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A Floral Washi Dress from Made by Rae

My latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is now live and I’m really pleased to be talking about The Washi Dress, which is a dress that I have been wanting to make for a long time.

As always with my Minerva makes, I will link the full review here and you can read all about it over at Minerva Crafts.

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Using this really cute ditsy floral cotton poplin gives it a vintage feel, and it worked out really great – the fabric has a nice amount of body to hold the skirt pleats beautifully.

I chose to purchase the expansion pack from Made By Rae which gave me the small bow feature at the neckline. The expansion pack gives you a couple of bow options, a collar and sleeve variations too.

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The shirring technique used at the back of the dress was great fun to sew and it makes for a really comfortable fit.

Unfortunately this month will be my last make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network for the time being – in order for me to focus on my jewellery business I am taking a break from the Blogger Network but do hope to dip in and out of occasional blog posts as part of the Minerva Makers team.

Huge thanks to all at Minerva for their wonderful support and generous supplies that have been sent to me to review over the last couple of years.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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A Seamwork Astoria and a self-drafted midi skirt

I’m as guilty as the next person for grabbing a great pattern and then not getting around to sewing it for AGES! The same applies to fabric I guess, and whilst I don’t have a huge fabric stash, some of it has been there for a while!

 

The Seamwork Astoria Top  has been in my PDF drawer for what must be a couple of years now, and at last I can finally see what all the love is about.

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It’s a simple cropped round necked top, and is just lovely. Fabric suggestions for this top are medium weight knits and I went for this blush ponte that I bought from Sewisfaction last time I was down in Wokingham. The textured finish on the fabric gives it a scuba vibe, and the dusky blush colour is super pretty (and also matches my favourite shade of lipstick at the moment which, of course, makes me very happy).

For those remotely interested (because I always like to know these things), my fave lipstick combo is NYX soft matte lip cream in 14 (Zurich) and Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Pillow Talk dabbed on top. You’re welcome.

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I cut a straight size medium and this was just right for me. When I sewed in the neckband, it turned out a little too long and saggy. So out came the unpicker and I shortened it by 2″.  If I’m being picky, it could probably have done with a little more shaved off- but I was too lazy to unpick the neckband again!

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All the usual tools etc were used – a walking foot, a ball point machine needle and ball twin needle for finishing the neckband and sleeves. I also used the twin needle on the waistband – I get carried away when the twin needle comes out! The sleeves are a little long. Not sure why I cut this length when I always prefer 3/4 sleeves, but hey ho! it’s alright isn’t it?

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I totally love it. As someone who wears a lot of skirts and dresses,  I know it will fit well in my wardrobe especially at this time of the year when it can still be a little chilly. I am making more of an effort to sew using plain/solid colours and this pattern is perfect for this as it will pair nicely with my crazy printed skirts and dresses. More of these will definitely be sewn!

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Not gonna lie – I do love a good Instagram challenge, and three gorgeous sewists over on Instagram have started a fun challenge each month this year with the general tag of #sewingpatternsandprints . This months friendly theme is animals and can be searched by looking for the tag #sewinganimalapril .Do head on over and check out the lovely three organisers who are TamlynSamantha, and Kealy, for more information!

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I chose to make a self-drafted midi skirt using this gorgeous animal print stretch cotton sateen that I bought from the lovely Sarah at Like Sew Amazing when I was down in Bristol a few months ago for her shop launch.

It’s a straightforward sew – just gathered rectangles really! I didn’t want the gather to be too full as the fabric already has some structure, so instead of going for double the width, I probably went for about 1.5 times the width in terms of how much gather I wanted. I added a 2″ waistband which I measured nice and snugly – (I’ve been caught with stretch fabrics on the waistband feeling too loose before), and this one is sooo comfortable.

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It simply has to have pockets doesn’t it. No arguments there. My trusty pocket piece that I always have close to hand in case I need to add it was called upon, and add an 8 or 9″ invisible zip from my stash and presto! One quick and easy skirt!

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I went for a midi length, which is not my usual length, as I wasn’t sure if I could carry it off at only 5’2″. But I really like it and certainly intend to make more cute gathered skirts this length in the future!

So all in all, two quick and easy makes which I can mix and match with existing items in my wardrobe. Win Win!

Thanks for stopping by, take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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The Pleated Zipper Pouch – an online course from The Stitch Sisters.

