Summer Closet Review

Today’s headache ah review of my summer clothes is my category sleeveless tops made of stretch fabrics.  Why didn’t I just review all my sleeveless tops? I was hoping most of the knit fabric would fit nicely. Knits, IMO, are more forgiving in the ‘fit’ arena than are woven garments.  But it was not to be .

I started with a healthy selection of 12 sleeveless, knit tops.  Sadly, I discarded top after top because of the RBA drag lines. I finished with 4 sleeveless knit tops:

I’m only totally happy with the two above.  The black on the right is not showing well in this pics but it fits nicely and is just cute on me. But I have issues with the other 2

I just honestly don’t like the print of the one on the left. The fit is really nice and it therefore deserves its place in the closet.  I love the top on the right but the armscye is a little tight. I look at it and groan out loud when thinking of unpicking. I’ll work with it.  Besides I know how that elusive number Peggy Sagers is always talking about.  Measuring these babies I know exactly what size armscye I want and just as importantly what I don’t want to wear.


Town and Country

I’m the kind of person who buys a classic handbag and uses it until the bag falls apart. I also prefer to coordinate my purses with my outfit rather than the traditional shoes + purse. Nor do I go for a “POP of color” that’s so popular today. I prefer for my handbags to disappear into the background. But I do keep a bag in each of 3 colors: black, navy and brown. 6 years ago, I started sewing my own purses.  I was frustrated at the time, because all the hand bags on the market were either gigantic totes or hardly bigger than my french wallet. I purchased and donated 3 different handbags before trying to sew my own.  Since then I’ve acquired 3 excellent books on bag making, multiple patterns and lots of bag findings. I’ve gravitated towards Clover’s Trace and Create patterns. The ones Nancy Zieman demonstrates.  I like these because each pattern has several variations; all the markings are there on the templates and the templates are a stiff plastic in place of flimsy tissue.  I find it easiest to adapt these templates to the variation I have in mind. But up to now I’ve avoided the Town and Country template because of its rounded- bottom gusset.

I have attempted other patterns with gussets and achieved less than stellar results.  If I’m going to use an item, I want to be proud of it not just proud for having made an effort. I also prefer a  purse with a flat bottom, so it can stand on it’s on. But I’ve had excellent results with both the City Bag and California Bag collections and decided to give this pattern a shot..

My fabric is the cotton/linen remnant from the recently finished brown jeans. I used a 3/8″-thick, fusible fleece to underline the sides.  The bottom is a sandwich of cotton/linen fabric, a stiff thin stabilizer and a 1/4″-thick fleece.  Bottom and sides feel right for a purse. They are soft and cushy but firm not stiff. I mean I don’t expect this purse to stand up on its own but it shouldn’t sprawl too far and the contents will be buffered against most bumps.

I enlarged the bag. When I’m out and about I like to carry my french clutch (with all its monetary supplies) my 3-pocket cosmetic pouch and my Nook.  I knew the versions without the gusset would not hold the Nook. I wasn’t sure if the gusset would give me enough depth and volume to carry all that I like to carry. Here’s the thing, I already have a brown bag. I’m replacing it because I used the wrong stabilizer for that bag.  The current, brown bag has always looked and felt like cheap crap even though I paid $20 for the 1/2 yard of faux-leather.  I don’t want to replace a bag I dislike with a bag too small to carry my stuff. Besides, these templates are really easy to adapt.  I wish I had taken pictures because the process is simple.   For the gusset, I folded the fabric. Made a mark 1″ from the fold and aligned the center of the template with the 1″ mark. For the purse sides, I repeated folding the fabric and making the 1″ mark from the fold; align the template with the 1″ mark and trace. Next I drew a line 2″ up from the bottom of the just traced outline. Slid the template upward to align along the 2″ mark and traced the sides and top of the template.

Never content to let such a large blank surface to go with out embellishment, I spent 4 hours couching Perle cotton, rayon and velvet threads in a radiating design to both front and back.

All those lines seemed to need to point to something, so I added an embroidery to the front flap.

I did not use the included flap-template for my flap.  I wanted something a little bigger to help keep my stuff inside because I wasn’t using a zipper. For the flap, I traced the upper curve of the big template; slid the template upwards until the bottom was about 6″ from the traced upper curve and  traced the sides and bottom curve. Like I said, wished I had taken pictures. These templates make it so easy to adapt the pattern to what I want my bag to be.

