Tutorial: Fabric coasters

160217_table

Lovely (can you still call it new if you’ve had it for 9 months?) dining room table deserving of pretty coasters!

In May we bought a new dining room table so we can finally seat 8 people comfortably instead of 4 rather tightly (even though we still only have 4 dining room chairs, but that’s a different story). The top of this table is a lovely piece of thick oak and we would like to keep it looking lovely for as long as possible. So, no water stains please! We already had coasters, but these are pretty old. There used to be a picture on top that has long since disappeared, leaving only glue residues. Not pretty, although still functional.

140217_uglyoldcoaster

boring old coaster

As I was pondering pretty coasters I thought of the fabric postcards that I make and realised that something similar might also work as a coaster so I adapted the postcard method to make coasters. The main difference is the type of interfacing and how it is used.

You will need:

  • Fabric for the top and bottom of the coaster, I used quilting cotton, but I think other cotton fabrics should work as well.
  • Decovil I Light interfacing (this is sturdy but still flexible and machine washable)
  • Thread

Method

160217_fusedecovillight

Step 1: Fuse Decovil I Light to 2 pieces of fabric large enough to make the number of coasters that you want to make. I realise there are 3 pieces in my picture, the piece of cream fabric was a bit oddly shaped so I couldn’t cut a single piece that was large enough.

 

160217_align

Step 2: Place 2 pieces of fabric on top of each other, the Decovil I Light sides should be touching.

 

160217_cut

Step 3: Use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to cut fabric in 10×10 cm (4×4 inch) squares. Cut both layers of fabric at the same time.

 

160217_assemble

Step 4: I like to use quilting clips to keep the squares in place when sewing around the edges. Pins don’t really work.

 

140217_sewedges

Step 5: Use the zig zag stitch (stitch width 5, stitch length 0.4 or 0.5) on your sewing machine to stitch around the edges. I usually use a Schmetz quilting needle size 90/14 and walking foot or open toed embroidery foot. I didn’t take a picture of this step but it is explained in step 7 of the postcards tutorial.

 

140207_happysewing

Step 6: Use your coasters!

We have been using these coasters since May and I like them a lot. We’ve washed one that became stained. After washing I gave it a light press with my iron on both sides and now I can’t tell which one was washed. Huge success all around.

Tutorial: little pouches for game pieces

160110_gamepiecepouch

My sisters got me the boardgame Kingdom Builder for my birthday. We have played it a lot and I decided to get rid of one minor annoyance. Each time we played we had to separate the differently coloured wooden settlement pieces because they were stored all together in a small ziplock bag. I thought it would be much easier if each colour was stored in a separate bag so I made some out of fabric.

I took some pictures while I was constructing one of my pouches so you can see how they were made.

Start with a rectangular piece of fabric and finish the long edges with an overlocker or a zig zag stitch.

Start with a rectangular piece of fabric and finish the long edges with an overlocker or a zig zag stitch. I made mine 5 x 10 inches (12.5 x 25 cm), but you can of course make them larger or smaller depending on how many pieces you want to fit in.

Fold the piece right sides together and stitch the edges, stop about 4 cm from the top and backstitch.

Fold the piece right sides together and stitch the edges, stop about 4 cm (1.5 inch) from the top and backstitch. Press the seam allowances open and topstitch it down around the gap at the top.

Fold a narrow strip of the top edge to the inside and then fold again to create a tunnel. Stitch the tunnel close to the edge. Make sure the other side of the bag is out of the way!

Fold a narrow strip of the top edge to the inside and then fold again to create a tunnel. The edge of the folded part should not extend beyond the opening at the side. Topstitch the tunnel close to the edge. Make sure the other side of the pouch is out of the way! Do this with both sides.

150901_step4

Turn right side out and thread a piece of ribbon through the tunnel and tie the two ends together. I used ribbon that was tied around a fatquarter bundle. If you want to be able to close the pouch really secure you can thread a second piece of ribbon so you can pull on both edges to close it.

Proceed to make a bag for each colour.

Proceed to make a bag for each colour in your game.

And go from this...

And go from this…

...to this!

…to this!

Tutorial: Decorative jar hats

I made some strawberry & raspberry jam two weeks ago. What, in April? Isn’t that completely out of season? Yes, that’s why I used frozen fruit *gasps of horror from the jam police*. Ever since I started making my own jam I’m not really that fond anymore of the store bought varieties. I usually find them too sweet. I suppose I should make a huge batch in summer when fruit is in season and available everywhere but life doesn’t always work out like that. As a result we were out for ages and I missed it.

Ingredients

I suppose we should be glad she didn’t use orange juice from a carton…

The thing with using frozen fruit is that you have to wait for a bit for it to thaw before you can start the jam making process. So, while waiting I decided to make a little tutorial on how to make decorative jar hats, because I’m sure that’s what you’ve all been waiting for, right?

