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Loving handmade

Apologies for the lack of posts in February – making, doing and organising for the wedding has entirely taken over my life and blogging has somewhat fallen by the wayside… fear not though, I’ll be making up for it in May by telling you about everything I’ve been making for the wedding, including a sewn bridal bag, a personalised guest book, paper table confetti, a sewn bridal wrap decorated with crocheted hearts, a decorated card box and more.

Alongwith wedding crafting, I’ve also been working on (paid!) commissions for Simply Crochet and The Sewing Directory. I’m not quite sure how I’ve squeezed it all in really…anyway, my latest make for The Sewing Directory has been this canvas messenger bag:

Sewn canvas messenger bag

Sewn canvas messenger bag

I really love messenger bags – I feel secure with it worn across the body, I like the way it sits on the hip, and it’s easy to get stuff in and out. They’re the perfect bag for me!

I’ve wanted to try my hand at making one for ages, and then my current messenger bag (the one in this post, here) started fraying so I knew it was time. I pitched it to The Sewing Directory and they said yes, so I got to work and I’m really pleased with the outcome.

It wasn’t easy and took me about a week to make it, while working out the pattern at the same time, and then another week to write out the pattern in detail from my scribbled notes and draw step-by-step diagrams that someone else could follow. But it’s a pattern I’m really proud of. The bag itself has also been getting a lot of attention – people can’t believe it when I say I made it (I always love that).

If you’re interested in making your own messenger bag, pop over to The Sewing Directory for the free instructions. What I don’t mention in the instructions, though, is the extra pocket that I added to make the bag perfect for me! When I travel on the bus, I always worry about losing my bus ticket and try to keep it in the same place every time – but that place is usually inside a pocket that’s inside my zipped-up purse that’s inside my zipped-up bag. It’s a Russian doll effect that makes it tricky to get the ticket out in a hurry if I’m late and the bus is arriving just as I am (yes, that happens more times than I’d like to admit). So I gave my bag a hidden outside pocket along the side – you can see it in this photo if you look for the extra stitching near the orange flower:

Hidden outer pocket

Hidden outer pocket

It was fun trying to line up the pattern on the two pieces of fabric to get that ‘hidden’ effect and I think I did a pretty decent job. I love having a special hidden bus ticket pocket – it’s perfect for me. I also added another little pocket inside for my house key (which I can never find when I need it!). It’s these sorts of little life-improving details that makes me love handmade!

And so onto another made-to-measure treat that I crocheted for Simply Crochet – these men’s colourwork mittens:

Crochet colourwork mittens

Crochet colourwork mittens

These fine mittens are modelled above by my other half (soon to be husband!) who happily got to keep them afterwards. He really did deserve them as well because I made them to fit his hands while we were on holiday in November – he tried them on so many times for me that I think he worked almost as hard as I did to help bring them to life!

I used a simple spike stitch wave pattern to create a manly argyle look (if you squint, you can see it much better!). He loves these mittens (I just checked with him and he does) because they’re soft and warm, they have a subtle pattern and obviously the fit is perfect. He’s worn them much more than the previous rainbow-coloured mitts that I knitted for him about 10 years ago, so I think that’s a success.

If you’re interested in the pattern, it’s in issue 41 of Simply Crochet magazine, which also features the pattern for my rainbow scarf:

Rainbow scarf

Rainbow scarf

I made this one a while back and blogged about it here. It’s one of my favourite ever scarves and I wear it all the time, so it’ll be great to see what creative effects other crocheters can achieve with the pattern.

Right, I’m off back to sewing crocheted flowers onto a crocheted ribbon to decorate the front of my bridal car…

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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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Make: Rainy day bag

I made this simple oilcloth shopping bag almost 3 years ago and it’s still going strong, carrying my lunchbox and shopping to and from work every day.

Now you can get the pattern to make your own oilcloth shopping bag by visiting my Etsy shop for MakeMeDo here.

Oilcloth shopping bag

Oilcloth shopping bag

The A4 pdf pattern includes detailed diagrams and text to make it easy for you to make. Designed for confident beginners, the bag involves sewing with oilcloth (which is easier than you might think), topstitching, sewing poppers, making and attaching straps, and slip stitching by hand.

