Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Coin Purse Tutorial

So, some of you who read my tweets might have seen that I've been sewing like mad for an up-coming craft fair.  It's the first one where I'm selling mainly handmade items and I'm panicking slightly about what to sew amongst (many) other things.  As it's at a school there should be plenty of children so I wanted to make some small, affordable items that children might like.  I had a feeling coin purses could be popular but much as I wanted to make them they have been something of a problem for me over the years.  I know they should be simple but it seems every time I try I get ugly, bulky corners that drive me mad.  See!

I've tried all kinds of different methods but still have the same problem and it only seems to occur on purses.  Purses, I had decided, don't like me!  But with a craft fair looming and things for children urgently needed I decided that I was going to spend all week if I had to trying to solve the problem.

I listed my main criteria...

Tidy corners,
a lining in a different fabric from the outer,
a zip,
no raw edges showing inside.

then I set about making up my own patterns until finally (and yes it did take a whole week) I managed to tweak my method until all my boxes were ticked.  This was no easy task.  As someone with limited visual-spatial ability it was quite a challenge for me with many failed attempts and mistakes that prompted more than a few loud and gutteral 'GARGH!'s (apologies to the window cleaner).  I have had a sewing journey and to make sure I never have to go through that again I wanted to record my method as a tutorial.  I also hope that if there's anyone else out there with a dislike of bulky coin purse corners it might prove useful to them too!

The finished purses!
You will need...

1 x outer fabric 8" x 6"
1 x lining fabric 8" x 6"
2 x lightweight, iron-on interlining (I used Vilene H180)
1 x zip 8" minimum
1 x length of coordinating ribbon 21cm (optional)

You will also need...

A zipper foot
A size 16 needle (for heavy weight fabrics)


1.  Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the outer and the lining fabric.

2.  Pin the outer fabric and the lining fabric with their right sides together and sew ONLY down the longest sides.  Trim any excess fabric to reduce bulk and make sure the shorter edges of the layers are lined up nicely together (if not trim slightly).  It should look like this...

3.  Turn your fabric right sides out and then press the side seams.

4.  Zigzag stitch the short sides ~ I used the settings width: 3.5 and length: 1.  The needle should just miss the fabric when it falls to the right then catch and bind the fabric when it comes down on the left.  When you're done your short edges should look like this...  

NOTE: The reason for this is because it reduces bulk.  If the fabric were turned in and hemmed like the long sides the extra layers of fabric would cause problems when sewing on the zip.

5.  Pin your zipper face down to the top of the right side of your fabric sandwich as shown in the photo below.

6.  Reset your machine to its regular stitch and change the foot to the zipper foot.  Sew the zipper onto the fabric in a neat line above the teeth ~ roughly where the pins are.

7.  Fold the fabric down from the zip so that both the fabric and the zip are right sides up as shown in the next photo and press the fold.

8.  Now topstitch the fabric in place.  NOTE: You will probably find, even with a size 16 needle, that the bulk makes it difficult for your machine to sew and your needle might just go up and down.  To solve this problem you need to manually walk the first few stitches by turning the wheel of the machine and, when the needle is up, raising the presser foot and inching the fabric along.  Do this a few times until you can feel the feed dogs catching and moving your fabric for you, then you can stitch as normal.

Topstiching the zip.
9.  Now you need to attach the fabric to the other side of the zip.  Lay your fabric with the outer side down and the zip at the top then fold the bottom upwards so that the wrong sides are together.  Then fold the unattached side of the zip down once and then again and pin in place so that the right side of the zip is touching the right side of the fabric and the zip's teeth are at the bottom.  See photo below.

NOTE: At this point it's worth checking a few things to save you uttering a loud 'GARGH!' further down the line.  It's important to be sure that the the folded fabric is lined up with the fabric underneath and that your zipper is positioned evenly to match the sewn side otherwise you'll get a wonky purse.  The best way to check is to carefully slide the zipper along.  It should all be lined up like this...

