follow the yellow brick road…

Many years ago I stumbled upon some rather gorgeous Wizard of Oz fabric. Having a somewhat dubious sense of humour, I decided it would be funny to make a Dorothy dorothy bag…

Wiktionary: dorothy bag – a woman’s handbag gathered at the top by a drawstring whose loops are used as a handle; traditionally used by bridesmaids to carry confetti

I mentioned this idea to my friend and her daughter, Maddie, suggested it would be even more fun to make a pair of ruby slippers to go in the bag! Brilliant!

I made the slippers first to make sure they would fit in the bag and am now hooked on making slippers. I never made them before, but I think I can safely say I will never again buy a pair of slippers!

I found some lovely stretchy sparkly red fabric for the top, used the ruby slipper fabric for the lining, padded them with some thick cotton wadding and finished them with my favourite glitter ribbon.

handmade ruby slippers
handmade ruby slippers

The bag is also lined with the ruby slippers print fabric and uses two fabric designs for the outside, with purple trim. Simply quilted and finished with white ribbon, it is done…I can’t believe it took me so many years to get round to it!

Dorothy dorothy bag
Dorothy dorothy bag

I may be the only person in the world amused by such silliness, but I really enjoyed my work yesterday! (actually I enjoy it every day)

 

 

 

a patchwork book bag in three…five…well a few easy steps

tutorial

Bear with me here; I am not used to teaching. I am assuming little knowledge, but if I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, as they say, let me know and I will step it up a notch.

I do not believe in rules. I am not one for doing what I am told. If a recipe calls for lemons, I am likely to use limes or oranges…because what do they know? I think the great thing about sewing is that you can read books and blogs and go on courses and then ignore a chunk of it (or all of it) and just do what you want to do. So just consider this an idea to play with as you will.

You can use this approach with whatever fabric you have to hand and you don’t have to use any patchwork, just skip the first few steps and use one oblong of fabric for the outside and another for the inside. For mine I have used quilting fabric  – a pack of pre-cut 15cm squares (which some may call cheating, but as I said, I don’t believe in rules, so how can it be cheating?) – which is a light weight cotton. This means the bag is very light and easy to fold up and pop in your handbag. However, it works well with heavier fabric too (old curtains are my favourite), which makes it stronger; you may need to experiment with sewing machine tension and stitch length. I am not going to try to cover using a sewing machine – just look at the handbook, google any problems and perhaps find a blog written by someone with more technical know how than me.

Ingredients Materials: 8 x 15cm (6inch) squares of cotton fabric (wash it first in case it shrinks), matching thread (or contrasting for the top stitching, if you prefer), 3 x 15cm (6inch) square border fabric and cut each border fabric square in half, two strips of border fabric each 3cm x 72cm (1.25inch x 28.5inch), lining fabric approx 30cm x 72cm (12inch x 28.5inch)*, 2 strips border fabric and 2 strips lining fabric each 5cm x 71cm (2inch x 28inch)

* wait until you have completed the outside layer of the bag as you can use it as a template to make sure the lining is the right size.

Unless otherwise stated, I use approximately 0.7cm seam allowance. This is the equivalent of 0.25inch and on my sewing machine (and I think most machines) is what you get when the edge of the fabric runs along the edge of the standard sewing foot, so is just a convenient allowance.