Even with the thickness of fleece, the pieces were ease to sew together. Much easier than I expected.  I chose to make the 2 darts on each side piece. Then I marked the dots and center bottom for my view on the sides and gusset. I aligned the gusset with the dots and center bottom with the back of the purse. I carefully stitched from dot to dot. Even secured the stitching.  I found that the front the easily attached by aligning the front with the back at the top and then the center bottom marks on the front and gusset. At first I tried stitching from top to gusset, fix; sew the gusset; fix; sew the other side from gusset to top. The gusset corners weren’t secure on the outside. so I started at the top and made one long line of stitching from one top, down the sides, across and enclosing the gusset ends and up to the other top. Just pedal to the metal, one big curve. One big sweep. Perfect. In the future, that’s the way I’ll do it to start with.

Once I mastered adding magnetic snaps to purses, I’ve never looked back and seldom seriously consider a different closure.  I lined the bag portion with a quilting cotton printed with a shashiko design. (The flap is lined with same fabric, interlined with 1/4″ fleece) I stitched the sides of the lining together with the gusset leaving about 8″ free along the gusset.  I stitched the flap and strap connectors to the purse and then, right sides together, stitched all along the top of the purse. Next I inverted the purse, closed the opening along the gusset with a zig-zag stitch  and  top stitched 1/4″ from the top of the purse. My HV Ruby made it through all thickness but I was biting my tongue along the strap connectors. (More about them in a few minutes) . When I use this pattern in the future, I will not choose to finish the top of the bag in the exact same manner.  I used a size 14 needle. At least one stitch on each strap connector was chancy and this was really thick and difficult to roll towards the inside.

I have tried other methods of attaching the straps to the bag. I like this strap connector method the best. I think it’s attractive and presents a more professional finish. I also like the fact that while I’m working with the bag, the strap connectors are small stubs which are easy to keep out of the way.  It can be difficult enough to sew within the bag without having the sew within the bag within the strap. It’s also very easy to get the strap twisted which of course I don’t notice until the bag is nailed-down finished. For the straps I cut a 2″ strip from the longest part of the remnant. The bag directions say to make it 44″ long. Well the remnant didn’t have 44″ anywhere besides, I knew that I want my purses to hang from my shoulder tightly beneath the arm. A 44″ strap dangles all the way to the hip.  I didn’t follow the rest of the strap directions.  Didn’t even read them.  I folded both long sides towards the middle and pressed. It sort of looks like bias tape except the long sides meet in the center. Then I added a layer of fusible glue and a grosgrain ribbon. The fabric and grosgrain ribbon are permanently together. I added the top stitching along each edge because I think that gives the strap a nice professional finish. Top stitching may also provide additional stabilization and strength to the edges.  I did not capture a view of how I attach the strap. The connectors are 4″ long folded in half, ring slid inside to the fold  and stitch inside the purse. To attach the straps I fold up one end 3″ around the ring. I fold the end again 1/2″ and stitch that to itself above the ring (uhhhhh need pics to really make that clear. Sorry.)  I slide the other end of the strap though the other ring and try the bag on. When I’m satisfied with how the purse is hanging on my body, I trim the excess down to 3″ and repeat the fold 1/2″ and stitch.  I make a double line of stitching about 3/8″ apart to secure the strap around the rings.

The bag is finished. Immediately I realize the straps seem a little flimsy.  I do wish I’d added a layer of interfacing or fleece.  During construction, it thought the fleece would be too much and would say “Grandma made this for me”.  Now I dunno. Fabric + glue + grosgrain just isn’t enough.  Nonetheless. I’m liking my bag and planning to use it for at least a year.


I choose to share the scarf first, even though it was made after my Vesty which has yet to make it’s appearance.  I loved this boucle fabric.  It sat in my stash for many years because it is wool.  I don’t like to give the care which wool requires.  So I seldom buy wool and then delay sewing. But after the vest was finished, I had this huge leftover piece which I absolutely couldn’t put in the trash.  I chose instead to fringe the edges and add a new scarf to my winter collection.


