Saturday, 15 October 2016

Stepping into weekend with my new Coalition Bag

To continue with my personal and professional development in bag making and designing, I have decided to brave the October 2016 pattern from The Bag of the Month Club. This beautiful pattern was designed by Sara Lawson from Sew Sweetness. It is larger than most handbags I have made and the finished product measures approximately 13.5 inches long x 8.5 inches tall x 6 inches deep.  

This bag is actually the perfect mummy-size bag for me to watch my children at matches this autumn, as it has enough room to pack my gloves, hats and scarf. Also my coffee and secretly stashed Jaffa Cakes. 

Just when I thought I knew it all when it comes to bag making, this pattern took me out of my comfort zone and proved me wrong. It wasn't complicated, it was just very different from any bags I have ever made before. The construction of it was an eye opening experience and demanded my full attention, which meant watching Criminal Minds on Netflix while sewing was completely out of the question! 

The highlight of the design is this zip closure that runs from the top to the sides of the bag that makes it look like a framed bag. The added side pockets also added extra dimension to the bag. Every which way you look, there is always something that catches your eye and that to me, is very special.

The handle tabs are really lovely to sew although I have adapted the instructions to make it easier for me. 

The long zip tab was the one thing that made me nervous about putting this bag together. But naturally, I picked faux leather to test the pattern, instead of normal quilting weight cotton, like everybody else. That also meant that I am not allowed any mistakes because if I did, I will mark the faux leather and that, is a point of no return. Looking back now and seeing the finished result, I am actually really glad I used faux leather instead. As they say, the higher the risk, the greater the reward. All I needed to do was pace myself and attempt every single stitch slowly and carefully, without stopping to have any squares of chocolate in my secret drawer.

Unlike most of my other bags, I did not put feet on this one. I just LOVE how the accents join together in the centre, at the bottom of the bag and I did not want to take the attention away from that. 

But of course, never forget to bling a new bag with The Tassel! I am so in love with this one. I made it extra big and extra long. My rivets could just about handle the thickness of this one but ahhh....I do love you The Tassel!

With already so much going on, on the outside, I balanced everything off with a simple lining. Just plain off white cotton for my lining material for a fresh, clean finish.  

I am very well aware that the finished product is nowhere close to perfection, but that is the packaged elements that come with handmade items - the quirks, the imperfections, the assymetrical-ity of it all, these are what make handmade items special.

Anyways, The Coalition bag is definitely one to try if you haven't already done so. You can get the pattern by joining The Bag of Month Club, or wait for this pattern to be released on its own next year. But I promise you, this one, is definitely one you wouldn't like to miss. I don't think I will be adding this to my 'For Sale' collection just yet, but I am sure it will make its way there once I have improved  my skills making this design. 

Fely xxx

PS/ This is not a sponsored post

Friday, 14 October 2016

How to make your very own personalised carry handles and shoulder straps

There are times when you are making your bag(s) and you just cannot,  for the life of you,  find materials perfect enough to make the handles or the straps to finish your bag off. Not only can this be frustrating, but at times, little niggly bits like this can make or break your projects. I would love to share with you how I make my own personalised carry handles and straps. Super simple, and super quick and also quite fun. If you'd like to know more, please continue reading.

Materials :
Main material - Polypropylene webbing or cotton webbing. 
Secondary material - Oilcloth (or your choice of material that you want to add on to your webbing)

Notions :
Cutting board
Rotary cutter
Measuring tape
Foldback clips or quilters' clips (or double sided tape)
Matching thread

 1. First, determine the desired length of your polypropylene or cotton webbing straps. I have mine cut at 21.5 inches long and these are 1 inch wide straps.  
* I zig-zagged the ends of my polypropylene webbings to prevent them from fraying. 

2. Cut your secondary material to add to your webbing.  I chose oilcloth for mine. This material can be anything - oilcloth, vinyl, leather, ribbons etc. The material needs to be exactly the same length and width of your webbing.

3. Fold the secondary material in half to determine the centre then fold both long sides inwards, towards the centre, wrong sides together. At this point, the secondary material will be half its width. You can secure the folded material with foldback clips or quilters' clips. I used double sided tape to hold mine in place.

4. Centre your secondary material on your main material as shown in the picture. I eyeballed mine but if you are a stickler for perfection, feel free to get your measuring tape out. Again, you can use foldback clips or quilters' clip to hold it in place. I used double sided tape.