Jar hats

I recycle jars from store bought jam to put my homemade jam in but those jars aren’t always very pretty so I thought of a way to make them look more attractive when I turn them into a gift. It is a little hat that is placed over the lid and stays in place by either a piece of elastic or a ribbon. You can make them to fit any jar and would also be great when you gift a jar with homemade cookies, apple pie filling or even chocolate easter eggs. (Uhm, yes, I did plan to post this before Easter, but got completely sucked into Downton Abbey. I’ve just finished season 3 and am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the season 4 DVDs…)

Materials

Materials

  1. Fabric for top and bottom of hat
  2. Matching thread
  3. Paper to make pattern
  4. Compass
  5. Piece of elastic or ribbon
  6. Pair of scissors
  7. Chalk or disappearing marker
  8. Pins
  9. Measuring tape
  10. Safety pin (not in picture)
  11. Optional: embellishments such as embroidery floss, buttons, applique, fabric paint

Method

140419_measure jarStep 1: The jar hat pattern consists of two circles that have the same center. The inner circle has a diameter of A+2*B (see figure), this circle will cover the jar lid. You can either measure A and B separately with a ruler, or determine the whole measurement in one go with the tape measure. I used a tape measure and rounded my measurement up to 11 cm (don’t round down).

Step 2: The large circle has a diameter of A+2*B+2* 2 1/4” (5.5 cm). This will create a 2” (5 cm) skirt around the jar hat with a 1/4” (0.5 cm) seam allowance. For a very small jar you may want to make the skirt smaller, for a very large jar you might want to make it larger.

140419_schematicsStep 3: Use the compass to draw the pattern on your patten paper. Since you put the compass in the centre of the circles when drawing, the distance between the two legs should be half the diameter of the circles. My small circle has a diameter of 11 cm, so the distance between the legs was 5.5 cm. For the outer circle the distance was 5.5 +5.5 (skirt) = 11cm

Step 4: Cut your pattern from the paper. Cut around the large circle and cut out the smaller circle so you end up with a ring.

140419_pattern

Step 3 and 4

Step 5: Layer the two fabrics on top of each other. If you want to use elastic place the fabric for the underside right side up. If you want to use a ribbon place the fabric for the outside right side up. Place the pattern on top and pin. For this tutorial I made a hat with elastic so placed the solid pink fabric on top.

Step 6: Use the disappearing marker or chalk to trace the inner circle on the fabric. (First test on a scrap whether the markings will come off)

Step 7: Cut around the outside fabric. Do not, I repeat, do not, cut out the inner circle!

Marking and cutting the fabric

Step 6&7

Step 8: Make a buttonhole just outside the marked circle. For the hats with elastic the buttonhole should end up on the inside of the hat, for the hats with ribbon the buttonhole should end up on the outside of the hat. For very delicate fabrics you might want to reinforce the location of the buttonhole with some fusible interfacing before making the buttonhole.

140419_buttonhole

Step 8

Step 9: Layer the two fabrics right sides together and sew around the edge with a 1/4” (0.5 cm) seam allowance. I used my 1/4” foot. Leave a small gap for turning.

Step 10: Trim the seam allowance. I used pinking shears to ensure that the edge would be smooth after turning the fabric right side out. If you don’t have pinking shears you can also clip small notches into the seam allowance. Do not trim the seam allowance at the gap.

140419_sew outside

Step 9 & 10

Step 11: Turn the hat right side out. Roll the seam in your fingers to smooth it out and press flat with an iron. Fold the seam allowance to the inside at the gap.

Step 11

Step 11

Step 12: Edge stitch 1/8” (3 mm) from the edge of the hat. This closes the gap. If you have an edgestitch foot that can be helpful. I used my blind hem foot and changed the needle position.

Step 13: Stitch over the inner circle markings. This creates the tunnel for the elastic or ribbon.

140419_sewing

Step 12 & 13

Step 14: If you are using elastic, measure how long the elastic should be for a snug fit around the jar. Cut the elastic a little bit longer.

If you are using ribbon measure how the long the ribbon should be to fit around the jar and tie into a nice bow.

Step 15: Use a safety pin to thread the elastic or ribbon through the buttonhole.

Step 16: If you are using elastic, tie a knot in the elastic and trim off the excess. Pull the elastic completely inside the hat. You are done and can put the hat on the jar.

If you are using a ribbon, place the hat on top of the jar and gently pull the ribbon so that the jar hat is shaped around the jar lid. Tie a bow into the ribbon and you are done.

Elastic

Step 14, 15 & 16

Did you ever consider dressing up your jars?

Jar hats

Tutorial: How to construct a zipper pocket

Ali asked if I could do a tutorial on how I constructed the zipper pocket in the lining of my It’s all about the zippers bag and here it is!

