Mamma’s got a brand new bag

When I first started sewing, hmmmm maybe about 5 years ago now, one of the first things I made was a tote bag for my mum…it was very basic! She did, however, use it all the time so now the colour is less navy and white more navy and brown, and the appliqué apple (bit random…who knows why I decided on this for a decoration!) is now just an outline of stitches, the inner fabric as worn off.

So for mum’s birthday this year I made a new bag to replace this well loved but pretty disgusting old one. The pattern for the bag was from U Handbag which has a great easy-to-follow tutorial that you can print.
The fabric I used, bought from Favourite Fabrics on Ebay, was a cotton/linen blend, strong and hard-wearing for every day use, in a pretty vintage-style blue and pink floral print for the outer and pink and white polka dots for the lining. The tan leather sew-on bag handles were also from Ebay.

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Slightly better than the old one I think and mum was pretty pleased with it too…here’s to another five years.

Due to the popularity of this bag amongst my other family members, my sister also got one for her birthday a month later, with just a couple of changes: the same fabric but different colour; and the handles, again leather, but brown, slightly longer, and different in style (I think slightly more modern looking than mum’s) – I bought these from www.bag-clasps.co.uk. I also added a pocket inside the bag to keep her phone or keys, knowing how they always seem to get lost amongst the Mary Poppins range of items in a girl’s bag!

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I just need to make one for myself now and we’ll have a matching set.

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Pretty Pastels

Well it’s been a while since I’ve made anything, other than the odd bit of bunting here and there, so it was lovely to get back into things with these pretty bags…

SONY DSCI made this first bag for my friend Rose who was 30 a few weeks ago, but it was a kind of joint birthday/wedding pressy (she is honeymooning it up as I type!)
SONY DSCI used a mint green duchess satin under the ivory lace to coordinate with the colour of her bridesmaid dresses.
The ribbon, sewed to the lining which reads: ‘to have and to hold, from this day forward, is available from the lovely Wedding in a Teacup, who I also make lavender bags for. I thought this added a nice little wedding related touch.
SONY DSCAs an extra, I also added a bronze chain that matched the purse frame, which I think gives it a more vintage look, and allows Rose to use it either as a little bag or clutch.
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The next set of bags I made for Susie, a bride getting wed in Ireland at the end of June, as gifts for her bridesmaids.
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She sent me a photo of her beautiful bridesmaid dresses (and a sneak peek at her wedding dress…eeek!) which were all a different pastel shade: one lilac, one mint green and one nude.
Susie asked if I’d make all the bags the same colour, similar to that of the nude coloured dress, again with the ivory lace.
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I found a gorgeous shade of nude/beige duchess satin to use for the main bag, and lined them all with a super pretty pale pink floral fabric.

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I was so pleases that the bride I made these for like them so much she requested another two; one for herself and one for her mum. I hope her maids like their gifts.

Little Lavender Bags

Lavender bags are quite simple little gifts to make, but everyone seams to love them!

I made a few before Christmas to give as gifts, but instead of just two pieces of fabric sewed together and stuffed with some dried lavender, I decided to jazz them up a bit with some decoration.

My 90 year old nan is so hard to buy a present for as she just tells us she doesn’t want anything…not even chocolates (because she is ‘trying to be good’! If you can’t be naughty at 90, when can you be?). Really, I know she appreciates anything we give her, and I like to try to make as many things as possible so knew she would appreciate a these little hand-made gifts…

I got this cute cross stitch pattern (plus threads) free in one of my issues of Mollie Makes magazine. It took me about three hours to do (in a one’er) whilst I was watching Children in Need back in November, which I then trimmed with cream crochet trim, and stitched onto some lovely pale pink and white spot cotton linen fabric (Seasonal Supplies shop via Etsy). I edged the design with a hand-sewn running stitch and embroidery thread. After sewing the little bag together as normal, filling with dried lavender, I finished it off with a ribbon loop and cute button.

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I also made a matching bookmark with my nan’s (Mary) initial.

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As this was such a hit with my mum, I thought I would make her (and my Aunty) some lavender bags as little additions to their presents. Only I couldn’t decide on a design so I made many and thought the extras would make handy little gifts ready for friends and family birthdays throughout the year…

The entire collection (times four of each)…errr yeah I got a bit carried away with my free-hand machine appliqué!

