Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tutorial for Fabric Mail Sorter

Yesterday my hanging mail holder design, posted here on Craftster, made it onto the CRAFT magazine blog! Since I’ve gotten several requests for a tutorial here goes! I actually made two organizers last night, one just like the original (brown/purple) and one smaller (tan) for those who are short on horizontal wall space. There is no extra space between the edge of the pocket and the binding. The instructions for the modification are in parentheses. Let me know if you have any difficulties or need clarification!

First the materials needed:

1 yard fabric for the body and outside of the pockets – can be cotton, linen, or even canvas would be ok
½ yard fabric for the pocket lining and binding – should be quilting cotton or similar weight
½ yard Pellon 70 or other ultra heavy weight interfacing
½ yard Pellon 987F or other lightweight fusible fleece or fusible interfacing
1/3 yard Pellon 40, 50, or other lightweight interfacing
65 inches of bias binding, if not making your own
Extra-large grommet and setting tools
Thread to match backing fabric
1. Make your pattern piece. I find it easiest to make a paper pattern and cut from that. Follow the photo below. Also, make this all one piece of paper, I accidentally cut mine! Draw a horizontal line where the pieces would separate though. **If you do not have a serger, add a seam allowance on the bottom and the angled sides.**

2. Cut out your fabric. From the lining fabric, cut about 65” worth of binding. If you’re not sure how to do this try this tutorial. There may be better ones but this is pretty good. Also cut 3 pocket pieces. If you are only making this once, you can now cut the pocket pattern on the line you drew, otherwise fold. From the main fabric cut 2 pieces for the backing that measure 20” high by 14” wide (for the small organizer 20” high by 11.5” wide). Also cut 3 pieces from the small pocket pattern you just cut.

3. Cut your interfacing. Cut a piece of Pellon 70 and Pellon 987F the same size as the backing. Cut 3 small pocket pieces of Pellon 987F and Pellon 40.

4. Fuse your interfacing. Fuse the Pellon 987F to the backing and the front of the pocket pieces. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to do this. TIP: If you are using cotton as your main fabric and you see it bubbling after you fuse, rip off the interfacing and fuse from the front, keeping your iron moving and gliding it slowly across. This time it won’t bubble. Make sure no fleece is exposed to where your iron could touch it though! Also, this goes against ALL the manufacturer’s recommendations so beware. But it works for me.

5. Assemble the pockets. Layer the pocket like this: Pellon 40, front of pocket right side up, lining wrong side up, matching raw edges at the top. The sides of the lining will hang over a bit, just center it. Sew a ½” seam. Next spread the fabrics apart and press the seam towards the lining.

Serger Instructions: Fold the lining over the top so that wrong sides are together and match the raw edges on the bottom. With the lining side up, serge the raw edges starting on the right side, this way if the fabric stretches it will just roll right into the lining band at the top.

Non-Serger: With right sides together, match raw edges at the bottom and press from the bottom up so that you get a lining band at the top. With the lining side up, start from the right and sew the sides and bottom. Leave about 2 inches on the bottom edge to turn, then turn right side out and press flat. (for the small organizer, just stitch the bottom edge)

Repeat for rest of pockets. Turn under about 1/2” toward the lining on the sides and bottom of each pocket and press.

6. Put it all together! Line up the interfaced backing right side up over the Pellon 70. Pin in the center of each side to stabilize it while you sew. Start with the bottom pocket. Center the pocket on the backing (for the small organizer it will fit perfectly) and line up the folded bottom edge about 1.5” from the bottom . Pin or hold in place and starting a few stitches away from the sides, topstitch it right onto the backing about ¼” from the folded edge. Now line up the side of the pocket parallel to the edge of the backing, folding under the pressed edge and tucking it into the space you left unstitched. Stitch it in place like you did the bottom edge and repeat on the other side. (for the small organizer you don’t need to fold, the edge can just be basted into place) Repeat for the other two pockets, spacing them 1.5” from the top of the previous pocket.

