3 March 2015

Me + Susie Watson fabric = a cute oversized bag (and a gift for you!)

When lovely Jenni, from the Susie Watson Designs team, contacted me a few weeks ago and proposed me a little collaboration on the occasion of Mother's day, I got really excited straight away! It happens to me every now and again to receive proposals similar to this but I usually regrettably have to always say no to anyone and everyone due to my severe lack of spare time and difficulty in committing to any kind of activities, deadlines and collaborations like this. 

But this time.... I mean... Susie Watson!!!

You have to know that I am absolutely crazy for that brand, I love their handmade pottery (and I am lucky enough to have been treated with some gorgeous pottery pieces from hubby and from some special friends in the past as everyone knows how much I love them) and I am a frequent and loyal fabric buyer, in fact you've probably been reading me mentioning their  fabric in some of my old posts, as I tend to use them quite a lot (for instance my utility room and my family bathroom are entirely furnished in handmade items created using Susie Watson fabric). 
So yep, it's clear to see that I couldn't possibly say no this time.. plus I took the occasion to also make a little gift to all my lovely and loyal readers and so here I am with this cute project! 

Jenni offered to send me a bundle of matching different pieces of Susie Watson Designs fabric for me to create a little (or large in this case!) project and then share the tutorial for my readers and their customers to be able to make the item themselves

..and I had such fun designing and making this project (a little behind the scene down here ^_^!) and I have to thank again and again the lovely Jenni for choosing such a pretty selection of fabric for me, as that made my job soooo much easier ;)

So as you have guessed by now (from the first pic above), I decided to make a very cute oversized tote bag which you can create as a treat for yourself or as a gift for someone really special... like for instance your mum, being Mother's day just behind the corner. This oversized tote is just perfect for grocery shopping, running errands, short weekend getaways, an afternoon at the beach, a spring pic nic, it can be filled with toys for your kids play dates or with craft materials for a crafternoon with a friend or... well.. whatever really! For me it's just perfect for my frequent post office trips overloaded with packets and parcels and I can't wait to proudly show it off next time I'll have the occasion to.

Ready to make your own??? 
Here we go!


Oversized tote bag

(final size: approx. 55cm x 33cm excluding handles)

♥ ♥ 

What you will need:

- fabric for exterior 
- fabric for lining
- fabric for pocket
- fabric scraps for heart applique and bow
- webbing/belting tape for handles ( I used a 4cm wide cotton one) 
- medium weight fusible interfacing
- a scrap of fusible applique paper
- some cute buttons
- cotton tape
- embroidery floss

All seam allowances are considered to be 0.6 cm (or the width of a standard presser foot) unless otherwise stated.

Mark and cut (fig. 1):

- two 60 cm x 42 cm pieces from exterior fabric
- two 60 cm x 42 cm pieces from lining fabric
- two 60 cm x 42 cm pieces from interfacing
- two 23 cm x 16 cm pieces from pocket fabric (for main pocket piece)
- one 12 cm x 25 cm piece from pocket fabric (for pocket flap)
- two 72 cm pieces of webbing tape

{fig 1}

Apply the fusible interfacing onto the reverse of the exterior fabric through ironing. 
Cut 7 cm x 7 cm squares at the bottom corners of the exterior and lining pieces as in fig. 2.

{fig 2}


Lay the two pocket pieces, right sides together, and sew all around the edges leaving a gap at the top to turn the pieces inside out. 
Turn the pieces inside out through the gap. Iron carefully. 
Close the top gap with some hand slip stitches.
Finally topstitch the pocket a few mm from the top border (fig. 3).

{fig 3}

Create the heart applique (download pattern here) using some fusible applique paper following the instructions of the manufacturer.
Iron the heart applique on the front of the pocket placing the bottom of the heart 1.5 cm away from the bottom edge of the pocket. Sew all around the edge of the heart using a satin stitch (a very short zig zag stitch) as in fig. 4. Decorate the rest of the pocket as you prefer using your creativity! I added a little piece of cotton tape where I hand stitched the wording "Love" and some little cross stitches but you can also add some little buttons, some lace and trimmings etc.

{fig 4}

Fold double the 12x25cm piece of pocket fabric right sides together and draw the pocket flap shape (you find it in the file you previously downloaded for the heart shape). Sew all around the markings leaving a gap at the top. Turn the flap inside out through the gap. Iron carefully and close the gap with some hand slip stitches.
Topstitch a few mm from the border on the bottom rounded edge of the flap as in fig. 5.

{fig 5}

Lay the main pocket piece with its bottom edge approximately 15 cm away from the bottom edge of one of the exterior pieces. Topstitch a few mm from the border around the sides and the bottom of the pocket to fasten it to the bag exterior (fig. 6).
Lay the flap with its top edge approximately 2.5 cm away from the top edge of the main pocket piece, so that it partially covers it. Topstitch a few mm away from the border along the top edge of the pocket flap to fasten it to the bag exterior (fig. 6).

