Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A tutorial: lavender sachets with perfect corners & invisible closures


I should begin this tutorial by saying that it's one for the perfectionists. For those who like to fly by the seat of their pants and have a more carefree attitude to sewing, it's going to seem like a lot of irritating fiddling about for what is essentially sewing two rectangles of fabric together: you may wish to avert your eyes. However, for those who, like me, find their fun aspiring for perfection even when making the simplest of things, this tutorial is less about how to sew two rectangles together and more about how to do it such a way that corners will sit perfectly and the closing stitches be made invisibly. Being a perfectionist myself, I feel compelled to say that these lavender sachets are not actually perfect.


You'll need the following ingredients:

Some scraps of material
A ruler and scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting grid
Some dried lavender
A hand sewing needle for finishing
Thread


Now, let's begin.


Carefully cut two pieces of fabric measuring 4½" x 4" (accuracy is important here as if they're not perfect rectangles then the steps that follow won't turn out quite so well. Although I suspect that if you're following a tutorial for perfectionists, that probably doesn't need saying).


Place them face-to-face (that's right sides together). On one side, sew all the way from one end of the fabric to the other using a ¼" seam allowance. Remove from the sewing machine and cut any loose ends of thread away (you can just about see my line of stitching at the top edge of fabric in the photo above).


Now fold this seam inwards, so that the stitching sits perfectly on the folded edge. Press with an iron.


Now starting at the end with the folded fabric, sew along the next side. Again, remove from the sewing machine and clip away any loose threads.


Once more, fold over the fabric inwards along the line of stitching. Press and then sew a ¼" seam from the end that's newly folded, right to the other end of the fabric. Repeat.


You now have one final side to sew. This side is a little different as you'll want to leave a hole at the centre of the seam to turn the rectangle the right way out. So fold the fabric over as you have done before, and sew as usual, but stopping to leave a 1½" wide turning hole, before recommencing stitching and sewing up to the original folded edge.


Now fold this last edge over along the line of stitching (and the imagined line of stitching where you've left the turning hole!).



Turn right side out and poke the corners out gently with your fingers. You may suffer a moment of horror here. But she PROMISED me perfect corners and here I am with a strangely misshapen rag of crinkled material!


Calm yourself with some deep breathing and then take a pin and poke it gently into a corner and tease the fabric outwards. 


There now - a perfect corner! How has this happened? The folded sides inside provide a structure, or frame, for the corner to form around, allowing it to sit perfectly.


You'll notice that where the seam allowance is folded in at the turning hole, one side of the fabric will be perfectly turned in while the other has a not-so-crisp crease in it from being folded to the wrong side. Simply correct this with an iron and all will be well. Press everything well.



If you are a little freaky like me, you will take great pleasure in placing a set square or a perspex grid over your corners and seeing that they are all perfectly true. I know that you're probably feeling cornerish about filling the bag with lavender now: why would you when it's this perfect? Surely it should be framed and put in a gallery as an example of perfect cornerage. But please attempt to overcome your inner sewing loopiness and fill it with lavender, as this way you'll also have the enjoyment of perfecting an invisible seam closure as well as a perfect corner.


Now, either construct a little funnel by rolling up a sheet of paper or if you have a funnel for just such a thing, place it into the hole in the seam allowance and fill with lavender. I fill until the sachet is just over ¾ full - it's easier to sew closed a gently plump lavender bag than one that is straining at the seams. Also, once they're being used, they may well be squashed in a drawer under clothes and it's best if the sachet's seams don't bulge perilously under the pressure of lavender trying to make its way out!


Now to the invisible seam closure. I LOVE this stitch. It's called a ladder stitch and you'll need some sewing thread and a hand-sewing needle.


Thread a needle and make a small knot in the end of the thread. In the seam opening, right at one side of the opening, work your needle through just the seam allowance of the fabric intended to be the back of the lavender sachet.


Now, come up the inside through the fold of this same seam allowance. Make one stitch in the fold, just as you can see in the photo below: into the fabric, run your needle parallel with the fold for a fraction of an inch and then come out of the fabric, still on the fold line.


Now, exactly opposite where you needle has reappeared, do the same in the fold line of the fabric that will be the front of the lavender sachet: enter the fabric through the crease line, run the needle parallel with the fold for a fraction of an inch and then come out of the fabric, still on the fold line. You will now have created one stitch bridging the two creased edges. Keep this stitch loose - do not pull it tight yet!



Return to the fabric that will be the back of the sachet and once more enter the fabric through the crease line, run the needle parallel with the fold for a fraction of an inch and then come out of the fabric, still on the fold line. Now go over to the fabric at the front of the sachet and repeat. Remember that although you will need to pull all the thread through each time you run your needle through the crease of the fabric, the stitch you create that bridges the two crease lines should be kept loose!


Once you have created about four or five of these little ladder stitches - always entering a new side exactly opposite to where the needle last reappeared - you are ready to see the magic happen!


Gently pull on the thread and watch the ladder disappear into the crease of the fabric. I never tire of watching this happen - it really does feel like something quite unbelievable has happened!


Continue creating a loose ladder of four stitches at a time, pulling the rungs of the ladder closed and then continuing in the same way until the turning hole is sealed. To finish I take a stitch and then feed the needle through the loop created (as above) and then snip the thread ends.

And there you are.



 Pile up and give as a ribbon-tied gift...or keep them for yourself.


