Tag Archive | purse

Bag lady

I have returned! My trip back East was wonderful beyond words. We didn’t really “do” anything other than just spend time together. It went by so quickly (well, maybe not for anyone else staying in the same hotel who had to listen to us), but it was worth everything it took to get there.

A couple of days before I left, I assessed my carry-on luggage options and decided that I needed a new bag. I had a small carry-on suitcase for my clothes, but I needed something that I could actually get into on the plane without thunking another passenger on the head, not to mention big enough to hold all my entertainment during hours of layovers. My purse doesn’t cut it. I like to keep my purse as small as possible. This bag needed to be able to hold my purse plus a water bottle, book, and small crochet project all while still looking like a purse so as not to arouse the ire of picky flight attendants.

I needed the body of the bag to be big enough to hold all the aforementioned items without being too big (Please store your personal item under the seat in front of you). Neither did I want it to be just one big cavern where small items would sink to the bottom making me That Person in the security check line. Obviously, multiple pockets were required to hold those smaller things. Also, knowing that I would be schlepping this thing through multiple airports, I wanted to have a long strap that I could wear cross-body to keep my hands free. This is more practical in my daily life, as well, when I’ve got to be ready to guide kids across parking lots and through busy stores. It needed to be a wide strap that could bear the weight of the bag without digging into my shoulder. With those criteria in mind, I spent some time searching online and I found two tutorials for different bags that I liked and created an amalgam of the two. I used the body of the Pleated Tote by Artsy-Craftsy Babe and the strap and pockets from the Olivia Bag by Dixie Mango.

Both of these tutorials are well-written, well-illustrated, and produce great-looking bags. And that’s high praise coming from me, because I’m not normally one to get excited about bags and purses.

Finished bag ready to fly!

Finished bag ready to fly!

So next came the question of fabric. Since it was only two days before I left, I didn’t have time to go to the store and I knew that I had enough in my stash. Sadly, the fabric I had in mind for the interior was actually yardage I had bought to make another blouse like the rose/leopard one of a few weeks ago. Why “sadly”? Because the print was terribly, obviously off-grain. That made it unsuitable for clothing, but for the inside of a bag — who cares if the stripes are a bit askew? I needed something heavier than just a plain cotton for the outside and, lucky for me, I had enough denim leftover from a skirt I made years ago (I think that was pre-blog). Well that was easy!

After cutting out pattern pieces, the first order of business was getting the pockets sewn onto the interior fabric. I made an easy pouch pocket for one side of the bag and sewed it down in little sections to fit my phone, pens, and pack of tissues.

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But, the most fun was the zipper pocket that I put on the other side! I have never done anything like this before, but it went together like magic. More scrounging in my stash turned up this bright green zipper that I had bought years ago. It was originally intended for a dress, but… I changed my mind about the fabric and all of a sudden I had a bright green zipper with no immediate use in sight. Ah, but that’s why I save everything. The zipper was a few inches too long for this pocket, but a little zigzag stitching at the right length and *snip* Hello, appropriately sized zipper! The link to the zipper pocket tutorial is included in the Olivia Bag post, but I’ll give it to you here, too, just in case that’s all you’re interested in. Show me the zipper pocket!

Interior of the zipper pocket, in progress

Interior of the zipper pocket, in progress

Zipper inserted and looking all professional!

Zipper inserted and looking all professional!

 

Two other features that I wanted for my bag that were not included in either tutorial were an elasticized pouch for my water bottle and a flap to keep the bag closed. The flap was easy enough to devise on my own, just taking measurements of the bag and sketching out a pleasing shape on paper to use as a pattern. I sewed it onto the exterior of the bag at the same time that I sewed the ends of the strap on, before attaching the lining.

The pouch for my water bottle wasn’t necessarily difficult, but it did take a little bit of advance planning. I measured around my water bottle, allowing enough for seam allowances and a slight bit of ease, and I also measured how high I wanted the pouch to come up on the bottle. It took a few pinning sessions to figure out the placement of the pouch within the bag. I actually sewed the side edges of the pouch onto the individual interior bag sides before sewing the bag sides and bottom together. The rest of construction was the same as the tutorial.

