Sewing Savvy Newsletter
Tips & Advice
|Notes From the Sewing Room|
By Lucy Gray
Safely sew metal on a sewing machine? Absolutely! Simple metal shapes cut from soft aluminum soft-drink cans add dramatic visual interest to this roomy ethnic-themed tote bag.
15 x 12 x 3 inches
- 36-inch-wide wool felt:
- 44/45-inch-wide fabric:
- 1/3 yard colorful ethnic print
- 1/3 yard check or plaid
- 1/2 yard heavyweight lining, such as heavy linen or canvas
- 1/2 yard heavyweight fusible interfacing
- All-purpose thread to match fabrics
- Pattern tracing cloth or paper
- 1 yard fusible fleece
- 9-inch square batting
- 1 pair 5-inch-diameter bamboo handles
- 1 extra-large button for flap front embellishment
- 24 to 30 ostrich-egg beads, or other flat beads with large center holes
- Assorted large bone, metal or wooden beads for handle embellishment
- 2 (12-ounce) soft aluminum soft-drink cans
- 2 each 3/8- and 3/4-inch-diameter buttons to coordinate with bag fabric
- Protective gloves
- 1 magnetic snap set
- 4-inch square milk-jug plastic or plastic template material
- 1 sheet plastic needlepoint canvas
- Scrap yarn
- Carpet and button thread to match outer fabrics
- 1/2 yard hemp or other natural-fiber cord
- Clear-drying, all-purpose craft glue
- Liquid seam sealant
- Air-soluble marking pen or chalk marker
- #5 leather hand-sewing needle
- Size 11 Universal or Sharp needle
- Darning or open-toed presser foot
- Heavy-duty craft scissors
- Craft knife with #11 blade
- Fabric glue
- Kitchen scrubber and dish detergent
- Barbecue tongs
- Flame on fireplace, barbecue grill or propane torch
- Iron, ironing board and press cloth
- Basic sewing tools and equipment
- Cutting Template
- Enlarge the pattern pieces (Figure 1) on pattern tracing cloth or paper and cut out.
- Cut two 10 3/4 x 15 3/4-inch rectangles from the ethnic fabric and from the interfacing for the bag front and back.
- Using the side-panel pattern piece, cut four side pieces on the bias (two right, two left) from both the plaid fabric and the interfacing.
- From the check or plaid fabric, cut two flaps on the bias for the flap and flap facing. Cut two flaps from the fusible interfacing. Cut one flap from the fusible fleece. Cut two 6-inch squares for handle carriers from both the check or plaid fabric and the interfacing.
- Use the lining pattern piece to cut two pieces from both the lining fabric and the fusible fleece.
- Cut one 6 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch rectangle from a scrap of the check or plaid.
- Use the craft knife to cut two 3 x 8-inch pieces of plastic canvas for the bottom support.
- Before proceeding with the construction, fuse the interfacing pieces to their matching fabric pieces to stabilize the fabric and prevent stretching while you work with them.
- Wearing protective gloves, use heavy-duty craft scissors to cut free the flat side portion of each aluminum can. Be careful because the cut edges are very sharp. Using the barbecue tongs, hold the can pieces over an open flame and allow the flames to "lick" the inside curve of each piece, causing the aluminum to darken and discolor. Allow the pieces to cool; then wash them gently with a kitchen scrubber and detergent to remove the soot.
- Decide how you will embellish the ethnic fabric with metal appliques -- what shapes, sizes and how many. You can arrange them randomly over the entire surface or in lines or clusters as in the bag shown. Using the craft scissors, cut the desired shapes from the can pieces (Photo 1). Round any sharp edges to prevent unintentional gouges after they have been stitched to the bag sides.
- Adjust your machine for free-motion embroidery, with a darning foot and dropped feed dogs. Use a size 11 Universal or Sharp needle so that the holes punched in the metal will be small. Wear disposable latex gloves when free-motion embroidering; they are flexible and provide full-hand traction when maneuvering the fabric under the needle. Slowly free-motion–stitch the metal shapes to the ethnic fabric pieces in the desired location on the bag rectangle, staying fairly close to the metal-shape edges (Photo 2). When finished, tie off the threads with square knots and trim the threads close. Dot each knot with seam sealant. (This extra little step goes a long way toward keeping the metal shapes from pulling loose later!)
- Arrange the ostrich-egg beads on the ethnic fabric pieces for the tote (see tote photo for ideas). You might place them in rows or cluster them around a design feature in the fabric's pattern. Coat the wrong side of each bead with a little craft glue; allow several minutes for the glue to harden.
- Hand- or machine-stitch the beads in place. To machine-stitch the beads and enhance the hand-worked look of the bag:
- a. Adjust the sewing machine for free-motion stitching (darning foot and feed dogs dropped).
- b. Use your left hand to move the fabric and your right hand to advance the handwheel -- don't use your foot pedal. Insert the needle in the bead hole and then bring the needle up and slide the fabric just enough for the needle to clear the outer edge of the bead.
- c. Make one stitch and bring the needle up. Slide the fabric back to allow the needle to make a stitch in the hole again. In this manner -- one stitch in the hole, one stitch at the bead's outer edge, back to the hole again -- stitch all around each bead (Photo 3).
- d. Finish by making two consecutive stitches in the bead hole. Cut the threads 3 inches long, and tie off with a double-square knot on the underside of the fabric.
- e. After stitching all the ostrich-egg beads to the fabric, coat each bead lightly with clear-drying craft glue. The glue will keep the thread from wearing through, and prevent your lovely beads from falling off!
Note: If you want to add your own designer label, stitch it to the hemmed edge of the pocket now, placing the upper edge of the label 1/2 inches below the pocket upper edge.
- a. Join the male magnetic snap part to the female part on the bag front.
- b. Thread the flap back through the handles and pin it to the bag back.
- c. Position one 3/4-inch button in each lower flap corner and place a pin through one of the holes in each button. Carefully unfasten the magnetic snap.
- d. Double-thread the leather hand-sewing needle with carpet and button thread. Stitch the buttons in place, catching a 3/8-inch button in place inside the bag with the stitches to reinforce the attachment (Photo 6). Tie the threads off on the lining side, and dot with seam sealant.
Copyright © 2008 Sew Fun & Easy Table Fashions, House of White Birches. All rights reserved.
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