How To Sew: Gathered Easter Baskets

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A simple, circular, gathered easter basket

 

We’re all ready for some Easter treats at Toyota HQ, and what better way to store them than in our own adorable baskets? These cute little Easter goodies baskets are the perfect way to hand out your eggs and chocolates, and are superbly simple to make. There’s nothing tricky to this tutorial, and you can stitch these sweet little sews up in no time!

 

Getting Ready

supplies

  • Outer fabric
  • Lightweight sew-in interfacing
  • Lining fabric
  • Contrast fabric for binding edges and handle
  • Two buttons

 

Lining, interfacing and outer fabric circles

 

To prepare, cut a large circle out of your three basket fabrics, using a circular template or object to draw around. We used a circular template that was 9 inches across, roughly the size of a dinner plate! Measure all the way around one of the circles or calculate the circumference, and then halve that. Cut a rectangle of your contrast fabric to match the halved length and about 4 inches wide – our circumference was roughly 28 inches, so our rectangle is 4 inches by 14 inches of our contrasting fabric. Press the two edges in to meet at the middle (right sides facing out), and then press in half again, so you have a length of your own bias binding.

 

 

Sewing and Gathering

Once your pieces are ready, sandwich your interfacing between your lining and outer fabrics both with the wrong sides facing the interfacing, and pin the circles in place. Sew a line of gathering stitch (a long straight stitch) as close to the edge as you can. Sew a second line of gathering stitch about a quarter of an inch in from the first. Both of your gathering stitches should be within one inch from the edge, to allow you to hide them under your bias binding later. Remember your gathering stitch should stop before it meets the start of the line again.

Sewing two lines of gathering stitch

 

Once your gathering stitches are in place, grab the two end threads on either side, and gently tug them out of the fabric – as the gathers pull into place, push them firmly away from the end you’re pulling. Keep pulling and pushing until the gathered edge measures half of what it did before, then tie your ends off and space the gathers out evenly. You should have a bowl shaped basket with a lovely gathered top!

 

Gathering around the edges of the circles to form a basket

 

Binding the Basket

Once you’ve finished gathering, it’s time to cover up those unsightly raw edges. Take your bias binding, and open it up. Fold the two short edges inwards, so there will be no raw edges at the ends. With the inside of the bias binding facing you, pin it along the basket, with the top edge of the binding just underneath the bottom gathering stitch. Overlap the two ends where they meet. Sew right along the top edge of the bias binding with a straight stitch – take this sewing slowly, as you’ll have to keep turning the basket which is quite fiddly!

Attaching the first edge of the bias binding

Fold the bias binding over the top of the basket and down the inside, encasing the raw edges. Ensuring that the bottom edge of the bias binding is below the bottom line of the gathering stitch, pin into place and press. Top stitch as close to the bottom edge as you can, again going slowly to move the basket around! Once the bias binding is secure, press again for a clean edge.

 

Raw edges covered with bias binding

 

Your basket is almost ready! For easy transport in little hands though, we’ll be adding a handle in our contrast fabric. Cut a wide rectangle of your contrast fabric and your interfacing, about 4.5 inches wide and 7 inches long. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, and then fold them in half with the right sides facing. Press flat, and then sew a straight stitch down the open long edge.

 

Contrast fabric and interfacing to make the handle

 

Using a pencil, knitting needle, or chopstick (or anything else long and thin!), push the handle inside out, so the right side is on the outside and the seam is hidden inside. Push the two open short ends in, and press them flat. Top stitch across both short ends as close to the edge as you can to finish the handle. Press the handle flat.

Sewn and pressed handle

 

Fold your basket in half, and mark the opposite points with two pins. Pin one end of the handle to each point, with the end of the handle extending down slightly below the bottom of the bias binding. Do a short length of straight stitch in the middle of each handle (not the whole way across), going backwards and forwards a few time to secure it.

 

Attach the handle with a short straight stitch right in the middle

 

Take your buttons, and hand sew them onto each end of the handle, hiding the machine sewing you used to secure the handle in place! This method means that the handle should stay put, no matter how enthusiastically your little baskets get swung around! If you’d prefer to have a removable handle, simply stitch the button straight onto the basket, and sew a buttonhole onto each end of the handle rather than sewing it in place.

