Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My First Leather Bag

As we kick off 2017, I've set a few goals for myself, one of which is to challenge myself to try new techniques and push my self outside of my comfort zone. Last year I started working with vinyl, and while I am far from an expert with it, I do feel much more confident incorporating it into my normal sewing. This year, one of my goals was to try sewing with leather.

 I saw this jaw dropping bag that Sincerely Jen made for the Bag of Month Club in which she had used reverse applique on black cork. The bag is absolutely incredible, and as always her workmanship is impeccable. Her reverse applique is what inspired me to give this technique a go, and in true me fashion, with a medium I have never tried before...leather.

I asked some advice of some talented bag makers who have experience working with leather and they were able to answer some questions for me and steer me the right way.

The hardest part was the applique, only because I quickly learned that any holes punched in leather, STAY in the leather and can create an unsightly mess. I had to cut away my original applique design and re work it to cut away some areas that I had messed up on. Once some of the initial mistakes were made, I ended up with this design:

Top stitching around the edges was the hardest part, only because I knew there were no take backsies. Once I had completed the panel, constructing the bag with the leather wasn't a challenge. However, I only did two panels with leather. I think that was about the extent of what my machine could comfortably handle. 

I chose the Miss Maggie Bag by Emmaline Bags, along with her Long John Strap Anchors. I went with Miss Maggie because it's a a perfect "basic" handbag that is like a blank canvas. It's a simple bag but that's what makes it such a cool pattern, there are so many ways to change the entire look of this bag by adding different features, hardware or panels. I am so happy with how this bag turned out, I used some of my favorite Alison Glass prints, one of which a sweet friend sent to me because it's so hard to locate. 

Of course, every good bag deserves a tassel. I made this one with a scrap of leather that was a perfect match for this bag. I added some bling from Emmaline Bags to top it off. 

The back of the exterior doesn't feature the applique, and I still love it. 

I'm so over the moon with this bag and I am so excited that it worked out how I had envisioned it, despite having to alter the applique a bit. Leather was less scary than I thought and I am looking foward to using with it more and learning more about it. 

Do you have any new things you want to try or techniques you'd love to learn in 2017? 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Calabash Handbag

I'm so far behind sharing my projects! One of my goals in 2017 is to blog more, and stay on track with my projects. I tested the newest pattern by Roarhaus Design Co., the Calabash Bag.  This is the second pattern by Roarhaus, which is the creation of an incredibly talented fellow bag maker and designer Amber. Amber did an amazing write up on hardware for my It's in the Bag! Series over the summer and she is known for her great mixing of fabrics and design elements to make her bags pop. Her patterns are no less stunning. 

The Calabash Bag pattern features both a handbag and a tote bag size. I opted for the handbag size and even this size is a very generously size hadbag and could double as a small tote.  This pattern comes together very easily, and I think a confident beginner would be able to make this pattern.

This bag is chock full of pockets! The front of the bag has a large divided slip pocket, which are quite deep in size. It would be great to slip in your sunglasses and phone with room to put your keys and pens on the other side. 

The back of the bag has a zippered pocket, which allows you to store more stuff without and gives a bit of extra security. There are two side pockets as well, which could easily hold a small water bottle. 

The inside has a full sized zippered divided pocket, that extends all the way to the bottom of the bag. It's secured with a magnetic snap closure and has the option for both vinyl/leather straps as well as fabric. 

I really like how the straps and attached to the bag, I've yet to come across a style like this. The straps are inserted into the strap tabs (you cut a small slit to insert) and then secured with hardware or stitching. It gives a really unique look. To be honest when initially reading through the pattern, I wasn't sure how I felt about this style but now that it's completed I love it!

You can pick up the pattern on Craftsy here and if you don't already follow Roarhaus on Instagram you are msising out on some serious bag inspiration.. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Swoon Sydney Crossbody

Happy New Year! 

Over the holidays I was happy to get some sewing in and try out a new pattern. My sweet friend Kate surprised me by sending me a yard of Winner's Circle in Mint by Tula pink, knowing my love for mint green. I instantly thought of making the Sydney Crossbody  by Swoon Patterns.

I was lucky enough to have a bit of this pink glitter vinyl left over after I finished another project and I had JUST enough to use for the pocket flaps and accents on this bag. She was a remarkable easy sew, even for all the details on the exterior.

One of my favorte features on this bag are the two front cargo pockets. They add a different look to the exterior and are so functional. 

The back has a full sized slip pocket, which allows you to store a generous amount, making it perfect for a small diaperbag or for toting your work essentials around.

In addition to the two cargo pockets, there is also a large zippered pocket on the exterior front. It's a great place to add a pop of contrast by using a different colored zip. 

The top has a zippered closure and inside there is another zippered pocket. This bag has so many pockets it's perfect for someone as unorganized as me, I seem to always have stuff rolling around on the bottom of my bag. 

