Archive for the 'Tutorials' Category

And the winner is…..!

December 16th, 2013

Thank you sooooo much to everyone who took part – it was actually quite overwhelming to see how many of you took part, and you all gave such good tips!  I did actually think that I had made life really hard for myself and should have just done something where I could randomly pick numbers out of a hat.  But no.

What I have done, though (cos it was too hard!) is pick my favourite, and then as runner up prizes picked 5 more, who I will be sending a pin cushion out to.  I will also be compiling all the tips together in groups by craft or type so that we can all benefit from them, so watch this space!

As runners up I have picked:

Lee, who wrote:

When laying out a paper pattern – use sewing weights and not pins for a smoother, faster and better cut. You can make some sewing weights (lots of tutorials out there) or use what I do (learned from my great grandmother) use butter knives (the old flatware that is heavy- I have some I use just for sewing! you can find in second hand stores) It works great!

I can definitely vouch for this, and it is far less painful than catching your hand on a pin when cutting out!

Jodi R, who wrote:

I am a perfectionist and I tend to avoid doing things I don’t think I can do a good enough job of. My advice is that you only get better with practice and we all have to start somewhere.
If you don’t start because you don’t think you are good enough you will never find out how good you really could be with practice.
My other advice is to sew with friends often, it is a great way to bond & you will be amazed what you will learn when you just create with other creative people. Not just about creating but about every aspect of life.

I love this, and think it’s fantastic advice, and something that I used to tell all my students, which leads on to

Maureen Hayes, who wrote:

My tip applies to any type of craft, or in fact life in general, it is DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH EVERYONE ELSE! You are unique and wonderful and should be proud and happy with what you make, not always saying it isn’t as good as so and so’s. I know this is hard to do, especially in a Pinterest world that leads us to believe that everything should look perfect all the time, but trust me, if you can do it, you will be much happier and progress much further in whatever you try to do

Just…. yep.  Nothing more to add to that.

Mokki, who wrote:

My tip whatever the project maybe is to keep inspiration around you. A piece of your main statement fabric/paper/embellishment etc., some pictures or small items that inspire or a book with useful pictures/techniques. It helps when something goes wrong or when you’re just running out of steam.
Also break every task into small steps and take your time so you can see your progress and not be daunted by a ‘big’ task; this also helps when you’re running out of steam!

Great advice for projects of all sizes and whatever craft you’re into

Deb, who wrote:

My favourite sewing tip ever is the hidden knot trick when you start stitching by hand. Fold your thread over double then thread both cut ends through the eye of the needle. Push needle through your fabric and then back down very close to first spot. Then pull the needle and thread through the loop at the back of the fabric and you have secured your thread without making an obvious knot!

Great little trick – I love sewing tricks like this!

And the winner is……. (drumroll please!)

Holly, who wrote:

For sewing I always stress to iron WAY more then you think you need too. Cutting carefully and ironing lots will make anything you sew nearly perfect! and for Crochet, to get perfect tension on your hook make sure the loop of yarn can easily slide up and down the shaft of your hook. If it can you will always get even stitches 

These are both really good tips that I used to use with all my students.  The more time you take over each bit of something, and taking care makes for such a better end result, and makes you more confident in your abilities for your next project.

Well done everyone!

I’ll be dropping you all an email now to get your postal addresses so I can ship your prizes.  Thank you once again to everyone who took part, I wish I had a prize for each of you.  I’ll be putting the tip list up soon, and later this week will be sharing some last minute vintage Christmas illustrations you can include in your gifts or crafting, so please pop back again soon.

Super simple neck warmer pattern

January 15th, 2013

With the weather turning a lot colder recently I’ve been making full use of the vast range of scarves, wraps and woolly things I’ve  amassed over the years.   Although I have a lot of things like scarves to keep me warm I love making more – it enables me to try out different stitches and use up odd bits of yarn from the stash, and is great when I want to relax and do something that isn’t that complicated and gives quite quick results.

I thought I would share this pattern with you, which is one I adapted from a kit that was sold in a little yarn shop in Ballymoney, and is really easy to work up regardless of what weight of yarn you have to hand.  It’s ideal for this weather as sometimes you don’t want to take all your woolly layers off when you go somewhere, and just want something small to keep you warm.  Worked in Double Knit weight yarn it would also be a nice addition for spring or autumn.

