I so enjoyed the challenge of last year’s Hillary’s Blinds craft competition that when I was emailed about taking part again this year, I jumped at the chance! I was given the choice of a metre of any of these fabrics:
I think all four are lovely and was particularly tempted by Rayna Apple, but the lovely colour and foliage print of Safi Turquoise won me over. As anyone who reads my blog cannot have escaped noticing, I love bugs and bees and wildlife so I decided to use freemotion embroidery to add a few bugs to the fabric and then to use it to make a shoulder tote. I almost always make things for other people and decided this one is for me!
One of the nice things about upholstery or curtain fabric is that it is more substantial than a quilting cotton and is a good base for free-motion embroidery. Mind you, to be sure there would be no puckering, I added a stitch and tear stabiliser to the back of the fabric before I began stitching. Free-motion embroidery is rather like drawing by moving the paper instead of the pencil. I love it; totally addictive.
Once the free-motion embroidery bee, dragonfly and ladybird were complete I could tear away the stabilising fabric.
The other benefit of upholstery fabric is that it holds its shape and does not necessarily need lining. I am a big fan of French seams – stitched once with wrong sides together, trimmed, turned inside out and stitched again, so all the raw edges are enclosed within the seam.
Once the body of the bag was complete I turned over the top edge twice and machine stitched two neat rows of stitches. The bag is finished with long handles, so the bag can be worn on the shoulder. I used two narrow lengths of fabric for each handle, ironing the raw edges to the centre and sewing the two pieces together with the raw edges tucked neatly away in the middle of the fabric ‘sandwich’. The handles are sewn to the bag with two layers of stitching for strength…and ta da!
This is a really simple way to make a bag – if you have a sewing machine you haven’t really tried using, a big like this is a great way to start sewing. In fact this is a method I teach at Grownups Playgroup, as it is great for beginners to take home something they can use and be proud of. I am keeping this bag, but feel inspired to embroider more bugs and beasties on bags and zip pouches in the coming weeks.
I have loved seeing how differently everyone approaches this challenge; have a look for yourself on the competition’s Pinterest board: Hillary’s Craft Competition 2015
[Oh and I just realised, this is my 100th post since I switched to WordPress…may push the boat out with a celebratory alcohol free lager…all that’s in the fridge]