Monday, May 2, 2016

Building Baskets

I really like my pretty tulip baskets! I like that there are two styles and two different sizes in one pattern.  I like that each one of them is lovely. I really like the fact that they stitch up quickly and easily. I like the scalloped top, the flared side panels, the hexagonal base, the button trim, and the handles that can drop out of the way. I'm a very happy camper.

There must be dozens of ways to use these containers, and they make super gifts. In the craft room they can hold project supplies.  In the bathroom a basket could be filled with hand towels or with lotions and creams.  Little onesies, bibs, fresh diapers, or cuddly toys could be stored in a pretty basket in the nursery. A basket by the door would be a great container for mittens, keys, or cell phones. I accidentally discovered that the smallest basket is just right to fit around a small plant pot. 

As always, lessons were learned from making something that was different from anything I'd made before. There are two baskets so awful that they will never be completed, and two that look fine, but were constructed in a complicated, round about way. The last three baskets look perfect, and they were the easy ones. I made two of them in one day.




The Lessons: 

1. Stiff bag batting isn't the best for something with six side panels and a hexagon for a base. This pattern sews up way easier with a flexible batting. When I switched to Soft and Stable I found I could relax while sewing. It isn't my first choice for every bag or basket project, but the more I work with this product, the more I like it.

2. Soft and Stable is too thick for making nice buttonholes. A thinner batting or belting work much better.

3. "Y" seams don't have to be hard! When I finally figured out the steps, the bag just zipped together.

4. Sometimes you need to trim batting back really close to the seams, and sometimes you need to sew next to the batting rather than through it.


Happy Stitching
from this
 


Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Splendid Sampler Gallery. Slim Pickings.

This week I've accomplished nothing at all with Splendid Sampler blocks. Zip, zilch, zero. It isn't that I've been goofing off, but that I've been busy with writing tutorials and a basket pattern.

Dixie has decided to take a break for awhile. Like me, she has other commitments that take precedence over this project.

Now and again we need to step back and decide just what our priorities are. I love the Splendid Sampler and the tremendous variety of blocks in different styles. It's challenging, it's fun, it's filled with new skills for me to learn. In spite of that, I have no choice but to work on those thing that matter most to my family. There are pants and a wedding dress waiting to be shortened, a garden in need of attention, a house that must be cleaned, meals that have to be prepared, and only so many hours in a given day. 

I will catch up eventually. Will I make every single block that we are given? Absolutely not. I love most of the blocks, but there are some I'll skip. Some are too time consuming and others simply don't fit in with my vision of the finished quilt.

But, all is not lost!! 

Marjorie has come riding across the prairie with two new blocks to share!!

And they are beauties, too!
 

I love the vibrancy of these color combinations. So bright and lively. This will be such a pretty quilt. 

Marjorie's message was short and sweet.


"Hello Karen,  Hot off the ironing board.  Hopefully I am on a roll .  I must say,  I liked working with Solvy.  Will definitely use again.  Happy stitching,  Marjorie"
 
 Marjorie, I do hope you're on a roll! Your work is lovely.

Let's see what next week brings. 
It's been wet, gray, and dismal for long enough now.  

I wish you sunshine and lollipops for May, and a few rainbows and other wonderful things, too. 


 
 



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Summer Purse, Part 6, Finally Finished

Attach the lining and call it done.

Which bag are you making?

Note: All seam allowances are 1/2" unless otherwise instructed. 

There are two more pieces of lining to cut.

1. Cut two strips of lining, 3" x 16' each.


 2 Locate the center of the 16" sides and mark with a pin or a notch. Also mark the centers of the encased zipper units.


 3. Sew the 3" x 16" strips to the encased zipper. Make sure the right sides of the strips are facing the right side of the zipper (the side with the zipper pull on top).


4. Cut a 1 1/2" square from each bottom corner of the pocket sections of lining. These cuts will be used to make the boxed corners on the bottom sides of the bag.




