Gifts I've made
Comments 36

Hand Made Photo Gifts 1 – Toiletries Bag

Yay!  At last!! I finally get round to showing you a special gift I’ve made.  I’ve been hanging on as I was hoping to get a pic of this toiletries bag in the middle of the sea in some unknown place on a submarine! I’ve not got it yet but hopefully I’ll be able to show you soon and will add it to my Sunday Sevens.

One of my work buddies partner is in the Royal Navy and will be away for his birthday in a submarine.  When was racking her brains as what she could buy him and I came up with a personalised toiletries bag.  She looked a bit grief stricken as if she should make it, and was quite relieved when i told her all she had to do was email me some photos and I’d do the rest.

Here’s the photos printed off onto special photo transfer paper.  I bought mine from WHSmiths – 5 sheets for £10 but I’m sure you could find them cheaper on Amazon.  I used 2 sheets (A4 size) then cut them out leaving a big extra around the edges.

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Make sure you reverse all your photos, especially if there’s writing!

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I forgot with these, so couldn’t use them for the actual bag but did use them to have a practice with.  So If you’ve a bit of extra space on your page it would be a good idea to print an extra picture so you can have a practice.

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Gemma also wrote a message on a piece of calico using Dylon fabric pens.

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For the bag I was using some stretch denim from my stash and luckily I had a zip that matched perfectly too.  I bought the denim from Minerva but looking at their site it appears to have sold out.

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I looked back on the Boxy Dopp Kit I made for Martin and re-read the tutorial from Cottage Mama as I wasn’t sure of how big to make it.

Boxy Dopp Kit bag

Lindsey suggests using pieces of fabric 13″ x 14″ inches.  I made mine slightly bigger as I had quite a lot of photos to fit on!  Instead of using light weight interfacing I used some quite thick sew in interfacing as it was all i had in. I used the same fabric for the inside as the outside.

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I followed her instructions.

After inserting the zip I sewed in Gemma’s messages inside – before the bottom and the sides were sewn up.

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In the past I’ve used Bondaweb but this time I just pinned then zig zagged around the edges.

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Next up I added the photos.

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Once I was happy with the placement I ironed them on one at a time.

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Hey presto!

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And the other side!

It took a bit of guess work as to where the edges of the bag would end up but it all turned out ok.

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Once the sides were stitched up it looked like an odd shoe bag with the zip down the centre.  The bag was turned inside out and the corners stitched and trimmed off.

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For the first couple of seams I finished them off using my overlocker.  It had quite a few layers to cut through in parts and wasn’t too neat.  I changed to using the overlocking stitch and special foot on my Janome and was happier with how in looked.

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Here we are!!!

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Gemma was over the moon with it!  It’s been posted off and he received it a couple of weeks ago when they ‘came alongside’ (new navy phrase I’ve learnt) in Gibraltar.  He’s saving it to open on his birthday, which was last Sunday.  She’s not heard from him yet though so he must be in the middle of the deep blue sea with no Wifi.

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I sew and play golf. I blog about my sewing as I don't think you'd want to read about my golf. It's bad enough watching it on telly! Contact me via email -


    • Thanks! The new shop I found in Wibsey has something similar but it’s fabric which you can put through a normal inkjet printer, so that might be worth looking at too. 🙂

  1. What a brilliant idea for a really thoughtful personalised present – I bet he shed a few tears when he opened it (but probably wouldn’t admit to it!). I’ve used transfer paper quite a lot in the past and it always comes out better than I think it’s going to! Did you kick yourself when you realised you hadn’t reversed the images to print?

  2. Pingback: Hand Made Photo Gifts 2 | T H I M B E R L I N A

  3. A great gift. I always get nervous using transfer paper (usually forget to do the reverse thingy!) but you’ve done a good job for your friend.

  4. Oops, clearly working backwards here! Never heard of photos on fabric before, what a great idea and this is such a lovely, personalised present. Men are so difficult to get presents for, this is a great idea!

    • The first time i did it was when H was little and I took him and his cousins camping. They all had ‘crazy cousins on tour’ T shirts with my mobile number on in case they got lost! 😃

  5. What a special gift! I really love the contrast – manly canvas with personal messages tucked inside. I’m sure he loves it! And the one with the yellow taxis is also a great fabric.

    • I love making pressies but only if I think they’ll be appreciated! Now that might sound a bit bad, like I want them to gush all over them, I don’t mean that,but I’d hate to think I’d made the effort and whatever it was just got stuck in a drawer. 😃

  6. corrineappleby says

    Wow! You’ve made something really special here! Thanks for the tutorial! It’s a great idea, especially for those ‘impossible to buy for’ men!

  7. You are a very special lady to be doin’ for your friends! 💕 And this is a really special & thoughtful gift. Am certain he’ll be the envy of the entire ship!

  8. What a great and thoughtful gift. I’ve never tried printing photos like this but have some sheets on order. I might try my hand at a washbag using your link, no photos for a first attempt though.

    • Now don’t be shy! I must say doing it onto a different fabric first then stitching onto whatever your making is less risky. Good luck 🍀

  9. springystitches says

    What an amazing gift and a great idea! My dad was a submariner and so I know just how much he will appreciate this present in the months to come.

    • It’s hard to know what to send, I’m sure my friend would love any suggestions you may have for more gifts. She’s a bit gutted as his posting (not sure of proper word!) has just been extended until after Christmas.

      • springystitches says

        What about a small personalised Christmas stocking filled with goodies? You could use the photo idea again and maybe take some funny and festive shots to make him smile!

  10. What’s with all the posts from you at the moment?! This is amazing, such a special thoughtful gift.

    • I’m so behind with blogging, all I seem to do these days is my sunday sevens! I’ve only worked 1 day this week so made the most of my me time 🙂

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