Thursday, 23 April 2015

Supplies {Nappy Bag Sew Along}

Hi everyone,

It's time to start getting prepared for our Nappy bag sew along, which starts on 1st May, have you joined one of the Facebook groups yet?
'Handmade' script label from Emmaline Bags

Here's the list of required supplies you'll need.

Materials needed:
1 1/8yd (1m) Outer fabric
-  Quilting cottons are fine for this as they'll be interfaced, although I used a light home decor. You don't want anything too weighty as once you get all of the layers together you'll find it tough to stitch through. Remember that bags of this ilk take an awful lot of a beating. My beautiful pale print fabric is now decidedly grubby! So either choose a fabric which can hide that, or that you've pre-washed to ensure that you will be able to wash the final bag. You can protect your fabric with something like Scotchguard if you'd like to once your bag is fully made up.

1yd (3/4m) Contrast outer fabric
- Quilting cottons are good here too. This is for your handles and straps. Remember these too will receive a fair amount of travel dirt what with them being on the floor of the car, bus, hotel floor, business meeting!

2yd (1 3/4m) Lining fabric
- Quilting cotton, polycotton or lightweight woven fabric.
1 1/8yd (1m) heavy stabiliser
- fusible fleece or foam stabiliser (such as ByAnnie's Soft & Stable or Headliner
You may wish to refer to my post reviewing different foam stabilisers to help you choose the right stabiliser for your bag.
3 1/4yd (3m) medium weight interfacing
- This is to make your bag really sturdy and each quilting cotton outer layer will have both medium interfacing and fusible fleece to give it that stability.
If you're using a foam stabiliser such as Soft & Stable you can probably forego the extra layer of interfacing and stick with just S&S on the outer layers.
You will still need the medium interfacing on the lining pieces.

Detachable cross body strap

Hardware needed:
35 1/2" (90cm) length of piping - Optional
43 1/4" (110cm) length of elastic 1/4" (50mm) wide
1 x 22" (56cm) zip, double or single - Please see below regarding this zip.
2 x 8" (20cm) zips to match lining
1 x magnetic snap
2 x 1" (2.5cm) D rings (or triangular rings if you can get them, they're far superior, but fairly new to me!)
2" (5cm) length of 3/4" (2cm) wide length of hook & loop tape

Both the following can be exchanged for other sizes as long as they match:
1 x 1 1/2" (4cm) triglide buckle
2 x 1 1/2" (4cm) swivel lobster clips

Optional: 6 x 3/8" (10mm) Rivets
Optional keychain/s or dummy clips:
For one: 1 x 19mm (3/4”) swivel hook & 12.5cm (5”) of 19mm (3/4”) grossgrain ribbon
For two: 2 x 19mm (3/4”) swivel hooks & 22cm (9”) of 19mm (3/4”) grossgrain ribbon

For a hardware 'kit' containing the basic hardware (not the optionals) for The Nappy bag, please check out Bobbin Girl if you're in the UK and Europe, and Emmaline Bags if you're in Canada or USA. I'm still investigating an option for those in Australia, sorry for the delay!

Where to start choosing your supplies

A note about the main bag zip
Usually when starting to look for supplies you'd choose your fabric first. In the case of the Nappy bag though, I'd encourage you to start with your zip and build from there. If you want a twin slider for your zip you'll need to find a zip with twin sliders (sometimes known as double sliders or a double zip), or make one yourself. Dee wrote a great tutorial on my blog about how to adapt a single slide zip to a double, but if you're like me and prefer to buy your zips with closed ends, you should start looking for this first.

Then when you have found the zip the right size, you can choose your fabric to co-ordinate. In the Nappy bag, you'll want a zip that's 22" (56cm) long, although one that's slightly too long can be cut down to size. I prefer closed ended zips for this Nappy bag pattern as the extra tension on the zip ends when opening it wide really benefits from the metal zip ends.

Of course you can use a single zip, and the pattern works just as well with a single zip rather than a double. If you've found some absolutely gorgeous fabric you can't live without, but can't find a double zip to match, then maybe a single zip is the best option.

Pockets as standard in the pattern, we'll talk about other pocket options during the sew along. 

Don't forget to join up to one of the two facebook groups, you can find more info on my Sew Along post.  Keep checking back for some Nappy bag inspiration!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Foam Stabilisers comparison

Hi lovelies,

There are a lot of new products on the market now to help with your bag making, most noticeably foam stabilisers.

Foam stabilisers are great because they give your handmade bags body, stability and an overall professional finish. (I use stabilisers for my Saddlebag, Nappy bag and Bookbag Backpack patterns, for example). But what's the difference and which should you choose?