For this neck warmer I used some leftover Cygnet Chunky yarn that I had leftover from another project.  I’ve also made this using a fluffy Double Knit weight yarn too, to match a hat I had made.  I rummaged in my button tin to use up one of the odd buttons I have – this would be perfect if you have only 1 of a beautiful button and want something show it off.

This is a super simple seeded rib stitch pattern, and if you know how to knit and purl, you will be fine with this.

The original pattern asks you to work the button placket (which you can’t see that well under the button) in the same pattern you’ve been knitting in, but I think it is much easier to switch to garter stitch, especially if you aren’t that confident at knitting.

Download the pattern for the  Ribbed-Neck-warmer to print off.  I’ve also added it to Ravelry too!

Please let me know what you think to the pattern and share any pictures you have if you make it.  It’s the first knitting pattern I have adapted and shared for people to use – I hope that you like it!


Clean and green

November 7th, 2012

When I was 12, I was certain that one day I would go off to the Amazon to save the rainforest, or stop a whaling ship, or something. Needless to say I clearly was wrong in the predictions I had about my life.  My current job is managing a network of advice centres on behalf of the Citizens Advice Bureau, and is as stressful as it sounds, the amount of eczema on my hands being testament to that.  I don’t teach as much as I used to, either because the classes aren’t running due to lack of numbers, or mainly because I don’t seem to have the time or energy to do 2 or 3 classes per week on top of working full time.  Over time I have realised that I need to simplify my life, slow down a little bit and take care not just of those I love, but myself and my home and my bit of the environment.  I’m de-cluttering (hell, I sooo need to keep doing that!) and organising, trying to regain my love of cooking, enjoying the simple things like crocheting blankets to welcome new additions to the world, and have less stress both in my head and on my body, whilst trading a little more lightly on the planet.

One of the things I realised , and has been a good thing to come out of having itchy, sore,  unsightly (and frequently quite painful) eczema on my hands is the amount of chemicals that we use in our homes that affect us and the environment.  After cleaning the bathroom recently with a spray made by a well known UK manufacturer, I could barely breathe, my sinuses were so sore at the amount of perfume and chemicals that were in it.  The state of my hands was appalling too, even though most of the time when I am cleaning I use gloves. Cleaning the kitchen was the same.   Something had to change; I don’t remember my family using that many products when I was a child, our home was always scrupulously clean  but wasn’t filled with harsh chemicals.  I remember my mother knowing all sorts of things to use to remove stains, washing dishes with soda rather than washing up liquid, cleaning windows with vinegar and newspaper way before it became “fashionable” to do it the old fashioned way.  So I started to think about making my own cleaning products.  I know that out there are a hundred and one ways you can use the most random of things to clean (like banana skins to polish shoes), but in all honesty I don’t have either the time or the head space to be that green.   I do, however want to be able to use products like I have been doing efficiently but know what goes into them, and not suffer any ill effects afterwards.  So I did a bit of research.

The main ingredients that everyone seems to recommend are:

  • Bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Borax
  • Vinegar (distilled white, not malt!)
  • Lemons
  • Castile soap (which is made from olive oil)
  • Essential oils

All of which I can get locally, don’t cost much (apart from the essential oils, but I already have a few of those) and will enable me to make lots and lots of cleaning products really quite cheaply.  I also decided to get myself some new bottles that could be re-used (I ordered mine from here as they were the cheapest I found in the UK with no minimum order) although as bottles become free (I’m not going to throw away what I have, that wouldn’t be very green, although I don’t have much to use up) I will start to clean them and use them too.

I found lots of recipes online from lots of different sites, so I thought I would collect the ones I have been trying here as a printable PDF of Thrifty and green cleaning recipes for you – as I try out new recipes I will add to them and update them.

