Hey there! Apparently I’m on the every-two-months blogging schedule…which is kind of funny because I’ve been more productive in the last two or three months than I have been in the previous year. What a backlog of makes I have for you guys (if I ever get around to photographing them).
Anywho, here we are on the day before Christmas Eve, and I do have one thing to show you! It’s a very special Christmas gift that I whipped up for a person dear to me: Blue Calla Patterns’ Snowdrop Satchel.
Time is at a premium these days, so this is one of only four things I sewed for Christmas this year (two of the others are only sort of gifts, and one is just a shirt I whipped up for Cheeks).
To tell you the true significance of this bag, I’d have to go back a couple of years. Or was it three? The recipient of this bag, S, gifted me with a cut of beautiful plum felted coating weight wool. It was plush and gorgeous, a sentimental treasure that had belonged to her beloved mother in law, V, who had passed not long before. V had been a very accomplished seamstress who had won at least one contest (but I’d bet more than one in her life) with an amazing suit (I can only dream of this level of fit and tailoring skill) and had dressed her children through their childhoods.
It was apparent that S was (understandably) sad to part with this lovely textile; I asked several times if she was sure, and she said yes. She wasn’t sure what she would do with it.
Since then, I’ve been thinking of a way to give some, or all, of it back to her in a usable form. I may take a long ass time sometimes, but I tend to figure these things out eventually.
Handbags are tricky; they’re very personal. But, that really goes for most worn things, right? It’s hard to pinpoint someone’s style; to know exactly what trips their trigger. I’ve known S for 7 years now, but I still enlisted help to narrow down my pattern and complimentary fabric options for this gift.
For the contrast, I used some Knoll Whip vinyl I purchased from Silverstone Fabrics in 2013. I only know because I just looked the invoice up in my email. Ha! I am really happy with the quality, which is pretty close to leather. I also had barely enough of it for this bag; I had so little, I ended up having to seam the bottom!
For the lining, I used a baby blue polyester satin from stash. I couldn’t tell you were I bought it, but suspect it was a JoAnn acquisition.
This is my first foray into serious handbag making, so sourcing materials, especially hardware, was a bit of an endeavor. I made Mr. 5 a Colette Cooper gaming bag (that I never blogged) for Christmas three years ago, but the only hardware required were magnetic snaps and a strap slide. There are lots of places online to buy hardware; I considered the popular Emmaline Bags, but shipping from Canada is a bit killer, so I ended up contacting Etsy seller 2 Minutes 2 Stitch and was able to order a custom version of one of their Swoon handbag hardware kits. Woot!
Stabilizers are another big reason why I haven’t tried too much bag making in the past. I have been intimidated by figuring out WTF all of the materials WERE. Thankfully, the pattern was very clear, and everything I needed I either hand on hand or was readily available at my local JoAnn: woven fusible interfacing, Pellon Flex-foam stabilizer (accidentally bought fusible, but it turned out fine; sew-in was recommended), and Pellon Peltex (super stiff stabilizer).
Anywho, onto bag making. I felt like cutting and sewing this up was a bit slow going, but that’s probably just a first timer thing, with a splash of nervous OMG-this-fabric-is-so-special-better-not-fuck-it-up.
Everything went together pretty nicely, pattern-wise, but I had some issues with the lining, the entirety of which is beefed up with woven fusible interfacing. I have never really had to fuse something so big, and I unfortunately ended up with some bubbles (boo-urns). In the future, I’ll start in the middle and work my way out to hopefully prevent this.
The topstitching on the upper outside of the bag looks decent, but the lining inside looks like a train wreck. There are ways to prevent this, perhaps with hand basting or copies amounts of pins, but I was getting down to the wire and opted to leave it instead of ripping and re-doing. It also seems that my needle was a bit dull and caused some runs in the lining. UGH!
My only complaints pattern-wise are the zipper panel and the shoulder strap attachment, which are both quite minor. I felt that it was really difficult to line up the short edges of the zipper panels exactly, but I also was warned not to use vinyl for this piece for my first time making the bag…which I had already cut.
I also am not a huge fan of how the raw ends of the shoulder straps are visible; in future versions, I’ll turn them under like directed for the cross body strap.
I left off the fabric ties / clipped on tassels for the D-rings on the sides of the bag. Instead, I just clipped the cross body strap to both D-rings. I just didn’t like how the two other solutions for keeping the bag together looked. Does anyone have a suggestion for an alternative, in case she doesn’t want to keep the long strap attached at all times?
The biggest non-pattern realized issue I had was dealing with my damn Gutermann topstitching thread: only 30 yards a spool (I had to buy 3!) and SO THICK; my machine really hated it. It was the best color match, though, so I pushed through. I don’t know that I will ever use it again because it was that frustrating.
I also felt like I had to wrestle the bag while sewing at times, and clipping the curves on upper edge vinyl+foam stabilizer+wool coating+lining+fusible interfacing really did a number on my hands. I don’t think it’s possible to make that any easier, though. I welcome any tips!
All in all, I’m quite happy with how it turned out, and I’m so, so glad to be able to return a piece of this treasured fabric to a person who has been so good to me.
And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays! <3