Harry Potter Tote Bag

Just a quick one to share the second of 2 successful Christmas presents I made this year (both for my second Christmas with my friends in January). I say ‘successful’ because after making 4 skirts for my sister last Christmas (1, 2, 3, 4) I cut out another Grainline Moss skirt from the leftover red corduroy from the red Delphine skirt but I forgot that last year I sewed it with a reduced seam allowance, so it didn’t fit.

Anyway, back to the successful make…..my friends and I do secret santa each year (though we buy for 2 people and not just one) because one year there were probably around 8 of us (the number changes as partners change and 2 children have been born since the tradition started!) and so all of us buying for everyone else meant a slightly obscene number of presents. Plus we all fly up to Scotland each year now, so anything that reduced the baggage allowance has got to be a good thing! One of the people I drew was the girlfriend of one of the guys in our group, who I had not met yet (though she turned out to be lovely, so that’s good!) so I did what anyone would do in my situation – some facebook stalking!

I discovered that they had been to see a couple of musicals, they’ve travelled quite a bit and then I saw that they had been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and since I had, funnily enough, started re-reading all the books around the time I had to make a present I thought I would make a Harry Potter themed tote bag. Making things for someone you’ve never met is always going to be a bit of a gamble, but I thought a tote bag is always useful even if the design misses the mark.

I’m pretty sure I copied this design from something I saw on Etsy when I was looking for something to buy, before I’d had the thought to make something.

I used my own tutorial, which I wrote quite a long time ago now, for the dimensions of the pieces. I used french seams for strength and used medium weight calico from my local sewing shop. I used a narrow small stitch of zig zag to sew on the glasses and the scar – I looked for some felt in my stash but I didn’t have enough. I could probably have used some jersey, but I came across this cotton first and doubled it so it wouldn’t be see-through.

I reinforced the straps, as I have done with each previous tote I’ve made as I feel like one of the worst things would be for the straps to come off when someone was carrying some heavy shopping home!

This is a pretty quick post, really, as there isn’t much to say about a tote bag!

Have you ever made a present for someone you’ve not yet met? How did it go down? Did you find it as stressful as I did?!

p.s. I’m already on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I only read 2 books the whole of last year, so I’m close to doubling that in January!)

 

 

2 Pink Mini Chestnut Tops

I didn’t end up making any Christmas presents for actual Christmas, but my uni friends and I always get together in January for ‘Christmas 2’ (which I originally suggested when I knitted 2 cushions for my 2 best friends and I knew I wouldn’t get them finished in time so I suggested meeting up in January to give myself a couple of extra weeks!) and then CocoWawa Crafts released the Mini Chestnut pattern. I had already bought the adult version for myself and then thought the mini version would be perfect for my friend’s daughter (who I’ve made things for before, including the Norman wall hanging, felt allotment, travel matching game, and I knitted a baby cardigan when she was first born) who is now 6!! I checked with her mum, my friend, and she said she would probably like it and that her favourite colours are pink, teal and turquoise.

I got this lovely pink speckled jersey from Sew Me Sunshine. I ordered 1.5m because the pattern said 1.2m but I assume this is for the biggest size – I made the age 7 size (based on my friend’s recommendation of how big her daughter is) and I made 2 easily out of the 1.5m of fabric. The fabric was a little thinner than I thought but she can easily layer up the top with a cardigan over the top (which she did on Sunday) and it means she can still wear them when it’s a bit warmer.

I bought 2 colours of ribbon from my local fabric shop – in a matching pink and a contrasting teal. The teal picks up the colour of some of the specks in the jersey and I think it looks really nice.

I used my normal sewing machine to stitch the seams and then overlocked everything (except the cuffs as they were too small and I didn’t want to shred the sleeves at the last moment! I also didn’t overlock around the edge of the facing on the back as the overlocker did not like a single layer of this fabric! I’m glad I tested it on a scrap of fabric before putting the actual pieces through! I zig-zagged the raw edge, though it wasn’t totally necessary as jersey doesn’t fray.

I used some off-cuts from the ribbon to stabilise the shoulder seams, which is an optional step in the instructions. I thought it would help the tops last as long as possible (hopefully until she grows out of them rather than they fall apart).

I used my twin needle to top-stitch all the bits that needed topstitching – the facing on the back (which I also understitched), the hem band and the cuffs. I love how a twin needle makes things look really professional – as does the overlocking I think, even if the tension is still not quite right.

   

Making these tops was really fun – because the clothes are small, they’re quick to make up and making 2 at the same time definitely saved some time! I had hoped to have mine made in time for Christmas 2 so we could match, but I didn’t get chance to make mine yet. It’s going to hopefully be my first make for myself of 2018. I’ve got some really lovely thick sweatshirting all cut out ready and I could definitely do with a warm top/jumper at the moment as it’s pretty cold in our flat!

 

 

Make It: Penguin Pyjama Case

After the success of the monkey pyjama case I made for my niece, I made a penguin shaped one for my nephew and it was not as simple as the monkey!

I made the penguin out of some black and some white twill I had in my stash (well it’s earmarked for a specific thing but I figured I could spare a bit for the penguin!).

