Tips & Tutorials

Sewing and pattern tutorials by fabric & flowers | Sonia Spence

Tutorial – fabric tassels!

Tutorial – fabric tassels!

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links. It will not cost you any money if you click on them and just means that I get a small commission for recommending it.

Hello! And a very Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2019 already? Honestly, I have no idea where the time is going! I have lots of things planned for the coming months but as today is the first day the kids are back at school – and I’m desperate to do some sewing – I thought I would kick off the New Year with a tutorial for making a fabric tassel zip pull, as I did for my Not So Little Zippy Pouch!

Tutorial - fabric tassel zip pull or charm by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I love using zip pulls as, for me, they somehow make a pouch look a bit more finished and a lot nicer to use! Previously, I’ve used colourful zip pulls like these on a sew together bag but didn’t have any left that were the right size or colour. Isn’t that the best thing about making things – you can customise them exactly how you want?! These little zip pulls are a great way of using up any fabric scraps that you have lying around, and only require a little bit of time, so great if you’re after a quick sewing fix!

Fabric Zip Tab Tassel

Materials Needed

  • 1 piece of fabric, 3/4″ wide by 2″ long for zipper pull tab
  • 1 piece of fabric, 4″ wide x 2″ high for fabric tassel
  • Needle & thread

Making the tassel

Taking the zipper pull tab, fold the fabric in half width-ways, wrong sides together. Finger press before folding the outside edges in towards the centre. Finger press again and keep in place with a couple of pins. Place a scrap piece of fabric under your machine needle – we are going to use this to help feed our tiny little zipper pull tab through the machine (these are sometimes called leaders/enders) as the fabric is so narrow it can easily be eaten by the machine/not feed through properly.

Complete a few stitches on the scrap piece of fabric, and stop just before you reach the end of the fabric. Lift the presser foot to place one end of the zipper tab pull under the piece of scrap fabric – I tried to line up the centre of the tab pull with the needle. Place the presser foot back down, and sewing slowly continue stitching – because the zipper tab is quite narrow, you may find that the scrap fabric moves and the zipper tab pull comes out from underneath. If this happens, lift the presser foot and re-arrange.

Take your zipper tab pull, and snipping off the scrap fabric, thread it through the end of your zipper pull. Set aside.

Tutorial - fabric tassel zip pull or charm by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

To make the tassel, take the remaining piece of fabric, fold one end in (wrong sides together) by 1/4″ to give a neat edge – this will be the end that you see on the tassel. Fold the piece of fabric in half wrong sides together, matching the long edges together. Finger press.

Tutorial - fabric tassel zip pull or charm by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Using a zig-zag stitch, stitch just in from the folded edge. Secure the stitches by the folded end and snip/bury the threads. Using scissors cut up to – but not through – the stitching line.

With needle and thread (I recommend poly-cotton doubled up as it is more resilient to sewing through all the layers!), press the zipper pull tab together and secure in place with a couple of stitches at the level where you would like to place the tassel – I went about 1/4″ down from the zip pull.

Secure the raw end of the tassel fabric to the zipper tab. To sew the fabric tassel in place, work around the zip tab, stitching every 1/8″ – 1/4″ – I stitch over the zig-zag stitch, going through as many layers as I can to secure them all together.

Tutorial - fabric tassel zip pull or charm by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Secure the end of the tassel in place. You will likely find that as you’ve been sewing the tassel in place, it will start to fray. You can leave it like this, or if you would like to help it along to looking more frayed, use a seam ripper tease out the threads.

It’s a fun little make, and a great way of using up scraps, but it led me to thinking, what about all the tiny little scraps that are left over?! The scraptastic tassel is stitched together in exactly the same way as the fabric tassel, it just starts off slightly differently!