I incorporate this type of pocket in nearly every bag I make nowadays. It can be used on the outside and in the lining. It is constructed by first creating a window in the fabric behind which the zipper is placed.

You might think that this pocket is only suitable for bag making but you are wrong there! I’ve seen this type of pocket a lot on RTW trousers lately, for example, this pair from Michael Kors has 6 of these pockets! When these pockets are used in RTW trousers they’re usually not very functional because the pocket lining is very small, it is added more as a design feature.

examples of zipper pockets in RTW coatsIt is also often used in coats and jackets.  Just take a look at the coats in your household and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a pocket or two that was constructed using this technique. I’ve taken pictures of some that I found in our coats. Sometimes they have an additional flap that covers the zipper. I think this is a nice detail so as a bonus I am also going to show you how to add two types of flaps to your pocket.

Materials:

zipperpocket_materials

  1. Fabric to add the zipper pocket to
  2. Fabric for the lining of the pocket
  3. Fusible interfacing
  4. Zipper
  5. Double sided tape (I use Prym wonder tape)
  6. Pins
  7. Handbasting thread
  8. Sewing machine thread
  9. Regular zipper foot (I accidently put my invisible zipper foot in the picture)
  10. Scissors
  11. Fabric marker
  12. Ruler

This type of pocket has to be added to the pattern piece before construction of the bag or garment. So if you decide to add one to the lining of a bag you first make this pocket in the lining piece before you start assembly of the lining.

I am using contrasting fabrics and thread in this tutorial for the purpose of clarity but I do recommend that you use matching thread and fabrics.

Standard zipper pocket

Dashed line indicates pocket lining.

Dashed line indicates pocket lining.

Step 1: Determine the size of your pocket. This has several aspects. The length of the zipper window and the dimensions of the pocket lining.

For a bag I prefer the pocket lining to extend at least 5 cm (2’’) from both sides and the top of the zipper window (this already includes seam allowances). This ensures easy access into the pocket but if you don’t have enough room to add this amount it will usually still work if you add less. I also make sure that the lining of the pocket is smaller than the outer fabric so that it doesn’t get caught in any seam allowances when the bag is assembled (for coat linings one of the sides is usually attached to the front facing though). I let the depth of the pocket depend on what I want to use the pocket for but I don’t want the bottom of the pocket to reach the bottom of the bag.

I made a small sample for this tutorial and decided on a 9 cm (±3 1/2”)  long window. The lining pieces for this sample were 19 cm (length) x 15 cm (height) (± 7 1/2” x 6”).

Step 2: You will need 2 pieces of lining fabric. Cut both the size you decided on in the previous step. I recommend that one matches either the zipper or outer fabric colour because a small sliver of it will be visible from the outside. The other piece can be a fun print or contrasting colour. If you want to use the same fabric for both pocket lining pieces you can also cut one piece that is twice as long and fold it back up on itself to create the pocket lining.

When I add this type of pocket in a bag lining I will usually also use the lining fabric for one of the pocket lining pieces. When added to the outside of the bag (sturdier fabric) I try to find a piece of e.g. quilting cotton that is a close match in colour because it can become a bit bulky otherwise.

Step 3

Step 3

Step 3: Add some fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the pattern piece you want to add the zipper pocket to. It should be placed so that the zipper window will end up more or less in the centre of the interfacing. This will add a bit of extra stability, a lightweight interfacing will do fine; you don’t want to add a lot of extra bulk. I cut my piece 15 x 4 cm (6” x ±1 1/2”) When I add this pocket to a bag exterior I’ve usually already interfaced the whole piece, in that case I don’t add any extra interfacing.

Step 4: Pin one of the lining pieces (the one that matches the outer fabric) right sides together to the main fabric. The fabric should be placed exactly how you want it to end up on the back.

Step 5: Draw the desired window opening on the lining piece using the ruler and fabric marker. For most zippers a 1 cm (3/8’’) wide opening works well. I drew my box 9 x 1 cm (±3 1/2” x 3/8”). Draw another line in the box that is in between the two long lines and makes a V-shape to the two corners starting ± 1 cm (3/8’’) from the side.

Step 6: Stitch around the box that you just drew, backstitch to secure. If your machine has a needle down function it can be useful for this step because you have to pivot in the corners.

zipper pocket window

Step 4, 5 & 6

Step 7: Use scissors or a seam ripper to make a small hole on the line inside the box. Cut the box open on this line and cut into the corners in the V-shape. Cut as close to the stitching as possible but be careful not to cut the stitches.

Zipper pocket construction

Step 7

Step 8: Fold the lining fabric through the hole you just cut and use your iron to press the lining neatly to the back. You want to see as little of the lining fabric on the front of the window as possible but it is a bit inevitable that some of it will remain visible.