1) arrange the patchwork squares and border fabric half squares with border fabric at the top, in the middle and at the bottom
1) arrange the patchwork squares and border fabric half squares with border fabric at the top, in the middle and at the bottom
2) Place two half squares of border fabric right together and do a straight stitch along one of the short edges, press the seam open. Repeat with each pair of squares or half squares.
2) Place two half squares of border fabric right sides together and do a straight stitch along one of the short edges, press the seam open. Repeat with each pair of squares or half squares.
3) Take each pair of squares/half squares in the order you arranged, place right sides together, pin and sew along the long side. Pins should always be perpendicular to the line you are sewing so you can sew over the top of them).
3) Take each pair of squares/half squares in the order you arranged, place right sides together, pin and sew along the long side. Pins should always be perpendicular to the line you are sewing so you can sew over the top of them.
4) Press open seams before adding the next row.
4) Press open seams before adding the next row.
5) pin the strips of border fabric, right sides together, to each side of the panel of fabric squares. Sew in place.
5) pin the strips of border fabric, right sides together, to each side of the panel of fabric squares. Sew in place.
6) Use the completed panel of fabric as a template to cut the lining fabric. Fold the panel of fabric for the outside of the bag in half, matching the centre seam as closely as you can (I put a pin in the middle seam just to keep it aligned). pin the two side seams and sew. Fix the thread ends at the bottom of the bag by using the oversew option, turning it around and sew a short distance, retracing the original stitching or just tie the two ends together.
6) Use the completed panel of fabric as a template to cut the lining fabric. Fold the panel of fabric for the outside of the bag in half, matching the centre seam as closely as you can (I put a pin in the middle seam just to keep it aligned). pin the two side seams and sew. Fix the thread ends at the bottom of the bag by using the oversew option, turning it around and sewing a short distance to retrace the original stitching or just tie the two ends of thread together.
7) Fold the lining fabric in half, right sides together, pin the two sides and sew. Press the seam allowance back.
7) Fold the lining fabric in half, right sides together, pin the two sides and sew. Press the seam allowance back. (As the pattern on my lining fabric had a particular direction, I added a double seam allowance, cut the oblong in half and turned one half around so the pattern was in the same direction when you looked inside the finished bag, and then sewed the bottom as well as the sides).
8) Turn the outside of the bag the right way out and push out the corners (a chop stick works well). Place the lining inside the outer bag and push it in to the bottom of the bag with your handy chop stick. I then pin the bottom to stop it moving. Fold in the top of the outer bag - I use the depth of the bottom border plus a bit, but go with what you like the look of.
8) Turn the outside of the bag the right way out and push out the corners (a chop stick works well). Place the lining inside the outer bag and push it in to the bottom of the bag with your handy chop stick. I then pin the bottom to stop it moving. Fold in the top of the outer bag – I use the depth of the bottom border plus a bit, but go with what you like the look of.
9) Fold in the lining so it is just short of the top of the outer bag.
9) Fold in the lining so it is just short of the folded top of the outer bag.
10) Make the handles: for each strip of fabric fold over the long edges so the meet in the middle (right side on the outside) and press. Pin each lining fabric strip to a border fabric strip and top stitch close to each of the four edges (you can see the stitching in picture 11). These handles are long enough to go over your shoulder, but just make them shorter if you prefer to hold the bag in your hand.
10) Make the handles: for each strip of fabric fold over the long edges so they meet in the middle (right side on the outside) and press. Pin each lining fabric strip to a border fabric strip and top stitch close to each of the four edges (you can see the stitching in picture 11). These handles are long enough to go over your shoulder, but just make them shorter if you prefer to hold the bag in your hand.
11) Insert the handles between the lining and outer bag with about 2.5cm below the folded edge of the lining. Tops stitch close to the folded edge of the lining and then, for strength, do a second parallel row of top stitching a little below it.
11) Insert the handles between the lining and outer bag about 5cm from the side edge and with about 2.5cm of handle below the folded edge of the lining. Top stitch close to the folded edge of the lining and then, for strength, do a second parallel row of top stitching a little below it.
12) Remove the pins and press the bag...ta da!
12) Remove the pins and press the bag…ta da!

