Denim Roll Top Backpack Tutorial

I’ve been pondering for a good while over this Robert Kaufman Selvedge Denim – ever since it came in late last year.  On the one hand, this denim is thick, sturdy, durable, gorgeous colour, and has that awesome selvedge.  On the other hand, it’s super thick and sturdy, and has that awesome selvedge that you definitely want to keep – and it’s quite narrow.  What on earth could I make with it?

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Doll’s Bed in a Suitcase Sew Along Part 2 – Making the Mattress

Making The Mattress To Fit a Vintage Suitcase


You will need:
Main fabric – we used a lovely brushed cotton stripe
Bias binding
Self Cover Buttons 19mm x 6
Long doll needle
Thick thread

around the base of your suitcase.  Then, using this template, cut 2
pieces of fabric this size.   Then cut two strips at that are
approximately 2cm shorter than the height of your suitcase.  I endied up using
approximately 60cm of 110cm wide fabric.

Join your two strips together along the short side, to create one long strip, but cut two 20cm pieces off the end of this.
one of these pieces, create a handle.  I did this by pressing in the
ends, then folding the piece in thirds to create a piece that was
approximately 15cm x 5cm.  I sewed several lines along the length of
this piece, and all around the edge, and then stitched each end to a
central-ish point of the long strip.

sure that the handle falls in the centre of one of the long sides of
the main pieces, and then, wrong sides facing, I started to sew the top
of the mattress to the side.  I did this wrong sides facing because I
wanted to bind the edges, but if you don’t want to bind, do right sides
facing and turn through at the end.

stitching the top to the side, I then bound the edge using a lovely
satin bias binding.  Satin binding is such an old fashioned bed type
thing, don’t you think?  It’s always on mattresses, or around blankets.
 I wanted this mattress to have a bit of a vintage style appeal – purely
for my aesthetics, but that’s as good a reason as any, when you think
about it.

I then repeated these steps to join the bottom to the side, and then bound it.
you get to the join, fold each edge in, and overlap slightly before
sewing into place.  Make sure the top and bottom line up nicely, so when
it comes to it you have a nice easy to stitch finish.  This hole will
be your stuffing hole.
all made and bound, it’s time to stuff.  I used 2 whole bags, and the
leftovers of my duvet and pillow set.  That was probably about 700g of
stuffing.  Stuff firmly, making sure your spread is even and not lumpy.
Once you’re stuffed, slip stitch the side opening closed.
 I feel like I should say a word of warning about the buttons, in that
they are small parts and this is designed predominantly as a small
person’s play thing.  Make sure, if you use buttons, to use thick thread
and sew them tight.  Make sure they’re not likely to be pulled off.  If
you’re too worried about doing these, just don’t use buttons.  You can
still create the effect but with little crosses of thread, rather than
the buttons.

Anyway, back to the making.  Cover your buttons with the remaining 20cm piece of fabric you cut earlier.
If you’ve never made covered buttons before, here’s how:

a circle of fabric approximately 1cm wider on all sides than your
button.  Turn your button upside down on the fabric, then using your
fingers, push the fabric around to the teeth of the button back so it’s
gripped into place nicely.  I like to alternate the sides I’ve pushed
from and rotate the button as I go, so I get a nice even finish.  Once
your fabric is all gripped nicely into place, push the back on your
button.  Make sure you can hear it click into place.  If you don’t hear
or feel the click, it’s not pushed in properly.
you’ve covered your buttons, take out your doll needle.  (It’s amazing
how something that can look so much like an instrument of torture can
have such an innocuous name as a ‘doll’ needle.)  Thread your thick
thread doubled on your needle.  Then finding the middle of the mattress,
anchor your thread in the spot firmly.  Then push the needle through
the mattress to the centre of the other side.  Come back to the first
side, making sure to find the centre point, and repeat back and forth a
few times, cinching in the mattress as you go.  Once you’ve got it
cinched in nice and firmly, thread the button on your needle, looping
over a couple of times for security, and then thread back through to the
other side.  Thread your button on the other side, looping double
again, and then secure as firmly as possible.  Tie off, and lose the
threads somewhere in the body of your mattress.

Next find the spot between this centre button and the left hand edge and repeat.  Then repeat for the right hand edge.
 That’s one mattress done.  I made a pretty fat mattress, and at this
point I looked at it in the suitcase and thought to myself that it would
make a really awesome bed for a cat or a little dog.  So unbelievably,
there are other uses for this mattress.  Would you believe it?
The next installment will be on the 16th January, and we’ll start making the bed!

Doll’s Bed in a Suitcase Sew Along Part 1 – Covering The Suitcase

 Covering a Vintage Suitcase with Fabric!
I’m going to start this with a bit of a disclaimer.  Suitcases come in all shapes and sizes, and they have all sorts of different fittings, handles, hinges.   They’re made from various different materials, and no two will ever be the same – even if they look totally similar!  So here’s a few tips and techniques to get you started, in the hope that you’ll be able to figure out the rest yourself.  Of course, if you come up against any problems, let me know and I can see if I can explain a little further, but for now, here’s how:
You will need two contrasting fabrics – one outer, and one lining.  I used around 75cm of each fabric for my size case.  To help see what you need, I’d measure the top, and the height.  You’ll need two tops and two strips of height for both the lining and the main fabric, and that should do it.
Glue – we used Cartonnage Glue (an awesome glue that is quite similar to Mod Podge)
A craft knife; scissors that you don’t mind messing up (no dressmaking shears here, please).

