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Saturday, 15 June 2019

Ariel Clam Bag

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
A little bag with a hidden surprise...
Today's project is a recent freebie on YouTube from Owl Be Sewing (formerly ArtsAndCrafts4You).

The person behind the channel, Gina, is the one who brought the consistently popular 5 pocket zippered pouch to my attention last year. Her Ariel Clam Bag is an approximate half hour video tutorial with pattern pieces provided.

YouTube is replete with sewing tutorials, so if you're looking for something new and unusual, you'll likely find it. It is, however, sometimes a chore to sift out the good from the bad.

This pouch/bag certainly qualifies as being unusual — I wouldn't make any zippered pouch unless it was somewhat different — and Gina has a track record of providing good instructions.

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
It's actually a zippered pouch with a twist... or a turn!

That said, "free" being what it is, you shouldn't expect everything to be drawn out for you in painstaking detail. Therefore, I will try to fill in some of the blanks with my experience in making this little pouch.

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Closed bag with the zipper open...

It's a quick make; I completed mine in an evening, although I watched the video at least twice in the days before. (And then thoroughly debated — with myself — the merits of making it, with the yes side winning mostly because there were two straight days of rain in the forecast. Make the project, write the blog post; why not?)

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
This is why it's called a "clam"...

Whether or not this is suitable for beginners, I will let you decide after reading further.


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The pattern is printed on three pieces of paper, consisting of four templates. While properly labeled, the templates do not indicate how many pieces of each to cut and in what material. So here is my first bit of help.

  • Piece 1 (Main Body) — 1 x exterior fabric, 1 x lining fabric, 1 x fusible fleece (applied to exterior fabric)
  • Piece 2 (Side Panel) — 2 x exterior fabric, 2 x lining fabric, 2 x fusible fleece (applied to exterior fabric)
  • Piece 3 (Zippered Panel, which will later be cut into 3A and 3B) — 1 x exterior fabric, 1 x lining fabric, 1 x fusible fleece (applied to exterior fabric)

The bag's method of closure is up to you. I liked the look of the flap that she showed us on a sample, but during the video, she demonstrated a button and loop closure instead. For the flap that you see here, I used 2 pieces of fabric (2.5" x 3.5" each) matched to my bias binding (which, if you are going to make yourself, Gina describes as a strip cut on the bias measuring 2.5" wide x 25" long).

I then used a couple of rivets and a snap fastener to attach it.

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Detail of my quilting...

Piece 1 is meant to be cut on the fold and creates the main exterior of the bag. If you have a directional print on your fabric (as my Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements selection is), you'll need to cut this as two separate pieces, adding a bit extra to accommodate piecing them together. I added a 1/4" to the bottom of the template and sewed up the two pieces with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
All ready to start quilting...

Fabrics were last seen on my Magic Pouch. The binding and flap were remnants from my wall organizer project.

When videos do not show the actual process at the sewing machine, the viewer is left with no idea of how difficult the sewing part might be. (I found this out when I made some fabric envelopes.)

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Flap attached with a couple of rivets...

The reason I don't want to declare this a beginner project is due to the side panel construction and some curvy sewing.

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Quilt the exterior and then piece together the main body and lining...

In the picture immediately above, you can see how the side panels need to be fit along a substantial curve. You'll need to do this four times and preventing puckers will be a challenge. (I only had one small one on the exterior; but the lining had a few more. Honestly though, it's a lining and I'm not particular about it.)

Gina provides suggestions for how to sew these side panels, but from experience, I know that it's easier said than done.


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This project consists almost exclusively of curvy pieces that are not inherently easy to sew, but once you get past the madness of the side panels, the rest is fairly do-able.

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
My version of a quickie flap...

To make the flap, sew the two pieces with wrong sides together (I rounded off the corners of one end slightly), interface one side with fusible fleece (inside the seam allowance; I used 1/4"), turn right side out, tuck the ends inside and topstitch all the way around.

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
I quilted between the rows of bottle caps on the main body, and also between the columns on the sides...

If you're going to use rivets to secure the flap, ensure that you do it before attaching the top zipper panel. While it's not impossible to reach inside the bag to install the rivets after the fact, it's a lot easier if you don't have the extra piece in the way. (The snap fastener, on the other hand, can be attached after everything is sewn up with no difficulties.)

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Another view of the interior...

As a testament to the fact that you can be as meticulous and methodical as possible and still make mistakes — at least I'm owning up to it — I took the time to plan how the zipper would open against the directional fabric; i.e., top of the fabric = top of the zipper. And yet...