I've made a comparison of the top three to try and help you. I'll be comparing By Annie's Soft & Stable, Headliner Scrim and Bosal In-R-Form.

I have not received any compensation or reward for these, however I did receive the fabric from Sara Lawson's new Fantasia Fabric line for Art Gallery Fabrics and chose to use them for this.

First up, what are they?

Soft & Stable is a craft foam specially developed for using in bags and craft projects. Headliner is the fabric used on the interior ceilings of cars and Bosal In-R-Form is a fusible foam; I've chosen the single sided fusible one, although it is available in double sided.

The cost
I've worked out the price based on product and shipping & handling. I've attached links to my suppliers on each.
Soft & Stable - £17.20 for 18" x 58"
Headliner - £7.98 for 39" x 55" (so nearly double the size)
Bosal - £11.75 for 18" x 58"

Packaging & Instructions
Soft & Stable comes folded in a plastic bag with a thick paper insert, there are no instructions for use.

Headliner fabric comes per meter and as such is just folded or rolled with no packaging and no instructions for use.

Bosal comes in a plastic bag with a cover sheet and the following instructions.

What does it look like?
Soft & Stable is a 4mm foam with knitted covering on both sides. There's no visible grainline as the knitted fabric seems to be distorted.
 Headliner comes either as grey interior fabric backed with 3mm foam, or as pictured below (and cheaper!) the interior fabric is backed with 2mm foam and then a soft fleecy feeling backing.
 Bosal Single sided In-R-Form is a 4mm foam with the soft fleecy fabric on one side, and the glue side on the other. It is not sticky until heated.
It is worth noting that you should not press directly on the Bosal, wheras the Soft & Stable and Headliner could take a bit of swift ironing if using a medium/cool iron, although you probably shouldn't iron them either.

The Bosal foam smelt, there's no two ways about it. It smelt of a horrible chemical burnt plastic smell which got worse as I pressed it. I tried to avoid smelling the steam from pressing. Headliner had a faint 'new car' plastic-y smell, and Soft & Stable had a slight plastic smell to it.
There was no scent to the finished baskets.

How easy are they to apply?
The Bosal was incredibly easy to apply. I cut it 1/2" smaller than the outer fabric (that was the seam allowance for the pattern) and then fused from the right side of the fabric with the Bosal underneath.

The Soft & Stable and headliner both required basting so I cut them to the pattern size, basted with a 1/2" seam allowance then trimmed the excess from the seam allowance. I then removed the basting stitches before I did the final topstitching. It was a potch.

How stable are they then?

The sharpest shape to the basket was produced by Bosal In-R-Form. It had nice sharp corners and the sides stood up straight.
The next sharpest was the headliner fabric surprisingly! It too had nice sharp corners and the sides stood up, but lesser than the Bosal.
Finally the Soft & Stable had much less sharp corners and the sides sagged outwards slightly.
Soft & Stable in pink, Bosal in cream mushrooms, Headliner in soft green flowers at the front
How do they look?

I took photos before and after a final press because they were really quite different and I was disappointed. I used Art Gallery cottons which are notoriously soft and luxuriant feeling, but it meant they really needed the extra stability to make this basket.

First up is the Bosal. It creased incredibly badly when turning the top under and then pulling it through the machine. It seemed as though whenever it was pressed, the glue melted again and the fabric could shift.

Before a final press
Even after a final press some creases remained.

After pressing
Next up is the Headliner. This didn't crease as badly when turning through and unlike the others, didn't fold along the quilted stitch lines.
Before a final press
 It had a good finish to it and I was generally pleased with it.
After pressing
 Finally the Soft & Stable. It didn't crease too badly, but of course a final press did help.

I did the squish test too. I pushed down the side of one basket until it held in place and waited to see which would spring back into shape. All three were spring-y and didn't want to stay squished, but the Bosal sprung back far more quickly wheras the Headliner and Soft & Stable were quite happy to stay squished.

Top left - Bosal, Top right - Soft & Stable, Front - Headliner

The main cons for Soft & Stable were that it's not fusible and it's jolly pricey.

For the headliner, the only down side I could find was that it's not fusible, I was generally very happy with it, (Especially the price!).

Finally for the Bosal I was pleased it was fusible, it was much easier to work with because of that, but the creases just didn't produce a great result and I am disappointed that such pretty fabric should be graced with such creases!

