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I see it all clearly now (Sewing with clear vinyl)

Clear zipper pouch

I don’t remember what made me want to try the clear vinyl, but I bought a metre of it to try, and finally got up the courage to open up the roll and cut out a piece. For my first attempt I followed a tutorial by Crafty Gemini on YouTube. It involves just one piece of vinyl and a zipper and is a nice easy entry into sewing with vinyl.

The vinyl I got from my usual bag supplies shop was rather stiff and turning out once finished was like a wrestling event. I finally got the pouches turned out, but.

Clear zipper pouches

These are actually quite useful as project bags to cart around your sewing, crochet or knitting projects. Also, these would be great to take your make-up or personal care products with you when you travel, so that you don’t have to turn out all the contents of your toiletry bag at airport security. But clearly, the size isn’t ideal for a knitting or crochet project. It would be great for sewing and embroidery, since fabric is flatter.

Then I wondered if perhaps it would be easier to turn out the pouch after sewing if I used some fabric panels. Plenty of patterns and tutorials are available for those as well. I finally ended up using one by So Sew Easy.

After those simple pouches, I took on the pattern that caused me to get into this vinyl business in the first place. A rollup case with compartments that can be hung up to access the separate compartments. I’m not sure why, but the concept fascinated me. There are several pattern options: this flat one (which I might make next), or this paid pattern with detachable compartments, made with fabric rather than vinyl.

But I chose a pattern by Pattydoo. It has an accompanying YouTube tutorial and a very affordable price. I could choose to make it with mesh or fabric but for my first attempt I chose vinyl.

This is the Kosmetiktasche Casey pattern by Pattydoo. My greatest hurdle in this was the binding that goes around the edges. I haven’t got much practice with it and I’m not very fond of sewing it. So the half-finished project languished on my sewing table while I made excuses to postpone making and sewing on the binding. I did finally get to it, though.

Variants in fabric accents

A customer wanted a set of the simple zipper pouches with ikat accents. I had not thought I had such a wide range of fabric in ikat, but my inner Hyderabadi seems to have surfaced. I was able to show her my range and she chose these three. By this time, however, I had had to go and buy reinforcements for the vinyl, and this time it seems to be a thinner variety.

Thick versus thin vinyl

So here are my observations/experiences with the vinyl. While the thicker variety was tough to manipulate for turning, the thinner variety was much easier. The flip side of that was that the thinner variety tends to stick, both to itself and the surface of the sewing machine. This made it a different sort of challenge. I finally compromised by sticking some paper on the machine so I could move this along to sew. A teflon foot helps on the other side. But although easier to turn, this vinyl also results in a pouch that stands up by itself.

I think if I tried Casey with this vinyl it might be easier, although there it wasn’t the turning that held me up but the binding.

I like trying out new materials and I think I can cautiously count this as a success. Have you tried vinyl? How has the experience been? If you haven’t yet but are planning to, here are a couple of tips I can give you for sewing with clear vinyl:

Beginner tips for sewing with vinyl

  • Use a teflon foot if you have one. If you don’t, you can stick some tape on the bottom of the foot so that it does not stick to the plastic
  • If you can cover your sewing machine’s surface with paper or some fabric, it will help move the vinyl freely. I stuck some on with washi tape
  • I believe heating the vinyl with a hair dryer will help soften it enough to make turning it easier. I didn’t try this because I was afraid it might deform the vinyl, so I cannot vouch for or against it
  • To hold the fabric to the vinyl, you could use pins, as long as the holes will be hidden in the seam or under the fabric. If close to the edge, you can use binder clips or Wonder Clips to hold the fabric and vinyl together
  • Use a longer stitch length to minimise the number of holes the sewing makes. Use a light, neutral colour of thread so the stitching is as inconspicuous as possible. Unless of course you want the thread to show as a design feature!
  • Sew slowly and steadily. Take your time with it. You don’t want to have to rip out any stitches that go wrong, because the resulting holes will not go away.

Pattern mini-reviews

As for the patterns/tutorials I used, I found all three (Crafty Gemini, So Sew Easy and Pattydoo) easy.