Step 8

Step 8

Step 9: Sew the zipper ends together at the zipper pull side. You don’t have to pull the zipper tapes very close together because that can distort the shape of the zipper a bit. I find that doing this step makes it easier later on to sew the zipper in place.

If your zipper is a lot longer than you really need for the pocket it is usually a good idea to shorten it. You do this by first creating a new zipper stop by sewing over the zipper teeth as shown in the picture and then cutting off the excess. You really want to do it in this order because if you first cut and then decide to test the zipper before you have sewn the new zipper stop you will end up with two separate pieces that you have no way to put back together into a functional zip. I don’t think you need to ask me how I know…

Step 9

Step 9

Step 10: Position the zipper behind the window. There are at least 3 different methods to do this 1. Pin the zipper in place. 2. First pin in place, hand baste in place and then remove pins. 3. Use double sided tape to stick the zipper to the fabric. The last method is my favourite because it is fast and ensures that the zipper stays nicely in place when sewing. Pinning is my least favourite method because the pins can get in the way when sewing and the zipper can more easily shift during sewing when you remove the pins.

zipper pocket

Step 10

Step 11: Use your regular zipper foot to topstitch around the zipper window to sew the zipper in place. Unless you are really confident that your topstitching is absolutely spot on I recommend to use a matching thread. If you have a needle down option on your machine it is really helpful to use it for this step because you have to pivot in the corners. When the zipper pull gets in the way carefully unzip the zipper with the needle in the fabric.

zipper pocket

Step 11

Step 12: Pin the other piece of lining fabric to the piece that is already sewn to the window. I like to use a contrasting colour or a print for this piece because it gives a nice surprise when the pocket is opened.

Step 13: Sew around the two lining pieces with a 1 cm (3/8’’) seam allowance. Make sure not to catch any of the outer fabric into your stitching. For an extra sturdy pocket you can finish the edges of the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch or use an overlock stitch.

Step 12 & 13

Step 12 & 13

You are done and have successfully made a zipper pocket! Continue assembly of the bag or garment.

zipper pocket9

Zipper pocket flap variations

Now I will show you 2 variations on the zipper pocket. In the first variation a flap is incorporated that covers the whole zipper so that you can’t see the zipper from the outside until you lift up the flap. In the second variation two smaller flaps are sewn right next to the zipper teeth. These cover the zipper tape and can add a nice touch of colour to your pocket.

For both variations you will first follow steps 1-9 of the standard zipper pocket tutorial to create the window and prepare the zipper.

Single flap that covers the zipper

Step a: Cut a piece of fabric for the flap. My window was 10 cm (4”) long and I cut the piece 12 cm (±4 3/4”) long and 5 cm (2”) wide.

Step b: Fold the piece of fabric in half lengthwise and press.

Step c: Use a zigzag or overlock stitch to finish the 3 raw edges.

Step a, b & c

Step a, b & c

Step d: Position the flap behind the zipper window. The fold should touch the lower edge of the window. I first pin and then hand baste. It is important that the handbasting stitches don’t get too close to the edge of the window because you don’t want to topstitch over them.

Step d. Note that I made a sample for this tutorial and used a scrap for the pocket lining piece. For a real pocket I would have used a larger piece of lining fabric.

Step e: Position the zipper behind the flap. The zipper teeth should end up in the centre of the zipper window. I again prefer to use double side tape but you could also pin or hand baste.

zipper pocket12

Step e

Continue with step 11 of the standard zipper pocket tutorial to complete the pocket.

Flap that covers zipper opening

Completed zipper pocket with flap.

Zipper pocket with two flaps that cover the zipper tape

Step I: Cut two pieces of fabric for the flaps. For my 10 cm (4”)  long zipper window I cut them 13 cm (5 1/8”) x 2 cm (3/4”). I chose a width that was 2x the width of the zipper tape.

Step II: Fold the pieces in half lenghtwise and press. You could finish the raw edges with a narrow zigzag or overlock stitch (you don’t want these stitches to be visible in the window) but it is not really necessary.

zipper pocket with flaps

Step I & II

Step III: Place the folds of the flaps right next to the zipper teeth and pin in place.

Step IV: Sew the flaps to the zipper tape, stay quite close to the edge of the zipper tape because you don’t want these stitches to show up in the window.

Zipper pocket

Step III & IV

Step V: Position the zipper behind the zipper pocket. I used double sided tape but you could also pin or handbaste. You want the zipper teeth to end up in the centre of the window.

zipper pocket

Step V

Continue with step 11 of the standard zipper pocket tutorial to complete the pocket.

zipper pocket

Completed zipper pocket with 2 flaps.

