Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Style and Swing Bag Making Book

Many of you have probably come across Susan Dunlop aka. Susie D Designs through her bag patterns in magazines, including Sewing World Magazine and Love Sewing.  When I heard she was writing a whole book on bag making I was very excited.

http://www.susieddesigns.co.uk/ourshop/prod_3703402-Style-and-Swing-12-Structured-Handbags-for-Beginners-and-Beyond-by-Susan-Dunlop.html


I've been wanting to have a go at bag making for ages but just hadn't had time to get around to it.  Now I have Julie working on The Sewing Directory I actually have a couple of days a week off to sew.  So when I got a review copy of Susan's book I just had to make one of the many beautiful bags in the book.

Hobo Handbag

I decided to make the Hobo Handbag as pictured above.  I have to admit I spent ages trying to pick the perfect fabric, the one Susan used in the book was so pretty it was hard to find something as good, but I think I managed it with Cloud 9's Peacock print from Alegria (a 2012 collection).  I'd been stashing it for a while waiting for the right project and this was it.



The most time consuming part of the whole project was the cutting and interfacing, I spent most the morning doing that.  But the instructions were simple to follow plus the book has full size patterns for you to trace and use.   Books with patterns that require sizing up totally put me off so it's a definite plus point for this book.


One of the reasons I picked this project was that you didn't need any special bag making supplies other than a magnetic snap (but you could use velcro if you don't have a snap).  The actual construction was quick and simple, I added a few extra pockets internally so I could fit everything in, this is simple to do.  The instructions were easy to follow, not confusing at all and there were useful diagrams to help guide you too.

The most difficult part was the final stitching when sewing through 4 layers of fabric and several layers of interfacing, it got a bit tricky but all turned out ok in the end.  I was very impresed with my finished bag, this is the first handbag I've ever made.


Although I split the project over 2 days you could easily make this in one day.  There are several other bags in the book I want to make, especially now I know how easy the book is to follow.


I think this will have to be my next one, it looks really spacious.  I'm thinking it'd be a good project bag for taking supplies to my sewing group.  It'd also be a good beach bag too.



I also like the look of this bag too as a bigger handbag, I like wearing cross body bags.   You can see more of the bags in her book on the look inside feature on Amazon. 

When it comes to buying the book through do pop over the Susan's site, not only is it available early there (not published on Amazon until the 28th May but available on her site now) but it's £5 cheaper than Amazon and comes signed!

I think the book is great, and even if you haven't made a bag before it's easy to follow and covers all the bag construction techniques you need.  She has rated the projects by difficulty, the one I picked was an advanced beginner one but was still simple given that I've never made a bag before.

 Hopefully this is the first of many projects that I'll get to sew now that I have a little more free time :)


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Sewing Bucket List

Over the last 5 years, since launching The Sewing Directory, sewing has been something I have had to squeeze into the odd hour here and there when I wasn't working.  There have been so many things I wanted to make and no time to do it.  I've been limited to quick and easy projects to make the most of the small amount of sewing time I had.

I finally decided last year that working 7 days a week every possible hour was not good for me or my health so I have a new business partner starting and I will drop to working 4 days a week.  Which means suddenly I will have time to sew!

So now is time to remember all those projects I wanted to make and make a start on them.  I've decided to write a sewing bucket list of things I want to sew and new techniques I want to learn.  It's in no way a definitive list but just the things I want to start with first.

 
I've bought a couple of books in preparation for a couple of the new techniques I want to try: Applique Art (for free motion embroidery applique) and  First Steps in Free Motion Quilting.  I definitely want some time to work through the techniques in these books and have a go at some of the projects.

I've also bought a few of the patterns I've seen online that I wanted to have a go at including the Sew Together Bag that I've seen all over Instagram and really want to make, The Hazel Hedgehog pattern from Oh Fransson I have plans to incorporate this block into a project bag I want to make.

How cute is Hazel Hedgehog?  Image © www.ohfransson.com

I've been wanting to make an oven glove, a project bag for taking supplies to my sewing group, a new handbag, storage pockets to hang from the bed, a bag for my embroidery supplies, a pencil case, new cushion covers, a rag quilt for my son to finish plus I have close to 100 sewing books that I want to make projects from so I suspect I have enough to keep me busy for years!

I'm looking forward to rediscovering my love of sewing an trying new projects and techniques, and blogging about them as I go.

