Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Case for Tilly

Now, after ploughing through some difficult projects and travelling hundreds of miles up and down the country, I really felt that Tilly needed somewhere else to live other than the cardboard box and polystyrene which she came in. A sewing machine cover was in order - and it had to be patchwork of course.

J and I looked at a sort of pattern online for the basic idea (thanks very much to Debbie at her blog) but it wasn't quite right, so we had to make up our own pattern. I'll try and show you what we did, but it was all quite complicated (for me at least!) and took a LOT longer than I thought it would do. It took the whole week at home!

Right, here we go.

1) Measure out the sewing machine and construct a paper pattern from the measurements. You want two side panels with rounded edges (this was done by drawing round a mug), a panel for the bottom, and then a long thin piece reaching from either side of the base, in two halves. This will have a zip in the end. It's difficult to explain. Here were our pieces. Remember to leave seam allowances, as well as room to include pockets etc.

2) Now you have an idea of the size, you can start with the patchwork. The main structural part of the bag is from linen and this quite odd material that J found; it is fluffy on one side and very thick brown faux-leather type stuff on the other. The patchwork panels will be quilted to this and the linen.

Start with your materials. I had a beautiful Amy Butler charm pack, but you can do it properly and use old odds and sods.

Aren't they beautiful materials? I decided to do a simple square patchwork pattern, so cut each into four and started building a design.

It took a surprising amount of rearranging until I was happy. Then, in came to Tilly to stitch it all together. 

(Sorry about the light.)
My cutting is still not very precise so some of the corners didn't meet...

But the overall effect was fine.

3) Quilt your patchwork to the backing - in my case the very thick fluffy/hard brown material. This is quite a few layers of fabric, and Tilly needed a bit of help from J and A's machine to get through them. She made a valiant effort though!

I did very simple stitching lines ina bright blue thread, just following the seam lines, letting the fabrics shine through.

4) Make the bottom panel by stitching 2 pieces of canvas the same size together to make a pocket to slide a slightly smaller piece of your very thick material inside.

5) Prepare the lining ready to be included. I hemmed and stitched 4 squares of the fabric that hadn't been cut up to serve as pockets.

6) You can now start to see the bag coming together! Each side is to be sewed to the bottom panel, right sides to right sides.

7) Now consider your handle. I used webbing, which is good and strong. Pin it into place and stitch up to where you want the handles to fold. Make sure the straps aren't twisted when you sew. I used the same thread colour as for the quilting.

8) More complicated sewing (at least it felt like it to me!) Get your template for the long strip and create two pieces, folded in half so when they meet they will be the width of the panel you need. The folded edges will be at the middle, and these are used to conceal the zip a bit, which wasn't very pretty. Spray them with starch spray (which we just happened to have at home for some reason!) to give them a bit more strength.

9) Sew in the zip. There are lots of tutorials online for this, and I don't think mine is a very good example of this, so I won't try and teach it!

10) Add some patchwork to the top of the zip panels. I did triangles instead to add a bit of variety, and, to save time, stitched with a zig zag stitch rather than more hemming.

11) Stitch the two zip panels to the rest of the bag, right sides to right sides. Somehow, constructing this 3D shape is really difficult to get your head round. So, remember not only to 'measure twice, cut once,' but also to 'pin a million times, and sew once!'

12) Sew, by hand, the bottom of the zip panels together (the zip shouldn't go to the very bottom of the bag) and put a few strong stitches at either end of the zip so it can't unzip fully.

13) Now - neatening up on the inside! Oversew the linen so none of the brown material is showing. This has to be done by hand and may take longer than you think.

14) You should have a completed bag! (Unless I've missed out some steps, which wouldn't surprise me.) Turn it right ways round and admire.

Want to see?

TA DA! Pretty pleased with myself, I have to say, although a LOT of help was had by A and J. It's their project as much as mine really. A three way project - but that's quite nice really!

And Tilly fits nicely inside with lots of room for boxes of cotton, pins and needles etc.

Tilly has a bag fit for her now and she definitely deserves it for all her hard work!

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