Well, I have done it – completed my order for a set of tea cosies for the beautiful cafe Le Bon Melange. In the process I think I have perfected my pattern for making the tea cosies, so decided it was time to share it here. This is the first time that I have published a crochet pattern, so please be gentle with me – and let me know if you find any errors!! If you do make a cosy from this pattern I would love to see the end result!
The two sizes of tea cosy plus a coffee press cosy too!
This pattern is for a flat topped one cup tea pot, but I have fitted it to a more rounded one cup pot and it worked just as well. To adjust it to a larger two cup pot the instructions for the top remain the same, it is just the number of rows for the body that change. Once you have the basic body you can then decorate it with whatever you like! Flowers, hearts, frogs – the sky is the limit!
The red pot is the one cup pot and the aqua is the two cup pot. How well do those colours match the wool?!
I used a 4mm crochet hook and 8 ply wool to make this pattern.If you use thicker wool the pattern will still work – it will just end up slightly bigger.
dc double crochet
To start chain 4 and joined with ss
Row 1 Ch 3 then 11 dc into the ring, ss to join to top of the first chain 3 (creating 12 stiches in round)
Row 2 Ch 3, 2 dc in each stitch of round 1, with last single dc in base of initial chain 3 stitch, ss to join
Row 3 Ch 3, *1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeat 11 more times, with last dc in base of first ch 3, ss to join
Row 4 Ch 1, ss in next stitch, ss in next stitch, 3 ch and skip stitch, then 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch, *1 dc in next stitch, 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeated 10 times and finish with single dc in last two stitches of round. (This is the top of the cosy)
Row 5 Ch 3, turn and 1 dc in each of next 21 stitches (22 in total)
Row 6 – 8 repeat round 5 then finish.
Return to round 5 and attach wool three stitches from the first half of round five and then repeat round 5 – 8 in order to create the second half of the cosy. Do not finish off at the end of row 8 but continue on.
Row 9 ch 3 dc in each stitch until reaching the end of the row then ch 3 and dc in each stitch of other half of cosy. This creates the join under the spout.
Row 10 – 11, ch 3 dc in each stitch of row, including the joining 3 ch from row 9.
Row 12 3 ch, ss to other side of cosy, then 3 ch, turn and dc in second chain from ss, dc in each stitch until reach the beginning of the row. This joins the cosy under the handle.
Row 13 – optional – ch 1, skip first stitch then ss in each stitch of row 12 and finish with ss into fist ch.
To make this pattern fit a larger 2 cup pot the pattern is the same until row 8 when you should stitch another row before creating the join under the spout in row 10 rather than row 9. Then add in rows so that the final row with the join under the handle is row 15. You can adapt the basic pattern to fit larger pots by adjusting the size of the top and then the length of the body.
I did add a crown to one of the small cosies – I just couldn’t help myself! Here the pattern is shown on a different shaped one cup pot – it is fairly versatile.
With my renewed enthusiasm for creating it is probably time to start sharing some of the useful things I find on the internet with you all too. This week it is free patterns for crocheted baskets. I love working with thick repurposed t-shirt yarn – it works up so quickly so you get almost instant satisfaction for your efforts. I have to admit that so far my attempts at making my own yarn haven’t been great, but I will keep persevering, and in the meantime have found some great commercially produced yarn to practise with. I made these two baskets (without a pattern) to hold all the wool that was accumulating around my lounge room! I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
Here are links to a great range of patterns I found in my searching on the internet for inspiration:
Last year I had my first pattern published in a magazine called ‘Love Sewing Australia’. I decided that, with the cooler weather approaching, it was time to share it with you. The pattern is for a tote bag with a matching Yarn bag (to carry wool for knitting or crochet projects) but can be adapted to many uses.
For those of you who don’t know the story, my grandmother, Oma, is now 99 years old. Last year, when she was turning 98, she asked if I could make her a new bag that she could use to carry her glasses, her water bottle, her cushion (she is tiny!) and other important things. Her instructions were that the bag was not to be an ‘old lady bag’. I mused over this for a while, then made this bag for her.
The original Oma bag
My Oma spent many hours teaching me to sew, to embroider, and to enjoy other handcrafts when I was young, so dedicating this pattern to her was a small way of showing her how grateful I am that she contributed to my love of making!
My beautiful grandmother, Oma, on her 99th birthday.