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Aunty Shirley got the little pink houses (far right), whilst Aunty Elaine got the cherries…

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My mum got the brollies (only she saw a ‘J’ for Joyce…err yeah mum, that’s what it’s supposed to be!)

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The blue flowers are my favourite (may keep these for myself to hang in my wardrobe)…

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These make great little inexpensive gifts as you can make them as big or small as your fabric allows; you can even use up fabric left-overs for both the bags and decoration.

Rose’s Hand-printed Cushion

I hear what you say…‘cushion! Booorrrinng!’ 

Ok so I’ve made many a cushion, most I haven’t bothered posting about as, nice as they may be, there is just nothing that special about them, a cushions a cushion right?

Right! But this, my most recent one is special – to me anyway as it’s my first ever attempt at block printing where I designed the print, cut the block (and my hands!), and printed the fabric…all that before cutting and sewing it into a cushion cover.

I decided to make this for my friend Rose, who is a fan of cool stuff and likes and appreciates how things look (being a graphic designed and all!). I made it for her birthday/house-warming pressy. I went with a palm tree design to match her very funky wallpaper in her new living room.

First off I drew the design onto a piece of parchment paper, then magically transferred it by rubbing the back of the paper onto the lino block (I was pretty impressed with how well this technique worked!).

The next step was to work out how the blade worked and start to chip away around the design…this was quite fiddly and cost me quite a bit of skin off my fingers! (hence the glove…note to self: invest in a hand guard!). Once this hard work was done, many an hour late, the fun messy bit began.

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Before I jumped in a printed onto my lovely linen, I practiced on some scraps of fabric to test amount of paint and to see if I’d cut away well enough. After a bit of practice and a few amends to the block, away I went…

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Once all the fabric was printed, I left it to dry for a day before the easy part – sewing it together to make the cushion cover.

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I even added coconut buttons (appropriate!)

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I may have used a easy shape and soft cut lino but I was super pleased with my first attempt, and whilst it may not be the most complicated thing I’ve ever made it certainly is the most ‘hand-made’.

Girly Totes

I’ve recently been asked to make a few bags as girly gifts – you can never have too many bags right!

The briefs for the first two were pretty different, reflecting the girl’s styles and loves. One was to be a pretty typically girly type with flowers, frills, shopping and the key important feature…a little black doggie (I even got emailed a photo…always welcome a cute puppy pic!).

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And the second bag…guess what the brief for this was? Yep you guessed it – the lady who was to receive it, Amanda, her pride and joy is her cream with a black soft top VW Beetle. Although I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have flower print tyres!

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This was probably the most trickiest free-hand I’ve done to date..I had to make a paper template first and cut it all up into small sections. I think, on close inspection, the perspective is not quite perfect but I guess that’s what makes it unique right?

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The final two were more similar…for a mum and mother-in-law. Both keen gardeners…

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A Summer of Weddings – Part 2

As the dark nights loom with the approaching autumn, now is a perfect time to put an end to my summer of weddings (in decoration terms that is!) .

So following a very busy summer for me, here is the sequel to the, obvious-but-appropriately-named, my ‘A Summer of Weddings – Part 1‘…

More pretty bunting (obv!)

Love these prints – it’s so vintage looking and colourful (love a bit o’ colour)

The brief for the next 40m set of bunting was ‘just like your wedding’ – which was a lovely compliment really as I thought ours was a pretty mixed bag of colours and pattern but clearly [in my eyes] the most beautiful…

Here is some personalised ‘Mr and Mrs’ bunting in action at this super gorgeous wedding of the beautiful couple Anne and Andrew (the purple bridesmaid bags below were also for the equally gorgeous bridesmaids).

Cute little hessian and lace cake topper – for the lovely Lisa…of the other half of Matt Brown Photography fame.

And loads of bridesmaid pressies…(including the old favourite lace purse)

Tie-ing the knot.

A good friend of mine, Louise, recently got married to her lovely, now husband, Phil at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire.

In the run up to the wedding, amongst all the other plans and preparations Louise asked if I would make the wedding party men’s ties (including a little one for her 4-year old nephew) and pocket squares, and a little bridesmaid bag for her niece…all in a rich aubergine colour to tie in with her colour scheme.

