DISCLOSURE: This blog contains Google Adsense ads and affiliate links to Bluprint, Creativebug, and CreativeLive via which potential commissions are earned when visitors click through.

Search This Blog > > >

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Tutorial: (Quick Make) Purse Lanyard

Purse Lanyard by eSheep Designs
Instantly find your room key card...
Has the cold weather affecting most of North America made you book a vacay in warmer climes? Well, before you go, maybe you want to make this.

The picture you see here is of my customized beach tote bag. The inside of it is purposely devoid of any features, with the exception of a D ring.

I didn't want any interior pockets or divisions to mess with my ability to stuff it as full as possible. The bag has been well used for almost three years now, travelling to beach destinations of both lake and ocean varieties.

The day before leaving on my first trip with it, however, it occurred to me that I needed a place to store a room key card so that it could be easily retrieved.

The exterior zipped pocket was too big to be convenient. Since the interior D ring was originally meant as a place to clip an actual key, I focused on finding a solution around that, quickly deciding to use some matching ribbon to sew up a little "envelope" out of vinyl.

I had no time to spare on a more elegant solution at that late hour. I punched a tiny hole at the top, attached a small grommet, and then strung a length of paracord through it, tying it to the D ring. For what I needed it to do, it worked... for over two years.

Oddly enough, I didn't think to go back and make another attempt at turning it into an actual "thing"; i.e., a purse lanyard.

[Before anyone reminds me, of course you can probably go out and buy a cheap lanyard from the dollar store and turn it into something like this. Quite often, the stuff we choose to make can be bought for same or less, but where's the fun in that?]

Check out the latest Bluprint promos...
Craftsy Unlimited FREE 7 day trial at Craftsy.com
[affiliate link]

While I use this to keep my room key card on a literal leash, this lanyard can also be used by students and seniors to keep IDs and/or bus passes attached to their bags. Or make yourself a small pouch with a tab on the side and you can attach it to the end of the lanyard to keep whatever you need (maybe a cell phone?) within easy reach.

To make your own purse lanyard, you'll need:
  • two pieces of vinyl, one 3" x 3" and one 3" x 4"
  • one yard of 3/4" or 1" wide ribbon
  • a split key ring
  • a lobster clasp (type as shown)
  • small grommet or eyelet set
  • matching thread
  • clips, and other basic sewing tools

Here's the hardware that you need...

Cut two 3" and one 12" lengths of ribbon and fold them in half. (I use a paper folding tool to help.)

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Fold ribbon in half...

Wrap one of the folded ribbons against the top edge of the 3" x 3" square of vinyl and sew in place.

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Sew ribbon along top of 3" x 3" piece of vinyl...

Wrap the other folded ribbon against the top edge of the other piece of vinyl and clip in place; do not sew. Place the previously sewn piece of vinyl on top of this one, lining up the bottom edge.

Take the 12" length of ribbon and fold one end of it to the wrong side by about 1/4", to hide the raw edge.

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Turn down the raw edge at the top end before wrapping around the entire perimeter...

Start at the top right corner of the larger piece of vinyl and wrap the ribbon all the way around — clipping as you go and mitering the two corners — until you get to the top left corner. (Check this post for a bit of instruction on how to mitre a corner if needed.)

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Wrap and clip the ribbon in place all the way around...

Fold the end of the ribbon to the wrong side like you did at the start and clip in place. Sew all the way around.

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Sew the ribbon down...

Take the remainder of your ribbon and fold one end to the wrong side by about 1/4"; sew.

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Thread end of ribbon through base of lobster clasp... 

Thread the end of the ribbon through the base part of the lobster clasp and sew over the same stitching line to secure.

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Sew as close to the end of the ring as you can get...

Sew as closely to the lobster clasp as you can get.

Take the other end of the ribbon and repeat the 1/4" seam. Fold it over again about 3/4" and sew across the same stitching line. (Don't attach the split ring yet.)

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Do NOT thread the ribbon through the split ring when you sew this...

Fold the ribbon in half (and clip).

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Fold the ribbon in half...

Sew as close to the edges of the ribbon as you can get, all the way from one end to the other.

Carefully attach the split ring when you're done sewing.

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
That wasn't hard, was it?

All that's left is to install the grommet to the top middle of the card envelope.

Purse Lanyard Tutorial by eSheep Designs
Mark the middle of the top edge and poke a hole with your seam ripper...

I won't be instructing you on how to put on a grommet. (But you'll need a setting tool, a hammer and a sturdy surface.)

Purse Lanyard by eSheep Designs
An easy solution to keep your room key card accessible!

