I Finished the Bag!

handwoven blue and green plaid bag

I am so pleased with how my handwoven and handsewn project bag turned out! It is a 7-8″ cube(ish), so it is quite roomy! For scale, this is a ball of Miss Babs Yowza inside and the beginnings of a shawl.

handwoven blue and green plaid bag with yarn inside

I worked this bag up in several different phases.

Weaving:

About a week ago I finished weaving the fabric. I detailed my finishing process here, and then handwashed it and hung it up to dry.

Sewing:

I recently read that sewing with handwoven cloth is harder than sewing with commercial cloth. I thought, “Huh. That’s interesting. I wonder if it’s true….” and then went on with my day. Once my fabric was dry I got to experience sewing with handwoven cloth, and it is definitely different than working with commercial cloth! I think it is because commercial cloth is a)finer than most handwoven cloth and b)more closely woven and thus more stable. The yarns in handwoven cloth are more likely to move around, making the fabric more stretchy and more likely to misbehave if you are not expecting stretch. The key is knowing what you are working with and managing your expectations. I sewed the thing together, took seams out and resewed, and eventually it was all done. Weaving the cloth in a square(ish) plaid definitely helped me to sew more evenly.

Finishing:

I started the finishing by sewing a 1 1/2″ ribbon around the outside edge of the bag. The ribbon acts as a binding, and I planned to turn it to the inside so the top of my bag would be nice and tidy. I was quite lucky with my sewing thread and ribbon, as both were from stash and matched my navy blue yarn almost exactly!

My finished cloth was quite soft and drapey. In order to give the bag more structure I bought a sheet of plastic canvas, cut it into 3 pieces, trimmed it to size for the front, back, and base of the bag, whipstitched these pieces together, and finally tacked them to the bag. Once this was done I sewed the ribbon binding down and steamed everything.

I wanted the top flap to have a little more stability, so I cut a thin piece of plastic canvas and sewed it down, then hot glued all the fringe ends of my weaving down. I added a magnetic closure to the flap and front of the bag, then turned it all over to hem the edges. I don’t usually use hot glue on projects like this, and it really messed up my sewing needle. But oh well, I have about a hundred needles, so I can afford to lose one.

handwoven blue and green plaid bag with magnetic closure

The last bit of finishing really brought the bag together. I took my remaining ribbon, snipped off a piece for the front, and braided the rest for a handle which I sewed onto the back of the bag. I tied the short piece into a loose overhand knot and tacked it onto the front flap as a decoration. It worked a charm.

Tadah!

Have you ever sewn with handwoven cloth? What did you think about the experience?

I want to be Elizabeth Bennett

I love the BBC Pride and Prejudice – the actors, the settings, and especially the costumes. When I was little my mom sewed for me all the time. My closet was packed with handmade sundresses. As I got older I fell in love with American Girl Dolls and especially the books that came with them. My mom sewed me a Felicity dress which I wore every time I could possibly manage. She also sewed me a Laura Ingalls dress and bonnet, which I wore incessantly. I guess I’ve always loved to dress up and pretend I’m someone different.

Recently in reading Jane Austen Knits I stumbled upon Sense & Sensibility Patterns, where you can buy patterns to make your own Regency Era gowns (I’m drooling over this one in particular). I would love to make one for myself, but I don’t wear a lot of full length dresses. So my plan is to make a short dress. It will have a square-ish neckline and a knee-length (very slightly) hi-low hem. I will wear it with my wedding boots, and in the winter I can wear leggings. Also, I will knit this spencer to go with it.

regency dress

Knowing me, I’ll take forever to actually make it, but it is so fun to dream of projects.

I Made a Bra!

bra and bikini

About 2 months ago I bought the Watson Bra and Undies pattern. I made up a shopping list, cut out my fabric, and sewed the undies pretty quickly (more about that here). And then I stopped. I was terrified of making the bra. What if I didn’t cut it just right? What if after hours and hours of sewing it just fell apart? What if it didn’t fit?

The only way to know what would happen was to actually make the bra. So I did it. It fits! It didn’t fall apart. And now I have a matching set.

bra frontbra back

My main fabric is a cotton/polyester blend, and I fully lined it with nude power mesh. I really like the fit of this bra. It gives me good coverage without squishing me or making me a shape I’m not. The instructions are pretty easy to follow as well. In the future I think I would go down a band size, but on the whole I have no complaints.

detail

So there you have it. I made a bra by hand, there are no machine stitches on it. So if you are holding back from something like this because you’re scared, just do it. You might surprise yourself. And if it fails somehow or doesn’t fit? It’s just fabric. There is always more.