The finished bag measures 28cm wide x 34cm high x 10cm deep, with straps that hang down by 32cm, but you can easily adjust it to make it the size you need.

Shopping bag diagram

Shopping bag diagram

To make the bag, you will also need:
• 58x110cm oilcloth fabric (I used Rose Bouquet by Joel Dewberry)
• 40x60cm lining fabric (I used solid white)
• Two poppers (any size)
• Matching and/or contrasting cotton thread
• Sewing machine
• Hand-sewing needle

Sewing with oilcloth isn’t as tricky as you might think, these are the key points to remember:
• Oilcloth can be slippery, so just take your time.
• To maintain the waterproofing abilities of oilcloth, be careful not to puncture it with pins while you’re working. Try using sewing clips instead. If you do use pins, insert them only within the seam allowance edge so your bag is still waterproof.
• Be careful not to iron the oilcloth directly because this can melt the laminate coating. Instead, place a piece of spare fabric over the oilcloth and then apply the iron, but only briefly.

13 finished bag

Inside finished bag

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Sewing

 

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Review & resolutions

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for Make Me Do. Some posts have been surprisingly popular while others have flown under the radar somewhat. I didn’t quite manage my posting once-a-week aim, but 37 posts out of 52 is pretty good.

Since I posted a review of 2013 at the start of last year, I felt like I should stick with tradition and review 2014. From a strictly numbers-based perspective, my most popular posts have been for my peaked baker boy hat patterns, whether that’s sewn like this one

Denim hat © Becky Skuse

Denim hat © Becky Skuse

Or knitted, like this one

Baker boy hat

Baker boy hat

I love the shape and style of these hats and I like the idea that there could be people walking around wearing a hat made from one of my patterns! You can buy both patterns here. I’d really like to make a crochet version of the hat so I think I’ll make that my first crafty resolution of 2015.

One of my favourite makes, personally, in 2014 was this laundry bag, which makes me smile every morning when I wake up…

Laundry bag

Laundry bag

I have the pattern for this bag on my ‘to post’ list so I think I’ll make that my next resolution for 2015, alongwith plenty of other patterns I’ve got ready to post.

Another popular post has been my Doggy doorstop and you can now buy the pattern here

Doggy doorstop

Doggy doorstop

Talking of cute crafty makes, I loved making this crochet amigirumi bear, which I called ‘Cookie’…

Cookie bear waving

Cookie bear waving

Cookie happily sits on a shelf next to me when I’m sat on the sofa in the evenings – he’s no trouble and always has a smile on his face.

Back to the numbers and apparently, the most popular day on my blog in 2014 was in May, when I posted the step-by-step on hairpin crochet

Hairpin Step 11

Hairpin crochet

So in 2015, I’ll try to do a few more technical guides. Any requests?

I think three resolutions is a good start, so here goes for 2015…

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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Sewn backpack

I just finished making a backpack for Sewing World magazine.

I can’t show you the whole thing until it’s the magazine comes out, so for now, here’s a little sneak preview of it:

Drawstring bag tab 1

Backpack

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Sewing

 

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Sewing bug

Here in the UK, the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee started last night and already, it’s promising to be a cracking series full of creative sewists and quirky characters!

Not only that, it’s reinvigorated my own sewing enthusiasm…

One of the challenges in the first show was to restyle a plain, grey skirt. Some of the ideas were fantastic – there were ruffles, pockets, trims, peplums, godets. So creative.

It’s made me look again at a pile of clothes I’ve got on my sewing shelf – these are items that no longer fit me or have threadbare patches, but they were once so beloved that I can’t bear to just throw them away.

Some people might call this sort of behaviour hoarding, but I like to think of it as a ‘waste not, want not’ attitude (a phrase I heard repeatedly from my thrifty parents growing up).

For better or worse, I’ve kept them, and promised myself that I’ll refashion them into something else. With that in mind, I’ve pulled out two of my old favourites from the pile, to present to you, and ask: do you have any bright ideas for how to refashion them?

Rebel top

Rebel top

Both of these tops were in regular circulation in my wardrobe when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and they have a certain youthful cheekiness!

Supergirl top

Supergirl top

You can see that the Supergirl top is a little stained in places (nice!) from where it’s been so well worn, so these areas will need to be snipped off.

I’ve been trying to think of something that I can make with them, which will keep the nostalgic essence of the original item, while also being useful to me now.

