Still here…stitching away

I have been very quiet recently but I have been doing plenty of sewing. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back and tell you all about what I have been up to soon but in the mean time a few piccies of some bags I have been working on for the goodie bag swap.

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A pile of little gifts…..

I’ve been very quiet for the past couple of weeks but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been sewing. I have been working on an early stash of Christmas gifts for my daughters friends, nieces etc.

I know I’ll want to be working on some Christmas themed projects soon so I thought I would get some gifts out the way. My plan is to make a range of place mats, coasters and little book bags. I have various scraps, leftovers from other projects and small lucky dip fabrics that I have been gathering up for this very purpose. I am on a mission to use as much fabric as possible at the moment so I can justify making some new purchases.

I will give them as gifts individually or combine them into little sets like the one below.

You may have noticed a little bag at the back there made from Melody Millers Ruby Star Rising fabrics.

You might not think that this fabric range was one for little girls but I made an identical bag for Cupcake Princess a few weeks ago and she loves it…..look at her using it at the Festival of Quilts below. It has become one her favourite shopping bags. It has also made her dig out my sons viewfinder and discs which have been gathering dust out in the garage – I’m not sure how exciting the pictures of dinosaurs and diggers were but she hasn’t put it back in the garage yet.

 (I knew I would find a reason to post a picture of the Compare the quilts.com quilt at some time…isn’t it fabulous!!).

Have you started work on your Christmas projects yet? I have some larger projects that I need to start working on over the next couple of weeks. I’m pulling the fabrics together right now but I should have something to show you soon.

Goodies ready to be posted…..

This weekends target was to finish off all the items that I needed for the Goodie Swap. I had one of the two mug rugs I needed ready but I also needed to make the goodies to go with them.

I actually went a bit back to front as I made the goodie for my second partner before the mug rug! A little while ago I bought a shoulder bag pattern from Melly & Me and I adapted the pattern by not adding a strap to make a lovely little pouch. I am so pleased with how it came out….I feel lots of Christmas gifts coming up from this one.

The design is really simple but effective…I so enjoyed rooting around to find the right buttons to sew on the front. I was supposed to do needleturn applique for the squares on the front but instead I used fusible webbing and folded over the sides – this seemed to give a more durable finish as I was able to machine stitch it into place.

The ties were really easy to make from some of the leftover fabric scraps so it was quite an economical project. I used some coordinating interior fabric so that the inside is pretty too but you could use some plain fabric if you wanted to keep costs down. The back is plain with just the split fabrics rather than any extra embellishment.

I decided to make the mug rug to go with it from some coordinating fabrics – I used some of the offcuts plus extras from my stash of bluey/green fabrics. The design was very simple but I am really pleased with how it came out. I had some perfect green/blue striped fabric for the binding. My partner says she likes blues and greens so it should be good for her.

The last thing I had to make was an extra for partner 1 to go with her rainbow mug rug. As partner no 1 likes pinks, reds etc I thought I would make her another pouch in her colour scheme. This one was simpler than the blue one as I didn’t add the applique and buttons to the front as all the options I tried seemed too fussy.

I really hope that my partners like their packages…just need to get them all wrapped up ready to post off at the end of the week. Once the package is in the post it will be time to start waiting for mine to arrive – time for more postman stalking!

Give a pet a home…..

You may have popped in to look at this post thinking that I am about to ask you to support a charity or house some unwanted cats/dogs however I’m not asking anything from you I’m just wanting to share the latest challenge from my daughter. Cupcake Princess has toy ‘phases’ like most children I know and for the last couple of weeks she seems to have been obsessed with Littlest Pet Shops. She has been collecting them on and off for a couple of years but during these school holidays it seems like every sentence has some mention of pet shops…which one do you like best? what type of animal do you think it is? what do you think its name is?

On Friday having neglected my children for a few days I tried to spend some quality time with the kids and Cupcake Princess announced that she needed a new bag for the Pet Shops as she had had to go and visit the Queen Mother with the Pet Shops in a sandwich bag. Apparently a plastic sandwich bag just wasn’t good enough for the Pet Shops and a proper Pet Shop bag was required.

Yesterday CP spent a couple of hours searching through my fabric stash, pulling out fabrics, trying out combos and eventually she found some animal alphabet fabric that I bought from Fabric Rehab a couple of months ago which would be suitable for a pet bag. Once combined with some grey and lime green fabrics we had the perfect selections for bag making.

I got up nice and early this morning and started work on a drawstring bag. The bag was based on an Amy Butler pattern that I tried out a couple of times last year but I have scaled it up to a larger size (it required some thinking as I haven’t got a clue where the pattern is so everything was based on gut feel).

