Friday, 1 November 2013

My first tutorial and a giveaway

Good morning Folks hope you are all fine and well.  I am writing this before I go off to work so hopefully it will be a pretty concise post.  I had promised a tutorial for the tea towel bags but it does come with a health warning to all the wonderful sewers out there in Blogland.  As you all know I am new to the world of sewing so I don't always follow the absolute rules.  In the past these rules have held me back as I have been afraid of taking a chance and going with the flow.  Since starting my journey and being inspired by all of you I have changed and will now try new things out and live with the consequences. This is a big sea change for me as I like to have everything perfect but as I get older I realise more and more that imperfection can have it's own beauty.  So here goes, hang on to your hats as this is the first tutorial I have done and hopefully it will make sense to you.
I bought two packs of pretty tea towels from IKEA - there were two contrasting towels in each pack - a flowered one and a pink check which you can see below.  I can't remember now how much they were but they were quite cheap.
Here they are below, I am a gonner when it comes to pink and red as you have probably guessed!
I then make sure they are both the same size as one is going to be the outer bag and one is the lining.  Some times I have found slight variations in the sizes of tea towels even when they come as pairs in a pack so it is always wise to check first.
I then trim off all the hemmed edges to cut down on the bulk of fabric.  I used to try and leave these on to save time but it is so much easier to take them off at the start.  I keep these as you can use them as handles or for scrap pieces.  I try to use everything I can on the tea towel if possible, especially the more expensive Cath Kidston ones.
On the pink check tea towel there was a pretty edging across the tea towel so I unpicked this - it wasn't long enough to use on both bags so I used the two edging pieces on one bag only. It will make more sense to you later on in this tutorial so bear with me.
The next stage involves straightening both of the pieces of tea towel up and making sure they are a complete match size wise.  You can make your bag as long as you wish but remember to keep enough fabric back for the two handles.  I made these 13 inchs long.  Again this is all a matter of preference with regards to size as you may want to have broader handles or narrow ones.
Then you need to fold over the fabric to make the bag - some people may wish to cut out four separate pieces of fabric from the tea towels - to speed up things I usually fold each tea towel over which means that I only have one side and the bottom to sew up - it would probably look better if I did cut them all out but this is the way I have gone with this one.  Hope this makes sense.
I usually only use of the tea towels for the handles but again you might want to use the both and have one pattern on one side and the other fabric on the other side.  I made my handles 3.5 inches wide and it is the length of the folded tea towel - I use short handles but you make wish to use more of the fabric to make longer ones.
Once everything is cut out I basically sew up the sides of both pieces of fabric.  I sew along the bottom of the outer fabric but on the inner fabric I leave a gap in the centre of the bottom so that it can be pulled through later - don't forget to leave the gap otherwise it won't work - I speak from bitter experience here Folks!
I always use labels for my things - have done this for years when I was knitting as I think it is nice to have a date and who made it.  I get mine from Cash labels and usually have one set with Handmade by Dorothy and the year and then another set with Handmade by Grandma and the year.  I buy these in December for the following year and they usually last.  It is a nice touch I think which people appreciate.
I slip the label inside the main outer fabric when I am sewing up the side seam - make sure you put it in the right way so when you turn it out you can see it.  Please don't feel that I am talking down to anyone because believe me I have put these in the wrong way many times and had to unpick them.
Once you have sewn up the seams I like to make a bit of a shape at the bottom so I pull out the bottom to make a triangle - it is not very clear here Folks so sorry but I measure 9 inches across as you can see and then I put a pencil mark across  -  do this on the wrong side of the fabric to that the mark doesn't show.  You need to do this on the both corners of the inner and outer fabrics.
Below you can see the little gap I have left in the inner fabric to pull out the bag later on.  You can also see the pencil mark ready for sewing across.
This is the outer bag.
Then you sew across the four corners like this.

I always back stitch these corners to make sure that they are completely secure before cutting across them.  This gives a nice little shape to the bottom of the bag.  You don't have to do this part - if you wish you could keep the shape completely square and just trim off the excess bits of fabric at the corners, it is all down to personal choice.
The next stage is to sew the handles.  I tend to fold them over and just sew up the side seams, you don't need to so anything with the ends as these will be hidden when the bag is sewn up.  I sew the side seams and then pull the fabric through to the right side and press.
Then position the two handles on the outer part of the bag - make sure the seams match on each handle and pin them on ready for sewing up.
Then slip the inner bag over the main fabric so that the wrong side of the lining fabric is facing out and the right side of the main bag fabric is also facing out.  
Make absolutely sure that the handles are tucked in and won't be caught up with the stitching in any way. 

Then you can stitch as close to the edge as you can but make sure that the handles are stitched well in - I have made this mistake many times when I have finished a bag only to find that one of the handles hasn't quite caught the stitching.  I back stitch over the handles to give them added security.
 Now for the magic bit and this never ceases to amaze me.  You open out the whole bag and then start to pull the main fabric through the little gap in the lining.  Believe me I always get a huge buzz out of this bit when it all starts to come together.  You will notice any problems you have with the handles so if any of them have come adrift from the main stitching you must go back and re-stitch them in before sewing up the tiny gap.