I like to watch Crafty Gemini for her accent (which is a very funny thing to admit, but I like how she pronounces her ‘r’, and she’s just so lovely to look at!) And she has a range of simple but useful free pattern tutorials.

So Sew Easy also has several useful patterns and tutorials. I think I own most of their patterns by now. And talking of accents, I love listening to the British accent for a change…

I like Pattydoo patterns because they print with a grid and are affordable in comparison with most US patterns. The tutorials (usually free) are always detailed and clear enough that I can follow even with my half-knowledge of German (she does have some with English subtitles). It helps me pick up some sewing related German vocabulary. There are one or two other patterns I want to try.

On the whole, sewing with vinyl has expanded my range, and increased the appeal of my products among my customers. I think I will get more comfortable as I make more pouches and bags and wallets and organisers with clear vinyl or plastic. Hop on over to my Instagram feed to see how some of my pouches are being used. It might inspire you to make your own, or order some custom-made ones from me!

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The cutest zipper pouch you ever saw

Yellow zipper pouch


So I saw some dumpling pouches somewhere recently. And I felt the irresistible urge to make one again.

I’d made this (a couple of them, I rarely make things singly) a while ago, using the same tutorial. I think I either made the smaller version that time, or I printed the template out at less than 100%. This time something seemed off so I compared the printout to the screen and reprinted at 100%.

The pattern/tutorial

The pattern (tutorial) is fairly straightforward, although one or two things could have been clearer. Also, you have raw exposed seams inside which need the extra step of covering with binding. The zipper is fiddly, being curved.Still, the finished pouch is cute enough that you feel like forgiving it all its idiosyncrasies.

My materials

The exterior is rexine (faux leather) that I bought at my daughter’s insistence. She’s currently on a break after her school year finished and is filling time sewing and doing sundry crafts. She wanted to sew with this. I think for now the indoctrination in stash building is working well 😉 Also, I was very happy with the customer service from the store (Fagnia Impex at Nagpada). That’s where I go for my bag hardware and faux materials.

I know the tassel is a little off, but I wanted to draw attention away from the workaday zipper. I’m yet to find a good local source for jazzy zippers… I’ve only found metal zippers by the yard or so-so plastic zippers. So I make do, although I also have some “fancy” zippers I’ve got through Aliexpress.

I suspect buying finite zippers and chopping them down may not be very sound cost-wise but well. Needs must.

I’m happy I went with the contrasting colour for this zip, although I looked at a yellow one as well.

I borrowed these cosmetics from my daughter, since I have none of my own. I think the nail paints are half size.

And ideas for future projects

Which leads to the thought that perhaps I can enlarge the template and make larger pouches. I could then use my metal zippers which would look jarring on this petite size. And have a go at decimating my rexine stash.

Does that sound like a plan to you?

With summer upon us in Mumbai, weaving is suddenly a smidgen less appealing, except that it’s more portable.

One more photograph before I go, because this is so cute despite the iffy topstitching. Do forgive the poor lighting.

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Playing false

It promised to be fine. Then it rained.

Then they predicted a deluge and so far… Not a drop.

The result of the first was that the craft fair I’d signed up for got cancelled. The result of the second? Nothing so far. It’s not a disaster if there isn’t a deluge, right?


What happened is that I got a late, last-minute bug on and made some ‘stocking stuffers’ (for want of a better term. Bulk? Roughage? Space occupiers?). Including these super simple bookmarks (listed in my gallery, if you want some), and also, these.

A set of six

These are the Slimline Wallets (pattern by Carla Peicheff of Half Dozen Daily, the pattern itself can be found on Craftsy).

It was my first time sewing with cork. Not a problem at all, although actually the cork only came into play for the last bit.

Oh, and that logo on the wooden tag up there? It was designed for me by Neha at The Ugly Duckling. Isn’t it beautiful?

Cards, coins and currency notes


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Running as fast as you can

I believe that social media can be a powerful tool for people who can use them properly. Me, I’m handicapped in a couple of ways, mainly due to the fact that (a) I don’t have anything original to contribute, which makes it less likely that any of my me-too posts will find a fan following and (b) I’m not actually a very social person, meaning I find it difficult to make small talk or fluently praise in public, therefore there will be no reciprocal chat or praise coming my way either. I honestly find it difficult to make my Twitter feed quantitatively different from my Instagram feed, for example. What could I possibly say in 140 characters that one picture cannot convey effectively?

