DIY Inspiration: A Young Designer’s One-Off Canvas Creations

Katie Alderson DIY canvas lunch bag.

Katie Alderson is admittedly handy. “But I definitely would not say I’m a good sewer,” adds the 29 year old, who has a degree in decorative arts from Nottingham Trent University and works as a kitchen designer for deVol in London.

When Katie’s father gave her a Singer sewing machine for Christmas during the first year of lockdown, she was daunted but put it to work. “My mum taught me to use it—she was a ballroom dancer and sewed all of her own costumes, and I had learned the sewing basics in school; to be honest, I’m still much more confident sewing by hand.”

Katie got to know her machine by using canvas, which she says is a great starter material. “Once it’s been pinned and ironed, canvas is really easy to machine sew because it holds its shape so well and mistakes are easy to disguise.” We came across Katie’s creations on her website and wanted them all. Come take a look—and consider doing some sewing yourself.

Lunch Bag

Katie Alderson DIY canvas lunch bag.
Above: Katie cut up an Ikea canvas apron to create her first project: “After months of tossing food containers into a backpack, I decided to make a lunch bag to keep everything upright and avoid spills. The idea was to re-create the classic paper bag.” She sized the bag to hold a lidded glass container from Ikea’s 365+ series.
Katie Alderson DIY canvas lunch bag in progress
Above: Katie began by creating a paper template and then tracing the shapes on canvas and cutting them out. Before assembling the pieces, she hems and irons them and then folds over the edges and irons again, “so they’re all in neat straight lines.” For the bag, she sewed the base first, reinforcing it with a layer of heavier canvas.
DIY inspiration: Katie Alderson handmade canvas lunch bag
Above: The handles were repurposed from the original apron: “it was long enough to use as is; I just cut it in two.” A wooden clothespin is the pleasingly simple final detail.

Makeup Bag/Toiletry Kit

Katie Alderson DIY canvas makeup bag/toiletry kit.
Above: Katie made this combination makeup bag/toiletry kit while she was “in a phase during lockdown of making my own lip balms and soap.” She used raw artist’s canvas and a brass zipper, both sourced online “from Amazon or somewhere like it.”
Katie Alderson DIY canvas makeup bag/toiletry kit, zipper in progress.
Above: The trickiest part was putting in the zipper: “I took a long rectangular piece, hemmed the edges, cut a slit and hemmed those edges, then sewed the zipper in that window.
Katie Alderson DIY canvas makeup bag/toiletry kit.
Above: The finished bag is approximately 8 inches long, 4 inches tall, and 2.5 inches deep. Katie has since made larger versions and uses one to store her candle supply.

Paintbrush Roll

Katie Alderson DIY canvas paintbrush roll.
Above: “I was commissioned by one of my artist friends to create a storage solution for his collection of paint brushes,” says Katie of this canvas roll. “His previous situation was hand-sewn by his mum from an old pair of curtains; it was very sweet but flimsy and the brushes kept falling out.”
Katie Alderson DIY canvas paintbrush roll.
Above: “We decided to incorporate six compartments varying in size to hold both small and large brushes,” Katie tells us. “The piece is sewn from 9-ounce, unprimed artist’s canvas, which folds back on itself to give protection to the bristles and to avoid any paintbrushes sliding out the side.” Katie’s artist friend sourced the leather strap complete with brass buckle for £6 from Barefoot Leather and she attached them to the fabric using a brass rivet, “which made for a lovely fastening.”
Katie Alderson DIY canvas paintbrush roll.
Above: The roll is 23.6 inches long and 13.7 inches wide; it holds approximately 40 paintbrushes in a variety of sizes.

See more at Katie Alderson and @katiealderson. To borrow a sewing machine for free from a lending library, search “library of things sewing machine near me.”

Some other DIY sewing ideas we love:

N.B.: This post was first published on Remodelista on Nov. 14, 2022.

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