This project shows you how to upcycle that old worn out pair of jeans into a gorgeous bag that you can use for going to the office, on a weekend adventure, or to the shops. The accessory yarn bag is perfect for knitting or crocheting on the go, with your yarn accessible but protected from dust and dirt, and from escaping and rolling across the floor of the bus, train, classroom or office.
Using the pockets of your jeans as a feature on the outside of your yarn bag adds a useful outer pocket that can also hold your phone, crochet hooks or a small pair of scissors.
The seam allowances in this project are 0.5cm. If you are more comfortable with wider seam allowances the project will still work, as long as you are consistent and use the same seam allowance on all seams.
Fusible fleece is often sold without instructions on how to attach it. To attach your fleece, heat your iron to the temperature appropriate for the fabric that you are attaching the fleece to. Lay the fleece on the ironing board, with the glue dots facing up, then lay the fabric you are attaching on top of the fleece, covering the fleece completely, with the right side of the fabric facing up. Lay a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top of the two layers and using your iron, begin in the middle of the piece and iron out towards the corners using a slow steady motion. You will need to repeat this a couple of times to ensure that the fleece has adhered well. Do not rest the iron in one spot for too long as you may scorch your fabric. Don’t let the fleece touch your iron as it will make a sticky mess of your iron plate. Let it cool before sewing the now fused fleece and fabric.
1 pair denim jeans, or 0.5m of denim, canvas or decorator weight fabric
0.25 m feature fabric (quilting cotton is used here)
0.5m quilting cotton, homespun or broadcloth
36cm Vilene H640 fusible fleece
A zip that is at least 30cm long.
A piece of stiff interfacing 9cm x 28cm
Sewing Machine (Zip foot optional)
A rotary cutter and mat is useful but not essential.
Oma Tote – Base 25cm wide x 10cm deep. Bag 30 cm long x 34 cm wide. Straps 54cm long x 4cm wide.
Yarn Bag – 23cm x 23cm
Repurposing Denim jeans
To prepare your denim jeans for repurposing, cut the inner leg seam on both legs, then up the front centre seam and around the zip. This will enable you to lay your fabric out flat and assess which pieces are most suitable for use. Check wear around knees, the seat, and the inner thigh. This does not mean that you can’t use the fabric, but you may need to add reinforcing with fusible interfacing.
If your fabric has a stretch to it, it is useful to have the grain across the width of the pieces you cut to increase stability.
Bottom – 35.5cm x 12.5cm (2)
Top – 35.5cm x 6.5cm (2)
Straps –9cm x 50cm (2)
Internal pockets 20cm x 25cm (1) and 10cm x 25cm (1).
Base – 18cm x 28cm (1)
Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1) (NB. I included the back pocket of the jeans within the square which adds both a feature, and a useful pocket to the outside of the yarn carrier.)
Lining cotton – 35.5cm x 35.5cm (2)
Yarn bag lining – 24cm x 24cm (2). (NB you may need to join some fabric together in order to create the lining pieces but this will not affect the bag.)
Bag – 35.5cm x 19cm (2)
Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1)
Fusible fleece interfacing
Bag – 34 cm x 34 cm (2)
General Instructions – Yarn Bag
This is a pouch that will carry two balls/skeins of yarn with openings to allow you to use the yarn while protecting it from dust, dirt etc. A bag like this means that you can crochet or knit wherever it suits you!
1. The first step is to insert your zip. A zip foot is useful for this, but not necessary. Take your square of denim and place it face down on top of the zip so that the top edge of the fabric lines up with the top edge of the zip. The right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric will be facing each other. Ensure that the zip ends overhang the fabric on each side. Then take one piece of your lining fabric and place it on the other side of the zip, with the right side facing the right side of the denim. This is often described as a zip sandwich. Pin the three pieces together and then stitch along the top edge 0.5cm from the edge.
The Zip sandwich – denim, zip and lining
Flip the fabric back so that the right side of the denim is now facing up and the right side of the lining is facing down. Repeat the same step with the feature fabric and the lining fabric on the other side of the zip, making sure that the sides of the pieces line up with the fabric already attached to the zip.
Using an iron press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat. By topstitching along the edge of the seam, the lining won’t get caught in the zip when you are using the bag. To do this measure 2.5cm from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop 2.5cm from the other end. (If you sew across the whole edge of the zip you will not be able to create neat corners when you put the sides of the bag together.) Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.
