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Archive | August, 2016

'Colour Me' - Basic Tote Bag - Tutorial

So it's the summer holidays and given the 'changeability' of the British weather, we've had plenty of opportunities to try out some different crafts and activities here at P&PD HQ.

Not long ago, we took delivery of the fabulously fun 'Colour Me' range from Michael Miller designed by Hayley Crouse, if you haven't already seen our previous post on this, then check it out here.

One rainy day last week, I decided it was time to test out this fabric with my children and one of their friends. So I cut out a half a metre of each design and set them to work colouring.....


We already had some fabric colouring pens to use, but if you don't then these are readily available on-line.

The children range in age from 3yrs to 9yrs, boys and girls (but a 12yr old has also since requested some of the fabric!), so I think the designs are pretty versatile.


They took it very seriously and were really excited by the prospect of having a major input on the final design of their bag!

Having promised 4 new tote bags by the next day, that evening I set to work!

The bag pattern is incredibly simple and would be an ideal project for anyone new to sewing. The bag can be embellished with trimmings, fabric floral brooches, buttons etc. to turn it into a unique and wonderful creation of your own.

A few points before I get started with the tutorial:

1 -Apologies for the lack of pictures at some steps and the mixture of fabric designs that feature. I was rushing through 4 bags and wasn't 100% focused on the images that might later be required - sorry!

2 - This pattern works for any fabric that doesn't have a specific direction. If you are using a design which needs the fabric to face a particular direction for the bag, see the bottom of this tutorial for a couple of tweaks to the pattern*

3 - We wanted to get started on the colouring straight away, but you could definitely make the bag first and then give to someone to colour in and personalise. You might just want to tell them to put a piece of cardboard or something similar, inside the bag when colouring, to avoid any of the colours bleeding through to the other side of the bag.

What you'll need:

1/2 metre of fabric - we used the Colour Me and the Elephant Tumble by Wyndham Fabrics. Matching cotton. Rotary cutter and mat or Scissors. Pins. Iron and ironing board.

Step 1 - Cutting the fabric

You will need to cut the following pieces:

2 x pieces - 3inch (7cm) x 22inch (56cm) - for the handles

1 piece - 14inch (36cm) x 36inch (90cm) for the body of the bag.

Step 2 - Making the handles

Take one of the handle pieces and with the wrong side facing up, press each length of the fabric in 1/4inch (just over 0.5cm) along both sides. Then fold the entire length of the piece in half to create the handle.

Stitch along both sides of the handle 1/8inch (0.3cm) from edge on one side and the same from the fold on the other side.

Repeat this entire process for the second handle.

Colour Me_Tote_Tutorial_1 (1)

Step 3 - Attach handles and hem top edges

Place the main piece of fabric - pattern side up and one of the shorter sides at the top, ready to work on.

Next you need to pin the handles to the shorter ends of the bag (which will later become the two top sides of the bag).

Take one of the handles and pin one end of it 3inches (17.5cm) from the side of the fabric - with raw edges together. Then ensuring the handle isn't twisted, pin the other end of the handle 3inches (17.5cm) from the other side of the fabric - again with raw edges together.

Now turn the piece of fabric around so that you can attach the 2nd handle to the opposite end of the fabric. Repeat the above step, being sure to check that your handle isn't twisted.

Using a zig zag stitch, sew along the top edge of the bag, attaching the handle in the process and also creating a neat hem.


Repeat this step for the other side of the bag, attaching the 2nd handle in the process.

Next, turn the fabric over so that the wrong side is facing upwards.

Now fold over the top edges of the bag by 1 1/2 inches (approx. 4cm) at both ends and press. Pin the handles in place, making sure they are perpendicular to the horizontal sides.


Sew this fold down with a 1/4 inch (0.5cm) seam allowance from the top edge and then with a second seam 1/4 inch (0.5cm) from the bottom zig zag stitch.

Repeat for both ends of the bag.

Colour Me_Tote_Tutorial_2 (1)

Step 4 - Sew together the bag

Fold the body of the bag in half, so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other and the handles are now together at the top of the bag. Pin the sides of bags together, ensuring that the top edges of the bag meet perfectly.

Sew together the 2 sides of the bag using a 1/2 inch (1cm) seam allowance.


Snip off the bottom corners.

Zig zag stitch both raw edges along the sides of the bag, to give neatly finished hems which won't fray.


Turn the bag right side out and push the corners out and press.'s complete!

Here are the children the day after, on an outing to the cinema - feeling very proud with their new personalised bags!

