Rectangle Zipper Bag

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Look at these zipped up beauties! ¬†Imagine the endless possibilities combining fabrics, zippers, ribbons, tabs, buttons and stitches! ¬†She is not just any ordinary zipper bag. ¬†She has flair and personality due to her embellishment options. ¬†Take a quick look around Pinterest or the Google searches for zippered pouches and you will see a plethora of choices; small big, square, round, triangular, animal shapes, etc. ¬†You are going to brush up on some skills with this one…insert a zipper, practice your buttonholes, quilt three layers together, personalize with lettering (optional–see Ethan’s name on the dark blue bag handle?), impress yourself and friends with decorative stitching, so hang on.

The approximate finished measurements are 10″ long x 3″ wide x 2″ high. ¬†The reason I like this is because it holds more than it looks and can be used for sewing supplies and tools, toiletries, pens and pencils, or whatever you want AND makes for another guy gift idea like here, and here.

Upon closer examination, you will see that these three bags have slight differences: tabs are different shapes, handles are different, quilting patterns are different, and placement of fabrics are different. ¬†Your choice! ¬†So let’s get into the How To of it all , including some ‘Creative Options’ along the way for you to do it your way.

Supplies Needed:
-2 Coordinating Fabrics (can be fat quarters) 18″ x 22″ One is used for outside and one is used for lining and tabs
-One zipper, 16-18″
-Tear away stabilizer, or 2 scrap fusible interfacing pieces measuring 36″ x 3″ long
-Two or Four coordinating flat buttons that nest nicely, your choice. See samples for ideas.
-52″ of ¬†1/2″-5/8″ grosgrain ribbon for trim along zipper and outer tab (optional)
-Thread for decorative stitching on outer ribbon
-Batting-low loft, approximately 13 x 16″
-Basting SprayР(Optional-  It makes things a little easier by holding all layers together before quilting. However, I pinned layers and it worked.)

Supplies in the rough

Supplies in the rough

Specific sewing machine feet are helpful (from left):
-Buttonhole foot-yours may look different
-Quilt Bar-inserts to back of foot ankle or dual feed foot.
-Open toe satin stitch foot, or a foot that has a groove in the bottom to allow clearance for dense and raised stitches
-Button Sew-on Foot (optional-can always hand-sew on buttons–I did!)
-Zipper Foot

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Quilt bar inserted into foot ankle in back

Quilt bar inserted into foot ankle in back

Dual Feed/Even Feed Foot with Quilt Bar, Satin Stitch Foot

Dual Feed/Even Feed Foot with Quilt Bar, Satin Stitch Foot

Notice the groove space on the bottom of the satin stitch foot and the metal plates on the bottom (left). This allows for the thickness of decorative or satin stitches to pass freely under the foot without getting caught, dragged, or smashed.

1.)  Cut and Prep:
Cut the selvage off fat quarter.

Remove selvage before measuring

Remove selvage before measuring

2.) Cut out pieces

-Cut two 13″ x 11″ bag squares from each fat quarter (one outer and one lining)
-Cut one 13″ x 11″ bag square from batting
-Cut two 3.5″ x 3.5″ squares from both fabrics and batting—or—

CREATIVE OPTION: ¬†¬†This is where you can create the tab shape of your choice. ¬† Here, I made oval shaped tabs. Triangles or squares are fine, too. Measure it to be approximately 3.5″ x 3.5″. ¬†Cut one piece of batting for your two chosen tab shapes. ¬†¬†NOTE: ¬†I like to make a straight grain line arrow and a bias line on my little pattern piece just in case the tab would look great on the diagonal, like a stripe or plaid (see below)

-The handle does not need batting. ¬†Here, I used outer fabric (or contrasting fabric) and cut two pieces 5.5″ x 3″, and sew right sides together. turn and press—or—

CREATIVE OPTION: The handle/loop can be cut from your one yard piece of ribbon. ¬† See examples of the ribbon used as a loop in the completed bag pictures. ¬†If so, cut one piece 5″ long. ¬†Set aside.

Prep the outer layers

Prep the outer layers

3.)   Sandwich layers

Sandwich the three bag layers, placing the batting in the middle of the two fabrics.  Prepare the squares for quilting by pinning or using basting spray.

Pin for Quilting

Pin for Quilting

CREATIVE OPTION: Starting in the middle of the fabric, decide where the lines of your quilting will be. They can be diagonal or from top to bottom. Your choice. Draw a line with chalk or disappearing ink to start with the first line.   Set aside.  Attach quilting bar into back of foot.  See the blog post on my site for more tips on the quilting process.

4.) ¬†Prep the tabs and handle: ¬†Shown is the fabric handle. ¬† Another way to sew the handle is to use only one piece of fabric and fold raw edges to center, then fold again in half. ¬†edge stitch both sides of handle. ¬† If using ribbon, disregard the Fabric Handle directions and set aside your 5″ piece of ribbon for later.

tabs and handle

tabs and handle

5.)  Stitch

TABS–Remember, stack the tab fabrics right sides together with the batting on the bottom. ¬†See picture above. ¬†Sew all the way around the edges in a 1/4″ seam allowance. ¬†Clip curves.

