SEW: Mother’s Day Lavender Bags

Mother’s Day is edging dangerously close and  I’ve been super disorganised so yesterday I thought I’d make a very last minute prezzie for my beautiful Mama. She’s a big fan of Liberty prints and lavender – who isn’t?! – so I thought the perfect token of my appreciation for my top notch Mama would be some lovely homemade lavender bags. These are SO easy and very quick to make and so I’ve added the instructions below – there’s TOTALLY still time to make a thoughtful handmade gift. I’ve used my sewing machine, but it would be just as easy to sew these by hand in front of the television tonight!

Luckily I had a smallish piece of English Paper Piecing (EPP) patchwork leftover from a previous project so I pressed iron-on vilene onto the back so as to firm up the edges and the hand stitching.

If you don’t have time to do any EPP for your last minute pressie, a selection of Liberty prints, or any other print would be just as beautiful but do make sure you stabilise it with vilene in the same way.

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Next step is to work out how many bags you can make and what size. I found that I could divide my fabric into six equal rectangles of 100mm x 110mm. I therefore planned to leave a 5mm seam allowance around the edges to make lavender bags measuring 90mm x 100mm – this size turned out to be pretty perfect.

Mark the measurements on to the reverse of the fabric (drawing tiny marks on the vilene) and divide the fabric up into equal pieces using a rotary cutter.

At this point if you are not using EPP and you are using a selection of prints, you would need to cut six pieces: one 100mm x 110mm piece from each fabric. P1020355

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I then selected six different colour wool felts to compliment each of my pieces. Try to choose felts that go well with the fabrics but also work well as a group on their own – as this will really add to the beauty of the finished prezzie and create a gorgeous colourway.

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Once you’ve chosen the felts, match each one with it’s chosen fabric and cut to exactly the same size using the rotary cutter. Place each fabric with it’s wool felt and pin them together, right sides facing.

Starting on one of the shorter sides with a 5mm seam allowance, start stitching 30mm in from the corner

Make sure that you stitch a secure start on the machine as you’ll be pulling against the threads when you turn the bag the right way round. Once you’ve stitched all the way round, leave 30mm between where you finish stitching and where you started – this gap is where you will turn the bag the right way round and so as before, the finishing stitch need to be very secure.

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Now the exciting part! Once you’ve stitched all the bags, turn them all the right way round….. don’t you think mine looked like mini hot water bottle covers before I turned the corners? Another make could be little hand warmers in the shape of hottie botties – one for Christmas maybe!

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Next job – use a blunt ended but fairly fine object to push out all the corners from the inside. If you choose to use scissors – BE CAREFUL! It’s so easy to push a little too hard and poke the scissors through the felt. I usually use the wrong end of a paintbrush so that the edge is fine but rounded – it creates beautiful corners with no risk of tearing.

Then press the bags with a hot iron. Make sure you test the temperature first on a spare piece of felt so that you don’t burn it. Pressing the bags on both sides neatens up all the edges so that you have perfect rectangles.

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Whilst ironing, press the open edges into place – this will make the upcoming slip stitching so much easier. Make sure that the folds created by the machine stitching continue along the open end of the bag.

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Then, fill with lovely dried lavender! I buy mine from Neal’s Yard or Cotswold Lavender and I really do pack them full. I think it’s rather nice to have a good firm lavender bag rather than a limp one. As long as there’s enough room inside so that you can squeeze them when they’re stitched up then that’s perfect.

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Once all the bags are nicely packed, you’ll need to stitch up the openings. Carefully slip stitch along the open edge with a fine needle and cotton. I’ve used a cream so that it stands out well in the photographs but it would be better to match the thread to your colour scheme so that your stitches become invisible. Try to use tiny, neat stitches so you can’t tell which edge is hand stitched. This hand stitching is good for the future as it will be very easy to snip open the ends and refresh the lavender next year once this seasons has gone stale.

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Nearly finished! Once you’ve slip stitched all of the bags closed, you’re ready to go. Make sure that the lavender has spread out into all the corners of the bag so that it’s an even shape and then you can decide how to wrap them. I quite like mine tied into one big pile with a ribbon, but you could tie ribbons round each individual bag, or tie them in groups.

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There are many more options to beautify the bags…. you could embroider them, add felt flowers or a vintage brooch or add a handmade gift tag – so many ideas!

But, this late in the day I think they look gorgeous as they are. All you Mama’s out there, have a wonderful day on Sunday.

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