Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond

Hooray! My new book is (at long last) being released next week! 14th April 2015 in the USA, through the Martingale & Co. website and 21st April through Amazon.com. I’ll also have signed copies available through my own UK website from 14th April, ahead of the later UK release. So, if you’re in the UK, head on over to www.susieddesigns.co.uk. Style and Swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond by Susan Dunlop Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond If you’re a new-comer to sewing, or you’re more experienced but haven’t made bags before, Style and Swing will walk you through the steps and techniques you’ll need to know. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked on bag-making and you’ll be able to stitch up the best bags ever!

The patterns progress from really easy through to more challenging designs, building up slowly with each pattern so that your confidence can grow as you learn. style and swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond - some of the projectsA comprehensive information section is included at the beginning of the book which includes everything you need to know about sewing terms, tools required, fabric preparation, stabilizers and how-to techniques. So even beginners will feel confident in tackling all the fun-to-make projects included in Style and Swing. The detailed illustrations throughout each project show clearly how to complete each step so there’s no guess work involved.

Beginners will benefit from starting off with the Funky Handbag which gently introduces you into the world of bag-making. The Large Market Bag and the Uptown Shopper are sure to be a hit. They are both fairly easy to make and look absolutely stunning in bright, vibrant fabrics.

If you’re an experienced sewer, jump right in and tackle whatever project takes your fancy. If you get stuck at all, simply refer to the techniques section to learn how to complete a particular task. Get adventurous and adapt or customize your bags to suit your needs. Have a go at projects such as the Trendy Hipster Bag, the Groovy Satchel, the Layered Satchel or the Tri-Fold Wallet. Any of these projects will offer the challenge you’re looking for and you’ll end up with a finished accessory to be really proud of.

Any of the projects included in Style and Swing will make perfect gifts for friends and family, or indulge in some selfish-sewing and just keep them for yourself. You’re bound to find it hard to part with your handmade masterpieces!

Images from Style and Swing by Susan Dunlop, Martingale, 2015; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.

Purse Projects featured in Issue 9 of Quilt Now Magazine

Super excited to see my new purse projects featured in this month’s issue of Quilt Now magazine. They’re on the front cover! So exciting!

Quilt Now magazine issue 9Purses in issue 9 Quilt Now magazine (web)

You’ll get an exclusive free gift with this month’s issue, a Go Forth and Quilt retractable tape measure. It’s double-sided with both metric and imperial measurements.

Also included in this month’s jam-packed Quilt Now:

  • 30 fantastic projects inside!
  • This issue’s cover quilt is super simple but with striking effect!
  • Perfect Potholders by Laura Jane Taylor – a pair of English paper-pieced potholders that would make an ideal housewarming gift
  • Popular author and blogger Susan Dunlop has not one, but two, kiss clasp purses for you to try!
  • Jo Avery’s striking offset lone star quilt is strip-pieced for speed and simplicity!
  • Make a bed-sized quilt and matching cushion with just eight fat quarters (plus some background fabric)
  • Making the same project in different fabrics can completely change the effect. Hadley’s flying geese cushions demonstrate this perfectly!
  • Be the most popular guest at the baby shower with Angela’s trio of gifts, including a quilt, cushion and matching taggie blankie!
  • Editor Katy uses Cuckoo’s Calling from Dashwood Studio to make an adorable baby quilt and matching monogrammed cushion set.
  • Keep your essential bits and bobs organised with Sonia’s little zippy pouch.

For more info, check on the Quilt Now blog. They’ve got a fab subscription offer too!

March issue of Sewing World Magazine

I’m delighted to have a new project and an article published in this month’s issue of Sewing World magazine.

March 2015 Sewing World MagazineMy new project is a modern, zippered makeup pouch which I made with lovely yellow and grey fabrics from the Comma collection by Zen Chic for Moda Fabrics. There’s an image of it on the front cover!