 

Add a button to the handle to hide the machine stitching

Now all that’s left is to fill them with goodies and hand them over! Don’t worry about wasting them either – after Easter these are great to use to store cosmetics or toiletries, keys, change, or anything else that causes some clutter. We’d love to see your finished projects (and what you’re using it for) over on our Facebook page or Twitter account too, so pop over and share your beautiful baskets when they’re finished. Happy Easter!

A 2014 Round-Up: Top Trends This Year

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Another year of crafts and creations is drawing to a close, and it’s time to look back again over the trends we’ve sewn with. We’ve sifted through piles of tutorials, pinterest boards, blogs, lists and more to find out what really got us going in 2014. Join us as we review our year of fabrics, fashions and fun – and a quick look at Toyota in the New Year.

 

Be a dear, Deer!

Last year we were full of foxy feelings, and before the fox came the owl… but the new king of the woodland this year is definitely the deer! From fabric stags heads to fawn print cottons, these four-legged friends have lent charm to our clothes, homes and accessories. With homey, rustic charm the deer and stag have been a cosy addition to the year.

 

 

Not Over Yet, Knitwear!

A knitted jumper never used lurks in every wardrobe across the country – but this year we finally set them free and fabulous. Recycled, re-purposed and restyled, we’ve loved our old jumpers more than ever before. We’ve seen them in blankets and quilts, tunics and dresses, tea cosies and cosy slippers, and we love each and every one. Head to toe in cable knit feels like a fantastic way to end the year.

 

 

Promising Polka Dots

There’s a lot more than we think to the humble polka dot, and while it’s always a staple of home and wardrobe it’s really been pulling its weight this year! From big bright and bold to subtle and small, the polka dot has something to offer for everyone – but our bigger winner for 2014 is the classic bright colour white polka dot combination. This enduring favourite has a charming vintage chic, and works especially well with candy colours.

 

 

Fun With Free Motion Embroidery

We’ve had a big year for embroidery at Toyota HQ, with our Oekaki Renaissance launch looking to get everyone having a go at some creative crafting. So of course, we’ve been pleased to see how popular it’s been this year! Free motion embroidery is a great, expressive way to add extra life to clothes, home wares or accessories – and a big hit in the world of textile art as well! Whether you’re adding a small embellishment to your gifts tags or you’re whipping up a wall-hanging wonder, free motion embroidery has something to add.

 

 

A Look Forward

We certainly won’t be letting these trends go without a second thought, but we’re excited to what new fun we can have in 2015. While we look over our hopes for the new year (tartans? birds? dip-dye? The choices are endless!) why not tell us about what you’d like to see more of. If there’s a technique you’re wary of or something you’d love to learn, let us know! Head over to our facebook or twitter to tell us what you’d like to see in 2015. Don’t be shy!

 

How To Sew: Rustic Christmas Star Hanging Decoration

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We may be creeping ever closer to Christmas, but it’s never too late to add a little more festive cheer to your home. As much as we love our trees, lights and tinsel though, sometimes you want to sew something you can appreciate all year round. So we’ve put ourselves a cute, simple, neutral home decoration together that looks great no matter when you hang it up. These rustic scrap-busting stars are a great addition to your decorating, and are very versatile to boot! While we love the homey naturals in this tutorial, you can make yours as fabulous and festive as you like.

Getting ready

Supplies

  • Fabrics – we’re using a plain and a patterned, and a fat quarter of each is enough for our star. Up the quantity if you want bigger and switch out neutrals for colour if you want brighter
  • Diamond card template
  • String, twine or ribbon for hanging
  • Stuffing – poly stuffing or wool stuffing work perfectly
  • Medium stiffness iron-on interfacing
  • Any additional decorations
Firstly, you’ll want to make yourself a diamond template. If you’re a quilter you might already have a star-hexie template ready to go. If you don’t, you need to make sure that the top and bottom points of your diamond are at a 60 degree angle, otherwise your pieces won’t all meet along the edges – and you won’t be able to sew your star together!  As long as the angle is correct, you can make the diamond as large or small as you like. We’re using diamonds that are four inches from the top point to bottom point.
Once you have your template ready to go, you need to cut all your pieces – if you’re working to our two fabric colour scheme, you will want six diamonds from each fabric, (remembering to include your 1/4″ seam allowance when cutting around your template) and 12 from your interfacing. Iron your interfacing diamonds onto the wrong sides of your fabric pieces.

