Sunday, June 30, 2013

Zip Along: Links for You

Perhaps I shouldn't have called my zip tutorial series 'zip along' as the month has zipped along, and here we are at pretty much the exact halfway point for this year.

 I know. I'm aware. I may have a zipper hoarding problem.

Now that you've conquered your fear of putting a zipper into a pouch :) I've been looking around for some links to share with you for further motivation. All show an alternate method of putting in a standard zipper, or have a fun shape. One is a pattern for purchase, but the rest are free tutorials. I've got all of these pinned or bookmarked and they're all on my "one day" list. So you can give them a crack or add them to your list too :)  One note: if you'd like to pin these please click on the link below the photo and pin from the original site.

This may look like an ordinary zipper pouch, but the way that Flossie Teacakes inserts the zipper gives it that nice square look we all strive for without seeming to shrink the opening due to bulk or restricting the opening with stitching.

Noodlehead inserts the zippers in these pouches so that they open nice and wide.

Michelle Patterns (formerly Keyka Lou) shows how to make this cute curved dumpling pouch. The zip insertion method looks quite fun. And now I've elevated myself to true geek status with that last statement :)

I have always been a sucker for cutely shaped little pouches--how stinkin' cute is this one by Ricochet and Away?

This one over at Craft Passion caught my eye for the interesting shape and the gusset peeking out from the zipper.

During Quiet Time has a reasonably-priced pattern for sale for this cute hexie case.. Imagine the fun you could have picking out the fabrics for this one! Endless theme options!!

Finally--a note on zippers. As though you couldn't tell from the first pic, I buy zippers in bulk. Even in colors that I've never used and don't foresee myself using. I tend to choose ones that are pretty long, as most go in handbags, but I also cut them and add a pull to the half that is now lacking one. I don't really like buying pre-packaged zips as I can't change out the pull (for some reason they don't grip the Coats and Clark brand) and they cost way more than you need to pay. Since I use zips a lot it's easier for me to buy in bulk. My brand of choice is YKK. Here are a few shop links so you can stock up.

  •  Zipper Stop:  Nestled in the garment district of NYC they've got everything--all sizes and makes and colors. They ship quickly and are priced well. 
  • Zip It: This Etsy shop has a great selection, is priced nicely, and offers lots of options.
  • Ah Kwok Buckles: You can buy a loooong roll of zipper tape here and just keep trimming and adding pulls until you run out. I don't do that, but I DO buy my zipper pulls here. I buy size 3 since I buy size 3 zippers (the standard size) but they also sell the larger size 5. This is where I buy my purse frames, too. They sell everything in small or large bulk and are priced pretty well.

So there you go! Lots of options, lots of fun.  And none so big that if you make a few boo-boos that don't want to become design features it won't be devastating to your fabric stash. Happy sewing!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Few for Friday - #26

Since I gave Z his own Friday post for graduation, I figured I'd give the A-train one for his first birthday. I waxed nostalgic plenty enough last week, so I won't bore you with that again. Besides, I ate enough homemade ice cream over the weekend that my rear end can't afford the chocolate I'm going to want if I go that route.

My sissie went with a circus theme (though at the wee age of one he wasn't caring much). Do you know how hard it is to wrangle plastic tablecovers into place on a gusty day that was also hotter than hell in July? Some fun paper tape from Target made it easier without worrying about gross tape being visible.

 This half and half cake was so stinking delicious it was unreal. My dad made homemade ice cream that is just the most amazing stuff. It doesn't last long around here.

 I have never known a kid that enjoys those hats. I used to be afraid to put them on--that elastic didn't exactly feel like a tickle.

 Cake makes everything better. It looks like he learned that lesson nice and quick.

 Piles of toys surround him, yet he wants to play with a string and a piece of whatever was on the floor. Typical kid.

