A while back while blog surfing (a favourite pastime of mine – there are just so many great ideas and designs out there!) I came across the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition. The challenge? To select a fabric from four beautiful choices from the Country Retreat range by Victoria Robinson, receive a 100cm x 100cm piece in the post and transform it into something beautiful. It seemed like such a great opportunity to set myself a sewing challenge and I loved the fabric choices so I couldn’t resist.
Here are the fabrics on offer:
My favourites were the Bird Parade Teal – I think the peacocks are absolutely stunning and would be really eye-catching in a design, and Patina Pewter which I think looks really chic and urban but with that lovely dogtooth effect giving it a classic feel. In the end I went for colour and peacocks! I wanted to wait until the fabric arrived and I could feel the texture before choosing what to make – it was quite thick which was great as I could immediately start thinking about designs that need a bit of structure.
Ever since my recent foray into the world of the sewing machine with my studded make-up bag I’ve wanted to make a larger clutch bag and this seemed like a really great opportunity to give this a go – especially as the peacocks give a sense of instant glamour.
I went for a simple rectangle clutch with a fold over top and a bright red lining (I just can’t say no to colour!). I then added a magnetic fastener to close my bag and a beautiful felt flower to add some fun decoration to the front. Here are the steps:
Step One: Cut and Line
I cut a large rectangle from the Bird Parade fabric. Because I wanted a peacock image on the front of the bag AND I wanted the fold down top to line up with the peacock pattern (gulp) I cut the top of the clutch from the fabric separately to give me the top half of the peacock (you can see this in the image below). I also then included some of my peacock fabric in the lining of the clutch by folding over the other end of my rectangle (as you can see in the second image). I measured how much bright red cotton was needed to complete the lining, sewed this to my main fabric to create one really long rectangle and folded together with the ‘right sides’ facing inwards to form the basis for my bag. I then sewed up all three sides on my sewing machine, leaving a 2 inch gap to turn the whole thing the right way round again through.
I was a bit naughty and did most of this freehand and by eye without making exact measurements. One thing it is important to bear in mind is your seam allowances. I made my bag quite wide because I knew I wanted to sew inside out for the lining (with a 1cm seam allowance) and then do the same thing to construct the actual bag which would take some of the width.
Step Two: Construction
I was all out of interfacing (oops) so I decided to add a layer of thick felt to give a bit more structure to the clutch. This was an experiment but it worked really well and added structure and shape without adding weight. I cut the felt to fit, slipped it inside my lining and added a few stitches on each corner to hold in place.
Time to check the construction of your bag! Fold the front up and the top down and find that perfect place where your two patterns meet. Now mark where to attach the base of your magnetic fastener on the main bag (an air erasable fabric pen is really useful for this bit). I attached the base of my fastener before even marking the position of the top because there was such a fine line in terms of matching the patterns. I then remeasured, marked where the second half of my fastener needed to be positioned and attached it to the fold down top of my bag. With the fasteners fastened and my pattern matched up I marked the top of the bag sides and pinned into place….
Step Three: Flip and Sew
I flipped my bag inside out and sewed up the sides – it’s really important to have marked where the bottom of your bag should fold and where the sides should end otherwise all your hard work pattern matching could be ruined. Sew up the sides and flip back the right way round with everything crossed!
If it all matches up have a quick celebration! (I forgot to take a photo of this bit so you’ll have to wait and see how I did!)
Step Four: FLOWER
Cut a length of about 2 metres of felt, 3cm side. Now cut 2cm into the felt all the way along – your strips should be about 0.5cm wide.
Adding glue as you go to the non-cut side of your felt roll it all the way up to create your flower!
Sew your flower onto the front of your clutch (I used whipstitch all the way round the base of the flower – when you press your petals out it will hide your work but do make your stitches as tiny and neat as possible).
AND VOILÀ! I hope you like it! Photos below are by my lovely boyfriend – I made him take a lot so he deserves some credit! 🙂
Happy Crafternoon and thanks Hillarys Blinds for running such a great competition! ALSO check out my matching ring – a five minute craft that I couldn’t resist when I realised how well the button matched the fabric!
I’ve still got a good amount of fabric left so I’m already planning my next two projects. Firstly I’m planning on making a pin cushion that I can wear around my wrist and then if I have enough fabric left I’ll make a cover for my moleskin notebook.
Photography by Hannah Cox. Covered under copyright © creativise
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