 

Once your fabrics have had the interfacing added, you can begin piecing your star together. It’s easiest to do this by creating half of a star at a time, and then sewing them together through the middle. Group your diamond pieces into threes to create each half – one half of each side will go patternplainpattern, and the other will go plainpatternplain.

Place one of the outer diamonds on top of the middle diamond, right sides facing. Sew with a short straight stitch from corner to corner of one of the edges. Fold the top diamond out, place the second outer diamond in the same way, and sew in the same manner along the other lower edge. Fold out the second out diamond, and you should have one long flat edge at the bottom edge and three star points along the top.

Repeat this process until you have all four half-star pieces sewn together. Open up the seams on the back of the half-star, and press them flat. Trim the excess fabric in the middle, where the three diamond points meet, so that it doesn’t extend over the long bottom edge. Tie off your stitch ends and trim the threads.

Sewing up the Star

Once you have your half-stars prepared, match them up together: one plainpatternplain half with one patternplainpattern half. Place the two halves together right sides facing, and pin along the long straight edge at the bottom. Sew along this edge with a short straight stitch, then unfold your completed star to open and press the seam.

Finish your second star in the same way, then place your two complete stars together, right sides facing. Make sure your patterned and plain sections are correctly aligned before you start sewing! Once you’re certain the plains and patterns are in the right place, pin around the edges. Starting from the tip of one of the points, sew all the way around the outside for 11 edges – leave the final edge open so you can turn your piece right sides out and stuff it.

Pull the star inside out through the opening you’ve left – you may need a blunt implement like a chopstick or pencil to help get the fabric through the opening, and poke out the points of the star. Once your right sides are on the outside and your points have been poked out, you may want to press the star flat for a neater decoration. We’ve left the creases and crumples in here, for a slightly homier look.

Stuffing and finishing

Once the shell of your star is complete, take your stuffing of choice and begin to fill it up. Add your stuffing a small section at a time, pushing it through the hole you left in the seam and then poking it into place with your chopstick or pencil. Make sure to squash your stuffing in tightly for a nice plump star – massage the stuffing around from the outside to even it out in lumpy areas. Once your star is full to the brim of stuffing, hand sew the hole you left in the edge with a basic slip stitch. Once the opening is sewn shut, you can add decorations to your taste – we added a crocheted lace trim around the middle of the star, with a wooden button in the center and a scrap-fabric trim.

To hang, make a loop of twine, ribbon or string and hand stitch a section of it to the the top point of your star. Now you just have to find somewhere to hang it! We’d love to see your finished projects on our Facebook page or Twitter account. Try hanging a whole variety of sizes for a stunning statement display, or make a host of tiny versions for the tree.

How To Sew: Halloween Treat Pouches

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The air is turning cold, the nights are getting longer, and the leaves are piling up along the streets. It’s definitely getting close to Halloween! We’ve got a great spooky sewing sweet treat for you perfect for the big Halloween night itself, we promise there’re no tricks! With the Trick-or-treaters and Halloween parties just around the corner, these little grab bag pouches are quick to sew and perfect for stuffing full of goodies. Ours are perfect for tiny hands and small portions, but you can scale them up to whatever size you like. Try making a barrel full of bats, a plethora of pumpkins, or any other ghost and ghoul you can think of!

Getting ready

Supplies

  • Fabrics – we’re using a thin black jersey for the bat and a slightly thin fleece for the pumpkin
  • Fabric paint or other decoration for the faces
  • Black craft foam, cut into bat wings
  • Ribbon, string or other equivalent for the drawstring

To make your template, draw around a circular object, and then cut off the top of the curve so you have a flat section for the open end. Use your template to cut four pieces of your fabric (two outer pieces and two inner). You want to cut two of the pieces slightly larger than the template, so the lining will fit snugly  inside the outer. Decorate one of the larger pieces with your spooky face before you begin assembling the pouches, as it’s much easier to paint on them now. If you’re using any bulky decorations such as beads or our bat wings however, save those until the end!