Now you will create the yarn feeding holes in your bag. Measure and mark with chalk or a sewing marker two points on the lining on the feature fabric side of the bag that are 7.5cm from each edge, and 5cm from the zip and fabric seam. These are the starting points for your buttonholes. Using your preferred technique for making a button hole, make two buttonholes that start at those points and are 1.5cm long.
In order to assemble the yarn bag you should open the zipper at least half way so that the zip pull is in the middle of the zip. Then put the right sides of the lining together and match up the edges, and the right sides of the outer fabric together and match up their edges. This won’t look nice and flat and neat due to the buttonholes, but is still very manageable given the amount of fabric involved. The teeth of the zip should be facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.
You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about 5 cm below the zip on the lining, and sew around the edge of the pouch, until you reach the bottom of the same side of the lining. When you are sewing across the seam and zip where the lining and the outer fabrics join, you will need to open the edges of the fabric up a bit so that instead of sewing in a straight line you feel as if you are sewing a curve. This is to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip.
Once you have sewn the edges of the bag, clip the corners, and then clip the excess fabric around the zip, so that the long ends are cut off and the bulk of the fabric next to the seam is removed. Be careful not to cut the stitching and consider applying an extra row of stitching as reinforcement here.
Then turn your bag inside out, or outside in, so that the outer fabric is facing out and the lining is tucked in the bag. It will be a little wriggly due to the buttonholes, but it will happen without too much commotion. Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly. A chopstick is very handy for both operations. Then either handstitch the side seam in the yarn bag closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.
You can now place your yarn in the bag, with the ends poking out through the buttonholes, so that you can use your yarn without the balls rolling away across the floor of the train, bus or lounge that you are in. If you are likely to use more than two colours at a time you could place a third buttonhole in the bag to allow for three colours.
General Instructions – Oma Tote
The first step in creating your tote is to piece together the fabric for the outside of the bag. Pin the long edge of one bottom piece of denim (35.5cm x 12.5cm) to the long edge of a piece of the feature fabric (35.5cm x19cm) with the right sides together. Sew a 0.5 cm seam along this edge then press the seam down towards the denim piece, and top stitch along the denim piece about 0.5cm from the seam. You can choose to use a coloured thread to make a feature of the stitching, and may like to add a second line of stitching 1 cm parallel to the first line to give it a nice finish. I used white thread here, so it blends into the denim and can only be seen subtly.
Then pin the long edge of the top piece of denim (35.5cm x 6.5cm) to the long edge of the feature fabric with the right sides together and sew them together with a 0.5 cm seam. Again, press the seam towards the denim piece and top stitch on the denim 0.5 cm from the seam.
Repeat this with the denim and feature fabric for the other side of the bag.
You now have two pieces measuring 35.5cm x 35.5cm. . Place your squares of fusible fleece (34cm x 34cm) onto the wrong side of each piece, and apply following the manufacturer’s instructions. My tip on the way to attach the fleece is that when you are preparing the fabric and fleece for ironing, you should check that the fleece is on the bottom, with the glue dots facing up, then the fabric is on top, with the wrong side facing the fleece, and then a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top. This will help to ensure that the fleece is well adhered to the fabric. The fleece is smaller than the outer piece to reduce the bulk of your seams.
Once the fleece is attached, place these two pieces together with their right sides facing each other, and match the seams on each side and pin them in place. Sew from the top edge of the top denim down the side, across the bottom and back up the other side with a 0.5 cm seam.
Now you are going to make the corners of the bag. With the fleece side still facing out, fold the bottom corner of the bag so that the bottom seam and the side seam are lined up over each other, and the sides of the bag are pushed out into a triangle shape. Pin this corner in place. Measure a point 4cm (1.5 inches)from the point of the corner along the seam, and then mark a line across the bag that should measure 8cm (3 inches). Repeat this with the remaining corner and then sew a seam, reinforcing with a second row of stitches, along the marked line. Trim the excess fabric so that a seam allowance of about 1cm is left.
This is the time to make and insert the base of the bag. Adding a base gives your bag some stability, without too much rigidity. Take your base piece of denim and fold it in half width wise so that you have a piece 9cm x 28cm. Insert your stiff interfacing inside the folded piece and either fuse it, or simply sew it in place. I used a fusible interfacing, and then zigzagged around the edges to hold everything in place.
To insert the base line it up along the base of your bag so that the ends slightly overlap your corner seams. Attach the base to one corner of the bag by sewing through the existing corner seam, and the base so that the base is connected at the corner of the bag. Then, ensuring that you have the base flush with the bottom of the bag, repeat the same method on the other side of the bag. Trim away the excess from both the base and the seam allowance of the corner seams, and then turn your bag so that the outer fabric is facing out. Using your fingers crease the edges of your corners so that the base sits neatly in the bottom of the bag.
