Patchwork, pockets and double blast when it all goes wrong…………

Over the past month or so I’ve been busy sewing together lots of small hexagons using the English Paper Piecing method, this has kept me well and truly out of mischief as it’s not the fastest sewing in the world, but it’s nicely portable… sitting on the back door step with a pot of tea one side and a basket full of little hexagons to sew together the other is a perfect way to spend a Summery afternoon…and if Bernard comes along and stretches out over my feet, well so much the better.

The only downside to these little hexagons is that they’re mightily addictive and as I’d already sewn bunting with them, and a notebook/ringbinder cover ,pincushions and numerous cushions I was wondering what else to make when a little light bulb switched on overhead and I thought to make a big tote style bag for when I go into town and get our vegetables.

At this point I think I’d better say what the bag looked like in my head and what it looked like in reality was very very different….”dream” bag looked beautiful and wafted granny chic goodness…the bag I made looked too fussy and made me want to cry because I’d spent so long making it…..even when I showed my boyfriend I could tell from his expression he didn’t know whether to laugh or to console my tears…..anyway, the bag is now about halfway through being un-picked and before you say “but it looks fine” in real life I think you’d be mumbling to yourself “goodness if I say I like it she might gift it to me and then she’d expect me to use it…I think I should have used the patchwork to make a granny style knitting bag, and a large piece of the patchwork is proving to be salvageable.

So what went wrong….I think I tried to do too much with something that was already a bit fussy.  A couple of years back I bought some old dresser cloths from a car boot that were a bit tatty and stained in the middle but which had beautifully crocheted lace edges, I’d cut out the offending middle but had kept the crocheted lace.  In my head this was going to look really delicate as a side detail, the lace peeking out between the two sides…..on a pin cushion or needle case, maybe even a book cover it would look really good, but it was too much on the bag…then I cornered in the bottom of the bag so it would have a deep gusset (shudder…I just hate that word) and instead of looking all neat like other bags I’ve made, it just looked bulky because of the crocheted edging hunching all up underneath.

Anyway, I did want to just show how I did a couple of things that I’ll use again but for different projects….

sewing on vintage trimming

First up is sewing along the vintage crochet trim….from sewing the cushions I had a pretty good idea of where I needed to sew along the hexagon edges to join them, (sadly you do get a bit of wastage when you sew squares out of hexagons)….I cut the linen that the crocheted trim was worked on to about 1/4 of an inch and then used this as a guide to pin then tack into place the trimming…I didn’t want any of the linen itself to poke out between the side, but only the crochet lace.  When the patchwork was turned over this gave a nice straight line that was good to have when I sewed the two sides of the bag together.

And while this really was too much on a bag, I think it would look nice on the side of a much smaller project.

fold over twice and pin down before sewing

In the big bag I use at the moment I am forever having to rummage around in the bottom of my bag for a pen or for my phone, for the “dream bag” I thought I’d be all fancy and make a pocket with an elasticated top to hold small things that would be nice and near to hand.

My pocket shape was pretty generously cut, about 10 inches or so across, then I folded over about a 1/2 inch and then another 1/2 so the raw edge was tucked right under in the middle.  A few pins to keep all in place and then sew along both the top then bottom edge of the seam.

thread through and secure elastic

I find this to be the easiest way to sew in elastic…

Don’t cut the elastic, just use it as is straight off the cardboard….poke the elastic through the seam until it pops it’s head out the other end and then pin it in place.

Sew over the end a few times on the sewing machine.

gather along elastic then secure end

Now gather the fabric along the elastic, runching it up until the top[ of the pocket is as wide as you’d like it to be.  I left mine about 61/2 inches wide.  Pin the elastic through the fabric at the end and then sew over the edge a few times so that the elastic is held nice and secure in place.

Now you can trim the reel of elastic away.

fold edges over and pin before tacking

Pin the raw edges of the pocket over, about 1/2 an inch.  I prefer to tack or baste the pocket, press the seam then pin it into place on my bag.  I find this makes the pocket edge look a bit neater.

