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Category Archives: General Craft

This category is to capture the different types of craft pursuits.

Colouring in Bag

Colouring in Bag

“Adult colouring in” is a real thing now, and my wife loves it. I decided to make her a bag to keep all her colouring stuff in. Here’s how I did it.

The first step in any project like this is planning. I needed to work out how I was going to put it together and what material I needed. The plan showed me how much I would need (the plan has to have measurements) and also what order I’d need to sew it together to ensure that it doesn’t look sloppy.

The first picture is the overall plan – what the pieces will look like, how they’ll fit together and the measurements. The second picture is how I could fit all of the pieces into one piece of material and how I’d need to cut it up.

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Once I had cut all the pieces out of the material (which my wife chose), I had to make sure I didn’t get them mixed up. This project also took a number of days to complete, so I had to be able to pack it away if needed. My workbench is also the dining room table!

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With all the pieces cut out, I then could start sewing. I wanted to make sure the bag was padded so that nothing would get damaged inside. To do this, I used some left over calico material I had to double up the pieces I cut out of the main material. I then cut out some wadding to use as padding. With the pieces padded, it also added stability to the bag so that the bag could stand up and not be floppy. Once the parts were all cut out, I just had to sew around the edges to keep it all together. Later on I’ll put bias binding around the edges to ensure it won’t fray and keep the bag nice and strong.

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I wanted the pencils to be kept in the bag, but not just in a tin. I decided to get a little fancy and sew elastic onto a couple of walls of the bag so that the pencils could be kept there. I sewed across the elastic at about 1.5cm spacing so that once the pencils were put in place they would stay there. I also decided during the planning that the front of the bag would fold out so that the pencils could be used individually, rather than having to get them all out at once. It’s important to remember to sew the elastic onto the material before the wadding and bias binding is added so that you can’t see where the elastic has been sewn.

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The next step was the bias binding. It takes a bit of practice to work out the technique, but it’s worth it. It looks great and keeps the bag strong.Every single piece has bias binding added to it before the bag was sewn together so that it looked good and stopped fraying. The big tip here is to make sure you have enough bias binding before you start – I had to run to the shops half way throgh only to find out they had run out of the colour I used! I found a colour similar, but it was quite annoying.

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Here’s a finished piece with the bias binding around the edges. This is the side piece that folds up at the front and forms the side of the bag once it’s finished. I have also sewn a line along where the bag will fold so that it will move easily once it’s done.

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I hadn’t made a bag before so I tried to design it from scratch. The method I decided to use was to build the inner sections and then have one long piece of material wrap around the middle – this would form the front, back and the flap over the top. I had to test constantly that the pieces were going together in the right order and with the pattern.

The next three pictures show a) the bottom piece that wraps around, b) The middle part sitting on the wrap around piece for testing, c) with the bag closed to make sure the material is long enough before sewing.

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Once I was happy with the test, I then sewed it all together – the handle is integral to the stability of the sides and the internal part.

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Once finished and cleaned up, I put the bag on the couch to take some final shots. Overall I thought it turned out really well. However, it’s strong and it’s functional and any imperfections are not noticeable at first glance. My wife was very happy with it – which is the main measure of success.

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Overall the project took about 3 ten hour days, not including the planning. The overall cost in just materials is around $30.

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The design ended up achieving everything I had wanted it to. The handle is double padded and able to be tucked into the bag itself for storage. The pencil part folds out nicely held in it’s folded state with two buttons. The top flap has large wooden buttons on the front to hold everything in. The rear section of the bag holds an electric lamp so my wife can do colouring in anywhere. The middle section holds the colouring book, the front has the pencils. With the middle section having it’s own floor, it means that when the wrap around piece goes on, the bottom of the bag has a double padded bottom.

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I really enjoyed the project as a whole and got a great sense of accomplishment when it was done. It’s nice to see a project finished and I was really happy with how it turned out. I wouldn’t make the same bag again as it is really time consuming. However, I learned a lot of this during the project.