 

Piecing together the pouches

Take the smaller two of your cut blank pieces, and with the right sides together sew them together using a straight stitch. This is your inner lining. Do the same with your larger blank piece and the face piece, but stop sewing about an inch and a half before you reach the top at the other side from where you started sewing. This will leave a gap for you to turn the finished piece the right way around, and to thread the drawstring through once you’re finished sewing.

 

Take your lining and your outer sections – have your outer section with the face on the outside, and the lining with the blank sides on the inside. Push your outer section into the lining section, so the face of the outer section is touching the blank side of the lining. Sew right along the top with a straight stitch, so the two sections are secured together. On the inside, locate the gap in the side you left open, and slowly pull the fabric through the hole until the entire thing has turned inside you. You will have the two sections connected at the top, with the stitching hidden inside. Tuck the lining down into the outer section.

With your bag ready and the lining tucked in place, we now want to make a secure place for the drawstring. Top-stitch all the way around the top of the bag, an inch and a half from the top (so you start your sewing at the bottom on the opening you left, which will now be on the outside of your bag). This top-stitching will help make sure your lining stays in place, and that your drawstring stays flush with the top of the pouch.

With the bag ready for the drawstring, all that’s left is to threat one through! Cut a piece twice the width of your bag and then a little extra, pop a safety pin through one end (this will help you feel where the end is) and slowly push the drawstring through the tunnel you’ve made for it. Once it emerges from the other end, knot the two ends together . Now you’re ready to fill them up and hand them out!

 

If you put a pouch together, we’d love to hear about it (or all of them, these are a great bulk project!). Why not take some photos and post them to our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account. We’d love to see what spooks and scares you can come up with to decorate them – a black cat, an eyeball, a whole host of monsters? The possibilities are limitless!

How To Sew: Autumn Leaf Tablet Sleeve

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Autumn is breezing its way into our lives, but as I’ve been told this is no excuse to start hibernating, I’ve barely had a moment to stop and admire the colours of the season! The brief glances I’ve snatched between returning my attention to my new limb (read, permanently attached mobile device) have sparked some simple inspiration though – and with an adorable new tablet cover I can take the falling leaves along with me everywhere I go.

This falling leaves device sleeve is super-duper easy as well as both cute and practical! It’s a quick project to slip in during your downtime and use up scraps, and once it’s finished you can admire it everywhere you go.

Getting ready

Supplies

Felts (your base colour, and then two or three extras for your leaves)

Thick iron-on interfacing

Buttons

Ribbon

Leaf templates (optional, you can freehand draw your leaves, or use a template you’ve bought/printed out/made from actual leaves… whatever works for you!)

Sewing your sleeve

Your first step is to measure your device – if it’s a bit of an awkward size round UP to the nearest half inch, rather than down. My device measured roughly 5.5”x8.5” but yours might be slightly different. Cut two pieces of interfacing the size of your device. For your first felt rectangle, add an extra ½” to the width and length (allowing for ¼” seams). For your second felt rectangle add an extra 1/2” to the width, and an extra 4” to the length (to allow you to make the flap at the top). Iron your interfacing onto each of the felt squares – placed ¼” up from the bottom and ¼” in from each side.

Now it’s time for the sewing machine! First take your longer felt square to make the closing flap. I’ve added a hidden branch to the underside of my flap, so you see it when you open the sleeve up to get your device. If you’re adding a hidden branch like I have, cut a branch shape just slightly narrower than the width of the sleeve, and under 2 inches high. Once it’s cut, sew it into place right at the top on your rectangle, upside down, on the side with no interfacing.

Once your hidden branch is in place fold the top section over on itself. You want to fold away from the interfaced side and onto the plain side, so the branch is hidden away. Sew down the two short edges to secure your flap and leave the long edge open – this is because we’ll be turning the flap inside out later to hide the stitching and reveal the branch.

