Friday, 22 January 2016

Up Up and away in Kraft i did it!

I was lucky enough to be able to test the update for the new pattern by Liz at Moments.........for those of you who haven't seen it yet, I have a previous blog on the original design........go have a look. The update offers a two person version with a pocket for loose change on the other side. I decided I wanted to create one in Kraft Tex alone.
Let me just say here, I'm no expert, this is how I did it, nothing more, nothing less.
I've never written anything like this before, it makes sense as its going from my brain to my fingers, if it become mumbo jumbo from my fingers to this not responsible.....its started fine in my head!
I use a 50 year old Elna Supermatic machine to sew, some  lightweight domestic machines may struggle to sew trough 4 layers of KT, if you are unsure if your machine can handle this, try cutting four strips of KT and sewing through them all at once, if your machine starts to hiss, whistle and bellow smoke, unplug, leave the room for a while, use copious amounts of Fabreeze to remove the singed smell and contact me, ill make you one!

I'm not going to give measurements here, other then to tell you about the bits that I did differently from the pattern, if you want measurements, please buy the pattern here
In my first KT wallet I cut down the pattern pieces by 1/4 inch, thus removing the seam allowance, but found that to be a bit of a chore, so I experimented, and found that if I print the pattern at 93% on my printer, the pieces come out 1/4 of an inch smaller........clever eh??? half a rain forest was probably cut down for me to get to that if a few of  you follow these instructions, I figure I'm in credit....
First I need to say I used brown KT, unwashed, straight from the could wash it , but I was too impatient to use it
 I cut two of the main panel pieces for the inside one for outside, I decorated outer panel with a gold sharpie pen, just a random abstract pattern but you can do almost anything to decorate you can see I have a sort of tuck in fastening,  to make this I cut a strip 1'' wide and two inches longer than the full length of the wallet, and sewed that centrally from one end to the other onto the KT.......I use Topstitch thread on the top of my machine and a plain brown sewing thread on the bobbin, longest stitch on my machine. I added a couple of dots of Fabritac to hold the strap in place as it was sewn. 
I folded the wallet as it would be folded once complete to work out where the fixing bar needs to be sewn and stitch that on too.
For the pockets I used the following pieces from the original 'Up Up and Away' pattern file, also printed at 93%
 I cut one of each of the following-
RECTANGLE PIECE FROM THE BOTTOM OF POCKET PEICE 2 (from the line that says fold line 2)
These three pieces form the pockets to the side of the wallet
lay the smaller panel on top of the larger panel then add the rectangle on top of that.
 I lined them up then added a tiny spot of Fabritac to the edges to stop them sliding about when I sew, I positioned the pockets 1/2 inch from the edge of the lining panel,  then did a double row of stitching approx. 1/8'' apart around the edge.
From this point on I didn't follow the pattern pieces. For the pocket I cut a rectangle of KT as wide as the wallet and 10.5 inches this point we leave nice photos and enter into the world of odd doodles......... you will have to excuse my drawings they really are for guidance only and to help me explain what I want to say......

So you have your rectangle of KT.......

Your going to make some folds in your KT, those dotted lines are to show you where to fold........good eh?
Two folds, one 1/2'' from the end then another 5'' from the other end. If you fold the longer end over first, then the shorter side this will be your pocket...........I know I know,,,,,we need a zip

Unfolding your folds again, you will need to mark a rectangle  centrally on the KT (see diagram)
 7'' long by 5/8'' wide, (if you are using a shorter zip than 8'' you will need to make this rectangle shorter)  I made mine at 3/4''  from the central fold but you can put it where you feel you want it........there isn't a right or wrong position, if you want it nearer to the top of the pocket......go for it...... I use a craft knife to cut out the rectangle I'm not tidy enough with scissors.  This slot becomes the 'welt' for you zipper. The side of the KT you are looking at, with the folded ends pointing towards you, is the inside of your pocket, I tend to position my zippers from the the zip goes face down onto the slot........but you can do it from the other side with the zip behind the KT is its easier for sure you don't need me to tell you, make sure its central . I use Fabritac to keep the zipper in place and help me to position it..... once your happy with the position, sew very close to the edge of the slot, I use a zipper foot most of the time, but if I'm in a hurry and cant find it.........happens all the time........I just move my needle as far to the left as I can and sew. Be careful of the zipper pull, your foot may catch on it if you don't use a zipper foot and will cause your stitching to go badly off line. In most other situations that would be annoying but salvageable with a seam ripper......not so with KT, you get holes that will  not heal. One chance to get it right only!