CREATIVE OPTION: If your sewing machine has an alphabet, this is a good time to personalize the loop.  See sample below.  I used scrap interfacing under the ribbon, stitched out the name, trimmed the excess, and then sewed more ribbon wrong sides together along the edges to cover up the underside.

Personalized loop

Personalized loop

-Pin outer edges of tab and stitch in a 1/4″ seam allowance. ¬†Use pinking shears or clip corner carefully all the way around the tabs.

Tab pinned, with right sides together, batting on bottom

Tab pinned, with right sides together, batting on bottom, 1/4″ seam allowance

6.) Cut tabs in half, turn right side out, edge stitch

-Fold in half. Draw a line. Cut through all layers. Turn right side out.

Fold in half to find center of tab

Fold in half to find center of tab

Cut tabs in half

Cut tabs in half

Turn right sides out, edge stitch

Turn right sides out, edge stitch

7.) Buttonhole and Buttons
Gather your button or the two buttons. Determine length of button hole and stitch out buttonhole on tab.

Buttonhole on tab

Buttonhole on tab

-Carefully slice open with seam ripper or sharp scissors. Check that button(s)  will pass through.  By the way, these buttoned tabs have no real purpose except to be decorative and pretty (and to get better at making buttonholes).  Set aside.

Buttonhole test

Buttonhole test

8.)   Sew quilt lines of bag
-Sew the first line of stitching on the main body of the bag on the line you drew, either diagonally or from top to bottom. ¬†(Don’t sew over the pins!)
-Insert quilt guide one inch from needle. ¬† Sew a second line of stitching 1″ apart from the first line of stitching, smoothing fabric as you sew. ¬†Continue until the whole piece is quilted.

Quilt layers for body of bag

Quilt layers for body of bag

It should start to look like this:

Quilting starting to take shape

Quilting starting to take shape

And look like this when finished.  You may want to trim off any loose threads.

Finished quilted piece

Finished quilted piece

9.) Prep Ribbon for Decorative Stitching
-Attach satin foot to machine.
-Place ribbon down the center of your 3″ x 36″ stabilizer or interfacing. Note: I adhered two strips of scrap interfacing together and it worked just fine because I didn’t have stabilizer. ¬†You will stitch one continuous length about one yard long. ¬†Save remaining ribbon for covering bottom seam and loop (if you didn’t make a handle).

Ribbon on stabilizer/interfacing

Ribbon on stabilizer/interfacing

-Select favorite stitch.  Start sewing slowly down entire one yard length of ribbon.

Stitch selection

Stitch selection

Stitches done, press gently

Stitches done, press gently

-The ribbon will be a little lumpy once finished.  Gently press with iron to flatten.  Turn the ribbon over to the underside. Carefully trim off excess interfacing so that there is not interfacing showing from the right side.  Be careful not to cut through stitching or ribbon.

Trim off excess

Trim off excess

-As we did with the tabs to find the center, fold body of bag in half and press to make a crease line.

Fold in half to find center

Fold in half to find center

-Cut bag in half, lengthwise.  This is where the zipper will be inserted.

Cut bag body in half, lengthwise

Cut bag body in half, lengthwise

10.)  Prep for zipper and tab insertion
-On wrong side of one of the rectangles, place zipper right side up with zipper tape and raw edges even. Pin with the tab hanging off one end and the zipper stop hanging off the other end. ¬†It’s okay the zipper is too long.

Prep for zipper

Prep for zipper

-Attach zipper foot to machine.
-Stitch down center of zipper tape with regular stitch length.

Stitch one side of zipper to bag

Stitch one side of zipper to bag

-Trim off excess fabric from under zipper so that there is no fabric showing.   We will be placing decorative ribbon over the zipper tape soon!

Trim raw edge under zipper

Trim raw edge under zipper

-Lightly press zipper tape flat towards outer bag fabric.

Right side up of bag. one half

Right side up of bag. one half, lightly press

With right side of zipper facing up on the wrong side of the other bag half, match up raw edges and centering, pin zipper to other half just as you did with the first half.  Stitch right down the center of the zipper tape.

Attach zipper to other half

Attach zipper to other half

-Turn, trim the fabric underneath, and press gently toward right side.

Zipper installed!

Zipper installed!

-Cut your decorative ribbon piece in half.  Place one half over zipper tape, covering the stitching and onto bag. Center and then stitch down the side nearest the zipper.

Ribbon placed over zipper tape

Ribbon placed over zipper tape

-Get tabs.  Mark center of the bag (red pin).  Slide one tab under the outer side of the ribbon.  Pin.

Tab Placement

Tab Placement

-Repeat for other side.
-Off-set the tabs from each other on opposite sides, using the center mark as a guide.  See below.  Pin.  Sew close to edge of ribbon, catching tabs in stitching.