5. Sandwich the encased zipper between the 3" x 16" strips and the larger, pocketed sections of the lining. The large sections of lining will face the wrong side of the zipper. Sew right on the stitching line that attaches the 3" x 16" strip to the zipper casing.
The zipper is sandwiched between a narrow strip of lining and a pocket section on both sides. 

 Note: Place the zipper pocket on whichever side will allow it and the encased zipper to open in the same direction. My zippers open from left to right.


6. Tuck the zipper ends out of the way and sew the two side seams of the linings right sides together.


View from the top of the bag.




 Note: Open the zipper to finish sewing the bag.


 7. Tuck the body of the purse and the handles inside the lining. Right sides should be together.

8. Place the side seams of the lining in the exact center of the 3" wide sides on the outside of the bag. Pin the lining to the bag all the way around. 



9. Sew the bag and the lining together at the top.


 10. Turn the lining to the inside of the bag. Do not fold the batting down.  Fold the lining over the batting and to the inside of the bag.  The 1/2" strip of lining that remains on the top looks like binding and matches the trim on the main front pocket.

11. Pin the lining in place. Stitch in the ditch right along the seam. Press.


Note: Double check to make sure the bag zipper is open. 

12. Turn the bag inside out. Pull the lining away from inside the bag to finish sewing the bottom.


13. Stitch either side of the bottom edges of the lining together for 1 1/2" - 2" from the side edge inward. This will leave an 8" or 9" opening at the bottom of the lining.  Backstitch so the the short seams don't rip out when you pull the bag through the opening later. 


14. Pinch the square opening at the corners together. Align the side seam with the bottom seam. Pin together.

15. Stitch across. This will create the box corner at the bottom of the lining.


 
16. Remember that 11" x 2 1/2" piece of plastic canvas you cut and put away back in Part 2 of this tutorial? You need it now. Slide the plastic canvas under the insert at the bottom of the bag and center it. I hope you don't have to cut another piece like I did. I put the one I made earlier away in a place that was evidently too safe.


17. Pull the bag through the opening you left in the lining. Stitch the opening closed, and push the lining to the inside. 

18. Give the whole bag a good pressing and it is done!!



Optional last step.
 
If you want your bag to remain clean over time and with lots of use, I recommend taking it outside and spraying it with Scotch Guard. Spray it lightly, allow to dry, and spray one more time.

One final note. 
 I would truly appreciate hearing from you about the usefulness and quality of this tutorial. As I said in the beginning, I've made many bags, but this is my first attempt at writing a pattern for one. I welcome any suggestions you might have. If I ever get it figured out, I may design more bag patterns. 
  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Summer Purse: Part 5, Lining with Pockets

I had planned to finish the summer purse tutorial with this post, but it was simply getting to be too long. There will have to be a sixth and final post. This post covers making the lining with the pockets that are found inside the purse. The last post will cover assembly and finishing the bag.

Pockets galore!


I want lots of pockets inside my bags, and I used my favorite combination in this purse. One side of the lining has four open pockets lined up in a row. They keep my odds and ends of little things neat and easy to grab. The other side of the lining contains a generous zippered pocket which is partially unzipped in the photo. This pocket is for my wallet, receipts, and any other items that I want to keep secure. I keep a notebook in the center of the bag, and I can toss my keys in there as well. There is still plenty of space to add a book, a snack bag, or whatever small something I may want to carry on a given day. Since the pockets have done away with clutter, I don't have to go digging and searching for the things I want.

Getting ready to cut.

I definitely recommend that a lightweight fusible interfacing be ironed onto the wrong side of each piece of fabric in the lining. The interfacing should be just a hair small than the lining fabric to protect your iron. The fusible substance can be nasty if it's melted to the iron, itself.

The little bit of extra thickness and firmness added by the interfacing assures that linings hold together over the long run. Pockets don't rip out so easily, and the linings will look and feel more substantial. This step is optional, of course, but interfacing is cheap, the extra work is minimal, and it makes a world of difference.

Note: All seams allowances are 1/2" unless instructed otherwise. 

The open pocket section

Cut one of each of these pieces from the lining fabric.

A. Make the open pocket unit

When finished, the pockets in the unit will be the sizes shown in the diagram below. Pleats between the pockets give them depth.