Now you need to refold those folds, remember to fold the longer side in first then the shorter one. I use the side of a ruler to press those folds in and make them sharp. I top stitch along the top fold nearest to the zipper.
To position the pocket I fold the lining panel in the way it will fold when its closed, this gives you an idea where the pocket needs to sit I place the pocket 1/3'' from the fold in the lining panel (you can see that on the photo above)  line up the outer edges of the pocket with the edges if the lining panel,  clip it into place so it doesn't move.  a line of stitching right across the bottom of the pocket will secure it to the lining panel it also closes the bottom of the pocket.
Your lining is now done, all that remains to do is join both panels, inside and outside together.  this is the easy bit......just place the two panels together WST (wrong sides together) I put a few spots of Fabritac to stop them slipping about and I clip heavily too with wonder clips. once your happy that the two parts are totally lined up with each stitch around the entire outside of the wallet. Your top stitching will close in the ends of your pocket so its now totally enclosed.
Last but not least, I trim off the corners on the long strip we sewed to the outside panel. I worry ill cut it too short if I cut it before this point so I leave that until

I used Mink Oil on mine to seal it, but I've used bee's wax before and found that to work well too.......but sealing it not necessary.
Eh Voila! wallet.......

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Peace of mind for those that need it!

Today I want to show you another of my makes.
It started with a discussion on one of the Facebook Special Needs pages, a parent was really worried what might happen in the event of an accident if they where unable to talk for their child with additional needs. Would the rescue services be able to manage the child's care, understand what limitations they had?, how would they know what medication was safe to give?
It's a good question, heaven forbid it happens , but if the driver of the car wasn't able to talk for the child how would anyone know?
People mentioned the SOS bracelets you can buy, and arm bands, but for very young children they aren't really an option. They needed some visible, and obvious to rescue services. It got me to thinking........
I went to our local fire station and asked them what they thought might help (any excuse to mingle with fireman ) The general view was a strap pad with basic information on , something visible......perhaps with more information inside. I was cautious about putting too much information on the outside as if passers by saw them on a car seat or seat belt that could make an already vulnerable child even more so, so no names.......after all this was meant to help the child not endanger them.  I started with a basic proto type.

This was the first one made, it fits over the seatbelt, and has a pocket inside to add information, you can add as much as you want too, contact details, medications, list of conditions etc.......
I posted this picture on the site.............and  was inundated with questions about what amount of writing could be on there, could I add more, could the colour be changed.... and the answer was yes, everything could be changed, customised to suit..................and so it began...........I've made these in every colour I can imagine, and with varying amounts of information on the outside according to parents wishes. I've done them for adults too.
Sometimes its the simplest ideas that make the biggest impact. I also started doing tags to hang on buggies/strollers..........some parents find using a special needs buggy/stroller causes a lot of questions........why is that child not walking, are you a lazy parent. So many disabilities aren't visible and people are quick to judge others. Having a strap pad or a tag helps. It's a personal thing, I also have customers who say they don't want their child to be labelled, I get that too.........

I know these wont appeal to everyone, and I understand why, but what price peace of mind? If I could buy something to help in the event of an emergency I would...........would you???

For enquiries about these or any other of my products contact me at

Monday, 11 January 2016

Death by Donut!

How many of us become totally engrossed in what we are doing when we sew? I know I often have my ear buds in and maybe music or a book going in my ears, I'm 'in the zone' oblivious to anything other than what I'm doing. I often think my house could be robbed and id be none the wiser.
I have a little tale to share with you all.........this is totally true!
Let me set the scene for you......