Tabs slipped under ribbon

Tabs slipped under ribbon

-Mark button placement by marking through the buttonhole.

Mark button placement

Mark button placement

Sew on button(s) using special foot or by hand.  Here are two buttons stacked together and contrasting thread just for fun.

Old school handsewing

Old school hand sewing

Your bag should look something like this now.

Completed top of bag

Completed top of bag

11.) Sew bottom of bag
-With right sides together, sew bottom center seam of bag in a 3/8″ seam.

Center bottom seam

Center bottom seam

-Press open seam. ¬†Trim off any excess batting or stray fabric or threads. ¬†Trim to 1/4″.

Trim excess off seam

Trim excess off seam

-Unzip bag and center ribbon over the seam.  Stitch down both sides of ribbon covering up the seam.  This makes for a nicer finish inside than a zig zag or serged seam.

Ribbon centered over bottom seam

Ribbon centered over bottom seam

-Your bag should look something like this now.

Looking into bag

Looking into bag

12.) Sew up sides, including loop or handle
-Close zipper.  With right sides together, fold bag in half with zipper facing center bottom seam.

LOOPS: ¬†The loop can be placed in this seam on this side or on the other, your choice. ¬†It should be slipped in now, centered, between both layers, facing into the bag. ¬†You can’t see it because it is inside. ¬†Stitch across ends, going slowly over zipper a few times for durability.

Sides, one with loop or handle

Sides, one with loop or handle

-Stitch across ends in a 3/8″ seam. ¬†Zig zag or serge raw edges for a clean finish.

Stitch across ends, then zig zag or serge

Stitch across ends, then zig zag or serge

-Before sewing up other side, OPEN UP THE ZIPPER ENOUGH FOR YOUR FINGERS TO REACH ZIPPER TAB.  If not, you will not be able to get into the bag!  Line the zipper teeth up closely to each other.  Pin.  Remember, your loop or handle should be sandwiched inside now, centered near the zipper and facing inside.  Stitch up seam. Trim and finish with zig zag or serge.

Open zipper, sew other side

Open zipper, sew other side

This is how it should look.   Open up the zipper a bit to do the next step.

How does it look?

How does it look?

Creating box corners

Creating box corners

-RST, fold sides perpendicular to the seam and measure two inches across and mark with a pen. Pin.

HANDLE:  Insert handle into both box seams.  Just like the loops, the handle stays inside the bag while sewing.  It will flip back out when bag is finished.  See samples.

Handle is sewn into box seams

Handle is sewn into box seams

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Stitch on line. Repeat for other side. You will do this a total of 4 times; two box seams on each end.
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Box corners from the inside

Box corners from the inside

Doggy ears trimmed and serged

Doggy ears trimmed and serged

-Trim off the ‘doggy ears’. ¬†Clean finish with a zig zag or serged seam.

Ready to see it??

Ready to see it??

ALMOST DONE!!! ¬†Reach inside and pull the zipper down enough to turn the bag right side out. ¬†Vwah-la!!!! ¬†It’s done! ¬†Load it up with goodies.

Finished bag

Finished bag

Different tabs, different fabric combinations

Different tabs, different fabric combinations

Another example up close

Another example up close-skateboards!

I had a difficult time finding a coordinating fabric, so I used the same fabric for both sides and just added contrast for the tabs, ribbon, zipper and buttons.

Same fabric used for inside and outside

Same fabric used for inside and outside

Useful, roomy, colorful, and fun to make

Useful, roomy, colorful, and fun to make

These are addictive.  Lengthy tutorial, but all the steps add up to make a great project.  I hope you have enjoyed the ride!

Cheers,
Dana

Skateboard Shorts McCalls 6973

PS CroppedIMG_3675My son came down to visit for the weekend and I whipped up these shorts for him. On a recent trip to my local mill end store, SAS Fabrics, I found this skateboard material and couldn’t resist especially since it is 100% cotton and my son lives in Phoenix. Enough of those polyester basketball shorts!! Yuck. Sweaty. Hot. Weekend fashion is not my son’s top priority, so I took it upon my pushy-self and made two pair of these for him.
PS CroppedIMG_3676The pattern offers a great cargo pocket detail. I added some hook and loop tape to keep the pocket closed so that the phone/keys/wallet won’t slip out when he sits down.

When my two sons were in junior high and high school, skateboards were used for their transportation. They have been known to even beat up a curb or two…anyway, I bought three yards. Isn’t it great? It resembles a camouflage print from a distance. I am always on the look out for kitchy-yet-masculine fabrics for kick around projects for my boys.