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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in General Craft, Sewing

 

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Roll Pack a Suit and Shirt

Roll Pack a Suit and Shirt

For work, I need to travel a fair bit domestically. And I need to wear a suit when I’m at work.

I hate having to take check-in luggage because it costs extra a lot of the time, it can get lost and it’s great to be able to get out of the airport quickly (not having to wait to pick up luggage). I also hate the inconvenience of trying to manage a suit bag.

I’ve done some research and done some experiments and come across the easiest and best way to be able to pack my suit and a shirt into my back pack. These are the instructions on how to roll-pack a suit and a shirt.

The advantages of rolling the suit up is that it minimises creases that you get from folding and it makes it a lot smaller and easier to fit into smaller places.

Step 1 – Make sure the shirt is ironed. This saves a lot of hassle later as a lot of hotel rooms have really crappy irons – if at all.

Step 2 – Get a large flat surface to be able to easily lay out your clothes to roll. A bed is perfect.

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Step 3 – Start with the shirt. Make sure at least half the buttons are done up and then lay the shirt face down on the bed with the arms stretched out. Try to smooth out any wrinkles before you start folding.

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Step 4 – Take one arm and match it up with the arm on the other side so that the shirt is exactly in half length ways. The collar should be out and at the top. Again, make sure the wrinkles are smoothed out.

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Step 5 – Bring the arms across to run down the length of the shirt. Try to get the arm to almost run down the button line.

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Step 6 – Starting at the bottom, roll the shirt into a cylinder – not too loose, but not too tight either. Smooth out the wrinkles as you roll it.

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Step 7 – When you’re finished rolling you should have a nice cylinder that has no wrinkles. Set it aside and get ready to do the suit jacket.

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Step 8 – Lay the suit jacket down on the bed face up. Make sure all the wrinkles are out and that it’s ready to be rolled. Then pick the jacket up by the collar and push the right hand shoulder into the left hand shoulder. It should fit nicely in and basically fold the jacket in half.

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Below is what it should look like once you’ve pushed the shoulder in and laid it back down on the bed. Make sure you line up the buttons and make sure the lapels are smoothed down.

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Step 9 – Fold the arm across so that it makes a rough rectangle. Ensure the arm on the inside is not crushed or wrinkled, but runs down the inside of the jacket.

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Step 10 – To ensure that the shoulder retains it shape and doesn’t get wrinkled, insert the rolled up shirt into the cavity where the shoulder is.

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Step 11 – Next comes the suit pants. Grab the pleats and hold them together to lie the pants flat down on the bed.

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Step 12 – Tuck the top part of the pants in so that the pants make a long rectangle that’s fairly even. Make sure that there are no wrinkles.

IMG_0120Step 13 – Fold the pants in half so that it makes a smaller rectangle.

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Step 14 – Place the pants onto of the suit jacket and shirt. Line up the bottom of the jacket with the bottom of the pants so that they lie flat.

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Step 15 – Start at the top of the jacket (where the shirt is) and roll down towards the bottom of the jacket. Roll it up firmly, but not too tight. Smooth out the wrinkles as you roll it.

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Step 16 – Find a plastic bag that’s around the same size as the suit rolled up. Make sure the bag isn’t wet or dirty. Place the suit roll in the bag.

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Step 17 – Squeeze most of the air out of the bag and then tie it up. This will help if something spills in your bag. It may not be waterproof, but hopefully it will help to protect the suit roll in case of a problem.

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Step 18 – Place it in the back pack or suit case and try not to crush it.

Step 19 – When you get to the hotel, immediately take it out of the bag and unroll it. Hang all the items up separately in the closet and let the wrinkles fall out. If there is no danger of it getting wet, exposing the them to some steam (eg hot shower) is sometimes good as well.

All going well, this technique should minimise the wrinkles and mean that the suit is wearable without having to iron anything. It also means that you can squeeze it into a backpack and avoid the check-in luggage hassles!