It’s about 20″ wide and a good 60″ long.  Definitely cushy and perfect for SD winters.  Because it’s loosely woven, each of those colored strips is an individual yarn, it was very quick to ravel.  I used an over lock stitch preprogrammed on my Designer Ruby to stitch about 1/2″ away from the edge.  One of the things I like about this scarf in particular is that I’ve preserved this large piece of fabric, converting it into a wearable for now but it’s still available if I were to choose some color blocking or want to use it as an accent at another time. A high quality fabric, such as this, deserve to be so handled.

A New California Bag

I have to confess that I’ve fallen in love with Nancy Ziemans Trace and Create series of hand bags. I find them very, very easy to modify on-the-fly and create a very different handbag using the same pattern over and over.   Several years ago I was forced into sewing my own handbags.  I’m not a premium shopper i.e. I need to shop in the discount stores like Walmart, Target et al.  At that particular time the pickings were very slim for what I thought I needed.  I purchased several bags because the ones in use were literally duct taped together.  I was repeatedly disappointed that the bags were either too small for the items I carried or way too large.  Really.  It’s been 3 years ago (plus or minus a few weeks), but at the time all I could find were either gigantic tote bags or the very slender wrist bags that carried the minimal (like one credit card and a house key).  So I felt forced to start sewing my own bags.


My first bags reflected what I “thought” I needed, which was many pockets to separate and corral all the small stuff.  I have one purse 9 pockets and an inner divider.  It worked great.  But it takes a bit of time to transfer all my stuff from 9 pockets to another 9 pockets.  Here’s the funny thing. The reason for all the pockets was so that I could easily and quickly find a specific item.  Not only did it take time to put all the little gizmos in their individual pockets, but then it took time to hunt through 9 pockets to find the gizmo I wanted. Yep, I couldn’t remember a few hours later where my lip gloss was stashed.


I won’t bore you with lots of details, but leap to the best solution for me:  a 3 pocket bag sized about like 2 cosmetic bags back to back.   It is enough organization to know that cosmetic/grooming stuff is one pocket, sunglasses and “other stuff” is the 2nd and in the center pocket is my cell phone and PDA.  I normally carry the 3-pocket cosmetic bag, my french clutch (wallet) and car keys. It’s quick to transfer these from bag to bag and since everything stays in the same pocket, easy to find the particular gizmo needed when it is needed. I do find that a pocket on the back of the handbag is handy for stashing stuff accumulated on the go (such as programmes or other paperwork). I also like my handbag to be large enough to drop in a diet cola (prefer the plastic bottles with tightly screwed on top).  And that’s it.  BTW such few needs makes handbag sewing a lot quicker and leaves lots of time for creative embellishments.



Today’s beauty was created using the California Bag template:

I used the deepest bottom gusset, which I think produces a 4″ bottom.  I also added 1-1/2″ width.  I opted for a single shoulder carrier and the rectangular front tab shown in the the lower right corner (brown bag). I added a back pocket dividing it with stitching about 4″ from the side to create a pencil/pen area and also keep the back pocket from flapping open too widely.


Not sure the pocket definition is visible in the photo above, but I do find it helpful.


I purchased the fabric several months ago.  Even at the time I intended to create a handbag.  This fabric might be called moleskin.  It does have the satin side as most typical moleskin on the market. BUT the fabric face is like suede. I’m not kidding. When I touch it I think leather skins.  I know it is fake faux suede.  I saw the 100% polyester marking on the end of the bolt.  ‘Course the bolt could have lied.  It wouldn’t be the first time a bolt was mislabeled, but I paid about $4 for this half yard. Definitely not the price point you’d expect for real leather.  My lining is a 100% cotton which I purchased and used as Mimie’s (my dress form) cover.


I used HeatNBond lite to fuse a paper like interfacing to the moleskin fabric.    Until the bag was almost finished, I thought this was a terrible error.  But once all the finishing pieces and lining were inserted and stitched down I realized I got what I wanted.  This  bag is supple with some firmness. It is large enough to carry some junk if I really want to, but small enough that my normal accouterments aren’t rolling around in disarray.


I did switch to my roller foot for the HV Ruby.  In pre-testing the regular foot just didn’t feed smoothly enough.  I was considering using the teflon foot, but on a whim tried the roller foot first.  Why mess with instant success?  Roller foot it was. Most of the pieces are serged together with a 4-thread safety overlocker stitch. BUT the visible stitching is all machine embroidery polyester.  I know, I know this could spell disaster for long term life.  But I used the embroidery polyester for the pin stitching on front and then repeated it anywhere the stitching would be visible.  I like the look, but agree, this could be a mistake.