Note: I gave this piece of fabric a good spray of heavy starch before beginning. It helps with pressing the pocket pleats for sewing. 


1. Fuse a 4 1/2" x 15" piece of interfacing to one end of the wrong side of the 15 1/2" x 9" lining fabric.

2. Fold the lining with right sides together.


3. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew around the three open sides. Leave a space of about 2" open on the long side.


4. Trim the corners and pull through the open part of the seam to turn right side out. Press.
Stitch the opening closed by hand. The long edge with the seam will be the bottom of the pocket.

The piece now measures 4" x 15".

5. Measure and mark the pleats using the diagram below. The spaces for pleating between pockets are each 1 1/4". The edges of the pockets are folded to the center of the pleated areas as shown by the red arrows. Dotted lines show the inside center of each pleat.



I marked the pocket edges with pins and pressed a line from top to bottom along each edge.

I pulled the pocket edges together and pinned them to the center of the 1 1/4" space between pockets to form the pleats.


After a good pressing with steam, the pocket pleats hold their shape nicely.

B. Sew the pocket unit to the lining section.

1. Lay the 11" x 16" piece of lining with a long edge at the top. Center the pocket unit 2" down from the top of this piece. Pull the pocket edges snugly against each other and pin in place.
Place the pins back a bit from the edges of the creases. 

2. Sew the inside centers of the pleats to the lining.

Fit a narrow foot to your sewing machine. I used my quarter inch foot.


You will be sewing in the center of the spaces between pockets. The seam will be at the bottom of the ditch between pleats. Start at the bottom of the pocket and stitch up to the top. Pivot at the top, sew one stitch over to the side, pivot again and sew back to the bottom. Do this for all three of the pleats.



3. Topstitch close to the edge all around the sides and bottom edges of the pocket.
Begin 1/4" in from the side edge and 3/4" down from the top of the pocket unit.  Stitch a "u" at the beginning and end of the stitching.  The diagram shows it much better than the photographs do. The "u" shaped stitching on pockets protects them from ripping out easily.


The finished lining section will be 16" wide and 11" tall.



The Zippered Pocket Section

Cut these pieces from the lining fabric. 


A. Make the zippered pocket.


Put the two 4" x 11" pieces aside for now, and get out your 9" zipper. If your zipper is too long, you can trim it off after the pocket is finished. I already had the perfect color in an 18" zipper, so I used it.
 
1. The zipper will be sewn onto the 10" edge of the lining fabric. Start with the zipper pull side facing down against the right side of the 10" x 9" lining. 

(I like my zipper to open from the left, so I make sure that the zipper pull is on the left side of the top of the fabric.)


 Line the zipper up at the edge of the fabric and sew with a zipper foot.



2. Flip the zipper over so the zipper pull faces up. Pull the larger section of the lining out of the way to the left. With right sides together, sew the 3" x 10" strip of fabric to the other side of the zipper.

3. Lay the piece you've just sewn on top of the pocket fabric. The wrong side of the section with the zipper will face the right side of the pocket. Sew along right on the stitch line from step 3 to sandwich the zipper between the pocket and the lining.




 5.  Take the opposite side of the pocket fabric and fold it up and over the zipper.

Align the edge of the fabric up against the edge of the zipper and sew it in place.


The zipper is sandwiched between the the pocket and the lining on both sides. 



Wrong side of pocket unit.


Right side of pocket unit.
6. Press the pocket down toward the larger piece of lining.This zipper unit should measure 10" wide and 11" long. If needed, trim the bottom of the lining fabric to get the right measurement.


7. Before finishing this piece of lining, unzip the zipper part way.


8. Sew a 4" x 11" piece of lining fabric to either side of the pocket unit. If your zipper was longer than 9", trim the ends off.

The zipper opened to show the pocket.

The finished lining section should be 16" wide and 11" tall as shown below. Trim if necessary.

 The last post for the summer purse will be out in a few days. I promise not to keep you waiting too long this time.

The Finish.
Coming Soon!


Happy Stitching!!