Below is the pattern. Read more here about the pattern. In order to help me pick the right size, I compared the width and length of some other favorite shorts to get the silhouette just right.
PS CroppedIMG_3677 There are other usable garments on this pattern. However, the shorts needed a little shortening, so here are some of the following adjustments I made.
1.) I measured the desired inseam on the leg to see where the finished length should be.
2.) Compare to length to pattern piece.
3.) Fold up or cut/lengthen.
Inseam PS CroppedIMG_3687
These were shortened by 2″, so the fold looks like it is 1″. Just remember that the fold is twice the amount of the desired length. For example, if you want to shorten by 1″, the fold will look like 1/2″.
Shorten2 PSCroppedIMG_3686
4.) Don’t forget to shorten (or lengthen) the back and front the same so that the inseams and side seams will match up. Take advantage of the notches on the seam allowance and use them to help with this step.
5.) When measuring the side length, allow for the separate attached waistband. I used 1″ elastic, and top stitched the waistband seam allowance down toward the shorts to secure it. I omitted the tie because I didn’t have anything in my stash that would work, and it wasn’t worth a trip to the fabric store to get something. Normally, I find this technique a bit bulky, but in this case, so I top stitched the waistband down onto the shorts and it helped keep the shorts secure at the hips. Overall, they were a success. So much so that he requested a second pair! I will be making a bag out of this fabric for my other son since he is not here in town to measure.

And last but not least is Outlaw, Sean’s dog who allows us to get our dog ‘fix’ without having all the responsibility. He is a Pit Bull/Boxer mix who is happy and tolerant of our constant hugs and harassment.
To read more about ideas for guy gifts, click here on a post I made that you may have missed.
Outlaw1 PSCroppedIMG_3674

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Mug Cover and Mug Rug

Mug Cover and Mug Rug

This is a little late getting posted, but I thought it might be worth it to give a few ‘guy’ ideas for future presents. It is easy to come up with girly projects to sew, but I have a harder time coming up with ideas for the males in my family. My husband is no exception. He is truly appreciative of anything I sew for him….as long as it is masculine and useful.
So here are my three picks for this year’s Father’s Day:
1.) Handmade shirt
2.) Mug Rug (or small place mat)
3.) Mug Cover (fancy pen and pencil holder)

Mug holding guy stuff

Mug holding guy stuff

I think this may be my tenth mug cover gift because they can be personalized with cute fabrics and they hold SO much stuff. (Also great for manicuring tools, sewing supplies, etc.) Here is the pattern and the link at Simplicity here:

Mug Cover Simp 2450

Mug Cover Simp 2450

Simplicity calls is ‘Buckets Gone Wild’, but I think of 5 gallon buckets when I hear the world bucket, so mug cover it is.

I buy the standard vacation souvenir mugs at the thrift stores for a buck or less or re-purpose some from my collection. I then rummage through my cotton fabric and bias tape stashes. I just maaay have to go to the fabric store to look at the fat quarter combinations if nothing seems to be coming together.

The next idea is a version of a mug rug. I was lucky enough to receive one of these as a gift from Rachel, my student/friend (Sewredy.wordpress.com) She has perfected the applique mug rug and other projects. I wrote a little something about her new blog here.
Here is my version with rounded edges:

Camping Fabric Mug Rug

Camping Fabric Mug Rug

I rounded the edges simply because I find it faster and easier to apply bias tape or self-made bias strips. No pattern is used. These can be made many different ways, but the basic dimensions are approximately 13″ X 8″-ish.

The fabric is a camping motive cotton remnant and I edge finished useing dark brown single fold bias tape from my stash. I used the same fabric on the other side because the drawings are entertaining like the Air-stream camper. If you want more info on how I apply my bias tape, I wrote about it on the thermal iron cover post I wrote here.

The last project is a hand made shirt. I have lost track of how many I have made for him, but it it is a my ‘go-to’ pattern.

McCalls 2149 Men's Camp Shirt

McCalls 2149 Men’s Camp Shirt

Okay, so no hanger appeal. I see that here, but it DOES look better on a human, I promise. I chose version “B” from this McCalls 2149:

Great Pattern for Mens shirts

Great Pattern for Mens shirts

You can tell by the low pattern number that it has been in the pattern book for a long time. I think many of the new McCall’s patterns are in the 6000’s.

I bribed my husband with homemade blueberry pancakes to model the shirt.

Husband in his Father's Day shirt

Mr. B in his Father’s Day shirt

Now that’s a little better. You can see the shirt filled out better and that it had a casual, loose fit.
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Since we love to dance, looser and more comfortable clothes are mandatory to do all the fancy moves. The fabric is a rayon from my stash in what I call ‘Builder Beige and Brown’.

Buttons and collar

Buttons and collar

Here you can see I used the standard men’s brown/tan button which blends in so well, it cannot be seen except for up close.

The ‘guy’ list continued:
4.) Neck pillow or lumbar pillow
5.) Personalized pillow case (Great for travel so you don’t accidentally leave the beloved pillow in the hotel)
6.) Shoe bags (Keeps shoes protected and off clothes in suitcase)

Can you think of some more great handmade gift ideas?

