Thursday, 25 February 2016

A little fear goes a long way! The Brandt's Boulevard, aversion Therapy!

I always assumed that if I could sew a bag I could sew a purse......for those of you in the USA a purse in the UK is what you call a wallet......smaller, for your money and cards.......
It follows suit that a purse would just be a smaller version of a bag??
Not so at all.........most purses or wallets have a lot of pieces in the patterns. They are smaller, more fiddly to sew, and hard to stop them becoming bulky with all the fabric inside......
I've had a few disasters so generally avoid making them if I can. My sewing friends.......ladies who I've never met but who I probably talk more with during the day that I do my family.....encouraged me to get involved in a sew along for a wallet style purse......what's a sew along? Well a whole bunch of ladies ........and gents if they are so the same project at more or less the same time, with one person who knows the pattern well sort of coordinating the sew........then everyone can ask for help, add comments that might help, post photos, ask questions etc.......all this happens on a Facebook it's a cyber
Once the challenge has been set, I'm afraid I can't back I get my pattern out and start hunting down the fabrics I want........I need two fabrics, one for inside, one for outside.......oooooohhhhh and some cork, a thumb lock...........
Carnage  reigns in my swing room when I'm looking for something......I know I have thumb locks but where I stashed them is anyone's guess.
Needless to say I finally found everything I needed.

The pattern only has one actual pattern piece to cut out, the rest of the pieces are simply rectangles and squares of different sizes, so with the aid of my cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler, I set about cutting. I'm usually a 'cut my fabric then fuse to the interfacing' kind of girl.......this time I wasn't able to do that because the interfacing had to be smaller than most of the fabric pieces........double the work and double the time cutting that I would usually spend. If I can get this made then the effort will be so worth the extra time.

The pattern I'm following is by Chris W Australian designer who's bags I have long admired but always been a little intimidated by, they are complicated looking bags, and many are for the advanced sewer........I'd give them a go, but I think I have time to go before I reach that level. Chris recently started a range of patterns called Easy Street.........less complicated designs for the confident beginner, middle range sewing......and that where we are. The  Brandt's Boulevard wallet is a snappy little number with a coin purse, four card slots and an ID for your mobile, paper money and an unusual strap and catch to close it. There is also a wrist strap but I didn't make that it as I know I would never use one!

 Find the pattern here
I want to say I read the pattern and followed it to the letter, but I'd be lying, yes I read it, I had too.........but I decided to add my own twist for my first attempt.....a cork leather closure strap......
Once all the cutting and fusing is done, it's fairly plain sailing, I actually followed the instructions and
my first wallet came together fairly quickly. Normally when I'm sewing something for the first time, I can see how something is going to finally come together, in this instance I couldn't second guess it.......
 I was so chuffed I almost burst, so decided to rush straight in and make another. The second one was a lot easier as I now have an idea of how the wallet works. I decided to change up the card pockets , that ID pocket is something ladies in the UK wouldn't use often ........without too much fuss, number two, three and four appeared.

So there we are, my fear has been quelled, I CAN do it.........The ladies who encouraged me to try have created a monster! Now to try some different purse/wallet designs.
This pattern is  well written, easy to follow with a lot of steps, every part is broken down into smaller steps for you to follow. Chris W Designs also has a Facebook page that you can join where you will be able to ask questions and get inspiration if you need it.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Fine and Dandy pouch........The Ultimate pouch to own and make

I can't tell you how exciting it is to be a pattern tester..........I know a lot of ladies that test for several designers.........I have just one...........
So here I am with my second test pattern for Liz at Moments.....
So lets talk Pouches.......lots of different patterns out there, so many to pick from, I've never been a massive fan of any of them if I'm honest but the Fine and Dandy is different. First you have two sizes, second you have detailed instructions for both faux
leather and fabric, third there are pockets.......and I mean pockets.........lots of pockets
The pattern doesn't have loads of pattern pieces to cut out, but it does give detailed measurements for each part you will need, and diagrams which I found really helpful.
there aren't too many pieces to cut so it doesn't feel like a chore not having pattern pieces.
I decided to make my first pouch from Faux leather as I like a bit of a challenge, but I've also made a fabric one and it was just as satisfying to create.
So many new skills to learn in this pouch, when you look at the photos you will see what looks like piping, but its faux piping........try googling wont find a single thing about it, I know I tried, get the pattern and learn how its
Unlike a lot of bags the main outside of the pouch isn't the main attraction when it come to sewing, the lining is the star, that's where we find slip pockets and pleated pockets galore. I cant say I'm a massive fan of pleated pockets, I like the way they look but oh the time they take to
These are worth the effort as they give a lovely deep pocket that's actually useful, you can fit several lipsticks in one pocket, or two spools of thread......
all the measurement's for folding and sewing the pockets are given in the pattern, stick with the pattern and its worth it.
Then we come to the putting together phase.......and this doesn't go together the way I was expecting, liz has a clever way of sewing the boxed corners that keeps the lining taught and ensures it fits really well and stays put...
As with all bags there is an epic battle to turn the bag once you have it all together, if you haven't ever made a bag, you may not understand, but a lot of people refer to it as birthing........and its not far wrong. The Fine and Dandy was a birth that needed patience and strong wrists........but slowly slowly and it does come right.
I made the larger pouch, and its a great size......ideal for make up, toiletries, sewing notions, small toys anything you want that you need stored safely and in an organised fashion.