Take your shorter rectangle, and pop a pin about 2″ from the top so you know how far down the flap will come. Cut out enough leaf shapes to fill the space below the pin to your satisfaction (I used 6). Fold each of your leaves in half, and gently press them with an iron. This will give them a subtle 3d effect once they’re sewn in place. Arrange them in your blank space, pin in place, and sew each one with two or three lines of straight stitch straight down the middle.

Now take your front and back felt pieces, and pin them together with the interfacing facing outwards. Sew with a straight stitch around the two long edges and the bottom edge, 1/4″ in. Your straight stitch should just miss the interfacing, ensuring your seams aren’t too stiff for you to turn the sleeve out! Remember to strengthen the start and ends of your sewing by reverse sewing back a couple of stitches.

Now you can turn your sleeve inside out, and turn the flap inside out as well. Lightly press the sleeve into shape around the edges. To close the open side of the top flap, I ironed a little piece of iron-on hemming tape between the layers, but you could just as easily use a pretty decorative top stitch.

Finishing up

To finish your tablet sleeve, choose two largish buttons and a piece of ribbon. Sew one button in the middle of the flap, and one just below it on the main body of the sleeve. Tie a short length of ribbon around the base of the lower button, and pop a hand-stitch on it to secure. Finally, pinch your leaves back up a little if the sewing has flattened them out, and you’re finished! To close the sleeve, wind the ribbon a few times around the buttons in a figure of eight, then tuck the rest away underneath. Congratulations, you’re ready to grab your coffee, throw on your scarf and head out the door!

If you make a falling leaves sleeve yourself, we’d love to hear about it. Why not take some photos and post them to our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account. We’d love to see what colours you choose, and how you get creative with your shapes!

Tips for Beginners: Rolled Hems

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What is a rolled hem?

Rolled hems are a very small turned hem finished with a straight stitch. They’re made by rolling up the raw edge until it’s hidden by a small hem, then flattening the hem down and straight stitching down the middle. They’re easiest to work with lightweight woven fabrics such as cottons, silks and voile, and work well on a slightly curved hemline. The light delicate nature and simple straight stitch securing makes them perfect for the bottoms of skirts and dresses, or intimate items such as babydolls or your favourite frilly knickers! As they can sometimes add a slight wave to the hemline, try to avoid using them on straight edged areas such as armholes.

Rolled hems by machine

An extremely delicate rolled hem can be achieved with hand stitching, but don’t despair if your hand sewing isn’t quite up to scratch. With practice, a machined rolled hem can be just as perfect as a hand one, and using your sewing machine can really speed up the process. If you’re making large items, or lots of small ones, why not give it a try on your machine!

The easiest way to create a rolled hem on a machine is to use a specialised roll hem foot like this one. These roll and tuck the fabric for you as you sew, speeding up the process and ensuring you get an evenly sized hem!
First, make a normal straight stitch and backstitch over the first inch of your hem, and cut the threads (leave the threads quite long). This anchoring will help you smoothly pull the hem through the first few troublesome inches of the roll hem.

With your secure stitching in place, roll the first few inches oh your hem and place it into the gap of the roll foot. Pull gently on the threads you left hanging as you sew, to ease it through the foot. Then simply slowly sew along your hem, helping to roll the fabric into the foot when needed.

Tips and tricks

  1. Trim your fabric very neatly, a couple of inches at a time, to reduce any fraying. The neater the edge you work with the easier the roll hem!
  2. Keep a pin or awl on hand to help manipulate the fabric into the roll – changes in hem thickness (such as sewing over seams) can slightly jump your fabric out of place. Helping to ease the fabric back in place will keep your hem neat.
  3. As in all cases of sewing, the magic trick is to be patient! Although they can be tricky to get to grips with, a rolled hem should be easy to turn out if you take your time as you go. A little less speed can save a lot of unpicking! Why not try the method out on some fabric scraps first, to get used to the foot?

Without a roll hem foot

If you don’t have a roll hem foot, you can use a presser foot instead!

  1. Sew a straight stitch 1/4” from your raw edge, and fold the hem up from your straight stitch
  2. Sew another straight stitch a tiny 1/8” in from the edge
  3. Trim the raw edge away as close as you can get to your stitching
  4. Fold once more, just enough to encase the raw edge (you want as small a fold as you can)
  5. Then press into position and straight stitch again down the middle of the hem!

