Friday, 24 February 2012

One of my favourites

This is a bag I love to make. 
It's a simple rectangular bag, with the base squared off.  The orange squares in the side, and the lining, are made from some lovely Gambian fabric a friend brought back for me. It really sets the denim off, I think.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Owl bag tutorial

I haven't provided printable patterns for this, but I will tell you how I made the patterns.
I started with a semicircle, and sliced the top off a little more than half way.  My semicircle was about 10" diameter. You will need to cut two of these in your main fabric and two in your lining.
The head part is made from two overlapping circles, extended for the flap.  You will need one in your main fabric and one in your lining.
I used a gusset strip 2" wide.  For the eyes I used fleece for the whites, and just found objects of a suitable size to draw round.  I used large black buttons for the pupils, but you could use fleece for this as well. The beak is made from two diamonds.  For the strap you need a strip of fabric 6" wide and as long as you want the strap to be.  Finally, I created the wings by tracing my body pattern and then drawing on the shape I wanted.
My first step was to applique.  I used a zig-zag stitch to sew the inside edges of the wings on, and to sew first the whites and then the pupils of the eyes.
Next I put my head pieces right sides together and sewed around all the edges except for the long straight one - leave that one open.
Sew the two pieces of the beak right sides together along three sides.  Clip the corners and turn right side out.  Press well, folding the open edge inside.  Put in place and topstitch onto the head, all the way round.

Take one body piece and sew it to the gusset along the curve, leaving the straight edge open.  Then attach the other body piece in the same way.  Repeat with the lining, but leave a gap in the curve for turning later on.
Add your fastenings at this point.
Make the strap by pressing the fabric in half lengthwise.  Open out, then fold both sides into the middle and press again.  Finally press the whole thing in half.  Topstitch down each side.
Turn the main bag right side out.  Pin the straps to the gusset at the top.

 Turn over, and pin the flap piece to the body back along the straight edge.
Put all of this inside your lining and stitch all around the straight edge.
Turn through the gap in your lining and stitch up the gap by hand.  Then press and top stitch all round the top of your bag.
Enjoy!  Let me know how you get on, and if you make this bag and post images please post a link to them in the comments.

Green Crafts Showcase

Monday, 20 February 2012

Some background - why I do this and how I got started!

I have loved sewing since a child, and have, in my time, done many forms - cross stitch and tapestry, making clothes, soft toys, dolls' clothes, patchwork and applique.  It was the patchwork which led me into mag making; at the shop where I went on patchwork courses, I attended my first bag making one.  I got hooked!

Money was tight, however, and those lovely patchwork cottons are expensive.  One day I saw a pattern in a magazine for a bag made from old jeans.  "I could do that", I thought.  I haunted some charity shops and picked up a few pairs of old jeans for £1 each.  I was off.  My first bag, adapted from the magazine pattern, ended up something like this.

My daughters are still using them!

I carried on picking up jeans, and made a number of bags from them.  I tried to sell some at fairs, along with other items I had made, but without a huge amount of success.
Fast forward a few years, and a friend told me about Casuarina House, and the work another friend had put in to set it all up.  I heard about the fundraising involved.  The following Christmas I gave the friend one of my denim bags.  She loved it.  As an afterthought, I said, "Do you think Debbie would like some of these to sell?"  I had about 20 left over.  The message came back, "Yes please."  That was the start.

I don't haunt the charity shops any more.  Instead, jeans are collected for me at a growing range of locations. Pupils at the school where I teach regularly bring them in.  My church collects them.  The patchwork shop I frequent does so too.  I have also been given masses of other resources - bags are lined with curtain fabric, sheeting, and any other suitable material I can get hold of.  Buttons, zips and trims have been passed on.  Recycling to raise funds has captured people's attention.

Gradually I have become more involved in the fundraising myself.  Last year I took bags to half a dozen sales.  This year I have at least one per month booked.  Boxes of bags go out to various place - kind people take them to their workplaces and sell them for me.

Last January, amazingly, I went out to Kenya myself.  I met the children,

saw the home, heard about the feeding programme, soon to start feeding 600 starving children in the village on a regular basis.

It has inspired me even more.  When I saw the children, heard the need, felt the appreciation, the welcome - how could I not?

Please follow some of the links and look at our Facebook page for regular updates.  If you would like to be involved yourself, in any way, please get in touch with me through the comments.  There are children all over the world starving.  I can't help them all.  I have chosen to focus on 600 children in Utange, and there The Sure Foundation is making a difference.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A profitable half term!

I have had a creative burst this holiday, and the curtain samples have been inspiring.  As well as the three bags I posted in my last post (which were extremely quick to make) I made three of the pattern pictured here. 

This was a much more complicated proposition.  The pattern came from a magazine, and I have used three different colourways of this particular curtain sample in the design.  Sadly the two that I used in the main panel looked very similar when pieced; I wish now that I had used the blue colourway (which I used in the top and bottow stripes) as one of the main panel colourways.
It is a lot of piecing, but came out looking really effective.  I used denim for the other pieces of the bag, and lined it with fabric from an old sheet.  To the inside I added a zipped pocket on one side and a simple full length pocket on the other.  The other two of this design are in different colourways; I tried photographing them but it didn't come out so well.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Recycling curtain samples

I was given a pile of wonderful curtain samples - you know, the type which you see in shops, in a huge book with holes punched through the tops.  Far too good to throw away, but none of them large enough for a lining on its own, I got my brain in gear to decide how best to use them.  Here is my first solution:
The pattern came to me via Pinterest, and you can find it here.  Looking at the pattern (and particularly the image) I had no idea the bag would come out so large.  However, I am quite pleased with it even so.  The curtain samples formed the patttern on the front - each sample made the front and back of one bag with very little waste.  I used denim for the stripes and the straps, and the linings were more curtain fabric - this time offcuts which curtain makers had passed on to me.  The bags have a simple internal pocket, but I decided to omit the fastening from the original pattern.