Sewing and Design Meet: Canvas Bags

Canvas Bags group picture by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I am thinking of starting a new regular series of blog posts:  Sewing and Design Meet.  A place to showcase those projects where my fabric designer self and my sewing self come together to create a project!  (Or in simpler terms: When I sew stuff with my own fabric designs 🙂 ).

I am kicking off the series with a trio of bags created from 1/2 yard of my Hip Sequential (Cool) design printed on Eco Canvas by Spoonflower.

DESIGN:

A look at the pattern:

Geometric Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

This pattern was actually created during a special Spoonflower design challenge last spring.  The theme for this day of the challenge was geometric and I had a little flash of inspiration! I really liked the idea of solid and divided rectangles slowing getting smaller in width in sequential order. The end pattern worked so well with my existing Hip Geometrics Collection I have since added it in all four collection colorways as well!

SEWING:

When I ordered my fabric, Spoonflower did not yet offer their Fill-A-Yard service so I had to create mine manually by uploading a full yard design file divided into two patterns.  My thought was that 1/2 yard on the wide fabric should be enough for two bags/totes of some kind, although I did not have a specific pattern in mind when I ordered.  I chose Eco-canvas as my substrate as Spoonflower was having an amazing 1/2 price sale on it at the time.  A look at the printed fabric:

Hip Sequential on Eco Canvas by Brenda Zapotosky

I had the fabric for quite a while when I saw a few free tote tutorials by Purl Soho and knew I had found the right bag for this print!  For this pattern I chose the Railroad Tote.  I thought the rectangular shape was a good pairing for the geometric print.  To pair with my fabric I purchased some Kaufman Big Sur Canvas in Solid Gray.  Buying online is usually a bit of a gamble (unless you have purchased the exact product before) so I was quite excited to see how perfectly the canvas I chose matched both this print AND the other pattern, Transit Lines, I had printed with it.

Railroad Tote by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I mostly made the tote per instructions.  Since I had plenty of the canvas and I like pockets on my bags I decided to add the pocket to BOTH sides of the tote.  I also changed the finishing order a bit so that I could have the tops of my side seams enclosed in the folded over edge of the top of the bag.  This required a few more steps and was a bit trickier to sew this way, but well worth it for the final result!

I am very happy with how the bag turned out but I would make a few tweaks for the next one.  The side pockets end up being very tall and skinny.  While the look from the outside is quite lovely I would prefer them to be less deep, so next time I would modify them somehow.  I also plan on making it bigger overall.

I had a long skinny piece of this print left over and plenty of the gray canvas so I decided to sew up some zippy pouches with the left overs.  Originally these were supposed to be a bigger and smaller pouch in two different styles and the zippers I purchased for them are 2″ different in length.  However, I did not anticipate that the style of the bigger pouch made it appear smaller and the extensions I added to the smaller pouch would increase its size so much.  In the end they are almost the same size!

Hip Sequential Zippies by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

For the “larger” pouch (Top bag in the photo) I used another free bag pattern: The Open Wide Zippered Pouch by Noodlehead.  I have used this pattern before and it is a really nifty design!  (Do people still say nifty?)  I can’t remember for sure which size I made but I think it was the smallest one as I am fairly certain I used a 9″ zipper.  I know the pattern calls for 10″, but you really can’t find that easily at any stores by me.  Not sure if I made the bag smaller to compensate, but having made it before I knew that the zip overhangs a lot so there is definitely wiggle room there.

The “smaller” pouch is just a basic rectangle lined zipper pouch using a 7″ zipper.  To give it a little extra flair I added the little canvas loop to the side.  I also chose to add canvas extenders to each side of the zipper so that the ends wouldn’t pull into the sides of the pouch.  I used the technique outlined by my fellow Spoonflower designer and friend Ceri for her cut and sew pouch project: The Hand Strap Clutch.  You can see both details in the photo below.  You can also get a small glimpse of the lining.  For both zipper pouches I used a “textured look” quilting cotton, “Crosshatch Sketch”, that I purchased from Hawthorne Threads.  They no longer have the color I chose:  Fog, but there are several other colors available that might pair well with this print.  There are of course many color match choices in my Spoonflower shop too, including this teal color version of my Hip Shapes design.

Hip Sequential Small Zip Close Up by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

One last note:  The Eco-Canvas is not as stiff as normal canvas (definitely not as stiff as the Big Sur Canvas I paired it with) and tends to flop around a little.  I highly recommend using interfacing if you want a bit more structure to whatever you are making with it.  I added a very light interfacing to both zippered pouches and really liked the bit of structure it gave.  Unfortunately the inside of the canvas is exposed on the tote so you would have to give it a lining if you wanted to add interfacing there.  I have the other 1/2 yard of my Eco-Canvas left with the other print I chose to use for a second tote and I am currently brainstorming ideas of how I can add lining/double layer to the top pieces, so I can interface that one!  If anyone has any suggestions, I will be making the Everyday Tote with it.

