Mothering Sunday Gifts

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK, so I made a couple of gifts for mum that I hoped she’d like.

First up is a purse.  My first go at making a purse for mum didn’t go all that well.  However, I thought I could see how to fix what had gone awry, so I took a seam ripper to the failed attempt and rescued the zipped pockets, card pockets and magnetic snaps (important because I didn’t have any more suitable zips and no time to get replacements!).  The first thing I did was to trim down the card pockets so that the total depth was much less, making the purse a bit more elegant.  I also took about 1/4” off each side (after checking the width with a card), since I wasn’t planning to turn through and therefore didn’t need to allow for the seam bulk.

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I re-did the lining and the outer cover (fortunately, the new fabric I chose for the outer goes really well with the red lining fabric!):

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I used some much firmer interfacing for the outer cover (maybe a little too firm, but it’s come out ok) and a medium-firm interfacing for the lining.  The whole thing holds its shape really well now.

I was really pleased with the exterior zipped pocket I’d added to the previous version, but wasn’t fussed about the contrast strip, so I just added the outer pocket without any extra decoration:

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Luckily again, the gold-coloured zips go well with the new fabric I bought!  Because of the reduced depth of the purse, I made the outer pocket shallower as well, but it’s still pretty roomy.

The interior pockets are much the same as before, but they sit much better now that they’re not all twisted out of shape!

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Still plenty of room, hopefully!

To finish it off, I made some bias binding from left-over lining fabric (not a wholly enjoyable task, I have to say) and, after basting the layers together, added the binding all the way around the purse.  Machine binding is, alas, something I’m still not terribly good at.  Something to work on, definitely.

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The next thing I made wasn’t really planned at all, it just kind of… happened!  I had a whole bunch of 1-1/2” squares in yellow, cream and purple left over from a couple of different projects and I had my postage stamp template out because I’d just been using it for something else, so I started to arrange the squares on it with the purple in one corner, the yellow in the opposite corner and the cream between:

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It must have been fated to work, since I only needed to cut two extra squares to make a full 10×10 layout!  Once I’d made the postage stamp patch, it told me it wanted to become a cushion, so I rootled out some more of the cream fabric from the scrap box, added borders to bring it up to a sensible size (16” square), and quilted it with simple diagonal lines.  To add a bit of a twist, the quilting is partly yellow and partly purple, to match the respective corners:

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This is an effect I’m really happy with.  Some simple quilted lines around the border to frame it, and a nice envelope back from some more scrap-box fabric and my surprise cushion cover was finished!

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Mum seemed pleased with her presents, so that was a relief!  🙂  It is quite a challenge crafting for someone you share a house with and who doesn’t really understand the concept of privacy…

Linking up with Oh Scrap! and Monday Making (when it’s live).  🙂

How Not to Make a Purse

Mother’s Day is looming on the horizon and I know mum could do with a new purse and phone case.  After my recent experiments with iron-on vinyl, I thought this would be a good practical application of it.  I apologise for a lack of progress shots here; I was mostly fumbling my way through this one and forgot about my camera in the general stew of trying to figure out what the crap I was doing at any given moment.

After some rummaging around on the interwebs, I found a couple of tutorials (well, one that referenced another) that looked as though they might result in something mum would like using.  However, neither is particularly clearly written, and during the later stages I ran into some definite issues, which were almost certainly made worse by my modifications to the general design but I think they would have caused problems anyway.

The tutorials I loosely followed are here and here.  The initial stages of creating the card pockets and adding interfacing and vinyl to the outer layer went pretty smoothly, once I’d made a decision to convert all measurements (mostly) to inches – don’t get me wrong, I love me an SI unit, but not when all my quilting rulers are in imperial!  However, I could only get hold of some mid-weight woven iron-on interfacing at the local shop, and I don’t think it has the firmness I was looking for.  It’s odd stuff, I think it could be good for some things but it doesn’t work well here, unfortunately.  I reckon even fusible wadding might have been a better bet.

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I liked the idea of adding a flap, but didn’t like the idea of using a hairband, so I decided to use a flap plus a magnetic snap (which I installed the wrong way around because I can be quite daft at times).  Initially I wasn’t going to bother with the patchy strip on the outside, but then decided that the outside really needed another pocket and realised that it was also going to be too short for a decent flap if I didn’t, so I used an unpieced strip of a contrasting fabric and added in a small lined pocket.  That’s a bit I’m pretty pleased with, actually.  The zip isn’t quite a concealed zip (I think it’s the wrong kind for that), but I’m quite happy with how the whole thing worked in the end.

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I also didn’t like that the original tutorial didn’t bother to line the interior zipped pocket, so I arranged for a proper lining for mine, to match the lining of the purse and the outer zipped pocket.

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Again, I’m pretty pleased with how that came out as a general concept.  You could stash a LOT of loose change in there!  And I added in an extra separator flap behind the other set of card pockets to act as a divider between… whatever, really.  Notes and receipts, perhaps?

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So, what went wrong?

Well, part of the problem is the depth that I left the card pockets at.  I used a WOF strip cut it in half to make the two card holder strips, and measured the pockets (in cm) from one end as described in the tutorial because for this it didn’t much matter whether I used inches or cm as long as the pocket width matched the purse width.  There was only a slight excess of fabric after all the pockets had been marked and folded, which I trimmed back to meet the shorter end, but the overall depth of the card pocket sections still seemed pretty deep – too deep, really.

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I could probably have trimmed them back about 1″ and they would have been fine.  I guess the original tutorial didn’t do this because they added a magnetic snap in that excess fabric?  Maybe?

