Hand printed turquoise leather clutch bag

Comment

Hand printed turquoise leather clutch bag

I have been waiting ages to complete this clutch bag. I bought this butter-soft turquoise leather hide at one of the Knit and Stitch craft shows in London well over a year ago.  The hide was only £10 as it was covered with light scratch marks, so it was the perfect candidate for trying out some screen printing on leather. I used my Art Deco / Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired screen design with some navy blue screen printing ink (Jacquard professional) so it would show up against the bright turquoise leather. Once I had screen printed over the entire surface of the leather with, most of the imperfections were well hidden by the intricate design. 

The leather hide was quite thin (possibly intended for garment making rather than bags). Although I wanted a slouchy finish to my clutch bag, it needed a bit more body/structure. I picked up something called "spacer" material from the Cloth House clearance sale on Berwick Street in London ages ago (I'm told that it is used to add structure in garment making so it seemed like the right choice).

After a nice few warm sunny days this week, I thought Spring had finally sprung, but the grey clouds and colder temperatures have returned! So despite finally finishing this little bag, it definitely goes with more of my summer clothes so will have to wait a little longer for its first big outing!

The all important details:

  • Bag pattern: I designed the patten pieces myself using a "T- shaped" bag construction. I find this one of the easiest bag constructions to design and make as you only need one pattern piece for the body of the bag, and (if your bag needs one) a separate piece for a flap...meaning minimal stitching time, which is great when you're using a domestic sewing machine that often struggles with leather;

  • Tips for sewing leather using a domestic machine: I changed my sewing machine footer to a walking footer and changed the needle to a leather needle; I adjusted the tension on my machine and used bonded nylon thread rather than regular thread (as is commonly used for upholstery - Coats is a great brand);
  • Magnetic closure: I used a set of hidden magnets to secure the bag closed, the first stitched into the lining of my bag and the second hidden within the decorative detailing on the front of the bag flap;
  • Adding structure using "Spacer" material: this was my first attempt at using this material which looks like layers of webbing or netting. It bends and moves easily which is helpful when turning the bag inside out, but keeps its shape.  
  • Using Rivets: something I've noticed with a t-shape construction, is that the side gussets poke out past the end of the flap....which isn't very nice to look at. Rivets are usually used to secure handles to bags, but a couple of carefully positioned rivets pinching the side gussets inwards worked perfectly to hide the excess side gusset. Perhaps next time, I won't use the spacer material for the entire the bag and only use it to add extra body to the front and back. 
 The shape of the bag pattern, showing the measurements of the height and width of the bag; the depth of the gussets; seam allowance and fold lines. 

The shape of the bag pattern, showing the measurements of the height and width of the bag; the depth of the gussets; seam allowance and fold lines. 

 My leather hide cut out to size (flap not shown). I also cut out the same size in the lining and spacer fabric.  

My leather hide cut out to size (flap not shown). I also cut out the same size in the lining and spacer fabric.  

  Rivets: before and after. The rivets were carefully positioned to pinch the side gussets inwards to stop them poking out past the edge of the flap. 

Rivets: before and after. The rivets were carefully positioned to pinch the side gussets inwards to stop them poking out past the edge of the flap. 

Comment

Hand painted tablet sleeve in 15 minutes!

Comment

Hand painted tablet sleeve in 15 minutes!

Second completed project of the week is a little protective sleeve for my mum's Amazon Fire tablet. A few weeks back, mum had a go at painting with acrylic on to some scraps of pale blue leather and there was just enough leather to wrap round her tablet that we bought her for Christmas. I added a couple of rivets at the top corners for stability. And voila!

image.jpg
image.jpg

Comment

Screen printing an old jacket

Comment

Screen printing an old jacket

So, I have 2 weeks off before I start a new job and the sun is shining! It's a perfect opportunity for a bit of screen printing on some old clothes to give them a new lease of life!

image.jpg

First up, an H&M draped jacket that is made out of an oatmeal coloured organic cotton. I must have spilt my lunch down myself one day, because there are some grease marks on the lapels...

image.jpg
image.jpg

I screen printed across the full length of the lapels covering over the grease marks using my Rennie Mackintosh screen print (see earlier posts for other applications of this design) in white ink. 

image.jpg

Less than 15 minutes later and the end result looks pretty effective (and definitely hides my messy eating habits!). 

Comment

Art Deco style screen printing!

Comment

Art Deco style screen printing!

I absolutely love Art Deco and the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The different shapes and marks used in many of his designs were perfect inspiration for a new screen print design. One of Rennie Mackintosh's famous projects was the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, and I used the school signs and the library lampshades to create an effective design that could be used with a screen print. 

The final design is quite versatile and can be printed in repeat in rows, spaced blocks or used to create different pattern effects.

