Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Purse-frame bag

Purse Frame Bag

Whilst I have heaps of bags, I felt like I needed something that was a bit more suitable for going out (smaller), that goes with more things. I have always thought that a bag with a purse frame would be cute, but I didn't have a suitable pattern, so I made it using Nicole Mallalieu's 200mm Chunky purse pattern....

"You Sew, Girl!" Chunky 200mm Purse Kit

I guess you can tell that I had to make a few modifications to actually get the bag to look like it does using that pattern. I had to slash and spread the pattern to make it bigger in all directions, except for the frame part. I started sewing up a trial bag before I worked on the real thing, but that has mostly been abandoned.

Modified purse frame pattern

The fabric for this bag came from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I think it was about $15 or $16 per metre? It is a fake leather type fabric with a texture that I think is meant to be a bit like snakeskin. The fabric has a bit of stretch in it. I guess it is designed to make skirts or pants out of? I added some iron on wadding to help give the bag some structure and to remove the stretch. There is also boning added behind the straps to give extra support, and help keep the bag standing up straight and tall and not slouching into a puddle.

I love the newsprint lining - I think it adds to the vintage feel of the bag. Mostly, bought bags seem to have a dark lining, which I guess is meant to help hide the grime, but I prefer a light-coloured lining, as it helps me to be able to see inside a bag.

Purse Frame Bag - look inside!

I used the instructions in Nikki's new book "The Better Bag Maker" to help me make the zipped pocket inside. Normally, I would be going through my pattern stash, looking for which patterns have that set of instructions, or check my notes from the zippers for bags class I attended - but now I have the book, so I can save myself heaps of time by just referring to that.

The purse also has a nice hard base and cute little round purse feet on the base. Instead of just using it to go out, it seems to have become my everyday bag.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Made for Me - March Dress

March dress

Ok, so I realise that it is now June and I still haven't showed you the dress I made for myself back in March. I am finding it challenging (on many levels) to take photos of myself, wearing the things I have made. Never mind, I will get over myself and catch up eventually, I am sure...

Anyway, this dress is made using New Look pattern 6429, view C. As I have a long torso, I attempted to lengthen the top half of the dress. There is a seam across the back that is already above the waistline, that would have looked really funny if I had not. Lengthening the torso was not easy, as there are no shorten/lengthen lines to be able to do so, so there was a bit of fiddling around, and some moving of dots and notches. I am still not sure I really got this right, but it seems to work.

New Look 6429

Oh, by the way, this is my mannequin. She has come from my mum's house to stay here. As you can see, she is a bit skinny and it looks like her boobs are in a completely different place to mine, but maybe with some padding, I might be able to sort her out. Or she can just become my clothes horse for modeling my new clothes if I am too shy, or technically challenged to do it myself.


Another modification I made to this dress was that I replaced the neckline facing with some binding that I cut from the same fabric as the dress. I found the concept of a facing in a stretch dress to be a bit strange. Particularly because that facing is to be interfaced, which would make it not stretchy. When I added the binding, I made sure to stretch it a little tighter across the bust area, where the dress "crosses over". This was to help keep everything inside the dress, where it should be. I have a tendency to burst out of cross-over dresses and tops as time goes by, but this dress is safe at least for long enough for me to go out for dinner. I really do wonder about that facing and if there are advantages to having those parts of the dress stabilised in such a way?

Overall, I am fairly pleased with this dress. I may even make it again, out of some better fabric. We shall see...

Saturday, 31 May 2014

3 Easy Steps to Make Better Bags

Toronto Convertible Tote-backpack

Step one - GET THIS BOOK!
Step two - read it
Step three - make all the things!!

The Better Bag Maker Book

Nicole Mallalieu's latest book is hot off the press and oh boy, is it a good book or what?!! The book comes with the patterns you need to make ten different bags graduating from a basic tote at the start, right through to the fancy-schmancy Toronto backpack as you can see above. I made this backpack about a year ago as a pattern test for the book. It is a really versatile bag, as it converts from a handbag style that you can pop under your arm, to a tote so you can fit in a little more shopping, and then, when you've been at the craft show all day and you're running out of hands to carry all your shopping, it can convert to a backpack!

Toronto as a tote

But ten great bag patterns isn't even the best bit. The part that you will really be loving is the bit right at the start, where Nikki tells all of her best bag-making secrets. Since I started using Nikki's patterns, and learning all her clever tricks, I really feel that my sewing has improved by leaps and bounds. The Better Bag Maker covers quite a lot of the techniques that Nikki uses in her patterns, all in one place. This book tells you how to make professional looking straps, crisp corners and insert zippers like a pro. Nikki shows you how to choose interfacing, as well as how to apply it. You also learn how to install all the yummy metal bits, like magnetic snaps, o-rings and purse feet, that take your bag from homemade to hand made. There are also plenty of different pocket options so that you can make your bespoke bag work the way you want it to. The best part of all this, is that you can use all these great tips on all your other sewing and make everything you do look more professional!

Toronto as a shoulder bag

I am so pleased to have this book on my bookshelf, it is a great reference to have and I have already used it to help me install a professional looking zip pocket inside my latest bag, but that's another blogpost!

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