If you’re still struggling to handle the roll hem, why not message us through facebook or twitter letting us know what’s going on. We’re always happy to help you out, and we love to see your creations!

Tips For Beginners: Sewing Basics

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Sewing is becoming an increasingly popular hobby these days, you can see it on TV shows and in magazines, and it’s becoming much more admirable to say to someone “Oh, I made it myself!”. However, we know it can be intimidating though to sit before a sewing machine for the first time! Starting off a project can be daunting when you’ve not tried before, and we’ve all had a fabric we didn’t want to waste or a pattern we didn’t want to ruin, so we understand feeling overwhelmed. To help completely new sewers along (or to remind our veterans who’ve picked up bad habits) we’ve got a short guide of basic sewing tips for you to keep in mind when you’re ready to get started.

 

Firstly, Safely

Sewing may not be an extreme sport exactly, but it’s good to make sure you’re safe before you start. The big three are as follows:

  • Make sure your machine is switched off when you set up, and when you’re finished using it.
  • Make sure your presser foot is down before you start sewing.
  • Make sure you’re set up on a sturdy table, and your cables are out of the way of anyone walking by!

Knowing Your Fabric

Before you start off sewing, take a look at the fabric you’re using. Different fabrics need to be handled in different way: a knitted fabric will need a ball pointed needle to ensure it doesn’t snag. Leather and denims will need much sturdier needles to ensure they don’t break in the fabric. Different fabrics also require different tensions, get to know your tension setting and adjust it for very thick or very thin fabrics. Spend a little time getting to know your fabric and how to handle it (don’t be afraid to ask when you’re buying it!)

 

Even if you’re happy with how to set up your machine for the fabric you’ve chosen, test your settings first. Once you have a tension setting, needle and stitch, take a scrap of your fabric and trial run what you’re going to do. That way if anything has been set up wrong, you won’t damage your project pieces with unpicking. This is especially useful for things like decorative stitches or button holes, that can be very difficult to unpick.

 

 

Don’t Skip The Details

It can be frustrating when you’re sewing your first big piece (or even your first little one!) and a lot of things might seem like they’re just slowing you down. Don’t be fooled!

 

Firstly, if you’re working from a pattern, make sure you read it all the way through before you begin! Ensure you have enough fabric, understand all the terms used, and know roughly what you’ll be doing. It will be easier for you from the beginning if you know what the pieces you’re cutting are and how they’re used, as well as making it less confusing for you if you take a break and come back to it later.

 

Don’t forget to mark your notches so you can match up seams – it can seem time consuming if you have a lot of notches but it’s important to be able to line your seams up perfectly, so you get nice flat joins on your finished piece. An uneven match will lower the quality of your finished piece.

 

Iron your fabric – spending time ironing might seem tedious, but working with a flat smooth fabric will give you a much more professional finish as well as making it easier for you to sew (less chance of bumps and folds in your seams). Remember to also iron your seams after they’ve been sewn, to straighten them out and create a smooth, sharp shape!

 

Backstitching at the start and ends of your seams will give your items much more stability and make them last longer. At the start of your seam, sew for about an inch and then reverse stitch back over it. Sew forward again as normal and once you reach the end, reverse stitch back over what you’ve done for another inch. A little backstitching on your seams will help stop them from breaking and splitting apart.

 

Finally, always take your pins out while you’re sewing! It can be tempting to sew right over a pin and take them all out at the end, but you run the risk of hitting one with the needle, potentially damaging your machine. It can also damage your fabric if the bent pin gets stuck in the machine and you have to tug it out!

 

 

These basic tips will make your sewing experience smoother and leave your finished projects looking smart! Don’t worry, we know there’s much more you’ll want to know about sewing from here, so don’t forget to check out our other blogs for tips and tutorials, and watch our video guides to get to know your sewing machine better. If you have a question you need answering or a project you’re proud of, like our facebook or follow us on twitter, drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

How To Sew: Fabric Storage Boxes

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This great little project solves two problems at once – what to do with all the odds and ends of fabric you have leftover, AND where to keep the ones you don’t use to make it! Fabric baskets are a great way to put a pop of colour into your storage, and a quick and easy project anyone can manage.

