Tag Archives: handmade

Happy Birthday, Mom! | The Epiphany Bag

Today is my mom’s 30th x2 birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!!
Mom at the Ahwahnee Hotel photo by S.L. Morgan, used with permission.

Mom at the Ahwahnee Hotel photo by S.L. Morgan, used with permission.

Several months ago I decided that I wanted to make a special purse for her birthday present. My mom is a violinist in the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra, so I went on the hunt for musically themed fabric. I found Kanvas Concerto Tossed Instruments in Cream and Timeless Treasures Music Words in Linen and knew they would be perfect for a bag along with some black vinyl.

Front of The Epiphany Bag

Front of The Epiphany Bag

It took me two weeks to find the right bag pattern. After searching through several of my favorite bag designer websites I found The Epiphany Bag by ChrisW Designs. When I saw it I knew it was the one!

The Epiphany Bag Back

The Epiphany Bag Back

It took me a bit of time to read through the pattern and understand all the various parts and figure out which fabrics I wanted where. It took a day to cut all fabrics and interfacing out and then another half day to fuse the interfacing to the fabric. I made sure to sew slowly and carefully, because I wanted this bag to look as perfect as possible.

Side View

Side View

My only real issue, other than sewing the bottom, was the top stitching. This bag broke two titanium top-stitching (100/18) needles! That was more user error as I would get a little too quick with putting my machine into reverse and the thickenss would skew the needle to the side. Needle breakage was inevitable given my carelessness in that regard. I was having a difficult time when trying to stitch over the strap tabs. Not even my walking foot, with full pressure, would give me good stitches. I tried every trick I knew to sew through bulky material. I was sewing through 4 layers of soft and stable, 4 layers of SF101, 1 layer of Peltex, 4 layers of fabric, and 4 layers of vinyl (where the strap tabs were). I was in tears over all of the skipped stitches. I decided to pull out my tiny zipper split hinged foot as a last resort. There’s hardly any surface area to the foot, so I had a feeling it wouldn’t press the fabric down enough for the needle to go all the way down and have the hook catch the thread. I WAS WRONG. And so glad for that too! That zipper foot worked fantastically! The only trouble I had with skipped stitches was when my foot came down off of the strap tabs. I would stop stitching, tie off my thread tails, bury them, and then turn the bag around so that my foot would sew up the strap tab and meet my completed stitches. It took several times to get some of those stitches right, and there are a lot of buried threads in that bag. All in all, I think the top stitching was a success! Thank you tiny little foot!

Top of the Bag

Top of the Bag

The pattern came together nicely. The instructions were easy to understand, however I would recommend that you have some bag making experience before tackling this pattern. My previous experiences sewing with vinyl and sewing through thick seams really came in handy with this bag.

The Epiphany Bag Bottom

The Epiphany Bag Bottom

I had a particularly difficult time sewing the bottom piece to the body of the bag. My problem here was the vinyl was several layers thick and I used some Wonder Tape that the needle had to go through. In retrospect, I should have used a rubber mallet to flatten the whole piece. I ended up with skipped stitches in several spots, and after attempting to fix them three times I decided it was good enough as it was. It’s the bottom of the bag… Who is going to look there and critique my work? Definitely not my mom. If she notices it she’ll pretend she didn’t see it! That’s what moms do!

Inside Front

Inside Front

The inside of this bag was pretty detailed. I love the three pockets plus the pen pocket. I did forget to put my “Stitch ALL The Things” grosgrain ribbon tag on it and had to undo half of the pocket to fix it. It’s just not a Christine bag if I don’t forget something and have to rip work apart!

Inside Back zippered pocket

Inside Back zippered pocket

The pattern was written to put a zippered pocket either on the outside back of the bag or on the inside lining. I prefer my bags to have an inside zippered pocket, so that’s how I made this bag. The outside of the bag already has a slip pocket on the front panel, so I thought that would be good enough to toss either keys or a cellphone. It’s roomy enough for both, actually.

Custom Made Musical Charm Fob

Custom Made Musical Charm Fob

One thing I spent quite a bit of time on was making Mom a charm fob for the purse. I found lettered charms and put M, S, O on the chain as well as a violin. I attached a keyring that has a dove, a cross, and the word “Love” on it. The bottom of the fob is a large treble clef. I wish the letter charms could have been bigger, but it was difficult to find the letters in a gold tone. The whole fob blends together, but I think it may something neat for someone to discover about the bag.

