Thursday, 14 April 2016

Bags are like buses - two come along at once



Something rather unusual for me has happened – I’ve found a pattern I enjoyed sewing so much, that after finishing making one, I just had to make a second. The pattern in question is the Bionic Gear Bag by Sally Thompson (aka RipStitcher) and it is available from Craftsy. After buying the pattern, I joined the "Sew Much Nicer" Facebook Group for inspiration and tips, and watched the excellent video tutorials from Birdcage and Thread. Then it was a matter of picking fabrics and zips from stash and getting some super-duper needles (Microtex 90) to cope with all the layers.


I’m usually quite happy following a printed pattern, but on this occasion the videos made the whole process much clearer. My first bag was finished during a weekend of leisurely sewing, including an unscheduled trip to the shops for a couple of zips when I discovered that the zips in my stash were an inch too short, and the usual stops for hanging out the washing, cooking tea and letting the neighbour’s cat sit on my knee – all the things that get in the way of uninterrupted sewing time.
  


After making that bag and seeing just how much it could hold, I realised I would quickly forget what was in it, and started planning something a little different for a second bag. Some adjustment of the pattern was required in order to use lace zips which were an inch shorter than required and to remove the smaller front pocket. To check the re-sizing, I stitched a test version in paper and made some final alterations before cutting out the fabric.
  

The other major change was to use clear vinyl for the pockets so I can see what's in them. I also added some machine embroidery to the binding, though if I were to do this again, I would embroider the binding before stitching it to the bag!
  
It was only as I was stitching the zip tabs to the binding, that I realised my outer zip goes in the opposite direction to the inner zips. Oh well, better get planning my third Bionic Gear Bag, though I might be tempted to try the Baby Bionic Gear Bag first.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Springing into action



The days are getting longer, bulbs are flowering in the garden and I seem to be springing into sewing action. No major projects, but some stash busting has occurred and a long neglected project restarted.

First up were some sheets for Alder Hey Hospital’s intensive care unit. A plea appeared in the local paper for brightly coloured sheets for cots and incubators so this was an ideal opportunity to use some of the novelty prints in my stash. About 9 metres of fabric have been put to a good use and sent to Alder Hey.
  

Next was a quick tablet cover for an 8” tablet I use at work. I removed the pages from an old A5 hard back diary and added scraps of wadding to cover as padding. A new cover was made with a remnant of fabric and off cuts of fleece, with elastic hair bobbles being used to hold the tablet in place and to fasten the cover.
 

More stash busting with the next project – a quilt for Project Linus. I stocked up on microfleece in Abakhan’s sale and now I need to make the quilt tops to go with the fleece backing. This is the first of two I intend to make for the blue fleece in my stash.
 

Finally, I’ve gone back to the Liberty hexie quilt I started in 2013 and which has been left untouched since the end of 2014. When I started this quilt I had limited Liberty in my stash and the original plan was to make a bed size quilt in a zig zag pattern, but I had never decided just what size it would. This project stalled as the fabrics would not now be my first choice and not having a finished size made it seem an unending task. Time to SWAP (Sew With A Purpose) – I’ve decided to change size and designs and go for a lap quilt in a mirrored effect based on what I have completed so far. This means nearly half the quilt is done and having a final goal has spurred me on to getting the rest finished.
 
  
Here's hoping that the stash busting and sewing continues.


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Looking at some lovely Liberty things



When the Fashion and Textiles Museum in London announced last year that there would be an exhibition on "Liberty in Fashion", I wondered just how long I would be able to wait before going. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t there when the doors opened in October, but instead I managed to wait until the exhibition had been open for over four months before visiting. 


The trip was well worth the wait - I chose a day when there was a morning talk on “The Influence of the East on Fashion at Liberty & Co.” by Dennis Nothdruft (the curator of this exhibition) and a lunch time highlights tour by one of the museum staff. Both events were most enjoyable and informative, and were a great introduction to the exhibition. The layout of the exhibition is a chronological journey through Liberty fashions from the 19th century to the 21st century and it was great being able to get close to the garments to see them in detail rather than them being displayed in glass cabinets.


The latter part of the chronological journey showed collaborations between Liberty and various designers. It was interesting to spot a designer raw edge neck line trim using Liberty fabric in this section and contrast it with a carefully hemmed and appliqued neck line finish on a garment from the 1940s.

After looking at Liberty designs from the past, for the final display of the exhibition we were treated to a hint of what is to come in the Autumn/Winter 2016 fabric collection.
 

An accompanying exhibition at the museum was the “Art of Pattern” which focussed on the work of Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell for Liberty from 1961 to 1977. Unfortunately for photos, this exhibition was in glass cabinets, but nevertheless, it was still a delight to see the various design stages of familiar Liberty patterns.
 

Even though I was expecting (and saw) lots of the traditional Liberty floral patterns, to my surprise I did spy a few patterns that made me think “Quilts!”.
 

If you want to see the exhibitions, there are just a few days left before they close at the end of February. However, if you can't make these, there will be a new exhibition opening in May on the designs and textiles of Missoni.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Starting to sew from stash



My first project of 2016 has been sewn entirely from stash and I have finally used one of the many purse frames acquired over the years from trips to the Harrogate show. The purse frame in question was an 8” slide-frame bought from Bag Clasps (which came with a free pattern) and I used this with some leather and a silk twill brought in the Adamley sale last year.


The leather was very soft so fusible fleece was applied to give some body and the silk lining was stabilised with a light weight interfacing. As I was using leather, I modified the pattern slightly to avoid the French seams and I didn't need to use a special leather needle given the softness of the leather, but I did use a longer stitch length as recommended by my sewing machine. I added a zip pocket to the lining and included a small leather loop in a side seam for clipping on a wrist strap.


Two layers of leather, together with the fusible fleece and the two layers of interfaced lining were thick enough to fill the channel of the frame, but extra padding might be needed with thinner fabrics. I’m pleased with my first attempt at using a purse frame and found the slide-in style very easy to use. I also found that Christmas clementines were ideal to fill out and stabilise the purse when taking photographs!