7. Finish it! Almost there, this is the last step! Line up the other backing piece and pin in place. Starting at the bottom, attach the binding using your preferred method. Now find the center point at the top, between the top of the pocket and the binding. Attach your grommet according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Now you’re done! Enjoy your mail sorter! Here are the finished photos of mine (sorry I was lazy so no grommets!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New bags!

Here is the Westminster Handbag, based on the ever popular Westminster Tote. I love the way this bag turned out!

It was a lot of work though. I'm not sure if that's because I was making two at once or because of all the pieces and stiff interfacing. I'll just have to make another and see! Isn't this pink Jessica Jones fabric perfect for spring?

This bag uses Ikea fabric that I bought earlier in the month and have been dying to use! It's actually from one of their pre hemmed curtain fabric turned sideways. The inside is Sandi Henderson's Petal Party in green, which I've used on several bags and I have in 3 different colors! I love it :)

Some button detail and side shots! I think the buttoned tabs are my favorite new feature because it cinches the sides. This keeps the bag closed enough so your stuff doesn't spill out, but they're not so tight that you can't get anything inside. It still opens very wide. And I love the long straps too! It's such a pain when you can't get your arm in your purse (especially a problem when wearing a heavy winter coat!).

So what do you think of my new bags?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Activities

Once again, an old addiction rears its ugly head and consumes half of my evening before I even realize! I even think about it at work. What am I talking about? Internet games! Mah-jong tiles, word games, the "adventure games" with storylines, I can't help it, I just love them all. The game that has had me enthralled since last Tuesday is Diner Dash 2.

This game and others definitely contributed to my C in Organic Chemistry II my senior year of college! There are several versions, but in the one I have been playing a ruthless businessman named Mr.Big is planning to tear down a block of unique restaurants to build a Mega Foodplex. Flo, the waitress, has to help her friends earn enough money for their rent checks to avoid being taken over. The mechanics of the games are all the same. Flo seats the guests, takes the order to the counter, brings the food, takes the bill and clears the dishes. But there are all sorts of extra things that earn you points, like bringing a high chair to the tables with Families or serving drinks to unhappy customers. There are different types of customer and each has a personality quirk that may help or hinder you. The Families and Cell Phone guys are very noisy, and the Businesswomen and Bookworms don't like to sit next to them. They might even get up and leave if their happiness points go to zero. It would be too easy to just seat customers anywhere you want though, so the tables are laid out differently every time. Plus each customer wears a different color, and you get bonus points for putting them in the same color seat. As you progress through the levels, the game offers choices for decor upgrades, new food items for the customers to choose like appetizers and dessert, and little "helps" like you can call in a hostess or drink waiter, and seat customers on a bench while they wait for a table. It's actually very cool, there's a diner, pizza place, Mexican cantina and Japanese restaurant. So I guess that's my little plug for Diner Dash. Next up, Fairy Godmother Tycoon!

Some other happenings this weekend include my sister coming over to help me cut some fabric for lots and lots of bags! Some custom, some new things that have been in my head. My sewing room was very busy yesterday! The best part was that she brought my 2-year old niece, whose supervillain name is Distract-o.

I think the only way we managed to get any work done was by popping in The Little Mermaid and Cinderella. Thank goodness for Disney!

And now for shop news: two new bags will be debuting in the shop sometime this week! The all new Westminster Handbag is a new style based on the Westminster Tote. It's more structured but it's very spacious, and with the fun prints I've chosen I think it will be a great look for spring. One is pink! Keep an eye out for photos on my blog and for the bags to be available for purchase in the shop.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Creative Endeavors

There has been lots of work going on in my sewing room lately! I don't even have photos of it all. Unfortunately I gave my photographer my flu so all I have are some not so great in progress photos of my Charing Cross Slings, and no pictures of the Big Ben or Westminster Tote I finished! I still have the tote so hopefully I can get in some good shots before delivery this weekend.

Well here are the awesome slings before they got sewn together. These were some custom orders from Bazaar Bizarre. Don't my customers pick the best fabrics?!

