New yoga mat bag

Sorry for the dodgy photos. It’s so dark here today it looks like the apocalypse is coming…..

I have been try to make myself a nice yoga mat bag since I began sewing. I don’t want to buy one as they fall within my personal classification of ‘things I can’t buy because I could make them myself’ (this also includes hats, scarves, most knitwear…). I’ve had a few attempts so far and now I am on version three. The first two where functional but they still looked pretty flimsy and home-made. I wanted to have another go as version two was starting to look tatty and also the strap was too long to be able to cycle with.

So I didn’t worry too much about bodging it up I used fabric I already had; a blue and white stripy cotton and a grey wool. While they aren’t natural bedfellows I rather like them together. I think it looks a bit 80s somehow but that doesn’t put me off

To combat the flimsy issue I used the grey wool as a lining and contrast colour for the strap, top and pocket. This was mainly because I didn’t have enough of the stripy fabric to do it the other way around!

I cut out two big rectangles of each fabric (75cm x 50 cm stripy and 80 x 50cm for the grey in case you’re interested) and then turned over the tops and hemmed them. Then I sewed the rectangles along the sides and bottom (right side to right side), cut the corners, pinked the edges (because I am lazy), pressed and turned the right way out.

Next, I hemmed the side of the draw string top, turned over the top and sewed that down right on the edge. Then I cut out the pocket (I was feeling a bit slap dash at this point so can’t offer you any measurements and I suspect it isn’t strictly square) and then hemmed along the top, ironed the sides under (again in a slightly slap dash way without my tape measure).  I got to use my automatic button-hole foot for the button holes (which I love and is my favourite thing about my sewing machine) and then I sewed it on to the main bag.

I cut out the fabric for the strap (12cm x 148 cm) ironed it in half, unfolded it, folded each side into the middle and ironed and then folded the whole thing in half and ironed again (if that makes sense?). I sewed it up along the side. This time I made sure that the strap was short enough that it would fit nice and snuggly across my body and won’t shift around when I’m wearing it on my bike.

To finish it off I threaded the strap through (using the safety-pin on the end trick my mum showed me many moons ago), sewed it to the bottom of the bag, sewed up the bottom and the sides on the wrong side and sewed on the buttons. Finally I excitedly waved it under the nose of my boyfriend in triumph, luckily he is very skilled at feigning interest in things I have made. 🙂

I’m pretty pleased with it and will definitely be taking it on my bike to yoga next time I go. However there are a few extra modifications I would make:

  • Sewing on the buttons before I sew up the bag. It’s a right pain to try to sew them on the final bag.
  • Allow a double seam allowance so that there is allowance left for sewing up at the end. This time around I had to sew right along the edge. We will see if that makes it all fall apart really quickly.
  • Make a smaller pocket (and measure it probably). I think the pocket overwhelms the bag a bit and it would look better smaller. As I’m not entirely sure what I plan to put in the pocket anyway this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Use thinner fabrics. I had real problems convincing my sewing machine to sew through the straps and the sides of the bag. It wasn’t happy at all…..
  • Buy new thread which is a good colour match rather using thread I have hanging about which you can kind of see….
  • Try and make the strap stretchy (not sure how I plan on doing that yet).
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Cushion cover with button fastening

A few weeks ago I finally got myself a new sewing machine (well, when I say ‘ I got’ I mean ‘my mum helped me to get’). I love my old machine but it isn’t terribly modern or indeed practical. It is an old Singer from the 70s that used to belong to my Nana. It looks very pretty and has a lovely retro feel to it. However, it has one speed and that is ‘very fast’ with the pedal offering no opportunities  for slowing down. The tension is a fine art and is prone to altering itself if the table is accidentally knocked. It has two stitches; straight or zig zag. It’s awesome if you want to sew straight stitch in a straight line really fast but not very good for anything else (unless you are much better at sewing than I am!).

While my new sewing machine isn’t nearly as pretty as my old machine it works about a million times better. Anything it lacks in style it makes up for with an automatic button-hole, needle threader (this is the most exciting thing for me..), bobbin winder that works every time you try to use it, ability to sew as slow as you want, 26 stitches, a selection of non broken feet, huge variety of stitches……I could go on but suspect you are very bored by now.

The automatic button-hole is particularly exciting as you just pop the button into the foot and it works out how big the button-hole needs to be and sews it for you. Literally no skill or thought required! Rather than wait for a project that requires button holes I decided to make a cushion cover with button fastenings to try it out.

I got this lovely fabric ages ago. It was going to be a top but I didn’t actually remember to take the measurements with me and didn’t actually buy enough fabric. As I’m a bit lazy rather I just got the old horrible brown cushion cover and used that as a template. I added on a little extra for a seam allowance, hems and button band. I hemmed the sides (so that I didn’t have any fraying edges on the sides or the edge of the fold at the top) and folded it in (half leaving 10cm for the fold) and sewed up the sides.

After a little bit of practice on scrap fabric the button holes were super simple and as easy as I’d hoped. All I had to do after that was dig out some buttons I had lying around (I have a lot of buttons lying around…….I love buttons) and sew them on. I think the pink looks pretty cool with the navy stripe.

I’m very pleased with my finished cushion cover. I didn’t have to buy anything and it’s approximately 100 times better than the old one. I was a bit worried that it would be really obvious that I’d used grey thread (I didn’t have either white or navy and couldn’t be bothered to trek out into the rain to get any) but you can hardly tell.

While I was taking pictures of my new cushion cover I was reminded of this awesome one that my sister made me for my 30th birthday. She has some amazing cross stitch skills and , as you can see, a lot of patience!