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Category Archives: Sewing

Just various excursions on the sewing machine

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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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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Poweriser Bag

Okay, I love my powerisers. However it’s a bit of a pain to transport them around because they’re heavy and bulky. I really want a bag to carry them in, but the ones you can buy on the net are expensive and not exactly what I’m after. Therefore, I have decided to make my own.

In the next few posts coming up I will take you through the sewing process for the bag and of course, the end result. In the mean time, I have started planning how to make the bag.

The idea is that it will be made of pretty durable material, preferably water resistant, with padding inside to protect the powerisers from hitting each other. I’ve done some rough sketches working out how I’m going to do this.

Doesn’t make much sense at the moment, but it will come together soon…. Stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Powerisers (jumping stilts), Sewing

 

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Flash Hem Sewing

I bought a shirt online and it’s great and I love it. However, it was waaaaaay too big.

I put in through the wash and then in the dryer until it shrank, but it retained the length. To be able to wear it I needed to cut about 5 inches or so (about 12 cm) off the length. And of course, I needed to make it look neat so I had to sew a hem.

I thought I’d take a few photos and put it on the blog because, hey,  it’s still a project, right?

First thing I did was work out how much to chop off. The problem with cutting stuff is that you can’t make it longer if you make a mistake. It’s important to make sure that the length is right before you start sewing or cutting – like they say, measure twice, cut once.

To do this, I estimated the length, tried to get it as equal as possible all the way around and then pinned it up. I then ironed the edge flat so that it would not only show how it will look, but also so it stayed in place to a degree.

The next step is to check that it’s right. You can’t do this enough as it’s hard to change once it’s been finished. However (and I did this only once) if it’s not right, you can re-pin and re-iron to make sure it’s right.

Just be careful of the pins…

Right, so once the length is right and even, it’s time to hit the sewing machine. I decided to sew first and then cut because I thought it might be easier to fix mistakes that way. Luckily it all went smoothly. Anyway, since the shirt is pinned and ironed, the edge of where you’re sewing is pretty straight. I measured about the same distance as the original hem (pic below: on the left) and then used the grid on the sewing machine (pic below: metal plate just to the right of the needle) to make sure it stayed straight.

Using a straight stitch, I follow the shirt right around and made sure it was level by following the guide. Once I’d gone the whole way around the shirt with the first stitch, I then moved the shirt to the right the width of the foot of the needle and started the second line. I kept that one parallel by using the edge of the foot as a guide.

Once you go right around with the second parallel stich, you’re done with the sewing bit – easy, huh? It should look something like below.

So now that it’s sewn, it’s a good idea to try it on again – no pins this time 🙂 – just to make sure it’s even. Just tuck the extra bit up and you should see a pretty good indication of how it will look once it’s finished.

If everything is good, it’s now time to do the final step – the cutting. Now, you should turn the t-shirt inside out and then cut as close to the outside stitch as possible, but without risking that the stitch will come undone. Just be really careful that you don’t catch up the other part of the shirt and put a hole in it!

Once you’ve cut right around, it’s done! Now you’re ready to wear it, but if you don’t need it straight away, it’s probably not a bad idea to wash and iron it if you want.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Sewing

 
 
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