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!!!

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Sewing the Huxley Bag – a convertible rucksack

Sewing the Huxley Bag – a convertible rucksack

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, which helps to keep the blog running. Thank you.

A little while ago, I was debating designing a new bag. My messenger bag was threadbare and I’d cut it apart to remove the hardware for my daughters’ bag! I wanted a bag that I could convert from a shoulder/ crossbody bag into a rucksack and although I had come across quite a few – I especially liked this one – they weren’t quite what I wanted. Then I saw the Huxley Bag by Goheen Designs and I was smitten. The idea of using rivets and other hardware seemed like good fun!

Originally, I’d hoped to have it finished in time for Festival of Quilts, but that didn’t quite happen……kids, holidays and the like mean everything’s taken a bit longer. I also decided to take my time to enjoy the making process: the pattern is rated as confident and there are a number of steps to follow – not in a scary way, mind! – and I’d made a few adjustments to it due to the fabric that I was using, which involved a bit more thinking!

I made a large View A and used a waxed cotton (from here) – it has a leather-like look, but is a bit thinner and provides an element of being waterproof which is handy! It meant that I could do without the webbing but had to adapt the pattern – both in terms of width and length (on some strap pieces, the pattern calls for leather to be top stitched to a longer piece of webbing) which required a little bit of planning.

Sewing the Huxley Bag - a convertible rucksack (Goheen Designs) by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I also decided to add a zip to the back pocket – I love having a secure place to keep valuables, especially when it’s being used as a messenger bag. I added the zip in between the outer and lining fabric of the back pocket and then secured the ‘free’ zip side straight on to the back piece of the bag with a few lines of stitching. However, I didn’t really read the pattern fully through – schoolgirl error! – and then realised I would have to alter the length of the bike straps in order to make it all look ok! Ah well, if you chose to do this, you can learn from my mistake!

Overall, the pattern is really well written. On first look at the download, it can seem slightly intimidating – there are over 40 pages! However, many of the early pages are used to share tips, and the rest of the pattern takes you through step-by-step in a clear and concise way.

Sewing the Huxley Bag - a convertible rucksack (Goheen Designs) by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Sewing Tips

  • If you are using fabric instead of leather, make sure to add a seam allowance to the bag strap guide – I added 1/4″ – and cut two pieces for each strap. Place two pieces wrong side together and sew around, leaving a gap for turning. Turn through and topstitch before proceeding as per the pattern.
  • For fabric straps, cut all pieces at 4″ wide x the length of the pattern piece or webbing (whichever is longest): fold one or both ends over (dependant on if it’s a visible end), fold in half along the length and then fold the edges into the middle. Top stitch around the edges of the strap to secure
  • Check position and length of the bike straps before adding a zip pocket on the back of the bag! They need adding before the zip is sewn on and I altered mine to be a bit shorter so that the straps sit at the top of the pocket and only used one popper.
  • If you want to add a zip to the back pocket, make tabs to go at each end of the zip. There should be at least 1/2″ of fabric at each end for the seam allowance to allow for ease of sewing the bag together (see my tutorial here if you’re not sure how).
  • To mark sewing lines – especially where they are not going to be seen – I found that placing the paper pattern piece on top of the fabric and using a Hera marker would create a guideline (similar to what I would get from creasing) the fabric.
  • Using a zipper foot for sewing the sides (especially where I’d added the zip pocket) and sewing the outer and inner bags together around the top gave a better result, and meant the foot didn’t get pushed out of the way by all the straps. I also found it was less likely to give me skipped stitches where there were lots of layers.
Sewing the Huxley Bag - a convertible rucksack (Goheen Designs) by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Tips for accurate placement of rivets & poppers

  • Laying the paper pieces over the fabric, I would push a pin through the guide mark – sometimes this would leave a visible mark that I could then punch, other times I would use a quilting pencil to make it more visible with a dot.
  • Where possible, I folded or layered pieces together so that I could punch holes in all of them at the same time and therefore increase my ‘accuracy’.
  • I used 6mm rivets for this bag, I figured the waxed cotton would be a bit thinner than leather. Largely, this was okay but there were a couple of spots – mostly on the handle at the edge of the bag flap – where slightly longer rivets would have been handy, so next time around I will definitely look at getting some bigger ones!
Sewing the Huxley Bag - a convertible rucksack (Goheen Designs) by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I think that covers everything?! Someone on IG asked me if the bag was heavy, which is a really good question and one I had to think about! It makes sense that it would be with all the hardware on it, however, its actually quite tricky to tell. The waxed cotton is a heavier fabric anyway (the bag I made for my daughter weighs probably double the one I’d made out of cotton and wadding!) but having never sewn with leather, I’m not sure how this would compare? So far, all I can really say is that it is a good weight and I’ve not been put off using it!

