This is NOT a Crime

In today's YouTube video, I show a dome bag that I'm developing a pattern for. The prototype was cut from a carpet originally sewn for my patio from outdoor upholstery fabric. It didn't work out as hoped. Instead, I used the layered and quilted fabric for the dome prototype, a dog bed for my grand-puppy, and the floral scrap bag shown in today's rather long post.

Floral cross body bag on mannequin wearing Vogue 1634 dress made from a stable denim coloured knit

This is the front of the finished bag on my dress form - Millicent - with a dress sewn from out of print Vogue 1634 and a stable denim knit. I haven't worn it yet. It's too warm for summer but should be cozy and comfortable once the weather cools down.

Once the pieces for the dome bag and the dog bed were cut out, this rectangle was the remaining scrap. It's just over 24" long and 8 3/4" wide and already had quilting lines every four inches. Additional quilting was added by stitching a presser foot distance away from the original lines in both directions. Frequently, this didn't work out "perfectly" and I ended up splitting the distance between lines creating irregularly spaced rows. I think that shows the perfectly imperfect hand of the maker and creates a piece that is more authentic and unique. And I'm more than fine with that which is really fun because at one time I definitely would not have been. Everything would have had to be exactly even. IF - which is a stretch and also new learning - I'd even used the scraps, I would have removed the original stitching. Growth!

folding a length of scrap fabric to create a purse shape

The edges were trimmed square and zigzagged to hold secure before determining where to fold the length to create the bag shape.

All of the bag parts came from stash, were remnants, or were repurposed including the two locks which were repurposed from thrift store finds. I chose the one on the left for it's curve and then shaped the flap to mimic it. At this point, I had already decided to finish the edges with bias tape and I wanted curves as opposed to corners to make applying the bias easier.

These four scraps were also already quilted making them suitable to go with the main fabric as the side panel. The piece I liked the best was actually a pouch where I had been experimenting both with the zipper tabs at the top and creating a faced pocket. It was sewn from a repurposed man's shirt. The tabs worked great. I wasn't so thrilled with the pocket. I took the bag apart and put the pocket side away to experiment with further and then...

... folded the remaining section in half to see how high and how wide the side panel could be since I needed two. I wanted the side panel to taper at the top to push inward and give the bag more shape so I trimmed each side.

In the top left picture, the quilted scraps are from cutting the side panels out of the pouch piece. The pink scraps are various shaped rectangle remnants and the denim is a scrap from a pair of pants I cut up. The zippers were repurposed from other projects. The denim under the zippers is from a pair of pants I cut up when they no longer fit.

I sewed the pink scraps together to create a long enough length for the bag lining and for the side panels. At this point, I had already created a zipper pocket in the exterior back using the scrap pant fabric as one side of the pocket. The lining became the other side by sewing it to the bottom of the pocket. When you open the pocket, the lighter pink of the wrong side of that fabric is visible. This is NOT a crime. I think we spend way too much time worrying about small things like is the wrong side visible within a closed, zipper pocket. If you are okay with the look, then it's okay. There are bigger things to worry about.

The easiest way to figure out the needed size of side panel is simply to cut the width and curve and then pin it in place, mark the end points, and trim the length. At left, I'm figuring out the size and at right, the side panel has been basted to the main body of the bag within the seam allowance and with wrong sides together.

stash fabric used to create bag straps and bias

The fabric for the strap handle and the bias edging was in stash. I could call it a leftover since I'd bought it for another project but there was enough yardage that it didn't go in the scrap bin so it's stash rather than scrap.

I watched an amazing video on stitching bias easily and accurately by machine but it's not a skill I've developed... yet. I prefer to first pin the bias in place and baste it to the bag, re-stitch with an accurate seam allowance, and then fold the bias under and to the wrong side aligning it along the stitching line before hand stitching in place. In the picture bottom left, you can see the basting line and then the stitching line. By hand stitching the folded edge of the bias to this line, when I top stitch from the right side, the stitching goes exactly where I want it on both sides. Win-win.

Something that's been bothering me lately is how often I read that the individual hates steps like taping a pattern together, or adding bias, or hand stitching. Hate is a really strong word for something so inconsequential. I'm not fond of handwork but I definitely use it when necessary because I like having a range of skills that will get me the results I want. If we can afford fabric and time to sew and have the equipment to do the work, we are too blessed to hate any step IMHO. One thing I read in my journal time several years ago was to be grateful for... as in I am grateful to have a house to clean, I am grateful to have clothes to wash, I am grateful to have studio, stash, and skills to develop. I try to keep that perspective.

The zipper was repurposed from one of many hand painted pouches I made quite a few years ago that were too stiff to turn and were taken apart... and made into a rug I did love! I'd have preferred a pink zipper however, I didn't have a pink one in stash and the red did go with the floral fabric and good and enough. At right is how the closure looks on the finished flap. This type of closure is quite expensive to buy new so how fun to repurpose one for only a few bucks. Bags are between $2 and $5 at this particular thrift store. They are also a great resource for learning about technique.

And here is the finished bag - front, back, and side. I used some more of the left over pant fabric for the tabs to hold the square rings and then a matching buckle slider to make an adjustable strap. I am really pleased with how this worked out. If you think it would make a good pattern, please let me know as well as any other thoughts around the types of patterns you'd like to see. If it's a thought that also resonates with me, I'll be happy to look at developing that some time soon. Right now, the cross body bag in last week's post is being illustrated and I'm working on the steps for the dome bag. Right now, the work is starting to feel less overwhelming and more doable. I am grateful for that and... ... I am grateful for a studio, a stash, and skills to develop.