Saturday, October 20, 2012

Patchwork Bag

My sabbatical year has ended this week as I started a new job. I have enjoyed my 'year of being more creative' hugely but it was time to move on to the next stage and earn some money! I will still continue to update my blog, but maybe not as frequently as before.

To get one last 'sewing fix' in before I went back to work I made a new work bag. It is made entirely from upholstery or curtain fabrics, most of which I was given by the local department store as they couldn't bear to throw them away.

Each patchwork piece is 15cm square and I used the same fabrics front and back. The top strip is 5cm high and the bottom is 15cm high. The handles are 65cm long. All measurements include 5-10mm seam allowance.

After sewing the patchwork squares together on the machine, I attached the top and bottom strips.
Then I cut out 2 pieces of fleece from an old blanket (the bright green in the photo below) and 2 pieces of dress lining. Making a sandwich with the patchwork on top, fleece in the middle and lining on the bottom, I quilted round the patchwork squares 'in the ditch'.

On the front I added some extra decoration - a row of grosgrain ribbon, a row of lace and a row of thin ribbon. These are all pieces that I have saved in a box from chocolates or those annoying loops to keep clothes on the hanger in shops. Where the thin ribbon wasn't long enough, I had to make a join so I covered this with a cute bow.
Next I stitched the sides and bottom of the bag together.

To make a flat bottom, I turned the bag inside out and squashed the corner flat, matching up the side and bottom seams. I ruled a line across at 45 degrees, measuring down from the corner each side to check it was even, and then sewed across. I tacked in a piece of craft vilene to give the base a bit of rigidity.
Then I started on the lining. I was using 2 cotton fat quarters that I had lying around. I wanted a big pocket but the cotton was very thin so I bonded a large square of calico behind the pocket area with Bondaweb to reinforce it.

The pocket is 2 pieces of dress fabric, 1.5 times wider than the finished size. I sewed round 3 of the sides, right sides together and turned through. Then pressed under a channel for elastic at the top and sewed that. I basted 4 pleats on the bottom edge, threaded elastic through the top edge, pulled up the fabric to match the bottom and stitched to secure. Then I could sew the pocket to the lining. I used the pattern on the lining as a guide, which was handy! Finally I sewed the 2 pieces of lining together along the sides only.

Then I made the handles by putting 2 strips right sides together and sewing down the long edges only. I turned them through with the aid of a large safety pin, pressed and sewed a zig-zag top-stitch down both sides to keep them flat. I used zig-zag so that the stitches could give if the handles came under strain.

The final assembly is the tricky part as there are so many layers to sew through by now. I started by sewing the handles on firmly inside the top seam allowance and pinning them out of the way. They are lined up with the edge of the second patchwork square.

Then with the bag right side out and the lining wrong side out, pull the lining over the outside of the bag, line up the top edge and side seams, pin and stitch. Turn the lining to the right side and press. It would be advisable at this point to top-stitch the lining to the seam allowance to stop the lining rolling out to the outside of the bag, but I didn't think to do it until too late so had to add a row of top stitching round the top at the end.

Next I pressed under the raw edges of the lining on the bottom edge and sewed them together from the right side. I pushed the corners in to match the shape of the bag and sewed across them too so that things won't get lost in the folds of lining at the bottom of my bag. And that was that - I am so pleased with this, it makes me smile every time I look at it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Leaf Printing

I have been printing leaves to see how they come out on fabric. I just painted slightly thinned acrylic paint onto the back of leaves and printed them onto calico, Bondaweb and polyester crepe. The ones on the calico and Bondaweb came out equally clear but the paint just sank into the crepe to give ghostly images.

Next I cut some of them out and bonded them onto a rectangle of calico. I had covered the whole piece of calico with Bondaweb first.
I added random squares and strips of sheer fabrics and then added some of the leaves printed on Bondaweb on top. I ironed them all down between sheets of Baking Paper.

Then I started free-machining around the leaves, picking out the stem and veins. I used a variegated black and white machine embroidery thread and I love the result. It is just plain black thread in the bobbin so the line of stitching looks quite broken up.

I tried to jerk the fabric backwards and forwards around the edge of some of the leaves to give a pointed uneven outline. You need to run your machine fast to do this else you risk pulling the needle out of alignment and breaking it on the needle plate.

I really like how this leaf came out too - this is a Bondaweb print on top of the sheer fabric. I think I like the sepia quality it has.
Once I had stitched all the printed leaves I had a go at putting some extra ones in freehand. I don't like them as much as the printed ones so I only did a few. It is really hard to get the outline and veins looking realistic.
I also really like how they look on the back in just the plain black thread!

I will certainly do more leaf prints on Bondaweb in the future - a possible inclusion on my Wasteland hanging that I am working up to.
Finally, I have made 50 of these this week! They are to sell at the Museum where I volunteer on the Halloween themed Open Day coming up. I used 15cm long black pipecleaners twisted round the base of a lollipop. I found a bag of old googly eyes but I reckon you could cut or punch circles out of labels and put a black dot on with a marker pen.