Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bean Bag Tutorial Part 2

If you missed the first bean bag tutorial on how to make a pattern and also to cut the fabric please feel free to take a look.

In this tutorial I will explain how I made the lining part of the bean bag which uses a zip closure, to be able to get back into the bag to fill it up later.

Fabric Pieces


Now that all the fabric pieces have been cut from the template put the outside pieces to one side as we are just dealing with the lining this time.

Lining up the pieces


The two fabric pieces should resemble the look of the two sections of an unfolded tennis ball.

Separate the two pieces of fabric and put both facing right side down. Make a small chalk mark on the centre of the first piece. On the other piece put a mark on the centre of the either circle.


Pin the Fabric



Use the marks which have just been made to line up the pieces, the curves of each piece fitting into the arches of the other piece.


Line up the marks which have just been made and pin around the edges until meeting up at the start again.


Insert the Zip

Decide on where the zip will be placed and take out a few pins where the zip will be inserted.


Sew a basting stitch for the length required for the zip as per my previous instructions on Making a Hobo Shoulder Bag.


Press open the seams.



Place the zip in the open seam and pin in place.



I find it quicker to hand sew then to use a sewing machine to baste the zip in place.



Use a zipper foot on the sewing machine and sew in place.



Unpick all the basting stitches with a seam ripper.



The zip will now be attached to the lining.



Open the zip as this will be used to turn the lining the right way round.


Sew the Seams


Change the machine foot back to the normal straight stitching foot and sew up all the seams. I kept the fabric lined to the end of the foot for the seam allowance.


Finishing the Seams


After all the seams have been sewn use pinking shears and pink all of the edges, this will stop fraying.


In my next entry I will be making the bean bag cover which is the last part in the series.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Bean Bag Tutorial Part 1

I have a pet rabbit who loves to run around the kitchen area in the evening and therefore I am always sitting on the floor to play with him. I have videos following his daily activities (if you are interested in watching please visit my channel on YouTube).
While watching some videos on ThreadBangers I found a great tutorial on making a bean bag. I’ve never owned one of these before and have always wanted one and here is my tutorial on making a bean bag.
Equipment Required
  • Fabric – hard wearing for outside
  • Lining Fabric – Inside of bag
  • Card or newspaper for pattern
  • Dressmaking tape
  • Sewing Machine (Universal needle)
  • Poppers (or snaps)
  • Zipper
  • Bean Bag Filling approx 6 cubic meters
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Weights
Time Taken for pattern preparation: 1 hour

Techniques: Fabric Cutting

1. Making the Pattern

I used a piece of large strong paper but you can use newspaper if you wish.

To make a circle template put a pin in the centre of the paper and measure out 12 inches from the centre. Draw a line all the way around the radius to create a circle.

Cut out the circle. Trace another circle, one circle width from the original circle and draw lines connecting the two.

Measure in from one of the lines 1/4 of the width (6 inches). Repeat for the other side. Create an arch using the line drawn.

Cut out the template using normal scissors (not your dressmaking ones).

2. Cutting the Fabric.

Place the pattern on top of the lining fabric and cut 2 pieces, use weights to hold the pattern down if required. To cut out the pattern correctly hold a firm hand on the pattern and take long smooth strokes, not closing the scissors completely, and work slowly around the pattern. This is a time consuming process, it’s very important to cut correctly so do not rush this step.

Lining is now cut.

Repeat this step to cut out the outer fabric. I used contrasting colours and therefore cut out 1 piece for each colour.

Please visit my blog next week when I will show you how I sewed the pieces together.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Storage Solutions

A while ago I wrote an entry about my Sewing Workstation and I would like to share with you my storage solutions for keeping all your sewing items in a organised manner.

Cutting Mat and Rulers Storage

I have a size A1 cutting mat made by Olfa (approx. £34) that fits on my table perfectly. At first I thought it was expensive but after constant use it still feels like new, there are no scratches or dents in it and I really think it was worth the money. The rulers sit next to the board but I would like to find somewhere to hang these up.

Haberdashery Storage

From a local shop in town I came across this CD storage unit - it contains 4 clear plastic drawers, which I have found is great for storing ribbons, bias tape, zips and elastic.

I wrapped the bias tape and ribbons around pieces of card and stuck a pin in to stop the ends from unravelling, it also looks neater in the drawers too.

The green and white patterned container is a box that came with a gift set and it is a nice size for storing easy-to-reach items like pens, pins, masking tape and etc.

While I was browsing on eBay (please note I am not linked to the seller in anyway, I just like the box) I saw this cute wooden storage box, which holds bobbins and threads on top and anything small in the drawers. I change my thread frequently and  the size of the box means I can store it on my work table without it getting in the way. I keep safety pins and spare bobbins in the drawers.

These white storage boxes are versatile, and can be stacked vertically or horizontally as they slide into place. The draws are clear and this makes it perfect for storing buttons or other small items.

Fabric Storage

This larger 4 drawer unit is great for storing fabric and interfacing, the size and wheels on the bottom make it portable too.

These long storage containers are a perfect size for storing under my table. I keep all my scraps of materials and clothes I want to recycle.

Magazines & Pattern Storage

Magazine racks are great for storing patterns as well as magazines.

