Shopping Bag Pattern


A friend asked for the pattern for my shopping bags. The directions might be a bit cryptic without pictures. Next time I make some, I’ll try to remember to take pics during construction and update this. Note that I haven’t drawn this to scale, use the written measurements.

As pictured, the measurements work for the soft cornered plain seam version.

-Overlock around the base reinforcing piece and sew onto the wrong side of the bottom. Or cut it out big enough to press under a seam allowance before sewing on (this is bulkier of course).
-Sew the sides to the base with a 1.5cm seam, then overlock.
-Hem the top (double fold 3cm hem).
-Press the straps, long sides almost to the middle. Fold back on themselves and sew the ends shut. Clip corners, grade and turn open. Press neatly the whole length in half lengthwise ready to sew. Edge stitch both sides in the same direction.
-Place the straps on the front and back. I do them 12cm apart and 11cm from the top edge. Edge stitch the overlapped section with a few additional runs to secure the top edge.

For the stiff cornered reverse french seam version, add 1.5cm to the bottom depth (24.5cm instead of 22cm) to match to the side measurements. There is not a lot of point making this version unless your fabric has some stiffness to it.

-Overlock around the base reinforcing piece and sew onto the wrong side of the bottom. Or cut it out big enough to press under a seam allowance before sewing on (this is bulkier of course and can conflict with the outer seam in this version).
-Sew the sides to the base inside out with a 0.5cm seam.
-Hem the top (double fold 3cm hem). If your fabric is heavy, it’s important to reduce bulk at the vertical seams as much as possible.
-Right sides out, Sew again around the side and base seams with a 0.7cm allowance. Sew each section separately, don’t try to sew around the corners.
-Press the straps, long sides almost to the middle. Fold back on themselves and sew the ends shut. Clip corners, grade and turn open. Press neatly the whole length in half lengthwise ready to sew. Edge stitch both sides in the same direction.
-Place the straps on the front and back. I do them 12cm apart and 11cm from the top edge. Edge stitch the overlapped section with a few additional runs to secure the top edge.


Denim shopping bags


Where those lovely straight straps went. Not exciting but useful. Grocery shopping bags made from denim left over from one of my almost jeans projects. I’d not have needed to make them, but I foolishly dropped one of my set in a carpark. I didn’t realise until I’d got where I was going. When I went back, it was not to be found. So there is a Montjoye bag out there randomly somewhere. I hope it gets used.


In denim, these should last me many years, as long as I manage to not leave them behind in random places.


These are to the same pattern as my last Shopping Bag Mk II.



Sing hurrah for an edge stitch foot

I’m sewing straps for some more shopping bags. I did the first one on autopilot, using a blind hemming foot to guide the stitching as usual. This works well if one only wants to sew to the left of an edge. That encourages sewing the two edges of a piece in opposite directions though, which causes a twist in the finished piece. Then I remembered that the edge stitch foot I’d ordered months ago, had arrived since last I had cause to do any edge stitching. Wonderful! Now I can edge stitch to either side of an edge!! Hurrah! So I sewed the other three straps with the new foot. Both sides sewn the same way up in the same direction. These straps lie flat! Yes one can sew in any direction by hand guiding under a standard straight stitch or universal foot. Using a foot that guides by the folded edge produces a much more even result with far less effort.


and a close up of one end


Blind hem foot on the left, edge stitch foot on the right. Both have a central blade to govern the relationship between the edge and the stitching. The wonderful thing about the edge stitch foot is the freedom of needle postitioning.



Bernina feet. Other machines may have different feet available.

Gathered inset chemise

To my non reenactment readers I apologise. This post is long as it is and I realise has a bunch of assumed knowledge that I haven’t explained.

I’ve seen several extant “late period” chemises with the hip fullness enhanced by gathered insets rather than the more usual triangular gores at the sides. Here is one from 1660, the picture is from Janet Arnold 4.  I really like them and would love to make one (or more). (I’ve now added a couple more gathered inset extant garments at the bottom of this post).


However I’m currently making and wearing early 14thC garb. Then a friend shared photos of a fine linen alb from Switzerland dating to ~1310.


Woo hoo! I thought. I’m going to use these two garments to inspire a chemise. I need another for a long event anyway and one in very fine fabric might make the too tight sleeves of my new blue gown a bit more buttonable. The picture above looked to me as if the gathered inset was set directly below an underarm gusset. I now think that is not quite the case. The extant alb has a bit more drapiness above the gathers than my version.


