Rain Stops Play

My sewing activity has been somewhat curtailed due to the horrendous rain we had recently.  Our conservatory sprang a leak and before I realised it the long (and thankfully cheap and cheerful) table that I use for cutting out fabric was completely soaked.  It is now drying out but sadly the laminate finish is peeling off.   The table is currently lying on its side and there is a bucket in its place waiting for the next downpour.  Discussions are in hand as to where to go from here (I’m hoping major improvements!) but in the meantime the conservatory is a chilly, damp and slightly mouldy place that isn’t conducive to creative activities.  I’m not posting a photograph as it’s a rather depressing sight!

As a result I’ve been sticking to smaller projects that I can cut out on my sewing table without having to move everything off it.  I’d been wanting to make another Anya Bag, this time for me, with the leftovers from my mustard denim Brumby Skirt.  There was JUST enough fabric, although I had to adapt the straps slightly.  The instructions are to fold the fabric strip into the centre along the long edges and then fold in half again before stitching along each side.  I just folded in the edges about 1cm and then folded in half but the fabric is sufficiently robust for this not to be an issue.

I had hoped to line the bag with the lovely fabric that was part of my #stitchingsanta gift but there wasn’t quite enough.

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As an alternative I used some fabric my mother gave me during a recent clear out.  It was originally used years ago to make a dress for a rag doll and I think it works quite well here.  I love making this bag.

I was going to use the bag today but I decided that matching your bag to your skirt was probably going a bit too far!

I’ve recently started following Jen from My Make Do and Mend Life.  Jen’s journey began when she decided that she and her family would spend a year buying nothing new and she is now committed to lessening their impact on the planet.  Having recently watched Trust Me I’m a Doctor and heard about the scary chemicals that lurk in off-the-shelf cleaning products (including some eco ones) I’ve been researching the possibility of making my own and Jen is something of an expert.  She’s even made her own dishwasher tablets!  I’ve also been trying to further reduce waste in our house since watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programmes.  I was horrified to see what some people chuck out!

Where is this leading ….?   I’ve managed to avoid buying new RTW clothing for quite a while now but one thing I’ve missed is knitwear.  I can knit but I always struggle when it comes to following patterns, shaping and anything fiddly.  There is a half finished cardigan hidden in my sewing room that is testament to this.

I decided to combine two projects, reducing waste and kick-starting my knitting, by making a dishcloth!  I found a sweet pattern on Ericka Eckles blog and produced this.

I’ve now sewn the ends in and just have to bring myself to ditch the disposable blue cloths and actually use it!  I bought two balls of cotton yarn so I’m now working on another pattern I found here.

 

I’m really enjoying it and it is a lovely cosy thing to do on chilly evenings.  My mother is always horrified when she sees me knit because I don’t hold the needles properly and she is determined to change this.  Previous attempts have resulted in me wailing in despair because I just can’t get it right but perhaps now is the time to try a bit harder!

Associated with reducing waste I also did a spot of refashioning.  For several years I’ve had a favourite striped dress from a well-known online retailer which had gradually shrunk until it was no longer wearable!  I love the fabric so decided to chop off the restricting top half and turn it into a skirt with an elasticated waist.  I looked up various tutorials for adding the elastic but when I tried this I just couldn’t get this wide elastic to stretch as I sewed.  In the end I just joined the elastic in a loop, gathered the cut edge of the fabric using the dental floss trick and sewed the elastic on with the join at the back.  It was already hemmed so this was a very quick project.   I’ve worn it a couple of times and it seems to have worked.  It is SO comfortable!  Not sure what I can do with the leftover top half?

I will get that Moss Skirt cut out eventually but in the meantime at least I’m not sitting idle.  Mention of the Moss Skirt has reminded me that as a result of my following Jen on IG – @makeandmendlife – I connected with @vintage_charity and we met for lunch this week.  It was just lovely.  We had already discovered so much in common (including these shoes) and then she mentioned that her next sewing project was this very skirt!  At the rate I’m going I think she’ll get there first.

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Testing, Testing ….

As a long time follower of Zoe over at Sozowhatdoyouknow I thought I’d volunteer when she put out a call for testers for her new bag pattern, the Anya.  I was quite excited when she emailed me to say she’d like my help and for once I decided not to leave things to the last minute and got on with it straightaway!

Quoting from Zoe’s blog :

The Anya shoulder bag pattern is a deceptively voluminous, lined shoulder bag with an optional button tab closure which measures up at 38cm (15″) wide and 27cm (10½“) high without the straps. It can be made in a variety of woven fabric, from heavier quilting cottons to upholstery fabric and curtaining. It requires just 80cm (32″) of outer fabric and 65cm (26″) of lining (or less), so it is an excellent stash buster as well as a great show case for prints and solids alike. 

The outer layer of the bag is designed to be made from a heavier weight fabric and although I wanted to make the test version with fabric from my stash, frustratingly I had used up most of my supply of this type of fabric when I made 20 Morsbags a while ago!  In the end I decided to go with a medium weight cotton with a very sewing/haberdashery themed print which I bought ages ago but never found a use for.  The lining was a piece of lovely Robert Kaufman chambray left over from this make.  The pattern calls for a medium to heavy weight interfacing but I didn’t have any so used two layers of what I had to hand which worked fine.

I did have to discipline myself to make sure I followed the pattern to the letter rather than just deciding I might know a better way as I often do!  I also made notes as I went along to make sure I could give Zoe (hopefully) constructive feedback.  The whole thing came together really quickly and I really enjoyed making it.

There are some very helpful tips in the pattern including making sure that when you top stitch the straps you begin stitching from the same end of the strap for both rows to avoid the strap twisting.  I’ve also always avoided making things with buttonholes and this forced me to do one properly and I don’t really know what I was worrying about.

I sent off my feedback to Zoe and it was really nice to see where this had been incorporated into the final version of the pattern!  The pattern is now released and you can buy it here.   The instructions are really clear and there are lots of photographs which make it ideal for a beginner.  There’s also now an extra page at the end with a condensed version of the instructions – really useful as a quick reminder once you’ve made the bag a couple of times.

There is so much scope to make this bag your own with different fabrics and I’m already working on two more as Christmas presents (I can say the word now that we are in December!).  One is using a curtain fabric remnant which definitely gives a great finish and the other with a similar weight fabric to the first bag.  I think I might try another one with short straps and an inside pocket.

There is a giveaway on Zoe’s blog at the moment (deadline midnight on Friday) so check out her latest post with images of all the testers’ versions of the Anya.