A Little Sewing Room Fun

Do you ever need a project that is quick, easy and extremely gratifying?  Yeah, me too.  Especially just after Christmas when the weather is bleak and everything is just a bit flat.

I’m in a massive declutter mode at the moment.  Stuff is being shed left, right and centre.  Even my sewing supplies are being culled and sold for cold hard cash.  One of the ‘casualties’ was the desk chair I used in my sewing space.  Man, that thing was big!  Every time I moved anywhere on it, I hit something.  My room is too small for such a big black monstrous piece of furniture so I flogged it.  Then promptly spent the money on a metre of fabric and some piping from Frumble.  But before you wonder how on earth decluttering, stash included, equates to stash acquisition – there was a plan!

We have a number of steel legged, round topped stools from back in the days when Husband and I owned and ran a hire boatyard on the Norfolk Broads.  When refurbishing one of the boats we had 6 of these stools left over and rather than bin them, they’ve followed us around ever since.  They make great occasional ‘need extra’ seats.  Since deciding to loose the monster chair I’d been using one of those stools to see how I’d get on with it in the sewing space.  Quite simply I loved it, it fit under my table so could get out of the way completely, was the right height and generally perfect.  Except for the ageing red velvet covering.

Sewing Stool

So, 1m of Alexander Henry’s ‘Home Sewing is Easy’ fabric and some kingfisher blue piping (£15 in total so I still had change from the sale of the chair!!) later and I had a new stool!  I completely winged the whole process!  I interfaced the fabric with some medium weight interfacing and about the only measuring I did was for the diameter of the top of the seat and the depth of it (which I then doubled and added a bit to make sure there would be enough to tuck underneath and staple down).

This used up less than 1/2m of the fabric, so what do I do with the rest?  Pinterest to the rescue!  My machine cover is a very robust solid cover.  Great if I ever want to move it anywhere, rubbish if I want to protect my machine whilst leaving the cables attached.  Sewing Machine cover it was.

Sewing Machine Cover

I used this tutorial from spoolsewing.com  I adjusted the measurements a little to make sure it would cover my machine.  This took no time to make though, even with the addition of the binding.  I followed the construction steps in the PDF but with the addition of the piping what I should have done was:  Attach piping to front & back panel.  Sew end panels to top panel.  Sew front panel to top/side piece.  Sew back panel to top/side piece.

The reason I say this is the method outlined by Spool works perfectly if you don’t have inflexible, lumpy piping to negotiate that makes getting into the top corners a complete PITA.  I ended up finishing that bit by hand.

I’m glad I added the piping though as it gives the cover a bit of structure that it wouldn’t otherwise have.  You could so easily go fancy pants on this and interface the fabric, line it, quilt it, add pockets…  I just wanted something fun and bright too keep the dust off!  I’ve used up that metre now so poor old overlocker is going to have to wait until I actually stop being so precious about my dress length of this fabric and make a dress out of it!  If she’s lucky there’ll be enough left over to make her a cover too…

How I Make Piping

When I mentioned that I had made miles of piping for the forthcoming Minoru jacket, I was asked how I do it.  I’m hoping that this will explain!  If you need anything in more detail or I can make it any clearer please let me know and I’ll do my best!

First up I make the bias tape.  I use the continuous loop method which is brilliantly explained here.  And I got just over 5 yards of 1.5″ bias tape from just under a fat quarter, so making it yourself is very economical, not to mention you get to choose the fabric!

Once I’ve made the bias tape, if I’m making piping I then just press it in half along its length.  If I plan to use it to finish an edge I use a bias tape maker as it makes what can be a fiddly job really easy and stops me burning my fingers.  If you don’t fancy tracking one of these down, you could try this amazing print and build at home version!

It’s really important to press and not iron because it’s on the bias and we need that stretch when we fit the piping and don’t want to pull/steam it out at this early stage!

Piping Foot

Now, there are people out there who have the patience to make piping with a zipper foot.  I’m impatient so for the sake of a few £s I bought myself a piping foot.  It basically has two grooves in the bottom to guide the fabric and piping.  There are two grooves to enable you to have the piping in the most convenient place when you insert it into a seam.

If you use a zipper foot you just try and sew as close to the piping cord as you can, it’s still pretty straight forward, I think it just requires an extra level of concentration and takes a little longer.

So here goes!

Cord into Fold

I place the cord snugly into the fold of the bias tape that I pressed in earlier.  I then fold the top of the tape back over it and using my fingers hold it as snuggly in place as I can whilst the feed-dogs pull the fabric and cord sandwich under the needle.  I use a stitch length of 2 when constructing piping.

Sewing the Piping

Here you can see the fabric and cord sandwich going through the groove on the foot.  I try and put about 8 to 12″ of cord in to the fold at a time as this helps speed things up and is manageable for me.  When there is a join in the bias tape, this needs a little extra care to make sure the cord isn’t pushed out of the fabric or not as tight to the fold as I’d like.

I then tuck the next section in and sew and keep going till its done!  I hope that explains the process.  It’s really quite simple if you have a piping foot, and with a zipper foot it just takes a little more concentration!

Happy Birthday Baby Sister

I’m the eldest of three girls and it was my baby sister’s 25th birthday this week.

Baby Sister's Piping Hot Hobo Bag

This is the bag I made for her – the pattern is from Lisa Lam’s Bag Making Bible.

My youngest sister has a cute, quirky and quite playful style and I knew she’d love this sock monkey print, when I found a banana print to go inside I was over the moon!  The fabric is by Moda and is called Funky Monkey.  The designer is Make and Nobie.

Monkeys and Piping

It’s not the first time I’ve applied piping to a bag, but it’s the first time that there was so much of it!  I used a bought satin bias binding and I’m really pleased with how this turned out, as is my sister – it’s going every where with her!  It’s also a really cavernous bag – when I emptied it this evening so that I could photograph it (I forgot to take the photos before I gave it to her!) it had a cardigan, phone, keys, purse, another purse, paracetamol, lip balm, bottle of water and a ton of other stuff in it and there was still room for more!

The strap is long enough to wear the bag across the body, which is what she does, or can be shortned and worn on the shoulder.  It’s closed with a magnetic fastening.

I love it’s curvy shape – particularly the curved top edge when it’s open and the pleat in the gusset which makes it so easy to reduce it’s volume.  She’s using it as a day bag at the moment but apparently it’ll be making it’s debut on night out this weekend!

Curves and Bananas

Carrying on the photographic theme, I got the rest of the photos done for the bags I made and they’re now on Etsy.  I roped Middle Sister in as a model for some of the shots – have a look and tell me what you think of the bags!