I’ve used a very fine ramie voile which I bought cheaply. So I can make several of these if I like and not break the bank, which buying fine linen voile would, if one could even find it (the alb may well be in a particularly fine strain of linen which is now extinct). I cut out the garment, and then almost immediately wished I’d done it differently. I did the gathered side pieces cut together with the garment body. I now think they should, and would better be done as separate sections, sewn to the garment body. I did manage to hide the side seams pretty well in the actual gathers. The fabric is very wide, so I was able to cut the sleeves with the body piece also. the only separate pieces were the underarm gussets and the neck facing.


I constructed each of the side gathers differently. Both are cartridge pleated. The first one doesn’t have a turn down at the top of the gathered section, and is bound by the bottom tip of the underarm gusset. This came out a bit uneven, but is nice and flat. Right side, then reverse view below.

IMG_3898 .

The second side came out much neater, but has more of a lump from the bulk of the pleats. I’ve turned down the top of the gathered section before running the stitches for the cartridge pleating. Then I’ve used a small piece of straight grain double fold facing (left over from the neck facing) to stabilise the gusset section the gathers are sewn to.

. IMG_3911

The hem is a deep (7cm) double fold. Which is a good thing to do in very fine fabric. Gives it weight so it behaves better.


However although the alb has a deep hem, looking again that seems to have basically a double fold hem with only a small turn under at the top.


Here is the whole thing on. I will wear it with the blue gown in a couple of weeks and see if the gathered sections annoy me or not.


And a silly action shot, just for fun. New garments often inspire me to dance.


Adding in a couple of other extant side gathered garments:

The tunic found at Guddal. I think this might be 12thC? Probably a short man’s garment.

pleated and split gore, Guddal tunic (kjortel)Universitetsmuseet i Bergen 030984

A beautiful garment from “somewhere in the middle east”. Foolish me didn’t capture the information. I will see if I can track it down.  Make that 14thC Persian. I don’t understand how this would have been worn though.


Repeating the prettier gathered section so it will be picked up when shared on other sites.


Concentric HST little quilt

This has just gone to its family, so I feel I can share it here.  When a new baby in my circle intersects with a quilting enthusiasm…… I do so enjoy making these little bright quilts.

Design inspiration from an internet image search of HST quilts. I’ve done a few Half Square Triangle (HST) quilts before. This is just HST paired in light/dark contrast, arranged in concentric diamonds.

Pull a bunch of fabrics from stash, make sure I had an even split between light and dark (a few were hard to assign and I’d make some different choices if I was starting again). Cut enough squares.


Sort the squares into light/dark pairs. Draw a diagonal line point to point on the pale squares. Sew a careful seam width either side of said line, cut along it. Press open and end up with a bunch of triangle pairs.


Arrange them to please your eye.


Then sew them all together. Rows then columns. Press so that the seams offset neatly. Layer, quilt, bind, label.


Unlike the lattice insanity, this is machine pieced. I do quilt by hand though. Partly because the quilting stitches are visible, partly because I’ve not yet figured out machine quilting. I tend to do large stitch quilting for baby quilts though. This one was quilted in #8 perle cotton in shades of green/teal and blue. I rather like how it came out. Bright, fun and slightly brain twisty in the way that I like.


Liberty nights

I’m publicising my nightwear again. Completely decently I promise. Fine lawn is cool to wear and folds up small and light for travel. Add a busy print and it’s more decent in the opacity sense. Liberty Tana is of course perfect. I made a kimono style robe for summer traveling some years ago from a beautiful orange tulip Tana. I’ve been wanting a gown to go with it. I decided to use some of the left overs from the lattice patchwork, including the tulip print.

While working on the lattice, I found this second hand purple dress. It didn’t fit, but I rather thought the fabric might be Liberty Tana. It was home made, so no label to identify it. I now think it probably isn’t, but it’s very close in quality.


I used a little of it in the lattice. I deliberately kept the skirt whole, figuring it would be good for something needing acreage. Then I realised I could build a patchwork bodice, and use the skirt for this gown. I got a few squares out of the purple, enough to tie the bodice in visually. Measure the pattern. Work out a good size for the squares and how many are needed. Start laying them out:


Assemble the rough shape. This is for the front.


Then cut the pattern out of it, cursing when you realise you need to put darts in it.