So that's that. I'm hoping to have a new bag to show you soon--it's a cross-body sling with an adjustable strap. I haven't done either of those yet. See you soon!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Itty Bitty Ditty Bags

A friend of mine asked me to make her a few little drawstring backpacks for her nieces and for the older daughter of a friend who had just had twins. Since those things are fairly easy to do (you can see my tutorial here) it was no problem. Or so I thought. I have this thing where if I'm doing something like this they all have to be the same, for the most part--you know how kids are ("Why does hers...? Mine isn't...!" and so on). I hit a few roadblocks in the fabric search--I found one but not the other two, or two but not the other one. So we finally settled on patches and applique. The part of this project that took the longest? Waiting for one of the patches to be delivered. I saw a documentary a few weeks ago that said that when Ben Franklin was in charge of the Post Office it ran more efficiently and mail was delivered more quickly than it is today. I believe it.

Anywhodiddlywho--we started off with Disney princesses, but then went in three different directions. One Disney, one Hello Kitty, and one any kind of kitty. So here they are:

I placed the patch and the letters closer to the bottom so when the bag is cinched you can still see them. In retrospect they could all be maybe an inch higher, but they're ok. Each one has the same lining--this cute polka dot fabric:

I decided to use that to cut out the letters for each name. I used the Cooper Black font, printed out the names, cut them out and traced around them onto the fabric I had fused to some Heat 'n Bond. And then cut them out. It was a lot of precision cutting. It wasn't that fun. I placed everything and set my machine to the triple stitch and went carefully around each letter. Yeah, all those curves weren't fun either :)

Then I noticed that the dots were a little too sparsely scattered on the fabric to look cute, and kind of looked weird. So I got some puff paint and made my own dots. I tried to conceal the visible dots as best I could, and then filled in the blank areas. They came out cute. That stuff is tricky to use so I hope no one looks too closely :)

Would you believe I don't think I've ever ironed on a patch before? I was nervous I was going to start a fire or something, but they went right on and stuck really good.

I couldn't find anything I liked to use for the straps so I bought matching bias tape and top-stitched the edges. In an effort to avoid running out for more thread I used a darker contrasting thread for the blue.

My friend sent me a pic of one of her nieces with her bag not long after she left with them--as she's still a bit wee it's definitely something she'll be growing into, hahaha.

Later, taters!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Zip Along: She's a Brick Pouch

I have been waiting and waiting to post this one just so I could use that title :) For the finale in our zip along series, we're going to make a fun little rectangular cosmetic bag (or craft bag, or small toy bag, or whatever kind of bag). I have made very many of these:

And I could have popped up a quick and easy tut. But do you know what your insides would have looked like?

Oh ew! Raw edges!! I have made many like this, and it never bothered me. But at this point in my sewing "career," combined with the fact that I'm supposed to be teaching you something, made me put my thinking cap on to get those raw edges hidden. Last week's pouch wasn't crazy hard to figure out, and towards the end I realized I could use a similar method for this one. Problem solved. So here we go.

You need about a fat quarter each of an exterior, a lining, and fusible fleece, plus a zipper. I like to use longer zippers and trim to fit, but a fourteen or sixteen inch one will work perfectly for this. Keep in mind that we'll be using a 3/8 inch seam allowance unless noted otherwise, and we're backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam. You'll also need something to mark with for this one.

Cut the following:
  • From the exterior, lining, and fusible fleece cut two pieces each that are 8 by 12 inches (the 12 inch edge is getting sewn to the zipper--keep that in mind if you're using directional fabrics).
  • For the strap: cut one piece that is 5 by 10 inches (you can use the exterior to match, or the lining for contrast, or even something else)
  • For the tabs, cut  two pieces that are each 2 by 3 inches (either matching or contrasting fabric).
Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of your exterior pieces. Put them aside to cool. We'll make our pull tabs and our strap first so they're ready when we need them.

Take your strap piece and fold it in half longways. Press. Unfold, then fold so that the raw edges meet at the center crease you just made and press (we're basically making binding tape). Fold in half along your original crease and press. Take your tabs and fold them in half, right sides together, so that the two inch edges meet. Press

Keeping the strap folded, add some top-stitching to each edge.

