Today people take to the streets of Paris to protest about the killings that have taken place there this week. I couldn’t ignore what had happened to a city I have visited and loved, or the fact that it was creatives who were attacked.
I know from reading blogs how many Sewists have been inspired by their visits to Paris, buying fabric in Montmartre and carrying it home to make dresses. I’ve done the same.
I had to show some solidarity.
When the slogan, Je Suis Charlie, trended on social media, I found my way forwards. For those of you who don’t know, this phrase has been adopted since the massacre of cartoonists, by people who want to show their support for freedom of expression. It’s beautifully simple and dramatic – all the best slogans are.
After witnessing the raging success of the Books Are My Bag campaign last year, I knew that the best way to get my message across was … by carrying my message. A bag it was!
I had plans to whip up a simple tote that people could easily duplicate. As is my way, the project became more complex the deeper I got into it. You could still whip up a simple tote, or anything else. A T-shirt? There are endless options.
I hope this tutorial helps – and not just people sewing bags. I would truly love it if you felt inspired to sew your own solidarity and support. Blogs are a bastion of freedom of speech and creativity. Please indulge me as I embrace both of these today. I’m lucky that I can.
This blog post was written in memory of Vanessa Cabban.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- A printer
- Letter applique templates
- 2 pieces of 20.5 x 15 inch canvas
- 2 pieces of 20.5 x 15 inch lining fabric
- 2 pieces of 20.5 x 15 inch sew-in batting
- 1 piece of 11.5 x 7 inch lining fabric
- Pieces of canvas for the lettering. Here is your opportunity to customise!
- 4 25 x 3 inch strips of canvas for the handles
- 225 x 3 inch strips of fusible interfacing for the handles
- Wundaweb or fuse web
- A sewing machine and walking foot
- Thread and topstitching thread
- Topstitching needle
At 60% size, print off the free letter applique templates from Simplicity.
Trace your reversed letters onto the paper back of your Wundaweb. Roughly cut out the letters.
Place the letters onto the wrong side of your canvas. The rough, glued side of the Wundaweb should face down onto the fabric. Press over the paper with lots of steam, sealing the glue onto the fabric.
Don’t peel away the paper yet.
Accurately cut out your letters. I used my least favourite pair of sewing shears as the paper may slightly blunt blades.
Position your letters onto the right side of your bag canvas.
Once you’re happy with the positioning, peel away the paper back on each of your letters. Place them back into position and press with your iron, sealing into place.
Baste batting to the wrong side of each piece of outer fabric.
Now, stitch each of your characters into place. Go on, do it! This will add to the longevitity of your make, with no fear of letters peeling away. I reduced the stitch length to facilitate going around corners and tricky details. Take your time. Have loo breaks. It took me about 25 minutes to stitch the entire phrase.
Pin together the two pieces of the outer fabric, wrong sides together and sew along three edges (two short edges and one long edge).
Place a pin through both seams to ensure they meet. Measure in 1.5 inches in from the tip of the point.
Sew along this marked line and snip off the corner. Turn the bag right side out. You have just made a neat boxed corner. Feel proud of yourself!
To make your straps, cut four lengths of canvas and fuse heavyweight interfacing to one pair of them.
Sew these together along one long edge, right sides together. Press in a 10mm seam allowance on each of the opposite long edges, fold over to meet and top stitch down. Add a matching row of top stitching down your first long seam.
Baste your handles to the top of the main bag canvas, with the handles facing down the bag. I placed each handle 3 inches in from the side seams.
Place the main bag with handles hanging downwards, inside the inside out lining fabric. Right sides of fabric should be matching. Pin around the top edge and sew, leaving a gap, so that you can turn your bag right side out.
Hand sew up the gap. Give everything a good press. You can topstitch around the mouth of the bag. You can. I did a terrible job.
You’re done! Next time someone tells you that sewing is just about silly dresses, you can reply, ‘Oh, it’s definitely about the dresses. But it’s about so much more as well…’