Tutorial - fabric tassel zip pull or charm by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Scraptastic Tassel

  • 1 piece of fabric, 5″ wide x 1″ high for fabric tassel band
  • Variety of scraps, at least 4″ long (or double the length of tassel)
  • Needle & thread
  • (optional) Lobster Clasp – you can find similar here and here

Take the tassel band and fold it in half, matching the long edges together and finger press. Open out and place right side down. Taking the fabric scraps, place them on top of the tassel band, roughly centred. It doesn’t matter if they overlap each other, but leave a little of the band uncovered at one end, to fold under as we did for the fabric tassel above.

Stitch along the centre line to keep the fabrics in place. As for the fabric tassel, fold the uncovered end under for a neat finish, fold the fabric in half and zig-zag close to the folded edge (for this version, I wanted more of a band so stitched 1/2″ from the folded edge).

Tutorial - fabric tassel zip pull or charm by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

If there is any excess band fabric below the stitching, you can trim it up to the stitching line (these scissors are excellent for this job as the curved duck-bill blade helps to keep the fabric you don’t want to cut out of the way!!!). Depending on how wide the strips are, you may want to add some extra cuts up to, but not through, the stitching on the band to create a more tassel-y effect.

For this tassel, I also played with not having a zip pull tab in the centre. Instead, I stitch it together in the same way as the fabric tassel, before threading a darning needle with thin ribbon and looping it through a lobster clasp (you can find similar here and here) before threading each end through the centre of the tassel from the top to make it into a keyring. Turn the tassel upside down to knot the ribbon and trim the ends (if it’s a ribbon that frays, you may want to carefully seal the edges with a match!)

I didn’t fray this tassel as much but did use a pin to tease out a few threads along the edge of each strip. I threaded the ribbon through a swivel clip so that I could use this as a bag charm, or you could always make tassels to add to a zip at a later date?!

Tutorial - fabric tassel zip pull or charm by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Oh, and don’t forget, if you’re looking for another type of zipper-pull, then don’t forget to check out my tutorial for using mini macarons here!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial – if you make it, please do tag me in your make as I’d love to see it!

Back soon,

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast and grey

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please do sign-up to my newsletter to have updates and news sent to your inbox. And to see my patterns you can check out my Etsy shop here.

Tutorial – the Stash’n’Go drawstring bag

Tutorial – the Stash’n’Go drawstring bag

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links. It will not cost you any money if you click on them and just means that I get a small commission for recommending it.

Hello there! It’s been a bit quiet here hasn’t it – I’ve been away for a few days but did manage to put together a tutorial for the Stash’n’Go drawstring bag which I thought I’d share.  They go together really quickly and would make an ideal gift if you’re looking for some inspiration!

Tutorial for the StashnGo drawstring bag by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I was inspired to make these after seeing some of the nifty make-up bags on the web – I figured they couldn’t be that hard to make! I’ve used a waterproof lining to protect it against any spillages and it can be chucked through a washing machine with ease! I think it could be used in so many different ways though – carrying around toys/snacks for a young child (this would have been so useful when my kids were little and I was looking for a clean surface for them to eat off of!!!!) or maybe even a project bag for some sewing or knitting?! So, shall we get on with how to make one……. 

Finished Size:  17″ diameter

Materials

  • 1 FQ for the Outer
  • 1 FQ of wadding
  • 1 FQ for the lining (I used ripstop which you can get in lots of fun designs)
  • 1 FQ for the cord casing
  • Cord (I used paracord)
  • Cord Stoppers (also available in lots of different colours!)

Preparing your fabrics

To start with, I made a template as I knew I wanted to make a few of these! I used an empty cereal box and, using a tape, measured 8.5″ from the corner up one straight edge. I then moved the outside edge of the measuring tape towards the other straight edge marking 8.5″ dashes at regular intervals. Join the marks to create an 8.5″ wide quarter circle. Cut out.

Use the template to cut out (1) outer fabric and (1) lining: fold the fabric in half, and then half again. Place the template on top, matching the straight edges with the folded edges of the fabric.

Tutorial for the StashnGo drawstring bag by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

TIP: if you are using ripstop, it can be quite slippery. After making a few of these bags, I have found that using wonder clips to secure the template to the ripstop in place gave a better result.  