The ones I really like are the shower spray (I usually use Method cleaners, which is great, environmentally friendly but not cheap) – my washing up liquid was orange scented, so to add to it I added a couple of drops of orange Essential Oil too, and my shower after doing a quick wipe round sparkled and smelled great.  I also love the linen spray – I used it to freshen up the curtains in our dining room and it smells lovely.  I think next time I will try orange flower water (get it at your supermarkets in the baking section) and some orange essential oil to mix it up a bit, or maybe rosewater and patchouli…..? And the Lemon and lime clean everything spray.  I have also tried the Bergamot laundry booster which smells gorgeous and is much, much cheaper than buying the usual oxygen releasing cleaners (and better for your skin too), and have put this in a cleaned up tub of the previous sort.

These don’t take long to make (I spent about half an hour making lotions and potions, and quite enjoyed it) so it’s no excuse to say that you don’t have the time to do it and buying products is quicker and cheaper!  I got my bicarb from the pound shop, the vinegar was super cheap in Wilcos, or local supermarkets/ shops.  We’re lucky in Nottingham to have a stall on the indoor market called Aladdin’s cave that stocks all the dry goods, including Borax, alongside all sorts of hardware, crockery, roasting dishes, and random bits like you find in Lakeland, only much, much cheaper.  The whole stall smells of moth balls and carbolic soap though, so if you don’t like the smell, I wouldn’t visit!  If you want to find Castille soap most health food shops sell it, or you can find it online.  Once you have things bought, you’ll be able to make lots of these cleaning products for a long time, so its much more economical in the long run.

As with everything there are some warnings as these ingredients, although common household items, are still chemicals.  Borax (or as is usual to get in the UK, Borax substitute) can irritate your skin, so wear gloves.  Essential oils are strong, and some are not recommended for use if you are pregnant, so be wary when you’re using them. Strong acids like in the lemon and lime cleaner whilst will kill germs and smells will also damage marble, if you have any.  And remember to label your bottles!

On the whole, I now feel that I can clean without burning my sinuses, it will damage the environment less and cost less, so my home and self are going to be much better off for it. So whilst I am not saving the Amazonian rain forest, I do feel that I can do my little bit to minimise my impact on the environment, keeping both my 12 year old and 36 year old selves happy.

Have you tried making your own cleaning products at all?  If you have any recipes or tips drop me a line or add a comment to share!

Pillowcase shopper – easy tutorial

June 11th, 2012

It’s been a long, long while since I have posted here hasn’t it?  It’s always been my intention to start blogging again, but sometimes life gets in the way.  However, as they say the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so here’s mine – a super easy (if slightly wordy) tutorial to show you how to make a pillowcase into a shopping bag.  

These are great for when you go charity shopping/ car booting as you can ram a significant amount of stuff into them, yet they fold down to next to nothing.  Enjoy!

You will need:

• A cotton pillowcase, or equivalent amount of fabric.  Try to pick one that isn’t too thin or worn – you don’t want your shopping falling out!  If you want to make a really sturdy bag you may want to line it, in which case you would need 2 pillowcases.

• Small amounts of a co-ordinating fabric for the straps and ties – I have used some gingham here, but if you wanted to make this project even quicker you could use cotton webbing for the straps and ribbon for the ties.

• Braid or lace (optional) – I like to embellish things – just because something is practical doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty too.  I used some vintage cotton lace here as I had a small amount left, but you could use braid, ribbon, ric rack…. Or leave it plain.  You need enough to go all the way round the top of your bag, so around 1.5 metres will be plenty.

• Sewing machine and matching thread

• Stitch ripper/ unpicker (optional but makes life a bit easier)

• Scissors

• Pins

• Tape measure

• Iron and ironing board

1. Make the bag

The first thing you need to do is give your pillowcase a good iron – especially if you have had it stored for a while.  Once you have it ironed , you are going to chop off the end that is open, at the point where the inside “flap” starts.  If you have a particularly long pillowcase, or it doesn’t have a wide folded over flap on the inside feel free to chop it where it looks reasonable.  Measure from the sewn edge towards the open edge and mark with pins where you will cut, making sure you have a nice straight line to follow.  Keep the discarded fabric, you may want to use it for another project.

You now should have a long-ish square that will become your bag.  If you keep your bag with the opening you have just cut on the right hand side as you look at it, you need to either cut or use the stitch ripper  to open up the seam at the top, which will become your bag opening.

Turn your bag inside out, and pin the edge you cut, and sew with a 1.5cm seam allowance, leaving the top edge open.