 10.  If you're happy then open it back up and stitch the zipper in place as before.

 11.  When it's done fold the fabric down away from the zipper, press and topstitch.  This is where the extra length of zip on the side is needed as you can fully open the zip and keep the zipper pull out of the way.  Without this you would not be able to topstitch your purse.  When you're done it should look like this...

12.  Turn your purse inside out and press it flat with the zip positioned about 1/4 of the way down from the top, keeping in mind that if you have fabric that needs to be a certain way up for the pattern to work then when you turn it back again you want the fabric the right way up on the front (zipper side) and upside down on the back.

13.  If you want a ribbon strap now is the time to add it.  Fold the ribbon in half and pin inside the fabric sandwich in line with the zipper and with the raw edges poking out by roughly 1.5cm.  You can choose which side you want it on.  If you want it on the right (in the above photo) it will be on the same side as the zipper pull when closed which makes it easier for a child to open and less likely to drop their change if they hold the purse by the ribbon when the zip's open.  On the other side it's away from the zip and looks a bit neater.  I still can't decide which I prefer!

14.  Making sure the zip pull is halfway open (so you can turn it through when sewn and so you don't snip the zip pull off when trimming the overhanging zip later (yes I really did do that!!) you now need to sew the short sides closed.  Remember the trick for getting your machine going by walking the stitches manually if it struggles with the bulk.  I sew down the side and when at the bottom, with the needle down, lift the presser foot, turn the whole purse 180 degrees then sew back again so there are two rows of stitches to hold the zip more firmly.

15.  After you've sewn both short sides closed you can trim the excess zip.

16.  Turn the right way round and push out the corners using something blunt like closed scissors or a chopstick then press.

17.  You're done!  Add a couple of shiny coins and give to your little loved ones as a gift, or take your own money and a credit card out on the town :)

All the fabric is available in the shop (Robert Kaufman's Metro Market and Michael Miller's Dumb Dots) and we now have 8" zips in a variety of colours for just 75p!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A year older...

Hi Everyone,

Firstly thanks so much for your lovely comments on the giveaway post, it's lovely to see so many good wishes for our little shop - the crafting community are so friendly and welcoming and it makes my job all the more enjoyable for it!

If you would still like to be in with a chance of winning a bundle we're also having a Christmas bundle giveaway with the Sewing Directory so click on the link for details of how to enter (Christmas fabric has sold out again but rest assured more is coming in the next week or two - the bundle may differ from the one pictured). 

Also, to celebrate our first year and our first advert in Mollie Makes magazine, we've included a 10% discount code to run for the whole of October in the next issue of Mollie (in shops from Sept 29th) so do look out for that.  
We've had a lot of fun this year, had some lovely customer feedback and made some talented new friends.  We have lots of plans for next year including; a more diverse range of stock, some improvements to the site including a 'search by colour' function and a wider choice of payment facilities, we're going to be launching our own range of 'Sew Your Own' kits with the first (bunting kits) arriving in the shop before Christmas, and I'm also collaberating with a friend of mine who is a very talented pattern designer for some new patterns launching in the spring/summer next year.  Lots to be getting on with then!  For now here are a few little curious little stats we've learned in our first year...

  • The number of parcels we've sent out is in the thousands and yet only two of our parcels have failed to arrive (frustrating when it happens but overall Royal Mail has been good to us and the people behind us in the queue at the post office are very patient!)
  • The fabric most often searched for in our shop is 'Sherbet Pips' by a HUGE majority.
  • Michael Miller is our most searched for manufacturer.
  • Blue is the most searched for colour.
  • 83% of our customers are women and men bought mostly in the run up to Christmas (last years 'Love Bundle' made up of Amy Butler fabrics was particularly popular with men - ahhhh!)
  • Our busiest day is Sunday.
  • Our quietest week was the week of the riots - I guess we must feel less crafty when the country's in turmoil! 
Looking forward to seeing what the shops second year brings...