What do you plan to sew this year?  Any new techniques you are looking to master? 



Monday, 16 March 2015

New Business Partner and more Handmade Gifts

Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately.  It's been a manic few months, I have a new business partner starting next month and it's taken a lot of work to get to that point which hasn't left much time for blogging.



I'm pleased to announce that Sewing World editor, Julie Briggs, will be leaving the magazine at the end of this month and then starting with me me at The Sewing Directory mid April.  She will be focusing on the content side of the site building up more great projects, tutorials and features for you to read.  Find out more here. 


I've managed some sewing in between all the business side of things and have kept on track with my pledge to make a handmade gift a month.  In February I made my mum the yarn holder she wanted from the book Sew-Licious Little Things by Kate Haxell.  It was a mother's day present so I have it to her this weekend and she loved it.


 For March's handmade gift I made fabric boxes from the book Stylish Home Sewing by Torie Jayne.  I made the celtic one for my mum, and the woodland one for my mother in law - again both as mother's day gifts.



I couldn't resist making a few for myself to, they perfectly fit fat quarters of fabric in (around 25-30 per box) so are great for organising your sewing room.  I made the black one above for myself plus another woodland one. I'm sure I'll be making more in the future too.

If you'd like to make your own one the publishers, Cico Books, have kindly let me put the project from the book onto my site - find it here.

I'm hoping that once Julie starts I'll have even more time for sewing (and blogging).

What have you been making lately?  Do feel free to include links to pics/details in the comments.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

January's Handmade Gift

I decided to start my year of Handmade Gifts (see this page or the tab at the top of this blog for more info) by making a quilt!  I have to admit although I love starting quilts I have never actually finished one... I tend to lose interest after piecing the top and move onto something else so this was quite a personal challenge for me too.


My best friend is having her first baby, a girl due in March, so I decided to make a baby quilt for her.  Coats Crafts kindly sent me samples of the new V & A collection (on sale this month I believe) which is called Bhandari  the collection has strong colours and prints inspired by traditional Indian fabrics.

It may not be the obvious choice for a baby quilt but my friend loves pink, and I didn't want to make something too babyish that the baby would grow out of quickly. I wanted to make it fairly large and in a fabric which would hopefully appeal for a few years.


The exact fabrics I received are above.  I decided to pull out the turquoise one and add in a few pink Kona Solids which matched the pinks in the fabrics.  The prints are quilt bold so it needed some solids to break them up a bit, and to add in more pink.  In total I used 8 fat quarters but had about 1/3 of each left over at the end so I could done it with less.




I decided to cut the squares 6 inches, and have 5 rows across and 6 rows length ways.  I started by laying all the squares out on my new cutting table to decide on the layout, I wanted to make sure each row and none of the same fabrics, and none of the same fabrics were next to each other but other than that the order would be random.



I then pieced one row at a time, putting them back on the table after sewn so I didn't lose track with what was going where.  For the backing I had a piece of fleece from Abakhan Fabrics which I thought would be ideal.  It was navy blue, and would be nice and soft against the baby and keep her warm too.



 I decided to quilt it diagonally across the squares, which created larger squares in the quilt as you can see in the picture above.  For the binding I opted for pink pre-cut bias binding.  I wanted to make the overall quilt a little pinker as there is more purple than pink in the fabrics.




Below is a picture of the finished quilt, my first ever quilt finish!  Plus I did the whole thing in under a month (I started mid Jan).  I only get the odd hour here and there to sew so normally projects drag on for months but this challenge to do one per month made me do it a lot quicker than I normally would as I was conscious of finishing before the end of the month.  I cut it bit fine and finished 6pm on the 31st Jan!



My next project will be a mother's day present, I had intended to make an embroidered notebook cover but my mum was flicking through my new craft books a couple weeks ago and spotted something she wanted.  A yarn holder from Sew-Licious: Little Things by Kate Hexall. my mum uses larger balls of yarn than the ones it is made for so I'll have to make a larger version for her but hopefully it won't be too difficult  to adjust the pattern.

The one in the book is pictured below.  I haven't decided on fabrics yet but I'm considering using the striped fabric from the new Amy Butler collection ,Violette.

Yarn holder from Sew-Licious: Little Things by Kate Haxell published by Cico.


To find out more about the fabrics I used visit the Coats Crafts website.

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