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Gift #1: A Quilted Handbag

Lavender Quilted Handbag

I’ve completed the first handmade gift on my list. My mother-in-law (who probably doesn’t even know this blog exists) will be the recipient of this lavender quilted handbag. SciFi man had the great idea that I should make her a bag for Christmas, at which point his work was finished and mine began.

Lavender Quilted Handbag Detail

I am really, really delighted with how this bag turned out. I think it may be the cutest bag I’ve made, and it’s certainly got the most “features:” a cell phone pocket, a zippered pocket, quilted exterior, magnetic snap, and useless but pretty eyelets and bows. It’s lavender because word on the street is that’s her favorite color. (I sure hope the word knows what it’s talking about.)

Lavender Quilted Handbag Pockets

What do you think of this bag? I’m so pleased with the way it turned out that I’m thinking of making a few (in different colors) for the shop. Do you think I should?

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Zippered Pockets

Zippered Pocket in Daydreamer Tote Bag

I started working on a new tote bag tonight. I’ve been thinking about this particular bag for awhile, and I finally decided it was time to actually make it. I’ve still got to make the handle and put the pieces together, but most of the work is done. It’s a simple tote bag, but it does have a zippered pocket inside it. I know zippers can be scary, and zippered pockets daunting, but they really aren’t that difficult, as long as you’ve got a zipper foot for your sewing machine.

If you want to give zippered pockets a try on your own, I’ve found a few great tutorials to gently guide you through the process. Sew, Mama, Sew! has a great tutorial for zippered pockets (with bonus slip pocket and magnetic snap tutorials at the end). There’s also a very nice zippered pocket tutorial on Craftster, and this is actually the one I followed the first time I tried one of these pockets. Both of these tutorials involve cutting a slit into your lining fabric and having the actual pocket dangle between the lining and exterior of your bag. Another clever take on the zippered pocket, also available Craftster, involves attaching the pocket to the inside of the lining and then hiding the edges with strips of fabric, bias tape, or ribbon. I haven’t tried this method yet, but it definitely looks nice and I’ll probably give it a try soon.

Good luck installing your zippered pockets! I will probably finish up my new tote today, so I’ll be sharing it soon.

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A Wristlet

Mystery Prize Revealed - Olive Green Wristlet

A few days ago, ConnieC won the “6 weird facts about me” contest and along with the satisfaction of winning she also won a mystery prize. The prize was mysterious because I hadn’t made it yet. It’s now finished up though, and I hope she won’t be disappointed. It’s a wristlet, made with an olive green Tracy Porter fabric with butter-yellow designs. Connie told me she preferred small bags, and at 7 inches wide at the top (9 inches at the bottom) this wristlet is just that. It’s pleated, though, so it’s a little roomier than a flat bag would be. I’m able to carry my over-full key ring, cell phone, credit cards, and cash in one of these and still have a little room to spare.

Connie, I’ll get the wristlet in the mail in the next day or two. Thanks again to everyone who entered my contest. And if you want a wristlet of your own, I have a few in my shop, and I’m always open to custom orders. Just email me or send me a convo on Etsy.

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Compass Rose Handbag

Compass Rose Handbag
I’ve finished up another new purse. There’s so many things I want to make, I have a hard time sticking to old styles. So these new on is in a style I haven’t offered in my shop before. It’s a handbag sized tote, big enough to carry all you need plus some, but not overly huge. I think it turned out really nicely. The body and handles are made with twill cotton and the outside pockets (all six of them) and lining are a great blue fabric with a print that makes me think of a compass rose–combined with the blue, it’s rather nautical. Maybe a good bag to carry to the beach? It’s got a zippered top to keep things you want in and things you don’t want out. I’ll be adding it to the shop later today. I’ve got a bit of the blue fabric left, so I may put together a matching wallet next.

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Surprise Packages are the Best Kind

Pretty Theory Book Purse

The mailman surprised me with a box from Pretty Theory the other day, all because my mom ordered me a gift on Etsy. She sent me this fabulous book purse, made from an upcycled “Modern Clinical Psychiatry” book that apparently used to live in the State Attorney General’s office in Chicago. Given that I currently live in Illinois and have an interest in all things mental health, this purse was just too perfect! (Thanks, Mom.)

Pretty Theory has a variety of book purses made with books from all sorts of subjects. Right now they have some available for your favorite math nerd or seamstress. They got some other things, like gift tags and necklaces, too. You can keep tabs on Pretty Theory at their blog, PrettyTheory.com.