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Oops! Flap ended up on wrong side of the bag...

I somehow got turned around when it came time to sew the top panel to the body. And then I didn't notice until after I'd finished the binding, so the flap ended up being attached to the "wrong" side of the bag.

Doh!

Anyhoo... Given that I almost didn't make this, I'm glad the "yes" side of my internal debate won. Oopsie aside, it turned out well and I knocked down a bit more of my fabric stash and used up some leftover binding. (Speaking of binding, while the video doesn't show the sewing part, Gina does explain how to do so, including how to connect the ends neatly.)

Owl Be Sewing's Ariel Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
What will you use this bag for?

This little cutie finishes out at about 5.5" tall with a base of about 6" x 3.5". Don't know what its final function might be, but in the meantime, it's been sitting open beside my computer, corralling some note pads and sticky notes.

Any suggestions for how you'd use this?


Saturday, 8 June 2019

Quasi-Tutorial: Passport & Travel Document Keeper

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
The travel accessory you didn't know you needed...
Let me start on an "administrative" note today.

Without the distribution channel and reach of Craftsy/Bluprint's pattern marketplace, creating new patterns and converting tutorials into PDFs has not been a recent priority. (None of my tutorials from over the past half year have been PDF'd.)

But on that topic, I recently updated my older tutorial posts to include links to pre-existing PDFs that had been missing from either Bluprint or Makerist. The good news is that they can now be accessed directly from here via Google Drive.

The PDF Pattern Shop link at the top of this blog is your gateway to all of my downloads.

With that out of the way, today's post is a quasi-tutorial for my Passport & Travel Document Keeper, an essential — in my humble opinion — accessory for anyone traveling by air these days.

An all-in-one organizer that's a great gift idea for any world traveller...

It's your solution for the mad airport dash, where you're running from place to place and at each stop, someone wants to see your passport and boarding pass. This organizer secures your boarding pass in a clear pocket while holding your passport open at the right page. Zippered and slip pockets provide storage for whatever other travel documents you may have.


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Materials Required


You'll need fabric, interfacing, clear vinyl, ribbon and a zipper for this project (apart from other basic sewing notions).

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
I used two different ribbons for my projects;
5/8" for the interior binding and 7/8" for the exterior...
Fabric (quilting cotton weight):
  • 1 x Main Exterior, 11.5" wide x 9.25" high (29cm x 23.5cm)
  • 1 x Lining, 10.5" wide x 9.25" high (27cm x 23.5cm)
  • 1 x Zippered Pocket Lining, 8.5" wide x 9" high (21.5cm x 23cm)
Fusible interfacing (Pellon Decor Bond or SF101 or equivalent):
  • 1 x Main Exterior, 10.5" x 9.25" (27cm x 23.5cm)
  • 1 x Lining, 9.5" x 9.25" (24cm x 23.5cm)
Clear vinyl*:
  • 1 x Boarding Pass Pocket, 3" x 9.25" (7.5cm x 23.5cm)
  • 1 x Angled Passport Pocket, 5" x 5" (13cm x 13cm)
Ribbon (5/8" or 7/8" wide, about 1.5 metre/yard total length):
  • 1 x Passport Holder Strip, 9.25" long (23.5cm)
  • 1 x Boarding Pass Pocket Binding, 9.25" long (23.5cm)
  • 1 x Angled Passport Pocket Binding, approximately 12" long (30.5cm)
  • 1 x Main Binding, approximately 22" long (56cm)
8" (20cm) zipper
matching thread

* NOTE: A light weight vinyl will do for this project. I recommend checking out a dollar or discount store for a clear vinyl table cloth.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Two ways to hold your passport...

Cut & Interface


Cut required fabric and interfacing. Fuse interfacing to the Main Exterior and Lining pieces.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Fuse interfacing to wrong side of main fabric pieces...

Note that the interfacing pieces have been sized slightly smaller to keep them out of the seam allowance.

Set aside the fabric for the Zippered Pocket Lining for now.

Prep Vinyl and Bind


Trim the square piece of vinyl to make the angled pocket. (Since it's difficult to take a picture of clear vinyl by itself, here is a shot of the two pocket pieces after they have been bound with the ribbon.)

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Trim away some of the vinyl to create the angled pocket...

What you should end up with (from the original 5" x 5" square) is a piece that measures 2.5" high on the short side, 5" high on the long side and 5" wide along the bottom.

Measure and cut the three short lengths of ribbon. (Set aside the one meant for the Passport Holder Strip for now.)

