Saturday, 29 January 2011

Making a glasses case using an internal flex frame

A friend asked if I could do a tutorial for the glasses cases in my previous post. As I already had the fabric cut out and ready to go, I was happy to oblige. So here is a tutorial for making a glasses case using an internal flex frame.

**UPDATE NOTE: You can now download this tutorial as a PDF.

This is an internal flex frame. I'm using a 3.5 inch wide one. You can get them from quite a few online shops. Here's two I know of: UHandbag does them and you can also get them in packs of 10 from these guys who are in Hong Kong. I got mine from them and they were very prompt in their email correspondence and posting. So back to the flex frame. There's a little metal pin that comes with it (unfortunately not in the photo below) - do keep it somewhere safe as it is absolutely tiny and you'll not be able to finish your glasses case without it. It's the pin that holds the frame together.

The pattern itself is very simple. Measure out two rectangles on a piece of paper. One rectangle should measure 4.5 inches by 7 inches. This is your body piece. The other one should measure 4 inches by 2.5 inches. This is your sleeve piece. Cut the rectangles out and you've got your pattern pieces. By the way, I've used quilting cotton fabric for my glasses cases.

Using the larger rectangle pattern piece, cut out 4 pieces of fabric (two for the outer and two for the lining) and 2 pieces of fusible fleece. I use Vilene Medium Loft H640 single-sided fusible fleece. I believe Peltex do a fusible fleece too. I cut the fleece slightly smaller than the fabric pieces. Fuse your fleece to the two pieces of outer fabric by placing the side with the glue dots down on the wrong side of your fabric pieces, then iron using an ironing cloth.

Use the smaller rectangle and cut out 4 pieces of fabric and two pieces of fusible fleece. These will form the sleeves for the flex frame. You can decide if you want your frame sleeves to be the same fabric as your outer (in which case you cut 2 from the outer fabric and 2 from the lining fabric) otherwise you can cut 4 pieces from the same fabric. Fuse the fleece to the wrong sides of two of your pieces. You'll end up with something like this ...

Place one of the sleeve pieces with the fleece on the back together with one of the non-fleece pieces. Put them right sides together and sew a seam down each of the narrower sides using a 3/8th inch seam allowance. You get something like this.

Turn the sleeve right side out (see photo on the left below). Iron it flat and top-stitch down each narrow side about 1/8th of an inch in from the edge (see photo on the right below).

Now fold the sleeve in half lengthways (see top left photo below) and pin it. Then baste the two edges together (see bottom right photo below) and you'll have one sleeve done. Do the same for the other two smaller rectangles and make up the second sleeve in the same way.

Take one of the sleeves and one of your body pieces - one of the outer fabric ones with the fleece fused to the reverse. Find the middle point on one of the narrow sides of the larger rectangle. Mark it. Then fold the sleeve in half lengthways along the raw edge and find the middle point. Mark that too. Match up the marks so that the raw edge of your sleeve is sitting on top of the narrow edge of your fabric rectangle. (Your fabric should be right side up.) Pin it in place. See the photo on the left below. Baste your sleeve to the body piece by sewing a line of stitching 1/4 inch from the edge. See the photo on the right below.

Now take one of your body lining pieces and place it right sides together onto the outer body piece. (see photo on the left below) Align the top edges and corners. Pin and sew across the top (where the sleeve is) using a 3/8th inch seam allowance. See photo on the right below.

You now have one side of your glasses case complete. You should have something that looks like the top left photo below. (At this point if you wish, you might want to slide one of the arms of your flex frame into the sleeve to check for fit. It should slide all the way through to the end of the sleeve.) Give the piece a quick press and top-stitch close to the top edge where the outer fabric of the body joins the sleeve. See the photo in the bottom left below. Make the other side of your glasses case with the remaining sleeve, and body pieces. You should end up with two sides as shown in the photo on the right below.

Open up the two sides and lay them flat. Place one side on top of the other, right sides together. Then being careful to match the corners and edges, pin the two pieces together. See below.

What you need to do next is to sew all around the long rectangle, making sure to leave a 2 inch gap along one of the sides in the lining section. I've marked out my stitching line in blue as you can see in the photo below to show you where I would sew. I'm using a 3/8th inch seam allowance. See the gap? This gap is really important otherwise we won't be able to turn the case right side out when we're done.

Sorry about the slight blurriness of this next photo. I wanted to show you the spot where the outer meets the lining. This is also the corner which is pretty difficult to sew because of the sleeves under the top layer. If you use a regular foot, you might find the bulk of the sleeves get in the way when you're trying to sew down this side. This corner and the corresponding one on the opposite side are a real pain to pin too. I have used my basting gun to put little tacks in to hold the pieces together. But you can use a needle and thread and quickly sew a few holding stitches about 3/8th inch in to hold the two sides together.

I have this foot which came with my machine (see below). I think it is a piping / zipper foot. As you can see, there is nothing of the foot-bed going past the needle along the side. This foot lets me sew real close to the edge of the sleeves on the sides. You can try to see if you can use your zipper foot if you find it a bit challenging sewing the two sides by the sleeves.