I managed to knock up the bag really quickly and luckily CP was happy with it. The only extra bit she wanted was to add something to make it clear it was a bag for Pet Shops. It was time for CP to get out her embroidery hoop and knock up a Pet Shops embroidery. Once I had the words it was fairly easy to knock up a label with some fabric scraps, ribbon and interfacing. The only challenge with this bag was having to use the button hole stitch (for the drawstring holes and the label ribbon hole) , for some reason I always seem to have the buttonhole going in the wrong direction and turning at the wrong time.

I’m really pleased with how it’s come out….hopefully there is enough room for new pet arrivals and she wont have to be embarrassed the next time she takes them on an outing to nana’s!!

I love my postman….

Ok why do I love my postman? He keeps delivering amazing parcels to me……this week I received two swap parcels.

On Tuesday he brought me a beautiful scrappy mug rug from Sharpshayla. We are in the Sew Buzzy quilting bee together so she knows my likes/dislikes better than a random secret partner. She knows how much I like Piece O’Cake Designs so she used one of their patterns to make a bright summery mug rug. I really love it. The quilting really highlights the flowers.

I was also lucky to receive some great extras…a quilting magazine and some really cute pins. She must have guessed how much we like owls….

Yesterday I received another parcel containing my Goodie Bag. It was really funny because I was sitting making my Goodie Bag when the parcel arrived. When I opened it I was so excited because it was the really cool bag that I had spotted in the group photo pool a few days ago and was coveting. Safieh had given some hints in her description with the bag that made me hope it was ours…and it was. She made such an effort to check out what I like and she worked out we were really interested in the Royal Wedding. Take a look at what she came up with….

The embroidery is so good and Cupcake Princess was amazed at the little crown. On the back there was Far Far Away fabric and surely no one could dislike that. Cupcake Princes thinks the bag must be for her and she has requisitioned it to add to her growing bag collection – I’m not sure that it’s entirely fair that I enter swaps, make a swap item and Cupcake Princess pinches all my swap items when they arrive. Mmmm…need to change this arrangement I think.

Aswell as this bag I received a goodie bag of fabric scraps. It was full of bird prints which I just love and one piece was more like half a yard than a scrap. I think I’ll have some fun planning what to make with them.

So now you know why I love the postman. The obvious next question is does the postman love me..NO!! I think he gets rather sick of dropping off packages of purchases, quilting bee packs, swaps etc.

Have to share the picture below…I think Cupcake Princess may have a bit of a bag obsession starting….

Goodie bag finished

You may recall that a couple of weeks ago I made a practice bag for the Goodie Bag Swap. The final posting date is this Friday so the pressure was on today to get my bag done!

I decided in the end to go with the pink sewing fabric option. The primary reason for the selection was that the fabrics are thicker and therefore should make a stronger bag. At the last-minute I decided to use a combo of bright pink and natural linens just in case the pink is a bit much for my partner. The primary colour is still pink but at least some of it was toned down.

I made one key change from the practice bag …I used iron on interfacing rather than wadding. I thought this would make the bag less bulky and give it a bit more of a rigid feel. The natural linen isn’t as thick as the pink linen and can become easily distorted so the interfacing also minimises the movement whilst sewing the bag together. I am a little disappointed that there appears to be a bit of bubbling on the main back fabric but I had this with another bag and after I used it a couple of times it settled down and you can’t notice it.

Construction went fairly well although I could have kicked myself when I realised after sewing in the front pocket that I had forgotten to stitch along the top edge. Construction wise the stitching wasn’t really needed but aesthetically I would have liked it there.

In the practice bag I included interior pockets but in this bag I added an extra row of pockets and a hook for attaching any valuables.  Two rows of pockets should be more than enough for keys, phones, purses whatever you want.

Overall I am happy with how the bag came out and hopefully it will be to my partners taste. It has a sewing theme and my partner must be a sewer so hopefully she will find a use for the bag. Now I just need to fill a bag of scraps to put inside and then I can send it off tomorrow.

If my partner doesn’t like the bag she can send it back to me as I know someone who does like it……

Bag practice….

You may recall from a few weeks ago that I joined a bag swap called the Goodie Bag Swap. The idea for this swap is that you make a bag for your partner and within it you include a bag of scraps…who can resist scraps!!

I made a practice bag last week using some mod kitchen fabrics. The idea was to make a tote bag with pockets that you could use to bring home a good bag full of purchases. I wasn’t following a pattern but I tried to use some of the things I have learned  from other bag making projects:

  1. Strengthen the bag with lining and plenty of overstitching around the seams.
  2. Incorporate outer and inner pockets to stash away smaller items.
  3. Incorporate a few different fabrics to make the bag attractive.
  4. Don’t use pale coloured fabric on the handles as it soon gets dirty.

I used some fabrics from the Mod Kitchen range for the bag – five different prints in total. I incorporated one large outer pocket held in by some coordinating fabric strips and lined the bag with some compressed wadding.

I also used some of the striped fabric and more coordinating fabric strips to hold the bottom of the pocket in place. You can also see some of the over stitching which adds some detail but more importantly adds some strength to the seams.

