February 2012 archive

Bag Tutorial

bag tutorial

bag tutorialThis tutorial has taken a little while coming out of my head onto my computer. It would appear that I have taken up throwing up for Lent. It also started a week early, perhaps following some other calender. Grim. Anyway… a bag tutorial!! No pattern needed and it should work for bags of various shapes and sizes.

You will need:

  • Fabric for the main part of the bag (I used 1 fat quarter)
  • Fabric for the lining
  • You may also want some fabric in a contrasting colour
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Needle and thread or sewing machine
  • Tape measure or string and a ruler
  1. Firstly you will need to decide how big you need your bag to be. Will it be a tiny bag just for your purse and phone? Or do you need it to be big enough to hold an A4 folder? Or nappies and wipes? Or the kitchen sink? You might find it helpful to get the stuff you want to put in your bag to give an idea of how big you need it to be. Remember to allow extra fabric for seams too! When you have decided, you will need to cut four rectangles about 7 cm wide. This is the part that holds the whole bag together.  The length of them will depend on how big you need the opening of your bag to be. Which fabric you want to use is up to you, main or contrasting. I used four rectangles of the main fabric approximately 7cm x 25cm.
    bag tutorial

    The width of the main piece is longer than the rectangles

    Then you will need to cut the pieces for the main part of the bag, so either two pieces from the main fabric or one piece folded in half. The important thing here is to ensure that the top edge is 1/3 to 1/2 longer than the rectangles. Iron some interfacing onto the wrong side.




2. From the lining fabric, cut a piece that is the same size as the main bag piece.

3. With your sewing machine set to the longest

bag tutorial

2 rows of stitches along the top edge

stitch it will do, sew two separate rows along the top edge, close together. Repeat for the other top edge. If you are using a needle and thread, sew two rows of running stitch. Don’t backstitch the ends! You need them free!!




4. Now firmly grasp the top two threads on

bag tutorial

Width of bag is now the same as the length of the rectangle

one side and pull to gather the fabric. When the width of the fabric is the same as the length of the rectangles, tie the ends together. Try to spread the gathers out so that they are even. Repeat for the other top edge, then repeat the whole process for the lining.




5. Now with the wrong sides together, sew

bag tutorial

Sides sewn up

up the sides of the main part of the bag. Trim the seams and turn the right way out. Repeat for the lining, but leave it wrong side out.





6. Now take two of the rectangles and sew

bag tutorial

Short sides of rectangles sewn together

the short edges together to make it into a circle. Repeat for the other two rectangles.






7. Fold up the long edges, pin and press.

bag tutorial

Rectangles ready for bag assembly

Pop one inside the other, wrong sides together, with the seams matching.






8. Put all this to one side because we are going to do the straps now You will need to decide how long you want them and how wide is comfortable for you. This is where the tape measure comes in! Put it over your shoulder or your pushchair, or hold it, and decide where you want the bag to dangle. Then you will need to cut four pieces of fabric, two for each strap, either from the main or the contrasting fabric. Remember to allow a bit extra for seams! The easiest thing to do is to cut all the bits the same size, fold in the raw edges, pin and press. Then pin two together, wrong sides facing, and sew along each of the long edges.

If you want to be fancy, cut two pieces the

bag tutorial

A completed strap

desired length (allowing a little bit extra) and twice as wide as you want the straps to be from contrasting fabric. Fold in the raw edges, pin and press. Cut two pieces the same length from the main fabric at your desired width. Fold in the raw edges, pin and press. Then pin the narrower strip so that it covers the raw edges of the wider strip. Sew along the long edges of the narrow piece.




9. Now is the tricky part. Put the ends of the

Pin the straps inside

straps in between the two circles that were rectangles and pin at the top. Make sure that they are close to the seams as they will be lined up with the sides of the bag.





10. Put the lining inside the outer of the main part of the bag. Next attach the circular ex-rectangles. Pin the outer one to the outer of the bag and the inner one to the bag lining. They should cover the stitching but you don’t want the main bits poking out of the top :) Ideally the ends of the straps should be between the lining and the bag outer. Then sew along the top of the rectangles and again along the bottom. Trim the threads and you have a new bag!!

If you make something, please photograph it and post it with a comment. I’d love to see it!