Take your tab pieces and sew along each side (you'll have two sewn edges, one folded edge, and one open). Clip the corners near the folded edge to cut down on the bulk.

Turn them inside out, and gently poke the corners out nice and neat. Give them a press. You'll now have these parts ready:

Set those aside. On the wrong side of each of your other four pieces, I want you draw a line 3/8 inch in from the 8 inch edges. Since you have four pieces you'll be drawing eight lines total.

Let's make a delicious zipper sandwich. Lay down your exterior right side up, the zipper right side down, and your lining right side down. Pin everything nice and neat along the top edge.

You can use your zipper foot here, but I don't. I simply butt my regular foot up against the zipper teeth and move my needle as far left as it will go. This next part is insanely important--when you stitch your layers together, it is critical that you start and stop your stitching at the lines you drew--we are not sewing edge to edge, but line to line.

See how my needle is down on the purple line? You'll see why in a bit but do not skip this.

OK, so go ahead and stitch. Then make the same sandwich with the other edge of the zipper and stitch line to line. Once that's done press all your fabrics away from the zipper--you'll have two "wings" coming off the zipper, each with your exterior and lining on top of each other. As you press make sure you don't melt the zipper. 

Now topstitch alongside the zipper to keep the top edges of the fabric from getting stuck in the zipper. The lines you drew will now be hidden, so make a little mark or stick a pin where your stitching started and stopped, and stitch between those two marks--not from edge to edge. You'll have what looks like little flaps at each edge of the zipper but we need those so don't worry about them :)

  See how I'm not starting my topstitching at the edge?

Pin the lining pieces together along the bottom, right sides together leaving a gap of about four inches in the middle. Pin the exterior pieces together along the bottom, but don't leave a gap. 

Sew those edges (from edge to edge--you can ignore the lines right now), and then press the seams open. Open your zipper a little more than halfway. Things might start looking a little weird now, but stick with me and you'll get through it. This is differently shaped than your standard zipper pouch, so we have to construct it a little differently. You're going to position each piece so that they're laying on top of each other with the zipper running down the center (to get it centered just right match up the seams you just sewed with the zipper). The picture helps to clarify this step:

My zipper is way long so it looks like a frog catching flies right now--I'll trim it in a bit.

Take one of your tabs. You're going to slip it in between those exterior layers, with the raw edge meeting up with the other raw edges (or else they'll show--ick!). Try and get it centered with your zipper.

Pin only the exterior edges--shove the lining out of the way. We don't want to sew that yet. When you feed this into your sewing machine I want you to do it with the lining side up--it's easier to move it out of the way if you can actually reach it. Keeping the lining pulled to the side, sew from edge to edge along the line you sewed. When you come to the zipper, don't move it out of the way. Go right across it (I like to go back and forth to add a few reinforcement stitches).

Do that for the other side of the exterior, inserting your tab and all that jazz. Then you're going to flip it over and repeat for the lining, pulling the exterior out of the way as you go. When you come to the zipper, keep it laying flat and just go right over it again (I'll show you what happens later on if you move the zipper out of the way--it's not disastrous, but it's totally avoidable so why not avoid it?). At this point, if you've got a giant zipper you can trim the edges.

Now we're going to box those corners. You need to flatten out each corner into a triangle, but instead of the seams stacking up as in a tote bag, these seams will be perpendicular to each other as they're on the sides of the bag (it's also why we've got to do it so many times). Start with the side of the bag that is opposite to where the zipper pull will be when the bag is closed. My pictures show me sewing the exterior, but I highly recommend that you start with the lining. I don't know why, but it will be much easier to do the thinner piece first instead of the thicker exterior.

That seam running left to right in the photo above needs to be perfectly centered across the triangle. So lay your ruler down on it to measure a line that is 3 inches from edge to edge. If you 1 1/2 inch mark is on the seam line and both sides are even, go ahead and draw a line across and pin it in place so it doesn't wiggle. If it's not even, adjust it until it is so you don't have crooked corners.