I know it's hard to see the one on the right but don't worry, I'll be making more of that one! I've also been making these patchwork coasters like mad. Originally they were inspired by some coasters I saw on iheartlinen's blog.

The green ones are for my living room, and the others are just because. I tried to use all scrap fabrics, but for the pink I had less than I thought so I had to cut into some virgin pieces. These were so easy to make and it only took about 15 min each including cutting. I may not be the best at patchwork, but the more I make the more practice I get!

Each one is lined with a piece of Insul-Bright (not sure if it will help keep my drinks cold or not but it was the right thickness) and backed with a plain complimentary cotton. Hopefully I'll be able to add these to my shop once I perfect my piecing skills. I don't know how quilters do it!

I've got quite a few more bags to finish before I'm finally caught up, including a super cute mini Bloomsbury in navy blue, then hopefully I can work on restocking my shop! I'd like to get at least 5 of each design so keep checking back for updates!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sick = No fun

Wow I guess I've just been updating every weekend, but really I meant to do it more often! I've had the flu for a week now, been really sick since Wednesday though. I mean like missing work sick. There's no need to go into all the phlegmy details. Someone told me this strain of flu that's going around is resistant to the flu shot. I was counting on that to get me through the winter!

Finally feeling better today though! I had a bad feeling when I woke up and I was still exhausted, but I was able to get up and clean the bathroom! Now I feel as though I have accomplished something. Still a lot more to do today though, I have a Big Ben to finish, buttons to sew on one Charing Cross Sling, and if I can I'd like to get in a couple patchwork coasters before my mom's birthday dinner tonight. Yay for the Olive Garden! I also have to wrap her present - an I love the 80's board game! I saw it at the store and though, how perfect is that??? My mom still lives in the 80's I think.

Now I promised I'd post some photos of my newest design and here it is: the Kensington Handbag! Ok it's really a shoulderbag but I think you can hold it either way, and handbag just sounds better.

The fabric is from Ikea, and I added white piping as an accent. The lining is a mint green cotton with white polka dots. I think there are some nice touches on this bag that make it more professional, like the piping, the O-rings on the straps (which are cotton duck, very sturdy!) and also I did an insert of black duck on the lining where the snap is attached, so that at the top all you see is black. I just think that adds something to the look.
Well I've just finished up a ton of custom bags so once I snap some photos I will post!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter Wonderland!

When we woke up this morning, there was so much snow! We must have gotten at least a foot. It's beautiful outside. We admired it for awhile until we realized - the driveway needed shoveled! Of course it was cold and still snowing so our clothes got all wet and our arms are tired, but it's pretty good exercise at least!

I can't wait to babysit my niece tomorrow so we can play in the snow together. She's almost two years old and she's still a little afraid to touch the snow, but she likes to stand around in her snowsuit and boots! Last time she cried when my sister and I made snow angels, she thought we were getting hurt! Hopefully tomorrow goes a little better...

In sewing news, I finished two Bloomsbury messenger bags and they turned out better than I imagined! I love completing this bag because it feels like such an accomplishment. I think these were done in some really great fabrics too. Sorry for the horrible pictures, the actual photo shoot (with a nice camera!) will be tomorrow and the bags are going out Monday!

One is a large diaper bag in black cotton duck and Amy Butler's Water Garden in Forest for the accent and lining. This was a custom order from Bazaar Bizarre. I love the diaper bag but truthfully, it's an intense bag to make! Two types of pockets (one elasticized) that require different construction styles, and it's twice as wide as the regular Bloomsbury. For this one I found some really great nickel buttons for the front.

The bag in the front is the mini-messenger. Also a custom order, but this one was from Etsy and the customer let me pick the lining fabric! The request was for brown corduroy on the outside and something blue/green for the lining with a smallish pattern. I think this Kaffe Fassett fabric fits the description and looks amazing next to the brown cord. I went with matching green buttons on this one. The strap had to be canvas because of some shedding problems with the corduroy so I hope she doesn't mind!