Use clips to wrap the ribbon around one of the long edges of the Boarding Pass Pocket and around the two edges of the Angled Passport Pocket as shown above.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Mitre the corner as best as you can...

Carefully sew the ribbon onto the vinyl, mitering the corner of the angled pocket as you go.

Install Passport Holder Strip


Take the Main Exterior and Lining pieces and pin them right sides together along one of the shorter edges. (Note that the lining is smaller than the exterior piece.)

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Pin one edge of the lining and exterior together...

Sew with a 1/2" (12mm) seam allowance.

Fold right side out and press so that 1/4" (6mm) of the exterior fabric shows along the edge.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Part of the exterior fabric is designed to wrap around to the lining side...

Unfold the two layers of fabric and keep the exterior right side up in front of you, with the lining off to the left.

Position the Passport Holder Strip on the exterior fabric, 1.25" (32mm) away from the pressed edge that you just created. Pin at both ends.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs

Now get your passport and place it underneath the ribbon, centered from top to bottom. Use additional pins to mark the top and bottom edges of the passport. This will be where the strip is left open to allow the passport to slide in.

Note that most countries' passports are the same size, but thickness will differ depending on how many pages are inside.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Sew an open box to secure each end of the ribbon...

Sew the top and bottom of the ribbon to the exterior piece as shown.

Install Zippered Pocket


Place the Zippered Pocket Lining piece right side down on top of the exterior piece that now has the Passport Holder Strip attached.

The top of the Zippered Pocket Lining should overhang the pressed edge of the exterior piece by 1/2".

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Place and prepare zippered pocket lining...

Draw a zipper placement box so that its top edge is 1" away from the top edge of the lining. (This being a quasi tutorial, I am not going to explain the whole concept of what a "zipper placement box" is.)

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Sew along dashed black line; cut along solid red line...

Sew all around the outside of this box (where indicated by the dashed black line). Then cut along the middle line and the angled lines into the corners (where indicated by the solid red line.)

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Sew in the zipper...

Push the pocket lining through to the other side, press, and then install the zipper.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Close up the pocket...

Finish the pocket by bringing the bottom up to meet the top edge and then sewing it closed along the three sides.

Finish Main Body


With the zippered pocket and passport holder strip done, it's time to sew up the other side.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Sew up the remaining side...

Flip the unit so that the wrong sides are out and pin together the remaining short ends. (Remember, the lining is shorter than the exterior, so this will seem uneven.) Sew with a 1/2" (12mm) seam allowance and then turn right side out.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Stitch in the ditch to finish the edges...

If all has gone well, there should be a 1/4" of the exterior fabric also showing along this new edge. Stitch in the ditch along both edges (as shown by black arrows above).

Fold in half evenly and press well.


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Attach Vinyl Pockets & Outside Binding


Open up the folder and place it exterior side up as shown.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Baste vinyl pockets in place where shown by black dashed lines...

Use clips to position the two vinyl pockets. Baste the boarding pass pocket close to the top and bottom edges.

Baste the angled passport pocket along the bottom edge and then sew down the bound side — following the existing stitching line — to secure it to the back piece.

Re-fold the unit when you're done, ensuring that everything is still even.

Passport & Travel Document Keeper by eSheep Designs
Start binding at one open corner...

Take your remaining length of ribbon and bind the unit from one open corner to the other. Leave at least 1/2" (12mm) of ribbon free at the beginning and tuck it in between the two layers of the slip pocket; use a clip to secure. (Check out the photo below from my tablet envelope project to see what I mean.)

Create a clean finish by tucking
ribbon ends between two layers...
Continue binding (wrapping) all the way around, clipping as you go. (If you need some help creating mitred corners, check out my wet wipe tissue wallet tutorial.)

Leave the same 1/2" length at the end to push between the layers of the open slip pocket. Once you sew down the binding, the two corners will be nicely finished with no raw edges showing.

[In my original post about this project, I showed how some adhesive velcro dots can be used to keep two of these organizers together. Check it out if you want to do the same.]

Enjoy your passport and travel document keeper!

With Father's Day coming up, maybe this is an appropriate gift for a globe-trotting dad? Or — do you have a student in your life who is graduating and planning a trip abroad? (I never did that, but it seems to be the trend these days.) Maybe send him or her off with this sure-to-be-appreciated handmade gift.


