Friday, 31 August 2012

A quick and easy Gymbag

 As we aproach the start of a new term we begin to get parents coming into the shop asking for help. Many schools say that the children need a drawstring bag to keep thier gym shoes in. Such bags can be tricky to find but they are simple to make. A lot of schools have no uniform colour scheme for such bags so you can make one out of fun and funky fabric to keep your little one in good cheer.

  As with other simple projects I've included a little extra technique that can help make your sewing neater and longer lasting. In this case I'm referring to the bias binding. You don't need to do this but it may be a good chance to give it a go on a simple project.

You will need
Fabric -2 rectangles of fabric approximately 30cm by 45cm
Bias Binding 
Cord or ribbon for the draw string.

Place the rectangles on top of each other so all the sides match. Pin and sew one of the shorter sides. Use a seam allowance of 5/8th on an inch. Press the seam out flat

Bias Binding  has a crease along the middle of the ribbon. This makes it much easier to wrap the bias around one of the raw edges of the  seam. carefully sew along the the bias making sure it's secure along the  raw edge of the fabric. This will protect the seam from wear .
Repeat the process for the other side of the seam

Sew along the longer sides and repeat the seam binding.

Fold the fabric down over itself twice as in the picture. This will create the casing for the draw string. Pop the seam open with a seam unpick-er to allow enough space for the cord. pin a safety pin to the cord and use this to help guide the cord though the casing. and there you have it, a very quick and easy bag.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The improved Velcro Cable Tie

A while ago I made a few cable ties out of Velcro (or other Hook/Loop tape). These worked very well but I've been thinking of a few improvements.

To begin with you will need.
Velcro loop (fuzzy side) 16cm
Velcro hook (bristly side) 6 cm
Narrow Elastic (around 11cm
Ribbon same width as Velcro or a little l narrower, 2 cm longer than your fuzzy loop side (so around 18 cm)
Sewing Needle

Make a loop with the elastic and sew it on the reverse side (smooth side) of the strip of "Loop" Velcro

Turn the ribbon over for 1 cm at raw edge and sew onto the reverse side of the loop Velcro, As you get to the end of the strip turn the Velcro under on this edge too, so no raw edges are visible.
Sew the strip of bristly "hook" Velcro over the ribbon at one end. Here I sewed it on the opposite side of loop of eleastic. I've sicne descided that's a mistake, (see everyone makes them from time to time). It is better to have the Velcro next to the loop.

The elastic loop is to slip over the plug. This keeps the  cable tie in place when it isn't wrapped around the cable. I've found that this works a lot easier of the loop of elastic and the bristly Velcro are NEXT to each other.

And why are we using ribbon? Well for one it's prettier than just the backing of the Velcro. But also this means you can colour code your cable ties. Make a whole batch of red for example and use them for all the sound cables you need, and another colour for computer cables. This way you keep your draw or other storage vessel   tidy and you don't need to pull out all the cables trying to find the one you need.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Making a soft toy from free online patterns

At Fabric8 we ran a  Toy Making Competition some tinme ago. I've been inspired by some of the entries to make a little stuffed toy of my own. Although I've made stage costumes, wedding dresses and other wonderful things I've never made a teddy. I decided to use a pattern thats freely available to download off the net from . After reading the instructions I assembled the materials needed.

Toy Stuffing
 and fabric 50cm x50cm 

The pattern I downloaded was the beanbag Dragon and I have to admit I'm very impressed. The instructions are very clear. I used the seam guide to find the seams are 1/4 of an inch. The first step as ever is to cut out the pattern pieces and to lay them out on the fabric. I decided to recreate the dragon from my childhood back in Wales, "Magon the Dragon".  I used red fun fur for the top of his body and pink for his underbelly and the inside of his ears. 

Some pieces such as the wings need 4 copies cut instead of two. When working with such small pattern pieces it's easy to lose a piece  when you clear out the scrap fabrics, so make sure to keep all the pieces safe including the wing and ear pieces which you had to unpin from the pattern paper so you could cut out the second copies (yes I DID accidently throw my wings in the bin when tidying away the scraps).

The head is the first piece to be assembled and I think looks very cute. I found it amazing how much shape the neck piece adds to the face. This picture was taken BEFORE the head was stuffed which I think goes some way to showing how much shaping the neck piece does. 

The wings are made next, and the lines of the wings are top-stitched on. This gives them a lot more definition. The two top sections are then tacked onto their wings and then the top sections are sewn together, leaving a small gap  for turning out. One of the two tail pieces is sewn on the top section as well. 

Next the inside of the back legs are sewn onto the bottom of the body. Care must be taken to make sure the right leg is on the right side. Here you can see that I didn't take enough care and thus the feet wouldn't not match up when sewing the top to the bottom. (never learn from mistakes, learn from someone else's :) ) 

Once the top and bottom of the dragon are sewn together you need to sew the head on. I found it easier to push the head into the neck cavity and sew along the neckline by hand. (right sides together of course). I always use a machine were possible but even I found it much quicker to do this short bit of sewing by hand. 

And there you have it, one very cute fuzzy dragon. Of course this one wont be in the toy competition as I'm a staff member. But anyone else can download a patterns and make one for the competition. You can express your creativity in many ways with these and other patterns. Try different fabrics, add embroidery, maybe use beading as well. You have 3 more weeks to get an entry into us and this little fella only took a few hours to make. Surprise us, and maybe yourselves as well. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Summer Sale

The Summer Sale continues at Fabric8 so I thought I'd post a couple of the  fabrics in the sale here for people to find easily. To begin with some furniture fabric.
 The sale is a fantastic opportunity to embark on larger furnishing projects. Many of the fabrics on sale have lots left on the bolt so you can make a full set of curtains for a room. 
Antique gold Ossani, only £6.63 per metre.

There are also many craft cottons available in the sale such as this Cream Sea Side Beach Huts craft cotton (112cm wide) only £7.65 per metre. Remember the summer holidays are only a few days away. This fabric could make a great bassist for a craft project, or notice board.

There are some Christmas Fabrics in the sale as well giving you a chance to get a head start on your festive sewing projects, or helping you spread the cost of Christmas Crafting into  Summer.

With the weather we've had these past few weeks it's easy to think we're in Autumn. This is the best time start thinking of Christmas as our Christmas craft cottons have been greatly reduced. This festive landscape is only £7.02 per metre.

As you may suspect there is a huge range of dressmaking fabrics in the sale, from cottons to pollys to silks.

Ballerinas otton dressmaking fabric. This very artistic print would make for a fantastic dress or skirt, o now only £5.67 per metre

These are just my favorites from the sale, with hundreds of fabrics on offer it would be impossible to list them all. Just remember that fabrics is selling fast, now is the time to go into Colchester or Felixstowe and visit your local Fabric8 for a bargain.