Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quilted Ukulele Case Tutorial

(I originally shared this fun tutorial over on the Fabricworm blog)
Last summer by husband bought each of my girls a ukulele. He plays the guitar and has been wanting to get the girls started with music. The ukes seemed like the perfect size to start out with.

He got Makala Dolphin Bridge Soprano Ukuleles. One is the light blue burst color and the other is the pink burst color. We have been super happy with them. 
 They each came with a very soft/flimsy case which protected from minor scratches. Of course I needed to make something stronger and cuter to protect them- So I came up with this tutorial.


Now don't worry if you don't have a ukulele... this tutorial will help you draft a pattern that can cater to whatever you would like to make a case for- guitar, string instrument, etc.
 Like I said, I made the cases for a soprano Makala Dolphin ukulele, so if you have this same uke your measurements will be similar but be sure to measure as you go because as I found out the hard way- even though I have 2 of the same uke- they are slightly different shaped and sized. 
So your fabric measurements will just depend on what you are making the case for- but I will let you know what I used to give you an idea.

Supplies:
1/2 yard main fabric (exterior)
1/2 yard coordination fabric (interior)
1 fat quarter contrasting fabric (piping and handles)
3 1/4 yard  of 6/32" cotton cording to make my own piping (you could buy premade piping if you want)
1/2 yard duck cloth (I used this because I wanted extra stability for the case holding it's shape but it does add a bit of bulk when sewing- so if you wish to leave out the duck cloth and just go with the fusible fleece and fabric I am sure it would work fine too)
1/2 yard fusible fleece or leftover scraps of quilt batting
1- 36" robe zipper

(like I said before- you may need different yardage/supplies if you are making your case for something else.)


Step #1: To start you need to trace your instrument on some paper. You will want this first tracing to be pretty exact. Once you have your outline, you will need to add some room all around the first traced line to account for seam allowances and wiggle room. I added 3/4 inch around the entire uke. (this picture is deceiving as it was hard to get a shot of it straight on- sorry about that... look at the base of the uke to get a better idea of how much room I added.)
 Step #2: Once you have your pattern for the front and back of the case you will use it to cut out 2 pieces in your main fabric, 2 pieces in duck cloth, and 2 pieces of your batting/fleece. You will want to cut your batting down 1/2 inch on all sides to reduce the bulk in your seam allowance when sewing.
Step #3: Place your batting on top of your duck cloth and your main fabric on top of the batting and quilt however you would like. I used a wavy stitch on my machine and quilted in straight lines. Quilt both your front and back panels.

Step #4: Next it's time to baste your piping on. (if you need help making your piping- here is a great tutorial  -for my piping I cut my bias strips 1 1/2 inch thick). Pin your piping on and baste around the edges of the main panels with a basting stitch. Even though your piping is cut on the bias and stretches, you may need to put some snips/notches in the seam allowance of the piping to get it to go around all of the curves of your pattern. Once you have both quilted panels trimmed in your piping- set aside for a minute.


Step #5:Now you will need to measure the depth or thickness of your instrument. My ukulele is 2 inches thick. 
One thing to note is that I made two cases- the first I made so it basically fit my uke like a glove- which I absolutely love the look of- but since it fits like a glove, zipping it up is kinda like putting on your jeans fresh out of the dryer- you gotta wiggle and jiggle to get the zipper shut.  The second case I gave it an extra 1/2 inch more in the depth of the case so it doesn't have any problem closing, but it definitely isn't as snug tight in the case. So decide what will work best for your project and alter accordingly.

You will need to add at least 1 1/4 inch for seam allowance to your depth measurement and more if you want it roomier. (when you sew your bag together- you use around a 1/2" seam allowance)
Ok.. my uke is 2 inches thick so I knew with seam allowance and putting my zipper in I needed to make my panel 3 1/4 inch thick (for the snug case) and 3 3/4 inch thick on the loose fitting case. The zipper I used is 36 inches, so I cut two panels that were 36 x 1.75 inches (for the snug case) and 36 x 2 inches (for the looser case). Once I put my zipper in they were the thickness I was hoping for. 

So calculate your measurements for the length and thickness of panels you will need. Then cut out 2 in your main fabric, 2 in duck cloth, and two in batting (but still cut your batting down a half inch smaller on all sides to reduce bulk). Layer them as you did the previous panels and quilt as desired.
I found my zipper at Joanns and it was the only one like it that was a smaller/daintier zipper but really long (36")- it's called a Robe zipper. If you are making this case for a bigger instrument you will want a longer and possibly heftier zipper. 
  Step #6: Sew your zipper into your panels. 

Place your zipper face down on the right side of one of your panels and pin in place. Use your zipper foot and stitch. Open up and place your other side of your zipper face down on the ride side of the other panel and stitch. 
 Step #7: Press your zipper panel open and top stitch. 
 I like to use a little trick of using my blind hem stitch foot to get my stitch perfectly straight, but you can use a regular presser foot as well- stitch about 1/8" from the zipper to give it a finished look and hold your zipper open on the back side. (see below)

Step #8: Make your top panel for your case. 

Start by measuring around the edge of one of your main panels- use a soft measuring tape so you can get an exact measurement. My perimeter was 56 inches.  
 So to determine the size for your top panel-
take the measurement of the perimeter of your main panel minus the length of your zipper panel plus a 1/2" for your seam allowance. 
Mine equation was 56"-36"+.5"=20.5"

Next measure the width of your zipper panel- mine was 3 1/4". 
So I cut a panel that was 20.5" x 3.25" in duck cloth, main fabric, and batting (but make sure you trim your batting to be smaller as you have in the previous panels). Quilt this panel as desired. 