Saturday, 1 June 2019

Scrap Busting: Birdies & Butterflies

Sharon Holland's Little Birdies crafted by eSheep Designs
A pair of scrappy birdies...
Every now and then, someone in our online sewing community will ask, what's your favourite thing to make with scraps?

Normally, I wouldn't have an answer, since there's no "go to" project that I make with scraps. I'm also burdened by (usually) not wanting to make things more than once.

But when I saw this "Little Birdie" pattern (a freebie from Sharon Holland, an Art Gallery Fabrics designer; google her and you'll find the link to her website), it was an immediate excuse to go into my pile of scraps and make some birds. That's right: birds, as in plural.

Aren't they just the cutest?

The pattern is remarkably intricate; you'll have to deal with ten — count 'em — ten pieces of fabric to make one bird, but that means that you can use a lot of different sized scraps. Never one to forgo some sort of order in my creations, I did plan how to make my twin birdies in terms of fabric use.

Sharon Holland's Little Birdies crafted by eSheep Designs
Birdie #1...

Four different (Robert Kaufman) fabrics are involved here. The body features a selection originally used on my second Diva Envelope Clutch test project (also used on my mini mannequin and Summit Pack). The tail and underside fabric was also used for the interior of that same Diva tester, as well as for the lining of the fabric version of my Portable Pocket Pouch. Finally, the two fabrics used for the wings (underneath is different from the top) appeared on the inside of one of my Retro Reticule test bags.

These are actually the second and third birds that I made. (The first will be featured in a separate post dealing with the concept of "fussy cutting".)


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This pattern is classified as an intermediate level project. Even though it's often difficult to grade a sewing pattern, this one may have been passed over as a beginner project due to the small pieces and the curves that are required.

That said, if you're a confident beginner and want to give this a go, let me pass along some tips to help you out. (The PDF itself is very good. The bird is actually designed to be a weighted pin cushion, complete with a nest to sit in.) It won't be a five minute project, but it won't take you five hours either.

Sharon Holland's Little Birdies crafted by eSheep Designs
Birdie #2... this was taken in late April, btw; the brown has now turned green!

This first tip is a general sewing tip; i.e., not just to be applied to this project. Whenever you need to join two pieces of fabric together where one side needs to be fitted to the other, pin judiciously, and then sew with the smaller piece underneath against the feed dogs. This gives you better control of the larger piece of fabric — because you can see it — thereby minimizing puckering.

Sharon Holland's Little Birdies crafted by eSheep Designs
Sew from the side with the excess fabric...

This applies to the first two steps of sewing the underside of the bird to the two body pieces. You likely won't avoid all puckers (as you can see above), but the ones that do occur will be small and virtually unnoticeable once the item is stuffed.

I also have a suggestion for the tail that doesn't involve stuffing it. Apply scraps of fusible fleece — you have those too, right? — to the two pieces of fabric (just inside the 1/4" seam allowance) and it will have just the right amount of puffiness to provide structure when you sew those three lines.

The pattern calls for the wings to be sewn down completely against the bird's body. I liked the added dimension of having the pointy ends sticking out, so I only sewed along the front edge of the wing. If you want to do this, cut the opening for stuffing the wings closer to the rounded edge (as indicated by the red arrow in the picture below) to keep it hidden from view.

Sharon Holland's Little Birdies crafted by eSheep Designs
Cut the hole for stuffing the wings closer to the rounded edge
if you want to keep the ends of the wings "loose"...

The trickiest part of the sewing will be at the "dip" along the top of the body pieces that creates the neck of the bird. The back is one long straight piece, so this is again an instance of one piece needing to be fitted to the other; i.e, you should sew from the side of the back piece. However, you will need to know where the dip is located so that you can pivot the needle at that position, to create the required "v" shape in your stitching.

I addressed this problem by putting a yellow pin right at that pivot point.

Sharon Holland's Little Birdies crafted by eSheep Designs
Each one of these little birds needs a lot of fill!
(The inset photo shows how much is left after stuffing one bird...)

After turning and stuffing the bird — I harvested the fill from an old pillow — the rest is all hand-sewing of the tail and wings. I haven't made a final decision about the eyes, but since I will likely be hanging these mobile-style, I may just keep the pins. (The pattern calls for French knots.)


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Are you wondering about the "butterflies" part of this post?

Well, also on Sharon Holland's website, I saw a tutorial for making fabric butterflies. It seemed like yet another scrappy project idea (if they're small butterflies), so I sat down to draw a couple of templates and see what I could come up with. (By the way, if you create your own templates, draw half of the butterfly and cut the fabric on the fold for best results.)