You may want to sew all the way round the 3 sides to reinforce the stitching that it already there, but this is up to you.  You now have a bag.

To make your bag have a wider bottom, like mine in the picture, you need to make corners on the bottom and sides.  To do this, pinch the bottom seam and the side seam together so they form triangles – try and make sure you line up the seams accurately to get a nice, straight edge.  How far down the line you want to sew is up to you, just remember the further down you sew the wider the bottom of the bag will be, and it will make it become  more triangular in shape.  I sewed mine down 5cm from the point, making sure both corners were the same.

2. Make the straps and ties.

  • To make the bag straps, cut 2 strips of fabric 12cm by 70cm (if you want shorter straps then try 12cm by 50cm) from your co-ordinating fabric.
  • To make the ties cut a strip 9cm by 70cm (unless you are using ribbon / webbing, in which case you can skip this stage).

Fold each strap in half lengthwise, with right sides facing (so you sew on the wrong side of the fabric), and pin so you make a long tube of fabric.  Sew with a 1cm seam allowance, and turn them both the right way out (you may find this easier if you use a chopstick or something blunt/ that won’t mark your fabric.

For the ties, fold the strip in half with wrong sides facing, and tuck in each raw edge about 1/2cm, pinning as you go.  Once you have it pinned all the way down, fold in the ends at the top and bottom.  Sew across the top, along the long edge and across the bottom.  Give the straps and ties a press with the iron ready to attach to the bag.  Fold the tie in half lengthways and cut, so you now have 2 ties with sewn ends.

3. Finish the bag.

You need to make a hem at the opening of the bag – if you unpicked your pillowcase you will probably find that you have a little fold about 1cm in already made for you – tuck this under, and fold over again about 2.5cm so that the raw edge is enclosed.  Pin in place.

Find the middle of your bag opening either by measuring, or folding in half lengthways.  Tuck your ties (cut edge) under the hem, then fold up so that they stick out of the top rather than hanging into your bag.  Measure 10cm away from your ties, mark and tuck under the edges of the straps, making sure that the straps aren’t twisted!  To help with this I usually put the sewn edge towards the middle.

Sew, using a fairly small stitch close to the folded over edge, being careful when you go over the straps and ties, and overlapping.  Take your time over this as you don’t want to hit the folded fabric at a high speed and damage your sewing machine!

Now, turn your bag the right way out so you can attach the trimming.  Starting at a side seam pin in place – I put mine a few millimetres from the folded edge, pinning all the way round, and tucking in the raw edge when you meet at the beginning again.  Sew in place, handstitching the braid ends if necessary.

If you decide to not put any trim on you will need to still do a line of stitching to make sure your bag is strong enough and that the handles and ties are in the right place.Trim off any excess threads and give the bag a press.

To fold up for your handbag, fold the left side of the bag into the middle, fold in the straps and fold over the right side.  Roll up from the end , cross the ties over at the top, wrap around and tie in a bow.

After all that sewing you’re ready to go shopping!


Strawberry shopper tutorial

November 27th, 2010

Here’s the instructions and information for the second of the tutorials for foldaway shopping bags, the strawberry shopper.  I do hope that you liked the previous tutorial - if you make anything from these tutorials please let me know, I’d love to see them!

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For the strawberry bag you will need:

  • Pillowcase (try and find one that doesn’t crease too badly – maybe one with polyester in it.  Since this gets stuffed into the strawberry you don’t want it to come out looking like a dish rag!)
  • Square of red polka dot fabric 26cm x 26cm (you could use plain red and embroider or paint the dots/ seeds on if you wish/ have the time)
  • Strip of green fabric
  • Green bias binding (I used cotton, but you could always make a small strip for this bag from fabric; I’m just being a little lazy here!)
  • 3 metres of bias binding to use around the handles (this should be more than enough so don’t worry if you have less in)
  • Green cord suitable for a drawstring
  • Matching thread – green, red and something to match your bias tape or pillowcase.
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Patterns for leaves and cut outs:
  • Strawberry bag handle No1
  • Strawberry bag handle pattern No 2
  • Strawberry leaf pattern 1
  • Strawberry leaf pattern 2

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To make bag:

To prepare the pillowcase for being turned into a bag, you need to first undo the “flap” that is on the inside (the bit that keeps the pillow in place – you don’t need to be too careful in removing this, unless you are as tight with fabric as I am and plan on using it for something else.  Otherwise just snip along the line of sewing it’s attached to.