Anyway, that depth makes this “purse” begin to look more like a mini handbag – it’s giant!  And even with the extra strip added to the outer cover, the outer still came up looking a bit short.  So, not awesome.  And that’s before I tried to make a pointed flap which didn’t really come out as I wanted because there wasn’t really enough fabric.  The whole thing also feels really floppy, even with the vinyl on the outer cover.  It really, really needs a firmer interfacing.

Lastly, there’s the way the outer, lining and pockets are joined together.  In the tutorial, the pockets are basted to the liner, then the liner+pockets and the outer are placed right sides together and a seam is sewn around the edges with a gap for turning through.  The whole thing is then turned through, pressed and topstitched to close the gap and give that all-important finished look and feel (the original tutorial only topstitches the turn-through gap, but my feeling is that the whole purse needs it, really).  Fine… but.  The folds of the card-holder pockets generate a LOT of bulk even when there’s only one layer, with no outer/liner and no zip to contend with.

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Sewing a seam and then turning through creates a double thickness of an already chunky thickness of fabric; even the Pfaff threw up its hands in despair and disgust when asked to topstitch through that lot, and I don’t blame it!  And the topstitching failure has made a right mess of the vinyl, too.

Lastly, turning vinyl-covered fabric through a small gap creates some really ugly creasing that’s just not something you’d want to show off to anyone.  Bleh.  Also, yuck.  Do not do this.

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A much better method (and one I might have used if I’d bothered to engage brain) would be to place the outer and liner wrong sides together after basting the pockets to the lining and go around them with some bias binding in a complementary colour; you would avoid massive excesses of seam bulk and zips and the finish on the outer layer would not end up creased to hell and back.  This would also avoid the distortion of the lining and interior pockets caused partly by the big fat chunky seams.

In short, I’ve wasted a good day’s sewing and some nice materials to discover that this is definitely not a good way to make a purse!  But it has been educational, and learning something new is rarely a bad thing.  Or so I’m telling myself!  :p  I think it may still be possible to salvage something from this mess (I would be sorry to lose all my efforts on the card holders and zipped pockets), and I still need a Mother’s Day gift for Sunday, so I will be unpicking some of this to reuse in a more effective item.  More to come soon, I hope!

Linking up with Needle ‘n’ Thread Thursday.  🙂

Mug Rugs – Using Iron-On Vinyl

I love a good experiment!  I’m planning to make some items that I might want to use iron-on vinyl for, so I decided to order some and have a play with it to see what it can (and can’t) do.

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I wanted to test how it looks when applied to fabric with a metallic element, and I wanted to see if it could be successfully applied over already-quilted fabric.  Enter my test subjects, four 4″ quarter-square triangle blocks (which were themselves a test to see if I could make big enough QST units from 5″ charm squares for a different project – the answer was no!).

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I grabbed four more suitable charm squares for the backs and some scrap wadding, then quilted my four little quilt sandwiches with some simple straight-line quilting:

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Next, the vinyl!  It’s easy to cut – there are helpful guidelines on the paper backing.  The “sticky side” I found to be not actually that sticky, though that’s probably a good thing.  If it were really sticky, it would be more likely to stick irredeemably to itself or be harder to apply to the fabric without annoying bubbles. The instructions tell you to place the peeled-off protective paper onto the vinyl to protect it during pressing, although you might also need a couple of bits of ordinary printer paper to protect your iron and ironing board from little bits of plastic poking out from the edges, which you will get unless you’re some kind of ninja-genius with a pair of scissors and are only dealing with regular shapes.

It appears to work ok on quilted fabric, although a fair bit of pressure is needed to seal it really well into the quilted grooves.  The metallic red fabric looks better than I feared it would, though it has lost a bit of the sparkle effect.  I think that’s the effect of making the whole thing shiny – it “flattens” the shine that was already there.  Claims of durability were somewhat undermined by me scoring the vinyl quite easily with my thumbnail, although it was warm from the iron at the time.  When the vinyl had cooled, it did seem more resistant to scratches, though I don’t think I would choose to use it for anything that would experience serious abrasion.  I’m also not sure how much flexing it would handle without coming unstuck.

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Here are the four mug rugs all finished and bound, with vinyl on both sides of each mat.  I am not quite sure that I am completely sold on how it looks over the top of quilting, but it worked a lot better than I feared it might.  I am not completely sure whether I will use it for the project I’m planning, but I think I will definitely use it for other things, such as more coasters or place mats.  I like the idea of them being more easily wipe-able.  And at least now I have a set of unique coasters for my cups of tea in my craft room – I can almost hear my cutting mats breathing sighs of relief!

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And what’s the project that may or may not see the use of iron-on vinyl, you might ask?  Well…

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Oh yes!  I’ve seen a few examples of Amy Butler’s (in)famous Weekender bag around the place, I really like the look of it, and my sister needs a birthday present next month and her old overnight bag has died a death (heck, I don’t technically need one but I kind of want one for me, too).  My plan is to get hold of the firmest, sturdiest canvas I can find and then borrow Elizabeth Hartman’s quilt-as-you-go method, and I have spent some time tracking down helpful blog and forum posts to help me piece this beastie.  If my sister is very lucky, I may well use my RK Shimmer 2 bundle for her one!  I’m considering using the iron-on vinyl over the top of the quilted outer pocket panels and the underside of the bag to add a bit of protection and waterproofing (the rest will be fine with a good coating of scotchgard, I think), though I’m a little wary of how it will perform over a larger quilted area.  The pattern only arrived today, earlier than I feared it would, so I have a good amount of time to make it before my sister’s birthday in the middle of March.  Yay!

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social and Needle ‘n’ Thread Thursday!  🙂