Until next time, keep creating.
-Dana

Fashion Happy Conference

IMG_3608You may be wondering what this shirt has to do with a ‘Fashion Happy Conference’ and it simply is a purchase I made from a vendor (Lady Joan’s Boutique) at our most recent women’s conference here in Tucson. The fabric is a crushed poly, so it is easy care and great for packing. As the fabric is stretched, more of the second color is revealed. Here is a close up of the fabric:
IMG_3609*Check out her site for more colors in sleeved versions and tank tops.

A friend of mine invited me to the event, which I had never heard of, and was pleased to attend. It was the second year for this event, and it’s main focus was all things fashion, wellness, and beauty offered be local businesses. To learn more about the vendors, classes and key note speaker, click here

The day was structured in such a way that you could choose to attend three of the 15 classes offered in three different one-hour time blocks. There were breakout sessions between classes to allow time for shopping, networking with vendors and attendees, get a massage, polish change, etc. Lunch was served to those who purchased the full ticket price or there discounted tickets for those just wanting to attend classes and shop, but no lunch. Some of the teachers also had booths, so if during class a question did not get addressed, the teachers could be found at their booths later for follow up or even one-on one appointments at another time.

I chose to go to the three following classes: Small Wardrobe? BIG Impact, Yes, you can!, and Come Fly With Me. The class descriptions are here Since I have been thinking about my next step in life and what do do with this passion I have for sewing, accessories and presenting, I thought it would be a good idea to check out these specific classes. I wanted to attend more, but the way this was structured, I’ll have to wait until next year and see if they are offered again.

So here is another item I purchased from Lady Joan. This was a new vest to her collection. Contact her here if interested. (Necklace is a recent purchase from Downtown East, which has recently closed it’s doors, but here is something similar.)
IMG_3610The minute I saw this, I wanted it. First, I wanted to copy the pattern….more on that later. I also loved the way it was designed and cut out capitalizing on the border print. And thirdly, I am always looking for clothes that can be styled in many ways. Here are just a few ways I have discovered so far to wear this great vest:
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IMG_3612Instead of having the collar cascade down in a waterfall in the center, this way the collar hangs down in the back causing the front to look more like a cape or shawl covering the arms.
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Here, I have belted it.
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Fiddled with it to change up the look.
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This is knotted in the front at bust level. It could also be knotted at the waist, but I found it top be too bulky.
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And the last way to wear this is to turn it into a scarf. Put the two armholes together to create the loop. Pull ends through.
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So here is the pattern piece I drew from the vest.
IMG_3619If the vest is opened up, it looks like an oblong doughnut. I simply folded the vest in half and drew around the edges. The poly chiffon vest is hemmed with a narrow hem from a serger, but could be narrow hemmed by a sewing machine also.

I haven’t measured it exactly, but it could be any size with the two armholes cut into the center as shown. One idea is to measure the length you want from the bottom of the armhole to the desired hem. As you can see from the back view, this is where a border print could be featured. This opens up some pattern drafting possibilities and ways to use some chiffon in my stash!!

My favorite part of the day was winning the grand prize drawing!
IMG_3622It was the end to a long losing streak of raffles, drawings, lottery tickets, etc. We have one year to plan an overnight, in town, little get-a-way stay-cation kind of thing. Free champagne, continental breakfast, and late check out. Whoo Hoo!

I met some great people, learned about new business opportunities, picked up some tips from the classes and had a delicious lunch. What a great day!

Shades of Olive Jacket Kit

Dana's Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

Dana’s Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my mom at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington last year at about this time (Feb/Mar), and I’m a little sad I didn’t go this year. It was my first sewing expo out of Arizona and I wanted to share one aspect in more detail with you.

One of the big highlights was meeting Linda MacPhee, a patterns designer, teacher, sewing enthusiast, vendor, among other talents. Here is a jacket kit I purchased from her after seeing the kit and the finished product. From the list of presenters for 2014, I don’t think Linda attended this year, but she still offers the pattern in two color choices on her website here. If you have a moment, check out the website for the Expo for 2015. It is fun to look at the sight to get a taste of all that is available. I highly recommend attending if you want to be surrounded by sewing enthusiasts, great instructors and an ‘seamingly’-never-ending supply of vendors and supplies. It’s exhausting!

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

The catchy title of ‘Shades of Gray’ was a deliberate attempt to get the attention of customers and cause them to stop by the booth and ask questions about this art-to-wear jacket. Here we are at her booth and advertising her gray jacket kit. She was such a delight to meet in person. I have been a member of the American Sewing Guild, Tucson Chapter in years past and had heard that she had come to our city of offer classes and demos, but for some reason, I never attended. It was my loss. She is so friendly and warm. ¬†My mom and I must have said the right things because we were asked to be models in Linda’s fashion show on the main stage!

After getting to talk to her, Linda conveyed that sewing needs to be to simplified, making it as easy as possible to open up to new and different ways to be creative. Sometimes, we get in our own way and complicate a pattern’s process, or get intimidated before even starting something and as a result, never get it off the ground and finished. So…….this jacket has taken a year to complete! ¬†More about why later in the post.

