Monthly Archives: January 2016

Quilted Cosmetics Bag

toilet bag

Finally, to complete the ensemble of travel bags I have made a quilted cosmetics/toilet bag. This is made to my own design – an “off the cuff, cut out and stitch” project.

Using a small piece of the Black background, tulip printed cotton fabric I quilted a lattice design. I used a plain Black zip in the top which came from my stash and usefully already had a ring pull attached. I have added a tab at one end of the zip but now I realise that I should have added another at the other end! (A lesson learned for next time)

I used a standard construction method for the base and corners, there is a plain lining which conceals all the raw edges and seam allowances. The bag measures approximately 10” across the base, 7” at the top and is 8” deep. Like Goldilocks and the 3 bears, this is just the right size for my toiletries.

Quilted Tote Bag – Simplicity 2600

2600 quilted  tote bag

I am gradually making each of the items featured in this pattern envelope. The quilted tote bag is view B. The bag has a single small slip-in pocket on the outside plus a large internal slip pocket that is divided into 3 sections. As I have a deal of experience in bag-making thought this would be fairly plain sailing. How wrong I was!

To start with the pattern pieces all have to be quilted in a lattice design. That’s the main bag front and back, bottom panel front and back, external pocket, internal pocket, handles and base panel. The only piece NOT quilted is the case for the bag base stiffener panel. Oh well – I set up the walking foot and quilting guide to 4 cms and got stitching.

Having completed the quilting I read on to the next step which was to stitch contrast bias binding on both sides of each of the handles. Another time-consuming job.

As the bag is not lined this meant frequently changing the top and bottom threads to match the fabric. The pattern instructions also advise binding the seam allowances – but that is definitely a step too far for me so I used my overlocker. However, this also caused a problem in deciding what colour thread to use. I opted for Red but am not happy as this is such a contrast to the Pale Cream fabric that I used for the bag lining.

Although I used the length of zip quoted on the pattern envelope and was consistent in using a 5/8 inch seam allowance, the zip did not fit perfectly into the top of the bag. Finally, I unpicked part of the side seams, turned back the seam allowances, top stitched in place and let the zip extend beyond the top of the bag, adding pull tabs to each end of the zip. Again I am not 100% happy but I feel this is the most practical and attractive solution.

The finished bag measures approximately 18” wide x 15” deep so is a good size and should prove to be plenty big enough for me to pack all those extras such as my android tablet, kindle e -reader together with chargers and some handicraft project for my upcoming stay in hospital.

Barrel-Shaped Cosmetics Bag – Simplicity 2600

         2600 pattern envelope front   2600 line drawing

I am making each of the items featured in this pattern. Previously I posted details of the weekender bag and now I have completed the barrel-shaped cosmetics bag which is item D of the package.  

Again there was quilting to be worked on the Tulip-printed quilting cotton fabric bought from New Threads, Weyhill Fairground. The ends of the barrel are in the complimentary Lime Green fabric, also quilted. I used some more red piping and a red zip.

On completion I have discovered that for my particular purposes this bag is rather small. I will check out how much surplus fabric I have once I have cut out the tote bag (view B) and the jewellery roll (view C) in the hope that I can make another bag that is large enough for all my toiletries.

2600 cosmetics bag 1    2600 cosmetics bag 2

Random-dyed Plain Knit Shawl

Lately at our Patchwork & Quilting Friday morning house groups there has been a lot of knitting! I picked up a basic pattern for a triangular shaw as demonstrated by one of the Ladies.

Using double knit weight yarn (I chose a Patons Silky random dyed) and needles, size 4 or 4.5mm, cast on 3 stitches. Working in stocking stitch increase by one stitch at the beginning of every knit row until you have 100 stitches. Then decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of every knit row until you have 3 stitches left. Cast off. Decorate with beads, buttons, tassels, trims – anything that takes your fancy!

I worked my shawl in plain knit stitch for every row and made the increases and decreases at the end of alternate rows. The shawl took just over 200 grms of yarn and measures approximately 54” at its widest x 21” deep to the apex. I “pimped” up my shawl by adding some irridescent plastic beaded trim on a fine string heading that I have had in my stash for about 12 years. I knew it would come in handy some day!

all knit shawlette plus trim

A new Tailor’s Ham

When reading the notes and making the demonstration Teddy Bear for the Soft Toy workshop, I discovered that using a Clover Mini Iron and a Tailor’s Ham would be two very useful pieces of equipment. They were especially good for pressing those ¼ inch wide narrow seam allowances and getting into all the tight curves.

My original Tailor’s Ham was deep in storage along with all my tailoring equipment, but no matter, I had time and materials so decided to make another.