Now stitch across the line you just drew.

Repeat it for the other corners at that end of the bag (you'll have two lining corners and two exterior corners). Trim the triangle about 1/4 inch away from your seams--

At the other end of the bag box the corners on the lining. Now we've got to insert our strap in the last two exterior corners. Make your triangle as you've been doing, marking your line, but don't sew. About 1/4 to 3/8 inch from your line I want you to cut the tip off the triangle. Poke your strap down into the hole and center it. Pin it in place. You may need to move a few of your pins to get the strap down in there, so recheck the line you drew that it is still centered.

See my strap poking out of the corner? My marker was running out of ink so you can't even see my line but it's there--I know you were worried :)

Now sew across as you've been doing. Do the same thing to your remaining corner--the only difference is that you'll have to reach into the innards of your bag to feel for the other end of the strap and feed it through the gap from the inside. Pin it in place. Check that your line is centered, and then sew across. 

You will now have something that looks like a huge mess of crap--

Reach into that gap in the lining, and through the open zipper (aaaahhh, that's why we left it open) and pull everything through so that it's all right side out. Tuck the raw edges down into the gap left in the lining, pin, and stitch closed either by machine or by hand. Tuck the lining inside the bag and gently poke your corners out nice and neat. Press. Maybe tie some ribbon to the zipper pull. And then smile, because you're done :)

Now, if you were curious to see what would happen and moved the zipper out of the way a few steps back, you'll notice that you've got a little gap near the zipper (and that it may have been crazy hard to sew past the zipper when it was pulled out of the way, leading to some odd stitches)--

If you've got that going on it's all ok--you just need to pop in a few hand-stitches and tack it in place--

Now go and fill it with whatever your heart desires! And then make a bunch for your friends, because they're actually fun to make once you get the hang of it!

And the best part is--no raw edges! These little pouches are so versatile--cosmetics and toiletries, small toys, first aid kits, a holder for chargers and cords, all kinds of stuff can go in them. Change the fabrics and you can have a nice manly toiletry bag that looks so much nicer than the shop-bought ones. You can play around with the size to suit your needs. Or how about trying it in laminated cottons for a wipe-clean case? You really can have some creative fun with this one.

As ever--if you have any questions or you're wondering if I bungled the instructions, please let me know. And when you've finished I'd love to see some pictures in the Flickr group so we can all have a look.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Few for Friday - #25

I think I'm glad this week is almost over. It's been kind of whirlwindish. If you've followed my new Facebook page (like me here) you'll know that my sewing machine woes are far from over. I'm not going to tell the tale until I feel it's been resolved satisfactorily, but I got my 'fixed' sewing machine back on Monday, went to use it Tuesday, and two feet along the hem of a curtain--kerplooey. A few angry phone calls, and it's back with Janome. The service tech was great on the phone, so I hope this all works out OK. Throw in what was supposed to be a simple skirt to sew as a lesson with my sister that was decidedly NOT simple (I detest rot instructions) and the events of today and I'm very happy to be sitting down and chatting with you right now.

So what was today? My not-so-little little guy graduated from fifth grade today. He looks about fourteen, sometimes acts thirty, but he's totally eleven. Back before he started kindergarten he would still take a nap each mid-afternoon. I distinctly hear his little voice saying "I don't need naps anymore. Besides, I'm in kindergarten now." And now it's like he's a real person. I don't know where time goes but I hate that place. (For any newer readers--I don't have children. But I have two nephews that fill my heart with so much joy sometimes I think it might literally burst).

Z-man's school is remarkably similar to the one I went to, and immediately transported me back. There's the same smell, the same look, the same feel. It's the sad sort of nostalgia--simpler, easier times when homework was your big problem and your parents took care of the rest. Adulthood is so overrated.

 Though he's giving the welcome address here, he looks like he's opening a stockholders meeting or answering questions on a political scandal. So serious.