Linda prepares the kits herself by providing various remnant squares of fabrics from her suppliers.  The kit fabrics have the weight and feel of home decorator and stretch woven fabrics.   The additional fabric needed is the sleeve fabric of your choice.   Linda chose a heavy sweater knit for her sleeves because she lives in Canada and wanted extra warmth. I selected a black cotton/poly knit remnant from my stash.  This kit requires some planning and prep to make this jacket come alive.

Somehow, she knows how much fabric to provide as well as a zipper, pattern, and creative suggestions in the instructions. The idea is to come up with your own configuration. Basically, you are creating the fabric for the jacket like a puzzle. The placement of all fabrics need to look right and balanced and pleasing to the eye. It can also be a great way to use up some laces and trims as well as any other fabric remnants from the stash.

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

As you can see, she added lace, stitching, a rhinestone encrusted zipper, and a creative assortment of related and coordinating fabrics
'Shades of Gray' Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

‘Shades of Gray’ Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Below is Linda’s sample of the olive jacket to help customers see how the pieces can come together. In the background, you can see all of the MacPhee Workshop patterns stacked and ready for sale. ¬† There is so much to take in! ¬†There are great garment samples from her various patterns made up for the sole purpose to try them on for size and fit. ¬† She offers guidance with pattern selection to suit your lifestyle needs. ¬† Some garments hang on racks for sale made up out of fabrics available at her booth. ¬† She is so generous with her techniques and tips it is hard to not get so excited and grab the next available sewing machine in sight and get started.
'Shades of Olive' Sample Jacket

‘Shades of Olive’ Sample Jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Selvage and lace used on back

Selvage and lace used on back

Here, Linda used the selvage and lace to add interest and texture to the back. It can also be a way to hide the butting of a seam or blend two fabrics together.
Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

These two fabrics were very different and yet coordinated nicely. One is a flocked printed denim and the other is a scrolled design with a reversible side.
Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

The pattern Linda chose to include in the kit features the two pieced sleeve and princess seams to not only allow a better fit, but another opportunity to combine more fabrics in small doses to add interest.

So here is my jacket. At a glance, they look alike, but they are very different.  My mom provided a scrap of fabric that I used throughout, like on the right pocket. I also added laces of different widths at seam joints.  I suppose no two jackets could be the same because the fabric in the kits may vary and the arrangement of them will be different for every person.IMG_2651
IMG_2654You can see the back side pieces are from the same scrap fabric from my mom, only reversed. It has a slight gold fleck in it and looked great on both sides so I had to find a way to show both sides. Plus, it blended well with all of the other fabrics.
IMG_2655So why did it take me a whole year to complete? Well, I was moving right along without a hitch with the fabric piecing, but had difficulty getting the sleeves to set properly. ¬†I’m not sure if I didn’t mark the reference points right or what, but I didn’t notice they weren’t in correctly until they had been sewn and serged. ¬†They didn’t hang properly and had to be ripped out. I got discouraged, and frankly, allowed myself to get distracted by other sewing projects. It sat until I forced myself to tackle some of my UFO’s (UnFinished Objects).
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I hope this post inspires you to look at your patterns and fabrics in a new way. Maybe there is the possibility of a hidden jacket ‘kit’ in your stash.

Now, for the lariat necklace. If you want to know more about it, click here to get the details.

Snap Bag Tutorial

Snap Bag

Snap Bag

What you can’t see here is that this bag stays closed by recycling a used tape measure from a home improvement center. Fortunately, my husband had one he was happy to donate. The measurements are 8″ Width x 6″ Height x 2″ Depth. As with any sewing project, there is room to personalize and modify to your specific needs. The dimensions can change if you wish, but I recommend making one first and then you will know what measurements need to change for the second bag. Add embroidery, eliminate the 2″ box pleat, use up to three fabrics, or omit the prairie point handles and sew a loop, hair tie as the handle, etc. The choice is yours.

Supplies Needed

Supplies Needed

1.) Quilted Fabric (or fabric and batting to quilt your own) 9″ x 14.5″ This is the outer bag fabric.
2.) Lining Fabric 9″ x 18.5″ This fabric covers the measuring tape across top of bag.
3.) Side Loop Handle 2.5″ x 4.5″ Can be lining or outer fabric-your choice.
4.) Wrist handle (Optional) 11″ x 2.5″.
5.) Handles (Prairie Points) Cut Two 4.5″ x 4.5″ (Same fabric as lining)
6.) Coordinating thread for both fabrics
7.) Fusible Interfacing 9′ x 2″ (Use up small scraps of left over interfacing and piece together)
8.) 1′ Tape measure from hardware store. (Check to see what screwdriver or tapered cross tip screwdriver to have handy to undo outer case of tape measure)
9.) Roll of tape (either electrical or blue painter’s tape to cover tape measure ends)
10.) Sharp, heavy duty utility scissors (to cut tape measure)
11.) Ruler (to draw quilt lines if quilting your own fabric)
12.) Chalk or water soluble marker (to draw quilt lines)

Prepare your pattern pieces

Prepare your pattern pieces

Step 1 Prepare Pattern Pieces using tissue, medical paper, newsprint, etc.
All measurements are based on a 1″ tape measure. Adjust if you use a 3/4″ measuring tape. My Sharpie drawings are not as clear as the measurements stated above, so this is just to show you what the pattern pieces should look like.