This is my sewing you can see I sit in a lovely sunny bay window to sew, primarily because the lights best there, and it means I can people watch as I can see down the drive to the road too. You can see I have one of my embroidery machines to my left.
 I was doing some embroidery, one of those designs that has a lot of thread changes and takes an age to stitch out. I decided that I would take the chance to have a coffee and a donut while the machine did its thing. It might be just me but I find watching an embroidery machine do its stuff totally hypnotic, it still amazes me that they can do what they do in a fraction of the time it would take by hand. Again I must be getting used to that by now. So back to the machine is sewing away, I've got my coffee and a jam donut I found in the cupboard.......I do love a jam donut, I never think the ones with a hole are real donuts.......more like sweet bread rings with sugar on......
The machine is doing its thing and I'm savouring my donut......gazing out of the window watching the rain and people walking past without coats on. Don't they know its raining?
All of a sudden.............BANG! A really really loud BANG!
Holy SHIT hell, how I didn't fall off the chair I don't know, I looked down, Oh my lord there's blood, I've been shot, somebody's shot me! I jump from my chair and look out of the window to see if I can see the perpetrator of this horrible crime..........who knew that machine envy could illicit such a heinous crime.
I can almost see you laughing as your reading this, I'm laughing as I type, but I assure you, at that moment, for that few seconds I believed it. I'm craning my head to see as far down the road as possible, not once did it occur to me that the window was intact.
It felt like a long time before I realised it wasn't quite what it seemed, the needle on my embroidery machine has broken, the surprise of the bang had caused me to squeeze my donut and the jam.......raspberry of course........was now clotting all down the front of my lovely white shirt.
A near death experience if there ever was one, I just hope the red mark comes out of my shirt!

It's not all about bags!

I figured if I'm writing about the things I sew I should add something about the things I sew the most of.......Buttons.....Gastronomy pads......Tubies.........what ever you want to call them!
I make hundreds of these little treasures, and ship them all across the what are they?
Lets start with what they are used for, that's the easiest way to go. A lot of children and adults are unable to take in food orally, so are fitted with a feeding tube that goes directly into the digestive system, I'm not a nurse or a doctor so I can't give you specifics about how this is done, you just need to trust me, it  happens and it works. People have liquid feeds that meet all their nutritional needs pumped into the tube throughout the day and night. Sometimes its just to add to their oral calorie intake, sometimes its all the calories they get. There is no specific one issue that will cause someone to not be able to eat, often its the result of another medical condition, sometimes there is no explanation. Some people are able to graduate to eating normally and have the tube removed, some never do.....every person is different.
Once the procedure is done this is what they end up with, or something very similar. Many people with these tubes don't use any dressings, they just leave the button under their clothing and attach feeds when they need them. Many use gauze and tape dressings to help keep the site clean and dry. This is where the Tubies come into play. We all know what its like to rip a plaster off, not something  any of us enjoy, can you imagine doing that daily? to a plaster that's in the same place? The skin gets sore and especially with children the area becomes red and inflamed. Tubies negate the need for that tape. They look fab, feel comfortable against the skin and are totally washable. Kids with tubes sometimes struggle to get used to them but having funky Tubies makes them a lot more fun.
When I started making them I didn't have an embroidery machine so they where sewn on my sewing machine, they worked but because they where hand made there wasn't total consistency with the shape and sizing. Now I make them on my embroidery machine I can say that each and every one is exactly the same shape and size
You can see the difference between the hand sewn and the embroidered buttons.......much neater and tidier.
The tubies have a cotton front, a antipill fleece rear and a layer of bamboo cotton between the two. I'm not sure how the bamboo works but its very absorbent and also has an antibacterial property to it so helps to reduce infection. Almost without exception those who use them say that they have less infection and less granulation a common problem with tube feeders.
If you would like to know more or to order some of these please pop over to my page at where I will be delighted to help you.