Just lately I have had little time for as much sewing as usual, and large projects are becoming increasingly difficult to find time for. Smaller, quicker projects like The Pleated Zipper Pouch are ideal not only for giving you that quick sewing ‘fix’,  but are perfect for using up those leftover scraps that we all have lurking in our stash.

Recently The Stitch Sisters launched their long awaited online sewing classes, perfect for those who long to take a class with them, but simply live too far away. Nikki and Rachel are two adorable friends who started off by holding sewing classes at their homes. Their friendship is adorable to watch, and if you aren’t familiar with them I would encourage you to take a peek at their Instagram feed for some sewing inspiration, and of course their youTube channel for regular fun sewing challenges, tutorials and more recently their completely addictive ‘what we have been loving this week’ videos.

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So, back to the sewing. In this online class Nikki takes you through the process of making this zipper pouch in a series of individual videos. Each step is easy to follow, and explained thoroughly and clearly, perfect for everybody including beginners.

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All cut out and ready to go! (The zip is an old one that is being re-used).

I used some old quilting cotton that I had in my stash, which is perfect for this project. You will get good results on those pleats by using fabric that can take a good presssing. The seam allowances on this are 1/4″ and whilst you can use the engraved seam guide on your foot plate to give you an accurate line to follow, I remembered that I had a 1/4″ presser foot that I had purchased when I tried some quilting some time ago, so used this for this project to get the perfect seam width.

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I rarely use this 1/4″ presser foot, but it was brilliant for this!

The whole project comes together quickly, and I enjoyed the process of simple sewing with rectangles – such a relaxed afternoon! The zip insertion is nothing to worry about if you are new to that, I re-used a recycled zip that I had in my ‘old zips’ bag, and although it was a little shorter than recommended, it was the perfect colour, and the use of the clever fabric tabs at each end made it easy to fit neatly.

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For those of us who like our sewing to look just as good on the inside as they do on the outside, the pouch is fully lined. It’s the perfect gift (if you can bear to give it away when you’ve finished)!

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The finished pouch is quite large – you might be surprised at just how much you can fit inside it. I recently made an evening clutch bag with this pattern, and whilst I used completely inappropriate fabric that time (velvet)! it still turned out really lovely and I enjoyed using it on my evening out. I share a picture of that bag on my blog post here.

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Thank you to The Stitch Sisters who kindly gifted me this class to review, I would like to mention that I enjoyed it so much that I have since purchased The Boho Button Bag from their website and very much look forward to making that up soon. I rather like the look of the QAYG fabric baskets too …another scrap busting temptation..

Take care, and I’ll see you again soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

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The Pippi Pinafore from Jennifer Lauren Handmade

As you may know, each month I write a blog post on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and this month I am talking about the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Pippi Pinafore.

Ever since this pattern was released I have been eyeing it up (along with other patterns by this clever designer), there are lots of versions to see over on Instagram, and they’re all amazing.

I love the criss-cross strap feature at the back of the dress, and also cute details such as the button placket, skirt pleats and pockets.

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I won’t go into detail, as this is a post that I have written for the Blogger Network, and you can read my full review here. But I would like to give a big thumbs up to the lovely navy blue chambray that was sent to me by Minerva Crafts in exchange for my review. It’s my favourite shade of blue and the quality is really lovely.

Thank you for dropping by today, and I’ll see you over at the Blogger Network!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Colette Jasmine Top

Hi all, I’m just jumping on here to let you know that my latest make for the Sewisfaction Blog is now up and it’s my review of the Jasmine top from Colette Patterns.

As usual with blog posts that I write for others, I will include a link here so that you can read the full review, but I thought I would share a couple of pics so that you can see what I’ve been up to.

The Jasmine is a pretty little top which has a cute little neck tie. You can choose what size neck bow to make and also there are two different sleeve options.

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My fabric choice was this stunning grey and mustard Dashwood rayon, and as you would expect from a Dashwood fabric, it’s totally lovely.

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This make wasn’t entirely without errors unfortunately, but I’ll let you head on over to the Sewisfaction blog to see where my rush in cutting it out meant that I ended up with a slightly larger top than I was expecting!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Black Velvet By Hand London Anna Dress

Last week was the second Dressmakers Ball, held in my home city of Leicester. The event is wonderfully organised by the lovely Sarah and Freya from The Crafty Sew and So.

 

I didn’t attend the first Dressmakers Ball (which was held in 2017 I believe), but remember thinking how much fun it looked at the time. So when the ticket sale was announced last year, despite feeling a little nervous as I always do about social gatherings, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a ticket. I am so glad that I did.