5. Do this to both straps.

6. To finish them off, just sew the secondary material in place onto your main material. I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance here. You can also use 1/8 inch seam allowance but I prefer to show my stitches off. Something to bear in mind here is your choice of thread. I use white as my upper thread and black for my bobbin thread to match my webbing and my oilcloth.
7. All you do now is finish off your project(s) with your handmade personalised straps. They don't look too special on their own but when added to your project, they make such an impact for a perfect finish.
I also made a matching personalised long shoulder strap to match the carry handles. I love how you could lift a simple design with such little effort. I hope you find this tutorial useful. Good luck lovelies!

Have a wonderful weekend ahead!

Fely xxx

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Celebrating Autumn with The Brooklyn Handbag

And the season has changed, yet again! This means bringing out all my lovely autumn and winter pieces out from my wardrobe. And they include all those tweeds and the brown walking boots. Also the flannels and the fleece lined hoods. Ah, love! And to celebrate autumn, I decided that a new bag is in order. This beautiful little bag is the Brooklyn Handbag by Swoon Patterns, originally featured on The Bag of The Month Club in May 2016. The bag is a compact size of 11 inches long x 7 inches tall x 5 inches deep. It is almost the same size as my Little Minnie but it is deceivingly larger than it looks. 

I have been making bags with my own patterns for a long time but if you are self taught like me, you will only learn so much after a while. Alternatively, gaining knowledge and experience from another designer, through his/her patterns, is understanding and recognising that there is a whole lot more out there that can be learnt. And this pattern, has definitely given me that, and more.

I actually wanted a proper, grown up leather bag but having discovered the price of hide, which is usually sold by the square metre, I knew it wasn't cost effective for me. I now know why leather bags cost the earth. So I turned to the next best thing - faux leather material. It has the same finished look as a leather bag, in every way possible. But because it's faux leather, it could simply be wiped clean with baby wipes if you, say get a bit of chocolate on it. As you do if you constantly walk around with a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk in your hands. Like me. 

The main panels for the original pattern does not come in two halves, width-way. I just like the look of the stitches coming down the centre of the panels, as seen in most real leather bags, so I cut mine in half and then put them back together. Therefore, if you have the same pattern and wonder why yours turned out a bit different, this answers your question. I also opted out of the shoulder strap and the connectors that are placed on either side of the main panels because I am the sort of person who likes carrying my bags tucked under my arm. I have some valuable confectionary stash in my bags that my little people aren't meant to find out. Or steal. Or both. 

As usual, I added those feet for protection. Incidentally, I also found out that if you have bags with feet, you do not place them on lacquered tables. Especially if the table is a family heirloom. Trust me to find that out the hard way.

In my opinion, this is the star attraction of the bag - the accent panels at the bottom of the bag. Ah...those curves... such a beautiful feature. It doesn't really look like a big deal, but oh the impact they give on the design...

There is a lovely pocket, big enough for my iPhone 6 plus in the lining. The size of the internal pocket is a big deal for me as I like the option of being able to separate my gadgets from the rest of my bag content. I have only ever accidentally scratched my phone screen with my keys once, to learn this very valuable lesson.

And of course, the quintessential accessory for any leather or faux leather bags - The Tassel. It has to be just the right size - not too big that it drowns the bag, or too small to go unnoticed. I think I will have a tutorial on making these tassels one day. We should all have one for  (each of) our bags.

All in all, I found making this bag with the given pattern an eye opener. I have learnt a few design and assembling tricks along the way. If you ever decide to try the pattern out for yourselves, please bear something in mind - it is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL that you read the instructions first and also follow them as you go along. I got a bit cocky and skipped a few while I was making mine and got better acquainted with my seam reaper a few times. I could have avoided that very easily, simply by following the instructions but hey ho, you live and learn. So please bear that in mind. The written and picture instructions are simple and straightforward. 

I shall be making a few of these bags to sell soon, so please watch this space.

Anyway, apparently we are short of milk this morning. Can't have t'husband going through the day without his coffee. So i'm off to the shop to get some milk - in my country boots, tweed jacket and oh, my new bag (whoop whoop!)

See you all soon and have a love day ahead.

Fely xxx

PS/ This is not a sponsored post

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

And another PERFECT little bag!

