Saturday, 22 April 2017

Jesse, the queen of office bags!

Its been a while since I blogged.........just been too wrapped up in life, work and family I guess, but the time has come to pin back your ears, pop on your specs and be amazed......

I have been pattern testing again......for my lovely friend Liz from Moments Designs.

This one was quite a challenge for me, I make no secret of the fact that I like a quick sew, I'm guilty of paring down complicated patterns to make them quicker, I don't like a pattern with hundreds of pieces, I loose the will to make them and often half of the pieces too. If I cant sew it in one day or less........well its unlikely to be done!

However.........when I saw Jesse I knew I had to make her as the pattern instructed. This is the perfect office bag, or in my case.........seeing your accountant bag. There's room inside for your iPad, in its own padded pocket with a Security tab to ensure it stays safe, then two pleated pockets for bits and bobs, and a couple of pen pockets thrown in for good measure, then on the other side another long slip pocket ideal for thinner files, easily accommodating an A4 folder, another slip pocket, ideal for your phone or keys.......and just to add to the fun a little zippered pocket for your money or valuables. Add to this the main area which I discovered is large enough to hold a well as all the other things a girl needs to keep in her bag while she's at work. You get all the functionality of a men's briefcase but with a smart feminine look. Of course if you made her in canvas and leather she could just as easily be used by gender stereotyping
So what do we have........a stylish professional looking bag that looks simple in her lines, elegantly grown up with her angular sides and curvy top, there's a great hidden pocket between the straps that's useful to slip things into that you'll need to hand  and wonderful rolled handles that make her comfortable to carry either in your hand or over your arm. there is also an option to add a shoulder strap but I've chosen not to make one as I prefer to carry in my hand.

As always Liz's construction has a twist, I've come to expect nothing less from Liz. The lining is tight and fits the bag perfectly, being secured in totally. One of my favourite features is the clever pleated bridge zipper to secure the bag at the top, its looks stylish and opens fully giving goods access to what's in the bag, something that's often an issue with a standard construction bridge zipper.

So how did I find the pattern? I will admit I was a little apprehensive about this test. It all looked somewhat complicated, but in reality its really wasn't. The pattern is really well written in the wonderfully expressive way we have come to expect from Liz, hints and tips are scattered throughout. The pictures are clear and show each stage so there's a visual lead if that's your preferred way of learning/sewing (like me). The pattern is broken down into logical steps and you will make all the component parts before construction. I really liked this approach, I never felt like I was lost as I'm inclined to do with patterns that have a lot of pieces and instructions. There is a handy cutting guide for the pieces that can be cut using a rotary cutter, and labels to keep your pieces from becoming muddled. All in all its a great pattern and a very satisfying sew.

Jesse has been classified as an advanced pattern, but don let that put you off, I believe a competent intermediate sewer could easily make this as long as they take it slow and steady.
I made my first bag all in faux leather, which we where advised might not be a good idea, I'll admit that I ignored this and went for the full faux leather, making it a lot more challenging to sew but not impossible.......but you have been warned.....full faux leather is not for the feint hearted!

So pleased was I with my first bag, I made a second for my daughter when she starts college in September, she chose the fabrics, faux leather and faux suede on the outside.........and indigenous fabric for the lining. I thought I might reduce the pockets in my second version, but in fact I simply changed one.......removing the zipper pouch and replacing it with a traditional zipper pocket on the padded pocket.

and finally just to give you an idea of daughter holding her new bag....

I feel confident your going to love this design and its practical pocket arrangement, as always, Liz is available for any help on her Facebook page, pop by her page and join in the fun, get any help or advice you need and check out past and future patterns as they happen.
That's all for now.....happy sewing!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Zig-a-Zig-Ahhhhhh. the Zig-Zag pouches are here.....

When ever I think about the new Pattern by Moments Designs  I'm tempted to burst into song a'la
Spice Girls........I know that ages me.........and where I to join them I would probably be called 'Old Spice'.........which I believe has already been taken by a mens aftershave perhaps its a good job I only sing behind closed doors....