I’ll leave you with a few more views of the bags!

Canvas Bags details by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

A Fabric Design Tale

This post is a tale of sorts, of two whimsical designs that began as hand drawings and were transformed into fabric.  An appropriate title could have been: From Pen and Ink Hand Drawings to Seamless Patterns to Printed Fabric to Sewing Creations. But that is a lot of words. Hence:  A Fabric Design Tale 🙂

If you read my previous post then you already know that for Christmas 2016 I made my youngest niece and nephew each a raglan tee using my fabric designs.  Both began as hand drawings and so I thought it would be fun to share the process (since it was different for both) in how I transformed those into the fabric and ultimately a finished sewing project.

Fantasy Fish

fantasy-fish-promo-pattern-by-brenda-zapotosky

For my nephew I chose my Fantasy Fish pattern.  I originally created this design for the Great Barrier Reef themed contest on Spoonflower.  This was still in the beginning stages of my learning Adobe Illustrator and creating patterns. For this pattern I wanted to have all the elements inter-connected and I wasn’t yet sure how to do that in AI, so I stuck with Photoshop to create the entire pattern.  To do this I began by drawing a base design by hand, scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, and then using the offset function split the design apart.  I then printed the split apart design and drew in more elements to start to fill the space.  I had to do this several times before I had the entire piece filled in and the full pattern tile created.  Below you can see some of the stages of the pattern.

fantasy-fish-pattern-progression-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

I chose to have the design printed on Spoonflower’s Cotton Spandex Jersey since I would be pairing it with Cotton Spandex Solids purchased elsewhere and I wanted the fabric types to be as close as possible.

fantasy-fish-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

I love how it looks printed out!

Butterfly Party (Midnight)

butterfly-party-midnight-by-brenda-zapotosky-promo

For my niece, I chose the Butterfly Party design, Midnight color version from my Flutter Collection.  I created this design from a doodle I drew in one of my doodle sketchbooks long before I ever started created surface patterns.

butterfly-doodle-by-brenda-zapotosky

Since I never intended this drawing to be a seamless pattern when I created it, I decided to use the elements as components in a new design instead of converting the original composition to be seamless.  For this design, I used the auto-trace function in Adobe Illustrator to render the elements as vector.  From there I did A LOT of clean-up, modifications and redrawing.  In fact sometimes I do so much editing of a traced design that I wonder if it wouldn’t be faster to just redraw all the elements manually.  I do like, however, how auto trace gives a bit more of the hand-drawn feeling and for this print I think it really works.  While I love the black infill with the butterfly silhouettes and polka-dots on the original doodle, I thought it was too busy for the pattern version so I decided to eliminate it.  Instead I used some of the little butterflies to create a coordinating pattern.

delicate-delights-four-colors-small-by-brenda-zapotosky
Delicate Delights design in 4 different colorways.

You can find these little butterflies and many other coordinating prints in the Flutter Collection on Spoonflower.  And here is a look of the fabric (also printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey):

 

butterfly-party-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

 

Raglan Tees

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-2

I used the same pattern for both tees, the Raglan Sweatshirt 015 from Brindle and Twig. Since the kids are so close in age, I was able to use the same size for both of them!  For each shirt I was able to fit the body pieces on one fat quarter of the Spoonflower fabric and used solid fabric leftover from other projects for all the rest of the pieces.  (Huge perk of sewing for littles!!!)  I chose black for the fishes since there is already black in the design and I love how it makes the colors really pop.  For the butterflies I used this aqua I had in my stash that I was happy to see matched so well!  I was a bit concerned about the arms being lighter than the body (I guess when I think of raglans I usually think the darker color as the arms and bands) but I think it adds a lovely brightness!

butterfly-party-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

fantasy-fish-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

For the most part I thought this was a good pattern.  I was surprised at the size of all the bands, which seemed a little small in diameter to me.  I change almost all of them to be a little bit bigger after I sewed the first one (I THINK the neckband on the butterfly shirt is the only place where the band is cut to the pattern size).  I would definitely keep this change in the future.  It made it easier to sew and was still not too big. I made the butterfly raglan first so the tweaks on the fish one reflect what I learned from the first.  My only other complaint is with the pdf assembly.  I found that the aligning box on the pdfs to be a bit confusing.  Perhaps it would not be to someone else, but I thought I would mention it.  I will say that Melissa from Brindle and Twig was very kind and receptive to my feedback when I emailed her, which is huge bonus points in her favor!!!  Customer service and communication goes a long way in my book. I also like the very large size range that comes with the pattern.  I could make these for several more years before the kids will be too big for the pattern.

