Ikea hack: How to create a mobile pegboard storage unit from the Raskog cart and Skadis pegboard

Over the past two years or so my sewing room has turned into a bit of a mess. I am not a very tidy person by nature and the mess started to annoy even me. Now that I am using my room again on a much more regular basis (hurray!) things needed to change so I can make the most out of my limited sewing time. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how to optimize the room and I have now found a solution for two of my main problems:

  • Not having a set storage space for all those things that are used on a daily basis such as rulers, scissors, rotary cutters and pins. As a result I kept moving them from cutting table, to sewing table, to ironing board, to the floor and back to the cutting table, etc.. and often couldn’t find something that I desperately needed.
  • I tend to work on several things at the same time and I don’t want to stuff these works in progress into a cabinet because I may forget about them if I don’t see them lying around, but at the same time it’s not ideal to keep moving piles of unfinished projects around the room.
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Tadaa! Sometimes, even I am amazed at the things my mind comes up with.

From looking at a lot of sewing room pictures there are two things that are being used by a lot of people that seemed to have potential as a solution for my problems. The Ikea Raskog utility cart and pegboards. The Raskog looked useful since it can be moved around and it would be great as a temporary storage unit for works in progress, but it would not change the storage issue I have with my large quilting rulers, these are 60 cm long, while the cart is only 35×45 cm. Pegboards look really useful for storing rulers, but the one thing my sewing room lacks is empty wall space. Really, the only decent amount of wall space that I have is already in use by my design wall, and no way am I sacrificing that for a pegboard.

So, I had carts and pegboards on my mind and was thinking how it would be great to be able to hang my rulers from the Raskog cart since it’s 72 cm high. I then saw that the Ikea Skadis pegboard has a connector accessory that enables you to attach it to a table top instead of a wall and I realized that it might very well be possible to use this to attach the pegboard to the smaller side of the Raskog cart which would solve both problems in one go. My husband’s initial reaction when I told him that I planned to attach the pegboards I had bought to the cart that I was still assembling was “Whaaaaaaaat?!?”, but hey, I was right, it totally works and it is really easy!

So, today I have a tutorial so you can make your own mobile pegboard storage unit for your sewing room (or any other hobby I suppose) by combining two Ikea products, the Raskog utility cart and Skadis pegboard!

Materials

I’ve added the Ikea product numbers so you can easily find them on the Ikea website of your own country, links are to the US website since I expect most people that found this blog are able to read English.

  1. 1x Ikea Raskog ultility cart (white: 203.829.32, beige: 202.718.92, black: 903.339.76 or dark blue: 304.017.89)
  2. 2x Ikea Skadis pegboard 36×56 cm or 14 1/4×22’’ (white: 503.208.05 or wood: 703.471.73)
  3. 2x Ikea Skadis connector (2/pack, so you have 4 in total) (white: 103.207.89 or black: 703.207.91)
  4. 1x Ikea Fixa stick on floor protector set (241.556.00)
  5. 2x (white) tie wrap (I used ridiculously long ones, but 25 cm/10” is probably long enough)
  6. 4x screws/bolts, size M4, 10-12 mm length is probably ideal.
  7. Ikea Skadis accessories of your choice. On my pegboard I used:

Method

Step 1: Assemble your Raskog trolley according to Ikea’s instructions.

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Step 1: I decided to use the white cart with the white pegboard to make it appear that these 2 products really belong together.

Step 2: Stick a large circle of the Fixa floor protector set on each of the 4 Skadis connectors. There are 4 large circles in a pack so that works out great (we still had a pack at home with only 3 of the large circles left so I used some of the smaller ones on one of the connectors, this also worked). The connectors are made of metal and so is the Raskog cart. The felt protectors prevent scratching and also make it a bit easier to attach the connectors firmly.

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Step 2

Step 3: Attach the connectors to the pegboards, in the pegboard use the holes in the 4th column from the sides and on the connectors use the lower set of holes. Otherwise use the Ikea instructions.

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Step 3 and 4: The left picture shows the side that will be facing the cart. The right picture shows the side that will be facing out.

Step 4: Each pegboard comes with 2 plastic spacer units that are normally used to make sure the pegboard hangs some distance from the wall. These are now used to make sure the pegboards end up in a good vertical position and an equal distance away from the cart baskets. The spacers should be attached to the same side as the part of the connectors that sticks out (see pictures). The screws that came with the pegboards have already been used to attach the connectors so this is where you need the 4 extra screws or bolts. They should end up positioned in the 9th column so that the top one touches the middle basket and the lower one the lower basket (and not the bolts that were used to attach the baskets to the cart). On both sides I attached the top one in the 9th hole from the bottom, but the lower one is in the 1st hole on one side and in the 3rd hole on the other side. Apparently my bottom basket ended up a bit lopsided even though I am pretty sure I followed the assembly instructions correctly. Simply try out what fits best before you firmly screw on your spacers.

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Step 4: The plastic spacer and on the left the screw that it came with that you already used to attach the connector and on the right the bolt that I used instead. It’s much shorter than the original but this is fine.

Step 5: Attach the pegboards to the cart, this works best if you lay the cart on the floor so that the pegboard is horizontal. The spacers should end up exactly in the middle of the cart, you can use the bolts that were used to attach the baskets as a guide. Screw the connectors lightly to the cart. Test whether you can swivel both wheels of the cart. If you can’t, your pegboard is not centred correctly and you should reposition it. If you are happy with the placement, screw the connectors on tightly.

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Step 5 Please note how I positioned the white plastic part of the screw so that there is enough space for the wheel to swivel.

