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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

 

 

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A Festive Tilly and the Buttons Frankie Baseball T-Shirt

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With the Festive season just around the corner, I am getting in the spirit of things by entering a fun competition that has been arranged by Tilly and the Buttons. The ‘Sew A Xmas Sweater’ challenge is to sew up and decorate any Tilly and the Buttons sewing pattern to wear during the holiday season. If you would like more details about the competition then you can find out all about it here.

It was tricky to choose which pattern to make. As you can see from previous blog posts, I am a huge Tilly fan, and have made lots of her patterns, but eventually I decided that I would make another Frankie baseball t-shirt. I have blogged about this t-shirt here, so you can check that out if you are new to this pattern, but this post is going to concentrate on how I embellished it.

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My fabric choice is a lovely cotton interlock jersey which I picked up from eBay. It’s full-on festive red and green, but if you wanted to tone it down a bit you could choose a white or cream fabric for the main body and just have red and green for the sleeves and neckband.

I wanted the embellishment to be Christmassy, but not too ‘in your face’, so have opted for this fairly subtle ‘cutie-pie’ design. Let me take you through how I made it…

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To make the mince pie, I used a machine applique technique using Bondaweb iron-on transfer fabric that I had been taught when attending an applique class at the Leicestershire Craft Centre back in January.

I searched out an image of a mince pie that I liked on the internet, printed it off, and traced out the key shapes using tracing paper. I then traced out these shapes on to the smooth side of some Bondaweb fabric and cut around these shapes roughly. Iron these roughly cut out shapes onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric (or in my case, felt), and then cut around the outline carefully and neatly. You are left with the perfect shapes to create your layered design that now have the Bondaweb applied to the back.

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As you can see, I also had some cream ric rac tape which has a gold thread running through it which I thought would make the perfect pie crust, so I cut a strip of this too.

An important thing to mention is that it is crucial to apply any applique on to your top bodice before the underarm and side seams have been sewn. This way you are sewing on the flat and it makes your life much simpler! Tilly actually recommends doing this in her ‘Stretch’! book (page 91), and she also runs through exactly the procedure that I am using here too. So I carried out the whole of this applique procedure before I started any sewing on my t-shirt.

The placement  of your applique is also very important. Luckily I have already made the Frankie t-shirt before, so I simply popped it on, worked out where I wanted my design to sit, and pinned it carefully in place. I was then able to work out exactly where to position it on my festive version. As I am embroidering some wording on the top, I also pinned that in position – but I’ll talk about the embroidered wording later in the post.

As you can see from the image below, I was originally going to use scrap fabric pieces for the mince pie, but finally decided to use felt.

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I removed the peel-off backing from the back of my shapes and ironed them into place.

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I’m pretty sure that I have read somewhere that this is enough to hold your design in place just as it is, but I wanted to add a machine blanket stitch around the edges to make super sure that it stays in place and also to add to the decoration. At this point I cut some Stitch-n-Tear and pinned it to the wrong side of my fabric to give it some support and stop it from puckering or stretching when I was machine stitching it. I cut it large enough that it would also be in place ready for when I hand embroidered the wording above the mince pie. In the image above you can see the back of the pins that are holding the stitch-n-tear in place behind the design.

After testing out your stitch size on a scrap of spare fabric, I used a machine blanket stitch around all the edges. This is such fun, take your time with it – it’s worth it. I also cut the ric rac to the correct length, applied some Fray Check to the raw ends, and stitched that in place too.

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Below shows what it looks like on the wrong side after stitching. You might notice that I hand stitched the red berries.

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I hope that how I have written this will make some sense. There are lots of video tutorials on the internet when you search ‘machine applique’ if you need some visual guidance.

Next to apply the wording. I remember that I had watched a great tutorial from Sophia from JessalliHandmade on YouTube a few months ago. I followed this tutorial exactly to create the wording that I wanted and I am really pleased with how it turned out. In brief, you print out whatever wording you want in several different sizes and when you are happy with the font and size, you trace it out on some more stitch-n-tear. As you can see I was torn between making it a sweetie-pie or a cutie-pie slogan!

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Place the stitch-n-tear with your traced design where you want it, and pin it into place.

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Then, using a simple back stitch and embroidery thread, sew over your wording and carefully peel it away when you are finished. Simple!

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There you have it! At this point I just made the t-shirt according to the instructions as normal, and the finished result is really satisfying.

Ooh, and don’t forget the finishing touches!

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The ‘Sew a Xmas Sweater’ contest is open until December 9th, so there is still plenty of time to get sewing if you feel like giving it a go and having a bit of fun. Do head over to the blog post on the Tilly website that I linked at the start of this blog and it will give you all the terms and conditions as well as a look at the FAB prizes that are up for grabs too!

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I am looking to seeing lots of fun sweaters cropping up on Instagram over the next couple of weeks (the hashtag to look out for is #SewingXmasSweater).

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

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The Lisbon Cardigan from Itch To Stitch.

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So, November has rolled around again and that must mean that it is time to share with you my entry into the Instagram challenge the #cosycardichallenge

The #cosycardichallenge is a fun annual event over on Instagram hosted by Amanda from I Sew Alot and Rachel and Nikki from The Stitch Sisters. To enter, you simply make a cardigan and share a picture of your finished garment to be in with a chance of winning a super prize!

This year I have chosen to make The Lisbon Cardigan from Itch to Stitch. It’s quite different from the The Cocoon Cardigan by Jalie Patterns which was my entry last year. This time I wanted a more fitted, cropped cardigan that I could wear with skirts and dresses.

It is the first time that I have sewn an Itch to Stitch pattern, although I have had The Marbella Dress for ages and just haven’t got around to making it yet.

