with my Hyacinth bodice and the sleeves from Sophia by Victory patterns. The Violet blouse is the nearest pattern to what I wanted. The button-front blouse has a gentle, loose fit that’s reminiscent of the 1960s, and looks equally adorable tucked in or worn loose. Violet can be made with short or mid-length sleeves, is shaped with bust darts and has a back yoke with centre gathering. Based on the origins of my design I have called her ‘Flora’.

Violet Blouse by Seamwork
Flora line drawing, fabric and button swatch

For this ‘wearable muslin’ I used 2 metres x 110cms wide fabric cotton abstract floral print – total cost £12.00 bought in the sale from New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fairground. I noticed that the fabric had a one-way design so was careful when cutting out to maintain the correct orientation of the pattern pieces.

Construction: Darts and shoulder seams were stitched.

The collar: Once again, to highlight the collar, I added some Dark Red satin pre-made piping from my stash. The collar was machine basted to the neckline of the blouse. It looked good so continued with making up the blouse. The facings were added and seam allowances trimmed and under-stitched where necessary.

Piped collar

Bodice: The side seams were pinned so that I could check the fit. Hmmm, not too sure about this as it is looking very boxy and too long.

Sleeves: I used the short sleeve from the Sofia dress by Victory patterns but due to shortage and width of the fabric had to reduce the width at the hem. This still made the hem about 20 inches wide so enough for shirring and a little frill, plus lots of ‘puff’ at the sleeve head. They have turned out very well.

Closure: Originally I thought that I would use Red polka dot buttons that I thought would coordinate well with the colours and print design. However after a night’s sleep decided that they were ‘too busy’ and chose a different set that I received as a gift from Rainbow Fabrics. The hem of the blouse was overlocked before turning up twice and top stitching in place.

Much more subtle buttons

Conclusion: I am disappointed with the end result. I give it only 5 out of 10. It certainly has the look of the 70’s which is not what I was after! I need to refine the fit of the blouse, adjust the length and maybe another time use a less structured fabric such as a viscose. It may well be that this version finds itself being listed for sale on eBay!

The ‘Flora’ blouse in quilting-weight cotton

Project #40 completed 31st August 2022.

A new design – Hyacinth

Inspired by a dress offered for sale on the Museum Selection site I have drafted a new dress pattern. It is a hack/combination of several designs as follows:

Basic Myosotis bodice, extended length, converted to the Maryon neckline, plus a self-drafted collar. Shirred puffed sleeves from the Sophie design by Victory patterns. I added a button through gathered skirt made from 2 rectangles, each 32 inches length x width of fabric and 2 patch pockets.

Line drawing and samples fabric & button

For this ‘wearable muslin’ I used 3metres x 114cms wide cotton floral print – total cost £14.97 bought from Fabricland, Bournemouth back in February 2022. As this is such a florally-designed print, I have named this dress design ‘Hyacinth’ after Hyacinth Bucket, a character in the TV series, ‘Keeping up Appearances’.

The collar: I started sewing with the collar as I had decided that if it did not work out, I could abandon the collar and stick with a simple V-neckline. Fabric was tight so the undercollar was cut from a complimentary poly/cotton from my stash (yet another remnant from a king size duvet cover conversion project). To ensure that the undercollar did not roll to the top side, I inserted some narrow piping. I was delighted with the way that this turned out so proceeded with making up the bodice. Darts and shoulder seams were stitched and then the collar machine basted in place. Looking good. On to the side seams of the bodice in preparation of completing the neckline and then adding the sleeves.

Close Up neckline & collar

Sleeves: I used the short sleeve from the Sofia dress by Victory patterns but due to shortage and width of the fabric had to reduce the width at the hem. This still made the hem about 20 inches wide so enough for shirring and a little frill, plus lots of ‘pouff’ at the sleeve head.

Skirt & pockets: As the skirt was cut as 2 rectangles with a centre back seam I decided to add some patch pockets (for a change to my usual concealed side seam pockets). I used two pieces that were left after the cutting out and this gave me quite large pockets with curved bottoms and straight tops. As the pockets were very wide, I added a central inverted pleat for extra interest and to accommodate the extra width. Once the skirt had been gathered and attached to the bodice, I identified their location which was 3½ inches down from the waist seam and 3½ inches from the side seam point on the bodice.

Button fastening: I was most fortunate to find a set of Teal Blue sparkly buttons (included with a fabric parcel from Rainbow Fabrics) that matched perfectly with the colours of the floral print. There are 5 buttons on the bodice and 7 on the skirt.

The hem of the skirt was overlocked before turning up by 2 inches and machine blind hem stitched in place.

Finished Wearable Toile version of Hyacinth design

Conclusion: I am very pleased with the finished dress although I am not 100% sure about the collar. It fits well with the style of the dress but in the final analysis I believe that I prefer a V-neckline with no collar, but maybe next time a bias cut frill to compliment the frill on the sleeves.

Project #39 completed 20th August 2022.

Ethel Tote Bag

As a change from dressmaking, I decided to make a new handbag, especially as I have not made one since BC (before Covid!).

Ethel by Swoon Patterns

I chose the ‘Ethel’ by Swoon patterns. Ethel is a roomy, sturdy and stylish open tote bag. With a teardrop shape, Ethel veers away from the usual boxy tote. It’s a “stuff it in and run out the door” kind of bag, designed to comfortably sling over your shoulder. There are a few slip pockets for the small things.

Ethel bag for a friend

I have previously made this bag as a gift so now I will have one of my own. I used a remnant of stretch cotton denim that I had left over from a pair of ‘Texas’ trousers. For the lining, I used remnants from the recently made ‘Libby’ blouse.

Construction notes: I used fusible interfacing to stabilise the stretch floral print denim and ‘headliner’ stabiliser. ‘Headliner’ is a foam stabiliser (an alternative to Bosal ®) that is used in the car manufacturing industry to line the insides of cars, e.g. roof and door panels. As it is not fusible I machine basted within the seam allowance to the interfaced pieces of the bag. Although not instructed in the pattern, I also used headliner in the handles and 2 layers in the bag base. I cut a pattern for a Flap to which I attached a slip lock in nickel (from my bag-making hardware stash) and added 4 nickel bag feet to the base.

Elasticated slip pocket

Inside the bag I made an elasticated top slip pocket plus a divided slip pocket that is especially sized for my ancient mobile phone.

Wrangling the bag is a little like arm wrestling when turning right side out but I am delighted with the end result.

Ethel in Stretch Floral Print Denim

Project #38 completed 16th August 2022