Sewing the elastic in while it’s still on it’s cardboard reel seems a bit odd at first but I now find it a lot less fiddly and also you end up using only the amount of elastic you need.

finished bag

And this was the finished bag……it’s not the worse thing I’ve ever made but it really didn’t come out how I wanted it to so I was rather disappointed.  (I think my boyfriend felt the time wasted on it could have been spent more wisely on doing house work!)

It’s not the end of the world, as I say I can still use most of the patchwork and the un-picked pieces can be made into another bag, it’s just double blast annoying as I spent quite a lot of time pfaffing and fannying around getting it all right only for it to look rather pants.

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7 thoughts on “Patchwork, pockets and double blast when it all goes wrong…………

  1. Oh, dear, It is just so annoying when you get an idea in your head and it just doesn’t work out that way! I think I would have plain handles and maybe it didn’t need the lace but it is only a tiny bit, but I am going to say it now, I really do like it! It looks as though you could stuff it, sew up the straight edge, add some ties and use it as a seat pad! (that is what I am now thinking of doing with my hexies – it will take me a while to do six though!!) x

    1. The offending bag is now all un-picked and the patchwork is all ironed so it looks presentable again. I’ve made a pattern for a grannies knitting bag (I have a bit of a weakness for them) and I think it will look much better like that.
      If you’d seen it in real life I think you’d try to avert your eyes and ask about the weather, it was all lumpy on the bottom and the lace…goodness knows what was going on in my mind xx

  2. I have a project on my “sewing table” right now that’s been there for over a week now… In my head (as you said), it turned out completely different, but the “real” one is not very pleasing to the eye. It’s still there, by my sewing machine because I don’t know what to do with it. I had to change several pieces on my sewing machine to get the right foot on, then I tried a new technique (which didn’t work the way I wanted it to), and now I feel bad just throwing it away, but not really sure what to do with it. haha I guess it’s kind of funny. But not. Tomorrow I’ll have to “do something” with the project so that I can clear the sewing area for something I need to get done asap. I love how your little pocket turned out – the shape is so cute! I think the bag is fine for filling with veggies from the farmer’s market. 🙂

    1. Grrr it’s so frustratin isn’t it, I really do feel for you.
      At the moment I’ve got 2 un-finished items of clothing that I’m wondering what to do with.
      One is a dress (vintage vogue pattern so it wasn’t easy sewing) made in a gorgeous hand woven dark red silk….it’s been hanging on a door for nearly 5 years and I feel bad as a wonderful friend gave me the fabric.
      The other is a blouse which I’ve hand sewn (yep like my patchwork) and it looks terrible on me, the neck line is too low and I look all scrawny and chick necked..theninking to just bundle all the pieces together in a big freezer bag and donate that to a charity shop and see if I can adapt the dress into a skirt.
      When I did pattern cutting at college we were encouraged to keep a big folder with all our samples inside…every new technique we did , different collars, cuffs, necklines etc would be tested in cheap calico first and then kept in a plastic sleeve with notes on how we did it. It seemed like a lot of fuss at the time but it was such a good resource, allowing me to try out new techniques without spoiling what I was making. Somehow my huge folder of samples and testers got lost during a house move but I keep thinking about making another one…there is a great book called The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff which is a wonderful collection of gathers,tucking,shirring, quilting…..look for it in your local library as I think you’ll like it.

      I’m hoping that today your project looks a whole lot better and that it’s not as bad as you think.

  3. Hi Erica, I think your patchwork bag looked lovely… still if you are not happy with it then it needs rejigging. Can we see the new grannies bag when finished? Thank you for the tip re the inside pocket and putting in elastic. Have a lovely day ahead. Its cold here with snow (a rare thing in Tasmania.. snow that is).

    1. Wooh Snow, I’m so jealous, we barely had any here. I’ve just been reading about Tasmania, for some reason it was chosen as a place of destination for English Emigrants especially those from Suffolk and Norfolk during the 19th century. I don’t know for sure but by all accounts the standard Tasmania accent is very similar to the Suffolk one (which is where I’m from) lots of ups and downs and quite soft.
      The photo made the bag look a lot better than it was ,the reality was like a reject from a bad craft book from the eighties. At the moment I’m about half way through sewing hexagons for the back of the new bag and yes, there will be lots of pictures when it’s finished.
      Glad you found the elastic tip handy xx

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