For the cord casing, open out the FQ and press. The casing needs to be cut on the bias so that it will curve around the edge of the bag. To do this, cut a straight line at a 45* angle to the selvedge. Cut three strips 2″ wide. 

Take two strips and place the ends right side together. Sew. Repeat for the other strip. Press the seams open, before folding the casing wrong sides together matching the long edges. Press. Square of one end and cut the folded strip to a finished size of 54″.

Making the bag

Lay the outer fabric wrong side down on to the wadding and quilt as desired, I went for random wavy lines. Trim any excess wadding.

Take the cord casing and lay it right side down in front of you. Fold one end back (wrong sides together) by 3/8″ to create a hem and stitch. Repeat at the other end. 

Fold in half and place a pin on the central point. Fold in half again and place a pin so that you now have four quarters marked on your casing. Take the outer bag piece and fold in half, marking each side with a pin. Open out and then fold the pins together to match, placing a pin in the fold on each side again. 

Match the quarter marks of the circle with the quarter marks on the cord casing. Place the casing on the right side of the bag outer and pin in place matching the raw edges of the casing with the raw edge of the circle. Add extra pins if you would like. Sew around the circumference of the bag using a 1/8″ seam allowance.

Place the lining fabric right sides facing with the outer panel. If you are using ripstop, use clover clips to prevent marking of the fabric and secure in a few places. Start, securing the beginning stitches and using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and sew around the edge of the bag, stopping when you are 3-4″ from where you started, leaving a gap for turning.

Tutorial for the StashnGo drawstring bag by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Pull the bag through the opening until it is the right way out.  On the outer side of the bag, fold in to position and pin in place (I don’t go through the lining so as to avoid pin marks on the ripstop).

Place the bag lining side up, and begin top-stitching around the edge – I like to start just after the opening and leave long thread tails so that I can knot and bury the threads.  If you take it slowly and pull the casing slightly as you work your way around the edge, you will get a lovely neat finish.

When you reach the turning-out gap, gently fold the raw edge of the lining under and stitch in place. Stop when you have completed stitching all around the bag. I like to pull the threads through to the front of the bag, knot and then bury the threads in the wadding.

Take the length of cord and trim to around 55″ – you may need to burn the ends to seal the threads and stop them unravelling. Place a safety pin through the cord close to one end, and begin to feed it through the casing.

Once the safety pin has been threaded all the way through the casing, feed the cord gently through a cord-stopper. I find it easier to thread through each end individually. Tie a knot with the two cord ends to prevent the cord stopper coming  off and Ta Dah!!!! You’re finished!!!

Tutorial for the StashnGo drawstring bag by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

To use the bag, pull the cords to gather it up, and the cord stopper to keep it closed. It will become easier to gather/open with continued use.

Tutorial for the StashnGo drawstring bag by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

These are quite quick to whip up – only a couple of hours – and a FQ can do the casing on at least three stash’n’go bags if you want to get in to production style sewing!

If you do make one of these, I’d love if you could use the hashtag  #stashngobag so that I can see what versions have been made. If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial,  please do sign-up to my newsletter if you would like any updates or news sent straight to your inbox. And if you’d like to see any of my other patterns then you can check out my Etsy shop here.

Back soon, 

S x

Today’s sky::: mostly grey and very cold!!!

Zippy Pouch Along – finishing the Zippy Pouch!

Zippy Pouch Along – finishing the Zippy Pouch!

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links. It will not cost you any money if you click on them and just means that I get a small commission for recommending it.

Hello! Are you ready for the finishing touches on your (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch?! The final step is adding the binding and, if you wish, a zipper pull.

I prefer a narrow binding of 2″ but if you like a thicker binding please alter to your own measurements. When attached the binding, it is important to remember that we are using a width of fabric strip around corners, so we need to ease the fabric in to get a nice smooth binding. I have found that the best way to do this, is by pinning the binding on from the front. Normally, I will pin in the centre of the curve first (where we marked for joining the front/zip band together) and then either side for the rest of the curve. 

Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

To sew the binding in position, I will sew from the zip band side. This means that as I work my way around the corner I can stop, lift the presser foot and rearrange the fabric as I go to stop any bunching. When it comes to sewing across the bottom of the pouch, make sure to push the zip band/pouch down flat. Due to all the layers in the centre of the zip band, it is worth going slowly to achieve good stitching and save your machine needle! 

Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Fold the binding up and over towards the zip band. If you have added pockets, you may find it helps to trim some of the bulk out from the seams before wrapping the binding over. I slip stitch the binding in place, as I would for a quilt. 

Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

And Ta-Dah! You’re all done! If you would like, you can check out my Mini Macaron Zip Pull Tutorial or check out this tutorial for the fabric tassel that I added to this Not So Little Zippy Pouch. I’m even been looking at a few enamel pins which I think I’ll be adding to my Christmas wish list to put on the front, the bat is my favourite so far!!!! (click pics to find the makers!).

Enamel Pin ideas for quilters by fabricandflowers

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sew along and I can’t wait to see all your finished pouches. I have adjusted the timings slightly – all pictures posted by Midnight on the 4th December GMT using the hashtag #zippypouchalong will be eligible for the lovely prize from Rose Garden Patchwork, with the winner being announced on 5th December.

Don’t forget to follow @fabricandflowers and @rosegardenpatchwork and use the hashtag #zippypouchalong so that I can see all the fabulous pouches that you’re making! If you are looking for a copy of the pattern, check out my Etsy shop here. And please do sign-up to my newsletter if you would like any updates or news sent straight to your inbox.

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast, grey and raining. Boo!

Zippy Pouch Along – Joining the Pouch Together

Zippy Pouch Along – Joining the Pouch Together

Hello there and welcome back to the second part in the sew-along! By now, you should have all the different pieces of the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch (pattern available here) interfaced, quilted and pockets all made. Now, we’re going to join the zip band to the pocket/lining before sewing the two layers together.

Zippy Pouch Along - joining the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch together, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Adding the Pocket Sides to the Zip Pocket

When I attach the pocket side, I always like to start stitching at the bottom, working up towards the top.

I stitch until the needle runs off the end of the fabric, and then stitch forwards/backwards a couple of times. As the zip sits lower than the pocket side, it means that the zip is fitted very securely, the ends are completely hidden and everything is neat and tidy.

Joining the Zip Band to the Lining and Pockets

Sewing the pocket side to the zip band from the bottom of the piece will give better results. As the pocket side piece is angled, the first side sits nice and flat but the second piece will be a little bit bouncy! Pin in place – again starting at the bottom – before sewing to help keep everything in position!

Zippy Pouch Along - joining the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch together, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Sewing the bag together

This is probably the trickiest bit of the pattern to visualise – how do we bring it all together?! I did some videos on Instagram, some of which I have added below – click right to see – and will hopefully make it all seem a lot clearer!

If you would like to see all the video’s, then please check out the highlights ‘Zippy Pouch’ on my Instagram profile page @fabricandflowers.

Sewing the sides in positions

After basting the sides/pockets in place, we need to shape the corners. I trim around the template with a rotary cutter. Starting on one side, join the pouch together by matching corner mark with the corresponding mark on the zip band. Pinning from the front of the pouch will help to ensure that the fabric isn’t bunching up. Once the corners are in place, pin the rest of the seam in place.

When sewing together, I sew from the zip band side, to make sure that none of the fabric bunches on this side either! Take it slowly sewing around the corner, stopping to lift the presser foot and rearrange the fabric if needed, helps to give a smooth finish to the corner.

Zippy Pouch Along - joining the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch together, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

And that’s it for today! Come back next time when I’ll share my tips for adding and stitching the binding!

Zippy Pouch Along timings

Don’t forget to follow @fabricandflowers and @rosegardenpatchwork and use the hashtag #zippypouchalong so that I can see all the fabulous pouches that you’re making! If you are looking for a copy of the pattern, check out my Etsy shop here. And please do sign-up to my newsletter if you would like any updates or news sent straight to your inbox.