OK. I've now sewn all around my rectangle. Here is how it looks.

Next thing to do is to clip the corners off carefully - don't cut through your stitching lines! I also trimmed off a bit of the excess fabric on the edges.

Do the same for the outer part of your body too.

Put your fingers into the gap you left in the lining and gently pull the outer part of the body into the lining part. See the photo to the left below. Then gently pull the outer body out through the gap. See the photo on the right below.

Once you have turned the whole case right side out, use a pointy thing like a pen or in my case, my bonefolder, and gently poke the corners out neatly.

Sew the gap in the lining closed. See photo below. Then tuck the lining into the body of the case, again using your pointy thing to make sure the corners are poked in properly. Give the case a bit of a press with your iron. Almost done - we just need to insert the flex frame.

The open hinge end of your flex frame looks something like this. See the two little metal flaps or caps?

Using a pair of pliers, gently close one of the flaps so it looks like this ...

Then, slide your frame into the sleeves. Each arm of your frame goes into it's own sleeve.

When you get the frame into the sleeves, push the sleeves further in to give you a bit of space to work on closing the frame up. Line the hinge at the end of the frame up together. Remember the teeny little pin / bar that came with your frame? You did put it somewhere safe, didn't you? Get it and insert it into the hinge tubes. Push the pin all the way in and then using your pliers, close the little metal cap over the pin so the pin is trapped inside the hinge. Push your frame back into the sleeves and smooth it all out nicely.

Give it a few squeezes to open and close it ...

You're done! You now have this lovely glasses case with it's tidy flex frame opening.

You can use the same flex frame and the same sewing process described in this tutorial to make a gadget / phone case. I made one for my Samsung touch phone. My friend's iphone fits into this case too. Just make the body pieces one inch shorter. So your body pieces for a gadget pouch will be 6 inches x 4.5 inches. I put a little loop of fabric in mine (I sandwiched it between the sleeve and the body piece when I was sewing the sleeves on) and a split ring through the loop. I can then hang this pouch off my lanyard if I want or hook it onto the snap-hook in my handbag.

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful. Sorry it's a bit long - I tried to use collages of progress photos so it's not quite so long. Let me know how you get on and if you can, post your glasses cases you've made using this tutorial on my Flickr page.

Happy sewing, friends!

(PS. If you spot a typo, let me know so I can correct it! Thanks!)

Friday, 28 January 2011

Eyeglass cases and why I don't say the 's' word much ...

Which 'S' word I hear you ask?

Spectacles. There! I said it ... but I can't say it without immediately thinking of the mnemomic for how to properly make the Catholic sign of the cross that Robbie Coltrane taught Eric Idle when they were hiding in a convent in drag in the film Nuns on the Run. And it makes me laugh every time. (In case there are friends who don't know what on earth I am referring to - the mnemomic is "Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch".)

I've been making some eyeglass / glasses cases recently. I had a couple of internal flex frames in my hardware stash and had bought a pack of 10 more from these guys. (who are fab BTW!)

This one went home with mum. She picked this lovely blue fabric from my stash. The photo doesn't show up the silver highlights in the fabric.

I found this bright and colourful fabric in my stash - it was not a big piece but this type of glasses case doesn't use up a lot of fabric. All the cases have Vilene medium loft fusible fleece inside for padding.

This one is mine ... I've been saving this kawaii panda fabric up for at least 2 years. It was not a big piece of fabric at all - a bit less than a fat quarter. But enough to make this cutey for me.

And of course Missy Moo absolutely HAD to have one for her sunnies. She picked this pink with hearts remnant from my stash and was delighted with the result.

I finished another one last night and also made a shorter one to take my phone. I'll take photos to share with you at the weekend. There are 2 more cases sitting on my sewing table all cut out and ready to sew up.

The experiment using the bag base template from the zipaway tote is going well ... I think. I'll find out at the weekend when I put it all together! Then it will either be win or fail. Hopefully not the latter!

Hope you are having a fabulous Friday and wishing you a great weekend ahead, friends.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

My creative space

There are quite a few things going on in my creative space at the moment.

There are 2 glasses cases.

There’s a bag – I haven’t made myself a bag in goodness knows how long ... I had cut it out and then realised I didn't have enough interfacing left to use in this bag. Duh! I’ve ordered some interfacing off Ebay and am waiting for Mr Postie to bring it to me. Hopefully tomorrow so I can work on this bag some more.

There is also an experiment I am working on. I have been thinking about the bag base for the zipaway tote bag and trying to come up with something else I can make using the same template. It’s still at the drafting stage but I think I’m almost there. I’ll try to take notes so I can make a tutorial from it later.

To find out what other creative people are getting up to, head over to the home of My Creative Space.

Wishing you a creative day, friends.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Small but perfectly formed

I saw this itty bitty teeny weeny clutch over at Keyka Lou's blog last year and just had to have the pattern - it's so cute. I finally got around to making a couple. My little bits of Japanese kawaii panda fabric was perfect for this little purse. So, first I made one in pink with two silver popper (snap) fasteners.