 Cut the your outer fabric to the same size as your suitcase, with 2cm extra all around.  Then cover the base of your suitcase with the glue, spreading it thick and evenly.  Lay the fabric over the glue, centrally, and smooth it so there are no creases or bubbles.

Cut snips at approximately 2cm intervals around the edge.
 Cover with glue around the edge 2-3cm up, and stick up the flaps you’ve cut.  The slits cut should help you go neatly around the corners.  Be prepared to get a little messy – think back to primary school and covering your hands with PVA type messy, and you’re on the right track.
It should start to look something like this.
 Measure the side of your suitcase, then add about 4cm to the width.  Cut a strip of outer fabric to this size.  You’ll need one or two strips to go around the edges, depending on the size of your suitcase.
 Spread glue over the side of your suitcase.  Lay the fabric face down, lining up 1-2cm in from the base edge of the case.  Then spread a bit of extra glue on the 1-2cm fabric that is touching the case.
 Fold the fabric up, and smooth down on the side of the case.  The last step gives you a nice neat folded edge. 
 Carry on in this method around the edge of the case, until you get to the hardware at the front.
 Carry on gluing as normal, sticking your fabric over the top of your locks etc. 
 With your knife, cut a cross over the metal parts to allow you to get to them later.  Then leave for the time being.  Cut extra space around your handle and any other hardware.
 Cut slits and the excess fabric over the top edge just as you did for the base.  Then repeat this entire process for the top of the case.  Then put aside to dry.
 Once your glue is all dry, return to the hardware, and using your craft knife, trim all around the edges as neatly as possible.  You may find that the fabric is stuck slightly to the metal, but give it a tug and it should all come free.  The fabric will have hardened so you can get a nice clean cut with your knife.
 Spread some extra glue all around the cut edges of your hardware.  It’ll dry clear and seal any raw edges so they won’t come undone over time.
Cover the handle the best way you can manage.  If the handle doesn’t need covering, don’t bother, as it can be one of the trickier bits.
Cover any hinge on both the inside and the outside before starting covering the inside.  Once this is done, start covering the inside using the same techniques you used on the outside.
Cover the sides first, folding a neat edge along the top, and overlapping the bottom.
I actually made a bit of a mess of the bottom of this one – but luckily managed to save it with the use of some handy apron tape…  It is worth pointing out that you need to keep the area around the rim of the main case and the lid as finely covered as possible, as if the fabrics are too thick, you’ll have trouble closing it.   With this case, I actually over did it.  With a few taps of a hammer to slightly soften and curve the rim on the base I got it back in to fit – but it is tight.  I’m hoping it will loosen up with use.  On the last one I made, a slight sanding helped.
Don’t worry about leaving too much glue on your outside – it’ll dry clear and you shouldn’t see it.  Put it to one side to dry while getting on with the contents of your case.

The next installment will be on the 9th January, when we’ll make a mattress to perfectly fit your case!

Doll’s Bed in a Suitcase Sew Along Coming Soon!

This blog post has been a long time coming.  I first posted pictures of this project a few years back (here) and always planned to do a tutorial, but what with one thing and another, never quite got round to it.  You know how it goes.
original project was made for my goddaughter, and around that time
another friend requested one for her then unborn child.  I agreed, but
there was no rush, I thought, because the baby wasn’t even born yet. 
And then I forgot, as I so often do with these things.  Roll on two
years, and said child is long since born and perhaps at exactly the
right age to play with this, and it again cropped up in conversation, so
I thought it might be about time I did the things I promised, and give
you guys a tutorial, and give Frida Betty her doll’s bed-in-a-suitcase.

This suitcase is covered, has a perfectly fitting mattress, along with a fitted sheet.  It has a duvet, duvet cover, pillows, pillow cases, quilt, and blanket.  Perfect for all a doll’s needs.

It’s a huge project, so I thought we’d do it as a sew-along.  To get started, you’ll need a couple of things – the first one being one small vintage suitcase. 

it’s going to be pretty hard to tell you exact measurements because
it’s a vintage suitcase.  And we all know they come in completely mixed
sizes and shapes.  Find a small one, in as good a condition as you can
manage, as the better the condition the easier the job.  Mine was
approximately 35cm x 55cm.  The last suitcase I made, was possibly
slightly smaller, and easier to work with as it had a plastic handle. 
This had awkward slightly rusting hardware, which was a lot trickier to
maneuver around.
despite the fact that your suitcase will no doubt be a completely
different style and shape, here’s some really detailed instructions so
you can hopefully pick up a few tips! 

is my suitcase – as you can see, it’s a little beat up and dirty.
 Stitching is coming undone, and there’s a little bit of rust.  But
it’ll do for the job.  You can see in the top picture that the handle was plastic and that was a lot easier to cover.

You’ll need about 75cm each of main fabric and lining fabric (more if your suitcase is bigger, less if smaller).
You’ll need glue, either mod-podge, or this awesome stuff is perfect.

But alternatively, if you want to skip this step altogether, find a case like this and follow this great tutorial on the Beautiful Mess blog here.

image courtesy of A Beautiful Mess blog.

We’ll go through how to cover the suitcase in the first proper installment which we’ll do on the 2nd January 2016, and we’ll do every Saturday until we’re done!