There have been some quick little personal projects going on in between bags for customers. I'll post some pictures later, but they include toiletry bags (made specifically for my business trip last week!), patchwork coasters made of scraps and a linen hanging organizer. All the projects were really fun and quick, it would be great if eventually I could open up another shop to sell items for the home! I'm really excited about these so I can't wait to post pics later!
Enjoy the snow if you have it! :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ikea love :)

Ahh Ikea. My favorite store! It's really too bad the closest one is 2 hours away in Pittsburgh...or is that a good thing? Probably 90% of our furniture is Ikea. So anyways, I have a custom order that uses Ikea fabric and the piece I had was too short, so the boyfriend and I made an emergency road trip to PA yesterday. Of course I got plenty of other fabrics too!
There are some exciting new ideas floating around my head right now, and sometimes you just have to stop what you're working on and start creating before you lose the inspiration. So that's what I did yesterday after Ikea. I'm going out of town next week (this week? I guess so since it's Sunday) for work and thought I could use a new purse. I love my Charing Cross Sling in brown corduroy and pink flowers, but it's getting kind of dirty and I wanted something less casual. So I chose a black and white fabric from Ikea (if you look in the picture it's the top one in the stack on the right) and it's a whole new design that I think is going to be a hit! More details to come's still not done as my trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics to pick up supplies fell through, so I must go after work tomorrow. Don't worry, completed project photos will be up as soon as it's finished! I've also got two messenger bags in progress right now, basically I've been alternating between them whenever I get time to sew! Well I guess it's time to get back to work then!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Yay for 2009!

Happy New Year everyone! Although I signed up for this blog in September, obviously I've been a bit lazy with my posting. But, it's a new year so I thought I'd give this a whirl.

I'd better introduce myself. I'm Brittany, I'm 23 and I'm from the greater Cleveland area. I recently started my own business, london purple! Basically I was accumulating quite a fabric stash (and a finished product stash!) and a friend suggested I start selling my bags. It made sense to me, I love creating purses but it's not really feasible for me to have 18,000 of them. And so london purple was born!

The "theme" of my bags is that they're all named for different areas of London. One of my favorites is the Paddington Travel Bag (named for Paddington Station), a duffel bag that's the perfect size for holding everything you need for a weekend away. My general style is mixing classic solid colored fabrics with fun designer prints, either on the outside for a bag that will stand out or on the inside for a pop of color on a bag you can use every day. I also like functional features like adjustable straps, zipper pockets and reversability. You can check out my current bags for sale at I'm creating new bags all the time!

So that's enough about me! Onto the real everyone else excited about their resolutions? I have many, although I guess I'm not calling them resolutions. Goals for 2009 I would say. So my goals are:

- Eating healthier and exercising more. Isn't this on everyone's list? To do this, my boyfriend and I are abstaining from fast food for one month. This will be interesting, considering we are fast food junkies!

- I'd like to stop biting my nails. It's a really gross habit (even I think so) but it's hard to stop since I've been doing it since kindergarden. Yes I have managed to quit several times, but you get that one broken nail and it all goes downhill from there.

- Using my new day planner! So often I let these things fall by the wayside (hence, why I haven't blogged in months) but I paid a lot of money for a beautiful *pink* handbound planner so I'd love to use it every day! Actually I sketched some quick designs in it today. Let's hope this becomes something I can't go without.

-Turning the desk in the guest bedroom into my london purple office area. Right now my paperwork (receipts, invoices, custom order forms, etc.) is scattered about my sewing room. Not good!

- Building and maintaining an inventory of >30 bags in my shop. This shouldn't be too hard, I have a ton of ideas floating around. Just need to finish up some custom orders first!

- Shortening my TAT for custom orders. This will be tough. Although I love doing custom orders because people often choose fabric combos I wouldn't think of, or sometimes they pick ones I've been dying to do, sometimes it's hard to get the motivation to finish them when I have new ideas I want to try. I also feel bad crafting for myself when I have orders waiting.

I think those are some pretty good goals for the year. I'd love to see some of the things you all plan to do this year!