A Winter Walk

winter colour palette

This is not really a craft post. I’ve got one in the pipeline 😉 about making bags without a pattern, but I’m feeling a little tired at the mo and my brain’s having a craft meltdown: too many projects on the go, I’ve still not sold a single thing on Etsy and I am always busy taking care of my three little boys. Anyway, the walk back from taking Boy 1 to school was so beautiful this morning, I thought I would share it.

a winter walk

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Boy 1’s school is two miles away, in the next village. We usually catch the bus there then walk back. Since Boy 1 started school almost eighteen months ago, the bus service has improved and I could bus it back too, but I actually enjoy the walk. It’s lovely living in the country, the air is clean and there is always lots to see, mostly nature and tractors. Once we turn off the not so busy but 60 limit road, we wind our way along country lanes the rest of the way home.

a winter walk

Norfolk or Narnia?

Boy 3 is happy enough riding back in his pushchair. At least he his now. I did have some unpleasant mornings when he started screaming about half way back and didn’t stop until after we had got home. I guessed he was probably cold. He refused to wear a hat or scarf or gloves and he hated the cosytoes. Anyway, to prove that two year olds are able to understand what you tell them, he now wears a hat, scarf and gloves, and instead of the cosytoes, he has a blanket over his little legs that attaches to the pushchair by means of elastic and buttons. He’ll actually ask for his gloves now if he’s cold :) Much better. No screaming :)

a winter walk

This is not my house, but sometimes I wish it was :)

Boy 2 has a buggy board, so the mornings he’s not at nursery he can hitch a ride if he doesn’t want to walk. He has walked the whole way several times, but it takes us a very long time :) The world is such a fascinating place when you are little :)

This morning it was so beautiful: a perfectly clear, crisp winter’s day. The sky was cloudless and there was just enough snow to cover everything but not so much it was impossible to get anywhere (we had 15cm at the weekend, it was horrendous!! Boy 1’s school was not closed either, so we had to fight our way through it). The snow was actually sparkling, like there were tiny diamonds mixed up in the white icing sugarness. It was like walking through a Christmas card. Scenes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe were running through my head. Breathing the crisp, clean air, with the snow crunching underfoot and the snow sparkling in the sunshine, I felt glad to be alive.

a winter walk

A scene from a Christmas card

People who drive everywhere miss out on so much. For us the school run is an adventure. Boy 1 loves buses and the bus drivers are his friends. On the way home Boys 2 and 3 and I see so much. We stop and watch tractors, farmers an other people working in the fields. We see birds, cats, foxes. We see the seasons change and what it means for animals, plants and people. We’ve seen the buds gradually become leaves, blossom become fruit, leaves turn brown, red and gold and birds migrating. We’ve seen farmers planting and farmers harvesting. I wouldn’t swap any of this for a car or the skills to drive it.

a winter walk

Our nearest “hill”, 4 metres above sea level

Most importantly the boys gain a sense of their neighbourhood and a sense of independance and resourcefulness often denied to children who are driven everywhere. They know their neighbourhood. They know where places are, how to get to them and how long it takes (at least Boy 1 does!). We speak to our neighbours, the dog walkers, the people going  to the bakery and the newsagents. They know their communities in a way that kids who are driven everywhere do not. It’s not Tesco that’s killing our communities, it’s cars!! Even high school kids near us are driven to school, when they could walk or catch the bus! Having a non-driving mum means that my boys are growing up knowing that, when they are old enough, they will be able to get themselves around without having to rely on a parent driving them everywhere.

I hope this is what my boys remember about being children: the bus trips, the walking, the seasons changing, the conkers, the puddles, the sun, the rain and the snow. Leave the car at home folks, get out in it! I can’t recommend it enough :)

a winter walk

The Tunnel of Trees

Dino Hat Tutorial

dino hat
dino hat

Boy 3 wearing his dino hat

Whenever the boys and I are out, people always remark on the dinosaur hats and are almost always stunned when I tell them that I made them myself. :) Yet they are suprisingly easy to make. Although there are people out there who are very skilled at designing things and making patterns, I am not one of those people. The extent of my training was my mum teaching me how to use a sewing machine when I was ten. :) What I have discovered though (and what I’m going to share with you now) is that it is actually possible to make all sorts of things either without a pattern or with a very simple pattern that you can make yourself, even if, like me, you can’t really draw. :)

Anyway, I’d decided that I wanted to make dino hats for the boys and my nephew, but I didn’t want it to look like they had killed some dinosaurs and turned the heads into hats. I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I came up with this.

This is what you will need:

  • Some large sheets of paper. I like to use greaseproof paper, but newspaper or A3 copier paper will do.
  • A pencil and eraser
  • Some tin foil
  • Fleece fabric in 2 contrasting colours
  • Basic sewing equipment


1. Find the head that you are making

dino hat

The hat will fit and Boy 1’s little brain will be safe from aliens :)

the hat for and wrap it in tin foil.