The only little problem that I came across was when it came to sticking my PDF pattern sheets together. Usually I slice off the right hand vertical edge and the bottom horizontal edge of each sheet of every page, and then stick them together with tape. I found that with this pattern that in order for the cutting lines to match up that I needed to then place these sheets together edge-to-edge (with no paper overlap at all). Perhaps there is something that I have missed, although I can see no special ‘cutting and sticking guidance’ in the instructions. Anyhow, apart from it being a little fiddly, it all came together in the end.

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The cardigan is easily adapted to your preference, as there is a choice on sleeve and body length. I chose to make the cropped bodice with 3/4 length sleeves. I particularly love the round neck on this pattern. I think a round neck suits me better, and whilst there seems to be lots of v-neck cardigan sewing patterns, I have found fewer round neck cardigan patterns available, so I was excited to try it.

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I’m pleased with the length of the sleeves on me. Although as is often the case with me the cuff bands are slightly too big. Something for me to adjust next time I make it.

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The knit fabric was a gift from my friend Kate, so I’m not sure exactly what it is. It’s lovely and soft though, and I would describe it as a medium weight. It took me ages to decide the direction of the fabric when I was cutting it out and it the end I just gave up trying to decide which was best and cut it out anyway. I figure if it is impossible to work out which way up it is, then it really doesn’t matter.

By the way, my skirt is The Tulip Skirt from Sew Over It.

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The pattern contains several pieces. Along with the bodice you need sleeves, cuffs, the bottom band, neck band and the button bands. Also knit interfacing to reinforce the button bands.

It was a lovely pattern to sew up. I thoroughly enjoyed making it. The written instructions were very good and there are plenty of step by step black and white illustrations to guide you through the process.

Instead of using buttons and buttonholes, I decided to use my Kam Snaps. I have seen lovely Amanda use this technique quite a bit on her cardigans and inspired by her gave it a go on this make. The trick with these seems to be that when you are installing them, you need to squeeze the pliers together as hard as you can, (like until you knuckles turn white – ha!), and then they will snap together and work perfectly.

I could not have been happier with the colour match too – the chocolatey brown colour snaps that I had in my little snap collection were perfect!

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I kind of like it worn on it’s own like this with a skirt, buttoned up, and look forward to making it in some plain fabrics so that it will sit nicely with some of my patterned dresses too.

I feel like this design could work really well as an edge-to-edge jacket too. Choose a heavier weight knit and omit the buttons/snaps and you have yourself a cute jacket right?

I would love to know your go-to cardigan patterns. Are you taking part in the #cosycardichallenge this year?

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon, Kathy x

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‘The Blouse’ from The Avid Seamstress.

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The latest release from The Avid Seamstress is another winner. I have previously enjoyed making her Shift Dress and Day Dress, and I knew from my experience with these that The Blouse was going to be a beauty to sew up. I was right.

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It is a simple classic design, and as you can see from the line drawings above is loose fitting, without darts, and features a pretty Mandarin collar, button placket, and elasticated 3/4 length sleeves.

I have been on the hunt for a great blouse pattern for a while. I have one or two that I have in mind to sew up over the next few months, but as soon as I saw this new release it jumped the queue big time and I hopped on and purchased the PDF so that I could make it straight away. I just could not wait.

My first version was made using this pretty blue patterned viscose from The Frugal Fabric Shop. Unfortunately I believe this has sold out now, but do head on over to check out Kate’s shop. I know at the moment she has some other fab viscose fabrics (at bargain prices) that would be equally as lovely as this.

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If you have never sewn an Avid Seamstress pattern before, then you are in for a treat. I would thoroughly recommend that you take your time to read through the instructions (rather than skip through them in a rush – as I often do with sewing patterns), as they are jam packed with helpful and clever tips to help you. I guarantee this will save you time in the long-run and give you a much more enjoyable sewing experience.

For example, I love that she advises you to overlock/finish your edges before you start. Also you are told exactly which edges do not need to be overlocked too. Brilliant. You are taken through how to block fuse one of your collar pieces to ensure a neat crisp collar, and maybe to cut the collar just before you need it if you are using fabric which is prone to fraying. All great tips.

I chose to make a size 2. I fall between a size 2 and 3 as far as my bust measurements go, and looking at the finished garment measurements I decided that the size 2 would be the fit I was going for. It’s perfect. Not too loose, not too tight.

The minute I finished my first version I was planning my next. I recently attended the #sewbrum sewing meetup in Birmingham and one of my fabric purchases there was this gorgeous green viscose with pink flowers. As soon as I clocked it, I knew what I was going to make with it.

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Taking your time will really pay off. The button plackets are interfaced and will lay nice and neat if you are accurate with your measurements. For this version I wanted to use self covered buttons for a change. They are quick and fun to make, and I tried to cover them with carefully picked pieces of fabric, so that when the blouse is buttoned up, they would match the placket that lays over the top of them.

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I particularly love the sleeves. Three quarter length sleeves are perfect for me, I made no adjustment on the length, but I did need to cut a shorter length of elastic than the guidelines suggested, so do measure your arm where the elastic is going to sit to make sure it is going to be the correct size for you.

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To ensure that the collars are evenly sewn, I followed the tip to lightly draw the seam allowance (1cm) on the curved edge before sewing. It’s all about making life easier for yourself, right? It is finished off with a neat line of edge stitching.

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I’m pretty sure I will be reaching for this classic pattern for years to come. I’m imagining it in a classic white cotton – I haven’t got a classic white shirt ….yet…. or perhaps in a stunning jewel coloured silk. Divine.

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I’d love to hear what your favourite classic shirt/blouse pattern is. Do share it with us all in the comments below.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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