Zippered Pouch by Susan Dunlop in Sewing World MagazineThe article that I’ve written for this issue is all about how I became a project designer for the magazine and what work is involved to design and write the project. I hope that my article will inspire other would be project contributors as the magazine is always on the look out for fresh, modern ideas. Give it a go! It’s fun and very rewarding.

Article in Sewing World magazine - how to be a project contributorWhat else is this month’s issue?

TECHNIQUES & FEATURES:

  • Knits Know-How – Part 5 PLUS pyjama bottoms to make
  • Pattern of the Month – Simplicity 1615
  • Fabric Showcase – Trees
  • Masterclass – Sewing Skills – Facings
  • From Concept to Publication – The Creative World of a Project Designer
  • Sewing World 20th Birthday Competition
  • Seeing Stripes – Blazers for Henley Regatta
  • We Meet…Nanette Regan

PROJECTS:

  • Citrus Pop! Zingy lap quilt
  • Henny Penny! Decorative hen
  • Super Sponge Bag – Classy toiletry holdall
  • Bandana Bib – Bibs for dribblers
  • Kingly Cord – Contrast panel Liberty cord dress
  • Get Organised! – Cath Kidston® hanging tidy
  • Easter Booty! – Easter bags to fill
  • Easter Brooches – Embellishments for your bags
  • Knotty Pinny! – Girls’ pinny dress
  • Green Fingers! – Garden tote
  • Dine in Style – Table runner

Customer Makes – The Layered Hipster Bag Sewing Pattern

I was so pleased to see this new bag, made by one of my customers. Angie used the Layered Hipster Bag pattern to make this gorgeous version in blue and black, with white butterflies. Love it! Thanks for allowing my to share it, Angie, great sewing!

Hipster Shoulder Bag by Angie who used a SusieDDesigns sewing pattern

“I made the layered hip bag last night for a co-workers gift to her sister. Thanks so much for such great patterns!” Angie
If you’d like to make this bag, the pattern is available in my Etsy shop and my website www.susieddesigns.co.uk

Owl Shoulder Bag – Custom Order

I love this bag, handmade by Denise Hayes, over at Through the Looking Glass. Denise used one of my sewing patterns to make this fab bag, with some great adaptions. Great work, Denise and thanks for sharing!

Front of Owl Bag

Through The Looking Glass

Sometimes I get orders for new items. I don’t usually make bags, but offered to make one for a local lady who already had the fabric. She dropped off the fabric for me and I prepped it.

Owl Fabric Owl Fabric

It was an owl fabric – very cute. However, it was a ‘seconds’ fabric which means that there was something wrong with it. The fabric itself was warped (not straight) and it was cut badly. The owls had also not been printed evenly. After washing, air-drying, ironing and pulling on the corners, it was as straight as it was going to be. If I went by the weave, the owls would look drunk. If I went with the owls I had to decide for vertical or horizontal. I went with the vertical.

Front of Owl Bag Front of Owl Bag

I also decided to patchwork it with some other fabrics I already had to help…

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The Lotta Tote featured in Love Sewing Magazine

The Lotta Tote in Love Sewing Magazine

So pleased to have another project featured in this month’s issue of Love Sewing Magazine. This is my Lotta Tote, made with statement fabrics from Lotta Jansdotter in bright pink, black and white. I’ve used cut-out metal handles to compliment this design.

Issue 10 cover image Love Sewing magazine

Issue 10 is packed full of exciting sewing projects to get your pins stuck into. What’s more, to celebrate the return of The Great British Sewing Bee, Love Sewing is excited to bring every reader an exclusive Great British Sewing Bee Fat Quarter!  Inside the magazine there’s lots of great ideas for using your free fabric, top tips from Sewing Bee contestants and a free blouse pattern designed by the Great British Sewing Bee Team!

Great British Sewing Bee the contestants

You’ll find fun ideas for using your free fat quarter, all with step by step photos and instructions!

Two in One Skirt Pattern!

With every copy of Issue 10 you will also receive a great versatile skirt pattern.  You can choose between a tie waist skirt and a wiggle skirt!  Or why not sew both – another great pattern from Simple Sew exclusively designed for Love Sewing.