I hope you enjoy making any if you do give this a try. I'd love it if you wanted to put any photos of finished lavender sachets into my Flickr pool. You're really welcome to sell any lavender sachets you make using this tutorial, but please don't reproduce my tutorial elsewhere.

Florence x

40 comments:

  1. Oh how perfect, I have to try this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am itching to try this. My corners rarely stand up to close scrutiny and it annoys me enormously!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you both enjoy it if you do try it!

      Delete
  3. Perfection! Thank you so much for sharing this. Wonky corners really bother me, even if the offending item is likely to sit under piles of sweaters and remain unseen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, isn't that funny - I think most of the satisfaction comes while you're making the corners perfect, rather than admiring them once they're completed and sitting in a drawer!

      Delete
  4. I thought I was a perfectionist until I "met" you, Florence! I'll be trying this corner trick - I never feel happy about clipping corners off. Whenever I'm making a turning hole in something I like to leave the thread ends very long at one side of it, so I can use them to do the ladder-stitching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, clipping corners off is always disturbing...you're really leaving it to fate that the whole thing won't fray past a tiny gap in your stitches...and no perfectionist enjoys leaving things to fate! ;-) That's a really good idea about the ladder stitch thread end - thank you.

      Delete
  5. I love this. Thank you - I too am a (sometimes) perfectionist!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I share that - there are lots of areas in life where I am very far from perfectionist!

      Delete
  6. I'm more of a slapdash kind of girl, but this looks too good not to give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so pleased, although I hope you don't find me too irritating as I temporarily attempt to reign in your slapdash ways during the tutorial, Ali! A set square really isn't a necessity. x

      Delete
  7. That is genius! I am both a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl AND a neat freak. The two aren't always mutually exclusive! Im keen to see how neat my corners will be with this method - it looks so clever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So pleased you like it - I have that too - I can never understand how I can want to be so neat while working in a fabric strewn room that I'm incapable of tidying up as I work - those two things seem totally at odds with one another!

      Delete
  8. I am more of a slapdash sewist myself, but really need to try this!

    May I please Pin this to my Sewing board on Pinterest? Thanks so much :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you can - I'd be really flattered. x

      Delete
  9. Excellent tutorial! I love a perfect corner :)
    One of my very first "real" sewing projects when I was a little girl was a lavender sachet. I wisely (okay, more lucky than wise, actually) rifled through the scrap bag and chose a gingham check, which made the handsewn seams easy to keep on track ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good idea, isn't it! Have you still got them?

      Delete
  10. I love the idea of working corners like this - I'm off to raid my patchwork stash

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hurrah! I hope you have a lovely afternoon, Catherine. x

      Delete
  11. I love ladder stitch too - like magic ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's one of the best sewing tricks ever invented!

      Delete
  12. Thanks, Florence. Although I'm a pretty new sewer, I like to do things as well as I possibly can. It takes me forever, but I've learned that if it doesn't look as nice as I think it should, I get disappointed and ill-tempered, and I even lose interest in future projects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always thought the perfectionism you aspire to in sewing isn't determined by how long you've been sewing - I think if you feel disappointed by it when it's not perfect as a novice, you'll probably always sew in that way, no matter how much your sewing improves - I know I do (and my eleven year old daughter does too!).

      Delete
  13. Ooh, I need to try this! The perfect corners look amazing! And I do love ladder stitch, so great when you need to hide those stitches! :) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's delicious isn't it - my favourite stitch.

      Delete
  14. Lovely!
    Guess I just found a new obsession - and there's always time for sewing a couple (or more) beautiful Liberty lavender sachets :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a good use for small scraps of Liberty!

      Delete
  15. stunning! and so pretty and useful too, love the perfect corners, thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have to try this. What a neat idea. I would never have thought it would make such a difference - and I have been sewing a long time. I am off to make some sachets for practice. I recently made a heap of square pincushions as gifts - and must say the hit and miss of the corners looking perfect annoyed me!! I agree with you about ladder stitch - an essential stitch to know. Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for this, it always annoys me when my corners are not square!

    ReplyDelete
  18. You do it all so neatly! I really would love to have my sewing skills up to this standard, need to keep practising.

    ReplyDelete
  19. At last, I can have perfect corners!!!! I have been closing my seams the way you show for ages but am always frustrated at the way my corners look. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow, just found your site and I love it. I really like the rose pattern fabric.

    ReplyDelete
  21. ooh this is lovely. I did something similar with a quilt I made once for a friends baby. Although my corners were not quite so square and I was sewing the hole together as she was in the hospital having it so it was a little rushed so no where near as neat as yours!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you for the lovely tutorial. Perfectionism is often seen as a character flaw when it should be applauded! Just thought I'd mention how I deal with the very end of the stitching to hide the cut end of thread inside the bag. I poke the needle into the bag after the final stitch then poke it out again a few inches away (in any direction), pull the thread through quite tightly, snip close to the bag, smooth out the bag and the cut end disappears back inside never to be seen again. I hope this makes sense! Susan

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love those. I have to try to make some. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow! great tips on corners and the ladder stitch, I am going to try that. Wonderful gift idea.
    eva
    http://handmadebyevarose.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  25. There is a quilter's widget called "That Purple Thang" that helps to poke out corners - reduces the chance of pulled threads when the pin catches in the fabric. If your local quilt shop doesn't have one, just ask Google....

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x