As usual I digress......I'm here to talk about the newest design by the lovely Liz at Moments, The Zig-Zag pouches.........a set of three little pouches that have so many different options to customise to suit your needs. Fab small storage solutions, great kids birthday gifts, fill with sweeties, fill with clips, hair bobbles or anything else that's small and needs a place to live.........perfect for craft fairs as they really come together quickly.

lets start with my first one....... my glasses case......made with some custom fabric I got from Spoonflower, the outside is me, my mum, my oldest son and my grandson, so enough to scare even the hardiest of thieves away from my glasses.....inside are photos of my sister. great fun eh?

Next we have two little pouches to store sewing bits and bobs........having recently 'reorganised' my sewing room I'm not really keen for everything to have its place and to stay tidy........I'm not tidy by nature so finding storage solutions for things is the only way I can hope to stay even remotely tidy. These little pouches came just at the right for my embroidery scissors, yes, I know I have a lot of them.......that's because I keep loosing them so buy more, then find the lost ones. Before you know what's going on you have dozens of pairs.

The next pouch I decided to try and make a mini sewing kit, when we go away for the day or on holiday or even in the car its always useful to have a needle and thread, a few pins, some clips..........for those emergency sewing know the ones I mean.....when your bra strap decides to come away from your bra so your walking slightly lopsided at a family wedding.......or other equally embarrassing fashion faux pas......So my little sewing kit is now kept in my handbag....its got everything I need but is small enough it doesn't take up my entire bag.

The Pattern contains all three options, and is really quick to sew, you will need continuous zipper, or a very long standard zipper.........but other then that I think they could be considered a scrap busting dream. the pattern is well written with loads of pictures, if your a visual person like me this works really well. don't be alarmed by the thought of adding a zipper pull to continuous zipper, the pattern shows you how to do it, and once you've don't it once or twice its a breeze.

There is also a separate pattern, the Tessa Bag...........made using the same unusual technique and the two patterns can be brought together as a bundle or as separate designs...........for the bundle your getting four different patterns.........that's a bargain in any currency. If you want to see more of Liz's designs then join her facebook group Moments Designs where you can see lots of samples of the
zig-zag and Tessa........

The pattern can be found on craftsy and is on sale for 48 hours............go get yours now and enjoy a little selfish creativity this weekend, happy zig-a-zig ahhh!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A British girl abroad

I've been on an adventure!

An 'ausländische' abroad

I'm 51 but I have never travelled abroad this was quite an experience for me.....
I travelled to Frankfurt in Germany to visit my friend  Liz

I flew British airways from London City Airport
It's not an airport I've ever been to before so I wasn't sure what to expect.......I'm not well known for my sense of direction so my main concern was I wouldn't get to the airport on time, miss my plane and end up sitting on the runway sobbing!
I left my home early to try and avoid to the train station, then a long train trip using national rail and then changing to the docklands light railway ......which took me to the door of the chance of getting lost there.

 I had no luggage to go in the hold and had done the online check in previously so it was simple........just go to departures and wait........wait.....wait......for two hours.....clutching a coffee that cost £4.75. (not even great coffee)........ The airport is in central London and mainly used by business travellers so lots of men in suits with laptops.......not many women with cases stuffed with bag hard wear and Harris tweed.
I got stopped at security as the x-ray of my case looked very odd to them.....yes I had to open the case and have my smalls (or in reality rather large) pants taken out so they could see I was carrying d rings and swivel clips and not a bomb!
75 Mins later and I've landed at Frankfurt international airport.........after a little confusion Liz finds me.......I think I walked straight past her when I came through departure's but my panic was short lived........I finally met the enigmatic Mr M.........what a lovely gentleman...........gently spoken, intelligent and possibly the most tolerant man on the planet.......who else would allow a total stranger to visit and monopolise his wife for an entire 5 days......or maybe he enjoyed the break?
Half an hour driving (on the wrong side of the road) and we arrive at Chez Schaffner...........A home that totally suits Liz........full of beautiful handmade throws and quilts.....every room has a touch of the Moments magic in it.......even the

Coffee.....and Cake.............Liz's Father in Law lives very close by and bakes..........and oh my lord can he bake! he doesn't speak any English but I managed to thank him in German when he arrived with these beauties
Look great don't they......we had a sort of apple cake with what I would describe as a crumble top, a baked cheese cake and wonderful chocolate cake that I was told has red wine in it.........
after a tour of the house....including the sewing room I retired to bed.....exhausted.
Day shop shopping.........after a breakfast on French toast we headed out to the first of three fabric shops Liz uses......