Enjoy!

Petite Street Tote featured in Sewing World Magazine

One of my all time favourite fabrics is Petite Street, by Wendy Kendall for Dashwood Studio, so I really pleased to contribute this cute little tote to Sewing World magazine. The January issue is out in the shops now!

Petite Street Tote by Susan Dunlop in Sewing World magazine

This month’s issue has 12 sewing projects to get your pins stuck into, in the New Year! As well as the projects, you’ll also find plenty of features and new techniques to learn:

  • Fabric Showcase – Get Knitted!
  • A Crafty Sale – Selling at Craft Fairs – Part 1
  • Pattern of the Month – Simplicity 1418
  • Masterclass – Sewing Skills – Gathers
  • Stylish Stitching from Sainte Luce
  • Knits Know-How – Part 3
  • Sew Smart with Vilene – Part 5 – Bags
  • Overlockers Overview

January 2015 issue of Sewing World magazine

White Tree Fabrics Dressmaking Project – McCalls K3601

I joined the White Tree Fabrics blogging team a while back and, at long last, I have my first completed project to show off!

I chose some lovely Tilda fabrics and McCalls pattern K3601, both supplied by White Tree Fabrics, to make a kaftan-style top. This has also been the first thing I’ve made with my brand new overlocker, more about that in another post! So not only did I have a lovely new top to make, I could also make it on my new machine and hopefully end up with a professional looking piece of clothing.

I found this McCalls pattern quite easy to follow, but… it did take little while to get the collar right as it was slightly confusing as to how it would end up the right way around! Got there in the end though, I just needed to follow the instructions very carefully. You need to fold the outer edges of the collar section to wrong side and press, then pin it, wrong side up, to the front/back neckline, also wrong side up.

Showing the collar construction for McCalls K3601

After stitching around the neckline and the marked centre line, which is then cut to open the neckline slit, it’s turned to the right side of the front/back of top. Then pinned in place and topstitched around the edges.

Dressmaking - McCalls Pattern K3601 neck detail

The collar detail of McCalls pattern K3601

Due to my own mistake (rushing ahead) I ended up having to do set-in sleeves rather than the easier method of sewing the shoulder edges onto the front/back before sewing the sleeve and side seams. I’d already sewn the sleeve seams by the time I’d noticed and couldn’t be bothered unpicking. It worked out just fine though as they didn’t need any gathering to fit. They fitted into the armhole really well and I was so pleased (relieved!) with the result. I needed more practice with set-in sleeves anyway!! LOL

McCalls sewing pattern K3601

So here’s my finished top, ta da…

Finished Top McCalls pattern K3601

White Tree Fabrics have generously given me a special coupon code for readers to get a fantastic 20% discount and free postage on any orders. Visit www.whitetreefabrics.com to view their lovely range and use the code SUSIED when purchasing anything.

Projects from my new Bag Making Book: Style and Swing

Style and Swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond by Susan Dunlop

I can finally reveal the bag making projects from my new book, Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond. I’m so thrilled that it’s release is just a few more months away! So exciting! I hope you like the designs and would love to hear what you think. So here they are…

This is the over-view for my new book, over on the Martingale & Co. Publishers website:

You’ll find plenty of reasons to sit down and sew these boutique-quality yet achievable bags and accessories. Everyone from beginners to experts can create an assortment of modern, practical projects for gifts or personal use. Start with a simple, elegant handbag and progress to more challenging designs; skill-level ratings are included.

  • Step-by-step illustrated patterns for 12 attractive projects in a variety of shapes and styles

  • Stylish accessories include a pleated clutch, market bag, satchel, and wallet

  • Includes resource info and comprehensive how-to techniques; learn about tools, fabric prep, interfacings, linings, and purse hardware

If you’d like to pre-order my new book (big hugs if you do and thank you so much for your support!) it’s available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and other major book suppliers. I’ll also have signed copies available from my website, from mid-march at www.susieddesigns.co.uk

Images from Style and Swing by Susan Dunlop, Martingale, 2015; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.