Step #9: Place one end of your top panel right sides together with one end of your zipper panel and stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance. 
 Repeat with the opposite ends of the two panels. When you are done, you should have a circular panel.
 Step #10: Time to start assembling the case. You will need to pin your circular zipper+top panel piece right sides together to one of your main panels (your piping should be sandwiched in between these layers- already basted on). At this point you will want to determine where you would like the zipper placement. For mine, my zipper starts at the middle of the base of my uke and wraps around one whole side and up and over to the other side at the top of the ukulele's neck. Once I had it pinned, I got my other main panel and marked where the zipper placement was so I would have not trouble lining it up in the correct place when sewing on the other side of the case. 

Now put your zipper foot on your machine and move your needle so it is positioned so you can stitch as close to the piping as you can- your seam allowance will be roughly 1/2". Now it's time to stitch. Don't get discouraged on this part- it is kinda tricky sewing through the layers of the duck cloth and getting a close fit. Just stitch around once and then look to see if you need to go over any areas to get a closer stitch. If your machine is having a hard time stitching through it you could use a heavy needle.
Once the first side of the case is stitched to the zipper panel, it's time to pin your other side of your case on and stitch. Use those marks you made as a guide of where to line up your panel with the zipper openings so you get it even. One thing to remember is that you will need to open your zipper up so that when you stitch this side on you have a way to turn it right side out. When it is all pinned in place go ahead and stitch like you did with the first side. Again- don't get frustrated- just go slow and sew as close to that piping as you can get. 
Wheww... Take a deep breath- you are finished with the trickiest part! 

Step #11: Ok... now let's talk handles... Depending on the size of your instrument you may need a different size/heavier handle than what I made- but for mine I just used my cotton fabric and cut a piece that was 4" x 7". Then I pressed the ends in 1/4" on each side (making it 6.5" now). Then I folded and pressed in half (so it was 2x6.5") and then opened up and folded the raw edges in towards the center and pressed and then folded back over so the handle piece was 1"x6.5" with all of the raw edges tucked in. Then I stitch 1/8" from the edge around the whole thing to create my strap/handle.

I found that it was best to complete my case, put my instrument inside the case, and then pin the handle on the top panel (not the zipper side) to figure out where it needed to go. You will want your handle wherever it needs to go on the case so that the weight of your instrument is distributed evenly. Once it is pinned in place, you can stitch a 1" square on either side of the handle to secure it.
(in this picture below it shows me placing the handle on before trying my instrument in the case and I ended up having to pick out the stitches and redoing it because the position wasn't right to have the weight distributed equally.)
 Now it is time for the lining. Cut out panels in your lining fabric. You will need 2 main panels, 2 of the panels you used for your zipper panel, and 1 top panel. Use the same measurements that you used in the previous steps. 
Step #12: You need to recreate your circular top/zipper panel- but with out the zipper. So take the two strips you cut for your zipper panel and press in 1/4 inch on two edges that meet together where the zipper would go. Then place them right side together with the top panel and stitch in place with a 1/4" seam allowance. (picture below explains this if you are confused) Repeat for opposite ends... You should now have a circular panel like you did in step #9.
 Step #13: Use the exterior of the bag and mark on your lining pieces where the zipper start and stop is so you can position the lining exact. Then put together the lining like you did for the exterior of the case. Luckily this is 10 times easier since you are just using cotton fabric and not duck cloth! ;) 


Step #14: Hand stitch the lining into the case. I  hand basted the seam allowances of my lining to the seam allowances of the case so that the lining was held snug where it needs to be and isn't just hanging loose in there. (you could probably use fabric glue to glue your seam allowances together if you wanted too.) And then I just tucked the raw edge of my lining in as I went and whip stitched my lining in. 


That's it! You are all done!! 


Happy Sewing!
xoxo, Ashley

11 comments:

  1. HI Ashley! Cute tutorial. A friend and I just made similar projects in that we used piping and zippers but they were bags. Anyway, it is fun to see you lay it all out with such great instructions :) Nice job and so nice of you to share. PS - your girls are so lucky to have such a sweet mom that will make them Uke Carriers!! I love it :)

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  2. Due custodie davvero coloratissime, belle!!Assunta

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  3. These are so cute! I might have to make one for our little neighbor who loves her ukulele!

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  4. Seriously! These are sooo cute!!! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow that links to your tutorial: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-quilted-ukelele-case/2014/02/27/
    --Anne

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  5. Brilliant! Simply brilliant I have a guitar that has just a cheap vinyl cover and a week off next week. I will definitely be making one of these.
    Ann
    http://sassyseamstress2.blogspot.com/

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  6. Oh my gosh, what a darling case! I love it!

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  7. Great tutorial, thanks so much for sharing! About 1.5 years ago I was looking for a pattern/instructions, but couldn't find any. I ended up buying a custom made cover. Your instructions are very clear to follow.
    Love the colours of the ukuleles!

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  8. Absolutely crazy YOU are amazing! LOVE this ! Thank-you for sharing!

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  9. So cute! Any way that you sell these? My daughter would love one!

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  10. Nice read! I like the suggestions.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. I honestly love reading every single one! If you have a question you would like answered- be sure to include your email so that I can get back to you!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great day!
xoxo, Ashley