I have wanted to try this pattern out for absolute ages. This little beauty is the Dollie Mini Crossbody bag, by A wonderful and compact little bag that measures approximately 6 inches wide x 6 inches tall x 2.75 inches deep. This is my kind of bag that would fit the holy trinity of handbag content : wallet, keys and a phone. It will leave very little room for everything else, which is good for me, who always manages to sneak a bar of chocolates in my bag. You see, this little Dollie doesn't tolerate making room for unnecessary rubbish like that! It just fits the essentials.

What I really LOVE about this pattern is the ease of the given instructions. They are clear, precise and not jargon-ey. At merely 10 pages long, the instructions are short enough to keep me focused and not distracted by the Cadbury's Milk Bar hidden in my drawer. Have I also mentioned that the pattern itself is free? How fabulous is that!

Every detail of this bag was very clearly thought of. Because I am self taught, adding little things like the accents to the main panel, and the snap tab, were an absolute eye opener for me. Who would have thought these little features could make such an impact on a design! Ingenious. You learn something new everyday. 

I wanted to make the bag stand out even more by using a contrasting coloured thread. Although my stitches were riddled with imperfections, they don't seem to jump out, most probably because of the striking faux leather combinations I chose for the outer materials - inspired by the bar of Crunchie I was eating while choosing my materials - nothing like the combination of honeycomb and chocolate.  

Delicious as the outer materials are, the lining is even scrummier. I just cannot get enough of this rainbow star print that instantaneously makes you happy the minute you laid eyes on it. It is simply a burst of happiness on fabric. 

Overall, I was really glad to be able to try this wonderful pattern out. It is absolutely gorgeous and just a little bundle of perfection, for any time and any occasion. And on that note, guess who has a new bag for the school runs ;-)  

Fely xxx

PS/ This is a non-sponsored post

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Mummy made retro-style school bag

My daughter came home from school one day and announced that she wanted a mummy made school bag. Anyone would have thought that this was a straightforward request, given the nature of what I do. Then the specifications came rolling out. I realised she had a long time to think about this request before she came to me. Cheeky. And cunning. So the details of her specifications are as follows :
1) Must be able to fit an A4 ring binder.
2) Could accommodate an A4 cardboard folder (which I found to be an inch and a half longer than A4 ring binders, did you know that?)  
3) Her Smiggle double up hardtop pencil case must be able to sit comfortably in it.
4) Must also be able to fit a water bottle.
5) And when she has her music lessons, she has to fit her collection of music books - A grade book, a theory book, a sight reading book, a scales and appreggios book.
5) And a separate section to fit her Tom Gates book.


Having had a look around my workshop to see what I have and what I could use, I came up with the idea of a retro-style rucksack, using all the bright coloured faux leather I have in stock. My initial sketch was for a bag measuring 15.5 inches tall x 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep. I thought this is big enough to fit all the above, but not too big that it would make her look like a turtle carrying a  shell on her back.

The faux leather I have in stock were actually really scrummy and reminded me of M&Ms, which is what we end up naming the bag ; The Candy Bag. They also have this wonderful texture on them which gives them an added dimension instead of a normal, boring flat surface. 

Making the rucksack was no mean feat. This bag was made specifically for her which means I needed to get the measurements right, not just for the items she'll be carrying, but also for the size of her little figure. The straps needed to be a perfect length so she has the option to tighten or loosen them for good support, to avoid damaging her back. Also, given the amount of things she would be travelling with, I wanted the straps to be wide and comfortable so they wouldn't cut on her shoulders. They ended up measuring 3 inches wide at the top where they sit on her shoulders. I also padded them for extra comfort. The D rings are added on either side of the bag which work really well as zipper pull support and a place she can attach her key ring collection.

It took me about 4 days, from drafting the pattern to finishing the bag. Personally, that was quite a long time to complete a project.

I also added a loop at the top of the bag, just in case she ever needed to hang the bag on her peg.

The shoulder strap is extendable by adjusting the dark brown webbing added at the bottom of the bag. Using dark brown accentuates the theme of the bag even more.

Now this is my most favourite bit - the vibrant, multi coloured star lining. It is just the most gorgeous print and perfect for this project. The stars echo most of the colours from the main outer materials, as if they were all made for each other. I added the internal slip pocket for her Tom Gates' book. As requested.

Overall, the bag turned out a success. However, it would take sometime before I could replicate this bag. There are a few niggly bits that need to be perfected and I am working very hard to tackle those issues. But even if the bag wasn't 100% perfect, my little girl was ecstatic with it. And that to me, is all that matters.

Hope you enjoy this post. Have a fabulous weeekend ahead.

Fely xxx