I don't think I need to say more....a sewers paradise........with faux leather, upholstery weight fabrics, cottons, voiles and everything in between.........some fabrics I had never seen or felt before......I touched and stroked everything.....rummaged in remnant baskets...........and generally fell in love with the whole place......I did buy, but I was also very aware that my case was careful buying was a necessity!
Then to sewing..........I don't think I've ever seen anyone so organised in a sewing room......all the printed patterns are in folders and stored in folders with the designers name on them........fabrics are stored in boxes of design types or colour matches.......and there are some rolls of fabrics kept specifically for 'playing with ideas'...........I started with those......playing with ideas and trying out a machine that was totally new to me.........a Pffaf..........with modern raises and lower the foot automatically, lowers the needle into the fabric without being asked too.......I can honestly say I never thought Id need such a system........but now I've tried it..........I think my next machine will have to have those facilities...... I made this little bag on the Pffaff.....
Once I had my head around the Pfaff Liz insisted I tried her beautiful Juki........this has yet another clever automatic thread I'm really envious..........I WANT this machine...........straight stitch only but she feels so solid and I'm sewing on her I am trying as hard as I can to message my husband through telepathy to let him know that smellies and slippers for Christmas just wont cut it this pun intended! I also tried a Bernina......just so I can say I've a one trick pony with my love of vintage Elna's......
Day two............more shopping, more wonderful food......liz made American pancakes...........served with butter and waist band is elasticated and thank god it is.......... more sewing...........
A Charlies Aunt Saxted Satchel in velvet and faux leather.....then onto playing with ideas..........trying to draw or sew things that are in my head..........its funny how different people go about things in a different way.......but two creative brains working at full capacity can make a lot of mess.........and what started as a very very tidy sewing room is now starting to look a little less tidy.........I was doing my best to keep my mess contained.......Liz just throws things on the floor!
Out for doesn't get any more German than that..........followed by Slivovitz.....LOVELY!

Day three......more creating and sewing, some design ideas being tossed about....some preparation for bags to be sewn at home as I don't think I can get much more in my case.....lots of laughing.....and more wonderful food........Weisswurst.....a white sausage that's was served with Pretzels.......not the crisp type snacks we get in the UK , but big bread pretzels with salt on the top, accompanied by an amazing mustard chutney.....totally my favourite thing I think I ate!

Mr M also cooked for us.....a wonderful rich Goulash stew which was served with a sort of potato dumpling and red cabbage sauerkraut.......not only does he actively encourage Liz to sew, he cooks too, the perfect man in my opinion.

Sadly all too soon its time to fly home, my case is filled to the point of bursting the zipper. I got stopped at security again at the airport but managed to cram everything back in again....just!

flight, train and taxi and I arrived home just before midnight to be greeted by my very excited dog.....everyone else was a sleep....

Thank you so much for welcoming me into your home and your sewing room Liz........and for your endless hospitality........this 'ausl√§ndische'  will be back!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Rubie by Moments Designs

It's been a's been a long and beautiful summer........sewing came to a halt while I went on holiday but now I'm back.......and here is my first offering of the Autumn.....

Rubie is the new design from Liz at Moments.....Liz claimed in the first instance to be creating a 'simple quick sew'........and so she was in the beginning. Like all good things they evolve. Whilst Rubie is still a pretty quick sew she now has several options, something for every taste, and better still, two ways to wear her.

So lets start with my first offering.
All in faux leather and following the pattern (well more or less)
Rubie is a stylish sassy cross body bag with an unusual cuff at the top that can be worn rolled over, or if you have more to carry you just roll it up and the bag capacity is increased by almost 1/3.......clever idea eh? The pleated front panel add interest to the design.....especially when accented with rivets or decoration of some sort.....