Bag of the month 2016 'The Backgammon bag' by Betz White

Last year I joined the Bag of the month Club but I was too scared to actually try any of the bags, I watched as the beautiful bags appeared on the BOM Facebook page and I will admit I was totally intimidated by the beautiful confidence deserted me and I remained a voyeur.......
This year I decided I wouldn't be a wall flower, I would join in the fun and make at least one of the bags. Everyone follows the process differently, some ladies get all the hardware and fabrics before they see the pattern, for me that's just not an option, I need to see the pattern to get a feel for the colours I want to use. Its fair to say some patterns just don't appeal to me shape wise so may never get made.
January came and the first of six patterns was released...........The backgammon bag...........a simple shaped bag with an unusual patchwork pocket arrangement..........I like the shape, but the patchwork is something I'm not overly confident with. Should I give it a go? Hell yes..........
Stash hunting is one of my favourite things, I don't have a very organised system, something I should really address when I get a few spare weeks, but I decide what fabrics I want to use and commence the search for them. Melton wool is my choice, black , red and grey............after some frantic pulling out of cupboards and shelf rearranging I find what I want and without any further ado the process begins.
I've got into the habit of printing the pattern pieces and rather than printing of pages of instructions (which we all know I'm not really going to read much of) I'll use my I pad  to display the instructions.
The pattern pieces are few, three panels for the main bag all taped together, that also double up for the pocket template,  the flap panel and the triangle piece for the patchwork pieces.........part of me is convinced that must be wrong, three pattern pieces seems too few but I commence with the cutting........Anyone who tells you cutting fabrics out is fun is a liar........all the prep work is a chore to be endured so you can get to the fun bit. Once cut there is the demon interfacing to be done. Interfacing I hear you cry??? what's that all about??? so let me explain,.......unlike the nice leather bag you buy in marks and spencer most hand crafted bags are made from fabric, be that cotton, wool or anything else...........that fabric alone isn't gutsy enough to create a bag, it wouldn't wear well or hold its shape, so we add interfacing, and lots of it. Its a sort of second fabric skin glued (ironed) onto the rear of pretty much every fabric piece in a bag. It takes ages to do, although not as long as it takes to clean the gunky glue stuff off your iron when your finished! I don't have room for an ironing board in my sewing room so I have to transport all my fabric pieces to the kitchen to get this part done. In this bag design we also have stabiliser.......oh lord, another layer of stuff to be ironed. Stabilisers are what give the bag its structure, helps it hold its shape, stops it from falling flat when you let go of the handles. This pattern requires fusible fleece so another frantic hunt takes place to find that. Once its all done I'm ready to start sewing.
Once I start sewing I'm 'in the zone' I wont stop until its finished, I just need a regular coffee supply to keep me going.
We start with the pocket piecing, this should be easy , I've laid all the pieces out so I can see what comes next , yet still I manage to sew the second panel upside down..........enter  left stage 'the seam ripper'   Something anyone who sews will be familiar with, a simple little gizmo that rips through stitching like butter when you get it wrong. probably one of the most used bits of sewing equipment I own.
Slow down girl, you CAN do takes a while but I finally get it all together. I'm planning on making a bag that looks like a backgammon board.......inspired by the name of the pattern I'm going to try and literally make a 'Backgammon Bag'
 I planned on using buttons to represent the markers on a backgammon board but decided they would be annoying and probably fall off so went for grommets instead........I love grommets, only problem is its hard to know when you've done enough. There is something very therapeutic about using a huge mallet to whack those suckers into place, I have a press but still like to do grommets with a
Once that pocket is complete the rest of the bag goes together remarkably quickly.I've decided not to use the flap so added a magnetic fastening to the inside, I'm also using a premade strap so no need to make one of those either. The only other little detail that I added was a little embroidered dice motif, in keeping with the backgammon theme.
I'm happy with the way my bag has turned out. I've learned a few things I didn't know........Melton wool is not the way forwards when your doing a pieced pocket...........fingers and mallets don't mix!