Left to right - Bosal single sided In-R-Form, Headliner scrim, By Annie's Soft & Stable
I chose to use these beautiful fabrics sent to me by my good friend Sara from Sew Sweetness. They're from her newest fabric line Fantasia. I couldn't decide between them so I mixed and matched and chose the unicorns for the interior dividers.

I used the divided basket pattern from Noodlehead which I purchased a couple of months ago, but used upholstery webbing for the handles with ribbons sewn to the middles.

I can't tell you which stabiliser to go for, but hopefully my observations will help you to decide. If in doubt, apply a swatch to your outer fabric to see if you like the handle of it first.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Nappy Bag Sew Along/s

Hi lovelies,

I've something so exciting to share with you today!

There are two sew alongs starting for my pattern The Nappy Bag! They're both starting 1st May and the posts will be on my blog here. The two sew alongs are running in Facebook groups, and I'd love you to join us!

A sew along is a great way to make a bag that you're not sure whether you're able to tackle on your own, or one that you know you are able to make, but would appreciate some company...oh and you want to win some prizes!

One is running in the Bag makers question and answer forum Bobbin Girl's Sewing Bee, and the other is a group that's come from the facebook group Sewing tote bags and purses and is called The Nappy bag - Sew along with Mrs H.
Interior of Barbara's Travel bag, adapted from The Nappy Bag
There'll be two separate prize pots so two chances to win! You're very welcome to join either or both for some great ongoing chats, advice (usually all hours of the day due to the beauty of different time zones), and inspiration.

Bobbin Girl's Sewing Bee is a smaller group, still 330 members though, very encouraging and great for really getting to chat. I've laughed and chatted away in this group very comfortably!

Sewing tote bags and purses is a larger group, international of course, and excellent if you need lots of advice very quickly. With over 14,000 members it can get busy, but it's very good for the ego when you post a photo of a new bag and immediately get 20 likes!

Simone's bag
We'll be starting to gather our supplies over the next couple of weeks ready to start properly on 1st May. You can take your time, work at your own pace and not feel rushed.

There'll be posts each week of the next steps and I'll talk you through all sorts of tips and tricks, tools to make life easier, and how to customise the nappy bag to your own needs.
Liz's travel themed overnight bag
If you haven't already got a copy of The Nappy Bag Sewing pattern (aka the diaper bag, the travel bag, the junk carrier's handbag) then please feel free to purchase it to get ready. You can find it in my Etsy store, just use the discount code SEWALONG15 for your 15% discount. The code can be used on multiple patterns as long as you've got The Nappy Bag amongst your purchase, so if you wanted a bundle or a couple of patterns, you can use it for those too.

We'll have an end date of 15th June, which gives us plenty of time. Alison from Bobbin Girl reminded me there's two bank holidays in May! You don't need to have finished by that date, but if you have then you can be entered into the competition to win the prizes (TBA).

Check in later in the week for a list of supplies, where to find them and my unusual suggestion of a starting point! I'm looking forwards to sewing with you!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Q2 '15 FAL Goals

It's that time again for setting our quarterly goals. This is only my second quarter, but already I'm feeling the companionship of many others out there working towards finishing things off.

Maybe by the end of the year my WIP (works in progress) box will be empty, right? Wait, why are you laughing?

This quarter is mostly about clothing for me, I've got a lot of fabrics ready waiting to be made into clothes, here they are.

From top left, Chunky sweater knit for an Oslo Cardigan, grey sweatshirt fabric (and pink ribbing?!) for a sweater, dark grey t shirt fabric for a Lane raglan, Navy & red voile for a top for my beautiful friend Stacey, lilac Veronica voile for a summer top (with sleeves) for me (pattern undecided, any suggestions?) and then some aqua knit elephants for a t-shirt or two for Elvis.

I bought these two Christmas cushions in the sale (£10 reduced to £3) so I'd like to make removeable covers for them so that they can sit on our settee all year round, and just be Christmassy at Christmas. I can't be doing with storing cushions away, it seems silly!

Hopefully this light embroidered cotton will become a couple of little skirts for my nieces to wear over leggings. That's their favourite fashion combo at the moment so hopefully they'll be to their taste!

And finally some cushions for my sister-in-law from this Cath Kidston Provence Rose in blue. I'm fed up of this fabric I've had so much of it so I'm glad to make these for her and to get it out of my sewing room!

What are you working on this quarter?

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Meeting Daryl {Patchouli Moon Studios interview}

Hi lovelies, today I want to introduce you to a maker who's caught my eye, particularly recently. 
I'm sure many of you already know of her and follow her blog, today I'm interviewing Daryl from Patchouli Moon Studio. 