To make the straps fold each piece with the right sides together across it’s width so that you have two pieces that are 4cm x 50cm. Stitch along the long edge of each piece with a 0.5cm seam, then iron the seam allowance open. Turn the straps inside out and press them so that the seam is along the middle of the strap. Top stitch along each side of the strap 0.5cm from the edge, and, if you are using a feature colour thread, add a second row of stitching to create a nice finish.
At the top of the bag use pins to mark a spot 10cm from each edge of the bag so that you have two spots on each side of the bag. Take one strap and pin it to the top edge of one side of the bag so that the seam of the strap is facing out, and the end of the strap is extending slightly past the top of the bag. The strap will appear to be upside down. Ensuring that the strap is not twisted (which is where having the seam to follow is useful) pin the end of the strap to the second point on that side of the bag in the same way as the first. Repeat this on the other side of the bag, then stitch the straps in place just under 0.5cm from the top edge of the bag.
In order to prepare the lining you need to first prepare your inner pockets. Take the piece of denim that you have cut to be 20cm x 25cm and fold in half with right sides together, so that it measures 20cm x 12.5cm. Sew around the three edges of the rectangle, leaving a gap of about 10 cm to enable turning in the right way. Clip the corners, turn it inside out, and press the seams so that the opening seam is tucked inside the pocket. Take one piece of the lining fabric, and pin the pocket to the lining so that the centre of the pocket aligns with the centre of the fabric, 8cm from the top of the lining piece. Sew the three side of the pocket to the lining, adding some reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket on both side. Sew a line from the bottom to the top of the pocket half way across the pocket, adding the reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket.
The second pocket is to assist with holding knitting needles. Take the piece of denim that you cut to be 10cm x 25cm, fold in half so that it measures 5 cm x 25cm and, using the same method as the first pocket, attach the pocket to the second piece of lining fabric. I attached mine so that it was in the centre of the bag, 5cm from the top. You may decide to have the pocket more to the side so that long needles don’t interfere with the straps. In that case you could attach it 5cm from the top, and 7cm from the side.
With the two right sides of the lining facing each other, sew down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. Using the same technique as the outer bag create the corner of the bag to measure 8cm across.
To assemble the bag place the outer bag inside the lining, so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each, the tops of the two pieces are aligned, and the side seams of the outer and inner bags are aligned. After pinning the two pieces together sew around the top edge of the bag 0.5cm from the edge, leaving a gap between the two straps on one side in order to be able to turn the bag inside out. Sew an extra row or two of stitching over each strap to reinforce these points. Turn the bag inside out, tuck the lining inside the bag, fold the edges of the opening inside the seam and press the seam. Finish the bag by top stitching around the edge of the bag to close the gap and create a neat finish to the bag. Congratulations!!
I would love to see any bags that you make using this pattern – tagging me on Instgram is a great way to share your photos! (@alittlebirdmademe).
Now I am off to sit in front of the fire and warm my toes for a while!
I promised a few weeks ago that I would prepare a tutorial for you so that you could make your own iPad or gadget cover. I probably would have bumbled along and forgotten that promise if it wasn’t for our upcoming school fete. We always have an exceptional craft stall, with a great range of high end products, and this year a friend has been assigned the task of making iPad covers, so I decided that I needed to get my tutorial writing groove on and prepare it for her (and you!)
These gadget covers make great presents for family and friends – you can personalise them with your choice of fabric, or by embellishing them.
These instructions will make a gadget cover that fits an iPad, iPad2, etc, and will be a little big for the iPad Air. At the end of the instructions I provide measurements for making this pattern to fit the iPad Air and the iPad mini.
1 piece of hat elastic measuring 15 cm.
One piece each in your chosen outer fabric and inner fabric measuring 28cm (11”) x 45cm (17.5”).
One piece of your wadding measuring 28cm (11”) x 43cm (17”).
(For wadding I use Vilene H640 fusible fleece. Here in Australia you can buy it at Spotlight by the metre. There is a thinner version – Vilene H620 that is also fusible but the H640 is thicker and provides more cushioning for your device. You could also use non-fusible wadding such as cotton or bamboo, or polyester by simply stitching it around the edge of the outer fabric instead of fusing it.)