What’s the last gift you surprised someone with? My last one was a beautiful necklace from AntiGenre for my mom.

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My New Reversible Tote

tote

I finished up a new tote that I liked so much I’m keeping it for myself. It’s reversible, so it’s like two totes in one! (Although, I think I’m probably going to be favoring the side shown here a little.) The green fabric is, again, from the Tracy Porter line at JoAnn Fabrics. It is actually the leftover material from my quilt backing (and featured in this blog’s banner). I just love this fabric! The other fabric is a great blue and white diamond pattern with small gold dots on it. I bound the edges of the tote with turquoise bias tape, which was a first for me. I was actually inspired to use the bias tape after reading about it on several other blogs and tutorial sites.

Martha Stewart gives bias tapes instructions and ideas in Bias Toward the Pretty. There’s also a great Bias Tape Tote Tutorial over at Belle Epoque. And, Posie Gets Cozy talks about bias binding in her post, “How I Get My Jollies.” With all this talk and information about bias tape, who was I not to try it?

darts

The bottom of the bag has a little body thanks to some darts. It’s lined with firm decor bond interfacing, so it keeps its shape, but it’s not so firm that it can stand up on it’s own, especially with the curved bottom the darts give it. (I may try another with a more squared-off bottom and see what I like better.) The tote seems to be just the right size for me–roomy without being huge–and although it is lined with a firm interfacing, it’s soft and rests nicely flat at my side.

pouch

Because it is a cool reversible tote, and because of the placement of the handle, there’s no closure at the top of this bag. To make up for that, I made up a small (7×4 inches) zippered pouch in matching fabric to hold important items in the tote. It’s got a great, kiwi green zipper, but I think it would look fabulous with a turquoise zipper, too. The pouch has triangular sides with a depth at the bottom of 2 1/2 inches, so it can hold quite a bit of important stuff. If I added a strap, the pouch could probably pass as a small wristlet. And it would definitely make a nice cosmetics bag. Even though the pouch isn’t interfaced, it holds its shape fairly well and can stand up on its own.

Hooray for new totes!

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Slip Stitch

I don’t particularly enjoy hand sewing– I want results fast! — by today’s project called for hand sewing a lining to a zipper using a slip stitch. Not the fastest method, but it actually didn’t take as long as I anticipated. If you need to brush up on your slip stitching, Bob Vila surprisingly has a helpful tutorial. Not much text, but great images that (at least for me) clearly indicate what needs to be done.

Updated 2/14/13: Apparently Bob Vila is no longer interested in teaching us how to sew. No worries… Michelle Patterns has an excellent tutorial for how to slip stitch a seam closed.

Today’s project that necessitated the slip stitching is a gorgeous wristlet made out of the same olive green brocade that I used in the geisha bag for my friend. It closes with a zipper (which I think you need in a wristlet–otherwise it’s too easy for things to fall out) and is lined (thank you, slip stitch) in black. I really love how this little wristlet came out, especially since my main objective was simply to put the scraps from the other project to use, instead of waste. How do you put your scraps to good use?

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Self-Awareness Through Sewing

Bag

I just finished this tote bag I’ve been working on for a couple days, and the process, I’ve learned something about myself. I get all excited about whatever I’m making, and by the time I’m finished, I want to keep it. This becomes a problem, because I really don’t need that many bags. So with a twinge of sadness, I’ve released it into the wild.

Make that two things I’ve learned. I also learned that I really enjoy adding pockets and snaps and flaps and all sorts of fanciness.

Suck It Up, Cupcake
And finally, after I posted the bag, I noticed someone else had recently posted a new item, and it was hilarious. Four note cards, lovingly imprinted with the message, “suck it up cupcake.” I feel like I need these.

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Geisha Bag

Geisha Bag

I’ve been so busy creating that I forgot to blog! Last night I finished up a handbag I made specially for a friend, and it turned out lovely. It’s made of a satin Asian-style brocade in olive green. The brocade is covered with pink and gold flowers and bamboo. The handles are chopsticks that I sewed on by hand. To give them some added strength, I used a strong nylon upholstery thread. The whole thing closes up with a magnetic snap, which I sewed right onto the outer fabric, to keep it from pulling at the lining. Those magnets are strong! I hope she likes it. If you want to see more like it, or other bags I’ve made, check out my shop.