Thread the split ring through the grommet and it's done.

Watch live classes for FREE at CreativeLive! Sign Up at CreativeLive
[affiliate link]

The lobster clasp and split ring are the most versatile hardware choices for this project. You can clip the lobster clasp to something (like the D ring that I have in my beach tote), or — as you can see in the photo at the top of this post — use it to corral the lanyard itself so that you can hang the whole thing around a purse strap.

Purse Lanyard by eSheep Designs
A handy accessory for your bag or purse...

Because the card envelope can be detached from the split ring, you can use the lanyard for another purpose when needed. (How about my shopping list and coupon holder shown below?)

Shopping List & Coupon Holder by eSheep Designs
My handy grocery store helper...
Also, many motels in small communities have not yet converted to high tech magnetic card entry systems. The split ring is a good place to keep an actual key, too.

Simple as this little item is, it has proved its worth to me over many holidays... even from its humble beginnings when it was mostly just paracord!

Get 1 full year of access to Bluprint and keep 12 classes of your choice for only $69!

Get 12 Free Own Forever Classes and a year of Bluprint for only $69.99 at myBluprint.com through 2/17/19.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Quasi-Tutorial: Waffle Cone Hanging Basket

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Hanging basket with all kinds of uses...
Had a hard time coming up with a name for this thing, but here you go, imaginative or not. The finished object reminds me of a waffle ice cream cone and its main function is to be a container that hangs, therefore: Waffle Cone Hanging Basket.

If the name lacks imagination, maybe you can give me props for where I got the inspiration.

The idea came from a chocolate wrapper. Received a box of assorted Lindt pralines for Christmas and one of them was wrapped up in a shiny gold cone. When I unfurled it, it revealed itself to be a simple circle.

Lindt Praline Amande wrapper...
Well, immediately I thought that all I had to do was sew up a fabric circle, interface it appropriately, and it could be manipulated into the same cone shape to become a unique storage solution.

In a way, it's very much like the Portable Pocket Pouch, except that one was made out of a fabric triangle.

Since you start with a circle, nothing could be more versatile to size up or down and you don't need a pattern. A couple of coordinating fat quarters will net you a basket like the one that I show here, which measures about 16.5" (approximately 42cm) from top edge to tip.

I added a hanging loop by sewing up a simple "no turn" strap, but you can also use ribbon as an alternative.

Other materials required are Peltex (or equivalent firm stabilizer), some Decor Bond (or similar medium weight interfacing) and a couple of buttons. I only interfaced the inside (lining) circle.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Waffle Cone Basket in Robert Kaufman Remix Metallic fabrics by Anne Kelle...

After gifting my quilted hanging file organizer, I took a second look at the fabric remaining from that project and thought to myself, that's actually quite a nice combination. So my RK Remix Metallic bundle was put to use again.

Check out the latest Bluprint promos... Craftsy Unlimited FREE 7 day trial at Craftsy.com
[affiliate link]

What this basket can do for you will depend on how big you make it, but there are plenty of possibilities.

In this size, it's a multi-purpose storage solution for kids. For example, we've been under a severe cold snap where I am, so it would be handy to have one of these baskets hanging underneath every kid's coat to keep mittens, scarves and hats together.

In a kid's bedroom, it can be a home for small stuffies. Or hang it beside a crib to keep bibs and burp cloths handy.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Toys? Fabric? Winter's warm woolies?

I mentioned recently that it's helpful to keep your fabric in view to inspire you. Perhaps a wall lined with baskets filled with fabric or yarn will boost your creativity level.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Side view...

Want to make one?

Cut Circles

If you want circles bigger than the size of a dinner plate, use the following technique. Take a square of fabric, fold it in half, then fold it into quarters.

Measure the distance along one of the folded edges, ensuring that the end captures all four layers of fabric. Use that measurement to make marks every two inches or so from the folded "point" all the way out to the edges of the fabric.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
How to cut a large circle...

Connect your marks to draw a curve and then cut away the excess. When you unfold the fabric, you'll have a large circle. (I folded both fabrics together and made my two circles in one cut, but by all means, do them separately if you're not confident about cutting through all those layers.)

Before proceeding any further, take a look at your fabric selections and determine which one will be the exterior and which will be the lining.

Establish Sections

Next, you'll take the lining piece and mark off the three sections that will form the flat back area and two "wings" that curve around to the front.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Back view...

To do this, first measure across the width of your circle; i.e., the diameter. Mine was 17". Divide by 2 to arrive at the width of the back panel. In my case, that was 8.5".