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I found the outside a little plain in just the denim, so before I had sewn the exterior together, I cut out a little flower from the interior fabric and appliqued it the the bottom front. It’s not really “my style” necessarily, but it’s nice enough.

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So how did the bag fare on the actual journey? Well, I packed that thing to the gills. And therein lay the only real problem I had with it: When I had sewn on the toggle button, I hadn’t taken into account where the buttonhole on the flap would fall once the bag was packed. I ended up really straining the buttonhole to reach the button. It doesn’t look so hot anymore. I’m going to have to reinforce the buttonhole and move the toggle button up higher on the bag so that it won’t be a problem for next time. Other than that, though, the bag worked beautifully. The strap gave nice support, the pockets held my stuff. The water bottle pouch was a wee bit flimsy so next time, I would interface it first to give it a little more structure. But all in all, I deem it a success! And was surprised to find that I had a lot of fun sewing it. If you’re on my Christmas list, you may end up with a bag.

Psych-osis

It’s not that I’ve been unproductive this past week. On the contrary, I’ve gotten a lot done! But it’s all on the same mystery project that I showed you awhile back. And y’know, I’d just rather not show it again until it’s finished! Well, mostly done, anyways. My self-imposed goal was the 4th of July. That would imply some sort of patriotic theme. I’ll let you be the judge of that once I reveal it. Anyways, I didn’t want to leave you high and dry, so I dug through my photo archives to find a couple of crafts I did way back when.

Probably my favorite TV show is Psych. Love it. There are some episodes I can watch over and over again and laugh myself silly every time. I used to be fairly active on craftster.org (my name is grenouille78 if you want to check out my old stuff) and I loved participating in the craft swaps. Unemployment and general lack of funds have taken their toll on that pastime, unfortunately, although I hope someday to be able to join in again. One of the swaps I participated in was themed all around the show Psych. There weren’t many of us in that particular swap, but we had fun.

If you aren’t familiar with the show, the two main characters are Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill). In the first several seasons, Shawn was always coming up with goofy aliases for Gus. So the first item I made was based on that concept. I bought a pair of black Guess jeans at the thrift store, cut them off at the crotch and made a purse out of them. I lined it with red fabric and top-stitched it in red (my swap partner’s favorite color was red, otherwise I probably would have done it all in green in keeping with the theme of the show). Then, I adorned the bag with several of Gus’ nicknames. My original plan was much cooler. I had bought an acrylic stamp that looks like one of those “Hello, my name is…” badges. I was going to stamp it all over the purse and then paint the names in. But the weave in the denim prevented the paint on the stamp to come out clearly. Too bad. It would have been funny. I did have a moment of genius when I realized that I could paint over the E and last S on Guess and turn the purse into a “Gu s” purse. That’s what I’m talking about.

Pick a name, any name

The back with handy built-in cell phone and chapstick pockets.

Gus who?

The second Psych-themed craft I have is not one I made for the swap, but inspired by what I received from my swap partner. I have another friend who loves Psych, so I made her a set of Shawn and Gus salt & pepper shakers. Just a little easy printing and decoupaging. But it’s fun! The only tricky part is spreading the glue smoothly enough that the brush strokes don’t show up all over their faces.

Black & Tan, meet Salt & Peppah

So there you have it. A little Psych-inspired fun. I follow Dule Hill and Tim Omundson on Twitter and it sounds like next season is going to be great judging by the little snippets and teases they leave us. They’re filming in Vancouver right now (oh yeah, Happy Canada Day, eh. Hug a maple for me), enjoying this same cool and damp summer that we are here. That’s right, we’ve got a high of 64 today, although that may be a bit optimistic. Hey, anywhere else in the country, send us your extra 20 degrees and we’ll all be happy!

Now back to crocheting until my hands break off at the wrist!