First I cut out 2 bowling pin shapes for the fronts (you need 2 so you can sandwich the wadding in between the 2 layers), and a sort of white splodge for the tummy.

I pinned and sewed it onto just one of the front layers, sewing with a zig-zag stitch to prevent the tummy piece fraying.

Close-up of the zig-zag stitching!

I also cut out 4 wing pieces – 2 for each side, and 2 out of wadding. Layer these with the wadding on the top and the 2 wing pieces on the top, right sides together (if your fabric has a right side and a wrong side). Sew all the way around – I used a 1cm seam allowance.

Trim the wadding from the seam allowance, to reduce the bulk and turn the wings the right side around. Leave these to one side.

I had a little bit of yellow fabric left over from one of the first things I made (a yellow skirt that I wore about twice!), so I used that for the feet and the beak. The principle is the same for the feet as it is for the wings – cut 2 feet for each foot and pile them on top of the wadding, right sides together (again, if your fabric has a right side). Sew all the way around (again I used a 1cm seam allowance), trim the wadding from the seam allowance and turn the right way around. Leave to one side.

Now, the thing that was really hard about this make was the beak. I thought about how to do it for literally weeks. I asked people at the dressmaker’s ball for their advice, and I still couldn’t really figure it out. I had a sort of an idea so I thought the best thing would be to just try it.

So I cut out 2 triangles. I pretty much just guessed on the size – and as you’ll see at the bottom of this post, I probably guessed a bit big, but it was meant to look a bit cartoony so it was totally on purpose! I then sewed one side of a zip onto 2 sides of one triangle. Then I sewed the other side of the zip to another, matching, triangle of fabric, making sure that they sat one on top of the other when the zip is closed. These triangles are the inside of the mouth, if that helps to visualise it?!

Next I cut 4 more triangles of a similar size, but a little thinner than the ones above (2 for each beak). Sew 2 together along one of the long sides – the other long side will be joined to the zip, making little pyramids.

You can see below that where I’m holding is the seam of the 2 smaller triangles, and the other edges (one from each triangle) are pinned – and then sewn – to the other size of the zip. The teeth of the zip should be on the inside as the pyramid will be turned the right way round once sewn, to hide all the stitching inside the beaks, where they will be stuffed. Sorry of this isn’t making much sense, by the way, my brain was definitely hurting by the time I’d figured any of this out!

Once you’ve done the above couple of steps for both beaks, you should end up with something that looks a bit like below – quite creepy! I used a zip that was way too long so I would definitely have one long enough. I shortened it by zig-zag stitching over the teeth first, then trimming off the excess. I’m not going to pretend that this beak works perfectly, unfortunately. The zip is quite tricky to use as it keeps getting caught in the inside of the mouth – I guess if I’d have done some actual triangle calculations, I could have made the inside of the beak a bit more taut so it wouldn’t get caught as much. Oops!

This is the side view, with half the zip undone. I stuffed the beak at this point, too.

The next thing I did was to sew on the eyes. I waited until the beak was finished to do this so I could work out the best placement for them. Again I used a small zig-zag stitch to make sure they don’t fray.

The next step is to assemble the penguin front and back, but sandwiching the 2 fronts (one of which has the tummy sewn on it) with the wadding in the middle. You need to put the fabric with right sides out – this isn’t a seam, the layers are topstitched together.

For the back of the penguin, I decided I wanted him to have a little tail because cute! So I traced half of the penguin front pattern piece, having drawn a line down the middle. I then added a triangle shape onto the centre line and added a 1cm seam allowance, as below. You have to cut 4 of these because there are 2 halves of the back. Sandwich each pair of back pieces with wadding in the middle and topstitch around the edge as for the front.

You’ll then want to sew the seam to attach the 2 back pieces together. I then overlocked the seam to neaten and finish it.

You’ll also want to sew a small seam along the bottom of the tail, as below. Otherwise he’ll have a hole in his bottom and we don’t want that! You just want to sew until roughly in line with the seam to attach both pieces together.

The next thing is to attach the beak. This bit was a bit scary because you just have to cut a hole in the penguin front. I sewed the whole beak on by hand – I sewed around the edge of one half, then cut the hole and stitched the beak to the opening, then stitched around the edge of the other half. Hope that makes sense!

This is the view from the inside – the beak ended up being slightly off centre, but there wasn’t much I could do about it by that point!

And this is what he looks like from the front, with his beak open. The opening is quite narrow for getting the pyjamas in and out of, so if you make this it might be worth putting another zip or some velcro into the side seam.

Apparently I stopped taking photos at this point. The last step is to sew the front to the back, with right sides (the eyes/beak and the tail) together. I found it easiest to open the beak and push it half to the inside, to be able to get the penguin under my machine. You, of course, need to put the wings and the feet in to the seam before you stitch it. You’ll need to place them with the unsewn edges facing out towards the edge of the front/back, sandwiching them between the 2 layers. I overlocked the seam to neaten it. Then all you need to do is to turn it the right way around.

Here’s how he eats the pyjamas 🙂

I’m sort of pleased with how this turned out, but I feel like it could have been better. I just don’t know how, though! Usually I enjoy thinking up how to make things without a pattern, but this time it just wasn’t quite right unfortunately.

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