I checked out on You Tube and quickly found a great video ( complete with pattern drafting instructions and within an hour, hey presto, a new tailor’s ham.


For my new Ham I used two layers of plain Cream 100% cotton fabric and stuffed with my usual polyester toy stuffing that I buy by the kilo through eBay and use for all my cushion pads and soft toys.

Soft Toy-Making Workshop

Soft Toy Making Workshop Tuesday 19th January

Originally there were two ladies booked to attend this workshop but unfortunately one of them had to cancel due to another commitment. That left just one, Maureen, a good friend that I met at Franklins Monday morning P&Q classes.

Maureen 1

We had a most enjoyable day and both managed to complete a stuffed toy. Maureen made Marigold a charming rabbit with long floppy ears, and I made “Spot the dog”, a reminder of a childrens’ TV programme – “The Woodentops” that I used to watch way back in the 1950’s!

Marigold by Maureen  puppy big feet

Marigold                                                           “Do you think I’ll grow into these feet?”

Simplicity 8044 – Teddy Bear

On Tuesday 19th January there will be a Workshop at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground when we will be making stuffed toys using Simplicity pattern 8044. I have already made the Rabbit (see a previous post) and over the weekend I have made the Teddy Bear. As I did not have any embroidery floss to hand, I used small pieces of felt for the nose and eyes and finished off the project with a Lilac bow. 

There is also a Puppy Dog included in the pattern and I have set aside the materials to make that version during the workshop.

This is a great pattern for the beginner or advanced seamstress alike. There are just two main pattern pieces for each version and they go together like a dream. If I had more nieces and nephews of the appropriate age I am sure that I would make many more!

bear in pink gingham

Basic Bag-Making Workshop at New Threads

As part of the new season of workshops at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, 2016 started with a basic bag-making workshop using Simplicity pattern 2164. I used this pattern myself many times when making bags as Christmas gifts for my patchwork and quilting friends. I was very confident that I could teach this project and set to with enthusiasm.

The class started at 11am and there were two excited students, Helen and Serei. I don’t think that either lady had any great experience of sewing so that excitement was mixed with a certain amount of apprehension.

Helen and Serei

I am pleased to say that by the end of the day there were two very delighted ladies modelling their hand-made bags!

helen   serei

I hope that Helen and Serei will now go and make more bags and develop their skills with other projects. Maybe I will meet them again on other workshops later in the year.

elephant print demonstration bag 1     letterbox zip insertion

demonstration bag                                    letterbox zip insertion demonstration

“Sally” Side-Buttoned Pinafore Dress

line drawing

I think it was back in October that Sally, a member of the Franklins’ Monday P&Q class wore a super linen pinafore dress. Unfortunately it was shop-bought so no chance of a dressmaking pattern. Instead, I asked Sally to stand still for a few moments whilst I quickly drew a sketch of the dress.

Back home I studied the sketch and decided that with some work on my basic shift dress pattern I could make a similar dress in fabric of my choice and to fit me!

So, to start with a dug out the basic bodice pattern that I have used so many times and traced it onto tissue paper. First, I re-drew the neckline and checked the shoulder width for a sleeveless garment. Then, moved the bust darts into the waistline line darts. I converted those darts to little pleats to be stitched to the waistband. The back bodice darts would remain as darts. I measured up from the waist seam and cut so that there could be a 2 ¾ inch wide waistband which would finish on or about my natural waistline. The waistband would also have belt loops incorporated into it, two at the front and two at the back.

The complicated part of Sally’s dress was the fact that it had a side button fastening on the left-hand side. The opening starts under the armhole and continues down, includes the waistband and finishes further down the side of the skirt.

bodice view front

Bodice Front

back bodice

Bodice Back

Next the skirt pattern. I drew a basic A-line and converted the front darts to little pleats, leaving the back skirt darts as they were. I also checked that the pleats and darts in the skirt panels would align with the darts and pleats of the bodice above the waistband.

To copy Sally’s dress the added complication to the side-button fastening was that there were, in addition to the inverted pleat and band patch pockets on the front of the skirt, also pockets set into the side seams of the skirt, So – lots of pockets!

Having drafted the basic pattern I then cut out the bodice and waistbands in calico to make a toile. At the fitting of the toile I noted that I needed to reduce the front armhole. To do this I made a short dart which I then relocated into the waistline dart/pleats. I also needed to reduce the front bodice width by 2” at each side seam, starting at the join of the waistband and reducing to 0” at the underarm. That completed, I adjusted my pattern, re-drafted the pattern onto flip chart paper and made the appropriate notations. Now to start on the actual dress.