California Bag in Elegant Wool


Lovely, isn’t she?  Thanks heavens because she almost didn’t get completed.  I started with a failed project, Threads Circle Vest perfectly created in a beautiful wool. Why was it a failure?  It looked horrible on me.  I tried several variations of the vest. Baring some undiscovered variation or miraculous physical change, I have decided that this vest is not a good look for me.  So what do to with the wool? The wool which I felt would be lovely (and it was) in this design?  Lovely wool of which there was only a little over a yard,  invested in a project I will not wear?  What to do?  Well like many good sewist, I completed the project and then put it in the Goodwill Bag, hopefully to be claimed by someone who could appreciate it’s beauty, fiber and be complemented by it’s shape.


That was several months and many, many projects ago.  At the end of February 2011, I started sorting and culling left over fabric cuts and pieces.  Upon a hunch I gathered up not only the left over 1/4″ of a yard of fabric, but retrieved the circle vest from the donation box.  With half a hope and a big prayer, I started working on personalized version of Nancy Zierman’s California Bag:


I love these templates and think I’ve collected all, as well as her booklet on the 12 Easy Bags and a couple of books and patterns from other handbag artist/creators.  Right now sewing handbags is really MY thing.  When I was younger I’d buy a purse and use it until the lining wore out.  Then I’d use it at least 6 months more all the while complaining of how I’d found the perfect purse but with a crappy lining.  I have to confess that I had, shall we say, funding problems as well.  I never considered buying the perfect Bellagio Bag.  Heavens, that was not in my budget at all.  I searched long and hard looking for a bag the size I would carry, in the color I wanted. Like many, I also appreciated several well placed pockets.  It was hard to meet all my criteria and I therefore carried a bag until it died and then carried it a little longer.


A few years ago, with my finances greatly improved since age 13, I thought it should be a simple matter to find purses that I liked.  After all, I had a far greater range to chose from.  A greater range not only in $$$ but also in stores.  I was no longer confined to the cheapest dollar stores (Please, forgive me if you shop there.  I don’t mean to be derogatory.)  Well, I was WRONG.  Yes, in capital letters.  In fact to my horror, I bought 4 different purses after examining thousands ((it felt like millions); only to discard each as being too small, too large, not enough pockets, too many pockets or some other criticism which had me frustrated with the latest purchase. I began sewing handbags for the sole purpose of creating my version of the perfect bag; and hence collecting patterns, printed articles and finally Nancy Zieman’s wonderful templates.  To my delight, not only were these templates available but also RTW quality notions and accessories.  But let’s get back to the wool bag pictured above.


In addition to the wool, I used a silver metallic yarn designed and sold for use in plastic mesh tapestries. I believe I acquired the yarn at a garage sale included in a bag/box of other goodies.  I held onto it because, like most crafters, I never know when that’s exactly what I will want.  In this case it seemed the perfect accent.  I also used the selvedge of the wool with it’s beautiful fringe to trim the front of the purse.  The back of the purse contains only an additional wide pocket with elastic across the top to help keep the pocket snug against the purse:


I used scraps of a heavy loosely woven upholstery fabric to stiffen the inside.  OK, the scrap was nearly 1/3 yard.  So there was plenty of fabric for the front and back of the purse (also bottom and sides since they are all attached per the template).  Between the wool + Lite Heat and Bond fusible web + loosely woven upholstery fabric, I created a very firm fabric for the purse exterior.

I should pause to explain the I cut the front and back exactly according to the template. Then embellished the front after experimenting some. And affixed the back pocket before bonding to the upholstery fabric.

I cut the lining twice.  The first lining was a polyester stripe in grey, black and peach. Not a transparent fabric but like linings in most RTW handbags it was light.  (My fabric  was left over from a summer blouse that I still enjoy).  I did think it was too light and after moving it once or twice decided I should interface the lining.  That done, I sat the lining aside until ready to sew it together.