To complete the outfit, pack your socks into your dress shoes and then put them in a plastic bag under the suit in the backpack. If you’re wearing jeans when you travel, wear the belt you would wear with the suit to save having to pack it (or forget it). If you need to wear a tie, fold it and lay it on top of the pants before rolling.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Clothing

 

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Fat Laces (Tutorial)

Fat Laces (Tutorial)

So, back in the 80’s there was a bit of a trend around “fact laces”. Everyone wore fat laces in their Gazelles or Clydes. I love the old school look and find it really easy to slip shoes on and off when they’re done up properly…. and no tying of shoe laces. 🙂

I had to go through and teach my son how to lace his shoes, so I thought there might be other people out there who might want to know. Here’s the tutorial for how I put my fat laces in.

I will use my old beat up Gazelles to show how to do this. I had normal laces in there, so when I changed them over, I took some pictures. Here’s where you start…

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Next, obviously remove the old laces.

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Get one of the laces and insert one end through the eyelet as shown. I like to have the end on the inside of my foot, so the left foot starts on the right side, the right foot on the left.

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Once you’ve threaded it through, tie a knot in the end as tight as you can and as close to the tip as possible. This will stop the shoe lace coming out.

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Once you’ve tied the knot, pull the lace tight and tuck the end under the outer part of the shoe, but on top of the tongue.

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Next, thread the other end through the opposite hole, but leave heaps of play in the lace so we can tighten it later.

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Then thread the lace back through the next hole, so that the lace always comes UP on the right and DOWN on the left. (This will be mirrored on the other shoe). Then continue this, leaving heaps of room to play, all the way up the shoe.

 

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You’ll run out of shoe lace pretty quickly, but that’s okay. Once you come to the end of the lace, slip the shoe on to see how it will fit. You want to tighten it while it’s on, that way you know it will fit well when you’re finished.

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Once it’s on, tighten it up so that the laces are evenly stretched across the shoe – firm, but not taut.

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You will find that then there will be more lace left over so you can then take it all the way to the top. Personally, I have stopped one row down from the top as I wanted this pair to be more loose and able to be slipped on and off easily. For a tighter fit, go to the top row.

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Once you’re happy where the end will be, and it’s tight enough for you to walk around in comfortably, take the shoe off and place it back on your lap. You’ll need to secure the other end now.

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We’re going to tie a knot in the top the same way we did at the bottom, but to do that we’ll need to have enough lace to tie. To do this, firmly grab the spot where the knot will need to be (as close to the upper part of the shoe as possible)…

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…then pull the lace towards yourself. This will crunch the rest of the lace together (as above) and give you enough room to tie the knot.

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Once you’ve tied the knot, you can then pull the lace back to where it’s smooth again, but the knot will stop it from coming out. Then do the same with the other shoe, but in a mirror image of what we did above.

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When you’ve finished both shoes, try them on and walk around a bit. I usually do this for a day or two to let them settle in. There will be a bit of the lace poking out, but you can tuck that in. If the shoe is too loose, you can tie another knot closer to the shoe and it will tighten the whole lot up. If it’s too tight, loosen the laces from the bottom, stretching them slightly.

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Once you’re comfortable with how they feel, we need to get rid of the excess lace. Cut the excess lace off as close to the knot as you can, but make sure the knot is super tight as you don’t want it coming undone.

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Once you’ve cut the lace off, you’ll find that the knot will happily sit under the upper but on top of the tongue. It will look like you’ve magically got your laces to just hold the shoe together!

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There are places on ebay and such that sell fat laces. I’ve built up a stash over the years, but they are pretty easy to find. Happy lacing!

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Clothing

 

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Star Wars cushion

Star Wars cushion

Don’t you hate it when your favourite t-shirt gets too old/small/holey/etc ??

I decided that my Star Wars t-shirt could do with a second life, so I decided to make it into small pillow. I wanted a little pillow to rest my arm on when I’m using the computer at my desk. This was how I did it.

The (Imperial) symbol on the shirt is the prefect size for a little pillow, so I decided that’s how big it would be. I then went around the symbol (with the t-shirt inside out) with a row of pins to hold the material together.

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Here’s a close up. If you want to make a different shape, just think about the front of the t-shirt as the front of the cushion and pin it from there.

