Summer Camp, Revisited

It’s been a couple of years since Miss L attended my Little Stitchers Camp at Intown Quilters. Half-day camp was ideal for her, although she was slightly disappointed that the camp focused on hand-sewing projects rather than using a sewing machine.

Ah, but time flies. And this year, my sweet girl was old enough to attend my full-day Fashionista Camp at IQ. I’m not going to lie: I was a little nervous about having her as a student. Teaching your own kid is usually tougher than teaching someone else’s kid. But we both had a blast and I was so proud of her for what she accomplished during the week.

Even though L has owned a sewing machine since she was five years old, I’ve never given her the same types of lessons that I do with my regular students. Instead, she’s mastered threading it on her own (including winding and installing the bobbin) and spent endless amounts of time sewing together scraps she’s collected from my sewing room.

With some guidance from her camp teacher, she cut out and sewed a pocket tissue cover, some pajama shorts and the cutest cat purse ever made.


Simplicity 118 has the cutest animal face purses I’ve ever seen. The pattern calls for using vinyl but we substituted Kona cotton with foam interfacing for the exterior and heavyweight fusible interfacing on the lining. The bag is essentially flat lined with a zipper in the gusset plus a zipper pocket on the outside and patch pocket on the inside. I changed it up and swapped the zipper pocket for a second patch pocket because I’m not sure she was quite ready for the zipper. Plus, at only 10, I’m not sure she would have the patience to plug along on a two-day project.


I helped her fuse down and stitch around the appliques for the cat face. She picked colors that reminded her of her brother’s cat, Max. She really took her time on the stitching and I looked over several times and saw her with a seam ripper in hand because she was unhappy with her stitching.


After seeing her work, I think I could have let her do the zipper. She’s far more careful than I was at her age, and really took her time with sewing. I actually let her use my Janome HT2008 for the week instead of her Janome Hello Kitty because it has a computerized speed control, which I knew would come in handy.

IMG_7353She especially loved the mouse applique on the outside pocket. I think it’s her favorite detail! L is so happy with how her purse turned out and has worn it everywhere since she finished.


Camera Cuteness

There have been a few instances when I’ve seen a fabric that led me to beg Sarah to order it for her shop. Honest-to-goodness begging. Which led directly to making this:

IJ suitcase-style purse

Funky, retro cameras? If ever there were a fabric that screamed “buy me NOW!” it is this fabric. It’s such a cool print that I didn’t want to chop it up so I scoured the shop for a pattern that would really show it off. The Indygo Junction In-Style Suitcase Bag seemed to fill the order, so off I went homeward with fabric, pattern and some cool Echino strapping in hand.

The pattern calls for polyester foam, which I do not have. I didn’t want to hunt it down (and kind of wanted to use what I had on hand) so I substituted double-sided fusible Peltex.

This was an excruciatingly bad idea. The next time I make this bag (and I guarantee I will), I will either hunt down the appropriate foam or use multiple layers of fusible fleece with Decor Bond fused to the lining.

Other than that little misguided notion, the bag came together fairly well. It may have come together a bit easier had I read the instructions, but who reads that stuff anyway? (Tip from me: Read the instructions. Seriously.) I love how the style shows off the swoon-worthy fabric and the bag is roomy enough for everything I own and tote on a daily basis.

Now to figure out what else I can make with that camera fabric…

Funky Baguette

As I flip through my ever-growing pattern collection, I often wonder if I’m in need of an intervention. So many patterns, so many intentions and yet so little follow through. For instance, I’ve had an Echino purse pattern since 2008 and even bought the fabric but never got around to making it. Why?

In part, because the pattern is in Japanese. This may surprise you, but I can’t read or speak Japanese. Shocking, right? But the Japanese craft books and patterns usually are so detailed with diagrams that it’s really not necessary to be able to read the accompanying text.

Except this pattern. There’s one little diagram that I just wasn’t sure I understood. I finally took another look at it and realized my confusion: The little wiggly line means to gather the section between the arrows. And the diagram on the pattern sheet shows to gather the fabric to an opening of  29cm. Woooo!