I added the straps to each end of the bag and worked quite a while on the front tab.  See, I’d just recently had a *blow out of a favorite purse.  The magnetic closure had torn from the inside and was hanging on by 1/2″ of shreded fabric.  Having only completed that purse last year, I was not ready to give it up.  Besides, it is perfect in every way except the dangling magnetic closure.  I wanted this purse (and all subsequent ) to avoid such a premature death. I thought the interfacing would take care of the problem.  It might have, if I’d interfaced the fabric as soon as I cut it.  But in those few days and 2 moves the fabric raveled without me realizing it had done so.  When I picked the fabric up to finish the purse, I realized that I planned for 3/8″ seam allowences and 1/4″ had raveled away.  Disgusted, I tossed the first lining and searched for a more strudy replacement.

The replacement is a solid peach-colored cotton and was immediately interfaced.  I attached pockets to both sides.  I make a wide pocket and then vertically stitch at intrevals making smaller pockets.  In this case one side has 2 pockets 4″ and 6″ wide the other side has 2″ and 8″ wide pockets.

I did goof.  I had intended to leave the bottom of the lining open for 6-8 inches.  I was intending to sew the lining and purse top right-sides-together and then invert.  But I forgot.  Rather than picking out serged seams, I fished out the grograin ribbon I’d used to reinforce the strap.  I hope I explain this right. I basted the bag and it’s lining with wrong-sides-together. Then  I used 1/2″ Steam-A-Seam which was fused to the right side of the handbag.  Next fuse the grograin ribbon so that the top edge is on the SAS and the bottom edge is in air. Then stitch the ribbon to the bag.  Using lots of steam and patience, turn the ribbon so that the in-air-edge is inside on the lining and the top edge and bag edge are neatly folded just to the inside (so you can’t see the lining on the outside.)  Like I said, lots of steam; lots of time; press inside and outside.

…And Houston we had a problem.  The lower edge of the ribbon (the edge that was in air and is now up next to the lining) also would cover the pocket top edge in a few places.  With a little bit of consternation and a big “F….” ah you don’t want to hear that……. I did remember some previously owned handbag in which the top ribbon was stitched only about 1/4″ to 1/2″ down and then left free.  So that’s what I did.  I’m sorry I couldn’t take a pic.  Believe me I tried.  This was such a elegant solution it deserves to be shared.  And bookmarked. But alas, my photo skills have not advanced properly and I cannot share an actual pic.

It remained only to attach the strap, which has been cut to across-the body length.  This may be a mistake which I correct later.  Then length is fine.  It works as planned.  But I’m not sure I want to be putting a purse on over my head and then taking it off  over-my-head.  Also I’ve noticed that it does create more folds, lines, drags across my carefully fitted clothing.  Seems a shame to spend hours removing the wrinkles out of a blouse only to have a purse reintroduce and make worse the same folds and drag lines.

So this probably doesn’t sound any worse than any other purse.  Several fiddly pieces, a self-error or two but a completed and usable handbag after all is said, done and stitched.  Thing is, when I’m working with scraps I have the think longer and fiddle more.  If I’d had a solid 1 yard to start with, the hand bag would have been done in 1-2 hours. Really.  I’ve made this bag 3 other times.  By now, I can do the construction in my sleep (if I don’t forget a critical step).  But to make it all work together; to pull together 2-3 fabrics, multiple embellisments and notions takes thought, experimentation/samples and time at each step.  I can remember standing over my cutting table comparing the 3 front beads (which are non-functional BTW).  Question was whether to use them; use 3 or 5, make them functional (could have been a great closure) or skip the beads and do something else.  Were the beads needed to finish the bag? Or were the beads too much? And then similar analysis with the fringe and silver thread plus consideration of the width and placement.  What’s good? What is too much? Red Riding Hood where are you and how do you find these answers quickly?  For me each step of the embellishment required another day.  The front Tab took 2 days and another 30 minutes after the bag was completed as I used the Iron Maven to pursuade the tab to take it’s rightful place.   OK, this is the SECOND time the Iron Maven has impressed me.  The Rowenta never would have accomplished the same effect.  This tab really believes it should curve over to the front.  OH and I still have a problem.  I again used magnetic closure but I incorrectly estimated where the pieces should be.  In the future I will be using the wonderful E6000 glue to fix my mistake.

While I’m happy with the final result, I’m also exhausted.  So much thought, trial and error; AND I have 2 other projects in process that are also demanding the same amount of experimentation and thought.  My next project has to be something similar.  Something that I can create in a zen moment.  I love this purse.  I will use this purse. And you’d damn sure better believe I’m going to take care of this purse.