Sewing Kit & Sewing Books Storage

I have a TV unit which I use to store my books and sewing kit, also my overlocker fits nicely on the shelf.
I hope some of these storage items will inspire you for your sewing workstation. I would like to hear about how you set up your storage workstation and if you want to share any tips please leave a comment below.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Sewing for Pleasure at the National Exhibition Centre

I am an active member on The Sewing Forum, which is a free source for sewing and craft information, as well as allowing the development of relationships with sewers and crafters alike. Many times I have sought the helpful advice from fellow members and found inspiration for projects too.
The Sewing Forum is also great for spreading the word with up and coming events, like the Sewing For Pleasure exhibition at the NEC which was held on 28th March - 30th March 2010. When I saw this being discussed on the forum I decided to go along and see what all the fuss was about.
The price of the tickets if booked in advanced were £8.50 for adults and £10 on the door, I booked in advance.I travelled down by car and parked at the nearest train station at Martson Green to save on car parking fees at the NEC. The train cost about £2.20 return and stopped right outside the building, however there was a long walk to the place where the Sewing For Pleasure Exhibition was being held, it was like walking through an airport.
When I finally arrived at the doors to go in at around 9.40am I handed over my ticket and got my hand stamped to be able to enter again later that day. The exhibition rooms were emerged into one gigantic room for all three of the exhibitions, Hobbycraft, Sewing for Pleasure and Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch.
Firstly I looked around the Hobbycraft exhibition which had plenty of card and jewellery making materials for sale, demonstrations to watch quilling, stamping and all sots of other crafty techniques. I spent about 1 hour in this area as I am not into the hobby making stalls and main reason that I went was to see the Sewing for Pleasure exhibition.
After walking around looking at all the pretty items I ventured into the sewing & embroidery side of the exhibition. The Sewing for Pleasure exhibition was full of colourful fabrics,handmade crafts, patterns galore, books, sewing workstations,and machines.There were also magazine stands to where you could sign up  for subscriptions like Cloth, Sewing World and my favourite magazine Sew Hip where I managed to have a glance through their previous issues. My head was feeling dizzy with all the bright colourful stalls and glowing new products to try out. After an hour of walking around looking at the stalls I came across the catwalk area, where I sat down to catch my breath. I watched some very inspiring clothes collections from local university students on what they had made out of having only £5 to spend and having to up cycle clothes from a previous fashion show. Also well known magazines like Sewing World and Sew Today were showing off their latest clothes collections, it was a truly wonderful experience to watch.

When lunchtime arrived I decided to try to find somewhere to sit down, it was extremely busy in the NEC and people were sitting on the floor to eat their sandwiches. I managed to find a corner and sat down for 20 minutes where I ate my lunch. There are places to eat or get a hot drink but everywhere was so busy and I was prepared with my own pack lunch to enjoy.
Once lunchtime was over I walked around the stalls one last time to make sure I hadn't missed any of it. I was shown a demonstration on a very small lightweight steam iron, which could go over buttons and T-Shirt motifs and  it was very tempting I nearly brought one. Then I looked at some fabric stalls and purchased 2 metres of a retro style print with purple and green circles on it.
When I turned around I noticed that I had started to venture into the Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch exhibition, which had a collection of medieval costumes to admire. There were demonstrations going on with people trying out embroidery machines and handmade items to purchase.
It was only about 1.30pm and I felt I had seen all there was to see at the NEC so feeling quite exhausted I decided to call it a day and start my way home. 
I really enjoyed myself, there were a lot of friendly people willing to chat about the type of craft they are interested in and I did not feel alone. I found a lot of the products to be pricey and not many bargains to be had. Though I feel exhibitions are there to inform you of the up and coming products and to have a go at trying them out. It was a great experience to take away with me and I may go to another one later in the year.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Understanding Patterns Envelopes

In previous blog entries you may of read about me starting a dress in college which never got finished. I can proudly say that finally after nearly 2 years this dress is complete and is wearable.  The stitching isn’t perfect, it is very wonky at the top of the dress, but aside from the ribbon I am very pleased with the dress. It is a good fit and looks nice - I can always cover up the top half with a jacket.

Pattern Shopping

Buying patterns can be confusing when you’re a sewing novice, there are many commercial patterns including, Simplicity, Burda, and Vogue on the market, as well as the option of buying vintage patterns through sites like eBay.  When I chose to make this dress I was not given any guidance from the college on how to shop for patterns. I went online, found a good website which was offering a discount. I rushed out and bought 5 patterns but I feel that most of them are still too difficult to attempt at this stage in my development.

Understanding the Envelope

The pattern I used was from the New Look Range, No. 6369, bin 30. I chose the main design on the model, which is dress E.

Most of the different brands will include ‘Very Easy’ and ‘Easy’ categories on the cover of the envelope, which explains how complicated the pattern will be.

Also look out for the amount of pattern pieces listed on the back of the envelope as this will also be a guide to the level of difficulty.

This pattern is from the Cool Juniors range and my measurements matched that of a 7/8 year old. When choosing the correct size do not go by shop sizes as these are completely different to pattern sizes. Normally patterns are based on catwalk sizes and not highstreet sizes. Measure yourself correctly, see which size on the envelope matches your nearest measurements and cut the pattern pieces to that size.

Another thing to look out for is the Suggested Fabrics and Requirements section, on the New Look Patterns this is placed at the bottom of the envelope. This too aids as a guide to see if the requirements needed are suitable for your level of  skill. Looking at this pattern I knew I would have to learn to use zips.


Also on the back of the envelope is a guide to the amount of fabric you will need for each size and all patterns will come with instructions on constructing the garment.
I hope these simple guidelines will help you in buying the correct patterns. If you have any thoughts or questions please write them down in the comments section, I would love to read your views.