Emmaline Bags "Handmade" Hardware

Emmaline Bags “Handmade” Hardware

As usual I used Emmaline Bags hardware and bag bling. I can not say enough about what her hardware adds to a bag. It really gives it a professional look. Emmaline Bags added these new “handmade” tags a month or so ago and in gold tone. As soon as I saw them I knew they were going on the bag. She also had matching gold tone “handmade” zipper pulls in stock, so I put one on the main zipper and one on the inner zipper pocket. I also used her gold purse feet on the bottom of the bag.

Rivets!

Rivets!

This bag has actual rivets in them! This was my first time using rivets, although I didn’t install them. Let’s just say I was a little freaked at ruining what I worked so hard to make, so I asked the Mister to install the rivets. First, we tested them out on a scrap piece of vinyl the same thickness as the strap tabs. He put one rivet in and then I asked him to try his hardest to rip it apart. I was worried the rivets wouldn’t hold and was thinking I should add stitching to reinforce the handles and the tabs. The single rivet held. Color me shocked! I then marked out all the rivet spots and punched the holes for them. He set all the rivets for me. After using them in this bag, I am definitely going to add them to all of my bags. They really add strength to the bag as well as make it look store bought.

Emmaline Bags Zipper End

Emmaline Bags Zipper End

One other thing I added to the bag was this zipper end that I purchased from Emmaline Bags. It is the only thing that is silver toned on the bag. She doesn’t have them in gold tone, but since it tucks down into the bag and isn’t really seen, I figured the different metal color would be okay. Plus… professional looking, right?!

My mom called me about an hour and a half ago. All she could say was… “Oh MY Gosh.” “OH. MY. GOSH.” “OH MY GOSH!!!” I take it she liked it! Also, I’ve been instructed to hurry up and start selling handmade bags. I guess that means I need to start sewing some purses right away!

Happy Birthday, Mom! I am glad you like the bag! Love you!!


Pattern Testing | Tudor Bag

Skulls and Roses Tudor Bag

Skulls and Roses Tudor Bag 

Recently I had the great experience of being a pattern tester for Sara of Sew Sweetness with her new Tudor Bag pattern. This was my first time testing a pattern, so I was a bit nervous of the process.  And by nervous I mean I HAD TO READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  THOROUGHLY.  No skimming over them.  No referring to pictures only.  Nope.  I had to do this right! (We won’t talk about how I didn’t start out doing it right, ended up ripping out a bunch of stitches and made myself start the process over and do it correctly.)

I learned that as a pattern tester you need to make sure the instructions are clear so that a beginner could understand them. You have to look for errors.  As a consistent skimmer-of-pattern-reading, this part was challenging in that I like to get to the good part quickly. The sewing!

Tudor Bag Skulls Roses Back

Back of the bag

Luckily for me (and you!), Sara is an amazing pattern writer.  She includes lots of pictures and her instructions are very well written.  I found hardly anything to comment upon.  And thanks to her I finally learned how to sew a square bottom onto the bag.  Thank goodness!! The heavens opened and I was singing hallelujah praises over here.  I’ve never been able to get that down right until this pattern with Sara’s instructions!

I went edgy on Sara.  I’m not sure that she appreciates an edgy pattern tester, but I tend to be a rebel at times.  I recently purchased this amazing Alexander Henry Skulls and Roses fabric and I knew it needed to be a bag.  I didn’t have a pattern that would showcase the fabric properly though, until I saw THIS pattern.  Oh. Yes. This pattern is PERFECT.  I also wanted to add some pleather (I think it’s actually vinyl) to give it more of a biker look.

I am loving that red stitching!

I am loving that red stitching!

I used a tutorial on how to make faux leather straps from Geta’s Quilting Studio. It worked great!  Until I realized that I had to attach the straps to the bag and I didn’t want to make extra stitching lines.  My solution was to line my needle up with the first hole stitched and very slowly continue stitching, making sure that my needle entered each previously stitched hole.   I realized I was going to run out of my black Aurifil 40 Wt thread while sewing the straps.  I was able to switch to a red 40wt thread that matched the fabric and that really added some wow to the pleather. I love being able to turn a potentially bad sewing issue into something amazing!