Assemble the bodice, all with flat felled seams to keep it single layer and minimum weight, maximum cool. Adjust the skirt so it can be attached flat to the bodice. To maximise fullness neatly, I put an inverted pleat at centre back. The hem is the original with a bit of tweaking where I redid the seams.

. .

A quick pic of it on. It’s baggy deliberately but the colours, though strange, work for me. No smile, I had a grump on.


The neck and armholes are finished with teeny straight grain facings, a trick I’ve adopted from my medieval costume work. It uses little fabric, is fairly quick to do and strengthens the edge.


Here it is with the robe over. I’m pretty happy with it.


and a gratuitous label shot. In this case the label is recycled from a now too small shirt.


Lattice is Layered

I had meant to do just one post to cover the latest stages of the insane lattice quilt. I’ve broken the prep of backing and binding down into two separate posts or this would have been a huge monster post. This post is really just a pic-fest celebrating having gotten this far.

Using proper layering technique as taught to me by a good friend makes more sense when working on a queen size quilt rather than the small cot quilts I’ve done more recently. There is just so much fabric and batting to deal with. This is the (wool) batting half laid out. The backing is already positioned underneath it.


The patchwork beginning to be added, still folded in quarters.


Last chance for pictures of the back of the patchwork sans papers



All layered and safety pinned


A final arty shot


Now I need to refine my plans for the quilting pattern. I started to chalk it in but I’m glad I had to leave the house for an appointment because I’m not happy with plan A. More thoughts needed.

Quilt Pre-Binding Experiment

I spent all day Sunday getting the lattice quilt ready to layer. This was the second stage after piecing the backing. This lovely cotton shirting woven satin stripe fabric is what I landed on for the binding.


It looks good with the backing (and you will see it with the patchwork a little later)


I had spent a bunch of time thinking on how I was going to bind this quilt. The way I had stitched the blocks meant that I couldn’t open the edge seams without cutting the fabric or unpicking the hand stitching, neither of which I was up for. I usually apply the binding after the quilting is done. However if I did it then, I really didn’t think I could apply it this close to the edge with the squishy batting as part of the mix. So I thought I’d try sewing the binding strips on before both layering and quilting. It worked fairly well, but I had forgotten that all the edge pieces are on the bias. So sewing on the binding had the risk of stretching or condensing the edge. I seem to have stretched it just a bit, but I’m pleased with the accuracy in terms of closeness to the edge. I very much hope that slight stretching is tolerable in the finished piece.

First the binding strips are joined to be long enough for each side, then pressed in half lengthways. No pics of this, sorry.

Then I cut the protruding edge squares back to provide a cut edge guide. Leaving a neat 1/4″ from the block edges was the right measure to use the machine foot edge as the seam guide and just barely catch the block edges in the seam.


The little black offcuts look a bit like moths or bats 🙂


Machining the binding on:


Pretty happy with this


Then the binding is pressed away from the edge. I do like the colours and the stripe effect next to the patchwork. It will be a little less than half this width in the end.


Pattern Matching Success

This rather pretty large scale print is going to be the backing for the lattice quilt. I had enough acreage but needed to piece it to make the right shape. I haven’t done a lot of pattern matching, big prints not being something I work with much. When I had tried, it hadn’t gone well. With prints, you can’t rely on the pattern being positioned squarely or evenly on the weave and they can be hard to match by eye when seaming them face to face. So I came up with a technique that worked a lot better than my previous attempts. I shall share it here, though I rather suspect I’m not the only one to use it.

Cut (or in this case tear) your sections with some extra seam allowance for shifting of the fabric to match the print. In this case, I had 2cm on one side, about 4cm on the other. Press under the smaller allowance and pin close to the fold over the other piece, matching the print as best you can.

Flip over the top piece without shifting the seam allowances. Pin as close to that soft fold as you can.


Flip back and take out the first lot of pins.


Flip over again and sew along the pressed fold


I was pretty pleased with how this came out. It’s now all ready for the quilt layering.


Lattice patchwork finished-again


There. The two new strips of blocks have been added to make a slight rectangle. They have blended well, as I hoped. You wouldn’t know they were a late addition except that I’ve told you.

Now I need to decide on edge treatment before I remove the papers in the edge pieces. I had thought I would put this aside for a few months, but I really want to continue with it and I think this will fit as the next major hand work project in my (extremely rough) project schedule.