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Once you’ve pinned it around, you can cut it out of the t-shirt. This will make it a lot easier to sew.

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Once you’ve cut it out, it’s time to sew. Not rocket science, just run the sewing machine around near where the pins are. The only thing to really remember is that we need a space to put the filling in, so leave a decent gap.

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I just did a simple zig zag stitch – something strong over looks.

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Here’s the pillow now that has been turned inside-out. The symbol is now very visible and the hole left to put the filling in is obvious.

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I happened to have some left over wadding, so I used that. The rest of the t-shirt, plastic pellets, wadding – there are lots of things you can fill a pillow with.

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Once you’ve put the filling in, don’t be afraid to over fill it a bit – it will settle down as you use it. You can also see below that I have placed a pin in the filling hole getting ready to sew that up.

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Then the final sewing needs to be done to close up the filling. Don’t forget that you will see this piece of sewing, so be mindful.

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And this is how the finished product looks in situ. Works really well. 🙂

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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Sewing

 

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Padding the bag

Padding the bag

Now that the material is cut for the inside and outside of each face of the bag, the next step is to put the padding in the middle and sew each panel up, ready for assembly. The padding I used is in the picture below, and I used two layers in each panel. The padding was fairly cheap – I think around $15, from memory.

So the first step is to cut the padding out. This doesn’t have to be too exact as the padding is very expandable and moves around a fair bit. To do this, I lay the padding down on the table – two layers – and then put the inner material on top of it to get the shape.

I then used my sharp scissors to cut around the shape.

Once that’s done, flip the whole thing over and lay the outer material for the panel on top of it to make a material, padding, padding, material sandwich.

Next I need to hold the layers in place while I sew them together. I used pins to do this and made sure the padding was right at the edge of the panel. This way, when sewn, the padding shouldn’t move around at all.

Putting the pins in at the angle shown means that you can sew over them easily and then remove them once the sewing is done. Continue doing this the whole way around the panel ready to sew. In the picture below, I use many more pins than I did for the other panels, but you only really need to put in enough pins to hold it all together. It doesn’t have to be perfect either, it’s only to hold it while it’s being sewn.

Once you have all the pins in place, it’s time to hit the sewing machine. Essentially, it’s just a matter of sewing right around the edge of the panel to hold it all together. Since I left some extra room around the poweriser when I traced the outline, I’ve chosen to sew in about the width of the foot on the sewing machine. I just used a straight stitch to hold it together as each panel will be sewn again later and that will add strength then.

Sew all the way around the panel and when you’re finished, remove the pins and cut off any threads that are hanging around. The finished product should look like this.

Once that’s done, it’s a good idea to quickly test and make sure that the poweriser still fits in there. The more testing the better, otherwise you may find a problem way too late to fix it.

Yep, we’re all good. Now to repeat another three times.

And then when that’s done, a little more testing…

Perfect! Now, I just need to make the sides of the bag and it’s almost ready to be sewn together. Stay tuned to the next exciting blog! 🙂

 

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More on the poweriser bag

More on the poweriser bag

Last post I ended with the outside material cut for the poweriser bag. Next we need to do the inside material for the bag.

Because no one is actually going to see the inside very clearly, I decided to use some material that I had left lying around from other projects. It’s not bad material, it’s thick enough and does have a pattern, however some of it is not big enough for the whole size of the bag. This means I may need to cut it and sew together parts to make it big enough.

For the parts that are big enough, it’s just a matter of getting one of the outer pieces and lying it on top of the material and cutting around it. If it isn’t big enough the first step is similar. Lie the largest piece down on the table and then cover it with the outer material.

 

Then cut around the parts that are over hanging to be able to make as much of the shape as you can. Once you’ve got the first part of the shape, the next step is to find another piece that’s going to fit in the gap. When you place it on the table, over lap the old piece with the new piece as below…

 

Lay the outer material down again and cut around the edges so that the new piece also is trimmed to the right size.

Once this is done, we’re ready to sew the two pieces together to make the whole thing like one piece of material. Remove the outer material altogether and any scraps let over from cutting.

