Sunday, October 20, 2013

it's my bag...

In which our plucky heroine joins her online pals around the world, over at Stitcher's Guild, in the "bag making virtual event"

However, since my somewhat grandiose idea of making either a travel bag or a purse/tote bag set would require more time, and since I spent half the weekend away at the AnTir Heraldic Symposium yesterday, my plans needed to be scaled back considerably. Yesterday involved no sewing at all, but did include a chance to play with egg tempera*, visiting old friends rarely seen, and a truly delicious medieval feast... Today's sewing: two rather small zippered bags, suitable for keeping EDC more organised and prettier... The cylindrical one is for assorted writing sticks and suchlike, and the triangular one is for my epi-pen, inhaler, and first aid kit

Supplies for the triangular bag: cut out pieces, and a little "red cross" applique.The larger cylindrical bag (intended to hold pens, pencils, and suchlike) was made following this tutorial, and I used various indigo scraps, including the sashiko acorn motif from a top in my very first SWAP. It has piping inserted around the circular ends of the bag. The smaller triangular bag (to hold my epi-pen, inhaler, and first aid kit) was made following this tutorial.  I used some rather heavy-duty zippers, but that rather adds to their funky look...

Both were quilted down to either fleece or flannel to add substance, since I didn't have an fusible interfacing handy. The quilting and inner layer help make the outer fabric a little more substantial.

On the triangular bag, once the inner and outer shells were assembled, the bag is turned inside out and the inner lining is handstitched to the bitsy seam allowance of the zipper. The cylindrical bag is assembled entirely by machine stitching, with the zipper being sandwiched between the lining and outer layer, pinned, basted and stitched...

  • What I like about these is that they are a nice extension of my style, and remind me of some of the small bags I've seen in Japanese crafting books.
  • What I dislike is that I feel as if I could have done a better looking job if I had hand stitched these, and not tried to make these on the sewing machine... I'm not sure it was actually faster, since these two small bags pretty much took me all day.
  • What I learned is that neither of these two different methods* give me a tidy looking zipper insertion. I am wondering if the method where you insert the zipper into the body of the bag first, then stitch in the ends and bind that inner seam at the last, rather than having the inside be clean finished with a funky zipper? I shall have to try one more time, and see if I like that better. (or, of course, one could sew all the seams to the outside and bind them, that would work also... so many variables)
  • I also learned that small scale piping is not easy to have look well. I fought with it all the way. I was very very careful not to stitch my fingers whilst wrestling with the zipper foot and the circular ends of the larger bag. I don't know if this would get easier with practice, one can hope, since piped edges really add both style and structure to bags...

I still intend to make both a purse and a tote bag, but need to do a bit more research and design work first.

* oh, and in case you wonder... Egg tempera is really fun to play with! Yesterday at the Heraldic Symposium I took a short class in the morning: Historiated Initials in Tempera, (taught by Antonia Crivell). She gave a short talk and demo, then let us try out the medium ourselves; each person was given a page with "coloring book" outlines of period initials to paint.
Though this was as far as I got in the time allotted, with the beginnings of shading and none of the whitework detailing, it was so much fun! Girl just loves making tiny detailed artifacts. Not sure how to include yet another art form in my busy life, but just might have to figure it out.


  1. oohh egg tempera! I adore it! Not as a user but as an observer!! Such rich colors!!!
    Also brava to you and your little bags! They are fab and you made good use of the precious indigo remnants. I admit I am charmed by the red cross!!!

  2. Claire, I look forward to seeing your finished bag as well, it looks like you are very close to done. The small bags are handy for certain, now want to make a new bag to carry them around in...

  3. Your bags are wonderful! Your unique designer's eye is well served by your careful skills.