Machine Appliqué a Boxy Sewing Case with Kraft-Tex
I love wool appliqué, and Minki Kim’s cute Boxy Sewing Case in her book, Zakka Wool Appliqué got my “what-if” thoughts conjuring. What if I appliquéd by machine and used Kraft-Tex as my foundation instead of linen or wool? With Minki’s pattern and instructions in the book, the project was easy to construct, and it was so much fun to play with machine appliqué!
Kraft-Tex is a rugged paper that looks, feels and wears like leather, but cuts, sews and washes like fabric. If you are new to Kraft-Tex, our article Everything You Want to Know About Working with Kraft-Tex has lots of helpful tips for working with this unique material.
One of my favorite steps in any project is selecting the fabric! I pull this and that from my stash and audition different combinations. My anchor piece – the one constant – was the piece of hand-dyed Kraft-Tex in Emerald. But I didn’t want to make a Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day project – it had to be something I would be happy using year-round.
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I needed something with presence for the body of the bag so it could hold its own with the boldness of the Emerald Kraft-Tex, and a colorful Kaffe Fassett print looked great with the green. It brought a lot of other fun colors into the mix, so I had more options I could pull from for the appliqués and lining. With circles as my motifs, the freeform stripe from Kaffe would bring motion to the design. I like light linings in my bags so I don’t have to fumble for things inside a dark bag, and the spatter-like dots on this Clothworks print matched the colors in the appliqué fabric.
For the front and back of the bag, I cut two 7 1/2-inch squares of kraft-tex. Setting the appliqué fabric aside for the moment, I cut out the cotton fabric, interfacing and batting for the bag according to the instructions, with just one adjustment: the big print is directional, so I cut the bottom piece in two sections, adjusting for seam allowance. With those two pieces stitched together down the center, the case would appear right-side-up no matter how it landed.
I wanted turned-edge machine appliqué, but you could fuse if you prefer. To prepare my appliqués for stitching, I used Karen Kay Buckley’s Bigger Perfect Circles to trace the shapes onto Wash-Away Appliqué Sheets. When I design on my computer, I can run these sheets through my printer. I needed 12 circles to make my stacked pyramid appliqués. The traced/printed shapes are finished size.
After cutting the appliqué foundation, I pinned it to the appliqué fabric, then cut with a 1/4-inch seam allowance for turning the edges.
With a pen-style fabric glue stick, I applied glue to the edge of the foundation piece. Do one piece at a time – or the glue will dry before you finish turning the edges.
Gently turn the seam allowance to the back while easing it over the edge of the foundation, creating a smooth outside edge. You could also use a stiletto to help you manage the edges if they seem fiddly to you. Add more glue if you need to.
Now I can play with arranging the appliqués on the Kraft-Tex. Keep in mind the 1/4-inch seam allowance around the perimeter of the 7 1/2-inch Kraft-Tex foundation squares. When you are pleased with your arrangement, baste the pieces in place with a dab of the same fabric glue you used to turn the edges. Do NOT use pins to baste! Pins will leave permanent holes in Kraft-Tex.
Try out your machine settings and practice before starting your “real” appliqué. Use a foot that gives you good visibility while you sew. Find a stitch and settings that you like. Adjust stitch length and width so that it pleases you. I set my stitch to 2mm length and width. I don’t think I would go smaller than that when stitching on Kraft-Tex – with the needle perforations too close, the Kraft-Tex might tear.
Start your appliqué stitch, but do not backstitch. Take it slowly around curves, and use your needle-down function. The blanket stitch takes one stitch forward, then takes a stitch to the side, taking a “bite” of the appliqué, then the needle moves back to the edge for the next forward stitch. You will need to pivot just a smidge every few stitches. Stop with your needle down on the outer edge of you appliqué, raise the presser foot slightly (you will fall in love again with your knee lift if you have one), then adjust your work. Stitch a few more and pivot again. If you pivot with the needle while it’s taking its “bite” (seen below), your stitch will look like a little “v” instead of a straight line. When you reach your starting point, stop without backstitching and remove the piece, leaving a few inches of thread tail.
Turn over your Kraft-Tex, then pull the top threads to the back. You should now have 4 loose threads on the back with none on the front.
Tie a surgeon’s knot or a square knot to secure the threads, leaving a short tail. You can add a dab of Fray-Check to the knot if you like.
Then follow Minki’s instructions to construct the body of your Boxy Sewing Case. Use clips to hold pieces together for sewing because pins will leave permanent holes in Kraft-Tex.
With the pieces sewn together with 1/4-inch seams, press towards the Kraft-Tex. You will need to coax it a bit, but a good press keeps the finished case nice and square with crisp edges and sharp corners. The piece in the center (seen below) is the bottom of the bag. You can see where I added my seam to accommodate the directional fabric. You will attach the zipper next, according to Minki’s instructions.
After attaching the zipper (ignore my second row of stitching on the left side – I got distracted), finish the sides, then trim excess length from the zipper. (To get the color I wanted, I had to buy a long zipper, but I made sure it had plastic teeth so I could shorten it.)
Next, stitch the lining – it’s all one piece, so it goes fast.
Insert the bag into the lining (you’ll turn it later). Then pin the pressed edges to the zipper tape and hand stitch in place.
Turn your Boxy Sewing Case to the right side, then give the the Kraft-Tex edges a nice, crisp press. Finished size is 7 X 7 X 4 inches – so nice for a take-along craft project or packing all those loose little things that roll around in your suitcase. I love how it turned out!!
Browse through more Kraft-Tex projects on Create Whimsy.