sewing

First Vlog on my YouTube Channel

Last week I attended the Sew Sweetness Retreat in Chicago. This was my first Sew Sweetness retreat, but not my first sewing retreat. I really enjoyed this retreat. It was small and intimate with only around …

Sewing: Garden Tote from Oslo Craft Bag Pattern

Oslo Craft Bag; Free Pattern by  Sew Sweetness

Oslo Craft Bag; Free Pattern by Sew Sweetness

I have been a huge fan of Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness for quite a while now.  Sara is a pattern designer of one of my favorite things…bags!  This Oslo Craft bag is meant to be a “Craft” bag, made with quilting cotton fabrics, however, I immediately knew I wanted to make this bag into a garden bag. A garden bag totes hand tools, gloves, twine and other gardening notions.  

A garden bag is also exposed to soil and water, which means quilting cotton is not going to work.  You can use canvas duck, laminated fabric, vinyl etc.  I chose to use outdoor fabric, which is essentially woven out of plastic, is mildew resistant and can be rinsed out with a garden hose if need be.

This Oslo bag is a free pattern when you sign up for Sew Sweetness email updates.  I would say after making this bag - the sewing difficulty level is for a very confident beginner to intermediate.  The outdoor fabric definitely upped the difficulty factor due to:

  • Outdoor fabric is thick and unravels easily
  • you can only use a very low heat iron - or it will melt!
  • Difficult to manipulate - hard to crease for pocket pleats

No matter what fabric you make this bag from, there are lots and lot of pieces, which means a lot of prep work cutting out all the pieces! Being organized is a must on this project.  Label each piece/group of pieces with post-its or paper clipped onto pieces.

Being this organized makes the sewing of the project fun and fast. 

 

Pockets:  The front pockets took a little more time as I fussy cut the fish fabric for each pocket, but attaching the pockets was pretty straightforward, provided you draw the guidelines to line them up.

Side pockets were supposed to have snap enclosures, but the outdoor fabric was too thick, so I opted to sew in velcro and it worked like a charm!

Hardware:  I used metal rectangles to connect the handle straps to the bag. Very easy to sew the straps to the rectangles, just be sure to keep checking that the straps do not get twisted before they are sewn onto the rectangles.

You can also sew the straps directly onto the bag, but I like the flexibility that the metal rectangles give the handles. 

Metal rectangle hardware for handles

Metal rectangle hardware for handles

The bag finishes up with contrast binding around the top of the bag, which connects the lining to the exterior of the bag. It's a little weird to sew binding onto a 3D object, but it works out fine - just a little wrestling the bag to turn corners.

Here are a few more pics of my finished garden tote masterpiece!! whew!! Lots of pieces, lots of steps, but it all falls into place one step at a time.

One other thing to note: typical Sew Sweetness bag patterns usually use lots of stabilizers and foam. Yes, sometimes, I groan and whine when having to cut out and fuse the stabilizer and cut and baste the foam onto exterior pieces, but I also know these stabilizers and foam are what really makes these bags stand out as exceptional pieces of work!

Also, there is a great video workshop/tutorial Sara includes with the pattern.  I found the video very helpful, evading potential meltdown moments for sure! 

I love how this bag turned out, and I cannot utter enough praises about Sew Sweetness patterns. They are not an affiliate, and I get zero/nada/zilcho by promoting this company. However, I am passionate about supporting small businesses, and I have had so much positive interactions with Sara and her team. I think she is very generous with her free patterns and tutorials, and it makes me want to support her even more by purchasing her popular "pattern bundles" every time she releases new ones. Check out Sew Sweetness and let me know what bags you have made from her patterns!

 

Completed Oslo Craft/Garden Bag in Outdoor fabrics

Completed Oslo Craft/Garden Bag in Outdoor fabrics

fabric pieces cut and labeled

fabric pieces cut and labeled

 
Front Pockets with contrast banding

Front Pockets with contrast banding

Exterior Side Pockets with velcro enclosure

Exterior Side Pockets with velcro enclosure

 
Lining and exterior ready to become one!

Lining and exterior ready to become one!

Interior connected to exterior with binding

Interior connected to exterior with binding

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Tutorial: Hand embroidered cocktail napkins

Cocktail napkins are somewhat a luxury linen item that most of us do not typically splurge on, but we all love them because they seem so fancy and cute! These cocktail napkins can also be used as hot or cold drink coasters and finger napkins for hors d'oeuvres, and they are easy to make.  I love the chunky texture of the hand embroidery, and it really does not take very long to embroider...you can do this part watching tv or at your kid's hockey game. 

Please post pics if you make these napkins.  I would love to see them! Tag me on instagram @stephanie.socha.design; facebook stephanie socha design; twitter @sfsinteriors

1. Fabric:  I used 100% decorator linen from Fabricut, which is a to the design trade home decorator fabric source. However.... Hawthorne Threads carries a beautiful selection of Kaufman Essex Linen, a linen/cotton blend. This Cotton & Steel fabric would be great to fussy cut a different flower/pattern for each napkin if you wanted to forego the hand embroidery Mochi Floral.

2. Size: standard custom cocktail napkins are between 5" - 6.5" square.  I cut my fabric at 7" squares to end up with a finished size of 5.75" with 3/8" seam allowance.  Note: you can do a 1/4" seam allowance, but I like the added structure 3/8" gives the perimeter of the napkin without too much bulk. Make two squares... a front and a back of the napkin.

Rotary cut 7" squares, or if you are luck enough to have a big accuquilt or sixxiz, then die cut away!

Rotary cut 7" squares, or if you are luck enough to have a big accuquilt or sixxiz, then die cut away!

Tip!! use trace paper to draw your monogram onto - you will be able to see the backside perfectly for transferring to the fabric

3. I like to draw my own monogram letters, but you can also print one out to the desired size from your computer.  

4. There are many transfer techniques and methods out there.  This one is an easy trace and iron with an iron transfer pen.  (you could also print the letter onto iron transfer paper - just remember to print the letter backwards)

I love this Sulky Iron-on transfer pen (and I'm not paid for saying so :)

5. Transfer monogram to center of napkin with an iron. I turned the steam off for this part. Also hold the press for a good long moment before lifting. The transfer will be darker with a longer press time.

Iron on tear away stabilizer is AWESOME! Again, free marketing for Sulky.

Iron on tear away stabilizer is AWESOME! Again, free marketing for Sulky.

6. Prep for hand embroidery. Stabilizer is a must for hand embroidery, plus it makes the embroidery easier to stitch. You can use regular tear away stabilizer in your hoop.  I used Sulky's iron on tear away stabilizer just behind the monogram. 

7. Embroider the monogram.  Place your stabilized fabric into an embroidery hoop. Use 6 strand embroidery floss for the split stich. Here is a great tutorial from Sublime Stiching on the split stitch.  Tear off the stabilizer after you finish the split stitch embroidery, careful to not pull or stretch the stitching. 

8. Sew the napkins!  Place the front and back of the napkin right sides together. Stitch a 3/8" seam around the napkin, LEAVE a 2.5" opening for turning. Clip corners.

9. Turn napkins right side out, Press. Note: press the opening seam allowances inside as if they were sewn all around.

10. Topstich around perimeter of napkin.  This will close up the opening and finish the napkin all in one!  Note: you can hand slip stitch the opening closed if you prefer, prior to top stitching.

Hand Embroidered Linen Cocktail napkins