Cute huh? So then I made one in purple and used velcro (the white button is purely decorative) for the closure. I really like the tiny purple clutch so it's been hanging off my car+house keys for the past few days.

It's just the right size for a card or two, some coinage and my mints.

Perfect, don't you think?
Hope you're having a great week so far, friends.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Kawaii zippered pouches

I love cute Japanese fabrics ... love love LOVE them!! They are pretty hard to find in the UK but there are several sellers on Etsy who have some nice ones. I made these up for friends and family.

They aren't very big - I bought the fabric from a seller on Etsy and the pieces were pre-cut to 5.5" x 6". The finished purses are roughly 5" x 5.5". I lined them with a red dotty quilting cotton.

They make me happy and I hope they make their new owners happy too.
Have a great weekend, friends.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

My creative space

I have a few bits and bobs hanging about in my creative space at the moment. There is a stack of fabric waiting to be cut into glasses cases. The sewing's been sidetracked for the moment as I work on some greeting cards.

I found a box with some card blanks, coloured cards and some Martha Stewart punches tucked away in a closet and decided to be frugal this year and make my own cards. I think my only New Year's resolution this year was to try to use up more of my stash - whether it be cloth stash, paper stash or card stash. Here's a small stack of birthday cards I have made so far.

Find out what other creative folk are up to over at Kootoyoo's blog here.

Have a creative day, friends!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Fold-away shopping bags with a small addition

My mum loved the fold-away shopping bag a lot. She asked me to make her two of them but she wanted a small addition. She wanted little carry straps so she could loop the folded-up bag over her wrist. So I made her these.

The little straps are made from 10 inch x 2 inch bits of fabric folded into themselves and stitched along each long side. The finished strap is sewn into the flap. Here's another view.

They looked really cute - like mini handbags!

This Amy Butler fabric makes me happy - it's so bright and cheerful. This is from her Love home decorating fabric range - I think it's Paradise garden. I have some more of this left in my stash just crying out to be made into a bag for myself.

This next one is in another of Amy Butler's fabrics - I think this one is from the Daisy Chain range. Also home decorating weight fabric.

I like the addition of the small strap. I might just have to make myself a few more.
I hope your week is going well, friends.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The hug pillow and the proverbial rod

I saw this really great tutorial for a great keepsake pillow over at From an Igloo a while back and it was on my 'To Do' list for ages. Then when mum came over, I thought it was the perfect time for me to make one for her.

Christine over at From An Igloo called it a Hug pillow. Here's mine.

I have been hoarding a Moda Love U jelly roll and layer cake for a while now ... saving it for something special. I traced the kids' hands and cut them out of two sheets of fabric from the layer cake. The pink borders were cut from a couple of strips from the jelly roll. Here's the back of the pillow.

Mum loved the pillow. (Thanks for the inspiration, Christine!)

There was just one very small problem ... mum looked at the hug pillow and said thoughtfully, "Wouldn't it be really nice if you could make me a quilt with all our handprints on it?" All of us refers to me, Mr CraftyAdy, Dinoboy and Missy Moo, my two brothers, their wives and their kids and of course, mum. Twelve of us in all. Mum thought a quilt made up of 12 blocks with a handprint in the middle of each block would be fabulous. "There you go!" she declared. "That can be your project for the coming year!"

The simple pillow project had potentially just turned into the proverbial rod! This could be an interesting year.

Hope you are having a good weekend, friends.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Conditional love

I overheard this conversation today whilst the kids were playing in another room.

Missy Moo: "Dinoboy - do you love me?"
Dinoboy: "Yeah I do."
Missy Moo: "Dinoboy? Can I play with your Lego helicopter thing?" (pointing at a small Lego helicopter Dinoboy spent ages building without any supervision)
Dinoboy: "No."

A few minutes later ....

Dinoboy: "Missy Moo? Do you love me?"
Missy Moo: "Not yet."

Little wallet and purses for Mum

My mum came to visit us for 6 weeks. We always look forward to her visits eagerly. She lives in Malaysia and tries to visit us every year. This year her visit coincided with the first snowfall of the winter we've had in our part of the UK. The first day it snowed, she was as eager as the kids to get outdoors to play in it! (That's mum in the purple jacket and lilac hat.)

We bought the kids their first sledge which created a lot of excitement and came in very useful when collecting Missy Moo from Nursery and getting her and the shopping home. The kids now ask me on a regular basis when it will next snow so we can go find a slope for them to ride the sledge on.

Whilst she was here, Mum wanted me to make her a purse / credit card wallet. Her requirements were that it needed to be small and not too bulky. So the first wallet I made her was this one based on A Spoonful of Sugar's Scrappy loyalty card wallet. I really like this and might make one for myself.

She thought it was lovely but not quite what she wanted - perhaps something with a zip? So then I made her this simple little zippered pouch. It's just about big enough to take 3 - 4 cards. Perfect for coins too.

Still not quite there yet she says - she wondered if I could maybe make something with a velcro closure? So I made her this ...

Yep - that was perfect. Her next question was - "Can I keep them all?"
She took them all home to Malaysia with her.