My First Bag Making Project in Quilt Now Magazine!

Excited to bring you news of my first bag making project for Quilt Now magazine! Issue 5 is in the shops now and I’m delighted that Katy Jones (editor) has featured my new Rail Fence Bag sewing project. Perfect for using up fabric scraps from your stash, this bag is sure to delight any little girl.

Rail Fence Bag Project by Susan Dunlop in Quilt Now magazine

Issue 5 is all about those scrappy bits you can’t bear to see go to waste! From little projects to big beautiful quilts, like this issue’s cover star, you’ll find it all. There’s a brilliant range of patchwork and quilting projects suitable for all sewing skill levels. As well as all the great projects, this month’s issue also has plenty of interesting reading and fabric eye-candy to get you inspired.

Issue 5 Quilt Now magazine

Christmas Projects made with Dashwood Fabrics in issue 8 Love Sewing Magazine

I’m delighted to have some of my Christmas projects featured in this month’s issue of Love Sewing magazine. I made a Christmas sack and table topper, using the gorgeous fabrics by Lizzie Mackay for Dashwood Studio, called Christmas Wish.

Christmas wish table topper & sack by Susan Dunlop for Love Sewing magazine

Christmas Sack by Susan Dunlop for Love Sewing Magazine 1

Christmas Table Topper by Susan Dunlop for Love Sewing magazine

You’ll also find more great projects in this fantastic Christmas issue of Love Sewing, including a free dressmaking pattern to make a fab evening/party dress. Issue 8 will be hitting the shops within the next couple of days, enjoy!

Issue 8 Love Sewing Magazine

Issue 8 Love Sewing Magazine

Cuckoo’s Calling – New Fabrics from Dashwood Studio

Look what arrived recently! A fabric bundle from Dashwood’s new collection, Cuckoo’s Calling by Bethan Janine. I was delighted to be asked by Creative Director, David Sweet, to make a couple of my purse frame pouches using these gorgeous new fabrics for an upcoming Dashwood open day.

Cuckoos Calling by Bethan Janine for Dashwood Studio

Cuckoo’s Calling is Bethan’s second collection for Dashwood Studio. Cuckoo’s Calling is bright and fun and inspired by Bethan’s Grandmother’s cuckoo clock, pretty meadow flowers and little leaves she drew whilst on her holidays.

Such a lovely collection, I’m looking forward to making some purses with these. The fabrics should be arriving in stores now, so go get them! What do you think you’d make from these fabrics?

Update: here’s some new purses I’ve made with these gorgeous fabrics.

Handmade Purses by Susan Dunlop for Dashwood Studio

Quilting Tutorial: Cathedral Windows Part 2 – Making the Windows

This is the 2nd part of my Cathedral Windows Tutorial. See the previous post for Part 1. In this post, I’ve completed the background panels and now I’m going to add the print fabrics and make the windows.

Cut 3” squares from your chosen fabrics. I used a load of different Liberty fabric scraps so that all my windows would have a different fabric but they’d still go together.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 16With a square wrong side up, hold two of the corners down with your thumb and index finger and press over the just the centre of the edge by approx. 1/4”. Be careful the hot iron doesn’t burn those fingers!

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 17Repeat with all the edges and then do the same with all your fabric squares.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 18Place the fabric squares, right side up, on top of each diamond shape of the prepared background panel as shown. Here I’m adding them to a small single row panel. Later on you’ll see my larger panel version too. Pin them to secure in place.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 19Fold each free edge of the background panel over each each of the square. A natural curve will be created due to the points of the background panel being stitched together (see previous post, Part 1). Pin through all the layers to hold firmly in place and ensure that the window is completely filled with the print fabric. Gently tuck the print fabric into the corners, if it’s not sitting right into them.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 20Repeat the folding/pinning process to make all the windows. This is when it starts to get exciting as you see the gorgeous windows forming!

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 21I decided to go one step further and cut small petal shaped pieces of the print fabrics to fill the gaps now formed in each corner of my panel. Aren’t I the show off! The thing is, once you get started on this technique, you don’t really want to stop.

