Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Patchwork Bag for Imogen part 2

Right, Imogen, hope you managed alright making your piece of patchwork! Now we're ready to turn it into a bag... First step is to create the handles. Here you have a choice, you can either use two fabrics and have them different on each side, or just one. Now decide on the length you want... I've gone for roughly 27 inches. Also, I want mine to end up as 3/4 inch wide; if you've made a bigger bag though, I would go for wider handles. 

In order to end up with 3/4 inch wide handles, I've cut strips which are 1 and 3/4 inches wide, as I'm going to join two strips to have different front and back, which means losing 1/2 inch by sewing them together. If you decide to use only one fabric, you can cut it 3 inches wide. Ideally with handles it is good to use one long piece of fabric, as any weight in the bag strains the join. However, my plain purple is long enough, but my patterned fabric isn't, so I'm going to have to join strips. I sewed the join several times over to strengthen it.

Next step, place your strips right sides together and sew down the longer length, using your 1/4 inch foot on the sewing machine. Open up the seams and iron them flat.

Next stage, gently fold each side into the middle, and iron flat.

Now fold in half. By now, your handles is the thickness of four pieces of fabric.

If, like me, you have used two different ones, you now have different front and back.

Using the 1/4 inch foot again, sew down the full length, starting with the open edge. When you reach the bottom, sew up the other side.

Your handles should now be complete! Set them aside for now.

Take your patchwork, and place it on a piece of wadding which is slightly bigger round all four sides. Smooth it out, making sure there are no wrinkles. Pin each square, using quilting pins.

Now decide how you want to quilt it... With the last set of bags, I did diagonal lines across some squares. However, as this bag isn't symmetrical, I would need to stitch every square. Instead, I have quilted in the ditch across the width of each seam. 

When you've finished, trim away the excess batting. 

Now it's time to fasten on the handles. If you've used two fabrics, decide which you want on the outside. I want my patterned side facing out, so I've fastened it IN at this stage. Pin them in place, and stitch across the top using your 1/4 inch foot. I normally stitch several times to strengthen the handles.

Now you need to measure carefully the size of your piece, and cut a matching piece from your chosen lining fabric. My patchwork at this point measured 24 inches by 9 and a 1/4. 

Set your lining aside, and fold your outer bag in half, with right sides facing. Now sew up each side of the bag, still using the 1/4 inch foot. When you've finished, turn it out. It will now look like this, but without the lining.

Fold your lining in half, and sew all the way up one side. On the other side, sew from the top, then stop and leave a space which is about 4 inches. Then resume sewing to the bottom. (This is possibly the most important step so far. I can also guarantee that if, like me, you end up making hundreds of these, there will be at least one occasion when you forget to leave the space... This will prove very frustrating when you can't turn the bag out the right way!)

Ok, now the really tricky part. Have the patchwork side, ie the outside of the bag, inside out. Tuck the handles inside carefully. Then place your lining inside the bag, with the right side facing the patchwork. Pin round the top.

Carefully stitch all the way along the top.

Now use the small gap you left in the side of the lining to turn the bag the right way... Check that you are happy that the handles are secure. Then sew the turning space closed.

Push the lining inside the bag, and topstitch around the top edge for neatness. Sometimes I leave it hanging up with a book inside for a bit first, as that helps to smooth out the inside.

Hooray, your bag should now be complete! Throw in a book and some chocolate and head for the park ;-)

If you use this tutorial, please leave a comment! Better still, send me a photo!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Patchwork bag for Imogen...

Imogen and her mum, a friend of mine from university, have asked for a tutorial for the patchwork tote bags that I often seem to make as birthday presents. I'm sure there must be tutorials online already, but Imogen is the third younger reader to show an interest, so I decided to write up my way of making them in a pattern aimed at younger people...
We're basing the design on this particular bag shown below. For this bag, I used squares that started as 3.5 inches, and after stitching were 3 inches. Therefore the total bag size is 9 by 12 inches, excluding the handles.

First step is to choose your fabrics. Really this pattern works best with 3 or 6 different fabrics. However, for today, my own supplies are running low, and I've decided to go with my purple fabrics, of which I have 4. 

The best way to cut patchwork fabric is using a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and patchworking ruler (which measures in inches). If you look closely, you can see that I have placed the ruler against a straight edge of fabric, and am ready to cut on the 3.5 inch line. 
If you haven't cut fabric this way before, please ask for a demonstration when you buy the kit. The first time using a rotary cutter is very daunting, not to mention dangerous! They are very sharp; always close the blade as soon as you have finished cutting.

As I am using 4 fabrics, I need 6 squares in each one. If you use 3 fabrics, you will need 8 squares in each. With 6 fabrics, you need 4 of each. I therefore cut two 3.5 inch strips.

The great thing about the rotary cutter, is I can now place the strips on top of each other and cut through them both at the same time. First, you need to neaten the edge by cutting a small piece off.

Then line up your ruler again to the 3.5 inch mark and cut your squares!

Six squares ready in the first fabric!

And four neat piles, ready to go!

Now play around with different layouts. This is where multiples of 3 work best, but with my 4 fabrics I decided to go for this arrangement:

Now, to make the sewing easier, I decided to lay out both the back and the front of the bag in one long piece, ready to sew in strips. Be careful with this, remembering that the fabrics at the bottom of the photo are essentially upside down at the moment! This is especially important if your fabrics are directional, in other words, have a picture or design which has a clear 'right way up'. 

Ok, for sewing them together, I will be using my quarter inch foot. You can see in the photo that it has a metal ridge at the edge.This acts as a guide, and ensure that all your squares have a quarter inch seam around them, meaning that when they have been sewn, they will all be the same size.

Take the two pieces from the top right and top middle. Place right sides together and push them to the edge of the sewing foot. Stitch a neat line.

When you get near the end, don't bother cutting the thread. We are going to chain stitch the whole of the right and middle columns. So, put right sides together the right hand piece and middle piece from the second row down. Now add them in and start sewing.

Here you can see the squares as they are being sewn. Be careful to leave a couple of stitches before joining the next squares.

The right hand column and middle are now joined together, and you should be able to snip the small gap in between the rows as they came off the machine. 

Now start joining them to the left hand column. 

You should end up with a long train of squares! 

Lay your rows out in order, and check none have got muddled up. Before sewing the rows together, you need to iron the seams flat. The best thing is to iron each row in the opposite direction. This will help in the next stage.

In the photo below, I have sewn the top two rows together. As you sew, go slowly and make sure the edges of the squares are matching up.

This is a picture of the back so far... See how the seams were ironed in different directions to help the piece lie flat?

I tend to sew in groups, and joined two rows by sewing left to right. Then, just in case the fabric is twisting slightly, it's good to sew the remaining seams from right to left.

 You now have your whole piece of patchwork bag all ready!

Iron it carefully on the back, and remove all loose threads. Iron all the seams in a downwards direction, except for the one in the middle, which will be at the bottom of the bag. It is better to iron this one open.

Right, Imogen, get cracking and make your patchwork piece! I'll be back soon with instructions for making the handles, lining, and creating the bag. Have fun!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The one in which Miss PatchyRose makes a bag to thank a very special teacher...

Miss PatchyRose has had such a great teacher this year, who has been perfect for her and deserved a nice thank you gift. I didn't want to make something just by myself, so Miss PR completed the patchwork in the centre, and then had some help turning it into a bag! I love the finished item, hope the teacher does too!