{fig 6}

Finish the pocket, again making the most of your creativity, with some cute buttons (maybe some fabric covered ones too!) to be handstitched on the flap.

Bag construction

Lay the two bag exteriors right sides together and sew along the sides and the bottom but leave the square corners open (fig. 7). Repeat the same with the lining pieces but this time use a wider seam allowance (approximately 1 cm) so that the resulting bag lining shell will be slightly smaller then the exterior one and will fit properly inside it.

{fig 7}

Fold the bottom corners of the exterior and lining bag shells to create a squared base (fig. 8). Sew along all of the corners.

{fig 8}

Fold back the top edge of the exterior bag shell and of the lining bag shell, wrong sides together, by approximately 1 cm and iron to set.
Place the lining bag shell inside the exterior bag shell, wrong sides together, and sew them together along the top edge, approximately 2-3 mm away from the border.


Take the two pieces of webbing tape previously prepared and mark them at 14 cm from both the ends. Fold double the handles lengthwise between the marks and stitch them along the free edge (fig. 9). Remember to strengthen very well the beginning and the end of the sewing line, stitching back and forth for at least 4-5 times, because these areas will be subject to a lot of stress.

{fig 9}

Fold the handles ends twice by approximately 3 cm and pin them in place on the bag laying them 16 cm away from the side seams (fig. 10). Sew a square shape twice around the handle tabs to fasten them to the bag.

{fig 10}

Add a little bow made using a scrap of contrasting fabric and iron very carefully all the bag.
Enjoy it yourself or give it to someone you love as a very special gift!!!

♥ ♥ 


Ps: il lavoro per creare questa borsa e questo tutorial é stato tanto e lungo e purtroppo non ho fatto ancora in tempo a tradurre il post ed il tutorial in italiano. Prometto che lo faró al piú presto! Nel frattempo, in attesa che arrivi la traduzione, spero che le spiegazioni, anche se in inglese e le tante immagini grafiche presenti, vi possano essere comunque di aiuto!

23 February 2015

(Almost) the end of Winter. . .

Anche se fuori dalla mia finestra da questa mattina si stanno alternando momenti di sole a brevi tempeste di neve, anche se le temperature sono ancora gelide, anche se il vento tagliente ed il meteo molto variabile ci stanno impedendo totalmente di fare le nostre amate camminate, io so che non manca poi molto.... 


Even if today, since early morning, outside my window is all about moments of sun suddenly changing into quick wintry snowy showers, even if temperatures are still quite freezing, even if the icy wind and the very changeable weather are preventing us from having our lovely hikes and strolls, well.. I know it won't be too long now...

L'inverno sta finendo davvero, e me lo dicono le primule che sono esplose nelle ultime settimane, i mille bulbi primaverili che stanno spuntando nei vasi e nelle aiuole, gli hellebori che stanno finalmente fiorendo..


Winter is really going to end soon.. the primroses are telling me this, and all the thousands of spring bulbs that are appearing from pots and flower beds are telling me this, and the hellebores that are flowering at last are telling me this..

Presto alle primule si affiancheranno giacinti, scille, narcisi e muscari. Presto i tulipani cresceranno e tra un paio di mesi so giá che mi regaleranno un bellissimo spettacolo. C'é qualcosa di molto confortante nel sapere che qualsiasi cosa succeda nella tua vita, intorno a te e nel mondo, il tuo giardino rifiorirá sempre. A primavera tutto tornerá a crescere, a sbocciare, a riempire gli spazi vuoti tra le aiuole.  


Soon enough they will be accompanied by hyacinths, scillas, daffodils and grape hyacinths. Soon enough the tulips will grow tall and in a couple of months they will give me a beautiful display. There is something rather comforting in knowing that irrespective of what's going on in your life, around you or around the world, your garden will still flower back again. In Spring everything will still grow back, bloom and fill all the little empty spaces.

E' iniziato quel periodo dell'anno in cui mi avventuro fuori, con il giaccone pesante e il telefonino o la macchina fotografica pronti a ritrarre ogni piccolo cambiamento. E' iniziato il periodo dell'anno in cui le gemme delle rose si gonfiano e si inizia a potarle, in cui riordinare, tagliare, e pulire qui e la'. Viene voglia di aprofittare di quei momenti di sole (che é ancora basso e tiepido ma inizia a scaldare davvero!) e uscire a sistemare un pó qua e un pó la'. Fremo all'idea che questo mio angolino "rosa" sará presto incorniciato di cleamatidi rosa. Fremo al pensiero di scovare qualche angolino dove inserire magari una nuova specie di rosa inglese. Fremo di curiositá al pensiero di quante peonie la mia pianta deciderá di produrre e se ne potró tagliare abbastanza per fare un bel mazzo per la mia cucina.  