I had intended to use a fine Navy needlecord that I bought in Fabricland’s Salisbury branch but before I cut into that fabric decided to make a “tester” garment using some “free” Forest Green “suedette” finish fine jersey fabric that I had been given by a neighbour when she had been clearing out a stash of dressmaking fabrics. Due to the sueded finish of the fabric I noted the nap and ensured that all pieces were cut in the same direction, I.e. With the pile running down the garment. As the fabric was a jersey there would be no need to finish the seam allowancess and because it was a synthetic fibre I decided that I would line the entire dress with anti-static lining which would make it hang well and so much nicer to wear.

Firstly I cut out the bodice, waistband pieces and side pocket bags. I would leave the patch pockets until later as I was not sure whether to include them and would make my decision once the dress was made up.

The bodice with the underlap for button closure on the left side went together well. I did stay-stitching around the neckline then stitched the little pleats on the front and made the darts on the back. I then stitched together at the shoulder seams and repeated on the bodice lining except that I made tucks instead of the pleats and darts. Having stitched the shoulder seams of the lining I then placed the bodice and lining right sides together and stitched around the neckline, armholes and down the underlap and overlap on the left side. Having turned through I was then able to stitch the centre back and right side seams together. I top-stitched around the neckline and armholes to finish. Then I made a set of belt loops, each 4” long which were attached to the bodice, lined up with the pleats on the front and darts at the back. The waistband sections were joined and the top then tacked to the bottom of the bodice. Time for a fitting – all was well. I made the buttonholes and attached buttons to the bodice before attaching the waistband lining and then made a buttonhole and button for the waistband. Now onto the side seam pockets and skirt panels.

The side seam pocket for the right-hand side was plain and simple to sew but it was the one on the opposite side that gave me considerable pause for thought. It was like working out jigsaw puzzle but without the guiding picture to demonstrate what should go where. Eventually I got it sussed and I am absolutely delighted with the finish of the placket and that hidden side seam pocket behind.

When attaching the skirt panels to the bottom edge of the waistband I found that the front skirt fitted beautifully, my drafting had been “spot on”. Unfortunately I had been over-generous with the back panel. The dart placement did not line up with the back bodice darts and belt loops and there was way to much fabric at the waistline. I moved and enlarged the darts which I then “hid” behind pleats so that I still had fullness in the skirt.

back skirt view

Skirt Back

I stitched the lining skirt panels together, not forgetting to leave an opening to line up with the placket. I knew that the hem on the skirt would be 2” so made a double fold hem on the lining to finish 1” shorter. The rest of the construction was simply to add the skirt lining to the waistband seam, pull down the waistband lining to cover the join and top stitch before making three buttonholes and buttons in the skirt placket and hand stitching the hem.

I guess that the entire garment has taken about 15 hours which is much longer than I usually take to make a dress, but I do now have a detailed pattern and set of construction details so the next version should take much less time.

full length view

Finally, having worn the dress for a short time I have decided to forego the patch pockets on this version. Also next time I may well omit the second side seam pocket which did add considerably to the construction time.

Weekender Bag – Simplicity 2600

     2600 pattern envelope front  2600 line drawing

As one of the various workshops that I will be tutoring in 2016 Meg of New Threads and I have identified Simplicity pattern 2600 for “Travel Accessories”.

For the first sample project I chose some fabulous printed cotton featuring Red Tulips on a Dark Grey background and a co-ordinating Lime Green from New Threads’ Sales table to make the view “A”, a large (and it did turn out very large!) weekend bag identified on the pattern as a “Duffle” bag. Finished dimensions are 13” high x 20” wide x 11” deep. There is certainly sufficient space to pack for a weekend away or as it will happen in my case, a short hospital stay for hip replacement surgery.

To make the bag involves a lot of quilting of fabric. For the quilting on the Red tulip print I used Red thread and for the contrast Green fabric I used a co-ordinating Green.  Whilst I do enjoy straight line quilting, by the time I had completed the amount required for this project I was definitely “quilted out”! The bag itself goes together fairly straightforward but time-consuming (it took me approximately 12 hours) as in addition to the quilting, it involves a lot of straight stitching of bias binding, to the edges of the straps, along the edge of the outside pockets and all around the inside pocket. Additionally there is a long 20” zip to insert plus piping around the joining seam where the end panels are joined to the main bag which may cause some problems for the beginner.

After much “oohing” and “aahing” over the finished bag Meg and I have decided to concentrate on the other projects featured on this pattern. Students can get their quilting “fix” on the Tote bag, the backing for the Jewellery Caddy and the Make-up case. Once they are more confident they can tackle the Weekend bag to complete the set.

Having left the bag to be displayed at New Threads shop, I purchased the remainder of the two fabrics used so that I can now complete all the other projects in the pattern envelope. I will just be so co-ordinated!

  simplicity 2600 weekender bagsimplicity 2600 weekender bag pic 2