Attach the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the outer fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions. You should have a small gap on either side of the fabric where the fleece doesn’t meet the sides. This is to help you reduce the bulk in your seams.
When I attach the H640 using an iron I place the fleece on the ironing board with the adhesive side up (that is the rough side) and then place the fabric on top of it with the wrong side on the fleece and the right side facing up. I then use a pressing cloth (a piece of cotton, calico, or a tea towel) over the top of the two pieces and spray it lightly with water. Then iron the pressing cloth, applying a small amount of pressure, and holding the iron in each spot for a few seconds before moving it along. You may need to go over the piece a few times to ensure that the adhesive has properly melted and adhered to the fabric.
Fold the outer piece, with its attached wadding, in half with the right side together and the wadding facing out, so that you have a side that is 28cm high and about 22cm wide. Stitch a line from the top of the long side down that side, and then across the bottom. Use a 1 cm seam allowance here.
Clip the corners at the bottom of the outer layer, then turn it inside out and poke the corners out at the bottom.
And if you are really lucky you will accidentally line up your pattern so that it almost matches perfectly!
Fold the inner fabric in half, with its right sides together and stitch that down the long side from top to bottom, then sew across the bottom for about 5 cm, leave a 10 cm gap, then sew the remaining seam. This will give you a gap for turning your creation in the right way at the end.
Take your hat elastic and fold it in half, then wrap a piece of cotton around the end where the cut ends meet, to bind them together. This will stop the pieces separating when you are sewing them, and give the stitches something to catch so that the elastic is secure in the seam.
Pin the elastic half way across the back side of the outer piece so that the elastic sits on the right side of the fabric, with the cut end just over the raw edge of the fabric and the loop pointing down. Put the pin on the fleece side of the fabric.
Now place the outer piece inside the inner piece so that their right sides are together, and the seams on each one lines up. Stitch around the top edge of the two pieces, about 1 cm from the edge, to join them together. When you cross the point where the elastic is sitting, reverse back and forward a couple of times to reinforce the stitching at that point.
Turn the piece inside out, using the gap in the lining, and tuck the lining down inside the outer piece. Press or iron the seam that joins the inner and outer pieces so that it is flat, and then top stitch a row around the top of the cover.
Now you are ready to close the gap in the lining. To do this you can either hand sew it shut or, as I tend to do, tuck the seam in and then machine sew across the edge of the folds. Tuck the lining back into the cover.
Yay! The last step! Time to sew your button on. To measure where you button should be sewn fold the elastic loop down to the front side of the cover and mark where the bottom of the loop falls, then sew the centre of your button a millimetre or two below that point. And now – ta da – you are done!!
To adjust this pattern for other gadgets you need to measure the width, height and depth of the gadget. To help you out I can report that the measurements for making a cover for the iPad Air are 28cm (11”) x 40cm (15 ½”). The iPad mini requires fabric that is 24cm (9 ½”) x 33cm (13”).
You are welcome to use this pattern to make items for sale on a cottage industry scale, for fundraising or as gifts.
This week got off to a great start when I decided to bite the bullet and book my first market stall. Not content to start small and test things out I jumped straight into a two day booking at the Canberra Christmas markets in December! Eek!! I think I will try for a casual stall at a smaller market before then just as a practise run! Despite worrying that I may have jumped in above my head I am quite excited about the prospect and have spent time researching different ideas for displaying goods, thinking about packaging and banners, tags, small items, and creating a cohesive display. All so very exciting!! That is the same weekend that the chicks’ father returns to the country, so the timing couldn’t be better in terms of them being busy catching up with him, and me being able to just enjoy being a stall holder.
With that spurt of adrenaline I decided to set myself some targets this week, instead of being distracted by social ‘stuff’, and it is paying off already! On Monday I whipped up yet another Trojan tunic for the school performance as one of the eldest chick’s classmates has returned from holiday in time for the finals so now needs to be costumed up. That took longer than expected while I wrestled with my overlocker tension, but I got there in the end!!
That meant that last night I was free to start on a gift for one of my staff who is about to go on maternity leave. This achieved three things. First I get to make something personal for her, secondly I got to try out a pattern I have been eyeing off for a while, and third, I sewed laminated cotton for the first time.
Of course, in my measuring and cutting I somehow managed to cut the laminate 3 – 4 inches shorter than I was meant to and wasn’t confident about piecing it, so the mat ended up a bit shorter than it was meant to.
