You don't need EXPENSIVE clips, rulers, or machines to sew, you DO need a little creativity & a willingness to try…..


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Louise Barrel Bag: May Bag of the Month Club Pattern

Sorry for the extended leave!  I have been busy with custom orders and some other obligations I can’t publicly write about (yet). IMG_8099EDIT2edtied

It’s May now and with a new month comes the latest Bag of the Month Club Pattern.  This is a club where you buy a subscription for 6 months of bag patterns (each released on the 1st of the month from Jan – June).  The bag patterns are secret until release but they are all from reputable designers who have large followings and sell many patterns.  I test patterns for 4 of those pattern companies….so lucky me!  I get to see and sew 4 of them before release.   (I am burdened with keeping them a secret as well though!).

This is a look at the May bag by Swoon patterns.  It’s called Louise Barrel Bag.

My tester is made up from Bull Dog linen blend by Maker Maker combined with faux leather in black.  I used Antique Brass hardware throughout.  I love this little bag because it’s a hybrid between 2 of my favourite Swoon patterns.  Imagine: a combination of Nora and Blanche and you will get the Louise!  Of course, it’s not JUST a mash-up…the construction is VERY different and it’s an easier sew than either of the other 2 bags.  I was always being asked to modify Nora for customers to include a zippered top, so this pattern fits the bill perfectly!  It also eliminates the final SIDE panel top stitch on Nora (that step is not for the faint of heart and has drawn guttural curse words from deep within me, while sewing that part).  Well, NO MORE!!!  You will be pleased to know that no curse words were uttered during the sewing of Louise! IMG_7858EDIT

The zipper extends past the edges of the top and folds down to be snapped onto the side panels.  Inside, there’s a zippered pocket included in the pattern but it would be easy to add a divided slip if you wanted more organization inside. Also, included is an optional shoulder strap and connectors for it.

This pattern has a unique feature:  a zipper flap thingy that hides the zipper underneath.  I am not sure if there’s a technical word for that bag anatomy other then Zipper panel or Zipper flap.  A picture is worth a 1000 words though so see below.IMG_7860EDIT

Approx Size: 12″ wide by 8″ tall and 5″ thick on the bottom

I often photograph my bags among other well known, commonly sewn bags bags to give an idea of scale. Louise was no exception.  Here she is with some other Swoons. IMG_7879EDIT

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I also added purse feet on the bottom.  Not in the pattern, but super easy to add!IMG_7859EDIT

Overall, this is a moderately easy and fast sew, that will leave you with a very useful and modern looking handbag!  I recommend buying the subscription if you would like the pattern NOW!  or if you wait 6 months, then the pattern designer is allowed to release it separately as an individual pattern purchase if she decides she wants to do that.

In my opinion, so far…the club subscription has been worth every single cent.  I have liked or loved EVERY bag released and with membership you also get the pleasure of the FB group for support as well as general bag maker chatter.  Oh, and of course inspirational pics of bags by other makers…my favourite part!

So far we have had:

Clover by Blue Calla Patterns

Captivating Clutch by Mrs. H

Sublime by Sew Sweetness

Moxie by Betz White

Louise by Swoon

There’s one more to go for June and that will be Chris W Designs and it will be a complete surprise for me since I don’t test for Chris W.

 


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Juniper Toiletry Bag

(Blue Calla patterns is one of my affiliate links, I will be compensated if you purchase a pattern)

I am a pattern tester for Blue Calla Patterns, it’s one of very few Canadian Bag Pattern Companies.  I love testing patterns for a few reasons:

1. I get unlimited free patterns (totally awesome), and I get to try the new ones before the rest of the world does!

2. Having a testing deadline FORCES me to finish things, even if I have no “sew-jo”.

3. I get to make suggestions for patterns I would like to see, and have someone actually consider creating them!  (and yes, she has done some of my ideas!)

4. I love being able to feel like my feedback, along with the other testers makes it possible for her to present an amazing product to her customers.

**** BTW, this will be a great end of year Teacher Gift, it’a getting close to that time!****

Last week I tested the Juniper Toiletry Bag for Blue Calla.  This is one of my favourite styles of bags to make and I sell many toiletry/make up type bags to my customers.  Everyone needs one:  men, women and children.  This pattern is totally unisex and can be customized in sooo many ways.  I usually sew 1 bag as my test bag for her and provide feedback….this time I sewed up 4, in 2 days!  That is how much I love this one!