 Then amazingly you have a nice little bag already to go out and shop!

You can see how the shaping on the bottom - it makes it easier to stand up and I think it looks nicer than the square shape but you will find your own preference. 
 Now if you remember at the start there was a nice little piece of braiding left over from the two packs of tea towels which I bought.  I used the both braids to line the top inside piece of the lining.  This is the finishing part of the bag and ensure that that lining and outer fabric stay put.  If you don't use a ribbon or braid as I have done you can just top-stitch the top edge of the bag to give a more professional finish.
 And here is the finished bag Folks, hope you like it.
I made up two bags together from the pack and here they are - you can see that I have just top-stitched the other bag as I didn't have enough braid to go around.   I also made a little bow for the bag on the right as it is going to a little girl - it is not very clear in the photo - sorry.
 The only waste was the hems which I had cut off and bits of fabric left which I will put in my scrap bag for applique at some time.

Well Folks I have to take my hat off to all the fabulous bloggers who write tutorials - it is hard work!  I hope my first one is not too confusing but already I am seeing things I could do differently to make them clearer.  I am not happy with my camera as I think the photos could be better but hopefully Christmas may be bringing me a little something in that area.............I can now really appreciate the hard work and effort which goes into tutorials and I know that I have a long way to go yet but I hope you found this ok. 

Now to the exciting bit - the giveaways.  The two little bobbin dollies are ready and waiting to go to new homes.  Sophie Tilley has kindly agreed to pick out the two winners which I will be doing tomorrow so this is your last chance to enter.  I have all the details of everyone who has entered so far so thank you all so much for taking part and good luck

I have put a few extras in including some lovely Liberty fabrics and buttons so I hope you will take part if you haven't already. 
I must dash off to work now - am exhausted already after that tutorial.  Have a wonderful day everyone and I will speak with you all soon.  Do leave some comments if you have time as I do love to hear from you all.  Big hugs to you and happy Friday everyone - November 1st who can believe it!
Lots of love, Dorothy :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


  1. Dorothy - you are a superstar! How you managed to type that all up before going to work I do not know! I was trying to work out in my head why you would leave the gap but when I saw it the whole thing made sense. The instructions and photographs are very clear and just make me want to go and rummage through my material and get sewing! Thank you x Jane

  2. Great tutorial. Not sure if I entered or not. Fingers crossed I did. Have a great weekend. Jacqui x

  3. What a fantastic job you did with your first tutorial Dorothy - like an expert already! The bags are absolutely gorgeous, I adore the fabrics, and the persons who are being gifted these are very fortunate. What great lengths you went to to explain and show everything so well - and how much time it must have taken you; I agree with Plain Jane, you are a superstar!
    Warm hugs to you, Joy xoxo

  4. Great bags and a super tutorial. Well Done you! I like the ribbon around the inside that is a great idea. Love Jo xx

  5. Dorothy that is a fab tutorial...very well done!!
    it is simple to follow and the photos help too....what a lovely result you achieved too...very pretty bags...
    bestets d xx

  6. What a fabulous tutorial Dorothy, I was just thinking about this bag this morning we must have been in sync. I cannot wait to give it a go so thank you so much for going trough all this effort, I know just how much time it takes. Well done!!! I've got everything crossed for winning this wonderful giveaway , all I can do now is wait!! Hope you have a good day and enjoy a wonderful weekend. Much love xoxo

  7. Well done, your tutorial is very good. I cant wait to find some beautiful tea towels to make a bag myself!

  8. Thank you so much for the fab Tutorial. Can't wait to have a go.
    I presume I have to go back to the original posting for the great give-away. I was not sure at the time if I was supposed to enter then. Silly me ;0)

  9. Thank you so much for your tutorial, it looks really detailed and clear. I will certainly have a try at this as I think your bags look wonderful. Thanks again.
    Marianne xx

  10. Pretty bags. Thanks for shring your tutorial. It looks easy to follow.
    Harvest Lane Cottage

  11. Dorothy, can you please fly over here and we will sew a couple of these together? It will be my turn to put on the tea. :-) I saw those lovely towels at IKEA (one of my favorite places to shop!). This is the cutest project, and I do thing I could actually sew with your great instructions.

    Thank you for all your sweet comments on my blog. I love that we share so much in only have four weeks to go now, I think. :-)

    Take care and I will not let it go so long before I check on you again. Have a lovely weekend!

  12. What lovely bags. And what a great tutorial - thank you for doing that.... A lot of instructions don't bother telling you why you need to do something... When I started sewing I remember often thinking I didn't need "to do that - I can save time"... :-D I'm going to have to go and buy a couple of tea towels now. lol
    Have a good weekend. Jude.x

  13. What a great idea and how easy you make it look, i'll definitely have a go. Lovely idea with the labels as well. Thank you so much for sharing and please don't worry about your photos.
    Take care xxxxx

  14. Wonderful tutorial Dorothy and very clear too!...(I love the part where you pull the right side's like magic, isn't it?) Love your pretty fabrics...
    Happy Weekend!
    Susan x