I also decided to deviate from the pattern a bit (!!) so added sewn in hook and loop fasteners rather than the button and elastic in the pattern. Then I realised that the spiky hook side would be near the baby’s head, so made a little flap to protect the head!
I also used bamboo fleece as the batting and decided to quilt it to the lining so that it doesn’t lose its shape when it is washed.
Overall I am happy with it, although it is wider than I imagined it would be (which is ridiculous when the measurements were provided and I measured and cut the fabric! I am rolling my eyes at myself here!). She will receive it on Friday so I hope that she likes it! I was pleasantly surprised about how easy it was to sew the laminated cotton. I had read a lot about how tricky it was, and I just didn’t find it tricky at all, so will now be more prepared to tackle other projects using it!
Not bad for the middle of the week! Next on the list is a bag for a raffle at work on Friday, superhero capes, the quilt top, the long list of things bursting out of my head at the moment…….. I need more hours in the day!!!
I am struggling with the dance of life a bit at the moment. Trying to fit in the things that I want to do (sew, design, sew, market, sew, plan), the things that I want the kids to do (sports, homework, music practice), the things that we have to do (eat, sleep, bathe, etc), work (fairly essential to pay for everything else) and time with the new (insert appropriate word here – ‘boyfriend’ seems so silly at my age, we are not yet ‘partners’, ‘flame’ is a bit dramatic, ‘man’ seems a bit pejorative, ‘lover’ takes the blog places I don’t want to go when my parents read it, ‘friend’ seems too coy, and all attempts at incorporating some reference to birds or chicks in keeping with my descriptions of myself and the kids just look majorly dodgy when I type them!! Suggestions are welcome!) The analogy of dancing to the rhythm to find the right path through life seems particularly appropriate at the moment. Maybe I just need to find the right soundtrack!!
I hope that your week is going well, and that you have had small spurts of creativity energy to keep you going!
I have decided that today is a good day to make a list of the patterns for Messenger Bags that I have collected. I love messenger bags – they can be as informal and hippie, or formal and suitable for office attire as you like. It all depends on the fabric that you choose and the attitude with which you wear it! They are great as nappy (or diaper if you are American) bags, good for students, for travelling, and for carrying a large amount of ‘stuff’, if yours is anything like mine! They are good for slinging across your body when you are on your bike, or need to be hands free, and can have as many pockets as you like.
I also like the fact that a messenger bag lends itself beautifully to different forms of decoration. You can add applique, feature fabrics, and stand out linings. There are so many options!
Here is the first one I ever made, based on the great pattern by Larissa at mmmcraft. It was a birthday gift for my beautiful mother, a year ago!
This is the one that I currently use, and that often features in my photos as my ‘mascot’ when I travel!
This is one that I have currently listed in my shop, made using my own pattern (which I will one day draw up a tutorial for!! Hmmmm…. how many weeks in a row do you think I will make that promise before I actually write up the tutorial??).
And here is the list of tutorials for you to try, so that you can make a great messenger bag of your own, to reflect your own style!
I have realised that if I am going to post a list of the links I have found, I should probably call them something! So here is the beginning of “Friday Finds”!! Tonight I thought I would go back to bags. Mainly because I keep finding more that I am inspired by, and that I want to make! Today’s list will be market or shopping bags. Where I live in Canberra shops are not allowed to provide free plastic bags for our shopping. We either pay between 10 and 15 cents per bag, or we carrying our own bags. I love my shopping bags. They are bright and bold and make grocery shopping a treat for the eye. But they are starting to wear out. My plan (along with all those other plans on my ever growing ‘to do’ list) is to make some new ones for myself and use fabrics that make me happy. (That will counteract the sometimes excruciating nature of grocery shopping with 3 chicks in tow!!) And that means that, without further ado, I present a list of links to free patterns for market bags that I have collected for this very purpose!
As we settle into winter here in Canberra I thought that a reminder of the warmth and colour of summer was timely.
I love beach bags. The ability to carry towels, hats, sunscreen, dry clothes, books, water bottles, snacks and all the others things that we need at the beach is essential. They also need to look great. Some of these patterns will make a giant bag to carry everything in, while others can be adapted to be a personal beach bag for the discerning and stylish beach goer (who isn’t carrying beach gear for a family of 15!)
I also love a good overnight bag – or weekender bag. Packing up a change of clothes, a good book, and a sense of adventure and heading off for a day and night away is always special. Some of these bags will suit both purposes. Either way they will see you through many expeditions. The best thing about them? They are all free, supplied through the generosity of bloggers (and on a couple of occasions, commercial websites.)