As you can see above, the next step is to put pins through the two pieces where they overlap so that we can then lift the piece of material up and take it to the sewing machine to join then together.

Once on the sewing machine, it’s just a matter of sewing along the edge of the join with a wide zig zag stitch to ensure that the two pieces are held together. Ideally, we want to over lap the stitch a little so the fabric doesn’t fray. To make sure the join is very strong, we’ll do three rows of stitching.

First row….

Then flip the material over and do exactly the same thing, but on the patterned side this time…

Then (and you can see this in the above pic as well), run the same stitch right through the middle of the two other stitches. This probably isn’t necessary, but I wanted to be sure that with the weight of the powerisers I wasn’t going to have any problems with seams coming apart.

Each join was done the same way and I was able to get all four pieces out of the left over material I had. Here’s a view of the other side of the material.

The key thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to look great, no one will see this side of the bag. Secondly, it has to be strong. And thirdly, remember that the pattern part should face out on each part you sew together.

Finally, cut off the loose cotton where you’ve sewed and then put it aside then start on the next one. Once all four pieces are done, I’ll continue on with the next steps in the next blog post.

 

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Work begins on Poweriser Bags

Work begins on Poweriser Bags

So finally work has begun on the bags that I need to carry around my powerisers (jumping stilts). The big problems are that they are heavy, awkward to carry and rattle around in the back of the car. Therefore I need something that’s strong, padded and huge. Being as though it took my months to find a place that sold the powerisers and a lot of money to buy them, the thought of finding a bag to house them in that isn’t too expensive gives me nightmares. It would be easier to make my own, I thought….

So I started as always with a plan. And, as always, that plan goes through a few iterations. My previous posts on this topic show that, but here’s the latest plan.

 

This plan is a little complex in that I want to be able to wear it like a back pack, but the first iteration will just be bags I can carry and then I’ll add straps later to make the backpack method.

The first thing that I did was buy some denim-like material for it’s strength and some padding to go in between the material. I guessed at how much I would need and then would buy more if I was short. The material and padding was under $50, but I don’t remember exactly how much.

I stored the materials for quite a while until I had some time to start the bag, so the first thing I did was got the iron out and made the material as flat as possible. This is so important because it’s much easier to cut out and sew that way.

 

Next I needed to work out roughly how much room I needed and I had to set up my “workbench”. The dining table did nicely for that.

 

Once I had everything set up and the material was ironed, I laid the material down on the table and placed one of the powerisers on top of it to trace around to get the shape I would need. I also had to keep in mind that there would need to be extra space for the sewing and also that I had to be able to slip the poweriser in fairly easily.

 

From there it was just a matter of tracing a line around to get the shape. I did this with a coloured pencil to make it easier to see… although it wasn’t that easy to see in the end. Here’s a close up of how it turned out, though.

 

You can just see the brown line. Also notice how far away from the edge of the poweriser it is. From here it was just a matter of cutting out the shape.

 

A couple of tips. Firstly, I bought a pair of scissors that I only use for cutting fabric. They’re very sharp and stay that way because I only cut fabric with them. A good pair of scissors are worth their weight in gold. Secondly, notice how I only cut two edges? Where possible, I try to use the edge of the fabric – it means less cuts and less chance of problems.

This shape then makes up one side of one bag for the poweriser. The other side of the bag will be the direct opposite, so the easiest way to measure it is to flip the piece I’ve just cut upside down on to the top of some more material and cut around that.

This gives me both sides and they will come together similar to how they look in the above picture. Then I needed to cut the material for the other bag. I used the FIRST cut out so that all the material comes from the one pattern. And of course it needs to be done twice – one like the original and one a mirror image. This will give me the outside parts of the bag – the first step.

 

 

The next step after this is to make sure that the sizes are all okay. The more you test the less chance of making mistakes. I laid the material down on the table and draped the top part across the poweriser to make sure it all fits nicely.

 

It all seems okay, so the next part is to cut out the lining to go on the inside of the bag. More on that in the next post.

 
 

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