Choosing the right dress took a great deal of deliberation. Despite having lots of ideas initially about fancy big petticoats (which I would love to go for another time), I kept on coming back to The Anna Dress from By Hand London.

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It’s a beautifully classic dress which can be made in a midi or maxi length, with kimono sleeves, double pleats below the bust and a great swishy panelled skirt featuring an optional thigh split. This was definitely the dress for me and when my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, this is the pattern that I asked for.

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My fabric choice was a rich black cotton velvet (no stretch). I mean, everybody needs a little black dress in their lives don’t they? This is the first time that I have sewn with velvet and so I was careful to read up as many blogs and articles about sewing with velvet that I could find before cutting into this precious fabric. Before I did this, I also made up a quick toile, and I absolutely loved it! I was slightly concerned that the high neckline might be too high and unflattering on me, but quite the opposite – I really loved how the neckline looked.

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When I made the toile, I found that I had a gaping back neckline. Not to worry though, By Hand London have got your back. On their website there are sew-alongs for the patterns and I had read on the Anna sew-along that this is a common problem with this dress. There are a couple of different ways that I could correct this when making my velvet version and I opted to head on over (using their link) to a great blog post from Ginger Makes which tells you how to adapt your back bodice and back facing so that you completely remove any cheeky gaping at the back neckline. It worked a treat, and was really simple! I needed to alter my neckline by 1.5cm.

So briefly some of the things that I did when cutting and sewing my dress. I made sure that I decided which way I wanted the nap of the fabric to run and made sure that all my pattern pieces were cut in the same direction.  I also cut it out in a single layer on the hall floor as this is a nice big tiled space that I could lay out my fabric without it hanging over a table and pulling and stretching the fabric. The fact that it is a tiled floor turns out to be very important to me too, as let me tell you, velvet sheds A LOT of fluff. It was everywhere. I actually read to keep the vacuum cleaner to hand when you are cutting and this was a great tip! I used a fresh blade on my rotary cutter. In fact – I bought a new rotary cutter as mine has been terrible for a long time, but a new blade is really important – I did use a cutting mat too! A walking foot was crucial I think, and after testing on a scrap of velvet to see that it wouldn’t flatten the pile, I decided to use a longer stitch length than normal too ( I think I used stitch length 3).

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Although it was slightly tricky to sew with, and made a fluffy mess everywhere, it turned out really great in the end. I wasn’t sure if the invisible zip would be possible with the velvet as I had concerns that the pile would get caught in the zip, but I still went with it and just didn’t sew the zip in as close to the teeth as I normally would and it was fine.

The length of the skirt was always going to be long for me (I’m only 5’2″), so I shortened the pattern pieces by 10″ before cutting out. I also lined the skirt. I wasn’t going to, but didn’t realise how much static there would be in this fabric so luckily I had some black lining in my stash to do this. I will admit that I didn’t really have quite enough, so the lining is a few inches shorter than the hem, but never mind.

I went for an ankle-grazing length in the end, as I absolutely love my animal print sandals and wanted these to be seen. The thigh split is optional too, but, well, who could resist.

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The Dressmakers Ball itself was incredible, and I will leave this blog purely as a dress review because I know there are already lots of vlogs and blogs with all the details of the Ball itself. I would like to give a big shout out to my two best sewing buddies though for making the night so special. Kate and Vena had me crying with laughter all night, they truly are the best!

It was such a thrill to bump into so many sewing friends, some that I had met before and some that I was excited to meet for the first time. It was quite overwhelming to see everybody in all their stunning dresses enjoying themselves dancing and chatting, it was a night to remember. The photo below is of myself, Kate and Vena taken by a lovely professional photographer, Tara, who was busy all night snapping away!

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I couldn’t resist wearing my acrylic scissors necklace from my shop. It’s such a fun necklace and I was made up to see so many others wearing theirs!

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To sum up, I can see lots more Anna Dresses in my life. The panelled skirt is such fun to sew and the flattering bust pleats and fitted bodice is so pretty. I love it!

I spotted several other Anna Dresses at the ball, it was a popular pattern and I can see why. Dress it up in velvet or silk, or make it as a pretty day time dress – you choose.

Ooh I nearly forgot, to use up some of the leftover velvet, I decided to make a little zipper clutch to match my dress. I used the Pleated Zipper Pouch online tutorial from The Stitch Sisters (which was a pattern that was gifted to me), and whilst it was made using the most inappropriate fabric for this pattern (this pattern calls for nice crisp woven fabrics), it still came out pretty well I think. I also used a small amount of animal print cotton sateen purchased from the lovely Sarah at Like Sew Amazing. It kind of matched my shoes!