I have learnt to make bags simply through the generosity of crafters in sharing their patterns and tutorials online. The willingness to share with no motive other than the joy in giving never ceases to impress me! This post has a list of some of the free tutorials on how to make bags that I have found online. I will continue adding to the post from time to time.
My eldest chick is turning 10 soon, and therefore, so are all her friends. They seem so grown up, these double digit young people, and yet it seems like only yesterday that they were born.
The 10 year old girls are on the edges of sophistication, starting to decide what they like and don’t like, developing their own style, and identifying where the boundaries that need pushing are to be found. Bodies are starting to change, relationships are starting to change, and yet they still retain an innocence that balances the ‘growing-up-ness’. Whispered conversations about boys start to happen at the same time that little houses are being built for dolls, using boxes and tissue paper. One of the minor questions that arises for parents (long after all the big ones about how to provide the right role modelling, and how to enable them to have the right balance of empowerment, respect, self worth and manners) is what to give them for birthday or Christmas presents. This year I have hit upon the ‘designer’ pillowcase, with a pocket for an ipod, in an acknowledgement that many of them now set their own sleep time, no matter what bed time is set for them. My daughter listens to audio books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and JK Rowling (and I wonder why she has an English accent!).
So I decided to prepare a tutorial on how to make your own pillow case from fat quarters, with an optional ipod pocket, and an option to prepare it for a crocheted edge. If you would like to make a pillow from yardage, rather than fat quarters, I have put in some notes to adapt it, but also recommend that you look at the excellent tutorial from You Go Girl, as she does a much better job of explaining it than I do!
(Please bear with me as this is my first on-line tutorial and I am working on my photography!)
5 fat quarters of coordinating cotton fabric (or 1 yard of fabric).
Sewing thread in a coordinating colour (I prefer cotton but polyester will do the job just as well)
1 ½ inch of hook and loop fastener (if you are making the ipod pocket)
Pins, scissors, a sewing machine, a ruler.
Optional but nice to have – rotary cutter and mat, serger/overlocker, iron.
Throughout the tutorial I am going to assume that you are taking all the right steps like ironing seams open, and snipping threads. (Even thought I sometimes take shortcuts on this, when I do these properly, the results are noticeably better, so I am trying to be good!)
2. Prewash and dry all your fabric, according to the care instructions. (NB If you accidently slip some other fabric into this wash that runs and dies the whole load another colour, say a very muddy navy colour for example, the product Dylon Run Remover really does work to save this situation……just saying.) Pre-washing helps to address any shrinkage before you begin to sew, and removes any sizing from the surface of the fabric. (Sizing is a product like starch that can be applied to the thread during the weaving process in making fabric. It gives fabric an added stiffness required to prevent breakage in the manufacturing process, and can (very occasionally) cause some skin irritation, so washing it out before the fabric is used is advised…….and there endeth the sermon from the former law student who remembers cases about people getting rashes from wearing clothes before washing them!)
3. Now, moving on to the important part – choosing the fabric combination. This pattern gives you one large panel each on the front and back, one stripe of another colour on both front and back, a small panel with the optional pocket on the front, and a larger panel that folds to form the internal pillow pocket on the back. I normally do a bit of layering of fabrics to decide which will be the feature fabric in the large panel on the front and back, then the stripe – which I usually make the same on the front and back, and a highlight for the smaller panels.
In this tutorial I am using the same fabric (Riley Blake’s The Good Life) for the feature panel on each side of the pillow. (Normally I use different panels on each side, but there are no rules for any of this – do what you think works with the fabric you have.) I am using a solid purple for the stripe, aqua gingham for the back and internal pillow pocket, and aqua and green pin dots for the front and ipod pocket. I am hoping that by using different fabrics, the instructions will be easy to follow.
4. Cut three fat quarters to measure 20” by 17.5”. These will be the front feature panel (A) (Good Life), the back feature panel (B) (Good Life)and the piece that becomes the internal pillow pocket (C) (the gingham). (If you are using yardage you need a piece 20″ by 30″ and another 20″ by 38.5″ and you can skip ahead to step 9).
5. Cut two strips of fabric from another fat quarter so that they measure 20” by 4”. These are D and E (purple solid)
6. Cut the final fat quarter to measure 20” by 10”. This is F (the dots). If you want to make an ipod pocket, then from the same fat quarter cut a piece 8.5” by 5”, and another 5.5” by 2.5”.