There isn't anywhere obvious to add embroidery on Rubie......but there is a really useful little invisible pocket tucked under the cuff. I couldn't help myself, as soon as I saw that on the pattern I knew I had to use a 'chad'..........CHAD??? yes Chad or as Liz calls him Kilroy..I guess it depends where you are in the world, I call him chad, others call him other things........but he looks fab just peeking out from on top of the pocket.

I love that Liz designs bags that can be turned through the pocket, it's so much neater inside when you don't have to stitch up the gaping hole you turned through.......this way it's all at the bottom of the pocket so nobody can see....I added a large slip pocket to the back of the bag rather than doing pleats front and back.....oh and did I mention the strap hardwear?  don't even get me started.......Liz is using a clever threading system suggested by another of her don't use a traditional slider for the adjustable strap.......I can tell you it took me several attempts to get it right.....but once I had it sussed, it seems really easy. A great trick to keep in your tool box for those days when you don't have the slider you need!

For number two I decided to try and change it ip a bit and piece my front and gold......I love the way she looks, again I added a tall slip pocket to the rear......and changed up the hardwear as this was all I had in gold that suited... 

Number three is a classy little number in cork and indigenous fabric..........keeping it really simple with no additional outer pockets just the beautiful cork. I love this combination.

It all goes a bit 'off piste' at this point. I decided that those pleats could perhaps be zippers...........and I probably should have stopped at that thought, but something kept me going......and I added a long zipper right around the top of the cuff.......without any thought to how practical that would be at if the cuff is up....I can use it.....if its down and I open the zipper I'll be leaving a trail of odds and sods behind me as I go......Hansel and Gretel least ill be able to find my way home!

It was while I was hunting down my long zippers for number four that I stumbled across my prized piece of Alison Glass ExLibris fabric........and suddenly I am inspired. Ok so lets confess here and a hacker.....its what I do. I love following a pattern, but I love not following it better. And it is with this in mind that I decided to make Rubie as 'I' would wear her. I'm not a little bag kind of girl. I carried my Isobel on holiday and I enjoyed the freedom of a smaller bag but for everyday use I really need something bigger. Rubie is a  good size, but for me I really like her with the cuff there seems no point in making a bag where the cuff can roll down.......once ive got this idea inot my head it opens up all sorts of ideas. So here she is, my number 5 Rubie

Yes this is heavily hacked... I missed off the pleats as they would have spoiled the fabric.......and I straightened out the cuff as it doesn't need to roll down for me........and I used some strap hard wear from Emmaline bags.....add a funky welt pocket to the outside of the cuff and a whole load of zippered and slip pockets inside and she's custom built to suit me and my needs......

So there we have it.....Rubie in all her glory and several ideas for additions that aren't on the pattern as if you need more.
The pattern is well written, with all the tips you could ever need for sewing with faux leather, and additional ideas for all the way through for those of us who don't read.........and so many options to customise the design to suit you.......
She is on sale for the first few there really no good reason not to go and buy her now.....

bet you cant resist eh???

Happy sewing

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Kate, the Carry All Tote by Moments

Kate is the latest pattern by Liz at Moments........and she's an absolute beauty.
The pattern is for a large beach tote that's an ideal size for swim gear and everything you will need for a day at the beach or pool
you can find the pattern here

As always with moments patterns there's a twist in the construction, but if you've done a moments pattern before then you will know Liz's style.........

So.......for my first bag I went a little off piste! (not such a surprise for me eh?)  rather than doing her in the pieced panels that the pattern needs I decided to do her in one large panel......I decided to decorate my bag with some cutwork flowers..........
I've had a set of cutters for several years but use the same ones over and over so went a little wild with some of the unusual shapes  so if you have these....don't feel they are just for making holes for your twist

The bonus is you end up with a whole lot of faux leather if your going to a wedding soon you already have some to throw....

So here she first all her hippy glory
Fully lined in waterproof vinyl fabric with a large zippered pocket that has a slip pocket inside, so no chance of loosing your valuables on the beach.

 For my second bag I decided to go small..........and I did the pattern at 50% which creates a bag a 1/4 of the size of the original........again I did her in one single panel but added some pretty butterfly embroidery to decorate and red webbing tape
she's the perfect size to carry all our lotions for the beach and fits inside 'big' Kate perfectly.