That time of year has started, when I start to go back outdoors, with a warm coat and my mobile or my camera to capture every little change out there. That time of year when the roses buds get swollen and you start to prune them. When you feel like tidying, cutting, trimming all around. When you just want to make the most of the times when the sun is out (that is still low and not very strong, but it's starting to properly warm you now) and you go out to sort things out here and there. I can't wait to see my new "pink" corner framed by flowering clematis above. I can't wait to find some tiny empty corner to maybe be filled with a new species of english rose. I can't wait to see how many peonies my plants will give me this year and if I will have enough for a small bunch for my kitchen. 

Nel frattempo guardo fuori, esco per piccoli giretti, sistemo qua e la', aspetto, e sogno.


In the meantime I watch out through my window, I go out for little strolls, I tidy here and there, I wait and I dream.


ps scusate la lunga assenza, e grazie a chi mi ha scritto preoccupato. Sto bene! Semplicemente, a volte tutto diventa "troppo" e bisogna staccare un pó...


ps I am sorry about this long absence and thank you so much to the lovely people who got worried. I am fine! It's just that sometimes everything gets a bit "too much" and you just need to unplug for a while...

23 January 2015

Winter walks

So che a fine gennaio (o forse giá dal giorno dopo l'epifania!) si pensa giá alla primavera, ai bulbi, ai colori pastello della Pasqua, a picnic sui prati e a vestiti leggeri... ma una giornata bella come oggi (forse la piú fredda e "frosty" di tutto l'inverno) mi sembra perfetta per sistemare e pubblicare le foto di una delle piú belle passeggiate fatte negli ultimi tempi.


I know that at the end of January (or maybe at the end of the Christmas holidays already) we are all already thinking about spring, about flower bulbs, pastel colours, Easter, picnic on checked rugs and lightweight clothing... but a glorious day like today (possibly the coldest and most frosty in all winter so far) seems perfect to me to sort out and post some pictures from one of the most beautiful walks we enjoyed lately.

Una mattina di inizio gennaio, un cielo azzurro turchese, giornate di vacanza da riempire solo di cose belle e camminate e aria fredda e pungente, un paio di zaini, panini fatti al volo, stivali di gomma infangati, berretti e sciarpe caldissimi e si va.


An early January morning, a blue sky, some festive days to fill only with happy things and cold walks, a couple of rucksacks, some paninis, muddy wellies, warm scarves and hats and here we go...  

Devo veramente ringraziare queste nostre passeggiate e tutti i libretti di camminate acquistati nel tempo perché grazie ai vari percorsi che di volta in volta sperimentiamo, riusciamo a scoprire angoli dei Cotswolds e del Wiltshire che non conoscevamo e che probabilmente, essendo fuori dai circuiti turistici e famosi, non avremmo magari mai e poi mai conosciuto!


I really have to thank all these walks and all the hiking books we bought during these months because thanks to the various and different trails we try every time, we manage to find out about beautiful corners of the Cotswolds and the north Wiltshire areas which we would probably never had met, being them maybe outside the most famous and tourist areas.

Questa volta il protagonista é stato Bisley, un villaggio delizioso tutto in salita e discesa, che in quella giornata di inizio gennaio era fortunatamente ancora vestito a festa (sembra che qui in UK sia tutto un corri corri e fuggi fuggi a togliere tutte le decorazioni natalizie giá il primo dell'anno, se non prima, che brutta cosa :(!). Da questo villaggio infatti partiva la nostra camminata che ci ha portato poi in giro tra sentieri in salita e discesa, viali alberati, fattorie ed immensi pascoli, piccoli agglomerati di case con cottage deliziosi, ruscelli e piccoli torrenti, antichi ponti di pietra, pecore e mucche, scavalcando infiniti "stiles", incontrando pettirossi, e ragazze che pulivano i loro ponies fuori dal garage davanti casa loro... cose che a volte sembrano appartenere ad un altro mondo e che eppure sono la normalitá qui intorno. Una normalitá che non cessa mai di stupirmi e affascinarmi anche dopo tanti anni,


This time the protagonist was Bisley, a delightful village all sloping up and down, that in that day of early January, was luckily still dressed for the festivities (I noticed that here in the UK there generally is a rush rush to remove all the decorations already on the first day of the new year, if not even before, and I am a bit sad about that :( ). Our walk started from this village and then took us among sloping lanes, tree lined tracks, farms and immense pastures, little clumps of houses dotted with lovely cottages, streams and brooks, old stone bridges, sheep and cows, while climbing over never ending stiles, meeting many robins and even seeing some girls that were brushing their ponies outside the garages in front of their cottages... things that seem to belong to a different world and a different era, but that are real and normal around here. That kind of "normality" which I still get charmed and delighted about even after many years.

A presto


Talk to you soon