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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thread-Sketched Wristlets: Orange You Special and Out of the Blue

As much as I enjoy thread-sketched pictures and cards, embroidered bags and clothing do not appeal to me.  A recent shopping trip to NW 23rd proved that, regardless of my feelings, embroidered clothing and accessories are very popular.  There were many cute and unique bags of all sizes and shapes, I was inspired to make a couple of small bags decorated with thread sketches.  I will share in this post how I modified a favorite pattern to make two new wristlets, "Orange You Special" and "Out of the Blue."

I have used the Sew4Home wristlet pattern many times.  Because of the number of pattern pieces, the Sew4Home wristlet can be intimidating.  However, the instructions are well-written, has many pictures, and it is free.  It is good to remember, that patterns are simply suggestions.  A starting place for the imagination.  

Out of the Blue bag is made with fewer pieces and is slightly larger than the Sew4Home wristlet.   The orange bag is not only larger, but construction is very different than the Sew4Home.  It is construction of the orange bag that I will explain here.  I have tried to keep my explanations brief.  When my pictures and explanation are not clear, try looking at the Sew4Home wristlet pattern, or, you can always send me email with questions, suggestions and comments.  

Size and Design

I wanted the finished bag to be approximately 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide.  After putting the blue lady on the zippered side of the first bag, I decided to try putting orange girl on the back (the side without the zipper).  After finishing both bags, I really have no preference on which side the thread sketch appears.  Size of the thread sketch must be a consideration if it is placed below the zipper.

Thread sketch on zippered side

Un-zippered side of Out of the Blue

For both bags, 10 oz. painter's canvas was used for the thread sketch and denim for the remainder of the outer bag.  A light cotton fabric was used for lining.

Here are the dimension of the pieces of fabric used for Orange You Special:

Thread sketch canvas: 5"x 9" (Cut larger than needed and trim to size after completing the sketch.)
Top front fabric: 3"x 9"
Bottom front fabric: 6" x 9"
lining fabric: 9"x 12-1/2"
Strap: 2"x 14"
Loop: 2"x 4"

All pieces were backed with lightweight fusible interface.

Thread Sketch Design

The inspiration for thread sketching these ladies came from my sister.  She suggested I sew one of my Nola Hart dolls onto a larger bag.  I may try that another time, but it gave me the idea to thread sketch a design with similar outrageous features.  Paint, buttons, rules!

Simple drawing for tracing onto water soluble stabilizer.

Fabric dampened and scrunched to create wrinkles.  Dry brush with a bit of paint to highlight the wrinkles.  Ironed flat.

The top is my original pencil sketch.  The middle is a photocopy that will be cut up for applique patterns.  Bottom is the traced water soluble stabilizer.

I applied fusible web to the back of  applique fabrics and traced around the patterns.

Here are the pattern pieces and the fabric with fusible web on back.

I positioned the stabilizer with picture on top of the canvas and pinned across the top so I could fold the stabilizer back. I peeled the paper backing from the fusible web on the applique pieces and used tweezers to position the pants and shirt pieces to match with the stabilizer drawing.  

When the applique pieces matched the drawing, I ironed them in place.

Thread sketched as usual, making sure to catch all raw edges of the appliqued pieces.  Once completed, cut the thread sketched canvas to size, 5"x 9" in this case. 

 Bag Construction

With the thread sketched canvas face up on the work space, place the 6"x 9" bottom front fabric face down on top of the canvas fabric.  With right sides together and bottom edge even, stitch along the bottom edge.  I used 3/8" seam.  Press the seam allowance away from canvas.

Similarly, place the 3"x 9" top front fabric face down on the canvas.  With right sides together and top edge even, stitch along the top edge with 3/8" seam.  Again, press seam allowance away from canvas.  I used a decorative stitch and embroidery thread to top stitch along both seams.  This not only adds a finished look, it anchors the seam allowance in place.
You can see that the outside fabric is the same size as the lining fabric.  If they are not the same size, you can trim the larger of the two so they match exactly.

