Friday, 4 April 2014

Quilted lunch bag

First April Stashbust - Quilted lunch bag

Lunch bag with the sides folded in

I have been thinking of making a new bag to take my lunch to work in for some time, but it suddenly became an urgent priority when someone else brought in a bag the same as my current one - the chances of grabbing the wrong one are just too high!

The bag with the sides folded out
My priorities for this bag were to have something that was a bit bigger, but with mostly more vertical space (so it doesn't clog the cupboard at work) and to be flexible, so if it not full it can be squished to take up less space.   I also wanted to have pockets for things like my knives and cutting board, so that everything does not get jumbled up together.

Pockets for all my odds and ends - there is also a pocket on the other side for my cutting board. 
This bag fits all those things, although it is probably a little bigger than it needs to be.   The coffee cup also tends to fall out of the elastic loop unless the bag is hanging, as the sides slump down a bit.   Otherwise, I am quite pleased with the result, particularly the pattern matching and the neat seams.    It should also work quite well as a general tote bag.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pyjama Pants: no. 2

This second pair of pyjama pants were made from the same pattern and similar fabric.  This time, instead of using a band around the legs I just hemmed them and let them be a bit shorter.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

February Challenge: Love

For the February challenge theme of "love" I decided to make a memory blanket set for the Miracle Babies Foundation.  They support premature and sick newborns and their families, and the blanket set is part of a memory box which is given to a grieving family.  It contains two lovingly handmade identical blanket and pillows. One set for the family to wrap their baby in and the other to keep in the memory box provided.

This project was made extra challenging for me as I was trying to only use items from my stash, and I did not really have anything suitable.  I ended up using some white cotton and dye, and then to create the applique heart I used some of the fancy embroidery stitches on my sewing machine between rows of pintucks.

It was the first time I have actually used my pintuck foot, and I was surprised by how easy it turned out to be.   The only issue I had was when I miss-threaded the machine and snapped one of my double needles.

The embroidered fabric didn't look as good before I blocked it out and cut out the heart shapes!

The roses that run along the top of the lace are a braid I have had in my stash for years - it had to be hand sewn on, but it was worth the effort as it finishes off the design nicely.  The single rose at the top of each heart also neatens the join in the lace.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A new cover for an old sewing stool.

I have had this sewing stool for a while now (bought second hand on eBay) and was always intending to recover and refinish it.   It has had a new cover put on at some point, which is not in bad condition, but it does have an excessive dome shape to it, with far too much stuffing in the middle.  I did not have the time or enthusiasm to refinish the wood today, but I have finally completed the new cover.

When the seat is turned over, it is obvious that the piece of wood has been tacked on in an attempt to add some extra support at some stage.

When I removed the wood and layers of fabric, it became clear what was the cause of the dome shape - the piece of foam had been pushed in from underneath through the hole in the seat.

 With the foam removed, the fabric that would have been the original support for the seat is visible.

For the new seat support, I used rubber upholstery webbing.

This was covered with a layer of hessian to make sure the stuffing stays above it.

The best new stuffing material would have been a piece of new foam, but as I am trying to use materials I already have I reused the wadding from the original seat as the base, followed by a number of layers of thin fleece.

This was all attached to the base with a layer of calico, and then covered with the final layer of upholstery fabric.

I think the finished result is still in a style which fits the frame, but is a little cleaner looking and does not have the hump in the middle the original had.

The next step is to refinish the wood, hopefully in a slightly lighter shade.

February: shorts II

I decided for my first project this month to try the shorts pattern again, incorporating the adjustments I made last time, and using a sewn on waistband, instead of folded over.

I was a lot happier with the finish of these, the waistband particularly worked a lot better.  For some reason this pair seem a bit lower waisted, so I would probably make the next pair a little higher, but it is only a minor point.

Overall I was happy with the sewing of these, but the fabric they are made from is another matter.  I used a light buttery yellow knit fabric, and it turned out to be very slightly see-through, and to cling to every curve.   In other words, they look appalling on, and I can't imagine wearing them even around the house.  Fortunately it is a cheap fabric I don't mind wasting, and mostly chose because I wanted to get the pattern right before using nicer fabric.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Itty bits to pin cushins

Whilst working on my shorts and thinking I had nothing to sew from the few scrap fabric pieces I have, I realized there is something I really need - pincushions!   I have for years been putting my pins back in their original pack, but as well as being inefficient the pins are now tending to come loose and fall back out.

I picked two patterns to try - a triangle and a square.   I was pleased with both, but the square is perhaps a little big.   The triangle was definitely easiest to sew, the square did provide some challenges to make sure the seams were even and the corners straight.

For stuffing I used some raw wool scraps that are too short to spin well (I think this counts as Stashbusting too, just from a different stash!) and just combed them lightly.   This worked very well, providing a firmer stuffing than synthetic fill while still being soft.
Close-up of my hand-stitched seam

The part I am happiest with is the seams where they are sewn closed - I have finally mastered the art of sewing closed invisibly, after years of having messy, obvious hand stitching.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

January : Shorts

Basic Knit Shorts

This is a project I started on a while ago, and the extreme hot weather we are having gave me extra motivation to get it done.

I drafted the pattern for these shorts from some pajama shorts I have that I really liked the fit and cut of.   I had a few difficulties getting the pattern pieces right, as the knit fabric kept stretching and distorting the shape, but I it worked a lot better when I worked out that the important thing was to keep the bottom and side straight and work out from there.  I made them a bit longer than the originals, as the originals are fine for bed but not something I would wear outside the house.

I am not sure what the fabric is - it is a light knit with a crepe like finish, which drapes really well.

After sewing them up, I found that while the extra length was fine, the legs were a bit too full.  I re-sewed the side seams to make them narrower, and was happy with the width, but where I re-sewed I stretched the seams a bit and made it sit a little funny.

I was not completely happy with the folded over waistband - it works ok (and will be worn with a top over it anyway) but I think I would prefer to have a sewn on band.  It would also make the finishing with the double needle easier, as there is a seam line to sew along to make sure you are in the right spot.

Overall I am happy with the pattern, and should be able to make future items with a lot less problems.  I was less happy with the photography - I took lots of close ups of details, but none of them worked well enough to use!

If anyone has any tips to help me to get a better result next time, I would love to have them.