You can see below that I made two marks along the top edge of my lining circle 8.5" apart. It helps to fold the fabric in half to ensure that you're measuring straight before you make these marks.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Establish width of back panel...

Fold the circle in half again (i.e., into quarters) so that you can mark the middle of the circle along the bottom edge. Use this third mark as a reference to draw two lines as shown below, joining the bottom middle to each of the two marks along the top.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Draw dividing lines...

By the way, if your fabric has a directional print, ensure that you have it oriented correctly before you do this.

Cut & Fuse Interfacing

The two side sections of the lining will be interfaced with the medium weight fusible, while the middle back section will be interfaced with something stiff like Peltex.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Cut interfacing...

Use one of the "wings" of the lining fabric as a template to cut two pieces of Decor Bond. Cut around the outside curved edge of one of the side panels. When you get to the straight edge, just flip the fabric back onto itself and continue cutting (or tracing) around it.

Be sure to cut one piece with the fusible side up and the other piece with the fusible side down, since the two sides are mirror images of one another.

When you cut the piece of Peltex for the middle section, cut it about 1/4" smaller all the way around.

You can go ahead and fuse the two side panels with the Decor Bond, but do NOT fuse the Peltex yet.

Sew Circles Together

With right sides together, pin the two fabric circles in preparation for sewing. Pay attention to how the exterior fabric is oriented if that matters.

Sew all the way around (seam allowance totally up to you; I used 1/4" or 6mm), but leave most of the top open between the marks that you made originally. This will be the turning gap as well as the opening to insert the Peltex.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Press seam allowance open...

Before turning it right side out, press open the seam allowance. (This will make the edge of the circle much neater after you turn it.)

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Turn right side out and press, particularly around the opening...

Press it again after turning it right side out, paying particular attention to the opening. Because of the curvature, it's a bit finicky, but again, doing this will make it easier to sew up later.

Next, insert the piece of Peltex and fuse it into place. Note that you may have to trim off the pointy end to make it fit.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Interesting view of the inside with the Peltex piece in place...

Almost done!

Add Hanging Loop

I'm not going to discuss how to make a hanging loop. If you've ever made a bag, you've made a strap and that's exactly what you need to do here.

That said, the actual type, size and length will be up to your discretion, based on how big the basket is and how you intend to hang it. Mine was finished to about 3/4" wide and 7.5" long and was interfaced with a single strip of Decor Bond (3/4" wide).

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
Insert hanging loop...

Embed the ends of the loop at least a 1/2" or 12mm down inside the seam. Clip securely and sew all the way around with a small seam allowance to finish.

By the way, if you want the basket to hang from a horizontal bar (like a tension rod), turn one of the ends of the loop over the other way and move them closer together. (Unless you use ribbon, you may not want want to sew the ends right on top of one another due to the resulting thickness.)

Add Buttons

All that remains is to manipulate the sides to the desired angle — the bottom should come to a point — and secure them in place by sewing on a couple of buttons.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
View of inside...

My buttons were part of a bag from a discount store. The brushed gold tone goes quite well with the gold accents on the fabric.

Watch live classes for FREE at CreativeLive! Sign Up at CreativeLive
[affiliate link]

I don't like to make things that I don't have a use for, but one can't avoid the "making" part when one gets inspired to create a tutorial. So while I didn't have an immediate use for this basket, I thought at some point I might.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
A basket full of flowers...

Last week, it became a housewarming gift when stuffed with some artificial greenery.

Variations on the Theme

How might you switch it up? With "waffle" in its name, I can see this being quilted, at least the side pieces (probably wouldn't want to quilt on top of Peltex). In that case, substitute the medium weight interfacing with fusible fleece.

Waffle Cone Hanging Basket by eSheep Designs
What will you use your Waffle Cone Hanging Basket for?

If the curved top edge — where the Peltex piece is inserted and then the opening sewed closed — gives you fits just thinking about it, level it off and turn it into a straight edge. It won't look the same of course, but functionally, it won't make much of a difference.

So there you go — another example of how inspiration can come from the oddest places!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Handy Hacks for Handmade Handbags

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Loving my FrankenPurse...
I hadn't made a substantial bag in a long time until the FrankenPurse that I posted about last week.

During that long break, I occasionally thought about simple features that can be added to handmade bags to improve usability and convenience. When I made my Seth bag, I incorporated those features.

Today's post is a bit of a "how to" about taking a basic purse pattern and customizing it to your needs. Note that I assume the reader has bag making experience, because if you're a newbie, you should probably make a bag as described.

And since I have a peculiar fondness for alliteration, the title of this post refers to these as "hacks" of the handy sort.

Warning... this is going to be a long one!

