Off To The Beach

I loved this bag from the moment I saw the pattern. It was smart,  big and had the opportunity to use some really fun fabrics. In May half term my older daughter is off to find some sun in Slovakia, so hopefully, she will like the bag as much as I do and want to take it on holiday with her. The pattern is by Swoon Patterns. I enjoy making Swoon Pattern bags. The instructions are clear and reliable and the results are always really professional.

I used fabric from Sophie Allport. Sophie Allport isn’t your normal ‘go-to’ fabric store, her collection of canvas/homeware curated fabrics is great. I don’t have a little boy … but if I did, the Dinosaur fabric would be on my wishlist … in fact I love it so much, I may buy some anyhow!  Just a note on the Sophie Allport fabric – it is expensive at £25/m, but it is 150cm wide… that is super wide and so it is much better value than it may appear at first.

This bag is a little different as the handles are not sewn down on to the bag front, instead, they are threaded in a continuous loop around and through the bag. This makes the bag really different. I decided to buy handles ready made. I find that bought handles can often make a big difference to the professional look of the final bag. I recently found that U-Handbag is selling pleather handles on a roll. They are 1 1/4″ wide, backed with hessian. and come in 3 colours.  They are also beautifully edge stitched. They are too thick to easily sew onto a bag but could be attached with Chicago screws or something similar.

Although I used pleather for the handles, for the base piece of the bag I had a piece of real leather big enough – just. It also wasn’t too thick. The thickness of the base of this bag is important to consider as to make the bag corners you will be sewing through, the outer thicker fabric, your equivalent to the flamingo fabric and the fleece interfacing  all doubled over on itself… and my machine was fine with this except over the (already created) seams, where I needed to hand crank the machine through those bits carefully – and I won’t lie .. I broke several needles.

By comparison, making the buttonholes for the handles was much easier. This involved creating buttonholes through the flamingo fabric, fleece interfacing, lining and light/medium woven interfacing was easily enough after a few practise goes!

This bag doesn’t have many pattern pieces, so cutting out took me around 50 minutes and making the bag took 3 hours (max).  I have added to the bag by installing a meshed zipped pocket in it – for my daughter’s suncream and bits and pieces she needs regularly. I have also made a document wallet for her and a make-up bag to. I used the pattern from the Grainline Portside bag for the document wallet and winged it a little bit for the make up bag.

My Latest Adventure with Aneela Hoey – The All-In-One Box Pouch

I’m a HUGE fan of Aneela Hoey, her patterns and the way she can create such fun mini projects, most of which can be achieved in an evening. This time I wanted to make the All-In-One Box Pouch. The standalone pattern has been recently updated, but a version of it can also be found in Aneela’s book – Stitched Sewing Organisers.

I have to admit to having a tendency to be distracted by sparkly things and for a long time now I have been loving working with Robert Kauffman Metallic Essex Linen. I find that for these boxes, the added firmness of the linen fabric is really helpful and of course, like a child, I love the way it sparkles in the light! For this project, I have used Ebony Essex Linen with Gold Metallic Threads and twined it with Tula Pink’s Tabby Road Fur Ball Fabric in the Strawberry Fields colorway.

I enjoy evenings making things much better when I have previously got myself all prepared. As well as fabric, for this project, you will also need fusible interfacing (I used light-medium Vilene F220/304), fusible fleece (I used Legacy Extra Lofty Fusible Fleece) and also clear vinyl (I used sparkly vinyl – obviously:-)). The day before I spent an hour cutting out, fusing on and ironing binding strips – all ready for my solo #saturdaynightcraftalong.

The first thing to make is the front pouch. I hadn’t made a pouch like this previously  – but having done it, I will certainly be adding it to the techniques I used most frequently. It is created by adding the binding and zips to the vinyl and then casing it in the lining and basting the external fabric on the reverse. If that wasn’t clever enough, the 20″ zip is then sewn around the pouch … then the whole lot has binding applied all around the edges.  I’ve missed out a few steps, as Aneela’s Pattern is her own, but believe me it is super clever and not hard when you take it step-by-step!

After the fervor of making the front pouch it was time for tea and cake and a little hand sewing to finish the binding off. Then I was off again !!!….. making the back pocket and then adding it and the front pouch to the exterior pieces of the main pouch. The pouch is then sewn together and suddenly you are finished. WHEW !

All in all (without cutting out). It took me 2 1/2 hours to make this – so 3 1/2 hours with cutting and fusing.

The important points to highlight about the pattern is that however experienced you are, read it properly and follow it closely. Don’t skip the kick -off steps making up the tabs, adjusting the top of the long zipper or marking up the material as directed. These are all vital to your success. My bag is now filled with my traveling medicine cabinet. You can get a lot of stuff in this pouch!

I so loved making this, I have already cut out the pieces for another one. Once again I am using the Metallic Essex Linen (this time Navy with Silver Metallic threads) but for the lining, I am going to use a Cotton & Steel/Rifle Paper Co.  fabric range called Amalfi. I like the combination of the Sun Girls and Waves fabrics, both in Coral. I thought I would use the Waves fabric for all the binding and the Sun Girls for the linings of both the front and main pouches. I think this combination will be perfect for my older daughter on the beach later on in the summer.

