Vernon Fashion Studio’s Blog

Archive for August 2011

Hubby is making butcher style aprons to sell at Shoparama in December. Here he is with fabric all over the floor trying to figure out the best layout to get the most from his red maple leaf fabric.


The parts to this project are the outer fabric and batting unit, the lining and the handles.  Let’s make the handles.

Start with two strips of lining fabric 2 1/2″ x 25″ or longer and two strips of batting 1″ x 1″ longer than the handles strips.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Do not press! At one short end insert the short end of the batting strip 3/8″ into the fabric strip, snugged up to the fold.

Sew across the short end through all thicknesses, 1/4″. I use a quarter inch foot. Pivot at corner and sew down the length of the fabric strip. I don’t show it on this example but you should trim the seam allowances and trim the corners.

I use the Dritz Quick Turn tools to turn things like this. In this case I am using the 1/2″ tube. I am the Queen of Notions and I only just recently bought this Dritz Quick Turn kit. It is the most useful notion I have bought in years. Insert blue tube in the fabric tube, all the way to the sewn end.

Use wood dowel that comes in the kit to push the end into the tube. Try to keep the batting from twisting.

Keep it flat as it comes out. Use your fingers to flatten out the batting.

After the tube is turned it looks a bit wrinkled but do not press. Finger smooth it instead.

Next we do some topstitching. I stitch 1/4″ on each edge but you could use a decorative stitch down the middle or whatever looks good to you. I start at the sewn end and do one side then flip the strap over and stitch from the sewn end again. This should eliminate any puckering.

Trim both ends of the handles to about 24″. Now we are ready to assemble our tote bag.

One of the projects I am making for Christmas gifts and to sell at Shoparama are tote bags. These bags are easy to make and can be done in as little as an hours time. I like to take a bit more time and often have to wait to get to the quilt shop or fabric store to get supplies.

I start out with a Charm Pack. You get them at quilt stores. Each Charm Pack has 5″ squares of a fabric collection with varying designs and colors. The beauty of Charm Packs, Jelly Rolls and the rest, are they are already coordinated for you. I am not the best at picking fabrics off the shelf and getting them to go together so this is why I love pre-cuts. It also saves a bunch of cutting time.

For a regular tote bag, you need a minimum of 28 squares and since most packs have at least 32, it shouldn’t be a problem. I like extras just in case I don’t like some of the fabrics in the pack. The leftovers can be made into embellishments for the tote or added to the scrap basket for later use.

You will need:
1 Charm Pack
1/2 meter of coordinating fabric for lining and straps

The first step is to layout your squares. I deal from the top, laying out 7 squares, then start again, left to right laying out all the squares. I whittle the layout down to the size I want by moving and removing squares. Decide what size you want to make the tote. You will need 7 rows; 3 each for the front and back plus a row for the bottom. My preferred size is 7 rows of 4 squares. It makes a nice sized bag, useful for most people. The bag I am making here is 7 rows of 5 squares. This larger size is great for carrying sewing or quilting projects around. I put squares I am less fond of on the bottom row.

Part way through the lay out

Now that it is laid out you will want to spend some time rearranging the squares so like fabrics and colors aren’t next to each other or you can make designs by grouping colors or fabrics in an attractive way. This can take some time and I usually walk away for a bit then come back and I will see more that need rearranging. It will take three or four times to get it right.

Final layout

Pointing out the bottom row

Next you sew the rows of 4 or 5 squares together then sew the strips together, pressing as you go, making the outside of the bag. Give it one final press. Next you need a single layer of batting the same size as the outer fabric. Pin them together and do some quilting. I used the 1/4″ foot with the guide on the seam lines to make quarter inch topstitching in both directions. Stitch in the Ditch works well also. An Even Feed Foot is a good idea for this also.

All sewn together

Embellishment added during construction


For the bag in the pictures, I used fusible fleece but was not entirely happy with the results and I still had to topstitch. It isn’t worth the cost to use it, in my opinion. This is a good use for all that old polyester batting you have laying around your sewing room too.

Next you will need the lining cut to the same size as the top/batting unit. Also cut two 2 1/2″ strips of lining fabric for the straps. I like them to be about 25″ long. Also cut two 1″ strips of batting the same length or slightly longer. Polyester batting is not be the best choice for the straps. Use a scrap of cotton or bamboo batting instead.