Check out the latest Bluprint promos...
Craftsy Unlimited FREE 7 day trial at Craftsy.com
[affiliate link]

Fabric Hacks

If you don't have full yardage to cut from, what can you do?

Well, if you have two fat quarters that go well together, you can do split each in half and very easily have sufficient fabric to cover both sides of a bag. Here's what the body panel from my recent bag looked like after I sewed it up out of two different halves of fabric.

Making fabric that matches out of two fat quarters...

What's the best way to do this? If the pattern template for the main body piece is designed to be cut on the fold (as it typically is to maintain symmetry), pin the template on top of the folded edge of the fabric with an extra 1/4" of the folded fabric visible underneath.

Adding a seam allowance to half a FQ...

After cutting around the template as usual, cut the fabric piece in half. That extra 1/4" along the original fold line will be the seam allowance when you sew together the two different pieces of fabric.

By extraordinarily happy circumstance, the print on my fabrics actually merged together very well. (I did as much fussy cutting as I could, given the limitations of a fat quarter.)

To create an even more interesting look, slice each fat quarter along the diagonal, sew up the opposing fabrics and then cut your body panels. This would be particularly effective when combining a print with a solid.

Gusset Pocket Hack

A slip pocket built into the side gusset of a bag is extremely handy and relatively easy to do. (I find those pockets convenient for receipts, sunglasses, keys, and even my cell phone — 'cause my cell phone is quite small.) If your bag pattern is designed with a gusset, give this a try.

The most complicated part of the process is to figure out where the bottom of the pocket should end up. It obviously needs to be above where the gusset starts to curve into the bottom of the bag. (Unlike the picture below, your bag will not be sewn together when you make this determination, so take the gusset piece and use pins to attach it temporarily to the body panels so that you can estimate where the bottom edge should be.)

Measuring fabric for gusset pockets...

Once you determine the placement for the bottom of the pocket, mark that location on both the fabric and the paper template. Measure up at least 5.5"; that will result in a 5" deep pocket, which is pretty much a minimum size for usability. That said, base your decision on how narrow the top might be — don't make a pocket you can't reach into.

Use the gusset template along that 5.5" section as a guide to cut two pieces of fabric (one exterior, one lining for each pocket; so four in total if you want pockets at both ends). Put the pieces of fabric right sides together and sew along both top and bottom edges with a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn right side out and press well. Topstitch along the top edge if desired.

Pin the resulting pocket piece (right side up) to the gusset exterior (right side up), with the bottom of the pocket lined up at the location you marked previously. Sew across the bottom to attach the pocket to the gusset. Baste the sides of the pocket to the sides of the gusset, inside whatever the seam allowance happens to be, e.g., baste at 1/4" if the seam allowance is 3/8".

That's all there is to it — your slip pockets will "magically" appear when the gusset exterior is attached to the outside body panels of your bag.

Add Zippered Pockets (Not Really a Hack)

No, this isn't a hack and I'm not going to discuss how to add a zippered pocket, since anyone who has made a bag will have put in at least one of these. (And I'm talking about the simplest installation, where the zipper tape remains visible on the inside of the pocket.) But I'd like to extol the virtues of adding more zippered pockets, since they're extremely versatile and have the added benefit of keeping stuff safe.

The thing is, once you know how to sew up one of these, you can make them in any size and add them anywhere — and orient them in any direction — to make them fit the bag and/or to add visual interest.

Make it Yours Bag by eSheep Designs
One of my favourite zipper installations (from one of my Make It Yours test bags)...

The only thing I'll mention on this subject is to recommend cutting a single piece of fabric for the pocket, to the desired size x 2. (That is, for an 8" wide pocket that's 6" deep, cut a piece of fabric that's 8" wide by 12" high, adding seam allowance if you want.) The zipper is installed on the top half of this fabric, then the bottom half is folded up and sewn around on the remaining three edges. Much easier than trying to match up two separate pieces of fabric because — and tell me if I'm wrong about this — whenever you sew a zipper onto a piece of fabric, it ends up maddeningly smaller than the other piece of fabric cut to the same original size!

Some people are terrified by the idea of installing a zippered pocket. Generally speaking, I find them a breeze. The reason is likely that I have done so many of them. My advice? Get rid of your fear by practicing more.

Strap Hacks

If you ever thought that a strap is just a strap, you're quite mistaken. Length, width, single/double, choice of fabric or hardware... all of that affects how the strap enhances — or detracts from — the final look of a bag. (I recently saw a small bag made with a standard width strap and it looked really odd; a skinny strap would have done it justice.)

