This fabulous fabric collection by Makower UK is called Dream – the colour palette is a mix of greys, pinks and creams.
So soft to touch – and yes, I fell in with every other fabric lover and spent ages just gently stroking each piece just to help the creative soul in me fire into life to help me decide what to make to show off this fabric (seems like a good excuse –I mean, reason to me!). More of this later ….
So … to the Makower DREAM fabric itself …
10 inch square – spot on with the measurements, very similar quality for all the fabric squares although some of the felt very slightly ‘thinner’ than others (not sure if it was my imagination though or just the feel of the fabric). It didn’t fray when cutting and held its shape well considering the small pieces of the design [2½” Half Square Triangles (HST)] The fabric stood up extremely well to all the pressing and manipulation of the HST design of the bag. Sewing together was a dream too (no pun intended). I washed one piece in warm soapy water, rinsed and dried it then ironed it and it maintained its size, shape and quality.
Love that the fabric designs ranges from a very small ditsy pattern to a large flower so there is something there for everyone.
Internet research across a range of suppliers reveals that the fabric is 44″ wide and printed on a grade AA, 100% cotton base cloth with a light schreiner finish. It is available as fat quarter pack of 20 from a well-known supplier. It is also available by the metre from a range of suppliers at approximately £12 per metre – you may find some introductory offers too. I’ve already seen one for 10% off! The Makower UK website offers a free pattern of a ‘Dream Shopper’s Tote Bag’ (link below) and one of the suppliers also sells a Dream Shopper’s Tote Bag Kit containing all the fabric and wadding required to make one tote bag, plus instructions. I’m sure layer cakes and charm packs will follow too.
There was quite a lot of fabric in the pack but what can you make with so little of each design? I probably could have made the Dream Tote Bag but I wanted to do justice to the fabric and make something special. So, after endlessly pouring over patterns and books, I came across my copy of ‘making vintage bags’ by Emma Brennan. The Makower Dream fabric collection screamed vintage to me, so I finally decided to make a 1940s inspired handbag called Grace (see below for the original design). A very brave move as I have only ever made tote bags before!
The original design uses wool fabric. I decided to design mine using HSTs to get the most out of the fabric. After some maths calculations I deduced that I could get 18 HSTs out of 2 x 10” squares of Dream fabric. I needed 48 for each side of the bag (so 96 in total) plus 12 more for the handle. I used 12 of the 10” squares to make 108 HSTs – just enough for the project.
I also needed some lining material, wadding and iron-on interlining to complete my project. Some fabric scraps,10 small contrasting buttons for the applique and a clasp/fastener of some description is also needed.
Instructions for making the bag:
Using 2 of the 10” squares, Right Sides (RS) together measure out 9 equal squares (approx. 3 ¼”) and cut them out. Mark the centre diagonal line and seam line as shown in the diagram below. Stitch on the seam line and cut across the centre cutting line (it’s quite a time-consuming task so I changed my approach for the remaining HSTs by marking, sewing then cutting from the larger 10” square rather than doing everyone individually). Tip: use your ¼ inch quilting foot for seam accuracy.
Press the seams open.
I found it easier to sort out the HSTs into piles of same HST combination. Decide on the order you want your then place your ‘HST piles’ in that order – then plan your design. For this bag I needed 6 rows of 8 HSTs. I laid out the same design for both sides simply by placing side 2 on the top of side 1. I had 12 HSTs left over – pop these on one side for the bag handle.
When you are satisfied with your plan – take a photo of it. My ‘Quilty Pleasures’ colleague, Jeannie, gave me this tip and it is brilliant. For some reason you see it differently and it’s easier to spot errors in your pattern – try it, it really does work!
Once I decided on the pattern I then set about trimming to 2½” square HSTs – but not the 12 to be used for the handle. (I used my bloc-loc for this but you can use whatever you are comfortable at using).
Sew together – I found sewing it in rows first was best for me. Press them before matching and sewing the rows together. Repeat for side 2. You might want to trim where the points meet before sewing the rows together – this helps the fabric to lie flatter after pressing and gives a crisper point.
Lay your bag pattern pieces on side 1 and side 2. Before cutting, check if your side seams have a reasonable match. Cut out and pop to one side.
Now, using the same bag pattern, cut out the wadding (above) and lining for your bag.
Place side 1 of your cut out ‘bag piece’ on top of the wadding (I used cotton interlining instead of wadding). Sew together – I decided to ‘stitch in the ditch’ across all the HSTs on side 1 –the blind stitch foot was a great help here as it helped to keep within the ‘seam ditch’. This gave it a ‘lightly quilted’ structure and strengthened the bag itself. Repeat for side 2. Press.
Before sewing the front and back together – prepare the applique. Use 2 contrasting materials for this and cut out each piece. Place in the desired position and sew it onto side 1 using your desired applique stitch (hand or machine is fine). You could choose any applique design but I quite liked this ‘split teardrop’ design with the charcoal wool and pink as a contrast. Add some contrasting buttons. Make a ‘flap fastener’ out of the same fabric as the applique – adorn with the same buttons.
Assembling the bag
Place the quilted bag pieces RS together and sew across the base. Put a slight tuck in at the base/sides of the bag before sewing the sides together (you might want to trim off some of the interlining to reduce the bulk and make it easier for sewing. Repeat for the other side seam. Sew the side seams together – turn RS out and check if the tuck looks fairly even. The deeper the tuck – the deeper the base of the bag. If you want a ‘wider’ base for the bag it would be useful to include another row of HSTs to create this.
Create the handle
With the remaining 12 HSTs sew them together is a strip to make the handle . I used some iron-on interlining to strengthen it. Use your preferred method for making a handle – I prefer to fold RS together and have the seam line in the centre rather than at one side.
Press. Pin, baste (or stitch) in place before attaching the bag lining.
Lining the bag and little extras
If you want to add a pocket is it better to stitch this in place before sewing the lining to the bag itself. This pattern does not have an internal pocket but I added one to slip a phone into. I used some of the left over HSTs (cut offs from the side seams).
I also added a tab with a D ring and lobster clasp – very useful to attach your keys to. How many times do keys fall to the bottom of the bag? This way you can just pull out the tab and find your keys easily.
The bag also has a magnetic clasp on – don’t forget to add this before stitching the lining into place! Make up the ‘fastener tab’ using the same material as the applique – add the remaining part of the clasp before sewing. I put this on the bag last as I wanted it to overhang the
Sew the side seams of the bag lining together. Place RS together and then stitch across the top of the bag.
Don’t forget to strengthen the handle seam by adding an extra line (or two) of stitching.
I left the base of the bag lining open across the whole bag to make it easier to turn and press.
Turn RS out, stitch the base of the bag lining and give it a final press. Attach the ‘flap’ fastener and, hey presto, it’s done! A delightful little bag that would make a wonderful present for anyone (it has already been claimed by one of my daughters!)
Final bit – a huge thank you to Makower UK for supplying this wonderful fabric. It sews and handles like a DREAM.
Also big thank you to UKQU.co.uk for giving me this opportunity to review the Makower DREAM fabric.