Step 6: Use the tie wraps to attach the pegboard to the cart just above the second spacer unit. Position the closure so that it doesn’t get in the way when you put things in the basket and cut off the extra bit. Neglecting to add the tie wrap will result in a pegboard that topples forward as you hang things from it because the connectors were made to attach things to something square like a table and not to something round like this cart. With the tie wrap attached, the whole thing becomes really sturdy and everything will stay in place perfectly.

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Step 6

Step 7: Attach your chosen accessories to the pegboard and fill it up with tools, notions and projects.

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Step 7

Step 8: Enjoy a better organized sewing experience!

 Some things to keep in mind

It is possible that not all of the Ikea products that I used are available in your country. I saw, for example, that in the US the Raskog cart does not come in white so you may have to use a different colour.

The Skadis pegboard has oblong shaped holes while most pegboards I’ve seen have round holes. As a result you may not be able to attach other accessories than the Ikea ones to this pegboard. Since the pegboards are not very large this did not really seem like a big problem to me since Ikea has several useful accessories, but you should realize this in case you have something very specific in mind.

Adding the pegboards does change the dimensions of the Raskog cart. The width doesn’t change that much, it goes from 35 to 36 cm, but the length increases quite a bit, depending on what you attach to it. If you only attach hooks and clips it changes from 45 to around 53 cm, if you add containers to both sides like I did, it goes easily up to 68 cm. It is, of course, possible to only add a pegboard to one side or to only use the containers on one side and hooks on the other side which limits the increase in length.

On my cart I am now using the storage bag and roll holder to store my rulers. After assembling the whole thing I realized that the long rulers could also hang from the pegboard if a hook is placed in the middle column of the pegboard so the bottom of the ruler doesn’t touch the wheels of the cart. However, the holes in my rulers do not work with the white hooks that I have because they’re not deep enough. Ikea also has black hooks that are a bit differently shaped (703.216.39), I think these may work with my Omnigrid rulers, but I currently don’t have these hooks so I am not entirely certain. I’ll probably pick them up next time I’m at Ikea but that will take some time since we don’t live next door.

I advise against using the shelf accessory since things are bound to topple off when you move the cart around…

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So, are you dashing off to Ikea to make your own mobile pegboard storage unit? If you do, I’d love to see a picture of your unit in use!

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Tutorial: How to sew a hem in a woven fabric using a thread guide

I used to dread hemming somewhat and would sometimes put it off until another day. When I had to fold and press a hem on a woven top I usually wished I had an extra set of arms. I am not so good at measuring a specific hem depth, keeping it folded down at the right measurement and pressing a fold using my iron all at the same time.

That’s something of the past though. When I discovered the thread guide method, life suddenly got a whole lot easier and I no longer wait before I do the hem on a garment. I took some quick pictures when I made my latest Belcarra blouse to show you how this super simple trick works.

Basically you use a temporary line of stitches as a guide for folding your hem.

You will need:

  • A garment made from a woven fabric that needs hemming
  • Seam ripper
  • Thread

Method

Step1: Set your sewing machine to a much longer stitch length, I put it on 5, which is the maximum on my machine. The longer stitch length will make it easier to remove your thread guide afterwards.

Step 2: Stitch all around the garment at the hem allowance distance from the raw edge. The hem allowance on my top was 1.5’’, so I sewed my line of stitches 1.5’’ from the edge. You can use one of the markings on the plate of your sewing machine as a guide, or, if you don’t have a marking at the right distance, put a sticky note or a piece of tape on the plate to use as a guide.

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Step 2: I used a matching thread colour because I was too lazy to switch thread to a contrasting one, so I hope you’re able to see it.

Step 3: Put the stitch length on your sewing machine back to normal so you don’t accidently end up stitching your hem with a ridiculously long stitch. This may have happened to me more than once which is why I try to remember to put it back to normal immediately.

Step 4: Take your garment to the ironing board and fold the hem to the inside using the stitched line as your guide. The stitches should fall just to the inside of the garment. You’ll find that the stitched line not only saves you from having to measure while you’re using your iron, it also helps the fabric fold more naturally at that position.

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Step 4: For me it works best if the raw edge of the fabric faces away from me at first so that I fold the hem towards me as I am pressing with the iron.

Step 5: I like a double folded hem with a completely enclosed raw edge so I fold the fabric a second time, this made the hem depth on my top ¾’’ (half of my 1.5’’ hem allowance). Alternatively, if you don’t mind a single folded hem, you could finish the raw edge with a zig zag or overlock stitch and skip this second fold, that way you end up with a deeper hem.

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Step 5: You can see how I folded the hem a second time so that the raw edge almost touches the inside of the first fold.

Step 6: Stitch your hem, make sure to catch the edge of the folded up hem allowance. I like to sew with the right side of the garment facing up, but if you’re anxious about not catching the hem you can also sew with the inside of the garment facing up.

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Step 6

Step 7: To remove the thread guide, unpick some stitches and then it should be really easy to pull the thread out.

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Step 7: You only need to unpick a couple of stitches, the long stitch length makes it really easy to pull the thread out. I normally really dislike unpicking something but this is a piece of cake.

Step 8: Give your hem a final press and wear your garment with pride!

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Finished hem from the right side.

This trick is especially great if you want to make a narrow hem (e.g. ½’’ inch hem allowance, ¼’’ hem), that has a bit of a curve to it like on a classic tailored shirt.

Were you already familiar with this method? Or is this something you’d like to give a try on your next garment?

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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!