I gave the bottom some width with a good right-angled corner (ignore the not so perfect lining up of the strips…you cant have everything I suppose!).

The inside of the bag was lined with more coordinating striped fabric. I incorporated a strip of three pockets sized to fit in keys, purses, coupons etc. Again for strength the pocket strip was incorporated into the side seam of the bag. I also added a strip of fabric across the bottom of the pocket, again with plenty of overstitching, to add even more strength as I have found in previous bags that the inside pockets can get a bit flappy.

I’m really pleased with how it came out. I do need to work on how to strengthen the handles…I always find them a bit of a pain to get exactly right. I have an Amy Butler bag pattern that I’ve made before that has some really strong handles so I may dig the pattern out so I can remind myself how I made them.

Now I need to decide whether to use this bag for the swap or make another one for my partner. I will probably make another bag in fabrics that are more to my partners taste and I’ll try to make further improvements to the design following the lessons learn from this practice.

Out with the old….in with the new!

So as one swap comes to an end another one begins. I seem to have got the swap bug suddenly and I’ve signed up for a new one….the Goodie Bag Swap.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/goodiebagswap/

For this swap I need to make a bag for my partner and fill it with goodies. As part of entering the swap I had to select a bag level of beginner, intermediate or advanced and having looked at the bags that were used as examples for each level I went for beginner…..I may have made a lot of bags but I haven’ t tried many of the skills of bagmaking.

I made a mosaic of bags that I liked and which I think I could make so my partner could use it as inspiration…..

Pop on over to my flickr site and look the picture up if you want more details on any of the bags – there are links to the original pictures.

When I looked at the mosaic after I posted it I realised that I’ve been drawn to bright fabrics with strong prints. I’ve also been drawn to bags with plenty of room as I’m always carting around a bag full of pens, notepads, phones, ipods etc …I dont do ‘bare essentials’ very well.

I should be receiving the details of my secret partner by the end of the week so the fun will begin shortly – searching through magazines and books for some inspiration. I already have some bags in mind that I have been considering making but I need to see what my partner fancies before making a decision this time.

New Bags for a New Year

There has been a need for making some new bags for the family.

The first bag was for myself. I happily acquired a new work laptop just before Christmas but sadly it was too big for the laptop bags I already had and due to its size I was struggling to find a reasonably sized bag at the shops.

Last year I bought some fabulous owl fabric – unfortunately I don’t know what it is called or who it was by – my intention was to use it to make some shopping bags but it seemed perfect for my laptop bag. I combined it with some black and white dotty fabric I picked up from Fabric Rehab before Christmas. I added some stiffener between the layers to give it some additional strength and shape. I’m really pleased with the outcome…and having used it for the past couple of weeks I can confirm it is perfect for carrying everything to work on the train.

Owl laptop bag

The owls are so funny some of them have really mean looking faces!!!

The second bag I made today was a new book bag for Cupcake Princess. You may recall I made her a book bag last year using a pattern from Heather Bailey but although she uses it and its perfect for her books she can’t fit her lunch in it. For the last couple of weeks she has been using another bag I made for her last year – the ice cream bag – which her lunch will fit in but it doesn’t have a flap to keep out any rain.

We popped down to Cotton Patch yesterday afternoon and CP chose some brilliant fabrics from Kaffe Fassett to make her bag from. The first one was a pencil fabric and the second one was a coordinating fabric of flowers. CP’s current favourite colour is turquoise so it is perfect for her.

I spent a couple of hours this morning piecing it together. I used the basics of the Heather Bailey bag but scaled it up and added some interior pockets for transporting letters and money for school. I couldn’t find the original pattern but a bit of staring at the original bag made me remember the basics.

It all went really well and I was pleased with the results. I deliberately made the strap a bit longer than necessary so the bag would fit well when worn over the top of her big winter coat – she hates feeling constricted by bags that are too tight when worn across the body.

I really love the colours….they’re so vibrant. There will be no problem finding the bag in the cloakroom.

Close up of the booky bag.

Cupcake Princess really likes it and she has packed it up this evening ready for taking to school in the morning.

Proud of her pencil booky bag

I have to share the photo below aswell….CP came outside wearing her daddy’s slippers and they looked so hilarious in the pictures – talk about Big Foot!

Rooting around in the sewing cupboard…

This afternoon I was rooting around in my craft/sewing cupboard looking for some fabric and I came across some sandwich bags full of part finished Christmas projects from a couple of years ago! Much to my amazement I found some fabrics I had cut out to make some bags and fused pieces to make ornaments/centre panels for bags. The bags were a bit boring really but the applique’s are so perfect for my various swaps and Christmas I will just have to use them.

The problem is that now I feel the pressure to spend my evenings doing all the sewing…I just hope I can complete it all in the time that I have….I’ll keep you updated.

 

Fused ready to applique....

 

 

Ornaments