*E6000 is the solution for last years purse as well.  I’ve already glued the magnet and fabric back in place.  I use hot glue and love it as well.  The difference for me is that hot glue is immediate.  Whereas E6000 gives me a little time to rearrange or arrange perfectly.  It is worth leaving a project isolated in protected level space overnight to cure especially when compared to all the times I’ve burned the crap out of my fingers. If you’re a crafter you understand.

Yesterday was a Good sewing day.

This slouch purse



for which I actually have a pattern created by Kaitlin Witte, Birlle, NJ but don’t have a URL for her.  This bag  has been in the works since the end of February.  At that time I was digging out all the big ol pieces and sorting them into possibilities.  This particular fabric came from the cotton/silk purchased from Michaels about 18 months ago.  I made pants.  I wore the pants.  The pants shrunk in the wash.  Fortunately, I was shrinking too.  Eventually the pants shrank faster than I did and they shrank in length as well as width.  Until they reached the point of my not having any way to enlarge.  But I didn’t want to get rid of the fabric.  It was not cheap. But the cost was not nearly as important as the comfort and durability of the fabric.  Since I hate un-serging, I trimmed the seams off and then imagined a purse.  As I said, it was a few days in the making.  First not all the pieces could be cut from the shapes in front of me.  Then too I’m committed to trying different embellishments.  At some point the two ideas collided and I decided upon the runched center panel for the front flap. There was not enough fabric for the lining which, happily, meant I was able to use up a 2nd big ol piece for the lining.  


I also wanted a zipper.  Actually I’m somewhat obsessed with wanting to apply zippers in purses.  I can do a simple zipper attachement and a slightly better serger method (which at times includes a flap to cover the zipper teeth).  But for the most part, when I put zippers into bags, my bag immedialy screems HOME MADE BY A KLUTZ.  I used Nancy Ziemans zipper + ribbon application method.  She demonstrated this on TV and then I had to have the book.  Thank goodness I did.  I bought the DVD too.  But it was the books instructions that got me through the process and created a lovely zipper zpplication. 



It was the straps the stumped me.  I breezed through the back pocket (not shown), the inner linning with its 2 pockets (also not shown).  I fussed with the zipper. OK I read an instruction and followed an instruction.  When instruction 1 was done and went to the next.  Maybe it wasn’t fussy but it seemed to be.  But it was the strap that stumped me and I’m not talking about the long thing crossing Mimie’s shoulder. No I’m talking about the part underneath the funny wrap around decoration:



The pattern has a stubby thing at each end, which I assumed would wrap around a D-ring.  BTW I found the silvery decoration on the purse flap whilst digging around for D-rings. It was left over from a belt broken ages ago.  3 pieces of that belt looked like the perfect decoration.  So even if it was a little late, I tacked the belt onto the front using my button sew-on foot and stitch.  (For all you needle protectors: Only one needle was bent during the process.)  The D-rings however were unused.  Before I put the zipper on, I tried out the D ring application.  It was tight but doable.  After the zipper appllication, there was no way that stub was wrapping around a D-ring or anything else.  I worked out 5 different possibilities in my mind, but each either required more fabric than I had on hand or would have created a Hot Mess on the exterior.  As it was, my lack of experience with the zipper was hidden only because I had perfectly matching thread.  I didn’t want to ruin what was looking good.  In the end, I created two tubes and steamed them into respectibility.  Then I pushed the tubes onto the strap and squished the strap ends between the zipper and the purse.  Istraight stitched two lines across each end to secure the strap.  Then I scootched one tube down, covering the stubby end and the shoulder strap join.  The tube was streched out single layer with the outside showing.  I stitched one line through the sandwich of tube-strap-tube.  Then folded the tube down.  A little fussing and it looks like a design detail instead of a cover up.  Good to go. Right.


It was a good sewing day.  I finished 2 other projects and started a third.  But I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to write about them.

a Purse


Purses were one of the things I found could be made from those big ol’ left over pieces.  In fact they are often good for using 2 or more of those leftovers.  This purse is entirely my own design made from scraps of corduroy.  They are all the same fabric, BTW.  It’s the light and changing direction of the nap that makes it looks as though I’ve used more than one fabric.  I did use a lovely golden-bronze rayon, satin for the lining.  I fused the corduroy to a piece of canvas upholstery fabric but didn’t even underline the rayon lining.  This may be a mistake.  For one it’s very soft but more importantly, and now that it is done, I wonder how much abuse it can stand.  Oh well, it’s going to my DIL. 