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Once you have snipped the fabric away both sides just pull it out and leave it.  Then you need to mark a line (I used pins but you may want to use chalk if you prefer) 50 cm from the bottom edge of the bag, like this:

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Place the patterns on for the side and top cut outs onto your bag, and cut out.  You will be left with what looks like a carrier bag but the handles being open, like this:

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You now need to join the handles together; turn the bag inside out, and pin along the raw edge at the top of the handle, then sew using a small stitch a couple of times in the same line.   I used a 1cm seam allowance for this – remember it is this seam that takes the weight of what you have in your bag so you want it to last!

You are now ready to attach your bias binding round the handles.  I use bias binding because it not only gives you a chance to tie in some colours (I used red because of the strawberry) but also because doing a hem on a curved edge isn’t that easy.  Fold the bias tape in half, creasing with your finger, and with the resulting “V” shape fit this over the raw edge of your fabric.  Pin in place, remembering to tuck in or join your strips together so no raw edges are sticking out.  I started from the seam so that it wouldn’t be really obvious where the bias tape began.  You also need to attach bias tape to the opening of the bag – try and make sure you don’t have any bulky seams or joins where your hands would be when you are carrying the bag; you want the bag to be comfortable to use.  Sew in place using matching thread.

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Once you have given it a bit of a once-over with your iron, the bag part is complete.  Now you need to make your strawberry.

To make your strawberry: Cut the square in 2 diagonally, and place right sides together, pinning like this:

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Using matching thread sew along the 2 shorter sides of the triangle.  Clip the corners off to redce the amount of bulk and turn round to the right side.  Iron.

Now you need to assemble your strawberry:

Using something like your finger as a guide, place the stawberry you have just sewn over the right hand corner of the bag (you can put it on the left if you want, but it will be on the right hand side when you turn it over!).  I tend to poke my finger into the corner of the bag, and place the strawberry on top, and wiggle it a bit to make sure it is in as far as it can be, if that makes sense.  Pin your strawberry in place, making sure you don’t pin both sides together!

Next you need to add your leaves – they should lay across the top of your strawberry (if you have done slightly less of a seam allowance then you may need to gather or pleat your leaves slightly to make them fit properly.  Pin in place, on both the front and the back.  Sew them down either by tacking by hand, or really close to the edge of the fabric (so that it will be hidden once you put your binding in place) like this:

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Once you have your leaves and strawberry sewn in place, you need to add your bias binding.  Cut a strip of binding long enough to cover the raw edges of fabric, and fold under about 1 cm each side.  Pin in place, starting from the middle and working your way to the sides.  When you reach the edges of the channel (which are at the sewn seams of the bag/ strawberry) you need to tuck the ends under so that they form a neat line, like this:

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You need to have an opening at both seams to be able to thread the cord through and tie it.  You may choose to only have one opening, in which case I suggest that it would be on the side edge of the bag, and you may want to use a taggle or something to help draw the bag in and keep it that way.

You now sew along in a continuous line all the way around, making sure that you overlap your stitches from where you started, as this area gets a lot of stress when you use the drawstrings.  Remember to use a small stitch for strength, and a matching thread for your fabric on the top and bottom.

Once you have sewn all the way round the top and bottom of your bias binding, you are ready to add your cord.  You can make the ties as long as you want – mine were cut to 80cm.  If possible (if using synthetic cord – it won’t work if it’s cotton!) singe the ends of the cords to seal them either by passing them through a flame or putting them near some heat – be careful when you do this however as molton cord is painful if it hits your skin, and you don’t want to start a fire!  You will need 2 cords that are long enough to tie in a knot after being threaded through the bias binding.

Using a sfaety pin, start at one opening, thread your cord all the way round until it comes out next to where it went in.  Tie this off in a knot at the end of the cord.  Next thread your other cord, and start at the other gap in your binding, threading it all the way round until it comes out and tying it off.  Now it should look like this:

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Give your bag a final press with the iron, taking care that you don’t melt the cord!  Your bag is complete now – just stuff the bag into the strawberry, pull the cords and you’re ready to go shopping!

