The Marks & Spencer Shwop & Sew Lab

On the 20th June, I shall be setting up shop inside Marks & Spencer’s, Broadmead as part of The Bristol Big Green Week! Excitement!!

I’ll be running two Workshops, the first being for Beginners to Up-Cycle a T-Shirt in to a Shopping Bag or Infinity Scarf, the second for more intermediate Sewers will turn a T-Shirt into a Shirred Skirt or Tunic! All T-Shirts are being donated by Oxfam, and the event is completely free BUT it’s first come, first served so you’ll need to get in fast!!

You can see all of the details here, and the full Schedule is below:M&SYes, you can meet the winner of The Great British Sewing Bee! Eek!! And just look at all of the good things you can come along to learn, Up-Cycle or repair. I shall definitely be hanging around to take a peek at the Refashion Competition and for Matt’s talk (and a cheeky glass of something!).

I’ll be sharing the makes over the week as I put together the samples and instruction sheets so watch out! I love the idea of Up-Cycling all of those old T-Shirts into useful Shopping Bags (did you know the UK stops giving Shopping Bags out for free at the end of the year? Well, we do so make your own re-usable one now!!).

See you there, can’t wait to meet you all.

Happy stitching!

Notions: Make a super useful Tote Bag!

It’s been so long since I posted a Tutorial, I thought I’d finally post this super duper useful Tutorial for a Tote Bag. I taught it as a one off Class recently, and it’s a great make if you are learning how to use your Sewing Machine. You can make them up as gifts, or just to have ready to go shopping with!

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You will need:
Pattern Paper, Patternmaster or Ruler, Pencil and Pins.

A 20cm Zip, 1.5m of Cotton Tape for the Handles, one 1.5cm Button.

Fabric Requirements:

For the Pocket:
2x 5cmx6cm Zip Tabs
1x 25cm x 10cm piece for the Top Pocket
1x 25cm x 30cm piece for the Botton Pocket

For the Bag:
2x 35cm x 50cm pieces for the Bag Front and Bag Back

To make:

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Open the Zip up half way. Take the Zip Tabs and Pin each end of the Zip, with Right Sides Together as illustrated. Make sure that you Pin the open ends of the Zip close together neatly.

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With 3cm/just over 1″ Seam Allowance (and feel free to draw this on as I have) sew over each end. Remember to Reverse Stitch at the beginning and end to secure.

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Trim off the excess, then smooth out so both the Zip and the Zip Tab are Right Sides Up. Iron if possible to set.

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With Right Sides Together, Pin the Pocket Top to the Zip. Using your Sewing Machines Zipper Foot, sew along the Zip as illustrated. If you are worried about Sewing too far away- or too close!- use a Pencil to draw alongside the Zip to mark a line to follow. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end.

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Fold out, so all Right sides are Up, and Iron to set and repeat for the Bottom  of the Pocket.

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Again using the Zipper Foot, you can choose to Top Stitch alongside the Zip on the Right Side. You may also choose to sew a Decorative Stitch however; you will need to remember to attach your normal Machine Foot to do this!

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Iron everything again so it is nice and flat, then turn under each side of the Pocket 1cm/ 3/8″ towards the back and Pin. Repeat for all four sides of the Pocket, then position the Pocket on the Front of the Bag and use the same Pins to Pin the Pocket on to the Bag.

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Starting on one side, and using the Zipper Foot again, Top Stitch the Pocket all the way around. To turn the corner, Roll the Needle in to the Fabric, lift the Top Foot up, and spin the Fabric as for the Patch Pocket Tutorial. Voilà, a pocket is born!

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Next, attach your Standard Machine Foot and turn the Top of the Front and Back of the Bag over 1cm, Pin and Iron. then, turn both over 2cm, and use the same Pins to Pin and then Iron again. Sew along to hem as illustrated. You may choose to use a straight stitch however; you can also use a Decorative Sticth if you wish.

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With Right sides Together, Pin the Front of the Bag to the Back of the Bag and, using a 1.5cm/5/8″ Seam Allowance Sew them together. Turn the Corners as before. Once you have sewn them, set your Sewing Machine to a medium wide Zig Zag Stitch and, with the edge of the Fabric running through the middle of the Foot, Zig Zag along the edge as illustrated. This will neatly bind the edge of the Seam so it doesn’t fray.

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Fold the Top of the Bag in half, and Mark with a Pin. Measure 1cm either side of the Pin and mark with a Pencil. Following your Sewing Machine’s instruction manual, make a Button Hole in between the Top of the Bag and the Stitching as illustrated. Cut the Button Hole open and lay the Bag flat. Mark through the middle of the Button Hole to the other side, then sew on your Button.

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Measure in 10cm/4″ from the Top edge of the Bag, and mark with a Pin. on either side. Pin the Handles ‘upside down’, and about 1cm from the Top edge. Sew along the Handle, in line with the stitching used to Hem the Top of the Bag, as illustrated. Even though it is such a little Seam, remember to Reverse Stitch at the beginning and end so the Handle is Sewn on nice and strong. Clip and trim all Threads.

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Fold the Handles up, and Pin. Sew along them again, remembering to Reverse Stitch at the beginning and end, but this time do so close to the top.
Clip and trim all loose threads, and you are ready to wrap up or go shopping with this lovely and incredibly useful ToteBag!

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Happy stitching!