It has 2 30″ straps, a pocket across the back, pocket on the front of the lining and a pocket on the back of the lining.  It has a magnetic closure in the tab.  The complex button on the front, is purely for decoration.  I had it embroidered, but the 3 swirls looked like they were pointing to something in the center… and there was nothing in the center.  This was not planned for and took an additional 45 minutes of hunting through beads, buttons and other notions to finally decide upon the complex button.  It looks finished to me.


PS I tried to take pictures of the inside, but it just didn’t work.

Carmel: A New Purse

I’m not really one to acquire a thousand pairs of shoes to be matched with a thousand different purses.  Now, I’m NOT talking about earrings and necklaces.  Ah yes those are a weakness for me.  I am completely undescriminatory as regards price or materials when it comes to earrings.  If its pretty and I have room on my credit card, I have new earrings.  But not so with purses.  I’d say I’m reasonable about shoes. I purchase a few new pairs each year which replace a few worn pairs each year.  But with purses, I’m downright frugal.  Well maybe not frugal.  More a matter that I am exacting about the size, materials and arrangement of the purse. Plus, I’m cheap. I’m not paying $100 for something that will be thrown about, sat on, stepped on and frequently cursed.  Nonetheless, I do demand that this item be made of durable materials and be demur to the point of disappearing. When it comes to purses, I am picky, picky, picky.


I was forced to discard 2 of my favorite purses this year.  They needed to go about 4 years ago but I was unable to find acceptable replacements.  Oh I tried to replace them. I bought a few new purses.  But they didn’t work out. So, I kept using the 2 faithful bags long after the linings were a disgrace and the outsides had been “touched up’ with permanent markers so many times the original finish was hard to detect.  I did let them go. Finally.


About 2 years ago, I began sewing my own purses and purse organizers. Using the basic dimensions and supplementing with pockets, I began creating my own bags.  I had this vision of making shoulder-bags, my favorite style, in exactly my size and perfectly organized because I would add the perfect sizes and amounts of pockets.  Getting the right external dimensions was pretty easy. After all, I had 2 really good examples.


But getting the pockets right was entirely a different story.  I measured my purse contents and created pockets of what I thought would be good sizes and shapes.  Oh and I put lots of lots of pockets inside my bags.  I was envisioning total and complete organization.  Everthing I needed to carry with me would have a place and be in it’s place. I was going to organize the pockets and contents by frequency of use. Oh yes I had great plans.  Followed through on them pretty good too. I remember being in the checkout line at Walmart on one occasion.  I had managed to put 15 pockets in the then-current purse; and after 30 minutes had transferred everything from my old unorganized bag into this new nifty carry-along.  However at the  check out stand I couldn’t remember in which of the 15 pockets were my credit cards, ID and cash located! I made this little pile. You know on that little table they provide so you can write a check? Anyway I made this little pile, finally located both ID and payment acceptable to Walmart and then looked at the little pile; remembering the 30 minutes I’d spent that morning carefully placing each item in it’s perfect place. Well, I opened the purse wide and just scooped everything back in willy-nilly.  I think someone behind me cheered.


I learned something that day.  I learned I can be so organized I can be paralyzed.


Since that time I’ve spent most of my efforts perfecting a purse organizer.  Something that would carry my purse contents, be easily transerrable to a different purse (I do like to coordinate my accessories) and yet all my stuff would be in the same place.  I didn’t want to have the problem of not remembering where I had put say my lipstick this morning.  The lipstick, and everything else I carried, would always be in it’s same pocket no matter what purse I carried.  Now I think that last month I finally have the right organizer for me.


Basically it it 3 pockets 1 for my cosmetics, center for my cell and PDA and the other pocket for my sunglasses and whatever else.  I do carry a french purse which handles my financial needs very well. Actually it’s comforting to carry the little French purse.  I started carrying one about 40 years ago.  I’m used to the format. Maybe I’ve adjusted to it rather than it fits me Whatever…. it takes 3 minutes to switch purses.  Find new purse 2 minutes; move French Purse 30 seconds; move organizer 30 seconds and g-o-n-e.