Another great pattern from Liz at Moments, well worth a try. I would suggest if your unfamiliar with faux leather or don't feel confident, then make a fabric one first to get a feel for how it comes together, but do try it in Faux leather, its a great fun sew.
So........after all my waffle...........the pattern is well written, with Liz's usual touch of humour thrown in, lots of helpful tips and hints for embroidery placement and working with faux leather. Clear instructions and great diagrams ( I used these more than the written measurements as that's easier for me) lots of photos to help you through the instructions.
 You wont be disappointed with this one!

For more information about sewing with Faux leather pop over to the Moments blog at

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Reversible Hobo by Mrs H

I decided it was time to retire the bag I've been carrying since the summer last year and make myself something new. I've been hoarding some fabric for a while by a designer called Alison Glass, as far as I'm aware its not available here in the UK. I got my panel from the USA some months ago and had not seen the 'right project' to show of its beauty.
Now the time had come!
The pattern I choose to use is by Mrs H .........a British bag designer. I've made only two of her bags before but found her patterns to be well written with lots of detailed instructions. This pattern didn't disappoint. Mrs H......or Samantha , has a Facebook page so if you need help with a pattern either she or one of the other makers on her page can usually help.  She has followers world wide so it wont mater what time zone your in, someone will usually be there to give advice
I'm usually not a fan of bags that don't use foam stabiliser, I like my bags structured, but this one uses fusible fleece, its a hobo bag, so designed to be slouchy. I toyed with the idea of using foam instead For my first effort eventually used the instructions as they where. 
As the song goes.......'the first cut is the deepest'...........and it was..........anyone who sews will have fabrics they just want to own, you want it to look at, to stroke, to just say you own it........I was the same with my beautiful Alison Glass Ex Libris panel
The picture doesn't do it justice, its rich in colour and the pattern just draws you in, every time I look at it I see something different, this is my kind of fabric........colourful, abstract and beautiful.
Choosing a pattern to show off the fabric is important, but when you only have a small panel it makes it hard to find something that doesn't have hundreds of bits to cut. I knew I was on the right track when I saw another bag maker make a bag using the same pattern from another fabric from this the decision was made for me.

The bag is designed to be reversible, but I just knew I would never turn this fabric to the inside so I left out the straps inside that would allow you to use the bag both ways, and teamed my fabric with plain black.
Don't be alarmed by the lack of pattern pieces, this bag is made mostly with rectangles of different sizes, so there are only two pattern pieces to print out, the rest is done with a ruler and scissors or rotary cutter.........
What a fab quick sew, I know I sew quickly anyway, but even for me this was a quick one. From cutting the pattern to completion, about 3 hours. For a first attempt at any bag that's fast. I added a couple of bits inside to use up the last few scraps of fabric.........a double welt zippered pocket.
yes that's a 'double welt'.............not something I would usually do inside a bag as its really not seen, but I couldn't waste those last scraps. More fiddly to do than a standard zipped pocket but the look is so smart it was worth it. I used this tutorial to show me how to do it the first time..........
Once you've done it once, you wont find it so challenging.
The bag went together beautifully, the instructions are clear and concise, there are lots of diagrams to use if your a visual learner. The bag you end up with is HUGE! I love the short strap, it sits just perfectly on the shoulder and allows you to keep the bag cradled under your arm, I wasn't totally convinced by that to start with but having tried it,,,,,, it works. The bag is perfect for those that carry a lot of stuff about, like me........
So the bag is done, what do you do then??? Yeap, you got it, make another...
So buoyed by the success of my first hobo, I went searching for another panel of fabric that I brought some time ago, another piece that I had to have but really had no idea what id make with it. and without too much trouble a second hobo was born. again not reversible.

This one went together even more quickly, I'm blessed with a good memory, so once I've followed the pattern once I can usually do a second one without looking too much at the instructions... This one will be my holiday bag, The fabric just screams 'take me somewhere sunny'......and its big enough to get all those holiday essential's into with ease.
Try the pattern, you wont be disappointed by the results, or if you would like a bespoke bag made from this pattern contact me through my page at