Let me know if you have any questions – have a great weekend sewing!

S x

Today’s sky::: grey and cold. Brrrrrr!

Tutorial – Adding a Zip Pull using Mini Macarons

Tutorial – Adding a Zip Pull using Mini Macarons

Hello there! Well, this morning I’ve just finished off a zip pull – one of those fantastic 5-10min project that makes you feel so happy with the end result,  that I just had to hop on and share it with you!

Tutorial - how to add zipper pulls to the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch using mini macarons by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

A little while ago, I’d ordered a few things from the Rose Garden Patchwork (a new-to-me online shop) which specialises in Japanese fabrics.  Obviously, I’d ordered a couple of fat quarters (!) but also added to my basket these Mini Macaron’s: they are like buttons that you can cover with fabric but without the shank.  So you can place them together to cover the end of zip-tabs….I’d never seen them before and really wanted to have a play with them!

Once I’d finished my Not So Little Zippy Pouch, I thought a zipper pull would add the perfect finished touch – I don’t know why, but they always seem to make it feel nicer when you open the pouch?!

To make a zipper pull, you will need;

  • 2 macaron covers – I used 24mm and they come in sets of 6
  • 2 pieces of fabric, minimum 1.5″ square for zipper pulls
  • 1 piece of fabric, 0.75″ wide by 2″ long for zipper pull tab
  • Scrap piece of fabric
  • Needle & thread

To start, cut two circles bigger than the size of the macaron – I used the bottom of a large thread spool to draw a circle 1.5″ wide.

Take some thread and, starting on the right side of the fabric, do a running stitch around the edge of the fabric, until you reach your starting point. Place the macaron dome side down in the middle of your fabric and gently start to pull the threads together gathering the fabric up so that it is tight over the macaron. Knot your thread to secure. If you feel that the fabric is not tight enough, I found completing a second round of running stitch and securing it helped to solve this. Repeat for the remaining macaron. Set aside.

Taking the zipper pull tab, fold the fabric in half width-ways, wrong sides together. Finger press before folding the outside edges in towards the centre. Finger press again and keep in place with a couple of pins.

Tutorial - how to add zipper pulls to the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Place a scrap piece of fabric under your machine needle – we are going to use this to help feed our tiny little zipper pull tab through the machine (these are sometimes called leaders/enders) as the fabric is so narrow it can easily be eaten by the machine/not feed through properly.

Complete a few stitches on the scrap piece of fabric, and stop just before you reach the end of the fabric. Lift the presser foot to place one end of the zipper tab pull under the piece of scrap fabric – I tried to line up the centre of the tab pull with the needle. Place the presser foot back down, and sewing slowly continue stitching – because the zipper tab is quite narrow, you may find that the scrap fabric moves and the zipper tab pull comes out from underneath. If this happens, lift the presser foot and re-arrange.

Take your zipper tab pull, and snipping off the scrap fabric, thread it through the end of your zipper pull. Set aside.

Tutorial - how to add zipper pulls to the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Place two covered macaron pieces wrong sides together. Holding in place, begin hand-stitching (I use ladder stitch) around the outside to join them together, stopping when you are 1″ from where you started.

Squeeze the opposite sides together slightly to help open up the gap, and gently push the zipper tab pull ends inside until you reach the desired length (I pushed them nearly all the way in!).  If you are struggling to get the ends in, you can use sharp scissors to help encourage them!

Holding everything in position, secure in place, stitching through the zipper pull tab a few times before going on to close the gap.  

And ta-dah! We’re all done! I hope you’ve found this useful if you’ve not made covered buttons/zipper pulls before. I had so much fun making this, that I think I’ll be adding them to lots more pouches in the future! And don’t forget, if you’d like your own (Not So) Little Zippy pouch, do check out the pattern here!

See you soon,

S x

Today’s sky::: slightly cloudy, but finally some sunshine!!!