Sunday, 10 August 2014

Busy, busy, busy...

Sorry I’ve been AWOL for several weeks only it’s been all go in the Gertie household!!!!

Our good friends who live in Nottingham and Derby came ‘up north’ for the weekend to help celebrate Mr Gertie’s significant birthday and also his retirement. We hadn’t seen them for a while so it was great to catch up.

Even though we’ve just come back from holiday we’ve been away again – twice. In my defence both were for hospital appointments. The first was in Manchester, and as it was a 9am appointment we had to travel down the day before.

The second one was to see the Professor (the wonderful man who performed his magic on my hip) in London. Again we decided to travel down before hand or in this case a few days before. It seemed such a wasted opportunity not to.

I’ve also been frantically sewing. A friend of a friend loved the bag I made as a birthday present and asked if I could make something similar.

The brief was:
•    a rucksack big enough to hold her knitting when she goes to her knitting classes
•    a pocket at the front to keep scissors, tape measure etc
•    adjustable straps
•    the fabric must have dogs on it and not be of boring colours

We’re off down to Nottingham soon for Jenny’s birthday so I asked the birthday girl if she would like a ‘Gertie creation’ as a present. I’d love a couple of make-up bags she replied as I can’t find the right size. No problem.

The brief was simple:  if possible a waterproof lining and any kind of cat fabric.
As Jenny asked for a make-up bag that could hold large items I decided to change the way I made the bags. Instead of constructing them where the top is larger than the bottom, I made them using Pythagoras Theorem....

I am rubbish at maths so had to ask Mr Gertie for help. However once it was explained it’s so easy to work out. If you want to give it a go check out this blog (it explains it so much better than I could.).

And finally a belated birthday present. Last November our friend Jan was having a party to celebrated a significant birthday (21 again....). As I was convalescing from my hip surgery (or more importantly banned from my sewing room) I couldn’t make a anything for her so had to give an IOU birthday bag voucher instead.

When she was up for the weekend she redeemed her voucher by asking if I could make her another jewellery tool bag. I’d like it a bit bigger than the last one, she asked, say tray size....

The brief was:
•    a bag about 16 inches by 13 inches
•    lilac fabric
•    two pockets in the lid – one elastic and the other zipped
•    elastic pockets of various sizes all around the edge of the bag
•    a handle on the lid

If I’m honest my heart sank when she asked for another tool bag – especially one the size of a tray. When I made the original one it took a couple of attempts to make it strong enough. Eventually I had to reinforce the lid and base with heavy weight interfacing. That certainly wouldn’t work this time.

Following advice from Mr Gertie on how to strengthen the bag I bought a roll of corrugated cardboard. The idea being I sandwich three layers of cardboard together, the two outer layers having the corrugated lines running one way and running the opposite for the inner layer. Ideally they would have been secured using staplers but as I’ve only got a tiny stapler, sellotape had to do. For extra strength Mr Gertie suggested I put a couple of stitches in the centre to hold them all together.

Unlike the lid and base I needed both strength and bend-ability for the sides so had to leave out the middle cardboard ‘sandwich’ layer.

I know you’re not supposed to use cardboard in bags, unless it can be removed, as it turns to mush when washed. However we were at a loss as to how to make it stable so this bag is ‘dry clean only’....

As you can see from the photo the inside pockets aren’t elasticated. Having battled to attach what seemed like a six foot elastic snake, the sides simply weren’t strong enough to cope with the elastic pockets. No amount of extra cardboard around the sides would stabilise it, so reluctantly I had to take out the elastic and make them pleated pockets instead.

Due to the cardboard providing stiffness to the bag it wasn’t possible to use a sewing machine so a lot of the stitching had to be done by hand - my poor fingers were covered in blisters....

Whilst it may not look much this bag has gone down in history as the most time consuming thing I’ve ever made. It took over 74 hours to make, and boy was I pleased when it was finished!!!!!

Have a great week.

Gertie xx

PS why not pop over to Handmade Monday to see what other fellow craft bloggers have been up to. 


  1. I love the positive way you refer to your hospital visits as holidays. I hope all went well, I was wondering where you'd got to. I am so impressed with your makes. The tool bag is brilliant, I bet Jan is thrilled with it. The dog and cat fabric are both wonderful, the cats are so realistic. Enjoy whats left of the weekend.
    Ali xx

  2. The doggy rucsack is my favourite - lovely fabric and bag. Great presents for your lucky friends. x

  3. I love your bags and especially that "doggy bag"! I think you met the brief beautifully. Oh my word - your dedication to the task in hand with the lilac bag is admirable! I hope it's appreciated! x

  4. Oh my goodness, all i can say is that you have very lucky friends!!! You have done such a fantastic job on all the bags, i'm sure they will be thrilled with them :) x

  5. Wow, what wonderful bags, bet your friends are delighted with them. I especially love the doggy bag, such fun material. Hope your hospital visits went OK.

  6. Wow! I am in awe of your sewing skills! The backpack is just fabulous and I can so appreciate the work that has gone into your friend's tool bag. Fab! Xx

  7. The doggy rucksack is my favourite. Would plastic canvass work for strengthening, or pelmet stiffening?

  8. It's great hearing from you. Your bags are really lovely. I love the lining in the rucksack and the kitty make up bags are adorable. You really have fine sewing skills! Have a great week.

  9. Although I am a cat person, this time my fav is the doggy ruck sack. The inside lining fabric is a brilliant touch.