My Sewing Book Collection

sewing books

Sewing was one of the first crafts my mother taught me. I started by making small pillows that were supposed to be square. Soon I graduated to decorating plastic canvas and then to basic embroidery.  I don’t live near my mom anymore, so most of the new skills I learn are from the internet or from books. These are the books in my sewing library.

alabama studio sewing and design

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: This book changed my life. I had never thought of hand-sewing jersey before or of using applique as an all over technique. I didn’t know there were hand-sewing stitches that were stretchy. I’ve made 3 garments from these patterns so far, and they are great.

couture sewing techniques

Couture Sewing Techniques: If you want to learn everything there is to know about the finer points of hand-sewing garments, this is the book for you. It starts of with a history of couture, and has chapters devoted to different aspects of crafting a garment, such as seams, hems, and finishing techniques.

fit for real people

Fit for Real People: The basic premise of the method presented in this book is that you fit tissue paper patterns to your body. You don’t make a muslin, you don’t have to take a million measurements or learn to draft patterns. Just pin the pattern in place, make adjustments for your body, cut, and sew. Revolutionary!

doodle stitching

Doodle Stitching: This book is all about whimsical embroidery. It starts with suggestions of several embroidery stitches to use, and then details projects to be made with these stitches. I keep this book not because I want an apron with a teacup on it, but as a reminder that not everything has to be serious and that a little colour can really spice things up.

sewing courses

McCall’s Easy Sewing, White Sewing Course, and The Home Handicraft Book: These are all basic sewing courses aimed at amateur sewists learning how to sew garments for the first time. They are full of tried and tested techniques, and are a great way to get started sewing.

Do you have a sewing library? What books do you keep coming back to for tried and tested knowledge?

Summer of Basics

At the end of May, Karen from Fringe Association announced a make-along that she called Summer of Basics. The goal was to use the months of June, July, and August to make wardrobe basics. Sewing and knitting were both allowed, and everyone got to decide what was a basic for their individual wardrobe. Brilliant!

I didn’t seriously consider joining until a reader commented that I should, at which point I realized that I make things all the time and wardrobe basics are super smart things to make since they get used all the time.

First up is my Call Box Hat:

call box hat

This is a pattern that I wrote (and it will be released September 30 in Knotions Magazine!). I had made a prototype version several years ago, but somehow I lost it and I missed it last winter. I wrote all about it here.

Second is my Alabama Chanin T-shirt tunic:

This tunic was a super easy make. It’s the perfect length, and I love wearing it! You can read more about the details here.

And Third is my Watson Bikini:

watson

I just finished these last night, and they fit well. Part of me can’t believe that I just made my own underwear, but there they are staring me in the face. You can’t get much more basic than underpants (also, I’m planning to make a matching bra. You’ll see that in the next few weeks).

So that’s my Summer of Basics. What counts as a basic in your wardrobe?

My Lazy Day Tunic

A while ago I wrote about how I like to dress down at home, but somewhat nice at work. However, I find it easiest to make clothes that fall in between – too nice to wear at home, but not nice enough for a professional setting. Several months ago I bought some cotton jersey, intending to make ALL THE THINGS, but the colours were not what I expected, so the fabric got set aside. A few days ago I decided that sometimes good enough now is better than perfect someday, and that I should use what I already have rather than buy more stuff.

So I pulled out my Alabama Chanin patterns, and set to work making a tunic to wear at home. I used the basic T-shirt pattern, but lengthened the hem to end mid-thigh and shortened the sleeves to end just above my elbow. I also added a pocket, because POCKETS!

I turned the neckline under to stabilize it. I may turn the other hems under, but then again, I may not. I have also thought about felling the seams, but that just seems like a lot of work for an already functional garment. In my imaginary world I will applique leaf shapes all over the tunic and it will become a work of art that I wear with leggings and a hat as I walk through piles of autumn leaves. But sometimes good enough now is better than perfect someday. And I can always add to my finished tunic.

gnomepocket

Remake and Reuse

I live in the South. I didn’t grow up here, so the culture is not my own. That being said, I do appreciate some of the foods and customs here – like grits. For those of you not acquainted with grits, they are composed of coarsely ground corn that you cook in water and eat for breakfast like oatmeal. I like to eat them with butter and salt. My husband and I recently finished a bag of grits, and I was sad to see the muslin bag they came in go to waste, so I decided to re-purpose it.

mise en place

I sewed the top inch of the bag down and threaded two lengths of cord through to make a drawstring bag.

finished

Voila! Fastest project ever, and it is the perfect size for socks.