Fabric butterflies by eSheep Designs
Fabric butterfly next to my designer paper flowers...

Not that there's anything proprietary about how to make fabric butterflies, but I followed my own method in making these. The ones you see here were made out of fabric backed by Decor Bond and some strategically placed strips of Peltex to prevent flopping.

Fabric butterflies by eSheep Designs
The big one is probably about 12"...

I decorated with reverse appliqué and glued on some trims. Fabric was left over from my Oriole bag and sun hat.

While the butterflies add some colour to my window and door sills, I wasn't as enthused about them as I was about the birds.

Whatever the case, you now have two more ways to bust your scraps! (FYI, both of these projects were part of my Quick Craft Mondays that I posted about last week.)


Saturday, 25 May 2019

Quick Craft Mondays: Quilted Fabric Plates

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
My cookies finally have a fabric plate to sit on...
I have a weekly block of time that I call Quick Craft Mondays.

A specialty channel runs a mini marathon of one of my favourite shows on Monday afternoons. Because I can't just sit and watch TV during the day, I've turned that block of four hours into creative time as I "hang around" the TV.

And because I don't have TV up in my sewing room, it's not an option to be full-time sewing during those hours.

Therefore, I focus on small little projects that can be done quickly, with minimal sewing time. (I'll often plan and cut fabric for more substantial projects if I have nothing quick and easy on the go.) My fabric fortune cookies was one of those projects.

In fact, that very project led to this one. After I made the fortune cookies, it was obvious that they needed a snazzy handmade plate to showcase them.

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
Bottom of plate (before quilting and finishing)...

But did you think that with all of the sewing projects online, someone would have made a fabric plate? When I googled "make a fabric plate", a bunch of mod podged plate projects came up. No, I don't want to cover a plate with fabric...

That's when I decided that I'd have to improvise one. As is typical these days, the final steps came together in the middle of the night, during a "why can't I sleep" moment.


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Not that it was a mind bender. There are — as you likely know — all sorts of projects for fabric bowls. Shallow bowl = plate.

The first projects I considered were paper pieced items, with a pentagon or hexi centre... but I couldn't convince myself to cut meticulously identical small pieces of fabric.

Ultimately, it was an assortment of microwave bowl cozy projects that inspired me. I would use the idea of sewing darts into the corners to create the shape. I'd just have to round off the corners to avoid a square plate.

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
My version of a fabric plate...

That's when I decided to use a wavy edged floral template. On a previous Quick Craft Monday, I had added a popup paper flower to a Mother's Day card. I used the same flower making technique of fold a square piece of paper into a triangle several times to come up with a template.

The fabric here is one of my Eclectic Elements fat quarters, called Game Pieces.

Two days later, I made a second plate with a couple of my Spoonflower swatches. (Remember my Paisley Project? It still tickles me that something that I drew has become actual fabric.) This side is Paisley Doodle (Patterned).

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
Fabric plate in my Paisley Doodle (Patterned) Spoonflower fabric...

The reverse side is Paisley Doodle (Rolling Black & White). Did I tell you that the plate is reversible?

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
Fabric plate in my Paisley Doodle (Rolling Black & White) Spoonflower fabric...

It's another project to add to my fabric swatch challenge.

I will likely follow up with a tutorial — any interest? — but for you hackers out there, here's a quick rundown on my method.

Create the paper template. Then make a quilt sandwich with fabric and some fusible fleece and sew all four layers together, around the paper template. (Since I decided to sew it all the way around, I snipped a small hole into the centre of one side to facilitate turning it right side out.)

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
Maybe you'll want to put real cookies on this plate?

Next, sew four equally spaced darts. After turning and pressing, top stitch and quilt as desired.


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The hole in the middle was covered with a circular "patch" of matching fabric (interfaced). I satin stitched around this one here.

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
Cover the hole!

If you're wondering about size, my template was made from an 8" (about 20cm) square of paper; the finished plate is about 7.75" across.

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
How about sewing notions?

Now my fortune cookies have a fabric "home" plate. (One wouldn't think that it matters, but displaying them in a bowl or a basket did not do them justice.)

Quilted Fabric Plate by eSheep Designs
With only five cookies, a plate makes a better display than a bowl...

And I got to feel accomplished once again on a QCM (Quick Craft Monday). Other recent projects that were QCMs include my fabric recipe card box, magic pouch, and selvage purse charm.

Don't underestimate the power of small projects that you can start and finish in an afternoon. They're a sure way of giving your creative mojo a boost.