Monday, June 7

Adventures in Bag Making

I have a friend named Kim. Kim and I get these ideas in our heads, and end up talking each other into interesting adventures (think craft fairs, failed garage sales, and climbing very steep inactive volcanoes). A couple of weeks ago we decided we wanted new bags, so we went on a hunt to find the perfect purse to replicate.

Here, Kim is being my ruler and measuring a bag I liked at Target. "Why spend $12?? We can make that!".

We both wanted the same type of bag, something big, open and easy to carry. Eventually, I found this one in a shop called Anny & Me on Etsy. Kim found something similar at Warehouse Fabrics Inc, and her bag included a tutorial. See how they are basically the same? Well we decided to each make the one we'd found and then compare shapes and sizes. Oh and we had to use fabrics that we already had on hand. Now it's time for my disclaimer: this is not a tutorial. I tried to take pictures along the way, but I get into my projects and I forget to stop and take pictures. And the pictures I take aren't all that great... something about my camera and the lighting in my house, makes for murky pictures. You've been warned!
Let the fun begin!
The Shell: First I cut up my Laura Gunn fabric. And then I realized that I'd forgotten to take into account a couple of extra inches for the flat bottom I wanted, so I cut the big pieces again and had just enough! whew! I cut 4 pieces- 2 necks (15 " x 5"), 2 bodies (18" x 13"). That includes a 1/2" seam allowance. Then I cut out the same pieces in a stiff interfacing, and ironed it all together.
Next I pleated the two body pieces, so that the top of it fit on the 15" neck.
I wanted to add a little trim between the neck and body, so I cut a 1 1/2" strip of fabric, and ironed it in half. Then I ironed the seam allowance on the neck.
I made a sandwich with the pleated body piece (right side up) on the bottom, the folded trim strip in the middle, and opened seam of the neck (wrong side up).
I sewed along the fold mark, and then flipped the neck back up, and you get this:
After attaching the two necks to the two bodies, I put them together (right sides together) and sewed them together. Then I squared off the bottom. (For a detailed explanation check out this tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew)
And just like that the shell is done!
See how the pleats open up at the bottom? I also sewed the edges where the neck and body meet down, you can see the seam just above the trim. I didn't mind the look, and it served as guide when I sewed down the neck lining.
The Lining: After the mistake I made cutting my first fabric, I decided to made a mock-up of the lining before I cut into my cute Amy Butler fabric. I didn't want pleats on the inside, so I measured the top at 15" and the bottom at 18" and cut out 2 bodies that way. I made pockets (using the bad cuts from step 1) and sewed them on a couple of inches from the bottom (keeping in mind that I was going to square off the lining to get a flat bottom). With right sides together I sewed them up, and squared them off as well. It worked out great and fits nicely into the shell. I forgot to add that I lined the body lining and the pockets with interfacing as well.
For the neck lining, I cut out 2 15" x 5" pieces and sewed them together to make a circle. I ironed down the seam allowance to use as a sewing guide. I made my straps by cutting two pieces each 3" wide, lining half the width with interfacing, sewing it together wrong sides out, and then flipping it inside out. I positioned the straps at the same place as the pleats, and then put the neck lining on top of that (upside down and inside out). I sewed along the unfolded seam allowance mark. It sounds much more confusing than it was.
Finally, I slid the lining body into the shell, put the neck lining on top of it, and stitched it down.
Oh, and I put in a little tab to attach a key ring to, and stitched along the top of the bag to finish it off.
And there you have it! I made my very first purse! I love it!!
I don't have a picture of Kim's bag, but it turned out great too! Despite not having the squared off bottom it is still very roomy in her bag!
So hopefully this will inspire someone - there's no shame in challenging yourself with someone else's design!

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