Now...deep breath....the zipper.  I did not take pictures of the zipper steps.  Although not complicated, it is hard to explain without a picture.  The picture below is a re-creation using scrap fabric and bright zipper to make it easier to understand. When making my own patterns, I pin or baste, and audition each step to ensure the expected result.  

Place the outside fabric face up on the work table.  Place the zipper face down on the right side of the outside fabric.  Place the lining fabric face down on top.  The zipper will be between the two fabric pieces with the long edge of the zipper aligned with the top of the two fabric pieces.  I used a 10" zipper so had plenty of room to position.  I like to position the pull tab 3/8" from the edge  to allow for seam allowance.  That leaves about an inch at the zipper bottom that extends beyond the seam allowance.  We will deal with that later.  

Using a zipper foot, stitch through all layers 1/4" along top edge, moving the zipper tab as necessary to stitch evenly.

Lining fabric folded back to reveal outside fabric on bottom (right side up), zipper pull tab facing down and lining (right side down) on top.
 After sewing the top edge, flip the fabrics down to reveal the zipper.

  One side of zipper installed!  Yay!  
For the second side of the zipper, fold the bottom of the outside fabric to the top matching the edge of the fabric to the top edge of the zipper.  Flip it over and fold the bottom edge of the lining fabric to align with the top edge of the zipper and outside fabric.  

It looks a little odd, but it works.  This picture shows that when the fabrics are folded up properly, the wrong sides of the fabric are showing on the outside.  

When the fabric edges are aligned with the remaining edge of the zipper, use a zipper foot and stitch through all layers 1/4" along top edge.  You can easily reach between the layers to move the zipper pull making it easier to sew along the edge.

The zipper is completely installed.  Reach between the layers to unzip the zipper.  Turn right side out.      

I like to carefully press the seam allowance away from the zipper and top stitch the fabric along both sides of the zipper.  A hot iron will melt plastic zipper teeth, so take care to not touch the iron to the zipper.

Before sewing the sides of the bag, you need to decide how the strap will be attached. The Sew4Home wristlet uses a D-ring  and loop on the bag, but that is more hardware than I care to use.  I prefer to use just a loop or I sometimes sew the ends of the strap directly to the bag.  Play around with it to find a look you like.   

Here is a small wristlet with the strap sewn directly to the bag.  The ends of the strap are placed side by side rather than stacking them, reducing bulk and making it easier to sew together.
Strap and loop (if using) are created similarly. Fold the pieces lengthwise so edges match and press with an iron.  Open up the fabric and fold the edges to the center crease and refold down the center, pressing as you go.  You end up with something like bias tape.  Stitch the long edge together and you are ready to attach the loop or strap to the bag.  

Turn the bag inside out with lining facing out.  It is important to remember to open the zipper about half-way before stitching the sides.  You will need access to the pull tab so you can unzip the zipper to turn right side out.  

Place the loop on the side of the bag where the tab would be when closed. Center between the zipper and the top of the bag.  The ends of the loop should be sticking out to the side and the folded part of the loop toward center of bag.  Make sure there is about 1/2" loop inside the seam allowance.  If the raw edges of the loop are too long, you can cut them after you sew the seam.  Pin in place.  If you are stitching the strap directly to the bag, use the same method as loop.  Raw ends of strap should be even with raw sides of bag and the folded end of the strap toward opposite end of bag.

Make sure all the edges are even.  Seams matching, stitch 3/8" from the edge on both sides.   If you have extra length at the bottom of the zipper, reinforce with a few more lines of stitching in the seam allowance and cut the excess zipper even with the seam allowance.  After closing the sides with straight stitch, you can zig-zag the seam allowance to keep it tidy inside your bag.  I use a serger to finish the edges, but a sewing machine works well. 

Unzip the zipper and turn the bag inside out.  Slip the swivel hook onto the strap and sew the ends of the strap together.  Turn the strap so the seam allowance is inside and move the swivel hook over the seam.  Stitch the strap together close to the swivel hook.  A zipper foot helps.  


I hope you can see the possibilities and try making one on your own.  Please come visit again!