Currently, however, I’m being dutifully prolific on Instagram, as I am doing two sew-a-longs (or block-a-longs). I blogged about the HST (half square triangle) sampler a couple of posts ago, and then a new one began on the 17th August, based on a book by designer Tula Pink, which has a hundred different 6″ blocks. The small size is daunting, but I hope to get them done. I’m always looking for external sources of discipline, as I have none within me. The pressure to post a block every day will hopefully make sure I make something every day.

I am a couple of blocks away from catching up with the HST sampler. Here is a collage below of the eight I finished since I last posted on the subject.


They are, clockwise from top left, Pointed, Intersection, Diagonal, Faceted Stripe, Starshine, Rockpool, Turnstile and Introspection.

I’ve been trying to stay faithful to the designer’s colour palette in this sampler, while in the 100 blocks, I have a different palette in mind and only hope I can be true to it over the entire sampler. Working from stash within the constraints of its size and my own fabric, colour and pattern prejudices means choosing a pleasing and effective range for each block is quite challenging. I have a feeling those of you who follow my progress must be quite familiar with most of my fabric stash already, seeing as so much of it seems to occur again and again in whatever I do.

I do think I am learning from my endeavours, even if in minute amounts given my  mental capacity and aptitude. Old dogs and all that.

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Following lines

I joined up to flash my stash on Instagram with Rin over at Sew in Love for fourteen days. I admit it was tough choosing what to show sometimes, but it was a useful exercise, showing me how scared I am to use some of the fabric I have. You can check out all the stash that was shown over at that first link.

After having the discipline enforced of at least one photo a day, I needed some other impetus so I wouldn’t go into withdrawal. I decided to join in the Modern HST Sampler hosted by Alice Blyth. This is discipline of much more severity. Try as I might, I am not able to get the sizes right. I can get the points to point correctly, but the dimensions…

My quilting guru discouraged me from cutting larger pieces of fabric so I’d have more freedom to trim down. She’s right, but you know me, I’m the shortcut seeker(c). So I confess to having added a 1/4″ or so in a few of the blocks. More room to manoeuvre. If I were a proper student, I’d be studying the geometry thoroughly so I’d get it and not have to refer to pattern measurements.

I’ve done 6 of the 14 blocks released so far, and hope to catch up with all by mid-month, so that I can then begin the next Instagram/Bloglovin’ inspired QAL (quilt-a-long). This one’s even more ambitious, because it has 100 6″ blocks. (That’s like trying to weave with 60/2 or 120/2 yarn, which I haven’t come close to, yet.)

You can see the Modern HST blocks as they happen on my Instagram feed, but here’s a collage anyway.


From top left: Candy, Ninja, Lantern, Stepping Stones, Mountain and Formation. All from scraps. There’s no colour scheme at all, and I’m hoping the white will pull it all together. The one thing that I’m doing is to adhere broadly to the colours used by the designers.

From here on in it will only get tougher, since the HSTs are smaller. The margin for error is much less.

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Dark clouds overhanging


I had a post more than half written and it vanished into thin air. How is that possible???

Anyway. I was talking about something that happens to me very frequently. Especially since I lack perseverance (despite my school’s motto, perseverentia omnia vincit). I start a project and get about halfway, then run into a problem or a hurdle. Then I find I don’t like what I’m doing, or what I need to do next. So screech. I stop. Half-made, half-baked, half-done. No more progress. Then the thing hangs over me like a gloomy portentous cloud that never rains but always threatens.

Currently I have a few dark clouds, and I’m showing you one today.  A friend asked me to make a caddy to carry two 1-litre bottles of water for her husband (=dark, sober fabric). It sounds simple, and I went looking for a pattern. I decided on one with a double-ended zipper. I had to upsize it to fit my requirements, got my friend to approve the fabric, and ended up with this:


Looks OK, right? Only, when I ironed some of the pieces, I managed to transfer some gunk from my iron to the fabric, which unfortunately shows every blemish clearly. I tried everything I could to try and get it off, but couldn’t. Then I tried cutting different pieces and sewed them together, but I still didn’t like the result. Project = Fail.

