Saturday, 14 December 2013

How the Secret Santa Went Down, and What Friday 13th Brings

I'm writing this from bed, feeling a little queasy after a night out on the tiles for the work Christmas do. I had a great night, lots of fun, banter and dancing, and far too much gin! I was also really pleased that my homemade Secret Santa was very well received. £5 is a really tough budget these days so I much prefer converting that into materials and spending the time making something rather than trawling the high street or even the web. Here are a few photos of the work in progress (I did have a few false starts...) and the finished piece!

Here's Muriel 'helping' me cut the pattern. It's the Grainline Studio/ Designlovefest Envelope Clutch I mentioned in my previous post. I think it's come out a bit smaller than intended, as when I printed on A4 the 3"x3" guide square was 2.75"x2.75". I think the size is fine for the bag though, and I couldn't seem to get my printer settings to print any bigger anyhow.

I chose white 'pleather' for the clutch as it is supposed to be a leather make. I had a bit of trouble finding material that I liked and had given up on the pleather and thought I'd try making it up in a thick upholstery fabric instead, and found a fun metallic painted boucle that I thought would work from Simply Fabrics in Brixton. Although I did ending up finding some decent pleather in their sister shop after all.

 My first try in pleather was very quick and easy, but it was almost too easy- I didn't trust the glue and the interior of the pleather made it look a bit too cheap for my taste.

It doesn't look too bad from the picture, but the it just wasn't quite right.
 So I made it up again in the boucle, results below (with Matthew MacFadyen pulling a funny face in Ripper Street, and my trusty Toyota).

 I made a buttonhole on the machine where the pattern has the clasp marking- I found I only needed one in the top flap, but the pattern has one underneath as well which I guess is useful if you're using a button or press stud instead. I'm not very experienced with machine buttonholing so it came out a little messy (I think the tension needs sorting on my machine too). I zig-zagged all the edges to stop them fraying and handstitched the flaps for the construction. It's lovely (and pretty festive I think) but it's not quite stiff enough really to be a clutch bag- it just flops over when held in the hand.

So I had the ingenious idea of using both fabrics together. For the Secret Santa clutch I used white pleather for the outside and the blue boucle on the inside. I think it's quite a '60s colour and styling combo. Here's the finished result.

I hand-buttonholed this one as I wasn't sure how my machine would react to both fabrics together and didn't want it to get chewed up!

It was a little tricky keeping the pattern pieces lined up as the boucle tended to warp and stretch a little when zig-zagging together. I found that cutting the pattern pieces a little larger then leaving an allowance when zigzagging meant I could trim the edges and neaten up afterwards. Again I handstitched the construction. This was a little tricky as I was stitching underneath the flaps to keep the sewing invisible, and it's come out a little warped. I left it under a heavy book to flatten out overnight before giving it as a gift and it looked much better afterwards!

I'm really pleased with the results (even my duff prototypes which I'm sure will come in handy for something!) and have made a reverse version too for my brother's girlfriend for Christmas (see below, could do with a bit more book-pressing methinks). A pair of good sharp scissors comes in handy when retrimming the edges as the boucle is a bit of a tough customer and prone to fraying so doesn't give as clean an edge when used for the outside as the pleather.

I also bought a black version of the metallic boucle and some dark green pleather that I plan to make a birthday present for a good friend out of.

What do you think?

Aw, I also mentioned Friday 13th didn't I? Well, unfortunately it was unlucky for me this year. My bloke and I just got the bad news that the seller of our lovely little flat has withdrawn. After months of waiting for the process to go through (our offer was accepted in late August!) and hundreds of pounds down the drain in solicitors' and surveyors' fees, as well as having to still pay for the storage for the furniture in Manchester, this is hugely disappointing and frustrating. Hence why I had so many gins at the xmas do last night, I was drowning my sorrows a bit.

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