Do you think you will give this type of pocket a try in one of your next projects? Which of the 3 variations that I showed is your favourite?

Tutorial: How to make an adjustable shoulder strap

It's all about the zippers bagMy all-time favourite strap to have on a bag is an adjustable shoulder strap. They give your handmade bags a very professional look and while they may seem daunting to make at first glance, once you know what to do they’re actually very easy to make.

Materials:

Handmade bag to attach the strap to.

Fabric to make the strap or a store bought strap. I have no idea what the correct English term is for that product but in Dutch it is called “tassenband”.

supplies adjustable shoulder strap1 slider. I recommend using a 1.5’’ (3.75 cm) or 2’’ (5 cm) wide slider because anything smaller means that the straps will be a real pain to turn right side out. Sliders come in different colours and materials. I prefer to use metal ones but you can also get plastic ones, like the one in the picture. Sometimes the centre bar of the slider can move a little bit.

2 D-rings, the same size as the slider. These can be D-shaped, rectangular or even O-rings. You can also get D-rings that have a musketon attached to them so you can make a removable shoulder strap. If you decide to use those you will still need to attach regular D-rings to the bag so you have something to attach the musketons to.

For my “it’s all about the zippers” bag I used a 1.5’’ slider and D-rings. The outside of the strap was made with the fashion fabric and the inside (the side that touches the body) was made with the lining fabric. Both fabrics were interfaced, the fashion fabric with a very lightweight woven fusible and the lining fabric with a medium weight woven fusible. I usually interface my straps but if you use a sturdy fabric for both sides, such as denim, it is not always necessary.

Method

An important part of making your strap look professional is to get the width of the strap spot on. If it is too narrow the slider will be able to move sideways on the strap and the slider will move too easily up and down the strap resulting in a less secure strap. It will also look wrong. If it is too wide, the strap will bunch up in the slider and it will be difficult to move it up and down the strap. On a good strap the slider has a little bit of sideways movement (really just a tiny little bit), it doesn’t bunch up inside the slider and the slider moves up and down the strap relatively easy. To make sure that your strap will be spot on I highly recommend that you first make some small samples to test what fabric width and seam allowance will give you the best result. My slider was 1.5’’ wide and I cut my fabric straps 2 1/8’’ (5.3 cm) wide and sewed with a ¼’’ (6 mm) seam allowance to get the perfect fit. It might be different for your fabric so test this! You may have to play a bit with the seam allowance, for example by moving the position of the needle a bit to the left or to the right. Investing the time to do this will most likely prevent major disappointment later on, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! If you intend to interface your strap you should also do this with your sample.

shoulderstrap_samples

Step 1: Sewing the fabric strap is usually the last thing I do when I make a bag. Make sure that you have attached your D-rings to the bag at some point during the construction stage. On the bag I used for this tutorial I attached the D-rings with a fabric tab to the front and back of the bag. The fabric tab was made by sewing a rectangle of the black canvas and black Kona cotton right sides together, leaving a gap on one of the long sides to turn right side out. The tab was then sewn to the front and back pieces with 2 crosses (see step 12 on how to sew a cross) with the straight part of the D-ring in between.  Another method is to make a fabric loop and insert this with the D-ring in between the fashion fabric and lining when these are sewn together at the top of the bag. The fabric loop is constructed the same way as the strap but the short ends can be left open.

adjustable shoulder strap

Left: D-ring attached with fabric tab. Right: D-ring attached with fabric loop.

Step 2: Decide how long your strap should be. What I usually do is hold the bag where I want it to rest as I carry it, pretend my tape measure is the strap and measure the distance from one D-ring to the other. Then add at least 8’’ (20 cm) to that measurement but feel free to be more generous. For narrow bags the strap usually has to be a bit longer than for wider bags. For my bag I cut my fabric strips a little over 56’’ (140 cm) long; this was basically the width of the piece of red fabric. If your fabric isn’t wide enough to cut a strip that is long enough for your strap it is perfectly all right to piece the strap. I do recommend that you do this the same way two pieces of bias tape are sewn together (with a 45 degree angle) to avoid bulk in the strap. I’ve shown how to do this in this tutorial.

Step 3: Cut your fabric strips on the straight of grain and interface if desired. I cut my interfacing ¼’’ (6 mm) narrower than my fabric to reduce bulk in the finished strap.

adjustable shoulder strap

Step 3

Step 4: Pin the two pieces of fabric right sides together and sew around all edges. Leave a gap at the centre of one of the long edges for turning right side out and backstitch at the beginning and end.

adjustable shoulderstrap

Step 4

Step 5: Trim the corners but don’t get too close to the stitching.

adjustable shoulder strap

Step 5

Step 6: Press the seam open. I suppose this step isn’t strictly speaking necessary but I find that I get a much neater finish on the strap if I take the time to do this. I place the strap on my ironing board and fold the seam allowance of the top fabric over to press. I do this to both sides.

adjustable shoulder strap

Step 6

Step 7: Turn the strap right side out through the gap. This can be a bit of a struggle, I usually go and watch some television while I do this. The corners can be a bit tricky to get nice and square (I never manage exactly square to be honest) and you can use a chopstick or something similar to give them a gentle poke.