I thought id finished making this design.....until a moment of thought hit me late one evening and I decided that maybe something half way between the little and the large might be interesting..........with that in mind I made another at 75%......

 Number three is made on embossed faux leather with a cotton lining, I added an additional slip pocket inside as well as the large zipper pocket from the original pattern and also a bridge zipper to close..........she is the perfect 'in between' that's my full set of Kate's completed.......

As always the pattern is beautifully written and has a lot of photos, lots of tips for when things are a little different. The pattern is designed for faux leather but also has instructions for cotton or home decor fabrics......
I love the slip pocket inside the zipper pocket......just a little detail but it makes perfect sense to put one in there. and the additional outer pocket that is totally hidden gives somewhere to just slip your phone......making the whole bag uber functional whilst still keeping her simple lines.

words of advice??? oh yes.......clear your sewing table of everything before you start.........because she only has one seam the panel you are working with is huge.........and when your sewing her you will knock anything that's on your table off.........take my word for it, its easier to move them than spend hours picking up......

Kate isn't a complicated sew, the real challenge is the size.......Liz's tip about rolling the panel to make it easier is definatly the way to go......

Make sure you observe the guilty of ignoring them on previous patterns so now I'm a notch convert..........she will not go together well if you ignore them as the seam isn't where you would expect it to

Most of all she's versatile.........easy to shrink down if you prefer a smaller version......

Have fun sewing her...........

Friday, 5 August 2016

Bag of the Month Club 2016........August......Swim Gym Bag by Mrs H

I feel like I've been unfaithful as I've been testing for another designer........its an interesting experiment since every designer does things a little differently.

So what have I been testing? The August bag for ..........never heard of it???? have a look at the website, its a fab club that up until now has run for 6 months of the year. You pay one subscription and get six patterns, one a month from Jan to June of the year..... you never now what your getting. The designers are all well known so you can expect quality patterns.
"2016 is the first year they have run two July to December has a new set of patterns. I have been playing with August.

So what is she??? August is a Swim /Gym bag, something a little off beat....if like me the very mention of the word 'GYM' sends you to lay down in a darkened room , please don't worry, this is a bag that wont make you break out in hives or even break a sweat! She's large and functional.........and made in different fabrics from the ones you normally use for bags. The lovely Samantha of has been bold in her design, using fabrics and materials that some may find frightening, simply because they are not 'the norm'............embrace the differences ladies...........this is a fun sew with new skills to learn.
so lets start with the materials...........Cordura.....described by the manufacturers as follows

''1000 denier Cordura, Nylon, PU Coated (polyurethane coated) to be waterproof. It is very hardwearing fabric and has excellent anti abrasion properties. Whilst a heavy duty material it can still be sewn with most domestic machines.''

If you have never sewn with it before try it......its similar to sew to faux leather, but you can sew through more layers. I use it quite a lot and always use a long stitch length and Teflon foot...... The main thing it needs to be for the pattern is waterproof. The pattern tells you how to double turn all the seams to create a totally waterproof more wet patches down your leg or in the car when you've been swimming!! Cordura is also fantastic for embroidering, but like faux leather is better to float over the hoop and use lighter designs.

Mesh.........I have mesh in my stash but found it wasn't sturdy enough, you will need something with a little 'body' to it.......Byannies mesh from either or from works a treat and comes in an array of fantastic colours....I used white as I wanted to be able to use the same mesh on different bags.....

So.........the bag........

The bag is big enough to carry everything you'll need for a day at the beach, a trip to the pool , mesh pockets for creams and all the smaller bits you need, sunnies, flip flops iPod.............and a cavernous inside that will quite literally hold water as the seams are all sealed to prevent leakage. I managed to fit three large towels into mine with room to spare so this is a great size for me. The one thing I always struggle with at the beach is where to put my car keys and valuables......there's a clever little zippered pocket tucked away inside for those. the mesh top keeps the bag light to carry, and its comfortable to either pop on your back like a ruck sack or sling over your shoulder.........the whole thing is finished off with a drawstring  that threads through grommets on the top I know some people are worried about only advice is ......don't make your holes too big, I try and always make mine slightly smaller than the grommet I'm using......add a tiny bit of glue around the edges of the hole before fitting the grommet......I've never had one fail on me yet.