This was a very easy to follow pattern, and none of the steps were very challenging, but there were a lot of elements in this bag. I would rate it intermediate, and I'm sure with some patience even an advanced beginner could make this bag. It's rated as a 3/4 for difficulty on the Swoon Site, and I would say that is appropriate only because of the many steps involved. 

I'm so terrible at estimating sizes from measurements on patterns. I had expected Sydney to be a bit bigger than she was, more of a true messenger bag or tote bag sized. She is 13' Wide x 11" Tall x 3" Deep. Which makes her more appropriate for an every day bag than I had envisioned. I think she woul make the perfect diaper bag for someone who doesn't need to tote around a lot. I haven't decided what to do with her yet but I can see this being a new favorite pattern for me. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Copper Love

Did you know that Emmaline Bags now carries copper hardware?! I had the chance to play with this yummy finish last month and the pictures do not do it justice, it's GORGEOUS. I was so excited to get my hands on this stuff and this Cotton and Steel print waited it's whole life for this copper. 

When deciding on a pattern, I immediately thought that the fabric and hardware would be well suited for a Swoon Sandra Saddle bag. I paired it with a faux leather I got from JoAnn and a hot pink solid on the inside. 

I love how the copper picks up the colors of the fabric so nicely, on some prints it looks more rose gold but on others, it's like a true copper. 

Emmaline is stocking snappy closures, rectangle rings, slides and rivets in copper as of now. Enough to do a lot of different bag styles. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Madison Hunting Bag

A while back I started working on a Madison Hunting Bag for a sweet friend of mine, and then I promptly put it away for the better part of 6 months. It was one of those projects that everytime I would dig it out I would realize that I was missing this item or that item that I needed. A few weeks ago I finally decided it needed to get done and I knocked it out.

My friend requested a pink bag, so I found this bubble gum pink canvas on and paired it with a print from Tula Pink's Eden line for the interior. All the accents were done in glitter vinyl. I purchased this particular glitter vinyl from as well and it's so thick, it's really only suitable to go through my machine as accents.

Although she is VERY pink, I'm so happy with how she turned out:

This was my first time using an iThinksew pattern. I absolutely love the style of this bag and many that they have, but I will say that it was a lot of pieces to work through. She was definitely not a quick sew. She was also a bit smaller than I was expecting, but in a good way. It's a good sized bag that would be great for toting around for work or the gym without being ginormous. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Playing with Glitter Vinyl

Have you tried sewing with glitter vinyl yet? It's very trendy in the bag making community right now and for good reason, it really makes a bag stand out with the smallest accents. My first go round was with some Galaxy Vinyl that I purchased from It was very pretty but it was so thick and it was a challenge to work with. It had to be used in single layers or with a lot of pleading and cursing on my part. I then learned about glitter vinyl with a canvas type woven backing that is MUCH thinner and easier to work with. I have used it in several projects now and it IS amazing! When Sara of Sew Sweetness announced that she would be carrying glitter vinyl in her shop I was stoked.

This vinyl is also a canvas type back and is oh so pliable and easy to work with. Even though it's very pliable it has no stretch and is durable enough that you could forgo interfacing on straps and accents when using it. Sara is also carrying generous 18" x 54" pieces which is more than enough to use for most bag patterns when using accents. I had previously only found it in 12' widths and often would only have enough to do straps or small accents. The larger size gives you a lot more flexibility when using it for bags.

I was so excited to get my hands on this stuff, and after seeing the vinyl accented Park West Bag that The Cloth Albatross had made, I had to sew one up. I used her fabulous pattern hack and made this Park West bag using a black and white Windham print paired with a print from Art Gallery’s Safari Moon line.

I really love how the lime glitter vinyl pops against the black and white and how the lining complements the green in the vinyl. I don't usually go with black and white or simple fabrics for bags but I am so happy that I did for this one!

It had been a while since I had made this pattern, and I forgot how much I enjoyed it! Despite the all the accent pieces, this is a very quick sew and comes together very easily. Using the vinyl as accents was a big time saver, as you can leave the edges raw. This stuff is so easy to work with, you don't need a super fancy machine or any special feet (although a walking foot or teflon foot certainly helps). If you don't have those, you can always use tissue paper over the vinyl as it will rip right off when you are done stitching (or even the paper that your interfacing is wrapped with).

One thing that helped with the final topstitching of the bag was to trim the seam allowances of the exterior panels down as far as you can (about ⅛ inch). That will reduce some of the bulk and make it easier to get the lining side to lay nicely around the top.

Of course I couldn't leave the bag well enough alone and had to add some bling! Instead of doing a zipper tab on the end, I added a zipper end from Emmaline Bags, and of course every good bag deserves a tassel. I am quickly becoming tassel obsessed.