Info:  Release date: Wednesday, April 12th
Dimensions: 9.75″ W x 4″ H x 8″ D

Features: It has 2 zippers that open 2 separate compartments, a top carrying handle, and a very wide, flat bottom that won’t tip over.  There are small pull tabs at the end of the zippers.

Potential Fabrics: This can be made out of a huge range of materials, such as vinyl, cork, cotton, laminated cotton, waxed canvas and possibly even leather. As for interfacing, it requires a little bit of foam, fleece and fusible woven interfacing, and a piece of Peltex stabilizer for the base.

Hardware: This one hardly takes any hardware, just 2 zippers, that’s IT!!  You can always add more hardware to fancy it up, I added Bridge Connectors and Rivets and Feet to some of mine, but it’s not necessary at all.

Skill Level: I would say this is for a confident beginner/ intermediate skill level, if you are comfortable with zippers, you should be OK.  I always encourage beginners to try something they think is slightly out of their skill level, you will likely surprise yourself!  It’s easy to omit the piping to simplify the bag slightly.

As I mentioned above, I made 4 of these!  1 of my 4, I decided to do as Sewing Bag, to hold my hand sewing for travelling.  I added an exterior divided pocket, used Sewing Theme fabrics and combined them with yellow marine vinyl.  I was pleasantly surprised by how cute it turned out and it’s very useful too.  There will be a tutorial for this simple customization on the Blue Calla Website when the pattern is released.

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I also did a classy metallic gold faux leather version.  It was easy to quilt the vinyl to foam for the side panels, and I recommend this, to add a little interest to plain vinyl.  I also added some shiny gold hardware, including a Handmade in Canada metal label, bridge connectors for the handle and purse feet.  My zippers on this one have gold teeth and shiny gold pulls.  I did NOT make vinyl piping for this, (as that sounds about as appealing as cleaning a toilet: I hate making piping), I used a metallic gold piping that is available at Hobby Lobby in the US.  (I have never seen it in Canada.)  I have included a photo of it alongside the popular Clematis Pouch to give a feeling of the size.IMG_7327EDITIMG_7366EDIT

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Next one: I ordered in this perfect fabric called Jubilee by Melody Miller for Cotton + Steel fabrics.  I combined it with navy vinyl.  It was meant to go on a bag like this!  I just love it.IMG_7242EDITIMG_7253EDIT.jpgIMG_7257EDIT

Finally, I did a “Tabby Road” version.  I am a Tula Pink addict and although I am not really a cat lover (more of a dog person)…I broke down and bought a little bit of this line because the colours were really pretty.  I combined it with lime green vinyl, and also featured a bit of the fabric’s selvedge on the handle. There are 2 different cats on this print, so I fussy cut each side to show off the 2 different kitties.IMG_7378EDIT.jpgIMG_7374EDITIMG_7383EDIT

If you need a quick Christmas, Birthday, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day gift..this is your pattern!  From start to finish it took me about 2 hrs.  This is something everyone can use in one way or another.  I am going to make some for my kids for summer camp and personalize them with their names.

The pattern will be available in 2 weeks!  So, you’ve got time for some plotting and planning, or even a sweet little paper piecing for the side panel!

Michelle

 

 

 


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Installing Grommets

I am often asked “how do you _____?”.  (Fill in the blank with whatever you want.)  So, every time I do something special on one of my bags I will do a photo tutorial for it. *KEEP IN MIND* that this is just MY way of doing it, I don’t claim to be a professional and I am just going to show you what works for ME!

Today I am going to show you how I install grommets, so you can do fun things like this:IMG_7668EDIT

Firstly, you need to buy grommets, punch, a setter and anvil. The setter and anvil often come as a set, and the punch is sold separately.  VERY IMPORTANT:  you must have a setter anvil and punch for each size of grommet you have (I only install 12mm because I am far too frugal to purchase other sizes of the tools!!).  It also helps to purchase your tools from the same place/brand that sells the grommets you will be installing.  They are not universal (I learned this the hard way). I got all mine on Etsy.  I believe Joann’s and Fabricland sell the Dritz brand ones though so if you are need of doing it TODAY, then try them.  Here’s the tools you will need:IMG_7632EDITfraycheck

Next,  mark the centres of where you would like to place your grommets.  Then you can use your punch to cut the hole out.  The side of the punch has an opening so you can see your marking on the fabric and get it centred.  You can hammer the top of the punch to cut out the hole. I find on the thinner bag sections sometimes the punch doesn’t go all the way though even after hammering REALLY hard, so I lean it slightly to the side in sections and it seems to cut better…but sometimes it STILL doesn’t cut through so in this case I use my teeny, tiny Tula Pink scissors to finish cutting the hole out.  Life is hard sometimes.

