When I went rifling through my lovely box of swapped clothes I found a set of tweed skirts which sparked an idea in my mind, and with studio withdrawl pangs this morning I decided it was definitely time to sit back down at my sewing table and do something to stop my palms from itching.
So I started making my series of tweedy English country garden shopping bags - the first one rolled off the production line today and was made from the lovely brown and beige striped tweed skirt you see in the photo above. I spend the morning unpicking seams, hems and darts, then a quick iron flat.
My pattern was based roughly on a bag I had last year but with thicker straps intended for popping to the shops rather than slinging over your shoulder with your lippy and a mobile for a night out.
I just cut the rough shape with a fold line for the material out of some of the flimsy publicity material we get through the door, which is almost as light as tracing paper but has the advantage of telling you what is on offer at the supermarket.
Then using the paper template I cut two pattern pieces in the outer tweed material, using the pattern fold, and a further two pieces from the inner skirt lining to serve as the liner for the bag.
Obviously because I am using odds and ends of material there was not enough lining to cut the bag liner in two simple pieces, I cut one, then had to make up the second in two pieces and join them together with a seam. So while I was cutting and sewing extra bits, I cut and sewed up a quick pocket too. This then got attached to the lining at this early stage.
The bag lining was then pin basted right side to right side, and I sewed around the bag part leaving the opening and the handles to sew together later.
The outer tweed was then pin basted right side to right side and sewn together - as you may be able to see in the earlier photo I left a larger seam allowance for the tweed so that I could overlock it to prevent it from fraying.
With the two sets sewn up, I then put the inner lining into the outer tweed bag, making sure that they were right side to right side again.
I pin basted and sewed around the handles and the opening - remembering to sew these together in pairs, outer tweed to lining, leaving the handles open at the ends.
Then the hard part - pulling the bag inside out or right side out rather, you have to be quite tough to feed the whole bag through the small gap left at the seams of the handles, but with a bit of wiggling and pushing, the bag pops through.
I pressed the seams flat, then fed one handle into the open seam of another, and ran a double line of stitches across to secure them.
And there you have it - first one of my shopping bags completed in a day - which sounds like a long time but I was out at work from 11 to 4, so it was more of a morning fix in the studio and then back home and straight to my sewing machine before dinner.
There are three or four skirts altogther and some Prince of Wales check trousers to sew up so I had better get busy.
So very very very happy to be back in my studio - after a week of solid gardening I have missed it - or maybe my back just really needed a break from the hoe?