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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.