Friday, February 20, 2015

Little Fancy Purses in Cotton + Steel

As previously mentioned, the other day I whipped up a couple of Little Fancy Purses from the book Handmade Bags In Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi. Even though the patterns in this book are meant to be hand sewn, I found it easy enough to machine sew these little bags instead. I used a Cotton + Steel fat quarter for the exterior, and scraps from my Spark Double Gauze Belcarra Blouse for the interior. In retrospect, the double gauze wasn’t the best choice for the lining.

The lining piece is longer than the interior, and is cleverly folded and sewn to make the drawstring casing. I had a bit of a hard time making the casings, because I cut out the pattern pieces without reading the directions closely. The templates in this book do not include seam allowances! I was supposed to add 3/8” inch seam allowances to the templates, but didn’t realize it until after the pieces were cut. I wasn’t about to waste precious double gauze scraps, so I forged ahead. When it came time to fold and sew the casing, the double gauze did not want to cooperate. Luckily, I was able to use Wonder Tape to get it to behave. I think they turned out rather well, all things considered. They are super cute, but in the future, I’ll make my own bigger version. Incidentally, while scrolling through my Bags Pinterest board the other day, I realized that the technique this book uses is very similar to the Pretty Drawstring Pouch from A Spoonful of Sugar that I pinned last year. Small world. I’m looking forward to making more bags from this book, especially the Eco Bag.

Speaking of books, be sure to check out this month's Sew the Library link-up at Weekend Doings.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Spark Double Gauze Belcarra Blouse

Big surprise, I made another Belcarra Blouse. It’s my sixth, for those of you counting at home. Since you already know how much I love this pattern, let’s talk about the fabric. I am a big Cotton + Steel fangirl, and wanted to try some of their double gauze as soon as I heard about it. I picked the Spark Double Gauze in Neutral, because it looked kind of gray online. It’s not at all. It’s definitely cream, and almost the exact shade of cream that graces the interior walls of our home. Not my favorite color by a long shot, but the texture of this fabric won me over so much that the color doesn’t really matter. Double gauze is so soft and comfy! It is a little shifty to sew with, but since I used a pattern I was familiar with, I could take my time to focus on marking, cutting and sewing the fabric with care. I really do love the Spark fabric and am contemplating making something out of the navy colorway. In cream, the pattern is so subtle you can hardly see it.

Of all my Belcarra Blouses so far, this is the best constructed. As usual, I used French seams throughout. Since the double gauze tended to fray pretty quickly, the French seams were perfect for keeping the inside clean and orderly. I can pop this in the wash and not worry about it falling apart, and have done so several times already. On the sleeves, I omitted the cuffs and just used 1” bias strips to finish them. Next time, I would use larger strips, since the 1” ones were a little bit fiddly in double gauze. I also successfully incorporated bra strap carriers, which turned out to be a really good idea.

The only thing I don’t like about this shirt is that it isn’t 100% opaque. You would think that since double gauze is essentially two pieces of fabric woven together that it would be opaque, but the cream colorway is slightly transparent, to the point where this shirt has to be worn with a camisole underneath. Thanks to the aforementioned bra strap carriers, all straps are neatly kept out of view. I’m looking forward to wearing this shirt on its own during the warmer months, but for now am enjoying it layered under cardigans. If you haven’t tried sewing with double gauze yet, you really should consider it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Bags

Well, I think I have found a new favorite gift bag pattern! Recently, I sewed up a couple bags from the Little Fancy Purse pattern out of the book Handmade Bags In Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi. The bags were cute enough, but I didn’t really care for the construction method, and they were too small for most gift giving. (Watch for more on those bags in a separate post.) However, since the shape was super cute, I decided to make them bigger and better. It was easy enough to draw larger templates from scratch and to construct these bags with a method I like better, similar to the Reversible Drawstring Bag tutorial by Pink Penguin.

The smaller bag is roughly 9.5” by 9.5” and made from a few different Cotton + Steel fat quarters. The larger bag is approximately 14.5” by 14.5”. The main fabric is “little bit’o love” by Alexander Henry. My daughter picked out the other day at Island Quilter and it made me happy to sew something for her with it so soon after she had chosen it.

These gift bags turned out to be the perfect size for my Valentine’s day gifts for my husband and daughter. I’m so pleased with them that I anticipate making many, many more, especially for Christmas.

Happy Valentine’s Day!