After sourcing the fabric, doing a tie trial-run (with the craziest floral print 60-style fabric – one for Pete’s birthday!), I got started with the eight men’s ties and pockets squares.

(Above photos by Howard Barnett Photography. Flowers by Horti-Couture.)

With the small bit of fabric I had left over, I made Louise a little clutch bag too.

Oh, and a garter…

(Above photo by Howard Barnett Photography.)

Congratulations Louise and Phil…

(Above photo by Howard Barnett Photography.)

Bridesmaid Bags.

One of my oldest and closest friends, Laura, got married just over a week ago and I was one of eight bridesmaids.

The beautiful bride and her hubby Al.

Being a lovely, out-going, very bubbly and caring person, Laura and her now hubby got married on the banks of the beautiful Loch Lomond in Scotland in front of a massive 170 guests. The colour scheme for the wedding was along the Easter theme of pastel pink, blue, green and blue, complete with personalised egg cups and chocolate eggs.

The bridal party attire was (of course!) kilts for the men, cream lace dresses for the bridesmaids, and Laura’s beautiful Stephanie Allin wedding dress. Topped off with pink, blue and white hydrangers for the flowers.

A little while back, amongst the wedding-organising craziness, Laura asked me to make purses for the bridesmaids as a little surprise gift. We initially were going to go with a pink fabric, but after my other good friend and co-bridemaid Sarah told us she was pregnant and her baby started to grow, we ended up a with a spare bridesmaid dress which I cut up to make the bags.

I got some gorgeous antique-style purse frames which had a decorative flower (that I thought looked appropriately like a thistle!) from Etsy.

From bridesmaid dress...

...to bag!

With one test bag complete and approved by the bride, I got started on the other seven.

With enough fabric left to make another, I decided Laura couldn’t go without, so I made her a surprise bag also with the addition of a little hand-stitched label spelling out the bride and groom’s names and their wedding date – as a little keep sake.

On the morning of the wedding, Laura gave all the bags to her bridesmaids, which she had filled with a whole range of girly goodies including a little mirror, nail file, hand cream, bracellet, flower hair clips and more.

The girls loved their bags which also recevied plenty of nice comments from wedding guests throughout the day.

As well as the bags, I made a few little extra bits and bobs including a ‘Mr and Mrs’ banner and mini cake bunting with ‘hitched’ embroidered on the little flags.

As a thank you for making the bags, Laura gave me a lovely little silver star charm, with my initial. This charm was not only gorgeous, it was super special as it was also hand-made by my equally crafty friend Jane, who has recently starter her own jewellery business: Love Bird Love – please check out her website, it’s worth it!

Joanna’s Bag

I was asked by my customer, Joanna, if I would make her a bag for a wedding she was attending at the end of February.

Joanna had been looking for a ‘quirky clutch bag’, but had been unable to find anything she liked so asked if I would make her one after seeing the little purses I’d posted on my blog a little while back.

Joanna had already found some fabric that she liked on M is for Make so sent me the link to a very cute white fabric with a grey bike-print (called ‘Bikes in Grey’ by Erin McMorris), and said she’d like something bright for the lining; I found a nice green/yellow fabric, called ‘Hopscotch in lime’ in the same range.

The only other requirements for the bag was that it needed to be big enough to fit a phone and a few other little bits and bobs including some snacks for her two little girls.

After ordering and receiving the fabric and purse frame I set to work on drawing up the pattern; normally a relatively simple, quick job as I’ve done this a number of times before…which would have been the case had I not decided to challenge myself, and once I set my mind on something and start it, I have to see it through…

I’d bought a clutch bag for myself last year from Accessorize, which is lovely and a perfect size for those essential items to take to weddings (this bag I actually got for my own wedding!), and it has some really cute pleats on the front. Anywho, the style of this is how I wanted Joanna’s bag to be…

My Accessorize bag.

Hours later (a whole day to be precise!), several pieces of discarded greaseproof paper-patters, and five bag attempts (using scrap fabric) later (!!), the sixth pattern was the one and it was time to cut into the actual fabric.

The numerous scrap bag attempts...

The final result was worth all the effort! I love how this bag turned out and glad I didn’t let the pattern beat me.