Overall, I am so happy with the bag! It’s not the biggest rucksack – it’s best to think of it as a shoulder bag that converts into a rucksack – but is perfect for my needs. Having never used hardware before, I feel that it really lifts the finished look to a much more professional level. Not all of my rivets are perfect – in fact, there are a number of things that I could pick on as ‘could be better’ – but I think that’s the makers’ curse, isn’t it?! I’m trying to let these little things go though and concentrate on all the skills I learnt! I can see myself making another in the future, maybe using different fabrics and having made this one, I can see (hope!) that others will go together a lot quicker and easier!

See you soon,


Today’s sky::: blue skies with the odd cloud

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New Pattern – a pencil case for your notebook. The Notebook Buddy!

New Pattern – a pencil case for your notebook. The Notebook Buddy!

Today I’m sharing my latest pattern with you –  a pencil case pouch that can be attached to a notebook or planner with an elastic strap – the Notebook Buddy!

Notebook Buddy, Pencil Case, PDF Pattern, fabricandflowers

I don’t know about you, but I nearly always have at least one notebook with me at any one time, but trying to find a pen when I need it – and one that works! – is always the tricky part….

I’ve also been dabbling with bullet journaling this year to try and keep on top of the to-do list and stay motivated. I’m not the best at drawing though, so bought a few stencils to make my pages look a bit prettier but was then stuck with where to keep them, as not all notebooks have a pocket in them. And so the Notebook Buddy was born!

(PS – If you’re interested in starting your own notebook or bullet journal, I’ve been really happy with the eco-friendly natural cork notebook, pictured above)

It’s a slimline boxy pouch with a dividing pocket so that you can separate pens or have stencils in the back pocket and pens in the front, and an elastic strap so that you can slip it on the front cover of whichever notebook you’re using.

I was showing it to a friend and she commented how if it was a little bit smaller to fit a phone, credit card and maybe a couple of pens it would be perfect for carrying the essentials around at work, so I obliged and created a smaller version for that very purpose!

The Notebook Buddy pattern includes two sizes with full-sized templates – one for the office essentials and one for notebook list making/journalling – along with two different sized divider pockets. This means that you can mix and match the insides of the pouch to fit your exact needs. Full sized templates are included with information on how to make a patchwork version (if you’re using scraps or a directional fabric) or one main outer fabric.


The pattern also shows you how to adjust the elastic strap to perfectly fit the size of notebook you are using – A5 or A4. You can use one piece of wider elastic or a couple of bits of thinner elastic – you really can work with whatever you have to hand! And you can also have a play with some of the decorative stitches on your machine (you know, those ones that never get used?!) if you fancy making the strap more decorative.

I’ve also thought about leaving the strap off to make it a normal pouch, or may be used as a case for carrying crochet hooks and sock needles in? The possibilities are endless!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the #NotebookBuddy – if you’d like to make your own, you can find the pattern here in my Etsy shop, and if you do make one then please tag me so I can see!

S x

Today’s sky::: beautifully blue and sunny!

Tutorial: Travel Design Board

Tutorial: Travel Design Board

Hello! So, as we move towards half-term and with the summer holidays looming (honestly, doesn’t this year seem to be flying by?!) my mind always turns towards hand-sewing: something that I can take with me on days out or for when I can grab five minutes peace!

Travel Design Board Tutorial | fabric and flowers by Sonia Spence

I love hand-piecing in particular and always use a design board to plan my block and keep it together during sewing. I used this great tutorial by Bee Lori for my board and would highly recommend it! It uses a thick cardboard which is great for use at home, but not so practical when you’re out and about, so I came up with this roll-up travel design board. It’s a quick project, perfect for using up any wadding and fabric scraps that you have hanging around and probably took me an hour all in, including taking all the photos!!!

Finished size;

8 1/2” x 8 1/2”

Materials Needed;

Travel Design Board Tutorial | fabric and flowers by Sonia Spence


  • Place bondaweb sticky side down on the wrong side of the outer fabric, in the centre leaving a 1/2” border all the way around. Press.
  • To position the fastening, measure 4 3/4” up/down (to find the centre line) and 4” in from the left hand side and mark with a pencil (Note: you can vary the distance but I would recommend 3-4” if you want to roll it up). If using a snap fastener, push the prongs through the bondaweb and fabric. Otherwise, use a pin/mark the right side of the fabric. Remove the paper backing from the bondaweb BEFORE attaching your fastening!!!