I like to finish the bag with a ribbon rose brooch, but that is for another day….

ribbon rose brooch
ribbon rose brooch

scrappy patchwork bag

I have carried on experimenting with patchwork bags. I really like this rich purple fabric and the way it makes the bright patchwork squares pop. I made it bigger and think it’s like the three bears’ chairs…baby bear’s was too small and now daddy bear’s is a bit too big, will see if mummy bear’s is just right.

patchwork bag with purple border
patchwork bag with purple border

I used a contrasting turquoise thread, as I love the colour against the purple.

patchwork brights
patchwork brights

The rose is made from wide ribbon and is attached to a brooch clasp, so it can be detached from the bag and worn on a jacket.

patchwork bag detail
patchwork bag detail

I will photograph the steps next time I make a patchwork bag like this and share it here as a tutorial.

this n that

good news for gloves

Well I suppose whether the news is good or bad rather depends on your perspective…gloves that are happy being gloves and find fulfillment in their hand-warming role may experience alarm in hearing that I plan to cut off some of their fingers, sew up the holes and fill them with flame retardant toy stuffing. On the other hand (excuse the pun), those gloves looking for more from their existence than to squished up at the bottom of handbags and pockets and school bags, collecting bits of fluff and getting left over throat sweets stuck to them may rejoice in the knowledge that they will soon evolve in to…dogs!

Patch the dog
Patch the dog

Some time back, Sue in my old office showed me a book she had bought: Miyako Kanamori’s ‘Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softie Friends From Cast-Off Socks and Gloves

Sock and Glove
Sock and Glove

I fell instantly in love and started collecting socks and gloves. I have had some expressions of interest in these cuddly critters, so emailed the author to ask permission to sell a few…and she very kindly said yes!! I still have to carry out the CE Mark testing to self-certify (a company called Conformance sells a very reasonably priced downloadable guide and checklist to CE Marking, I would have been lost without. No doubt others are available too). So this coming week I will be torturing one poor glove-dog, hanging heavy weights from his seams, trying to poke out his stuffing, washing and drying him and worst of all, setting fire to him. One glove-dog must suffer so that others may safely go out in to the world.

hippy chick book bag

I have also been busy working out the simplest way to make a patchwork book bag to put together a tutorial. I love the fabric in this one, but want to try it with a plain border to make it a little bigger and remove the need be too precise matching up the side seams for anyone new to patchwork. I am wondering about making step-by-step photo instructions on postcards – what do you think? Would that be useful?

hippy patchwork book bag
hippy patchwork book bag
patchwork bag detail
patchwork bag detail

so cute! dolls house coat hangers!

Last week I posted photos of my Ellen Mouse mannequin and now my little eBay purchase has arrived, the dress and pants are ready to head off to my friend Jacquie.

Ellen Mouse dress and pants
Ellen Mouse dress and pants

There are a number of these hangers on eBay, but I bought mine from spacemop, and was very pleased with them.

walk and draw

Anyone who followed my old blog before I moved to wordpress will know that I am a big fan the Bath WI. Our June meeting was with Andrew Lansley of walk and draw in Bath. He is a lovely, unpretentious chap who chatted about how he came to start walk and draw, via art therapy, and then got us scattered around the vicinity (including several brave young women sitting in the middle of the roundabout!) drawing whatever took our fancy. The point of this is to slow down and look at things and just see what you can do. Andrew emphasised that it is not about the drawing. However, several people had said to me that they thought I would be very good at drawing and by the time I sat down to sketch a rather lovely Georgian terrace, I was so anxious not to disappoint, I lost all sense of perspective (in every sense of the word) and was part way through quite possibly the worst drawing I have ever done. Andrew came over to chat to me for a few minutes and I calmed down completely and realised just how stupid I was being. It wasn’t about producing a perfect drawing in less than an hour, it was about allowing myself to stop, breathe, enjoy a beautiful Summer evening and push all my to do lists out of my head while I just looked and put pencil to paper. I really want to try to build some of this sort of down time in to my life as an ongoing thing. Doing something, not for the the finished result (or the photo to put in my blog), but for the sense of calm the process itself produces. I would also like to attend one of Andrew’s events…he did mention he works with the Royal Crescent Hotel and it can be combined with their champagne afternoon tea – now how good does that sound??!!