From reusing belts to embellishing with ribbon or bias tape, I've always tried to be creative with my bag and purse straps. I think a handmade bag stands out even more when you pay attention to how it "hangs".

Ideas to jazz up purse straps...

If the bag pattern calls for a basic embedded continuous strap, the easiest way to jazz it up is to go the "strap anchor, connector and strap" route. Because the sewing process doesn't really change, it's a relatively simple hack to carry out.

The most common method of making a strap is what I call the "no turn" strap, starting with a strip of fabric that is essentially four times wider than the intended strap width. (It is folded in half, opened up so that the two outer raw edges can be pressed in towards that middle crease, and then the whole thing is folded back along the original fold and stitched up on both sides.)

If you're working with quilting cottons, the fabric should be stabilized with either a medium weight interfacing over half its width, or better yet, some fusible fleece over one quarter of its width. In my case, the strap fabric was about 3.75" wide; after folding the entire length in half, I fused a 1" wide strip of fusible fleece down the entire length right beside the middle crease.

Once the strap is made — and particularly if it's a solid colour — you can add ribbon, rickrack, or lace to the outside, or embellish with one of your machine's decorative stitches. Instant pizzazz!

Strap, connector and strap anchor...

Of course, a strap anchor is made in the same way as the main strap; it's just shorter and you don't have to finish off the ends.

A typical length might be 4" to 5". Fold it in half, thread one end through your connector, and sew across it as close as you can to trap the connector in place. Attach strap anchors to the bag body by following the pattern's original instructions for installing the strap.

A strap anchor with more than one function...
As a bonus, there will also be an opening between the two layers of the strap anchor so that you can attach extra bling like this purse hanger (or a split ring from which to hang even more stuff).

Something to keep in mind when you replace a single strap with the anchor/connector/strap combo: the overall "handle drop" measurement will increase. It's not a huge problem, however, since attaching the strap is the last thing that you'll do and you can always try it on for size before securing the strap to the connector.

For my FrankenPurse, the original strap was too short for my liking, judging from the pattern photos. (It seemed like it would be tucked under the arm in such a way that opening it would be a hassle.) I didn't do any measuring, but figured that my modifications would result in a handle drop that better suited me. It ended up being perfect.

Hanging Loop Hack

A sunglasses loop was something that I added to one of my very first purses, as a simple solution to a common problem. How do you keep your sunglasses handy, yet out of the way and more or less protected from the other contents of your bag?

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
A loop for hanging sunglasses and much, much more...

Yes, I've made my share of glasses cases, but I don't use any of them. At the risk of repeating myself, I'm all about efficiency. Having to go into my bag, retrieve and open up a case to get at my sunglasses is simply not my preference.

With this bag, when my glasses need to be really handy, they can be stored in one of the outside gusset pockets.

This easy to add hack — essentially a teeny tiny "no turn" strap embedded into a seam (or two) — is multi-purpose. At the opposite end of the bag, I have my shopping list and coupon holder attached to another loop.

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
My shopping list is attached to a loop on the inside of my purse...

If your bag has a gusset, create this loop by putting each end into its own seam (i.e., one end between the front panel/gusset and then the other end between the back panel/gusset). If the body of your bag just has one side seam joining the front and back panels, put both ends into the seam. Just remember to choose a location fairly high up on the side of the lining.

For even more functionality, thread a lobster clasp onto the loop before you sew it in. Then you can clip your keys or other essentials like a mini flashlight for quick access.

Watch live classes for FREE at CreativeLive! Sign Up at CreativeLive
[affiliate link]

Pen Loop Patch Pocket Hack

The hanging loop can also be used to keep a pen handy, but another way to add an actual pen loop is with a small piece of elastic. I like to add this feature to a large patch pocket, because who doesn't need more pockets?

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
A patch pocket with a little extra...

Not only that, patch pockets are the easiest of all pockets to make. (Take two same sized pieces of fabric, place them right sides together, sew around the edges leaving a turning gap, press open the seams, turn and sew onto desired location.)

To add a pen loop, all you need is a small piece of elastic (no more than 2" long). Ensure that the turning gap of your patch pocket is located near the top of the left or right side.

Add an elastic pen loop to a patch pocket...

Pin the pocket assembly to where you want it on your bag. Fold the elastic in half and slip the ends into the turning gap. Sew around the pocket on the three sides, securing the elastic as you do so.

I know that designers usually instruct you to sew a division in a patch pocket to accommodate a pen. With this hack, you can use the full capacity of the pocket for other things.

Wow — I think I'm finally done. Hope you've enjoyed this lengthy discussion on how to hack your handbag!