And thus my newest purse came into being:

Kokka Baguette

The body of the bag is a fun, new linen/cotton blend from Kokka, part of the new Trefle line. My favorite bright colors+sewing images? LOVE! I lined it with an aqua and white gingham from the Michael Miller line Mini Mikes. The tabs and strap are made with the MM Cotton Couture line of solids (which I am so loving).

All told, I think the bag took maybe 90 minutes to cut and sew. My strap is a little longer than the pattern piece and I also made mine a little different (I cut it four times the finished size and folded it like bias tape, with a touch of Decor Bond to interface). I did mess up the tabs on the first go and these aren’t quite right, either. I also left two pins underneath one of them and had to work them out through the seam. Oops!

I usually don’t like bags without interior pockets but this silhouette doesn’t really lend itself to pockets. Fortunately the size it perfect for my must-have items so I don’t really need any pockets inside. I can seriously see myself making several more of these. Next time I want to use some of the Kokka ready-made strapping.

New Year, New Bag

I think I probably sew more bags than just about anything else in my repertoire. There’s just something gratifying about making something I can immediately use — and I literally wear out the bags I sew, which means there’s always room for another in my closet.

Daisy Girl Backpack

This bag combined two things I fell in love with on sight: Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Rising fabric and the Daisy Girl Backpack by Fig Tree & Co. Honestly, the most difficult part of this exercise was cutting into the fabric. It’s OOP! It’s the only half-yard of it I bought! Once I make something with it, that’s it! Oh em gee!

Yeah, I may get a little worked up on occasion.

I actually bought the fabric with another project in mind but couldn’t find quite the right lining fabric. I’m glad I waited because I love how this bag turned out. LOVE. IT!

The contrast fabric is Kona (if someone’s really interested, I can match to  my color card) and I used a minty cotton twill for the lining (I inexplicably bought about four yards of it and it’s a pretty nice match). A note on linings: I tend to stick with light-colored fabric for lining bags. If you’ve ever owned a purse with a dark lining, you know that a black hole it can literally be. So much easier to rummage around and find what you’re looking for (I’m looking at you, debit card) if you can actually see the bottom of the bag.

I added a swivel hook to the bag lining to keep my keys, because it’s much easier to find them if they’re always snapped to it. I also substituted a flat magnetic clasp instead of the magnetic snap to save on wear and tear of the opening (I’m rough on bags and inevitably rip the snap through, even with plenty of reinforcement). And I goofed up a bit with the interior pocket and drawstring casing (read the directions! I’d save myself a ton of heartache if I’d follow my own advice!) but it’s still functional if not quite what Joanna Figueroa intended.

There’s a drawstring closure of the bag top which uses grommets and I deviated from the instructions here to do them more like corset grommets. The biggest difference is that I use an awl to work holes for the grommets rather than cutting the fabric. It works on smaller grommets — I can’t see how the technique would work on the big drapery grommets — but is incredibly tedious. It probably took me about 90 minutes but I think it helps keep the fabric stronger around the grommets since there’s no cutting involved. Obviously YMMV.

The bag size is pretty good for my needs. It holds my checkbooks, wallet, iPad and/or Kindle with room to spare. But not so roomy that it will end up a bottomless pit of old receipts, coupons and forgotten mail. Oh, who am I kidding? I am, after all, the woman who can junk up a wristlet!

Miss L was crushed to learn the bag was not for her, so I am fairly certain I’ll be sewing another of these in the near future.

Hola, Lola!

One of my favorite things about this time of year is all the prep that goes into the Greater Atlanta Shop Hop. Specifically, all the samples that need to be made. Lucky me often gets to play with as much fabric as I can handle to help Sarah get everything ready, which is how this bag ended up on my to-do list.

The pattern is from Izzy and Ivy, Lola Goes Shopping. I can’t get enough of those gorgeous velveteens so I decided to use some for the bag exterior, then threw in some voile for the coordinating scarf. A little Innocent Crush quilting cotton for the lining and some rich batik fabric for the binding and I was set. I love the fabric combo and think the bag turned out exactly as I’d pictured.