2. Carefully remove the tin foil hat from

dino hat

Squashed hat

the head and squash it flat (the hat not the head :) ). Try to squash it in such a way that the squashed hat is the sideways profile of the head, with the front on the left and the back on the right.




3. Now draw round the squashed foil hat

dino hat

Basic hat shape with extra cm all the way around

onto the large piece of paper. Now you can be sure that the hat will fit! Draw round it again, this time allowing an extra centimetre all the way round. This is to allow for seams.





4. Now draw simply a dinosaur head on one

dino hat

It’s starting to look dinosaury!

side and a tail on the other. If it looks wrong, rub it out and have another go. When you have something you are happy with, draw round it again allowing an extra cm. Don’t worry if it is not perfect, quirkiness is part of the appeal of handmade.




5. Now draw some spines. How many will

dino hat

The spines are all just triangles

depend on the size of the head the hat is for. I gave my dinosaur 9 spines, 6 larger ones along the body and three smaller ones along the tail.





6. Now you need to make the pattern for

dino hat

2 triangles for the spines

the triangles, so draw 2, one a similar size as the larger ones and the other similar in size to the smaller ones. Don’t forget to draw round them again with an extra cm!





7. The pattern’s almost done now. The last

dino hat

Use the thread to measure between the xs

part to draw is the little pointy pear shap that will give the dinosaur’s head a 3D shape. To make this part, draw an x on the dinosaur’s nose and another x on the back of its head. Using some thread or string, measure the distance between the two xs and cut or mark the thread.




8. Now draw a straight line the same

dino hat

This little piece will give the dinosaur a nice, chunky little head

length as the piece of thread. Then draw a sort of teardrop shape, pointed at both ends. To get each half the same, draw one half, then fold the paper in half along the line and trace it. If you are using newspaper, cut around it roughly, fold in half and then cut it out properly, like you would make a chain of paper people :)



8. Now cut out the pattern pieces, pin them to the fabric and cut them out. For the main part of the hat, the stretch will need to go from left to right rather than up and down, so stretch the fabric before you pin the pattern pieces on. You will need to cut 2 of the main hat shapes and the little extra head part from the main colour, and from the contrasting fabric, 2 triangles for each spine. For my 9 spines, I cut 12 larger triangles and 6 smaller triangles.

9. Now we can get sewing! First of all the

dino hat

Trim the seams but don’t cut the stitches!

spines. Pair the triangles up and sew them along 2 sides. Then trim the seams to avoid bulging and cut the top flat. Then turn right side out.





10. On both the main hat pieces embroider

dino hat

Embroider legs on both pieces

some legs.







11. With the wrong sides together, pin the

dino hat

Pin the little head piece to one of the main hat pieces

little head piece to one of the main hat pieces. The fat end needs to be at the front of the dinosaur’s head. Then sew it.






12. Now take the triangles that you have sewn

dino hat

Arrange the spines with the largest ones in the middle

together and arrange them in a way that you like.






13. Now we’re going to make a little sandwich.

dino hat

The spines are pinned in place

Take the main dinosaur shape that you have sewn the little head piece to and arrange the spines in the order you have decided, upside down, on the right side. The open ends of the spines will need to be lined up with the dinosaur’s back. Pin in place.


Now take the other dinosaur piece and put

dino hat

Nearly ready to sew up

it on top of the bit with the spines on, the right side of the fabric facing inwards. Match the edges up as well as you can.






Pin it together. Remember you have the

dino hat

Constructing the head is a little bit fiddly

extra bit for the head. When you get to the head, pin the main piece to the little head piece like you did earlier.

Here’s a little tip: before you sew it up, make sure that the ends of the spines are poking out of the edge of the sandwich, otherwise you might find that you’ve missed a bit and you’ll have to do a repair job with a needle and thread.


14. Now sew it up. You won’t be able to sew it in one go because of the dinosaur’s head. Take your time and do it carefully to minimise the chances of holes in the seams. I’ve been there. It’s v. annoying.

15. Once it’s all sewn up, turn it out the right way. Removing as many pins as you can first will reduce the likelhood of stabbing yourself in the finger.

16. If you’ve got this far, well done!! The last

dino hat


thing left to do is hem the bottom of the hat.






So there you go. One hat made from a do-it-yourself pattern. If you make a dino hat, please leave a comment and a link to a photo. I’d love to see them. Just have a go, don’t be scared!! What other kinds of hats can you make using the same basic principles? Hmm, butterflies, cats, a whole menagerie of hats!!

dino hat









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