Colour_Me_Tote_Bag_Tutorial_Girls_Shopping Colour_Me_Tote_Bag_Tutorial_Finished_Product

*If you are using a fabric which is directional (like the Colour Me - A Royal Life Panel - as seen in some of the pictures above), you will need to cut the main body of the bag in two different panels. In which case, simply cut the two handle pieces as per above, plus 2 x 13.5inch (35cm) x 18.5inch (47cm) for the back and front of the bag - be sure to check which way your pattern needs to face for the bag before cutting. Then follow the steps as above, but instead of one panel which you attach handles to both ends, you have two pieces, which need to have handles attached to the top edge of the fabric. When you get to step 4 - simply pin all three sides of the bag and sew around each edge as per above.

Any questions, please don't hesitate to email us at




Presenting the 'Colour Me' fabric collection, designed by you!

michael miller colour me

If you're familiar with the colourful and quirky signature of Michael Miller fabrics, then you'll be excited to hear about this collection that is now available at Poppies and Polka Dots. The 'Colour Me' collection by Michael Miller allows you to be your very own fabric designer with mono designs that simply require colouring in or embellishing as you wish. No two pieces will be the same!

We currently have four designs to choose from (two large panels and two patterns on repeat):

- To the Moon and Back

- Princess Paisley

- A Royal Life (panel)

- Space Adventures (panel)

colour me example - dressWe think this is a really great way to get little ones in your life excited by crafting. What could make a more thoughtful birthday present than a beautifully crafted gift which is then personalised by it's recipient!

The panels make beautiful door and wall hangings but would work equally well forming the centre panel of a patchwork quilt, while the repeat pattern designs have endless uses. Drawstring PE bag? Pillow case? Towel embellishment? Apron? Scatter cushion? Playroom storage bag? A party activity to remember the special day by? Upholstering a special bedroom chair seat?! The only limitation is imagination!

For inspiration on how to combine 'Princess Paisley' with 'A Royal Life' to create a stunning pillowcase, look no further than this tutorial.

michael miller - colour me

Have you got an idea we've not thought of?

Yours, colourfully! x

(photo credits)

5 of the best easily portable, sun lounger-friendly crafts!

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Image credit

Okay, okay, okay, so it's not the best idea to pack chunky yarn on your summer holidays to finish off the wool blanket that you started 6 months previously, when it was freezing cold and you benefited from your project's thermal properties! And a sewing machine might be frowned upon at check-in. So what does constitute a holiday-friendly craft, and what sort of projects lend themselves to laying by the poolside?

1. Embroidery - A classic.  Embroidery has come a long way since your granny's day and yet there is still something really kitsch about it that we can't get enough of. When done well, embroidery tells a story of old skills meeting modern day themes and is a great way to feature elements from your holiday complete with date, as a reminder of your trip. Endless opportunities and easily transportable, the humble embroidery hoop gets our vote. Find ours here.

holiday blog

2. Brooch Making - If you're missing home, this little kit gives you the opportunity to hand make with love, something for two friends or relatives, with one left over for you. The kit is small enough to keep you on the right side of your in-flight arm rest, and sufficiently fuss-free that you won't get in a tangle with your knickerbocker glory. If you're already a Tilda fan then this needs no introduction. It's all there for you, packaged up in a gorgeous gift bag. Go on, treat yourself, you're on holiday! Tilda Country Escape Brooches kit.

hoilday blog 4

3. Felt - Small enough to not compete with your baggage allowance and charmingly simple and relaxing to handle. We love to hand sew felt because it's effortless and methodical and feeds the soul! Here are some heart magnets to add to your to-do list. Felt is available in 3 different sizes, 16 inch squares, half metre and full metre. (Image credit.)

holiday blog 5

4. Crochet - So satisfying to watch those loops transform into something mysterious and inexplicable! One of our favourite holiday pastimes are crochet bears for a very worthy charity called 'Teddies for Tragedies' who send the bears to children in crisis. They are currently experiencing distribution issues, however the charity that provides the crochet pattern has advocated using this to create bear donations for your local children's ward. The Toronto branch has provided a crochet pattern online. The bears are small enough to be easy to handle and you'll feel good about making someone else feel good! For our stunning selection of crochet hooks whatever you're making, look no further.

Gilliangladrag Crochet Hooks

5. English Paper Piecing - This is a really holiday-worthy art because it allows the time to spread out your pieces and think about placement. Pack your desired paper pieces and your fat quarters and get lost in the art of cutting and placing. Our broad selection of paper pieces.

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All that's left is to wish you a very bon vacance! One where you truly enjoy yourself, relax and fend off project homesickness.

Yours, wearing in my espadrilles x

Featured image credit