Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sewing for Corduroy: new tote and quilt

Yesterday I finished a Christmas gift for Lucy's school teacher, based on that cute cuddly bear Corduroy.
Each child in Lucy's class is allowed to bring Corduroy home for a special weekend where they can show him around their house and everyday routine.  Lucy read books to him, we took him to the Great Wolf Lodge, he jumped in and out of Clara's carseat, got tons of hugs....stuff like that.
But when it was time for bed, Lucy quickly realized that needed his own special bed.  And he definitely needed a corduroy quilt.    
So I flipped through the books that came home with him for inspiration.
In A Pocket for Corduroy, the little girl visits the laundromat and asks Corduroy to sit on the chair while she and her mom fold clothes.  He sits quietly and watches....until he becomes curious...and then becomes stuck in the laundry cart where he's left to sleep all night long. Poor Corduroy
Thankfully the girl comes back to find him the next day.  The story is sweet and I loved all those bright colors.  So I sewed a very simple quilt corduroy on the back!  It was fun to explain to Lucy why Corduroy is called Corduroy.  She couldnt wait to report the fabric news back to her class.
Ah. Much cozier.
We decided to send the quilt back with Corduroy for the next child to enjoy.

But then we noticed one other problem....the bag he came in was torn on two sides and totally falling apart.  And since you know how much I love making tote bags, I just had to do this.

A Corduroy Bag!  Inspired by his happy green overalls.
And complete with straps on the back.  When I showed Lucy the bag, she studied it for a second and then smiled wide..."I get it!  It's like Corduroy's overalls!  Cool!"
It reminded me of last year, when I sewed School bags for Lucy's Kindergarten teacher (click on a pic below for more info):

I used the Reversible Tote Tutorial as my base:
But for some reason it was a beast figuring out the sizing on the overalls and straps.  I had to redo the back piece a couple of times.  Which're in luck!  I've done all the messy work so you can easily make one.  Here's what you do...

• Read over the Reversible Tote Bag Tutorial if you're aren't familiar with the sewing steps.
• Cut out your bag pieces from two colors of fabric. I used cream colored Duck Cloth (heavy canvas) and green colored denim.  You can definitely use real corduroy fabric but I couldn't find a green shade I liked, so I went with denim.  Good heavy-weight fabric for a lot of kid-use.
Okay.  Refer to the image below as you cut.

FRONT: 18 X 15 inches (green),  18 x 4.5 inches (cream)
BACK: 18 x 11 inches (green), 18 x 8.5 inches (cream)
LINING: 18 X 18.5 inches (cream, cut TWO)
Front Straps: 2.5 x 36 inches (cut one green, one cream)
Back Straps: 2.5 x 52 inches (cut one green, one cream)
Buttons: Cut 4 circles from gold felt, wide enough to fit over the straps

• Start by sewing the Lining pieces as outlined in the tutorial (sew down the sides and box out the bottom).  Set the lining aside till the very end.
• Next assemble the straps.  Sew the back strap as outlined in the tutorial.   For the Front Strap, we're going to close off the ends.  So....
• Start sewing the Front Strap about a 1/2 inch from the end of the strap (this will help to tuck the ends inside later).  Stop sewing about a 1/2 inch from the other end of the strap as well.
• Continue assembling the strap as you did with the back strap.
• Finally, tuck each end of the strap under, pin it in place and sew off the end (using a topstitch)
• Set the front strap aside.
• And sew the back strap to the back of the bag.
NOTE: after all was said and done I would have done this step a little differently.  So.  I'll show you what I did, and what I should have done.
• Starting with the cream-colored back piece, lay your back strap so that the handles are about 4 inches from the sides of the bag and so it criss-crosses on the back.
• Sew it to the back of the bag, sewing right over the topstitching that's already on the straps.
• Start and stop sewing the straps about 3/4 inch from the top of the bag (so you can tuck it under later on). 
• With right sides of the fabric together, sew the green piece of the Back to the cream piece.  And now the back of the bag is ready to go!
NOW...what I should have done.....was to sew the "X" and the handle separately, so the handle stand more vertically and lay more flat. 
Ideally, you should sew a criss-cross on the back, snip the ends at the top of the bag (so that the handle is disconnected), and then tuck/sew a separate handle into the bag as shown in the tutorial.  I was sort of able to do this in a later step and had a good "make it work" moment so it's all good.

Now it's time to sew the front handle to the front of the bag. 
• First sew the cream and green pieces of the front together.  Then lay the front over the back just to gauge where the handles should go and make sure they line up properly.
• Pin the handle in place, so that the ends hang over the green fabric an inch or two (like the front straps of overalls)  And sew it down, sewing over the topstitching that already exists on the handle.
• Start and stop sewing the handle about 3/4 inch from the top of the bag.
• Make and attach the buttons.  My first plan was to use real buttons but I could never find them the right size and shade that I liked.  So I used felt!
• Cut 4 circles of felt (trace a cup, etc)
• Sew two circles together about 1/4 inch from the fabric edge.  The easiest way to sew circles is to go slow, sew a few stitches, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric slightly, and do it again.
• Mark 4 button holes on the finished buttons, using a fabric marker (this marks where you're going to sew an X across the buttons)

• Using embroidery or crochet thread and a needle, hand-sew each button to the handle ends (like a button on overalls).  Starting on the back of the fabric, come up through the first marked dot, sew across to another marked dot, and continue till you've created an X across the button.  Do this two times for each button.  And you're ready to sew the back together!
• Following the tutorial, sew the bag together at the sides... out the bottom of the bag, iron the top hems under, place the lining bag inside the outer back and pin them together like crazy.

And here's where I sort of corrected my little handle problem from above.  I was able to stuff a 1/2 inch of the handle down in between the bag and lining before sewing the top closed.  This made the handle lay much nicer.  But it was also pretty bulky to sew over that area.  So go slowly.
And.....(Corduroy's checking in on your progress).....
You're done! 
Enjoy your new home Corduroy!  And be more careful next time you're at the laundromat.
It's easy to see how you could be mistaken for clothes.
...or customers.

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