Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DIY Laura Ashley Print Gym Bag

I'm excited to share my tutorial for a drawstring gym bag today! This post was created in collabouration with Laura Ashley and first appeared on their beautiful blog. View the original post here!

Doing P.E in vest and pants will be a thing of the past with this quick and easy drawstring bag made using Laura Ashley’s beautiful pink Painterly Stripe fabric! Personalise the bag with your childs name or initials to make sure it’s never misplaced or left at home again. I love the handpainted style of this print and the bright, fresh colours! Having the stripes running horizontally gives the bag a slightly nautical feel which would be make it perfect for carrying a towel and a change of clothes down to the beach or even as a laundry bag in a childs bedroom. The fabric is lovely and thick so the bag holds it’s shape beautifully whilst French seams create a crisp finish on the inside.

You will need:

– Laura Ashley ‘Painterly Stripe’ cotton fabric – one metre is plenty!
– Coloured thread of your choice (it’s a good idea to pick up a couple of spools to be on the safe side!)
– Around 2 metres of cotton tape (mine is 13mm wide!)
– Pins
– Fabric scissors
– Paper scissors
– Needle (for hand sewing)
– A4 printer paper
– Pencil
– Sewing machine
– Optional: Access to a computer and printer to create templates for the letters – don’t worry if this isn’t possible, you can still draw the letters freehand!

Before you begin: Machine wash your fabric at 40 degrees, hang it up to dry then iron it flat with a nice hot, steamy iron.

Step 1: Begin by trimming off the selvedge edge, plus one stripe, from either end of your piece of fabric (this will give you a nice crisp finish to the top of the bag). Now with the selvedge edges top and bottom and the stripes running horizontally, measure 58 cm in from one of the raw edges and cut your fabric into a large rectangle – set the leftover fabric to one side for the time being. Find the pink stripe in the middle of your large fabric rectangle and trim it away – you now have two smaller rectangles and can rotate one so that the stripe sequence will match on the front and back of the bag!

Step 2: If you have a computer, it’s easy to make a template for your lettering by opening a word document and typing your childs name. It’s a good idea to choose a nice, simple sans serif font without too many squiggly wiggly flourishes (as you’ll need to sew around the edge of the letters in a moment!). I chose the font Verdana as it’s clear and even.

Depending on the length of your childs name you may need to play about with the size of the letters in order to fit them onto the bag nicely. I printed my lettering using size 360pt. If you don’t have access to a computer take a deep breath and do your best bubble writing free hand (and just think how lovely and personal your finished bag will be!).

Cut out your letters using paper scissors then grab that leftover bit of fabric and use the paper letters as a template to draw around in pencil, onto the right side of the fabric. You can play about with the placement of the stripes – I decided to use the pink section of fabric and offset the stripes so that the letters would stand out more!

Step 3: Using fabric scissors, carefully cut out your fabric letters, cutting just inside of the pencil marks (but don’t worry if some pencil is still visible, we’ll be covering it up with stitching in a minute!). Pin and then baste the fabric letters into position onto one of your rectangles of fabric.

Step 4: Jump onto your sewing machine and applique the letters down using a wide zig zag stitch with the length set as low as you dare! Aim the raw edge of your fabric at the middle of the needle so that both the fabric letter and the main fabric underneath are caught by the zig zagging needle and the raw edge is hidden away inside the stitching!

Tip: When turning an outside corner 90 degrees to the left, stop the machine with the needle submerged in the fabric on the right hand side of the zig zag – this way when you lift the presser foot and rotate the fabric, the needle will hold it’s place and you’ll create a nice square corner with your stitches. When turning the fabric to the right, stop with the needle on the left hand side to produce the same effect. When turning inside corners the same rules apply – needle to the right for a left hand turn and to the left for a right hand turn!

For curved edges, take your time and remember to breathe! Avoid stopping the machine if possible as this may create a kink in your stitching. Don’t forget to start and finish each seam by either backtacking at the start and end or tying the two strands of thread in a knot and trimming the ends (this goes for all rows of stitching).

Step 5: Remove your basting stitches then give your lettering a good iron. You might find that the heavy stitches have pulled the fabric in places but you should be able to ease this with the hot iron.

Step 6: We’re going to sew the bag together using a french seam which will cleverly conceal the raw edges of the fabric! Take both pieces of fabric and place them together, wrong sides touching. Double check that the coloured stripes match up front and back and then pin the two layers in place along the bottom edge.

Sew together along the bottom edge using a 5mm seam allowance. Press the stitching with a hot, steamy iron and then open the two pieces of fabric out again and press the seam, with the seam allowance towards the back of the bag. Now place the right sides of the fabric together and press the seam once more before sewing with a 1cm seam allowance.

When you open out the fabric the raw edges should be concealed within the two rows of stitching! Repeat this process for both side seams, keeping the bottom seam allowance pressed towards the back of the bag. When you reach the right hand edge, leave a gap of 4 cm between the beginning of the seam and the top of the fabric as this is where we’ll be inserting the draw string.

Step 7: Fold over the fabric at the top of the bag by 1 cm and press, then fold by another 1 cm and press again. Fold your cotton tape in half horizontally and press so that it is half the width. Now work your way around the top of the bag, tucking the tape into the fold you’ve just made and pinning the tape and fabric in place. When you reach the opening at the side of the bag, trim the folded seam allowance away if you need to in order to fold the fabric back on itself to create a neat finish.

Now carefully sew the folded edge down all the way along the top of the bag using an open zig zag stitch. You want to catch both the main part of the bag and the folded edge with your stitches but take care not to pierce the cotton tape with the machine needle!

Step 8: Your drawstring bag is now complete! You can finish the ends of the cotton tape by folding them over twice and stitching back and forth across the fold a couple of times, then you’re ready to go! Tie the ends of the cotton tape in a bow to hang the bag from your child’s peg – it will be just the right height for them to grab their plimsoles and show the apparatus who’s boss!

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