Daryl has been a customer of mine for a number of years and has extremely high standards that she looks for in the patterns she buys. She's the sort of customer I love because she finds all of my mistakes and emails me to correct them, rather than letting me make those mistakes!

Daryl says, "I make mostly quilted wall hangings, bags, small projects like pincushions, fabric bowls etc. and I knit too. I love to play with fabric by embellishing it with paint, pens, embroidery, stencils, textures, dyes, etc. I want to make more bags and quilts that are embellished using one or more of the embellished techniques. I just love fiber and playing".

This bag in particular caught my eye last month and I reached out to Daryl to share some more about her on my blog with all of you lovely readers.

Hyacinth bag - February for Bag of the Month Club '15
I featured Daryl's Hyacinth bag on my round-up of February bags for Sara at Sew Sweetness and commented that she'd used this panel really well. Then Daryl corrected me and told me that she'd created this panel herself. Uh...what?! Seriously?! That was it, I was amazed!

Daryl took some backing fabric (originally beige),  drew the African lady, painted the background, appliqu├ęd the border and then quilted it.

When I found out about this, I was in absolute awe at Daryl's creativity and skill.  It's incredible!

Daryl offers a free Craftsy tutorial Painting on Fabric with Crayon Pastels if you want to learn some of her skilled techniques yourself.

Painting on fabric with crayon pastels course by Patchouli Moon Studio
 Daryl has also made two Companion Carpet bags so far, here's the first, really bright and happy.

Companion Carpet Bag

The second she used a light floaty see through fabric, applied interfacing then quilted it to give it some structure. Here's a close up. It's Daryl's creative use of materials which really draws me to her.

Companion Carpet Bag 2

She doesn't stop there though, here she's made a plethora of zip bags from scraps.

Scrappy Zipper pouches

And my eye was immediately drawn to this Faith crosses quilt on her blog.
Faith crosses quilt
 I took the opportunity to ask her some questions and here are her answers.

How did you start sewing? 
I learned some from my mother and I also had Home Ec in high school, where we learned to sew for half the school year and learned to cook for the other half. My mom always sewed and made many dresses for my sister and me when we were young.

When do you sew? 
I sew almost everyday and whenever I am in the mood. Sometimes I will sew in the morning and sometimes the afternoons. I rarely sew at night because I tend to get sleepy and that's when mistakes can happen, lol!!!

What's one thing you struggle with when sewing? 
It would have to be when making clothes, which isn't often, I have a hard time if the pattern doesn't fit me right and I am not savvy enough to know how to fix the problem.
Another thing that can be frustrating to me is if I am following a pattern for making something (clothes, bags, etc.) and the directions are not clear. I had purchased some patterns and books in the past that were pretty bad. Then I discovered some wonderful online designers such as Christine Welsh of ChrisW Designs, Janelle from Emmaline Bags, Sara of Sew Sweetness and several others including of course Samantha of Mrs. H. What a joy to have well written patterns to follow.

What do you strive for when sewing?
I strive for perfectly straight stitches! Maria Vasquez of Mia Creations is my role model for stitching straight, lol!! I also strive for enjoying the process of sewing. Not everything I make comes out the way I want it to, but as long as I enjoy the process of creating and sewing then I am happy. We all have things that don't come out perfectly in the end, but sometimes as with quilting, it's a design opportunity moment to get creative and switch gears and finish it differently. Some of my best quilts are the ones that I made a goof on and had to think creatively to save it.

Tell us a random fact about yourself ;)
I think this might be the hardest question, lol! A random fact? Hmmm....okay I got one. My very first job I got was working in a needlework shop where they sold needlepoint, cross stitch, embroidery, crewel and bargello supplies and patterns. Then about about 5 years later my mom opened a quilt shop and I worked for her. The shop closed after a year. Everything back then was done by hand. If mom had only hung in there for a couple more years the rotary cutter and ruler and mat would have been invented and that might have helped to keep her shop in business. Who knows, I may have ended up with my own quilt shop handed down to me from my mom if that had worked out. But of course I probably wouldn't have met my husband and my life would have been completely different. I am happy with the life I have and so I am glad things happened the way they did.

Here's where Daryl works when she's crafting, it's packed full of makes and inspiration. I love that hot air balloon in the corner there!
The Patchouli Moon Studio

Thanks for letting us get to know you a little better Daryl, it's been a real pleasure!

Daryl lives in New Mexico, USA. She loves creating colorful handmade items such as quilts, purses, bags, totes, & knitted items. You can see more Patchouli Moon Studio makes on the her blog or Flickr  and see the rest of her patterns, many free on Craftsy.