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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The Maple Dress from Cocowawa Crafts.

Pattern testing is something that I really enjoy. I have worked with Ana from Cocowawa Crafts a few times now, and it is always my pleasure to help her out.

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Hello to The Maple Dress, , the brand new pattern from Cocowawa Crafts.

This relaxed fitting double breasted dress features a notched collar, a swishy quarter circle skirt in your choice of length, inseam pockets (hooray)! and your choice of sleeve lengths. You can also add a ruffle around the edge of the collar or perhaps some piping.

I chose to make the short sleeved version with the keyhole detail and ties – Cocowawa certainly knows how to rock a good pattern with ties/ribbons, and I went for the shorter length skirt.

My fabric choice is this amazing viscose twill from  Fabric Godmother. I picked the navy blue option – but there are other colour choices on this fabric. It had the perfect amount of weight and drape to suit this design perfectly. The quality is exceptional and my fabric arrived really quickly. At £6 per metre, it’s reasonably priced too.

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The pattern is designed to have a natural relaxed fit, but looking at the finished garment sizing, I decided to size down a little so that the dress fitted me a little more closely. I also wanted the waistline slightly higher, so shortened the bodice by 2.5cm.

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I really enjoyed sewing the notched collar. I have recently made Butterick 5926 which is a jacket with the same collar type, so I had a good idea (still fresh in my mind) on how the collar is constructed. No need to worry, the instructions and excellent pattern markings make fitting the collar a breeze. If you still have any reservations about it, why not head on over to watch Ana on her YouTube channel where she will take you through all the important construction details on The Maple. I love having something like this to refer to when I’m sewing – it’s like sewing with a friend!

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My buttonholes created a couple of little pulls in the threads of the fabric. This could be that I needed to use a sharper or finer needle in my machine.

You will need 4 buttons for this dress. These pretty brown buttons I picked up from Hobbycraft I think, and they look like they are made from coconut shells.

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The sleeves are one of my favourite parts of the pattern. Ana is the Queen of all things ribbons, ties and ruffles and I LOVE all of those things. I made some bias tape from leftover fabric, but you could just as easily use ready made bias if you prefer, and used it to edge and tie the keyhole short sleeves. So cute.

As the pattern is brand new and has only released today, you might be interested to know that there is a lovely page on the Cocowawa blog featuring all the Maple Dresses that have been made by the pattern testers. Head on over here for some awesome Maple Dress inspiration. They are really really fabulous.

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I hope that this have given you some Spring/Summer sewing inspiration. That being said – the long sleeved version with or without a polo neck underneath will see you through the colder months too!

Huge thanks to Ana, such a creative and truly lovely lady, for trusting me with your latest creation. I had the best time making it and cannot wait to see lots of Maple’s cropping up all over the internet!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Another Cocowawa Chestnut Sweater – with interchangeable ribbons!

 

O.k, I know that you have seen this sweatshirt before LOADS of times, but this one’s different ..

This month on my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network make I wanted to make a comfy sweatshirt and this wonderful claret ponte roma caught my eye. Available in a whopping 27 colours it was a pretty difficult choice to select which one I wanted to use.

The next difficult choice (it’s a hard life, I know), was which ribbon to pair it up with. Luckily for me, the lovely Vicki from Minerva kindly sent me two ribbon choices for me to make my mind up with at home with the fabric in front of me. After a great deal of procrastination, I finally realised that I simply couldn’t choose between the two and worked out a way that I could adapt the pattern so that I can add whatever ribbon I feel like!

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It was simple to add these gold coloured eyelets to the opening of the neck slit, and doing this gives me a neat way of changing my ribbon choice as the mood takes me!

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Immediately after making this I proudly showed my husband this genius pattern hack, to which he promptly informed me that I had hammered them in ‘the wrong way up’.  Ho hum! Let’s not loose too much sleep over that one shall we, I still love it! Don’t worry if you don’t have eyelets, you could just as easily sew buttonhole openings here instead.

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My full post, showing this in more detail is over on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network this month, I’ll see you over there..