Step 8: Roll the seam between your fingers to help it lie flat. Press the strap flat using your iron. I always press with the outside fabric up first. Press the edges of the gap you left for turning to the inside so that you can no longer see where the gap is located.

adjustable shoulder strap

Step 8

Step 9: Topstitch around all edges. It is important to make sure that your topstitching is close enough to the fabric edge to catch the seam allowance. This guarantees that the gap that you left for turning ends up closed. If you are using 2 differently coloured fabrics, change the bobbin thread so that it matches the inside fabric.

Step 10: Now we’re onto the fun part: weaving the strap around the D-rings and slider. I always do a test run before I start sewing to make sure that everything will end up as planned. To do this pin the ends in place instead of sewing while folding the strap.

Step 11: A slider usually has a front and a back. Place it on the table with the front side facing down. Thread one end of the fabric strap around the centre bar of the slider with the outside fabric facing down as well.

adjustable shoulder strap

Step 11

Step 12: Fold the end of the fabric strip back over itself so that the inside fabric touches the inside fabric. Pin in place, and sew a cross to secure the end. If you changed your bobbin thread for the topstitching in step 9 you should change it back to match the outside fabric. The slider is now encased in the strap. The slider doesn’t need a lot of room but it should be able to move somewhat.

adjustable shoulder strap

Step 12

Step 13: Decide on which side you want the slider to end up. I wanted mine on the back of the bag. Take the strap end that is not attached to the slider and thread it through the D-ring on the side you want the slider to end up. The outside fabric should face the bag and you should insert the strap from the top. Fold the strap back up over the D-ring and thread it through the slider.

Adjustable shoulder strap

Step 13

Step 14: Now the free end of the strap should be wrapped around the other D-ring. Insert the strap through the D-ring from the bottom, fold it back down over the D-ring, pin in place, check you didn’t accidently twist the strap and sew a cross to secure.

Adjustable shoulder strap

Step 14

Step 15: Adjust the strap to your preferred length and you are done!

Have I convinced you to give this type of strap a try on your next bag? I’d love to see your bag if you give this method a try!

Tutorial: Lined pillow case with envelope closure

envelope pillow8I really wanted to do some sewing today but was very tired and sewing when tired isn’t always a particular good idea. When I am in this state I shouldn’t attempt anything complicated because I am sort of guaranteed to mess something up.

I decided to try a simple idea I had a while ago for an easy lined pillow with envelope closure. I prefer to line pillow cases, especially when using a thin fabric like a quilting cotton. It gives the pillow case a bit more body and I think a pillow looks better with a lined pillow case. I am very happy with the result of this experiment so I turned it into a tutorial.

The envelope closure is the easiest pillow closure to make. I suppose my lined version is slightly more complicated than what people usually do when they make these pillow cases but I still think this method is suitable for beginner sewers. For this lined pillow case you only need to sew 4 seams and only 2 fabric edges require a seam finish, that doesn’t sound too complicated, right?

For the fashion fabric of my pillow I used a quilting cotton, Safari by Angela Rakucki for Anthology Fabrics, and the lining is white Kona Cotton. I recommend that you prewash both fabrics to make sure that your lining doesn’t shrink less or more than the fashion fabric when you wash the pillow case.

Construction

Step 1: Use the formulas shown below to calculate how much fashion fabric and lining fabric you need to cut.

Metric formula fashion fabric: (pillow width + 2 cm seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 10 cm overlap + 3 cm seam allowance)

Metric formula lining fabric: (pillow width + 2 cm seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 10 cm overlap + 1 cm seam allowance)

Imperial formula fashion fabric: (pillow width + 6/8’’ seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 4’’ overlap + 1 1/8’’  seam allowance)

Imperial formula lining fabric: (pillow width + 6/8’’ seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 4’’ overlap + 3/8’’ seam allowance)

I used metric measurements today and I made a pillow case for a 40×40 cm (16’’x16’’) pillow.

My fashion fabric was cut (40 + 2 = 42 cm) x (2 x 40 + 10 + 3 = 93 cm)

My lining fabric was cut (40 + 2 = 42 cm) x (2 x 40 + 10 + 1 = 91 cm)

Step 2: Cut fashion fabric and lining fabric according to your measurements from step 1. I always use a cutting mat, rotary cutter and a quilting ruler because I find this much more accurate than scissors.

