When it comes to commissions and crafts, there are no shortage of hilarious, touching, or downright outrageous requests that crafters can recount. I’ve even seen entire social media pages set up so that people can share their experiences with it. Myself, being far too much of a perfectionist when it comes to delivering handmade things for other people, have avoided commissions as much as possible. I find it stressful because I am used to sewing for myself at my own pace, and therefore not having to be quite so worried when things went wrong or took longer than anticipated. However, when one of my closest and oldest friends asked me to make some things for her, I decided to break the no commissions rule and give it a go.
I have a few goals when it comes to building better sewing skills for the future, and one of those is pattern drafting. I’m not the most gifted mathematician, and I find it difficult to transform an item I’ve imagined into something more three dimensional. I also find it difficult to work backwards too, which is why I haven’t yet successfully managed to draft a pattern based on pre-existing garments at this point in time. But I believe the best way to learn is by doing! And making something for my old friend seemed like a direct way to show my affections.
The two things she was after were some kind of sunlight-proofed cover for her craft magnifying glass, and a pouch for her expensive new phone charger. The magnifier was a fire risk if left out in the sun, and the phone charger was already getting banged up whilst being transported around. My initial thoughts were a drawstring bag, and a pouch of some kind with a strap closer for the charger. I’d had plenty of experience with drawstring bags, so I was confident in my ability to custom make one. However, I really struggled with the pouch until I stumbled over Genycartes’ pattern on Blueprint for a phone case. It was an absolutely fantastic pattern which included instructions on how to measure and customise a pouch for different sizes. And I knew it would really help me get my design going.
For the drawstring bag, I started by measuring the dimensions of the magnifying glass head and then adding an additional 5/8” seam allowance on all sides. I erred initially in my measurements for the drawstring section, and latter added an additional 4” to the height of my pattern as my original allowance had not at all been generous enough. This allowed me to create the casing by leaving a 1” gap, about 2” down from the top of the bag, in each side seam. I folded the top under by ¼”, then folded again until those holes were covered, and topstitched the casing down. The cord was from my local Hobby Sew, and I think I used about 1.5m. I also boxed the corners by ½”, in order to create 1” space inside. However, the fabric was the interesting part. In exchange for helping with a room tidy and declutter, a stitchy friend of mine let me have a fossick in her stash of blackout fabric. I had plenty to practice on, and with the advice from a Facebook sewing group used a heavier needle and a regular stitch-length to make the seams nice and sturdy without risking the fabric coming apart.
For the phone pouch I followed the pattern’s guidance for measuring and customising, and then went freehand in terms of creating a Velcro strap. I did a few tests, and designed a wide strap with a ¼” seam allowance, where both pieces were interfaced, ironed flat, and their edges topstitched once turned inside out. It just gave the strap a lot more stability given it would be holding in an object of weight, and there would be pull on the Velcro. I sandwich the strap by 1” between an outer and inner piece before stitching them together, then ironed the seam and top-stitched the strap to the lining. I also attached some Velcro to the outer layer of the other outer/inner layer sandwich. Because of this, I interfaced the outer layer instead of the inner layer to provide more stability again. I then boxed the corners slightly, as the charger was more straight edged than it was curved, and put it altogether.
Another friend then kindly offered to crochet an inner lining, as a protective layer is very much beyond my current pattern drafting abilities, but was an additional request made later after the third muslin fitting. Luckily, although it was a tight fit, the beautiful crochet sock was able to fit inside the pouch! This then proved almost immediately useful after my friend’s bag got exposed to the rain, and all the layers were able to thoroughly protect the charger from getting wet! It goes to show what crafters can achieve when we work together.