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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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hand-sewn

Monthly tutorial: Halloween treat bag

Halloween is coming up so this month I’ll be showing you how to sew your own mini drawstring treat bag. As my blog followers will know I’m a huge fan of recycling/upcycling material (take a look at my eco wear: link) so when I was given a stash of random bits of material I was keen to get stuck in and get sewing again. I hand-sew all my items as I like the control and the feeling that i’m really engaging with what I’m doing. I also feel that hand sewing can be therapeutic due to the repetitive motion and concentration it requires but this bag can be done using a sewing machine if you don’t have much time. Some materials are easier to work with than others. Generally speaking thinner cotton fabric is quite easy to work with. The spiderweb material I used had a lycra-esque quality to it which made it difficult to work with, for this tutorial I recommend sticking to non stretchy fabrics.

You will need:

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♦ A cutting mat (optional but useful!)

♦ Fabric scissors

♦ Fabric marker/pencil

♦ Pins

♦ Sewing needle

♦ Cotton thread (in colours matching your material)

♦ A piece of material measuring at least 32 x 18 cm

♦ A piece of contrasting material measuring at least 32 x 8cm

♦ 2 pieces of ribbon approx. 32cm

Step 1

You’re going to need to cut out two pieces of material for the main part of your treat bag. Using a fabric marker/pencil, mark out two rectangles measuring 16 x 18 cm and cut out.

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Step 2

For your casing you’ll need to cut out two rectangles measuring 16 x 8cm.

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Step 3

To give a neat edge, fold shorter ends of your casing over 1cm and pin in place before sewing. I used basic backstitch.

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Step 4

Pin your larger pieces of fabric together around three edges (2 long edges,1 short) with the wrong sides facing. Sew with 1cm seam allowance and turn the right way.

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Step 5

Take your casing pieces and fold in half so you can see the neat side of your stitching. At this point if you have time it’s good to press your pieces with an iron but as I had limited time I skipped this step. It just makes your material more well behaved and neat. Pin your folded pieces to the top of your bag (raw edges at the top)

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Step 6

It’s up to you how far down you wanht to sew, the further down you sew the less of the contrasting material you’ll be able to see and bear in mind you’ll need to be able to get your ribbon through. As I had a gap at the top of my material where the spiderweb pattern stopped I chose to sew quite low down, just above half way but anything 1cm or over is fine (providing you can fit your ribbon through).

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Step 7

Turn your casing in. This is also a good time to press your material to keep your joins/edges crisp. Please remember that some fabrics can only be pressed at a very low heat though! Stretchy fabrics can actually melt. If you’re using cotton as recommended this isn’t a problem.

Step 8

Attach a safety pin to the end of your ribbon and feed it through the gap you’ve made with the casing.

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And there you have it, your own unique Halloween treat bag! This pattern is so versatile, it can be used for any occasion, including Christmas and birthdays. You can alter the sizes to make a smaller or larger bag and is a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Monthly review – handstitching guide books

I spent months reading reviews and borrowing from libraries in the search for the ultimate hand-stitching guide! I wanted something that I could use as a reference that covered all the essentials, but without bogging you down with dense descriptions. Finally my search was over when I discovered Margaret Rowan’s ‘The Complete Guide to Handstitching & Embellishing Techniques’. If you too are looking for a sewing guide to last you a lifetime, your search may be over…

 

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Details

Full title: Stitch! The Complete Guide to Handstitching & Embellishing Technique –  The creative guide for dressmakers and needlecrafters that takes your work to a new level

Author: MargaretRowan

ISBN978-1-86351-453-8

PublisherSally Milner Publishing Pty Ltd (2013)

So, what sets this book apart from the thousands of other sewing books? Plenty! Unlike the majority of modern publications, Rowan’s book is dedicated solely to hand-stitching, with not a sewing machine in sight! and what’s more is that the author somehow manages to make the book suitable for all abilities. Many of the books I read used terms that would only be familiar to experienced sewers, whilst Rowan maintains an un-daunting, reader-friendly stance throughout. That’s not to say this book is geared solely towards beginners; whilst it’s an excellent place to start (covering all of what I deem ‘essentials’ from which needles to select, to how to prepare fabric – details often left out in books of the same genre) the book is clearly divided into logical, clear stages, from ‘tools and equipment’ in Chapter 1 ‘stitching essentials’ , progressing to ‘functional stitches’ in chapter 2, and advancing to ‘decorative stitches’ in chapter 3. What I particularly like is the ‘stitch selector’ at the beginning of the book, which visual examples of each stitch covered in the book, along with a ‘skill level’. Depending on where you feel you are in ability, you can skip to where you feel you are, or if you’re a seasoned pro just double-checking which technique is best to use for your current project, you can dip in and out and use the book as a reference.

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The layout of the book is one of the best I’ve come across, with no ‘information overload’ that you sometimes come across. There are several clear, colour images to demonstrate the technique/stitch, with clearly numbered steps, and a side-bar style panel which reminds you of the skill level, tools and materials you’ll need, and usefully some extra notes.

The books aesthetic is on a par with its functionality, with close-ups of the stitch/technique in the corner being decorative and also useful.

Another thing I found impressive about the book is that there are lots of useful extras in the ‘Resources’ section near the back. Again, Rowan pays attention to the ‘nitty gritty’ without bogging the reader down. This book itself is a manual on how to complete an entire sewing project, whereas usually you would have to consult various sources. From a ‘pressing guide’ to an ‘estimating fabric requirements’ chart,  this book covers it all, somehow squeezing it all into 256 pages (including contents, index etc). You will even find a ‘Directory of Motifs’ (designed by Kelly Fletcher) in chapter 4, covering everything from nature to celebrations and lettering.

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However, whilst I highly recommend adding this book to your collection (it’ll be the only one you need!) availability in the UK is sorely limited, and very difficult to track down at a reasonable price. But I can honestly say that the search will be worth it!

 

You can read more about this book by visiting the publishers page here: Sally Milner Publishing

Monthly Tutorial: Neatening a seam by hand

As well as being an illustrator I’m also an eco clothing designer and sew all my clothing entirely by hand. Over the years I’ve learnt some basics that have roved invaluable and that I use time and again. Today I’ll be guiding you through how to beat unsightly, fraying seams, using my latest project (a skirt).

step1

So you have your sides sewn neatly together and are left with a raw edge. Turn your work inside out. Trim the edge using pinking shears if you didn’t do this when cutting your initial pieces of material. The zig-zag will prevent further fraying. You’ll need to make sure you have at least 1.5cm excess.

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step2

Fold one edge over on itself until the tips of the zig-zags slightly overlap the sewn edge, and pin into place. Do this all the way along, taking care not to accidentally pin to the excess material on the other side.

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step3

Do a simple running stitch all the way along to hold the fold, like below. Keep the stitches quite small and close together so it will look neat on both sides.

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Back
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Front

step4

Finish off in your usual way (I use a double knot)

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step5

You now need to do the same with the other bit of excess material. Repeat steps 1-5 on this bit.

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step6

Once you’ve done steps 1-5 on both edges, use a hot iron to press your hem open.

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step7

Turn your garment the right way, and you’ll be left with a neat, subtle line like the one below.

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tip

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