Cut out pieces

Cut out pieces

Step 2. Cut Out Main Pattern Pieces To Tissue Measurements EXCEPT Batting And Outer Fabric If You Are Going To Quilt It. Leave some extra fabric and batting on all sides until quilt stitching is completed. Trim to pattern piece dimensions after quilting.
IMG_2013Step 3. Using The Ruler, Draw Line From One Corner To the Other In 1″ Lines Using a quilt guide or lines drawn on the fabric, stitch the quilting lines to sew batting to outer fabric. Click here to see another example of quilting your own outer fabric.

Faint chalk line from corner to corner

Faint chalk line from corner to corner

You can barely see the chalk line-this is what you want. Pin batting along the line to secure. Move pins as you sew each line until all stitching is complete.
Step 4. Stitch quilt lines. I like to set my stitch length to 3.0 and use a quilting bar that I can set to the 1″ mark, helping me to speed up the sewing process a little.

1' quilted lines

1″ quilted lines

Trim off excess

Trim off excess

Step 5. Trim off excess to match the pattern tissue measurement (9″ x 14.5″). I used a rotary cutter and ruler but scissors work just fine.

Press the 2

Press the 2″ strip of interfacing

Step 6. Press the 2″ fusible interfacing to the top edges of wrong side of lining. This is where I use up the leftover small scraps of interfacing from other projects. This will also help the tape measure from cutting through the edges of bag.

Turn top edge down 5/8

Turn top edge down 5/8″

Step 7. Layer lining and quilted fabric, wrong sides together and press lining down 5/8″ towards quilted piece. Set aside for a moment.
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Step 8. Prepare prairie points by folding the 4.5″ square in half.
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Step 9. Fold up lower left corner up to center. Press.IMG_2086
Step 10. Fold up right corner and bring to center, creating prairie point. The folded edges should be parallel to each other and touching and raw edges should be even. Press.

Pressed 1.25

Pressed 1.25″ over quilted fabric edge

Step 11. Fold down the top edge 1.25″ to cover raw edge of quilted front. Center prairie points and insert raw edge here under the folded edge. Secure with fusible tape or pins to keep anything from moving before the stitching. Refer to finished bag photo if needed to see placement.

Stitch through all layers

Stitch through all layers

Step 12. Stitch close to folded edge, leaving room for tape measure to slide through. Test before stitching. (Prairie points don’t show here, but they are sewn on both top edges in the center to be used as handles/decoration.)

Side Loop

Side Loop

Step 13. Prepare Side Loop. Fold loop, right sides together and stitch down long die leaving ends open. Grade seam allowances.

Safety pin to help turn

Safety pin to help turn

Step 14. Attach a safety pin to one edge of the tube. Use the safety pin to turn the tube right side out by sliding through to other side.

Side Loop ready for pressing

Side Loop ready for pressing

Step 15. After loop is right side out, press flat. Remove pin. Fold in half bringing raw edges together.

Baste loop

Baste loop

Step 16. Baste Loop to front of bag. With raw edges together, place loop 1/2″ right below top band. Baste with an 1/8″ seam allowance. This will be sewn permanently when side seams are sewn up.

Sew up side seams

Sew up side seams

Step 17. Sew up ONE SIDE SEAM only. I ran my finger down inside the bag from top to bottom to smooth out any tucks. Pin. Stitch in a 1/4″ seam allowance making sure to back-stitch enthusiastically at the top edge.
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Step 18. Cut tape measure into two (2) pieces measuring 8″. Test length by inserting into the casings to see if there is at least a 1/4″ seam allowance. If not, trim to fit. Remove tape pieces.
Step 19. Using utility scissors, slightly round edges to remove sharp edges/corners.
Step 20. Tape edges with electrical tape or painter’s tape. This is a very important step. I did not do this on my first bag and the corners are working their way through the material.