If you make the handles too long then the bag will drag on the ground if held in the wearers hand and hit their knee if held on the arm. I prefer about a 24″ handle. The tote can be carried comfortably on the shoulder, on the arm or in the hand.

That is enough for this post. Next post, I will show you how to make the padded handles.

Definition: A machine or frame for stretching cloth by means of hooks, called tenter-hooks, so that it may dry even and square. (

Phrase Definition: Being on tenterhooks: to be in distress, uneasiness, or suspense. ( also may have heard it as Tenderhooks instead of Tenterhooks. It has gotten distorted over the centuries. The phrase orginated in the 14th or 15th century.)

While working with a new piece of fabric today, I was checking the tenterhook holes in the selvedge, to verify which side was the right side. I wondered if everyone knows about these holes and how we can use them.

As part of our Beginning Sewing class, we discuss ways to tell the right side from the wrong side of fabrics. There are three ways to determine which is the wrong side and one is the tenterhook holes.

The picture is of the tenterhook holes in my new fabric, from both the wrong and the right sides. When the cloth comes out of the dye vats and such, during the manufacturing process, the hooks go into the fabric from the top or right side, to the wrong side. On the left is the exit holes on the wrong side. They are bumps that can be felt with your fingertips. On the right side they look like dimples and indicate the right side of the fabric.

I didn’t notice the fainter second set of holes, closer to the edge of the fabric, in the tight weave of the selvedge. These appear to be earlier holes and opposite the set above them. My eye didn’t notice them while I was checking and they are not ones I would use to determine the right from the wrong sides. Just proves the camera sees all.

Another way to check for the right and wrong side is to look for the thread tie offs. These will look and feel like tiny bumps that will wiggle a bit. In the weaving process, when they run out of thread on one spool they tie a new one to the old one and continue weaving. This is done on the wrong side of the fabric. The more fabric you have, the better your chance of finding a tie off.

The last way to tell is to just look at both sides and pick the one you like best. The right side can have a sheen or have a softness to the weave or just plain look better. And there is nothing that says you can’t use the wrong side of the fabric as your right side. The matte finish on the wrong side of silk charmeuse can be lovely as an accent or for the whole garment. It is your fabric and your garment, be creative!

The new fabric is for a trench coat. More on that later.

Wanted to share my two new garments that were finished this past week.

This skirt is an easy Kwik Sew pattern I have made before but I made it longer, which is definately in style right now. It was not labeled as cotton sateen but it is cotton with a more pronounced shine on the right side than cotton sateen I have used before, and 5% spandex. 5% is a nice stretch and allowed me to use less wearing ease in the hips. This fabric is a bit heavier in weight/thickness so it is a fall fabric. I picked it up at Fabricland. The only problem is it needs to be ironed after washing.

Next is this top:

This is my own pattern. In fact, it is the same pattern I used to make the red blouse in this post; This time I used a cotton knit lace in gunmetal gray, from Gorgeous Fabrics, over a pale pink stretch cotton from the bargain bin at Fabricland. If you look close you will see the inside back neck is not done well. I actually put this blouse together wrong with the wrong side out. To fix it I just turned the seams to the inside and topstitched but the  points of the ‘V’ aren’t right. Luckily, no one will know when I wear it.

The embellishment was gotten at Mood fabrics in LA last Spring. It is small black paillettes and yellow beads. I sewed the loop part of velcro to the blouse and glued the hook part to the embellishment. That way I can take it off when I wash the top. I can also change embellishments in the future.

Sorry the picture is a bit out of focus. I took the picture while I was wearing the top, while looking at the screen on the back of the camera in a full length mirror. Not easy.

So that is the update for now. I am working on a post about a tote bag I made and should have it posted by week’s end.

Monday Sept 12th at 10pm ET.

It is time to plan your parties, adjust your schedule and set your recording device!

(That will put us about 6 and a half weeks behind the US.)

This was a simple project for my Granddaughter. I made the centerpieces at a Guild meeting this past Spring. They are a paper pieced tulip and a heart.

I used a travel-sized pillow form and some lace I had in my stash.

Paper piecing was a great thing to learn and I expect I will do more of it. In the meantime, my sweet Granddaughter has a pillow she can enjoy for years to come.

I am finishing up a pair of pants and a dress and a tote bag. I will put most of my time today into the dress since I would like to wear it tomorrow to a family dinner.