  So that's my finished bag........let's take a moment to talk about the pattern shall we? This was my first Betz White pattern, but it wont be my last. Well written and easy to follow. Clear pictures and diagrams. I think the only thing that I found confusing was the printing instructions, the pattern has to be printed landscape.........that's unusual.........and although it is in the instructions I suspect a lot of people will miss it as its not the 'norm'
This pattern is only available as part of the bag of the month subscription at the moment but may well be available as a stand alone pattern once the BOM is finished. Why not join up and get all six patterns?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

UP UP and AWAY passport Wallet

I've decided to start at my most recent make, then perhaps work out from here, so there will be bags before day one, and bags from afterwards.......does that make today a special day? So without further ado, lets get to the nitty gritty. I was asked before Christmas to test a pattern for a first time pattern writer. I was so flattered I almost burst into tears. To a bag maker a pattern designer is sort of 'God like'..........they create the patterns that give us the tools to create the bags. I've used patterns from several different designers, some are great and easy to follow, some less so. Some designers are just human beings, some think they are 'more' not going to name names, I have no wish to slag anyone off, needless to say you never know until you try them. Anyway, I digress.........something I'm prone to doing, just stick with me and I will usually come back to the point.

So there I was, proud as punch to have been asked to 'test' the first pattern by a new designer, a lady who's bags I have long admired and who's work is impeccable. the draft pattern arrives in my inbox and I am determined to do the pattern justice. I guess at this point I should tell you I'm not a great one for reading instructions, I probably make life more complicated for myself but I often just glance through then discard the instructions..........on this occasion I was adamant I was going to read every word. In the event the excitement got the better of me..........I went straight to the pattern pieces and cut them, totally ignoring the instructions. I already had an idea about what I wanted to do, and I knew the instructions wouldn't help me............I might add the job of a pattern tester is to see if the pattern works, not to ignore the instructions, but hey,,,,, I'm new to this,,,,,,lol

So here she is, my first attempt at the UP UP and AWAY passport wallet, closely followed by my second attempt, again I didn't follow the instructions but I like the way she looks!

Having now done two without following the pattern I felt it was only right and fair to actually follow the instructions, after all that's what my job was meant to be........number three and four arrived in quick succession, making the same pattern gets easier the more you do it, but this is a simple pattern, designed for the confident beginner so shouldn't really pose too many problems for anyone who can master the basics of their machine. The way the pattern is worded is fantastic, there's a humour in the wording that makes me smile all the way through. Liz from Moments has a clever way with words that makes you feel as though she's there next to you reading the pattern out to you. She understands that some of us tend to just 'ad lib' I like the little footnotes that warn you not to panic at some points in the construction, I will admit that when the instructions told me to sew all the way around a pocket I did wonder how it was ever gong to work, but I stuck with the pattern and it does, lo and behold a pocket appeared exactly the way the pattern said it would! Amen to reading the pattern!

This morning I made number 5,,,,,,,,,,I didn't read the pattern, I didn't need to having done two using it.........and I'm happy with the results........the UP, UP and AWAY passport wallet is a cracking little wallet that will be a great accessory for anyone who travels, with room for four passports, boarding cards and all the other gubbins that we carry when we travel its the perfect holiday accessory. I for one will be using mine when we head off somewhere sunny this summer (please can that not be camping again this year husband?)

So my first time as a tester went ok, I guess I'll find out for sure if I get asked again when the next pattern comes out........but for now I'm happy with what I've created and happy to have been part of the birth of a new design and a new designer!

 If you would like to buy one made up, then please pop over to see me at where I will be delighted to help.

And so it begins......

I've often wondered about writing a blog, what would I write? would anyone be interested? the ramblings of a middle aged woman wont be of any interest to anyone will they?  Maybe they will, maybe they wont but I'm going to write hold onto your hats......I'm a blogger and I WILL blog.....
So what do I write about? first a bit of stuff about me I guess.......... so I'm Christine, aka Bags........I'm a wife, mother and grandma.........and I sew. I've done all sorts of things through out my life for work, started as a hairdresser, worked in education, worked in the private care sector, worked in catering, you name it I've done it. I've learned many skills over the years, jack of all master of none.
These days I sew, I make bespoke items for adults and children with additional needs, and I love it, I love that something I can make will make a difference in someone's life.
For fun, at the end of a day sewing, I like to sew bags.... It started about 18 months ago, and hasn't stopped since. I just cant stop.......with this in mind, It's bags I will bore you with.......