I added an embroidered panel to the front of the bag, just because I liked the idea of it.

My second bag I made for my he got to choose the fabrics. This one is made in cotton on the outside, I used fusible fleece and no mesh. This is at 80% and the ideal size for a child.
I used waterproof vinyl (the thick tablecloth type) to fully line the bag and used the same sealing technique on the seams to ensure the outside part stays dry. I added some straps for his shoulders rather than the rope as he's better with something that's a little thicker.....

The pattern is unusual, with the seams being front and back rather than at the sides where you might normally expect to find them and the construction and materials are different from those you might normally use, but as always with Samantha's patterns, its well written with lots of pictures to help explain what you need to do for those who don't read.......guilty as charged..........working with waterproof fabrics is something I'm fairly familiar with but for those of you who aren't......its not as hard as you think.......and I think this pattern makes a refreshing change to making bags with

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Buckles and Grommets.......the mystery unravelled

My latest pattern test was a fab bag with an unusual strap fastening......with a buckle.
Doesn't sound scary? To me it wasn't as I've fitted buckles before but some may find it easier with a few here goes.........

You will need the following things.......a buckle......mine are 'roll buckles' so you will also be adding a loop for the strap to go through once its been through the buckle.........grommets........and a tool to fit them. I get mine from ebay, costs no more than £5 for the tool and 200 grommets. I buy 4mm grommets for belts. Something to make holes...I like a punch and hammer but a leather cutting tool works just as well.  Rivet and rivet setter to hold it all together.

So lets begin.........

Take your grommets and hole punch.......mark in the centre of the strap and create a hole
then take your grommet and grommet pliers........push the grommet through the hole with the rounded edge on the right side of the strap. don't make your holes too big or the grommet will pull straight through, I use a 3mm hole for a 4mm grommet and fiddle it through so its a tight fit.
then take your grommet pliers........make sure you have the pointy side of the pliers at the rear of the grommet.......this will curve those sharp edges over

and PRESS!........Hey Presto! have a perfect hole with a metal grommet in place.

Fitting the buckle.....

Thread the buckle prong through the strap from the rear of the strap......then poke the top of the strap through the top of the buckle and fold it over ........its starting to look like a real buckle now. You will need to mark where you want the rivet and loop to go now. We will fit the loop with the same rivet as we secure the buckle with.

Take you loop......I make mine by cutting faux leather/vinyl approx. 3/4 inch wide then turning both sides over and top stitching to create a thin strap.......nobody will see the back of it so its not important to make it perfect at the rear. wrap the loop around the strap to see how long it needs to be, overlap it by approx. 1/2 an inch then make a hole at each end 1/3 inch from the end of the strap.  I use longer double capped rivets for this part as there are a lot of layers to get through....I found 8mm stem rivets work just fine..........This is where it gets fiddly..........from the rear of the strap (if you have double capped rivets you can do this from the front of the strap, single caps will need to be done from the rear)  thread the rivet through the hole......then through the loop strap.......
Your going to need to pull that loop over the front of the strap and thread the other end onto the rivet stem, then the top part of the strap........sounds complicated but it really isn't.......just a bit fiddly

You end up with the loop part sandwiched in between the straps..........all threaded onto one long rivet can see the end of the rivet stem sticking out in the will sit under the loop so it won't show on the finished bag...... you will need to push the loop out of the way slightly to set the rivet.....

Take your rivet setter and hammer and bash that baby into place.......

 You have a buckle........and isn't she beautiful. For the strap that goes through the buckle you fit the grommets in the same way as you did to fit the buckle grommet....... You end up with a very professional finish. Grommets come in many colours to suit most tastes, I also have some coloured ones but beware, the lacquer they use on them chips anything that might get rubbed I would avoid coloured ones.....

adding some links for some of the tools I used for reference

You will not need the additional loop for the strap if you buckle is this shape though

 I hope this helps you to be able to confidently use small grommets and buckles on your future makes.........I'll be blogging about the bag when its released too........keep your eyes peeled.......x