Bag lady

One consequence of having dual nationality is that I travel rather a lot. Suffice it to say that I’ve been pretty closely acquainted with duffel bags from a very early age.

In Toronto over Christmas, fresh off the airplane, I popped into The Workroom with my dad, and he bought me Grainline Studio‘s excellent Portside Travel Set pattern, which I’ve been coveting for some time, in actual luxurious hard copy, as a not-so-secret Christmas present. This was the excuse I’d been waiting for to snap up a bit of Nani Iro canvas – in the Clear Heart pattern from the 2015 collection – when I got back to London in January.

The results are… delicious!

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I lined the pockets and bag in some Liberty tana lawn which I had in my stash. This was actually the very first fabric I coveted and bought (or rather, my mum bought for me). Before I could sew, before I went to university, before I had a phone or a bank account. Looking back, I’m not sure why I coveted it so much; but at any rate it is the perfect match for the rest of the bag.

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The copper D-rings and zip are from the inimitable, venerable MacCulloch and Wallis. Sadly I couldn’t find matching swivel hooks in copper. Webbing and silver swivel hooks were from Ray-Stitch. The Nani Iro canvas was from Monday’s Milk, because nowhere in the UK seemed to have any left, and it was on sale.

Separately, a friend donated her old Modernaked rucksack to me because one of the shoulder straps had frayed apart and she was being sent a replacement bag. Here’s what the original was like:

Modernaked rucksack

The Liberty fabric on the bag was nice but not my cup of tea; so I replaced it with more of the Nani Iro canvas. Thankfully I was ill at home for a few days. It took an entire day to re-cover  and repair the bag. Mostly it was a lot of hand sewing and embroidery (I could only do the upper flap on the machine – the rest had to be appliquéd on by hand). But no matter – now I have a matching travel set!

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You can still see a bit of the old fabric on the inside

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Santa’s Workshop 2014

Christmas happened. And as I still haven’t got over my sheer disgust at the shopping experience, most of my presents were, as usual, home-made.

Working full time and doing a Masters in the evenings is reducing my making-time, so I couldn’t be as ambitious as last year. To make up for time-poverty I used extra wonderful materials – lots of Liberty, lots of Adriafil yarn and lots of exciting zippers. And then of course a cousin ended up with something made out of my old trousers. Which I didn’t get a decent picture of… Sorry!

The list:

  • 6 boxy pouches, including ones lined in Liberty Kilburn Rose, Alexandra and Queue for the Zoo
  • 1 glasses case in Hat Box Tiger Stripes and Libery Queue for the Zoo
  • 2 sketchbooks covered in Hat Box Tiger Stripes
  • 3 notebooks covered in Liberty Edenham, Branchflower and Solsetur
  • 1 self-drafted skirt with box pleats and pockets in a vintage Liberty tana lawn
  • 3 pairs of socks in Adriafil Stella Jacq and Knitcol

Back to school

I feel a bit too old for this, but I’ve just gone back to school. And it is completely incredible. I love learning; I get completely wired on coffee before my lectures and then wriggle about at my desk feeling like I simply can’t contain my enthusiasm for Hobbes. So I  decided to make myself a pencil case!

pencil case liberty pinky
Outer is Lizzy House ‘Constellations’ and lining is Liberty ‘Pinky’

And then I got a bit carried away and made another.

pencil case with liberty elevenses
The lining here is Liberty ‘Elevenses’

Pencil case liberty elevenses pencil cases

And then a knitting bag as a present for a friend’s 25th birthday. And of course a matching pencil case for her cable needles and stitch markers.

knitting bag with Liberty 'Baby Rainbow'
knitting bag with Liberty ‘Baby Rainbow’liberty baby rainbow pencil case

It was hard to hand this over – I love it so much! Right down to the glittery zipper…

liberty baby rainbow knitting bag

liberty baby rainbow knitting bag

liberty baby rainbow knitting bag

Solsetur Elisalex

When I saw the Elisalex dress pattern in Ray-Stitch, I knew I would one day have to make it. And when I managed to buy the very last 3 metres of Liberty’s red Solsetur fabric in tana lawn from Shaukat, my sewing fate was sealed.

Solsetur Elisalex frontSolsetur Elisalex back

I made this dress thinking of being able to wear it to work. It had its first outing at the Southbank Centre last night to see Isabella Rossellini’s hilarious and educational Green Porno lecture (I have got to make a hamster onesie like hers), but also duly travelled into work with me this morning and seemed to get on quite well there.

The pattern was fairly easy to put together, although the instructions were unclear and it was just as well I didn’t use them. Additionally, although it’s a relief to find a pattern with normal high-street sizing, the pattern pieces didn’t give a good indication of things like skirt and sleeve length. The ‘shorten here’ on the sleeve resulted in something about elbow-length, and decidedly unattractive. And having read warnings online about the skirt length (no ‘shorten here’ was indicated), I took a good 8 inches off before cutting out my pieces, but then had to further take off about 5 inches. I think it’s still a bit long… Anyway – cumulatively quite a bit of beautiful fabric was wasted.

Solsetur cutting

I added pockets to the dress, and made the zip a normal length – in the pattern the whole dress opens up like a straightjacket. Lots of hand sewing of the linings around the zipper due to the general rubbishness of my zipper foot.

Solsetur Elisalex pocket

Solsetur Elisalex zipper Solsetur Elisalex lining

If I make this dress again, I definitely will alter the skirt shape. It’s like a hot air balloon, and was worse when it was longer. The stripe of the fabric only emphasises its weirdness, especially at the side seams.

The box pleats at the front don’t match up with the princess seams – they did initially, but I took it all apart and resewed it to get the fabric print to match, which was more noticeable than the pleats. And match it does! I’m rather pleased with my fussy cutting to get the skirt and bodice pattern to align 🙂

Solsetur Elisalex detailSolsetur Elisalex detail

More pillow talk

It seems like all I’m making at the moment is cushion covers. This isn’t actually true – I’m mostly making Christmas presents; but I’m not planning on inadvertently giving out spoilers with only 23 days left to go. As much as I am REALLY REALLY desperate  to let the various cats out of their respective bags right now.

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Cushion covers using Ikea Tastrup fabric and 45cm zippers

On Saturday evening, after a productive day spent making secret things, I settled down to making some cushion covers. I’ve previously used a slip-in design, but this time went for one with a zipper. I watched this amusing tutorial (the accent reminds me a little bit of a terrible film I watched the last ten minutes of the other day – I think it was called ‘Alligator Alley’. At any rate, it was a bunch of Louisiana-ian people using broom handles and molotov cocktails to fend off uncles and aunts who’d turned into large alligators with attractive glowing purple mouths) and then set to, using the simply delightful fabric my mum picked up from Ikea a few months ago.

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There are different coloured buttons on each side – one pillow is green/pink; the other is orange/blue.

I didn’t want to waste too much fabric on seam allowances, so one side is a fold instead of a seam. Nothing is quite square, but it doesn’t seem to matter too much. Mostly I’m just pleased to have found the fabric, which I lost almost immediately when it first came into my clutches. In fact it was exactly where it should have been. Months of peering under beds and getting up close and personal with the house’s resident dust bunnies to find it were in vain!

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The cushions match the rug in my garret too, so everything is all rather jaunty now. And Rune is happy to have yet more things to rub his cat-grubbiness and utter adorableness off onto.

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