Step 3: Place the fashion fabric and lining right sides together and pin the short edges. The lining is shorter than the fashion fabric but this will be solved later on.

Step 4: Sew both short edges with a 1 cm (3/8’’) seam allowance and press the seams open.

envelope pillow3

Step 3 & 4

Step 5: Turn the fabrics right sides out and on one short edge press the seam as shown in the picture below.

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Step 5

Step 6: Now we are ready to solve the issue of the lining being shorter than the fashion fabric. On the short edge that isn’t yet pressed a small strip of the fashion fabric will be pressed towards the lining side (see picture below). The easiest way to do this is to start at the short edge that is already pressed and to use your hands to smooth the lining and fashion fabric so that any wrinkles disappear. Work your way up towards the unpressed edge and use some pins to secure the long edges as you go. When you reach the end about 1 cm (3/8”) of the fashion fabric will want to be on the lining side. First use your fingers to create a small crease and then press the fold with your iron.

Step 7: Pin both long sides and finish the edges with a zig zag stitch or overlock stitch.

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Step 6 & 7

Step 8: Place the pillow case with the fashion fabric side upwards.

Step 9: Measure 15 cm (6”) down from the short edge that has the fashion fabric pressed towards the lining. Make a mark on both long edges. From these marks, measure 40 cm (16”) down (pillow height, if you’re making a different size pillow) and make another mark on both sides.

Step 10: First fold back the short edge that has the fashion fabric continue into the lining on the first mark and pin in place.

Step 11: Fold back the other short edge on the second mark so that it overlaps the other folded back edge and pin in place.

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Step 8, 9, 10 & 11

Step 12: Sew along the long sides with a 1 cm (3/8”) seam allowance and press the seams.

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Step 12

Step 13: Turn pillow case right side out, stuff with a pillow form and put on your couch. Do you notice how presssing a small amount of the fashion fabric to the lining side ensured that you can’t see the lining from the outside of the pillow?

If the corners of your pillow are very bulky you can trim them down somewhat but I didn’t find this necessary.

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Can you tell I used a white lining?

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you make any lined envelope pillows I’d love to see them!

envelope pillow1

Tutorial: Quilted postcards

quilted postcard tutorial

As promised a follow-up post on my fabric postcard tutorial. Today I show you how to make quilted postcards. The procedure is quite similar to how I made the regular fabric postcards but there are some changes.

Materials:

  1. Firm iron on interfacing such as Vilene/Vlieseline s520 or Pellon’s Peltex #71F (I’ve also seen it being called Vilene ultra firm fusible and Decofix). You really want to use this very firm/stiff interfacing because it gives the finished postcard a real postcard look and feel.
  2. Batting (I used Hobbs 80/20 but I think any kind of batting will do)
  3. White cotton for back of postcard
  4. Fabric for front of postcard
  5. Fabric for binding
  6. Waterproof (fabric) marker
  7. Cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter
  8. Clips
  9. Thread
  10. Needles (machine needles for piecing and quilting and a handsewing needle)
  11. Scissors
  12. Optional: buttons, ribbons, trims, beads, embroidery thread etc.

Method:

Step 1: Decide how large you want your finished postcard to be

I chose to make my postcard for this tutorial 5’’x8’’ (12.5×20 cm) which is larger than most postcards, but I find it too fiddly to attach binding to something smaller.

quilted postcardStep2: Prepare the front of the postcard

Make sure that your piece of fabric (pieced or not) is a little larger than the finished postcard size (5.5’’x 8.5’’ in my example) and baste it to some batting that is again slightly larger than your fabric. You don’t need to add a backing. Quilt as desired. After you finish the quilting trim off the excess batting.

Step 3: Prepare the back of the postcard

Cut the firm iron on interfacing and the white cotton fabric for the back a little bit larger than the finished size of the postcard. I’m making a 5’’x8’’ postcard so I cut mine approximately 5.5’’x8.5’’. Use your iron and a little steam to fuse the interfacing to the white cotton.

Step 4: Cut postcard to size

quilted postcardPlace your postcard front and back on top of each other, wrong sides together. Use the cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter to cut the postcard to size. By cutting the front and back of the postcard at the same time you will ensure that they will fit perfectly during the assembly step of the postcard.

Add further embellishments to the front of your postcard. Use buttons, ribbons, trims, decorative stitches, embroidery floss, etc. Be creative, but keep in mind that you will add a binding so do not place buttons or other very bulky things too close to the edge.

Step 5: Draw postcard backquilted postcard

Use the ruler and waterproof marker to draw the distinctive postcard markings on the back. Alternatively, you could also “draw” these lines with a stitch line, but I prefer to draw the lines with a marker. Keep in mind that you don’t want to cover your drawings with the binding. If you keep at least 1/2’’ away from the edge you should be fine.