Sew up side seams

Sew up side seams

Step 21. Insert tape measure pieces back into casings (like Step 15) pushing them in as far as possible to give ample room to sew on remaining seam allowance. NOTE: MAKE SURE THE TAPE MEASURE PIECES ARE INSERTED WITH THE BLANK SIDES OF TAPE (“C” SHAPE) FACE THE LINING SIDE. THE NUMBERED SIDES (“U” SHAPE) ARE FACING THE QUILTED SIDE OF BAG. The “C” shape sides of the tape kissing each other create the ‘snap’ .
Step 22. Prepare to sew up other side seam. Fold bag in half RST, pin, making sure the side loop is on the inside of the bag and all raw edges are even. Make sure there are no tucks. The top edge gets the most wear-and-tear so once again, back-stitch enthusiastically.
Step 23. Serge or zig zag raw side seams to cleanly finish.
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Step 24. Prepare mitered corners.
Keeping the rights sides together, pull apart bag at lower edge fold (base of bag) with one hand on front of bag and one hand on back of bag until the side seam looks like the picture. My thumb is on the side seam and my index finger is on the base of the bag. This creates a triangle-looking area on the inside of the bag, but a nice miter on the outside, allowing the bag to sit up by itself. Measure across 2″ or 1″ on both sides of seam, pressing seam allowance to one side. Mark the line.
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Step 25. Sew across triangle/miter. Trimming corner is optional. I left my triangle in place to give the base of the bag more substance. Repeat for other side.IMG_2066
Step 26. Turn right side out. This will take a little muscle because the tape measure doesn’t want to bend this way. Work it until the bag inverts. Add seam sealant to upper seam allowances.

Sewing Bee Causes Buzz

If you area fan of Project Runway, but want to see a different take on it without the drama and outlandish personalities, check out the Great British Sewing Bee. It is a BBC production but airs on You Tube. I highly recommend it. There are four episodes to Season One and Season Two will be airing in 2014.

Presenters and contestents on The Great British Sewing Bee
Presenters and contestants on The Great British Sewing Bee

The humor is refreshing and the abbreviated version of Project Runway gets right to the point. The show invites beginning to seasoned level seamstresses and assigns realistic projects to complete in a few hours. There are two judges who critique honestly but also point out the positives of the overall appearance, adherence to the directions, similarities to garment industry techniques, drape, and fit of the project. It is a down-to-earth show about putting your sewing skills to the test so grab a hot ‘cuppa’ and cozy up on the couch. I viewed all shows in one day.

The best part, in my opinion, is the increased interest in sewing. Check out this great article to read about garment sewing resurgence due to this popular show. Even though this article references Solihull, England, I heard about this show from a student in my Sit & Sew group and have since enjoyed seeing the show referenced on other U.S. blog sites.

This article is written by someone who has sewn for 20 years and is encouraged by the show and hopes promote it will draw in non-sewers to give sewing a try. She also encourages the sewers to post easy projects on blogs, teach beginners and spread the word.

Here is one more (lengthy) article about the show, but with more criticism and over-intellectualizing than I care for—you decide.

Have you seen the shows and what do you think?

Simplicity 4032 Fleece Jacket In July

Simplicity 4032

Simplicity 4032

It’s summer in Tucson and the recommended class is a fleece jacket! As a teacher for Jo-Ann’s, I teach projects selected by the corporation.¬† I often wonder what is involved in the decisions when projects are selected. There is not enough time allotted in class for cutting out or making any fitting adjustments, which is a crucial part of the learning process for beginners. The end of class is spent explaining the finishing steps necessary to complete the project at home. My preference is that students get to bring home a completed project. How many of us have enough UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) at home already?

Anyway, Tucson can’t be the only area with over 100 degree temperatures, and yet this was the project to offer at the beginning level. On one of my recent visits to buy notions, I noticed how many customers were in line buying fleece!¬† Who knew? Planning for the Fall projects, I suppose.

The view required for class is View A. This is an unlined jacket with some raw edges. Finishing seams with a serger or zig zag is optional but not necessary. It has great princess seams and a classic shape. Because the fleece is a little stretchy and very forgiving, setting the collar and sleeves can be done with little frustration. Small pockets can be added to hold keys or tissue, etc.

What are some of the my and hints?
Because you asked:
1.) To keep seams to lay flat, I serged and top stitched them down to finish it nicely.
2.) Be sure to cut as carefully as possible so that there are no jagged edges ( or maybe use a rotary cutter/mat on the exposed edges if you want).
3.) The bow detail on the collar is a styling option. It is removable or it can be left off completely to have a standard shawl collar.
4.) Consider view A in a tweed if you’re looking for a retro look.
5.) The collar edges will have to be finished somehow or lined. Any of these styles will look great for early fall/winter layer over a tank or tee.

Simplicity 4032

Simplicity 4032

Back View of Simplicity 4032

Back View of Simp 4032

Up Close View Of Bow, Raw Edges

Up Close View Of Bow, Raw Edges

6.) The bow consists of two tie pieces inserted into a slice in the upper jacket area and then tied with the collar enclosed in the knot. The nice touch here is that you can remove the ties and smooth out the collar and the slice does not show because it is under the shawl collar.

So even though it is a warm fabric to work with when the air conditioning is tirelessly working away, I suppose it is a good idea to plan now to have something sewn and ready for the chilly weather to arrive. This might explain why I am often not prepared for the upcoming season with newly sewn items!

This is a quick jacket to whip up and is great for gifts for friends who walk early in the morning, or need a layer to wear to the gym. Because it is an easy care fabric, you can keep it in the car for the unexpected weather change. I will consider making up any of these styles again.