 My heart cannot tolerate how big he is, how mature he is. Last Sunday he came over in his baseball uniform, and was laying stretched out on the floor. He's so tall I didn't even realize it was him at first and almost said "Who are you?" It happens that fast.

 And just as quickly the babycakes turned one today. A year ago we were all waiting to hear some news, and tonight we were all smiling at the little diapered butt walking around and babbling.

It was such a good day, but it made me painfully aware of what a fleeting old bugger time can be, and brought to mind the opening line from a poem by Elizabeth Akers Allen: "Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight..." I need chocolate.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Zip Along: Front Zip Pouch

Are we having fun with zippers yet, or are you all still terrified nervous? This week's tutorial is for a front-zip pouch (kind of like last week's double-zip but with just the one zipper across the front instead of across the top). I had to figure this one out as it's new to me too, and I'm pleased to say I got it on the first try. That leaves me quite certain that you'll do just fine. Ready?

As with any of the pouches in this series you'll need to decide what size you want this to be. I wanted something a little smaller, but not teeny, so I chose a size that would finish in the four by six inches area. You need less than a fat quarter of each fabric (more like half of a fat quarter of each) and some scraps of interfacing (I interfaced my lining and exterior and it's way sturdy; if you want something a little softer to the touch only interface the exterior). You'll need a zipper to fit whatever size you're making, and a swivel hook (though this can be optional). In addition to regular sewing gear, you'll also need something to mark with.

From your exterior, lining, and interfacing cut one each of the following:
  • 5 inch by 7 inch piece
  • 4 inch by 7 inch piece
  • 1 1/2 by 7 inch piece
From the exterior cut one of each:
  •  1 1/2 by 14 inch piece (strap)
  • 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch piece (strap tab--omit if you're skipping the swivel hook).
A few things to keep in mind: we're using a 3/8 inch seam allowance throughout, back-stitching at the beginning and end of each seam. I recommend giving a read through the instructions before you get started. Finally, be mindful of your fabric if you're using directional fabrics so you don't end up with an unintentionally upside-down pouch. Let's go, then.

On the wrong side of each piece, mark a line that is 3/8 inch from each shorter edge.

 Make sure you get both edges, though the photo shows one. You'll be drawing twelve lines total (6 pieces, 2 edges per piece).

Let's get that zipper on the front. Take the lining and exterior pieces that are 1 1/2 by 7 inches and your zipper. Make a sandwich: your exterior fabric is face up, the zipper is face down, and the lining is face down. Line everything up nice and neat and pin/clip along the top.

If you use a zipper foot put that on. I don't--I use my regular foot butted up against the teeth and my needle moved as much towards the left as it will go. This next part is very key to the success of this project--sew from line to line, NOT from edge to edge.

See where my needle is? Right on the purple line.

Sewing from line to line will leave you with a few unsewn bits at the ends--no worries, we'll get there later.

Now take the two four by seven inch pieces and make the same sandwich with the other edge of the zipper: exterior face up, zipper face down, lining face down. Line up the sides as best as you can with the sides of the pieces you just sewed.  Sew again from line to line.

Take this over to your iron and press the pieces away from the zipper, being careful not to melt the teeth. Then head back to your machine and do some top-stitching. DO NOT TOP STITCH THE LITTLE FLAPS--ONLY TOP STITCH TO MATCH WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY SEWN. I made a little mark so I would know just where to start and stop.

Now we're going to make our strap pieces. If you're skipping the hook you can skip the tab; you'll just be pressing and stitching the long piece you cut for the strap in the same way. Take that little rectangle you cut--press it in half with the longer sides touching. Fold each raw edge towards the center seam and press. Then fold it in half again and press. Do the same for the long piece.

If you're making the swivel hook version, top-stitch only the short tab piece. If you're skipping the hook, you can go ahead and top-stitch the strap. I stitch along each edge as I enjoy symmetry :)

Fold that piece in half (or fold the strap in half) and place it as shown below, pinning it only to the exterior piece. I placed mine so that the bottom edge lined up with my top-stitching. Sew that down with a 1/4 inch seam allowance (these stitches won't show as they're within our regular seam allowance and will thus be hidden. I go over it a few times for security--wherever the straps are connected in any bag you also introduce a stress point.