Zip Top closure

Zip Top closure

This bag came together very easily. As I mentioned, Sara’s instructions are so clear I’d highly recommend this bag pattern to a beginner.  The pattern is a “choose your own adventure” pattern, which means you can choose exactly what features you want on your bag.  Zip-top closure or magnetic? I chose zip-top.  Bag handles, bag strap, or both?  I opted to go just with bag handles. Front pocket? Yep, I need a place to quickly stash my keys and phone. Purse feet or not? Yes, please and thank you! This is such a great pattern that I am definitely making another bag or two or three with it.

Inside pockets and bottom.  Please ignore the lint, I have already started using my bag!

Inside pockets and bottom. Please ignore the lint, I have already started using my bag!

I love the roominess inside.  There are four pockets inside, two on each side.  I’ve managed to use all the pockets and now I have a very organized bag.  LOVE that!

Details about the bag (for those that like details):

  • Exterior Fabric:  Alexander Henry Skulls and Roses
  • Accent Fabric: Black faux leather (vinyl?) from Hobby Lobby
  • Interior fabric: Kona in Cardinal
  • Pockets & Outer Pocket Lining: Andover Chillingsworth Skull Damask in Black
  • Thread: Aurifil 40wt in 2460 Dark Carmine Red
  • Hardware: Emmaline Bags Handcrafted metal label, Handcrafted zipper pull and purse feet

Big thanks to Sara for the opportunity to test this pattern.  This really is such a versatile pattern, I’d highly recommend it to anyone who likes making bags, or wants to start making bags.  One of the big bonuses to a Sew Sweetness pattern is that Sara is available if you get stuck or you need help!

Creepy skull grin on every side of the bag!

Creepy skull grin on every side of the bag!

I’d also recommend you heading over to Sara’s blog post HERE to get details on the pattern and to look at all the other tester bags. They are gorgeous!

Have you been a pattern tester?  What did you think of the experience?  Do you want to become a pattern tester?  Which designer would you most like to test patterns for?

Linking up with Blossom Heart Quilts for Sew Cute Tuesday

Sew Cute Tuesday

Bye Bye Love Bag


BagClubButton1

I didn’t get much done this week, but I did manage to sew up January’s Bag of the Month bag from Sew Sweetness’ Bag of the Month Club.

IMG_20140312_102653

I purchased some Denyse Schmidt Florence fabrics specifically for this bag.  For some reason, I absolutely love plaid bags, and I knew this bag would be perfect for showing off some plaid. The lining is Seed Pod in Taupe, and the back zippered pocket is Seed Pod in Carnelian. The outer fabric is Multi Plaid in Carnelian. I chose black yarn dyed Essex Linen as the outer accent fabric. I used Aurifil 40wt thread in Black/#2692 and Light Sand/#2000 (not pictured).

This bag gave me a few challenges, because I don’t like to read all of the instructions.  I mean, why should I pay attention to the details that are painstakingly written out for me so that I don’t mess up when sewing?  Psssshhhh.  Thoroughly reading the instructions is for people who don’t like their seam ripper.

Mistake #1:

Rather than making the outer panels of only one fabric, as instructed, I decided I wanted to have the bottom part of the bag be in the Essex Linen. That wasn’t the mistake, but my math was.  So, my outer panels ended up about an three-quarters of an inch shorter than my lining panels.  I decided to just trim the lining panels to match, as the loss wasn’t too drastic and it seemed like a rather tall bag anyway.

Trim it up, girl!

Trim it up, girl!

Holy Effing Are-you-KIDDING-Me Mistake #2:

I knew something was off about my zippered pocket when the bottom pocket fabric didn’t match up when sewing the pocket closed.  I only noticed this AFTER insertion, of course.  But, I just “went with it”.  And all was well until it was time to mark handle placement.

What?! No. NO! Oh YES. You did.  You totally did.

What?! No. NO! Oh YES. You did. You totally did.

Apparently when I made the zipper pocket I had my marked zipper fabric upside down.  So the zipper pocket was about 3″ too high.  And exactly where the handles were to be attached.  I. Wanted. To. Cry.  But, crying doesn’t effing fix it.  I looked at it for a few minutes, played around with the handles, and decided instead of making a new outer panel (which I had messed up to begin with… and there was no telling if I could mess it up ON PURPOSE again), I would just change handle placement. I knew it would be close to the top and the seam allowance, but by precisely measuring it with my eyeballs, aka “eyeballing it”, it looked like it would be okay. Apparently I have madskillz with eyeball measuring, whereas I have NO skillz using the maths to measure.

