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Made by Me: Faux Leather Fold Over Clutch Bag

I've been getting lots of love on Instagram this week for this little project, so I thought I'd share it here as well.

I turned the embroidered butterfly on faux leather that I blogged about last week in the tutorial into a clutch bag.

I started with two panels of faux leather approx. 12" wide and 14" tall.  Once I'd embroidered the butterfly on the bottom corner of one I worked out where I wanted my fold to be and marked the position for a couple of magnetic bag fasteners, as these needed to be inserted at an early stage.

I love funky linings, and when I was at Fabric HQ last weekend I picked up a remnant of some great Cotton & Steel fabric that I thought would be perfect.

I added a zip pocket in the lining, using a method almost identical to this tutorial.  If I made a bag like this again though, I'd put the pocket on the outside of the bag, as the pocket is a little hard to access because it's quite low down due to the fold over. 

The back of this bag is plain, but I think it would look nice with a chunky metal zipped pocket in the back.  Something to remember for next time!

The bag itself was very simple, just Google zipper pouch tutorial, and you'll find loads of ideas.   Once I'd made the pocket, construction of the bag itself was less than half an hour. 

As I was making the bag I had a few things on my worktable (as always) one of which was a selection of coloured felted balls.  Three of the colours matched the embroidery perfectly, so I added them to the zip pull.

I might have bought some silver faux leather yesterday for another one...

Free Motion Friday : Sewn Images Tutorial

A week or so ago I posted an image of a butterfly I'd embroidered onto faux leather on Instagram and a couple of people expressed interest in a tutorial, so I've created one for you.

You will need:
  • Some fabric to use as a base - I've used faux leather in this tutorial as I'm going to turn the finished piece into a clutch bag, but any firmly woven, stable fabric works well.
  • Medium weight iron on interfacing.
  • An image to copy/use for inspiration.
  • Lightweight tracing paper or tissue paper.
  • Thread that matches your base fabric.
  • A selection of coloured and/or metallic threads.  I've used silk/rayon embroidery threads that I bought on eBay.
  • A darning or embroidery foot for your sewing machine.

First, apply a piece of iron on interfacing to the reverse of the fabric in the area you are going to stitch your image. 

Then choose your image and trace it onto thin tracing paper or tissue paper. 

Pin or clip your traced image onto the base fabric in the position you want the embroidery.   As I'm using faux leather I've used quilt binding clips, but on woven fabric I would use pins.

Put a darning or embroidery foot on your sewing machine and lower the feed dogs.  Stitch the outline of your design following your traced lines. 

Lowering your machines feed dogs gives you control over the movement of the fabric under the needle and enables you to stitch in any direction you desire.  Be aware however that the machine will not move the fabric at all, it's all down to you!

At the start and end of each piece of stitching, sew up and down on the spot a few times to secure the threads. 

Don't add too much detail at this stage, just define the areas you want to fill in later. 

Carefully remove the tissue paper.  You may need to use tweezers or a stitch unpicker to get some of the tiny scraps of paper out from under the stitches. 


Once you have removed all the tissue paper you can start filling in the image.  I've used a combination of straight lines of stitching, following the black outline (you can see this around the edge of the wings) and swirls of stitching, filling in selected areas, such as the body. 

Add more colours to different areas as you go.  Stitching in different directions and in straight or curved lines will give slightly different textures. 


Due to the density of the stitching, you may experience some puckering around the edge of the image.  This can be pressed out once the stitching is complete. 

Here's my completed butterfly, which is now going to be turned into a clutch bag.  I'll hopefully show you this next week. 

I hope you've found this mini tutorial useful.  If you've got any questions, please ask in the comments below, and if you try the technique for yourself, please let me know how you get on. 

If you're on Instagram you can tag me @stitchedupsam or use the hashtag #stitchedupsam so I can find your projects. 

Sewing without a plan

It's that time of year again.  The internet is alive with sewing bloggers making plans and setting goals for things they want to achieve over the coming year.

#2017makenine is very popular this year with at the time of writing this 699 public posts on Instagram featuring the hashtag.  The concept, as I'm sure you're aware (started, I think, by Lucky Lucille) is to post nine sewing patterns or goals you wish to make/sew/achieve during 2017 and then to actually make those! 

I thought about taking part and then I thought again.  I'm not very good at following through with plans, when sewing related at least.  I'm good at making them, but over the last couple of years when I've tried to do something similar I've failed.  Pretty quickly.  Last year I'm not sure I actually made anything I'd said I wanted to. 