(TIP: once the backing paper is removed, the fabric is quite sticky so be careful with handling. I found it easiest to roll up the fabric in order to attach the snap fastening)

Travel Design Board Tutorial | fabric and flowers by Sonia Spence
  • Place the wadding wrong sides together with the outer fabric, overlaying the bondaweb, and again leaving 1/2” border on each side. Press on the outer fabric to bond the layers together. Fold each outer corner in at a 45* angle to meet the corner of the wadding, and then fold again. Pin in place to secure.
Travel Design Board Tutorial | fabric and flowers by Sonia Spence
  •  Starting on one side, fold the edge of the outer fabric in half to meet the raw edge of the wadding. Press. Fold over again to give a 1/4” binding around the edge of the travel design board. Press and pin in place.
Travel Design Board Tutorial | fabric and flowers by Sonia Spence
  • Repeat on all sides – where the corners have already been folded this should give a neat mitred finish. A wonder clip on each corner helps to keep everything in place.
  • Wadding side up – and starting part way along one side – begin stitching just in from the inner edge of the binding. It is best to take it slowly and, as you approach a corner, remove the wonder clip/pin, hold carefully in position (a seam ripper can help with this), pivot on the corner and continue until you reach where you started. 
    • [OPTIONAL] Add a second row of stitching just in from the outer edge of the binding.
Travel Design Board Tutorial | fabric and flowers by Sonia Spence
  • To finish, place the Travel Design Board right side up and, using a ruler to ensure it is level with the previous fastening, mark 1/2” in from the left-hand side. Attach the other half of your fastening.
Travel Design Board Tutorial | fabric and flowers by Sonia Spence

Make it your own;

  • To make a bigger/smaller Travel Design Board: chose the finished size of board that you would like and cut wadding and bondaweb to this size. Cut outer fabric +1” bigger on width and height.
  • If you don’t want to use the self-binding method described above, cut all three layers the same size and then attach binding as you would normally for a quilt.
  • If you are not keen on fastenings or don’t have any to hand, some other ideas are:
    • Sew some ribbon into the binding so that you can fasten the design board with a bow
    • Use a button and loop closure

And there we are! I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial! If you make one then please do let me know and tag it #traveldesignboard on Instagram so that I can see your makes, and do let me know if you have any questions. And if you would like to see how I try to always be ready for slow sewing then check out this post for some tips.

Back soon,

S x    

Today’s sky::: grey and rainy…. *clearly* nearly half term!!!

Crafting and Bouncing!

It’s been a fun week! The 1st of March was beautifully sunny which resulted in a little bit of crafting and a  little bit of bouncing!!!!

Am not sure if I mentioned I had a bit of a sort-out of my knitting and crochet stash the other day??? Ooohhh, it was a little bit scary, I can tell you. I was very good though, I kept projects-worth of stuff (I can see a lot of socks in my future, I hadn’t realised what a sock-yarn addiction I had!) and sorted what was left-over into bags: one for people who knit blankets for dogs and another for swapping. It felt very good I can tell you. But it left me realising that I have lots of crochet hooks and DPNs with no real place to keep them. Hmmmmm.

And then it hit me: a nice quick project recycling some of the glasses that I had waiting to go to the recycling bin. Cheap and quick. Just my sort of project!

I fetched out my decopatch paper and glue and set to. Am not sure if you’ve ever tried decopatch but it’s ever so relaxing……rip, stick, rip, stick. Ahhhh! I first heard out about it over at attic24 a couple of years back and got myself a few basics. I’ve done a few things but hadn’t really thought much more about them. Until I looked at those glass jars! I got a few different blue-patterned papers and started tearing them into stamp sized pieces
And then the sticking started….here I am half-way through my first jar. Doesn’t it look like patchwork? I love how the papers are so thin that you can see where they overlap, especially when light shines through them. I’m now thinking of covering a small jar for tealights – they could look magical!
In the end, I did two jars and I’m really pleased with how they came out: just the right size for my spare hooks and needles. And I think qualifies as my first project for Pretty Crafty Home?! They’re going to look lovely on my craft desk.
They didn’t take me long to do, but doing them in Daylight Hours meant that the little boys were a little bit antsy by the time I’d finished. Being the first day of March though, the sun had come out to play and it was beautiful so we went bouncing on the trampoline.
Look at that, not a cloud in the sky!
It was such good fun, especially seeing Littlest Boy figuring out that he really could bounce up and down! Last year he was too little and Really Didn’t Like the trampoline. This time though he Totally Got It and was having a ball! Little Boy also had a lot of fun bundling Littlest Boy. And when I laid down to take this picture they both enjoyed bundling me. It was quite exhausting!
In the last few days, I’ve also had the chance to pop into a charity shop and happened across a Boden cord skirt. In my size. How lucky was that?! I have to confess that I didn’t care for the colour much, it’s not really me, but I figured that a pack of clothes dye would sort that out. So that’s this weeks project. I’ll have to show you the after pictures soon!
And finally, now that that we’re in March there’s the first signs of spring to enjoy
These are some little tete-a-tete’s that I planted last year or so. They are just so dainty and make me smile everytime that I walk past them. I just love daffodils – any type or size – they’re one of my favourite flowers and always make me feel happy. Maybe its their colour? Its hard to be sad with yellow, isn’t it?!
I hope you’re all enjoying the first signs of spring too and have had a great weekend,
S x
Today’s sky ● grey. There’s been a lot of rain