Sarah x

Monday, 19 September 2011

Birthday Giveaway!

It's our birthday on Thursday and we are going to be one whole year old!  It's been a terrific first year and we're so grateful to you for welcoming us to the crafting community.  To thank you for your support over the last year we'd like to spread the joy a little and send one of you a lovely Patty Young bundle.  You have until 9am on Thursday to enter.  Just post a comment below and we'll pop your name in the hat (or random number generator!)
We have many more exciting plans for the coming year and would love to know if you have any suggestions or requests for the shop.  More on Thursday but for now thanks again and good luck if you'd like to win our bundle! x    

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Make it Perfect Patterns: Offer & Review!

I'm SO excited about the new Make it Perfect Patterns in the shop that have come to us all the way from sunny Australia.  As I've mentioned before I've been really keen to improve on the range of patterns available in the shop but was struggling to find any I liked enough - I'm quite fussy!  I really think these fit the bill perfectly.  Great photos, easy instructions and modern, fresh designs.  I especially like that they've thought about how us crafters like to make things for loved ones as gifts, and so the Sweet Dreams PJs come with matching make-up bag instructions to make it that bit more special

and the Slumber Party Jammies come with a drawstring gift bag.

Then there are the fab Bambino baby set, perfect for a baby shower or new baby gift,

and the Playschool set which is a lovely gift to make for a child's first days at school.

On top of all this the lovely people at Make It Perfect have also sent some extra patterns that I shall be giving away to the first customers who order a Make It Perfect pattern!

The first to order will receive this great fun & funky Melly & Me Little Ninjas pattern.
Second to order will receive the Make it Perfect Versatile Wrap Skirt pattern.
The third to order will receive the Make it Perfect Big High Flyers trouser pattern.

I'll let you know if you're a winner when I notify you of your order - good luck!

As you can probably imagine I was too excited about these lovely patterns to wait any longer and have already made my own Shearwater Kaftan, you can read the review below...

Pattern Review: Shearwater Kaftan

The first thing that struck me when I opened this pattern is that the cut out lines are handdrawn.  Obviously the straight lines are nice and straight and the curved lines are as straight as they need to be and  perfectly accurate enough.  In fact I found it a nice touch.  It added to the homemade feel and it really doesn't matter as you have to trace over the pattern pieces to cut out anyway as the pieces are printed on the front and back of the print outs.

The pattern itself is easy to cut oout and assemble.  It took me a little while - maybe an hour - as I was taking my time and in no rush.  I hadn't heard of a Placket before and admit I had to look it up - for those who are in the dark like me it is, in this case, a small piece of lining fabric for the opening of the slashed neckline.

Sewing the pieces together was easy except for when attaching the sleeves to the body as the fabric bunched up a lot making it hard to see and control.  They recommend sewing from one end to another but I have since read other sleeve patterns which suggest starting at the mid-point (top of shoulder) and doing one side then doing the other seperately.  I think I'll do this next time as it'll help eliminate the bunching problem.

Sewing together took a couple of hours, quicker than I had expected.  If you haven't got an overlocker (I haven't) you will be relying on finishing inside seams with a zig-zag stitch which isn't the neatest - in fact this pattern has made me really want an overlocker!  It doesn't matter however and my zig-zag stich is improving...

I was really happy with the finished article.  It fit so nicely - not as loose as the model on the picture but I am dieting (!)  The sleeves came up a little short but I am slightly taller than average 5' 7.5" and I prefer it with the sleeves up using the little tag and button (lovely detail).  I shall definitely be making another, probably in one of these voiles as it'll give it an extra floaty summer look!  The fabric I used for this version was Tanya Whelan's Delilah Paisley in blue.