You can see all the amazing colors Sara is carrying in stock here, and pick up the Park West Bag pattern here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Butterfly Sling Purse Sew Along Day 4

Welcome Back!! Today is our final day in the #butterflyslingsewalong. 
That means we will be finishing our bag! Now, don't feel that you HAVE to sewing right along with us. These posts will remain up permanently, so feel free to join at your own pace. You have until November 3rd to add and tag your photos using the tag #butterflyslingsewalong. 
Ready to get sewing?! First up we are going to prepare our zippers. Cut them to exactly 10" making sure that you cut off the metal ends on both sides. Secure the ends of your zippers by adding a couple of lines of stitching 5/8" away from each end. Now mark 3/4" away from the end of the zipper on each side. Grab your 1" x 2" pieces and place one right down on your zipper, with the edge of the tab directly against the mark you made on your zipper. 

Sew this down using a 1/4" seam allowance on the side closest to the end of the zipper. Then press this back against the zipper and topstitch the edge closest to the zipper. Repeat this for all 4 zipper ends.

Then as indicated in the pattern, trim away excess fabric and excess tape under the tabs (you don't want to have to sew through the zipper tape later). Now we have 2 completed zippers. 

Now, the next few steps may seem confusing but they really aren't. It's just a matter of getting your head around the order of adding the zippers to the panels. 

Your double stick tape will be your BFF here btw,

Ok, lets start by putting one of your card slot panels RIGHT side up, then putting one of your zippers RIGHT side up along the top edge with the pull on the LEFT. Then Take your panel with the turn lock attached and at the strap tabs at the TOP and place this WRONG side up on top of your zipper. 

Now once you've secured your zipper sandwich, pop on your zipper foot and sew along the top across. You may need to stop partway through sewing your zipper and move your zipper pull out of the way. To do this leave your needle down and reach in and push your zipper pull towards the stitching you have already done (I always start on the side opposite of my zipper pull). 

Then flip your pieces wrong side together and press well. Your panel will now look like this on the backside. 

Now, grab your other card slot pocket and put it RIGHT side up, take your other zipper and place it on top RIGHT side up with your zipper pull to the RIGHT. Then take the OPPOSITE end of the exterior panel we were just working with and place this WRONG side up. So the end that has the turn portion of the turn lock will be the edge that we are sewing down. Once you've secured this zipper sandwich, sew across the top edge. Again, turn these wrong side together and press well. This will be what the other end of your bag looks like now: 

So, now we need to add the other half to our pockets and the other exterior panel. Let's start with the 10" x 5 1/2" lining piece. Lay this RIGHT SIDE up on your table, then take your exterior panel with the closure strap and turn lock (we've already attached the zipper to this piece so we are just sewing that lining panel to it) and place this WRONG SIDE upon top of the lining panel and stitch across. It will now look like this, as we have created our first pocket.

Now we are going to finish our last pocket. Grab your last lining pocket piece and again lay this RIGHT side up on your table. Then take your exterior panel with the long part of the closure strap and strap tabs and place this WRONG side up on top of your lining pocket piece. Aligning the top of the lining pocket piece to the top of the zipper tape on the exterior panel. Sew across the top edge, then grab your other exterior panel piece, making sure your card window is at the top then sew this over the zippers wrong side up in the same manner you sewed the other pieces! You are ALL DONE with you zippers! Your panel will now look like this on the inside:

Whew, the hard parts are all over, now we just need to close this lady up! Now that you have all your zipper pockets complete you will be left with a giant rectangle, which we will be sewing around. 

No one likes dented corners, so it's important to make sure that we prepare our zippers before we sew. Firstly, make sure that both zippers are completely open (or you will be cursing a lot when you go to turn your bag). Then carefully make sure that both zippers are positioned so that the teeth of the zippers are RIGHT side together (pin if needed to make sure they stay in this position when you sew, it will look they are pinched together while sewing, but they won't look that way once they are sewn....if you don't then they will end up looking recessed or wonky). Pin or clip the sides together, then sew around as indicated in the pattern, leaving a hole in the bottom of one of the pockets to turn your bag. Did I mention to make sure that both of your zippers are open?

Now, clip your corners, and flip your bag right side out. Press the bottom open edge well stitch the opening closed once you've done a thorough inspection of your exterior (did you catch all your seams, did your closure tab, shoulder tabs, etc., get caugh anywhere?). Then press the bag well. Maggie of Maggie Made bags did an amazing write up on how to press your bags here

We are in the home stretch! We just need to add the other half of our turn locks and make/ attach our shoulder strap. Get your bag and the open portion of your turn lock, find the best placement for your turn lock and mark this. Then trace around the opening of your turn lock (the inside circle).

Using some sharp small scissors, cut around the circle you made (always start smaller, you can take more out!) Once you have a nice fit, see the pattern instructions to install the remainder of your turn lock. 

Let's make our straps and finish up our bag! 

Following the pattern directions, sew up your straps, attach the slider and then attach your strap to your bag. And you are all done!! Enjoy your fancy new bag!

Thank you so much so sewing along with us!! Don't forget to use the hashtag #butterflyslingsewalong when posting your photos on Instagram and Facebook! We will be randomly drawing 4 Ten Dollar Gift Cards for Emmaline Bags on November 4th, so you have until then to sew up and share your bags! Thanks Janelle! I hope you enjoy this bag as much as I do!

Happy Sewing