Getting ready

Supplies

Fabric of choice (a stiffer fabric works best for the outside)
Interfacing (if your outer fabric will need some support!)
Thread
Card for template if required
Any decorative supplies you wish to use

Tools

Sewing machines
Scissors or rotary cutter
Ruler
Pins
Pen or pencil

Preparing the fabric

First, you’ll want to cut out your basic pieces. To make the box, simply find yourself something square, and draw around it. Add another box next to each of the 4 sides, and you’re done! 4 edges connected to the base – it should look like a big plus sign. Cut out one for your outer fabric and your inner fabric, as well as one of your interfacing if your fabrics aren’t sturdy. As I’m using quite a plain outer material, I’ve appliquéd a square of patterned fabric onto each of my box sides, for a faux patchwork feel – but you can decorate them however you like. Make sure to do it at the beginning while the fabric is flat, before you start sewing everything together!
I’ve also ironed some creases into my thicker outer fabric, to make it easier to shape later. I’ve simple folded each of the 4 outer side over the base square, and ironed along the fold.

the outside fabric with the patches sewn on, and the lining

 

To add some texture to the lining, and extend my quilt/patchwork theme, I’ve added a small flower motif scattered around the inside fabric. I’ve created these using and thread colour that closely matches the main colour of the fabric, and the flower stitch attachment foot. For this shape, I’ve set my sewing machine to a long wavy stitch on the largest circle, which produces a simple 5 petal flower.

 

embroidered detail made with the flower foot attachment

 

Sewing them up

Once your two fabrics are cut out and decorated, take them one at a time and fold it in half diagonally across the middle square. It should turn into an L-shape, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. If you’re using interfacing, work it at the same time as the outer lining. Pin the L-shape together, and sew along the two edges that lead up to the diagonal line. Once they’re secure, open the fabric up as much as you can, and then fold the fabric again in the same manner – but diagonally between the two corners you haven’t sewn up to yet.

 

the two edges to sew after folding

 

Congratulations, you should now have two boxes to work with! Place the outer fabric box inside the lining fabric box, with the right side facing each other (so the outer fabric box has RS facing out, the lining fabric box has RS facing in). Use a pencil or the ends of your scissors to poke the corner down into each other and ensure seams all line up, then pin along the top edge of the boxes. Sew a seam long 3 of the 4 edges, leaving the 4th one open to allow you to turn the box inside out.

 

leave one side open to turn the basket out

 

pulling the lining out through the open edge

 

Finishing off

Once you’ve pulled the lining out through the open top edge, iron down the 3 edges you have already sewn to flatten them out, and iron down the outer and lining fabrics of the open edge. This will make it easier to sew them together!  Slip stitch the open edge closed, and iron it out flat. It’s worth working the tip of iron right down into the bottom corners and along all the seamed edges to really bring out the shape nicely.

 

slip stitch open edge closed to finish

 

If you make one, tow, or a whole host of these, we’d love to hear about them. Why not show us some photos on our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account!

A 2013 Round-up: Top Trends This Year

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With the year drawing to a close we’re going to take a look back at the trends that hit the sewing and crafting world this year, with some interesting new fashion trends Toyota are ready to start the New Year with a bang!

What Does The Fox Say?

Woodland animals have been popular prints for years, ideal for cute toddler dresses, homewares or even a kitchsy blouse for yourself. But this year was definitely the year of the fox, with cute fox fabric popping up everywhere from Urban Outfitters shirts, to beautiful foxy fabric from designer Robert Kaufman.

 

DIY Denim

Denim is always a staple, but now you can DIY your denim by trying out some of the up-cycling trends this year. With the Super Jeans machine is designed especially as a denim sewing machine, so grab your old jeans and make some dip-dye lace shorts!

Chic Chevrons

Geometric prints have taken a turn away from the 80s fluro and a more subtle, pretty approach in 2013. The chevron has been a key pattern for home furnishings that are modern and fun. Making homewares such as cushions and quilts make great quick projects and Toyota’s fantastic range of beginner sewing machines means that anyone can whip up a pretty handmade piece.