A cheesy pic of me in my Shearwater Kaftan!
Ability Required: Some experience needed.
Time Taken: 3 1/2 hours
Any Problems, hints, tips: I would make the placket a little wider and the sleeves longer.  I would also sew the sleeves to the body in two sections as described above.  Still loved it though!    
Overall Score: 9/10

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Pattern Review: Wink Designs Petal Power Sundress

I've been looking at patterns over the last few weeks.  I'd really like to update the choice of patterns in the shop but can't decide which to go for.  I'm quite fussy with patterns.  I prefer photos on the front to drawings and am not keen on anything made to look 1970s as there are so many surviving retro patterns out there I like to see new ones looking a bit more modern.  I also like simple clothes rather than lots of swags and ruffles and layers which can be fun to make but can look more like dressing up clothes.  But what does everyone else like?
There's also now a growing range of PDF patterns.  So much choice!  What to do?
After lots of searching for a dress pattern for a friend's daughter I came across and nice, simple looking dress by Wink Designs.  Perfect as I could get my hands on it straight away and, as it would be the first ever little girl's dress I'd made, it looked suitably easy.
The first thing I noticed that gave PDF an advantage was that the instructions came with colour photos throughout.  So much easier to follow.  The written instructions aren't quite as simple - I found all the bodice front/back left/right outer/upper a little hard to visualise - but that could just be me and the photos were so great, it really was hard to go wrong.  The straps are very narrow and folding and pressing, like making bias, was the slowest part of the process as the fabric was getting too hot to touch.  The rest of the dress was lovely and quick to make, I took a leisurely 2 1/2 hours and was really happy with the results.  It's a very pretty and simple dress, perfect for summer.
Age 1 Fabric: Carolyn Gavin Spring Street Buzzing Gardens & Free Spirit Designer Solids ~ Lemon

I posted a picture of it on Facebook for my friend to see and got requests for several more so I've now made another three!

Age 1 Fabric: Kate Spain Central Park ~ Cherry Hill & Free Spirit Designer Beads ~ Powder

Age 4 Fabric: Left as above, Right Anne Kelle Metro Market Strawberries & Micheal Miller Dumb Dots Fuchsia

Now I've got the hang of it I might try customising with pockets, contrasting fabrics etc, although now I've got the bug of making children's clothes (so much quicker, smaller, cheaper & cuter than adult clothes!) I'd like to continue my search for great patterns so I can update the shop.  If there are any you'd like to see or designers you particularly like just let me know.

Ability Required: Beginner
Time Taken: 2 1/2 hours (not including sewing on buttons)
Any Problems, hints, tips: When sewing the button holes I had no problems on the bodice but on the skirt the needle was jamming on top of the left side and sewing over and over.  After much hair pulling I realised there were a couple of extra layers of fabric in the skirt and swapped the size 12 needle for a size 16 which solved the problem.    
Overall Score: 9/10


Monday, 23 May 2011

And the winner is...

Comment no: 19

Congratulations Memmens!  Ten FQs of Sherbet Pips will be winging its way to you, just send an email to with your postal address and I'll add it to my post office trip later :)  I hope you enjoy them!

Also thank you to everyone for your lovely comments and for welcoming me to Blogger I can't wait to get sewing and sharing :)

Sarah xxx

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sherbet Pips Giveaway

Hooray, welcome to my new blog!  Sorry it took so long to sort out.  I've changed over to Blogger, partly because I just couldn't get my head around Wordpress (all a bit techy for me) and partly because it wasn't allowing comments and it's a lonely feeling knowing you're going to blog and not get a comment back.  So, to celebrate my new blog and the fact that I can now (hopefully) receive comments on my posts, I'm going to have a little giveaway!

For those of you who follow the shop on Facebook and Twitter you might have seen that we've had some lovely new fabrics in this week.  Yes, the long-awaited Sherbet Pips by Aneela Hoey collection is in the UK at last.  So what better prize to give away than one our Sherbet Pips bundles.  That's 10 FQs of fabric loveliness winging its way to one lucky winner.  All you have to do is post a comment here before midnight on Monday 23rd of May and I will pick a winner at random on Tuesday morning.
Good luck everyone and thanks for visiting!
Sarah x