So there you have it!  A look at the progression of a design from the very beginings to a final finished project!  I’ll end with a couple of detail close-ups.

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-details

And as always,

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda

 

Travel Jewelry Pouch

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Folded by Brenda Zapotosky with Words

Several years ago my sister gave me a lovely travel jewelry pouch as a present.  She mentioned loving it so much she wanted one for herself too, but when she tried to find another one they no longer made them.  Knowing that she was so fond of mine I thought it would be the perfect gift to make for her.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?  It only required sewing 3 zippers on one item, binding multiple layers of interfacing and materials (a skill I have NOT mastered), and sewing VINYL (for the first time).  But whatever, I could handle it… I thought.

I found a pattern/tutorial online that was similar to my pouch, (and it seemed a little easier to make), so I went with that.  It is officially called the Mini Jewelry Roll by Haberdashery Fun.  You can also download a pdf version of the tutorial at the Pellon website.  I used the pdf since I prefer looking off of a piece of paper rather than a device when I am sewing.  I decided to make mine a little less mini, and it folds over itself rather than rolls, thus I am calling mine a pouch.  But that really isn’t important.  🙂

Onto the sewing!

I asked my sister to give me a list of some of her current favorite fabrics in my Spoonflower Shop and I would pick from that list for her gift. (The actual fabric I went with remained a surprise, as did the gift itself, she did not know what I would be making when she made her list).  Of her picks, I thought the Floral Bliss Coral and Mint (small scale) design would work well for this project.  Since it did not have any coordinating prints I whipped up a simple matching polka-dot for the inside of the pouch.  I chose black zippers and bias tape for the trimmings and really love how they pop against the prints.

Since I had enough length with my fabric and I know that my sister has a preference towards chunky jewelry, I decided to make my pouch a few inches longer than the instructions suggested, I THINK I added 4″ total in length (I should have written it down), giving each pouch section an extra inch in depth and the pouch itself an extra inch.  The pouch is still nice and compact, but I think the extra room makes it a little bit more versatile.

Sewing the vinyl was much less difficult than I expected!  For my first attempt, I followed the directions and sewed with the vinyl on top of the zipper edge (with no pins, etc. to hold it down).  The results were not good.  It was VERY wavy and did not lie flat.  So I removed the zipper and came up with a new method instead.  I decided to put the zipper on top as the finished “edge”.  I liked the fabric of the zipper being the exposed piece instead of the vinyl edge and because the solid black was now on top, I could use Wash-Away Wonder Tape to hold it in place and it would not be seen.  Normally I would not worry about the tape showing since as its name suggests it dissolves away when you wash it, but not knowing if this pouch would be washed I wanted to keep it hidden. Other than that change I pretty much followed the directions for the rest of it (with one other exception as you will see). Along the lines of the cotton ball suggestion, I did put a folded up wad of scraps in all of the pouches before sewing them down to help ensure they would not be too tight to hold chunky jewelry.

As hinted at above, sewing on the bias tape binding was my failure of the project.  I need to blame this partially on the fact that I did not follow the instructions and sew it to the inside first before folding over to enclose the edge and top stitch on the outside.  My mind got a little jumbled about whether bias tape (instead of classic quilt-style binding) could still work like this.  And I didn’t think it was really necessary.  (And maybe I was a bit impatient too…) I really, really, REALLY wish I would have done it.  My single stitching along the binding did not catch all the edges on the inside and I ended up having to do a second line of stitching in places to catch it all. Had I done the inside stitch first, even though the top-stitching would have missed in places, it would have still had that first stitch to hold it down.  The end result is quite ugly and definitely not up to my personal standards (especially for a gift).  But if I had pulled it all out and started over it would have left a line of holes in the vinyl and I wasn’t sure if that would compromise the integrity of the piece.  So, despite my disappointment, I left it.  AND it doesn’t effect the function of the pouch at all.  Yay for that!

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Flat by Brenda Zapotosky

Besides the ugly binding I am very happy with the end result.  If I was to make one again (and I don’t see that happening anytime soon) I would want to have the zipper width better span the width of the pouch.  Right now there are gaps on each side. (I kept the zipper and width exactly as instructed in the tutorial)  Next time I would use the next size up from  7″ to 9″ zippers but only increase the width of the pouch by an inch.  This would eliminate the gap.  Otherwise it is a great tutorial.  And despite the binding flaws, my sister LOVES it!  And that is really all that matters.

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Inside  by Brenda Zapotosky

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Close Up 2  by Brenda Zapotosky
Check out that custom designed label!

Floral Bliss Jewelry Pouch Close Up 1 by Brenda Zapotosky