Monthly Archives: July 2016

Finishing off Projects

I usually make a demonstration bag when tutoring a workshop and it often happens that the sample does not quite make the cut at the end of the day. For the Carousel Tote bag workshop I had prepared a bag using some remnants of fabric that were originally purchased for a Sewing Organiser ( that a great friend made for me to give to another great friend!

There was just sufficient to make the tote bag but on the day of the workshop it did not get finished. Now it is and as I plan to visit my friend mid-August I will save it to give to her when I visit.

101_6719 (2)   101_6720 (2)

Front of the Carousel Tote Bag        Reverse showing the accent fabric

When preparing for the Simplicity 2396 Tote Bag class – I was delighted to discover that due to the width of the fabric, I had sufficient for TWO bags. I managed to complete one on the day of the workshop and this afternoon have completed the second. This version has the added accents of contrast piping on the joining seam between the main bag and the bag band and also around the “fussy cut” tab. Both bags have my signature pockets inside – one divided slip pocket plus a zipper pocket with slip pocket behind. The second bag also has a loop with key chain so that those important keys do not get lost in the depths of the bag!

MARK 4 -2

I shall be sending one bag to my sister for her birthday in October and keep the other for me.

Bag-making Workshop – Simplicity 2396

pattern envelope

Caitlin and Sue arrived promptly for the workshop and after a brief introduction we got down to the business of cutting out all those pieces of fabric, interfacing and fusible wadding. Caitlin was re-cycling an Blue-printed Indian cotton tablecloth and Sue had chosen two beautiful, bright lengths of Batik in shades of Turquoise. For myself I chose a Natural-coloured coarse-woven linen/cotton blend with a print of old-fashioned Roses in Red.


Caitlin and Sue get cutting out

Having demonstrated the variations that I had made to this simple design, both “girls” opted to include the shaped tab and magnetic fastener on their bags.


Caitlin’s Bag partially completed

Stitching and construction went ahead and quickly all three bags were produced. Due to the wide range of fabric choices it never ceases to amaze me how different each completed bag looks.


Sue’s completed Bag                        My Bag – version 3

I hope that Caitlin and Sue will make up more of this bag pattern and look forward to spotting them in and around Hampshire and Wiltshire!


Caitlin models her completed bag.

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!