Left eyeball: Let's just sew 'em down about here, whatcha think?" Right eyeball: "sure. Looks good 'nuff to me."

Left eyeball: Let’s just sew ’em down about here, whatcha think?”
Right eyeball: “Sure. Looks good ’nuff to me.”

You’re-Almost-Finished-So-Let’s-Make-ANOTHER-Mistake #3:

I proudly held up my finished bag to show Mister and noticed that one of my handles was twisted.  And sewing this interfaced Essex Linen was not easy.  My sewing machine did NOT like backstitching on it at all.  Not even with a top-stitch needle.  Thankfully it didn’t take long to fix!

Let's make ANOTHER mistake.  Because that's fun and we have nothing better to do!

Let’s make ANOTHER mistake. Because that’s fun and we have nothing better to do!

I am so pleased with this bag!  I remembered to use my Emmaline Bags “handmade” hardware, and I even remembered to put my label in it!  After it was sewn up, of course (Mistake #4).  I just folded over the seam allowance and sewed it over the topstitching on the lining pocket.  I think it turned out okay that way. I also decided to go a little fancy and I added purse feet.  PURSE FEET.  Seriously. Proud. Of. This. Bag.

Proberly labeled up.  AND I added purse feet!

Properly labeled up. AND I added purse feet!

And here it is, all finished… front and back! I’m not too sure about my zipper choices… I probably should have done grey top and back zippers. Although, I think this will do. I really love this bag, but I’m thinking I may save it for a Christmas present.  It would be really great to have one present already in the bag.  Corny pun totally intended.

Love how these pleated pockets turned out!

Love how these pleated pockets turned out!

BYE BYE LOVE

I started this project during the week, but so many errands and “life” got in the way.  I ended up sewing up most of it yesterday, and finished fixing the mistakes today.  Since I ended up doing most of my sewing over the weekend, I’m linking up with My Go-Go Life for SEWJo Saturday (er…Sunday).

SEWJo Saturday


The Granddaughter’s Housewarming Present

Mister’s granddaughter, who I proudly claim as my granddaughter too (even though she’s actually old enough to be my daughter… Or rather, I’m young enough to be her mother. Nevermind, that’s probably a story for another day. Or not. Annnyyyyyywayyyyy). She turned 18 in November and graduated from high school shortly thereafter.  6 months early! This granddaughter is a highly motivated, independent and smart young woman. And she is taking charge of life and planning/organizing/living it well.

While we have enjoyed watching her grow up these past few years that she has lived near us, we recently had the privilege of being invited to her first “this is my own place” for a housewarming party.  And I immediately decided to make her a set of four placemats and napkins.

Placemats & Napkins

Placemats & Napkins

I only had about three days to decide on a pattern, buy fabric, and get everything made.  On Tuesday night I discovered Elizabeth Hartman’s Color Block Placemats + Napkins sew along on Sew Mama Sew.  On Wednesday we had errands to run, shopping to do, and appointments to attend to, so I all I was able to get done that day was a run to Hobby Lobby to pick up the fabrics, and then pre-wash and iron them that evening.

Hobby Lobby fabrics

Hobby Lobby fabrics

I am NOT a fan of the Hobby Lobby material.  But I did not have time to order any from my usual shops, so I had to make do.  They had some nice looking fabrics in colors that the granddaughter mentioned she liked (darker neutrals and neutrals), so I picked them up and hoped for the best.  I also found some Kona in the Sand color there, and added that to the bundle as well.  There is such an obvious difference in the quality of fabric that after I assembled the placemats I fused some Pellon SF101 to the back just to add some sturdiness to them.

Napkin

Napkin

The first day of sewing I was able to get all the fabrics cut, and the napkins done.  The second day I pieced the placemats, quilted them and completely finished the binding on two of them.  On the third day (the day of the party) I finished handsewing the binding to the back of the placemats.  I actually had about 4 hours to spare… which seems to be the norm for me. *sigh*  One day I’ll do better at planning ahead!

Quilting on the reverse side of the placemat.  Also, I remembered to add my personalized label!

Quilting on the reverse side of the placemat. Also, I remembered to add my personalized label!

I think the granddaughter liked the placemat/napkin set.  It looks fancier than I wanted, and I had to tell her that they were meant to be used. Hopefully she’ll use them! I actually like this pattern so much that I may make some for the house here.  I also may make them for some Christmas presents too.

Way to go, granddaughter!! We are so proud of you and so happy for you!

“Gramma C”