Cathedral Windows technique 22Now it’s time to topstitch along the edges of all the folded over edges. I decided to do double rows around each corner petal shape and single rows around all the diamond shaped windows. Put your machine on a longish stitch, as there’s lots of layers and the stitches also look better when they’re longer. Carefully stitch all the edges, removing each pin as you get to it. When you get to the edge of each fold just continue stitching over to the next one, so you don’t have to continually keep stopping and starting and new line of stitch. Just try to keep the stitching as neat as you can, as you work your way around each one.

Cathedral Windows technique

Cathedral Windows technique 2

Cathedral Windows Tutorial Part 1

Now to decide what I’m going to use these panels for. I think they’ll be great made up into cushions with co-ordinating panels. What do you think? Have you made Cathedral Windows before or will you be having a go at making them for the first time?

Quilting Tutorial: Cathedral Windows Part 1 – Preparing the Background Squares

I’ve long admired the Cathedral Windows quilting technique and was determined to learn how to do it. Well, at last, I’ve done it and I loved the result so much that I’m eager to share the technique here with you. If this is something you haven’t tried yet, I definitely recommend you do. It’s one of those techniques that appears really hard to do but, once you get to grips with it, it’s really not as difficult as it looks. Yes, it is time-consuming but it’s so rewarding.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial Part 1

Sneak peek of a Cathedral Windows panel I’ve made.

I used a cream background fabric with scraps of Liberty prints for the windows, which I just knew would make for a stunning effect (if I could complete it anyway!!). As you can see above, I did complete it and loved every minute of making it. So on with how to do it. There’s a lot of pictures but I felt this technique warrants lots of how-to images.

CATHEDRAL WINDOWS: PART 1

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 1These are the Liberty fabric scraps and plain background fabric I used, along with some prepared squares I did earlier.

To prepare the fabric squares: cut the plain fabric into accurate squares measuring, 10” x 10”. Then cut a piece of thick paper, measuring 9” x 9” – this will be used as a guide, see below, to fold over the raw edges by 1/2”.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 2Place the paper template onto the wrong side of a fabric square, leaving equal 1/2” gaps at all the edges. Fold over and press each edge of the fabric as shown.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 2Remove the paper template and fold the square in half, matching up the folded edges, press. Open up and fold in half again, the other way, press. Open back out.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 4Fold one of the corners to the centre point, press.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 5Fold the remaining corners into the centre and press. Try to do this as neatly and accurately as possible, ensuring that the folds butt up to each other and don’t overlap. Take your time, you’ll get quicker with a bit of practice.

SAMSUNG CSCRepeat the folding process, folding one corner to the centre point and pressing.

 Cathedral Windows Tutorial 7

Fold and press the remaining corners to the centre point, press. Pin through the layers to hold securely. Fold and press more squares in the same way.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 8Place two of the squares side by side and unpin the flaps next to each other. Pin them together.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 9Sew the flaps, along the crease marks, ensuring they’re aligned neatly.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 10Open back out and unpin the sewn together flaps. Stitch another square onto the panel, in the same manner. Add more squares if you want the row to be longer.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 11Press the sewn together flaps flat again. Make more rows of squares in the same manner.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 12To make bigger panels, join two rows of squares together: place side by side, unpin the adjacent flaps and pin together.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 13Ensuring they are aligned, stitch along the crease mark of the pinned together flaps.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 14Unpin the sewn together flaps and press them flat again. Add more rows together in the same way, if you want bigger panels.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 15Hand-stitch together, all four points at the centre of a square, so they stay securely joined at the points only. Repeat with every square. Do the stitches small and as neat as possible. Once you stitched the points together, you can remove all the pins from the panels.

That’s the background panels now completed. I just made one small panel with three squares joined together and another panel with six squares joined together. You can make your panels as big as you want. I just wanted to start off small whilst learning this new technique.

See the next post CATHEDRAL WINDOWS PART 2 for how to add the prints and make the windows.