A bag is the best idea I’ve had.

If you have any better ideas, please comment below, and I’ll let you know which restyle I go for…

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Sewing

 

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Peg bag fun

As crafters, we often get special requests. I find these are often some of the most fun projects, because I know that the item I’m spending time and effort to make is going to be treasured.

I recently had a request for a new peg bag from my aunty, and it was a pleasure making it for her. Her old peg bag was falling apart and a little weather-worn:

Old peg bag © Becky Skuse

Old peg bag © Becky Skuse

The first thing you need to make a peg bag is a hanger. So I cut the hanger out of her old peg bag.

Hanger for peg bag © Becky Skuse

Hanger for peg bag © Becky Skuse

I was surprised at just how charming this little wooden hanger is, and I tried to figure out a way to make a peg bag that didn’t cover it up completely. That proved to be impossible for my little brain, so instead, I chose a fabric from my stash that would really complement the hanger. It’s called Aqua Blossom Clusters from the Revive Collection by Pat Bravo, for Art Gallery Fabrics. Here’s the finished bag:

New peg bag © Becky Skuse

New peg bag © Becky Skuse

I topstitched around the edges with a pretty yellow cotton, which would also help make the seams stronger. And I left a small gap on the right-hand side so that the hanger can come out and the whole thing can be put in the washing machine.

I gave it to my aunty as a birthday present and she loved it!

Peg bag close-up © Becky Skuse

Peg bag close-up © Becky Skuse

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Sewing

 

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Clear out bags

I know it’s not spring, but I’ve been doing a lot of clearing out recently.

Long story short, we need to have the house rewired so we had to clear a bit of space for the workmen to start in – it’s a bit like those puzzles where you have one square empty and have to move all the pieces around, into the right place.

Anyway, it’s been fun to revisit some of the forgotten items at the back of cupboards and in boxes in the attic. In particular, I hadn’t realised how many handbags I was hoarding! I love bags, so before getting rid of the old worn-out ones, I wanted to take some pictures of the best ones that I’d like to remake at some point.

This little bag with long strap was one of my favourites as a teen:

Patchwork bag © Becky Skuse

I like the patchwork style of the bag, with all the different shades of fabric and zig-zag stitching over the seam lines. At the time, it was the perfect size for the very few things I needed to carry around at the weekends, so I loved it.

When I was a bit older and at university, I bought this slightly larger bag:

Crochet bag © Becky Skuse

You can see in the top-right corner that it’s a little bit frayed, because I used it so much! This bag reminds me of lazy summers in between years at uni, when I had not a care in the world! I’d spend ages just sitting in the park, reading a uni book, with everything I needed in this bag.

Sometimes I’d just stop and think, watch other people having summer fun, or stare at the pretty crocheted pattern on this bag and wonder how it was made:

Crochet bag stitch pattern © Becky Skuse

These were in the days before I knew much about crochet! Although it was a bit easier to work out how the plaited strap was made:

Crochet bag strap © Becky Skuse

This brown crochet bag has such good memories, I think it’s another contender for a remake at some point.

There was one more gorgeous bag that I found in the back of the cupboard, which just had to be shared with the world:

Vintage bag © Becky Skuse

I bought this bag a few years ago at Beaten Green in St Ives and it was totally love at first sight. It’s such a delicate and pretty vintage bag (I think it’s from the 60s, but I’m not certain), made with luxurious fabric and featuring a delicate pattern of beads and sequins, a clasp opening and flexible gold strap.

A little label inside the bag says ‘Made in Hong Kong’ and I’m intrigued about the lives of the talented seamstresses who would have hand-stitched bags like this. I particularly like the pattern of beads and sequins, although it is a little bit battered:

Vintage bag detail © Becky Skuse

I bought the bag with a view to fixing the broken areas, although I’ve not gotten round to it, and now I’m thinking that actually the broken bits give it character – each stray thread and missing bead or sequin tells a story of glamorous nights out by previous owners. The bag is not just a bag, it’s a key prop in a story I’ve imagined for someone fabulous living during the cultural changes of the 60s. I like the idea that owning this bag is like owning a piece of history, so I need to looking after it and make sure it doesn’t end up at the back of a cupboard again.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Beading, Crochet, Embroidery, Sewing

 

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