You can treat the raw cut edges of the hole with Fray Check. (this is optional, but I figure if I am going to the work of doing this, I certainly don’t want my holes to fray!).  Take a look at your grommets they have 2 halves to them.IMG_7611EDIT

After you have punched your holes, find your anvil and the bigger (post) side of your grommet.IMG_7613EDIT

Place your project “Good Side Down”.IMG_7614EDIT

Find your “ring side” of your grommet.IMG_7616EDIT

Get your setter tool.IMG_7618EDIT

and hammer gently.  Make sure to inspect the grommet after you remove the setter tool.  All the edges should be pressed down, if any edges are sticking up then it needs to be hammered a bit more, it shouldn’t be sharp at all.  If for some reason you need to remove a grommet, I do it by prying them apart with whatever tool I can under the edge, be patient…you can usually pry, tear, cut it out and start fresh with a new grommet.

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I hope you will find this useful!  I would love to see what you have made!

–Michelle


4 Comments

Sweet Pea!

(This post has affiliate links, I would be compensated if you purchased another pattern from the website, but this pattern is actually FREE!)

I think it’s fair to say we all love FREE stuff, right?  I test patterns for Blue Calla Patterns and I tested this adorable little pattern a while ago.  This is the Sweet Pea!  It’s a FREE pattern.  Isn’t it just so … sweet?  My daughters love this size of bag, but it’s also a great size for adults too.

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I used Anna Maria Horner’s Fibs and Fables combined with a cinnamon coloured faux leather on this one.  It’s outlined in piping on the side panels, which by the way have a very refreshing silhouette.IMG_5778EDIT

You also will learn how to make that little tassel yourself and can apply that to whatever bag you want!
This bag is fairly easy to make, and also quick, so it’s great for a quick birthday or teacher gift.

Enough already from me…go get your FREE pattern here.  Come back and let me know what you think??

 

 


12 Comments

To Blog or Not to Blog…that is the question

Well, here it is….finally.  My Blog.  After years and years of sitting of the fence about this I finally picked a side and thought WHY NOT?   I make bags.  I test bag patterns for bag pattern designers.  I love taking photos, and I love sharing my tips and little bag making secrets with people!

So, without further ado……this is what I sewed today…

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This Satchel type bag is a sweet little one I sewed up to test an upcoming pattern for Hold It Right Here patterns.  I used DILL (I love that colour name!) Essex Linen combined with Alison Glass’ new Seventy Six line. The pattern calls for foam, woven fusible interfacing, a flap closure, some D rings, clasps and some zippers as well. piping is optional, but almost ALWAYS gives a a professional look.  I do love the look that woven interfacing gives to the exterior of a bag, but i always substitute a NON woven fusible interfacing for the interior.  This saves me a bit of money and makes no difference in the end product whatsoever!

This is not a huge purse but it has a lot of features!  As always, I customized my bag slightly…I added concentric top stitching rows on my flap and installed a Turn Lock closure instead of the Thumb Lock called for in the pattern.  I thought this fancy, schmancy Circle Lock looked great with the Alison Glass fabric on the exterior flap since it echoed the circles in her print.  I always try to incorporate hardware that goes with the “feel’ of a bag…maybe I am a bit OCD that way, but oh well.IMG_7519EDIT

Both the front and back have these round cut out slip pockets, the back actually has an additional zippered pocket installed within the slip pocket.  Don’t worry though, the instructions on how to do this are very clear and easy to follow. IMG_7513EDIT

The pattern calls for a shoulder length strap, however my customers LOVE cross body bags so I extended mine to 60″ and added a slider to make it adjustable..  The bag has loads of storage pockets inside including a divided slip pocket and another zipper pocket.  The silhouette is outlined in piping, a feature I really love!IMG_7527EDIT

This pattern will be available for purchase in Hold It Right There’s Etsy shop, and her Craftsy Shop.  Incidentally, my bag will also be listed in my Etsy shop for sale.