Creative Embroidery

Embroidery is a fantastic way to add interest to clothing, homewares and quilts, and we’ve been seeing more creative embroidery on the high street this year. Toyota’s range of embroidery machines, from Oekaki World make the ideal addition to your sewing repertoire and can create some fun and organic designs.

A Look Forward

With a look towards the new year we can prepare some fun ideas for creative projects. Do you have a new skill you want to learn? A technique you’ve never tried or something you’ve been dying to work on? Let us know!

How To Sew: Christmas Bauble Pockets

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It’s nearly a month ‘til Christmas, and we’re starting to feel festive! Nothing makes the festive season feel more personal than spending an evening making your own decorations, which is just what we’ve done! These cute little bauble decorations have a pocket inside to put sweets and treats in, and we think the hidden treasure inside make them twice as fun to have around!

christmas pocket baubles

 

This project is an easy one that’s great for beginners or children (with supervision of course). That’s not to say you experienced sewers won’t enjoy it of course – although these quick little baubles are simple to put together, there are endless possibilities for decorating and you can get as extravagant as you like. With accessories, cut outs, hand embroidery, fabric painting or even with some of the decorative stitch settings on your sewing machine! As well as being festive fun, these are a great use for fabric scraps, ribbon, and left over craft items and good to clear out stash leftovers. Get as creative as you can!

Getting ready

Supplies

Fabric of choice (felts or stiffer fabrics work best)

Thread

Ribbon for hanging tabs

Card for template if required

Extra ribbons, beads, fabric, felt, glitter etc. for decorating

Tools

Sewing machine

Scissors or rotary cutter

Pins

Pen or pencil

materials and supplies

Our first step is choosing the pattern! I used a simple round shape, but more vintage bauble shapes like elongated drops, stars or hearts could look lovely. You could use a mix of shapes and sizes for something a bit more fun. There are plenty of free templates on the internet if you want to try something more exciting! For this plain circle template, you can simply draw around something of the right size, about 5 inches across – I’m using the spool my ribbon came on! For other shapes, draw a template out on to some card, and cut carefully around it.

Making the baubles

On to your fabric, draw around your template – remember for each bauble you need two of the shape you’re cutting, one for the front and one for the back. Cut out the pieces and match them up into pairs. For each back piece, cut a length of ribbon 4 inches long. Fold the ribbon in half, and pin with the two ends roughly ¼ of the way down from the top of the bauble. Sew a wide zigzag over the ends of the ribbon to secure the hanging tab and stop the ends from fraying away.

Adding the tabs

Before you attach the back piece to the front piece, you’ll want to make sure any decoration that has to be sewn on is completed (if
you’re hand sewing or gluing bulky decorations such as beads or buttons on, or using fabric paints and glitter, leave these until the
end instead). A great easy decoration is to take a length of ribbon the width of the bauble, pin it across the middle and sew along the long edges in a decorative thread.

Once your front pieces are decorated, take the back pieces and pin one to each front. Because these decorations are so small, I’m using a decorative sparkly thread and am letting the stitching show – the plain sides of both fabric pieces are inside. If you have a thinner
fabric, or prefer not to have the stitching visible, have the decorated side and the tab side facing each other on the inside when you pin. (For this method, you may have to cut small notches into the edge of the fabric up to the stitching, to allow you to turn it inside out without wrinkles). When you sew around the edges, remember leave an opening about an inch down from the top of the bauble, so that you can pop your little presents inside!

Attaching the pieces

Finishing up

When the tabs, front and back are attached, simply tie off and trim your threads, iron flat if necessary, and hang them up! Once you’ve finished your baubles, they’re very versatile to use around the house – why not use them to hang sweets on your Christmas tree, or small toys for children? If you have the time, making 25 and hanging them as a wall bunting is a great alternative to a traditional advent calendar, with toys or treats in for each day! You can even make the decorations into to numbers to help kids count the days until Christmas!

hanging the baubles

Happy sewing everyone! If you make a set of these, we’d love to hear about it. Why not take some photos and post them to our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account! Tell us what you used to decorate them, and how you’re using the finished thing!