7. With right sides facing each other pin the long edge of D to the long edge of A, and the long edge of E to the long edge of B.
8. With right sides facing together pin the unfinished long edge of D to the long edge of F, and sew a ¼ inch seam. This is now your front piece. Pin the unfinished long edge of E to C. Sew a ¼ inch seam (this now your back piece), and finish the edges on both seams with zigzag or serging.
Your piece will now look like this (and this is a good time to iron those seams open, or flat).
9. If you are going to add a pocket for an ipod, then this is the time to do it. Take your piece that measures 8.5″ by 5″ and fold it in half so that it now measures 4.25″ by 5″. Fold it again and mark where the fold falls, as a the middle of the pocket. 1 inch from the edge, and centred across the fold, place the ‘soft’ or loop side of your fastener. Stitch it in place.
10. Then take your piece that measures 5 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ and sew the hook piece of the fastener 1/2″ from the edge (rather than the 1 inch shown in this photo, and you can avoid the unpicking that I had to do!).
11. With right sides together, fold the tab piece in half and stitch around the edges, leaving a space for turning it inside out. My experience is that leaving a gap half way along the side, rather than from the folded end, gives a much better finish. Then clip the four corners, turn it inside out and press it flat. Then top stitch around the whole tab, closing the gap used to turn the piece inside out.
12. The take the pocket piece. Fold it in half with the right sides together, and stitch around the edges, using a 1/4 inch seam, and leaving a gap for turning the pocket to the right side. Clip the corners, turn the pocket inside out, and press flat. Then topstich across the top of the pocket.
13. The next step is to pin the pocket and tab to the pillowcase. It is up to you whether you want to put it on the right or left side of the case. In this tutorial it is on the left hand side (so appears on the right when looking at the screen.) First place the tab so that the bottom edge (away from the fastener) is 4 inches from the top of piece F (the dots) and 3.5 inches from the side. The fastener should be facing up. Stitch across the bottom of the tab twice to secure it firmly. (The pictures at 14 should assist in understanding this placement).
14. The pocket piece then is laid so that the middle of the pocket aligns with the middle of the tab, but so that the top of the pocket is sitting just above the bottom of the tab. Pin it into place, and check that the hook and loop fastener meets when the tab is folded over to the pocket. Then stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge of the pocket on the three sides.
15. Now you are ready to put the pillowcase together. Pin a hem on the edge of F (the dots). I usually serge the edge, then fold it under ¼ inch, then fold it again about 3/8 inch. Place the pins in sideways, along the fabric, as you will not want them sticking out during a later step. You do have a little bit of room for error on the width of the hem here, so focus on making it neat rather than the exact measurement.
16. Finish the edge of C (the gingham) and fold it under about 3/8 inch and hem it.
17. Now lie, with right sides together, the shorter front piece on top of the longer back piece, matching up the seams for the stripes as much as possible. Pin the long sides together on each side.
You will have a piece of gingham (piece C) extended out past the front piece. Take this piece and fold it back over the top of the front piece, so that the right side of the gingham is facing the wrong side of the dots. Try to get the fold as close to the pinned down hem on the dot fabric as possible (hence having your pins lying lengthways in the pinned hem.)
Then pin the sides of the gingham on top of the side seams you have already pinned. Sew each of the side seams with a ½ inch seam, and reinforce over the point where the gingham internal pocket hem sits, as well as the beginning and end of each seam. If you intend to add a crocheted edge, you need to ensure that the gap between the two seams is 19”. If not, you have some room for error here.
18. Now you can sew a ½ inch seam across the bottom of the case. Finish the seams across the bottom and sides, and snip the corners at the bottom, to help with having sharp corners when you turn it in the right way.
19. Turn your pillowcase out so that the right side of the fabric is facing outwards. Nearly done! You now have an option to hem just the front piece, where you have the hem pinned, or to sew around the whole case at ¼ inch. If you are going to crochet the edges, then you need to sew around the whole case. If you are not, then it is a matter of personal taste. My preference is to not sew a seam across the pocket flap, as I like the way a nicely ironed case sits on a pillow, but it really does come down to what you like.
20. Then – iron all your seams, and voila – you are finished making the case!
If you want to put a crocheted edge on the case then the tutorial provided by You Go Girl on creating the foundation and then crocheting is the place to go for clear easy to follow instructions.
21. This is the most important step – sit back and admire your handiwork!