I chose to print on 3 different fabrics: (i) some cream cotton twill that I found in the Cloth House on Berwick Street, (ii) a hide of turquoise blue leather and (iii) finally some navy silk taffeta that I bought years ago in Southall in West London. For maximum contrast, I used navy blue screen printing inks for the light coloured cotton and blue leather, and gold ink for the dark silk.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT...

The results are really effective on all three surfaces, so now all I need to decide is what to use them for!

  • Turquoise Leather: although summer is a fair way off yet, the turquoise blue would be perfect for the summer, and the softness of the leather should work for an oversized clutch;
  • Cotton Twill: as plastic bags are fast becoming a thing of the past, I want to make a large cotton shopper with tan leather handles out of the printed cotton;
  • Navy Silk: finally, the beautiful silk will be perfect for some cushions on our sofa - I've already wrapped the fabric round an existing cushion to see how they might look.

A NOTE ON SCREEN-PRINTING:

  • The Screen: I ordered the screen online from Thermofax Screens - it was really simple to upload my PDF design and select my screen size. The screen arrived in the post within about a week - they also recommend using their own squeezees for the screens, as the mesh is pretty delicate; 
  • The Inks: I used Jacquard professional quality screen printing inks (available online from Rainbow Silks) in gold and navy blue, so there was no need to dilute or mix them with screen printing mediums. I also use other brands screen printing inks but these Jacquard inks are suitable for printing on leather;
  • Fixing: once the inks had a chance to dry overnight, I followed the instructions and ironed on the reverse of the cotton canvas and silk (being careful with the temperature of the iron for the silk). I wasn't able to iron on the back of the leather, so hopefully that will be ok.

Comment

A (Tailor's) Ham and Sausage...Dog!

Comment

A (Tailor's) Ham and Sausage...Dog!

To make garments with a professional finish, it's a sensible idea to get yourself a tailor's ham and/or sausage. So when my darts wouldn't sit right and curved hems were a nightmare to press with a regular ironing board, I decided it was time to make up some of my own. I'd already saved Victory Patterns free tailor's ham and sausage pattern to Pinterest, so all that was left was to choose my fabric. 

I found this gorgeous sausage-dog print cotton fabric months ago from Fabrics Galore on Lavender Hill in Battersea. At Christmas time I made a washbag for my mum and some cushions for a friend using the fabric but was struggling to find other uses for it.

So that you can easily press different types of fabric, the opposite side of the ham and sausgae should be made out of a wool, so I used some leftover scraps of grey wool from my Victoria coat.

I haven't used them yet but hopefully they will come in handy at some point soon!

Comment

A beautiful handmade bridesmaids dress for a beautiful handmade wedding

2 Comments

A beautiful handmade bridesmaids dress for a beautiful handmade wedding

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid at the wedding of one my oldest and dearest family friends down in Somerset. The bridesmaids were able to choose their own dresses, so naturally I wanted to make a special dress to mark the occasion. 

My mum trained in fashion and textiles at Farnham art school and still has many of her printed silks that she designed and printed by hand for her degree collection more than 30 years ago!

For this fabric, my mum had airbrushed most of the surface area in soft pastel shades of pinks, blues and greens and then screen printed an intricate pattern based on feathers in coral, gold, yellow and teal. Every part of the design was printed by hand using either an airbrush gun or silk screen stencils. 

 One-of-a-kind vintage silk twill!

One-of-a-kind vintage silk twill!

Constructing the perfect bridesmaids dress!

I used ByHand London's Anna Dress sewing pattern and opted for their maxi dress version with a few alterations:

  • Extra Fabric: I didn't have quite enough fabric for the entire dress, so I picked up some pale grey silk crepe de chine from Broadwick Silks (just off Berwick Street in London) and used it to make up the 2 side-back skirt panels;
  • Shorter Skirt Length: I reduced the length of the skirt by 14.5 cm (partly because of my short legs and partly because all the bridesmaids were going barefoot during the ceremony!);
  • Skirt Width: my first attempt at an Anna dress ended up a bit voluminous around the bottom of the skirt, so I reduced the bottom width of some skirt panels by 8 cm  (4 cm each side), tapering it in at the top to ensure the width of the waist remained exactly the same;
  • Small Back Adjustment: as with my original test run of the Anna dress, I needed to reduce the back by about an inch around the top of the zip;
  • French Seams: finally, as the fabric was so old and delicate, I used French seams wherever possible for durability.

The wedding took placeat Little Quarm Cottages in Wheddon Cross in the heart of Exmoor National Park in Somerset.

As well as making my dress, I helped decorate the venue with 25 metres of home made bunting in lace and hessian with matching table runners, and helped feed the guests with home made Rocky Road!

2 Comments