I am so not a binding expert and this bag really was a challenge for me because there is so much of it. (If you see this hanging up at the shop, please be kind.) If I were to make it again, I’d be tempted to do some kind of work around to avoid using the binding. Of course, that would really change the look of the bag and I think I might not like it as much without it!

Bag Lady Returns

I haven’t been blogging much lately but I have been sewing. I guess it’s a trade off sometimes and I’m certainly enjoying the productivity.

I’ve been itching to make the Pink Chalk Mail Sack ever since I saw Kathy Mack carrying one around Market. I love the styling and the cross-body handle is especially appealing to me. The hardest part was deciding what fabrics to use! Ultimately I decided to sew it with the bright, fun Gypsy Bandana by Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics.

Can you say “Yummy!”? Totally loving how it turned out. I did substitute fusible fleece for the interfacing recommended for the bag exterior, mostly because I had it on hand and prefer a little softer feel sometimes.

In retrospect, I wish I’d used a smaller print for the bag yoke and handles but I can live with this combination. It’s a nice size, very generous, and I like that there are plenty of pockets I can fill with all my necessities.

Petal Pretty

Among the folks I met at Market this year was this amazingly sweet gal, Violet. We got to hang out a bit at Schoolhouse (and possibly irritate someone with our whispering), have lunch with a group of friends and even won door prizes from the equally sweet Elizabeth. Unfortunately, she had to leave Market early so we didn’t get to hang out as much as I’d have liked, so now I just get to stalk her on the Internet.


Violet was carrying the cutest purse and of course I had to ask her about it. Of course, she’d made it. And there’s a pattern for it! From Indygo Junction! Woooooo! Lucky me picked up my very own pattern at sample spree, brought it home, started it and…OK, it took me three weeks to get back to it but I had a craft show and Thanksgiving thrown in there, too. Obviously not my fault. Right?

But now it’s done and I love it. Love. It!

I used a really rich purple fine wale cord from Robert Kaufman for the exterior, an aqua Ta Dot from Michael Miller for the lining, various scraps from my scrap bins for the petals and some strapping from Echino. The pattern calls for 1-1/2″ strapping but I used 1″ since that’s what I found at the shop. I also used a parachute buckle instead of D rings because I had it on hand (and really wanted to sew instead of running out to the store for purse hardware). Along the same lines, I substituted sew-in magnetic disks for the pronged magnetic purse clasp since it was in my magic sewing box.

I’m not a quilter and I think some of the challenges I had with the bag were directly related to that. My echo quilting is kind of messed up and I have some puckers in the quilting, too. Not enough of a bother for me to rip out and re do, since it’s for me, but I definitely would have fixed it were I gifting it. If I had to do it over again, I would cut the front purse piece and fusible fleece maybe 2″ bigger on each side, quilt, then trim to the right dimensions and square it up, which would fix the weird shifty mess I made as a result of the quilting.

It’s a nice, roomy bag and I love all the pockets, especially the hidden pocket on the back of the bag. It’s an ingenious touch and will be perfect for tucking in my keys or iPhone. The purse is so bright and pretty, and I can’t wait to start showing it off!

Playing with Patchwork

I had a bunch of squares left from some Christmas presents I made, so I decide to put them to use and make a little bag I’d been mulling over. No pattern. No idea if it would turn out. Just arranging and sewing and crossing my fingers.

Overall, I like it. It’s not a huge bag but just big enough to wear on a park outing or to an art festival. The strap is sewn in such a way that it lays flat against me while keeping the bag flat against my hip, too.

I lined the exterior of the bag with fusible fleece and like the somewhat cushy feel it adds.

The only thing I really wish I’d done differently is the zipper. It’s too short and keeps me from opening the bag as widely as I’d like. Of course, I was trying to use what I had on hand and the zipper seemed to work nicely with the fabric.

Just a fun, practical little bag that I think will make a nice addition to my gift-making repertoire.