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Enjoy xoxo

Foldaway shopper tutorials

November 16th, 2010

It’s been a while hasn’t it?  Lots happening, and lots of good blogging intentions that have slipped.  Saying that, I really want to get back to blogging, but struggle to find things to write about, so I have decided that I will mainly try and post tutorials on here, and since Christmas is fast approaching,  I wanted to offer some tutorials for things that are easy and quick to make, and would make nice gifts.  The first of these are 2 shopping bags. 

shopper bags

The first one we will tackle here is the shopper that folds into it’s own pouch – I will be back with instructions for the strawberry one later in the week.

I don’t know about you but I have no shortage of bags for life / canvas bags/ tote bags – you name it.  I just end up getting or making more as I never remember to pick them up when I go shopping (I know, it defeats the object!) and I think one of the problems (apart from a complete lack of organisation on my part) is that they never fold into anything, so I end up stuffing them into another bag, and maybe remebering to fold one up and put it in my handbag before I go out the door.  I bought a bag like this ages ago and loved the fact it folded up on itself, so I thought it would be easy to show you how to make one for yourself.

You will need:


  • A pillowcase – I used an old one I picked up for pence at a charity shop
  • Co-ordinating / contrasting cotton fabric ( a fat quarter would be ideal as you don’t need loads) for the pocket.
  • Strip of contrasting / co-ordinating fabric for the top of the bag – slightly more than twice the width of the bag and 12cm deep.
  • Scrap of ribbon or a strip of matching fabric
  • Matching / contrasting thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Dressmakers’ chalk
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board

Cut out for the pocket :

2 rectangles of co-ordinating fabric – I used 2 different ones for the front and back both for interest and for demonstration purposes.  Your rectangles need to be 20 x 26 cm, (this includes a 1cm seam allowance).

You also need to cut a strip of ribbon (or use a piece of fabric you have hemmed) 14cm long to use as a hanging hook for your bag – useful for storing, or for maybe adding a key chain to?

Make the bag:

Take your pillowcase and measure from the sewn end 55cm – this makes a nice deep bag, although if you want a smaller bag, feel free to make it less.  Mark with chalk a line across your bag.  On my bag  I measured to the point where the pillowcase folds over on the inside, and trimmed that off.  You’ll need to keep the fabric you trim off as it makes the handles for the bag.

Handles: separate off the excess fabric you have from trimming your pillowcase.  Mine was sewn all the way round, so I trimmed off the back piece from the “flap”(the bit that holds your pillow in place), and took apart the seams to release the flap of fabric.  This left me with 2 bits of fabric.  If your pillowcase only has one seam then just unpick it so you have 1 long strip of fabric.  Making sure that the strip/s are even in size all the way along, fold it in half widthways, and iron a crease.  Pull it apart and cut along the line you have just ironed in so you have 2 or 4 strips, like this:

blog pics 007 If you have 4 strips (like mine) you will need to join them – I sewed mine twice in the same place with a small stitch, as this seam takes a lot of strain when you are using the bag.  If you have 1 long strip then you don’t have to bother sewing.  You could use the sewing that is in fromwhen the pillowcase was made, but I would strengthen it with a row of stitching too – trust me on this one!  Iron the seam you have just made apart to make it less bulky to sew.

To finish the handles, fold the strips in half widthwise with wrong sides together (i.e. with the right sides on the outside, and remember you are making a long strip, not folding it in half!), iron the crease in place.  Fold your raw edges in to the middle about a centimetre, like this:

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and like this:

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Pin along the edge you have just folded in.  I would always pin where the line of stitching is – make sure when you are sewing that your stitches are near to the edge of the fabric, and that you sew to the point of the pin, and pull the pin towards you.  Saves you getting in no end of bother! Sew where you have just pinned on both strips – if you want you can do a line of machine stitching on the other side to match feel free, but it’s not a problem if you don’t want to.  Set straps aside.