Failing to meet my goals or stick to my plans kind of makes me anxious, and added anxiety is definitely something I can do without. 

It's weird, in other areas of my life I like plans.  I like knowing what I'm doing and when I'm doing it.  I'm not very good at being spontaneous - spontaneity also makes me anxious. And I've often wondered why, when I like knowing what I'm doing when, I fail to meet sewing goals I set myself.

Sew Busy Lizzy's blog post today has given me the answer.  She talks about why she hasn't set herself sewing goals and as I read her post a light bulb went on in my mind. 

She says:

Perhaps this is because my motivation to sew isn't often practical.  I sew when a fabric inspires me... I am hit by the urge to try a pattern... I am suddenly obsessed with having a specific garment... all of these things and more.  My motivation is primarily creative - not practical. 

As I read her post I realised that I feel exactly the same.  Unlike some people, I rarely sew to fill a gap in my wardrobe that needs filling, or even to learn a specific skill. 

My urge to sew comes from creating things that excite me, things that no one else has.  I might see a designer dress or a coat in a magazine and decide that I want to try and recreate it.  I might suddenly have a desire to make a denim skirt out of the fabric I bought to make jeans with.  Not having a plan enables me to do this. 

Sewing - as well as other creative pursuits - helps me feel calm and eases my anxiety.  Having set plans that "must" be followed stifles this and actually has the opposite effect.  Of course, there are exceptions; sometimes I have to follow through on a plan, but overall the flexibility to sew what I want, when I want and not beat myself up if I don't achieve a self imposed goal is what's important.   

I have vague ideas of things that I might like to make this year.  I will try and make use of some of the patterns I already own, rather than buy too many new ones, but I am a sucker for the "new and shiny".  Likewise with fabric and I may well have a destash at some stage, as having too much fabric that maybe I'm not totally in love with anymore also makes me anxious.  Sadly, that doesn't stop me buying more! 

I'm going to a wedding in April, so it's likely I'll make myself an outfit for that, but if I don't and I end up buying something instead, then who really cares?  All I know is that I'm giving myself the flexibility to sew what I want, when I want. 

I'm declaring 2017 the year of sewing without a plan.  Anyone care to join me?

The Monochrome Dreamcoat : Part 2

While I love reading other peoples year end reviews and plans for next year - and in the past have done them myself - I'm not going to do one of my own.  I don't really know what to say about this year, it's had it's ups and downs certainly.  I've gone from wanting to sew and blog all the time to completely losing both my sewing and blogging mojo's and in truth can't wait to see the back of 2016!

What I am going to do is share with you the project I'm most proud of this year; possibly the project I'm most proud of ever.

Vivienne Westwood style coat

Back at the end of October I wrote this post about the inspiration behind this project and my trials with my toile.  Once that was done I promptly lost all confidence in the project and couldn't get my head around tackling anything so big and it sat on my mannequin making me feel guilty every time I passed it. 

It was a project I desperately wanted to complete, but mentally things took a bit of a dip and I just couldn't face making a start.  I was overwhelmed by other commitments, work was getting busier and my anxiety put in a reappearance.

It was only when I was contemplating possible projects to tackle on a 3-day workshop with Alison Smith at the beginning of December that I decided the coat would be the thing to take.  If that was all I had with me to work on, then I'd have to do it, wouldn't I?

I'm so glad I did take the coat as my project - I literally spent the entire first day and part of the second morning cutting out - if I'd been doing that at home on my own I'd have got bored and put everything to one side again.  Or more likely, left it all over the dining room and just walked away!

Almost finished cutting out!

I had a couple of minor panics on the first day, not least because when I went to cut out the collar I realised I'd brought the wrong pattern piece with me.  I'd drafted several collars while making my toile and obviously picked up the wrong one.  (I actually found the right one this morning when I was looking for something else!).  After panicking for several minutes I calmly unpicked the collar from my toile and used that to make a new pattern piece. 

Trial bound buttonhole in faux leather

The coat actually came together very smoothly - with a little help from Alison - with only a few minor headscratching moments due to it being asymmetric.  I was constantly terrified that I was cutting things back to front, which probably made the cutting out take longer than necessary. 

I love how the back of the collar rolls

But I cracked on and at the end of three long, tiring days I came away with an almost complete coat.  All that was left for me to do at home was hem it and sew the buttons on.  Hemming actually took much longer than I thought, that hem is pretty long!

A unique lining is always a lovely touch

I absolutely love the end result.  I've had so many compliments on it - a friend wants one! - and I've got a coat that no one else has. 

Lovely curved front

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