If you look closely you can see where my top-stitching stops along the zipper, as well as my little reminder marks.

So far not too hard, right? Ok. Now we're going to make this into a pouch, but stick with me as the construction is different than a standard zipper pouch. Place your pouch face up. Take your remaining exterior piece and lay it face down. Pin the top edges together, but ONLY PIN THE EXTERIOR. Your lining is going to try to get involved, but just push it out of the way.

My finger is shoving that intrusive lining out of the way so I can pin together the exterior.

Stitch along the top from edge to edge. Open your zipper a little more than halfway. Pin the sides together, but only the exterior pieces. Keep that lining out of the way :)  I want you to feed this into your machine with the lining facing up--it's easier to keep it out of the way if you can get to it. Now stitch along the lines you drew, keeping the lining out of the way. When you get to the zipper sew over it--don't move it out of the way.

Repeat for the other side of the exterior, pulling the lining out of the way and all that jazz. Finally, pin together the bottom edges (just the exterior) and sew that. Now we get to do it one more time. Yippeeeee!!!

Place your project with the lining side facing up. Take your remaining lining piece and lay it face down on top of that.

You know where this is headed, right? Pin along the top, just the lining pieces, and stitch, keeping the exterior out of the way (it's already had it's turn :)  Pin the sides, place into your machine with the exterior facing up so you can shove it out of the way and stitch down the side. When you get to the zipper, don't move it out of the way--just sew right on over it. Other tutorials have you move it, but it creates a gap,as well as the extra bulk being difficult to sew around. Keep it in place and sew right on over it, but feel free to add some extra stitches for security.

Almost done :) Pin along the bottom pieces of the lining and stitch, leaving a gap of a few inches in the center (as shown below by my pins):

Clip the corners, but don't cut your stitches.

Reach into the gap in the lining, and then feel your way to where the opened zipper is (this is why we left it open--we couldn't turn our pouch otherwise!). Gently work everything back out through the lining gap. Reach into the gap again and gently poke out the corners of the exterior (use a point turner, a knitting needle, a chopstick--just be gentle so you don't bust through). 

Tuck the raw edges of the gap into the lining and pin. Stitch the gap shut, either by machine or by hand.

Tuck everything into place and press nice and neat. If you're not using a hook you're finished! If you are we've got a little more work to do. Take your hook and your remaining piece for the strap (which should be folded and pressed). Put the hook on your strap piece--

Now, unfold the strap along the short edges, and pin them together, wrong sides together (be careful your strap doesn't get twisted!). Sew the short edges together. Press the seam open. Repress your folds if you need to. Then refold your strap along your original creases and pin/clip into place.

Topstitch along each edge of the strap, sliding the hook out of the way as you near it.

A free arm comes in handy here but isn't necessary.

Once you're back around, slide the hook down until it's near the seam--

Position it as above (you'll be able to feel where the bulk of the seam is and how it won't really won't to go through the hook). Pin the strap layers together there and stitch across, thereby securing the hook down at the end.

Give it a quick press, clip it on your bag, and you're all set!! Good job!


Nice neat lining--no raw edges--woot!

 Obligatory hardware close-up :)

That wasn't so bad, was it? A bit of a different construction method for a zip pouch, but necessary because of where the zipper is located. You could vary the look of this one in several ways: try it in patchwork; leave off the strap; make it narrower and wider, move the zip to the center and make a pencil case. The great thing about the humble zippered pouch is how many ways it can be modified for different looks and uses. 

As ever, let me know if you have any questions (and also if you think I've lost my mind and wrote something utterly mind-boggling). If you make a few I'd love it if you popped them in my woefully underpopulated Flickr group (link in the sidebar). Ta for now, and happy sewing!


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