Next – trim the top of your bag.  Using the strip of fabric, measure twice the width of your pillowcase plus 2cm for seam allowance.  Foe example, my pillowcase measured 48cm across, so my strip would be 98cm (48cm +48cm +2cm).  Accurate measuring is key here!  Fold the strip right sides together widthwise, pin and sew so that you are making a tube.  Press apart seam allowance.  With right sides of fabric facing you fold the tube in half widthwise and iron – this crease will enable the fabric to sit over the raw edge of the bag.  Then tuck under the raw edges of the tube and iron them down.  This should look like a tube of bias binding and sit over the bag quite neatly.  Pin in place, lining up the seams, like this:

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Sew into place with a small – ish stitch for strength.

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Once you have attached the binding at the top of the bag you need to add your straps – I placed mine 11cm in from the side seams, but if your bag is wider or narrower then feel free to alter this so that it both looks and feels right to you.  Pin in place to try.  You can also alter the length of your straps at this point if you wish.  The important thing is that the straps are placed evenly and in the same place on both sides, otherwise the bag won’t hang straight when being used. 

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Fold under the raw edge of each strap (I tend to use the side with the stitching as the inside of the strap, but this isn’t important, again as long as it matches on both sides!) 2.5cm, and pin this down where you want them to be.  I didn’t put mine all the way down to the sewn edge, but in the middle, like this:

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Sew into place making a box shape, and reinforcing the first line of stitching, like this:

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You have now made your bag – you could stop there and just fold your bag up – it’s ideal for decorating or adding embellishments to, but if you want to make a little pocket for it to fold into, read on….

Variation:  you could make a flat bottom for your bag by pinching in the corners and sewing across them.


Take the 2 squares you cut from fabric, and place them right sides together.    Find the middle of the long edge and place your folded ribbon in, so that the raw edges are in line with the fabric.  In my picture I have stuck them out slightly so that you can see them.

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Pin around the edge, leaving a gap in one of the shorter edges.  When pinning I find it easiest to pin horizontally so you can (with care) sew over your pins – if you do this place a different coloured pin in vertically to mark where you need to leave your gap.  You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to get carried away and sew all the way round!  Sew using a 1cm seam allowance.  I have used a white thread for it to show up in pictures but I would usually use a matching thread throughout.

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Remove the pins, and trim off the corners of the fabric close to the line of sewing

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Using the gap in the side turn right side out, making sure the corners are poked out so that they are nice and square – sometimes using the blunt end of some scissors helps, but be careful to not make a hole in your lovely sewing!  Give this a bit of an iron to flatten it out – if your fabric is a bit “springy” then you may fin putting some steel (not pearl headed cos they melt….) pins in whilst you iron may help, and sew along the short edges (this closes the gap on one edge. 

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This is the careful part – the pocket is only attached to the bag on one side, so you need to fold over and sew down the other side.  Fold one edge towards the middle, making sure that you tuck in your hanging loop.

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Sew from the middle to the folded edges to secure – I find that if you sew about 1cm, then reverse and sew back on yourself, then sew the line you wanted to makes areas where there will be high stress on the fabric much stronger and longer lasting.  You have now made the part that isn’t attached to the bag. 

Fold in the other side and pin.  Now, find the vertical middle of your shopping bag, mark with a crease or a chalk line, and mark 12cm up from the bottom of the bag.  Fold the pocket in half to find the middle and use this to pin in place on your bag.  I find that it is easier to get the pocket placed, and pin through the front and back layers, then to move the pins to sew it.  Just remember to move them!

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This picture is a bit confusing, however, cos I took it upside down.  You are sewing in a “U” shape down the short side, across the bottom and up the other side again, but the sewn edge needs to be facing the bottom…. hope that makes sense

Trim off all your bits of thread and give the whole thing a press.  To fold the bag up, turn the bag over so the pocket is face down.  Fold the edges of the bag in to the middle, fold the straps down, and fold in the bag until you reach the pocket, fold up the bottom edge, then fold the pocket over the bag, so it looks like this.

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I will try and put together a PDF of the folding instructions for you so that you can print it and include in with the bag if you are giving it as a gift.  If you find your bag wants to “escape” from the pocket you could always make a button loop and attach a small button for closing up. 

Once you have made one they get quite addictive and it’s easy to make loads in an afternoon, production line style

I will be back again with instructions for the strawberry bag soon.  Enjoy! xoxo