The next class with spaces on it to make the Aneela Hoey All-In-One Box Pouch is on 3rd July (7pm-10pm). Call Gill on 07818 551232 or email on mail@gillymacdesigns.com to book a space.

More information about Aneela and her patterns can be found here.

Happy Sewing …… Gill

 

Working from Base Camp

I am no stranger to working on my holidays. After years of corporate life, where everything was urgent, nothing could wait and my phone was constantly ringing (with bad news), not working would be shocking. However now working on this holiday, isn’t really work, it is building a small business, creating projects that I think people will enjoy, whilst using fabrics that I think will inspire. In the Lake District, I can do this whilst Katie and Brian fell walk – everyone is happy

We’ve been away for two weeks, staying on Ullswater. It is the only place in the UK, other than the Hebrides, that I’ve been where the daylight changes the colour of the surrounding landscape so dramatically, often hour by hour and certainly every evening. I love doing anything by this light because almost every time you look out the window the palette of colours has changed again.

We don’t particularly come here hoping to get good weather. Good weather is a bonus, but slowing down our pace of life and changing the way we operate for two weeks is all we truly need. My business allows me to be a ‘base camp’ for Katie and Brian who like to plan a walk, get dropped off in one location and get collected somewhere else. Katie is becoming quite an accomplished walker. She knows how to plan, what to take and how to both fuel and pace herself. I think this year is the first that she is setting the pace rather than Brian, but she sees it as a team game and that is all part of it.

This afternoon I have come down to Glenridding to plan my class schedule whilst they take out a rowing boat. It is cooler today, but they are still keen to get out on the water all the same. Later, I will be back at base camp, looking out over cattle and fields and further onto Ullswater.  I am able to sew with a magnificent view, preparing Winter class samples and writing spartan notes that will eventually become class methods. Perfect !

Gill’s new class list is now on the website and pictures of her sewing whilst away in Ullswater this year are on the website gallery.

A Little Bit of EPP & Relaxation

After a pretty hectic summer, I now have time to breath as do a little of what I fancy. In saying that, there are many things I need to do to prepare for Autumn classes, catch up on admin for Gillymac, construct and finish my block swap quilt, and of course I need to order lots tuffet supplies…. cook dinners, plan activities, roll over that start of Katie’s new term in my mind so nothing gets forgotten… You see what I mean ! We are all the same I am sure. IMG_7044

However, with that in mind I did none of it yesterday and spent the day preparing 1″ hexagon pieces for an American English Paper Piecing (EPP) swap. I saw the swap on Instagram whilst on my never ending quest to be more modern and ‘with it’. The deal is that I prepare 60 hexagons, 10 of each in red, orange, yellow, green, purple and blue – it is a rainbow swap. You then post them off to a co-ordinator who is located in Georgia, and she posts back an equivalent mix prepared by other people around the world. After that we all make something and post it on Instagram. It’s different and fun and EPP is something I never have time for so this made me sit down and relax yesterday preparing them. I’m really pleased with the outcome. 

So now I need to wait for my allotted batch to be returned to mid in mid-September and in the meantime I will be thinking about how to best use what comes back. It will be a cushion or a bag front I think … But I will enjoy researching and drawing out my ideas in the meantime. I started sewing again 11 years ago to escape from the pressure of life, and it is important to centre yourself from time to time and do fun things like this. 

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Ps. If you are happy to attempt to be ‘with it’ on Instagram (I do try) you can see how the rainbow hexi swap is going in pictures by searching #rainbowhexiswap 

A Perfect Fit …

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Bias Flare Skirt

This week is the final lesson of my first “Skirt Sloper and More” class.  A skirt sloper is a garment which is built to mould to the shape your own body using a single dart for each quarter pattern and with no design features added. It is a revelation to many of us that by taking some basic measurements of our own body, often helped by someone else taking the measurements and then going back and double checking them, it is possible to make your own sloper pattern. There are a couple of industry standards that we adhere to. For example, the size and position of the dart, the length of the dart and the seam allowance variations within the garment. However as these are simply read off a table, even applying these standards is easy. 

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Skirt Sloper Finished

Once a sloper is drafted, it is made up in calico or some other cheap woven material. At this point we can ruthlessly adjust the garment to get the perfect fit. In this month’s class, three of the slopers were perfect first time based on measurements alone and three needed adjustment along the low hip. Once there is a successful fit, the sloper pattern is recreated in card as it will be used over and over again and needs to be robust 

With the perfect mould of the body, it is a super simple exercise to add in a small amount of flare for an A-Line skirt. A greater amount of flare and cut on the bias for a bias cut flare skirt, a circle skirt, a pencil skirt with a pleat, a box pleated skirt …and the brilliant thing is that each of the skirts is built from the sloper. There are no great fit considerations for you as these were all covered with the sloper fitting. Now you are creating patterns for skirt designs that you can use multiple times

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Bias Flare Skirt Pattern

Once the pattern is created it takes less than 20 minutes to create and sew a skirt  … How brilliant is that. Now I can really enjoy finding fabric, as I don’t have the worry about fit ! 

The next set of Sloper classes starts on 5th May for 4 weeks for £85 inc. dressmaking paper, card and calico for the sloper. To book, email mail@gillymacdesigns.com to book.

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A-Line Skirt