So then I went looking for a different pattern, since I couldn’t face this one any more. I chose one that looked simpler (Bento Lunch Bag) and after a few hiccups (including having to use a close ended zipper rather than an open ended one) and made this:


That doesn’t look too bad, so I sent it off to my friend, by now long overdue. The clouds were already formed. Its a bit floppy (in more than one sense). 🙁

Now I’m on the third iteration. Using denim this time, and my own concept. My friend wants a divider between the bottles, and plastic lining inside (as the second one had). This time I took very precise numbers so I don’t end up overestimating as I usually seem to do. I can show you this, not very clear result for the inner lining. That’s a Netflix series on “Deadly Women” (sic) in the background.


It involved sewing the centre divider by hand to the sides. I’m about halfway through finishing, but wasn’t liking the result, so I gave up last night and went to bed. I had an idea what I could do to improve things, so I might do that next.

The dark clouds aren’t dispersed yet.

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Phases not fazes

I know I said I’d be a good blogger, but good intentions never got me anywhere.

I’m still in the sewing madly phase, especially since someone wanted a bus load of neck pillows. While the pillow itself is very quick to sew, I had to stop for my stock of fibrefill to be replenished. And I’m never convinced that the stuffing I did was done correctly or sufficiently. How much is too much? It doesn’t help that the original pattern talks in terms of weight of an entirely unknown (to me) brand and type of the filling. Which makes ordering reinforcements somewhat of a gamble. Will I have enough? Will I be smothered by a mountain of white fluff?

My friend is fond of the blues. And what you’re seeing is actually a sort of miracle, because I never thought I’d ever be able to bring myself to cut into the fabric I bought in March. (My precioussssss…) The yellow in the first picture was a fat quarter from The Square Inch, while the rest of the batiks were a thrilling find in Chennai’s Cotton Street in Egmore. “Give me one of each!”

Now that lot of fabric was from different sources. I rather like the checks myself. I feel the need to go forth and buy a metre in every colour. I’ve been surprising myself with how successfully I’ve combined colours and patterns. You’d think I had good taste and colour and design sense 😉

While the original pillow takes less than one bottle of the stuffing, my friend wanted modifications done, with a centre higher than the ends, and an overall increase in size. I’ve now consumed twice my body volume in fibrefill.

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More like a comet

I thought about titling this post “Waxing and waning” to show the periodicity of my blogging, but then realised that would be misrepresentative. The moon finishes its cycles in a month, whereas WordPress tells me I haven’t blogged in well over a year. Hence the reference to another periodic celestial object. 
My last post but one showed a knit lace project, but sadly I haven’t knit a stitch since then. Crochet has got a look in, thanks to the giant granny blanket (not a blanket meant for or composed of an oversized female ancestress, but one large blanket composed of many small granny squares).

I have developed a theory about the use of colour in projects. Throw in enough of different hues and the eye can no longer be bothered to look for harmony. Hence most of these will look good.

Although I acquired a couple more looms (a Japanese rigid heddle loom and an American computerised 24-shaft loom), the very steep learning curve on the latter has bought out my cowardly side and I have been paralysed into not weaving much.

I have been sewing a lot, though, which is the reason for my attempt to revive the blog, since there is no Ravelry for sewing where I can neatly enter all the details for future reference. I hope to use this blog for that purpose.

See you all soon!

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Not quite in the ditch

The sewing machine and I aren’t really friends, although we are on speaking terms. I’m happy if I can sew a straight seam most of the time. But I do prefer machine sewing to a needle and thread any day.

I have sewn some things for my daughter, and a few cushion covers etc. but it was a huge leap from those to quilting. The occasion of a friend having twin daughters seemed a good time to start, especially when someone pointed me to a shop in Chennai that sold jelly rolls, which I’ve been drooling over for ages but found too expensive to buy from abroad… In fact, I was so impatient to begin that while waiting for my order to be delivered, I went ahead and chopped up and sewed some fabric I had on hand.

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