 

 

Huge thanks as always to Minerva Crafts for sending me the supplies in exchange for an honest review on their Blogger Nework page.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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Butterick 5926

 

Many years ago, I spotted a lady wearing a jacket like this when I was out shopping. It was a warm day and she was wearing it with skinny jeans, the sleeves pushed up and sunglasses on her head. She looked lovely. It’s funny what you remember isn’t it? So several years later, I have finally made one for myself. I have used a heavyweight double jersey from Minerva Crafts and this was very kindly gifted to me as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

The pattern is Butterick B5926, and I already had this in my stash – it was the free pattern from an edition of Love Sewing magazine a few months back.

My full review (all opinions are my own) can be found over at Minerva Crafts, so I’ll see you over there if you would like to find out more about this lovely little unlined blazer. We just need the temperature to rise by a few degrees now so that I can start getting some wear out of it!

Take care, and I’ll see you soon,

Kathy x

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A Reversible Box Tote Knitting Bag

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Just before Christmas, my Aunt very kindly sat with me one afternoon and taught me the basics of knitting. Oh my, how I wish we had done this years ago. I have instantly fallen in love with this new hobby, and now grab every opportunity I can to sneak in a few rows ( I’m knitting a scarf, of course), and I’m a little obsessed, I admit.

Of course sewing is my first love, and thinking of how I could combine both these I decided that I wanted to sew up a bag to keep my knitting tidy as it was currently sitting in a pile on the coffee table in everybody’s way.

As with every new project idea, I searched the internet for free sewing patterns that might be ideal, and finally narrowed it down to two that I liked. The one that I chose is the Reversible Box Tote which is a free download from Very Shannon. I loved the shape of this bag, the pockets, and the fact that it is reversible. Another great free pattern that I loved is the Knitting Bag Project from The Sewing Directory. This bucket style bag is quilted and I’m certain that I will come back to this another time as it’s really cute and one knitting bag will not be enough for me I’m sure!

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I was over the moon with this pattern. The instructions are clear and thorough, and it doesn’t take very long to sew up. I made it in a morning. The fabric is a pretty floral cotton on a navy background which I picked up from Hobbycraft and I chose a coordinating pale blue for the lining.

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I decided to cut two pockets (these are both lined) and placed both of them on the inside of the bag. Although this bag is reversible, I cannot see that I would ever use it with the plain side out, so although the pattern gives you the option to have an outside pocket too, I didn’t. What I did do though was keep one of the pockets open and add a pale pink Kam snap on the other pocket, just in case I wanted a pocket that was more secure. Sadly I caught some of the pale blue fabric in the snap tool when I was squeezing the snap in place and this has left a little oily mark above the pocket. Grrrrrrr.

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The pale pink snap is such a lovely colour match you can barely see it.

The bag is 14″ high (from the top of the handle), and is 17″ wide, so there is plenty of room for large knitting projects, your pattern, and all the other bits and pieces that are handy to have close by. I have used my pockets to store a tape measure, stitch markers, a row counter, yarn needle and my glasses. The scarf pattern that I am knitting is the Wheat Scarf from Tin Can Knits. It is part of their Simple Collection, which is a range of free beginner knitting patterns, with step by step tutorials if you get stuck.

 

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The knitting needles are precious to me as they used to belong to my Mother. I’m so thankful that I still have them, along with lots more in different sizes.

The only thing that I would advise with this pattern is to use the fusible fleece that is listed in the supplies needed for this bag. I didn’t have the Pellon fusible fleece that was recommended, just regular quilt wadding, and because I didn’t have the patience to quilt it in place on the fabric, I chose to use some firm iron-on interfacing that I had in my stash. Whilst this has done an o.k job, it’s not ideal and long term I think this bag will sag. Bad choice there and I would definitely recommend using the correct materials for the best result guys!

The fiddliest and most time consuming part of the make is attaching the outer bag to the lining. Because this is a reversible bag the raw edges on both the outer bag and lining bag have to be pressed under 1/4″ and pinned into place before stitching to each other. Usually with a lined bag you can quickly machine stitch the two bags together and simply pull it right side out through a little gap that you have left in the lining. Not in this case. However sometimes it is good to slow down and take your time to ensure a nice neat finish. Careful measuring, cutting and accurate seam allowances gave me a really great result on this bag. Instead of pins, I found it easier to use Wonder Clips for this part of the bag construction.

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Finally the really clever thing about the bag is that you can just hook it through your arm and knit on the go -pure genius!

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Not forgetting some essential accessories..

‘Me Made’ pin badge from Pink Coat Club.

‘Love Knitting’ pin badge from Crafty Pin Up Shop.

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Huge thanks to Very Shannon for this very generous free PDF download. Are you #teamknit or #teamsew ?

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x