If you added a lot of bulky things like buttons, now would also be a great moment to write your message on the back of the postcard because the bulk on the front will make it significantly more difficult to do this once the postcard has been assembled. Again, leave enough of a margin because the binding will cover the edges!

Step 6: Postcard assembly

Put the front and back of the postcard wrong sides together. I like to keep the two layers together with quilting clips because pins don’t work very well with the very stiff interfacing.

If you want to finish your postcard really quickly you can use the zigzag stitch finish that I showed in my previous tutorial. One thing you’ll have to look out for though is that the fabric edge of the quilted layer stays aligned with the back, I find that it wants to shift more than when the front is not quilted.

The finish that I prefer, but which definitely takes more time, is to bind the edges of the postcard with a piece of binding. This turns it into a real mini-quilt. I prefer the look of a hand sewn binding, so that is what I am going to show you. But if you like to attach your binding completely by machine that is of course also an option.

Step 7: Attaching the binding

Cut a 2’’ wide binding strip that is long enough to encase all edges of the postcard. My postcard is 2×5’’ + 2×8’’= 26’’. To make sure I had enough binding I cut a strip that was longer than 34’’. The strip should be cut on the straight of grain.

Fold the binding strip in half lengthwise and press with your iron.

You want to start on one of the long edges on the front of postcard. Align the raw edge of your folded binding strip with the edge of the postcard. I don’t pin the binding in place but keep it aligned with my hands while sewing. Start sewing with a ¼ inch seam about ¾ inch from the corner, don’t forget to backstitch. Make sure that you leave at least 4’’ – 5” of the binding strip trailing off so you’ll have enough to work with when attaching the two ends of binding later on. Stop sewing ¼ inch from the corner, take some backstitches to secure.

Take the needle out of the fabric, and pull the postcard out of the machine (if you only pull it out a little bit it won’t be necessary to cut the threads). To create a mitered corner  the binding strip is first folded upwards and then downwards so that the second fold aligns with the horizontal part of the binding strip.

attach binding

The horizontal part of the binding strip is already stitched to the postcard, but in these pictures the stitches are hidden under the folded back binding strip.

Put the needle back into the fabric on the other side of the corner, a ¼  inch away from the edge of the corner, backstitch and sew until you reach the other corner, again stop ¼ inch from the edge and create the second mitered corner. Repeat until you have attached the binding strip to the last corner. Stop sewing ¾ inch away from the corner so that you are left with a gap.

quilted postcardOverlap the two ends of binding so that the shortest end is on top the longer end. Mark where the two ends meet. Use a ruler to measure 2” (the width of the unfolded binding strip) away from the marking that you made and make a 2nd mark. Cut the strip on this second mark.

quilted postcardThe next picture shows how to place the two ends of unfolded binding to sew the gap closed. If this isn’t clear enough you might want to take a look at the “leave a gap” method in my bias tape tutorial, there the method is explained in more detail.

quilted postcardAfter you have sewn the seam, check whether the the binding fits the gap. If you’re happy cut down the seam allowance and press. Attach the remaining part of the  binding to the postcard.

quilted postcardStep 8: Handstitch binding in place.

quilted postcardFold the binding to the back of the postcard and hold in place with quilting clips.

The pictures below show how to stitch the binding in place so that the stitches will be invisible. If this postcard hadn’t been for a tutorial I would have used matching thread. On the postcard side the fabric is very stiff due to the firm interfacing that was used. I simply ignore that there is interfacing and make my stiches only through the white piece of fabric.

1) Use a double thread with a double knot at the end. Insert your needle into the postcard so that the knot will be hidden under the binding and that the needle comes out just outside the stitching line where the binding was attached with the sewing machine. 2) For your second stitch, insert the needle into the edge of the bottom layer of the binding strip. It is important to enter the fabric directly opposite from where the previous stitch ended on the postcard side. 3) For the second stitch insert the needle into the postcard directly opposite from where your stitch ended in the binding. 4) In this picture you can see how I take a stitch through the binding fabric. 5) In this picture you can see how I take a stitch in the postcard side.  6) When the stitches are pulled closed you can’t really tell which colour thread I used. Continue until the entire binding strip is sewn in place.

hand stitch binding to postcardFinal step: Write your message, add a stamp and put in the mailbox!

Keep in mind that a very large postcard or one with lots of extra’s such as buttons will be heavier; make sure that you put enough postage on your postcard before sending it off! So far, all of my fabric postcards have reached their destination within the Netherlands. I have never sent one of these cards abroad so I can’t say anything about foreign postal services, you’ll just have to give it a try. Dutch stamps are stickers and they adhere very well to the cotton fabric that I have used, if the stamps in your country don’t, you might have to use some glue to make sure they don’t come off.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you make some quilted postcards I would love to see them!