So purse selection is now much easier for me.  I find that I do need 1 more pocket, preferrably on the back side of my purse.  That pocket is a place to tuck my keys and drop into it whatever else that has accumulated in my hands. But 15 pockets? No longer even contemplated.  So what do I select for purses?

Right now I’ve got a thing for the Trace & Create Templates sold by Nancy Zieman of Nancy’s Notions.


I delayed about 3 months before buying the first template  I was really put off by the price $19.95 plus shipping.  I mean, $19.95 is what I want to pay for a completed purse.  It’s not what I’m willing to pay for a pattern and then I still need to buy fabric, stabiliziers etc etc.   But I did buy the template. I was surprised and delighted with it.  I found I could change dimensions easily; add or subtract pockets; change closures and embellishments. The template just seemed to open a whole new world for me. So of course I bought the other two as soon as they were marketed. To my embarassement, (I am at least slightly thrifty), I’ve also promptly purchased nearly all the accessories she sells for creating these purses. So my latest purse has been created using the California template, Carmel variation.



Fabric is a Cotton corduroy fused to a heavy, cotton, broad-cloth and lined with a microfiber.

Front has a beautiful Art Deco Embroidery. Sorry I don’t remember the digitizer.  I used 2 shades of Marathon polyester embroidery thread and a size 14 sharp needle.

Fronht Carmel

The back has a smaller embroidery right below the pocket opening — to help me find the opening.

Back Carmel


The closure is a source of pride to me.  I used a plain hair elastic. I buy 30 in a package at Walmart. Nothing fancy there but the button.  The button is old very old.  It came from my mother’s button tin and had been in there as long as I could remember. It is black leather, trimmed, stretched and stitched over a form of some kind. It had a wire shank on the back.  I didn’t fancy stitching through the corduroy, fusing, backing and lining. So I stitched a flat button with 2 holes onto the embroidery.  Then got out my handy-dandy glue gun and using high-heat with  a strong permanently bonding glue, I affixed that button.  Pretty sure it’s not goiing anywhere separately from the purse.



I love projects like this.

Time Out in My Sewing Studio

I’m still stumped on “the blouse” for which I should be drafting a suitable collar and adding some contrast or interest.  My TJ905 pants were a wadder and a downer; even though I learned a lot and plan to revisit this pattern in the future.  But it’s “time out” for me right now.  Too much stress and disappointment can make me a mean person.  I need a light touch in my sewing.  Something easy, relatively quick and undemanding intellectually.


An empty box? Well it is empty now.  Normally it sits beneath my cutting table and holds large scraps. It was filled, stomped down and filled again.  Anything that I can cut squarely into 1/4 yard or more is returned to the stash – with it’s scraps that are more than 4″x4″. But sometimes I end up with this big ol’ piece with holes but not really a solid amount of fabric.  That goes into the box to be cut into manageable pieces.  I cut 11×17 pieces and 3.5″ strips.  The 3.5″ strips can be used in crafts and quilts.  The 11×17 pieces are used in a charity project


These are makeup bags.  My Bernina dealer hosts a monthly sewing club.  There are several charity projects to participate in.  These makeup bags are used at the local shelters.  When people arrive at the shelters, often all they have is on their backs.  They are devoid of even basic hygiene tools.  Donations provide basic items, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and soap.  Great now the person has 4 little odd shaped items to try to keep track of.  That’s where the idea for the makup bags came from.  We sew the makeup bags using an old Bernina project and our SCRAPS.  Yep I’ve got the perfect solution for those 11x 17 pieces.  I can make the scraps into bags and give them away.  No guilt for me. This weekend I cut sorted and stacked.  You might think I’d have 2 stacks one for lining one for outer layer, but I have 3.


This is also my opportunity to play with color.  I love color but I’m not able to use it confidently or boldly. It is in fact BOLD for me to even try a split complimentary scheme- something right on the color wheel and highly recommended.  So I embroider on my scraps, playing with color and design.  If it doesn’t work, I can and do throw it away.  So….. I have 3 stacks 1-lining 2-finished top 3-top to be embroidered.

Unfortunately my 3.5″ strips have filled up their designated storage space. I’m going to need to come up with a project to thin them out.

I also had some knit fabrics in the box from which I cut 2 pairs of panties.  I shall be having new panties soon. Although knits have a number of uses, I don’t have storage room.  The remaining knit scraps are headed for the landfill along with all the strings and trimmings left after the 11×17 and 3.5″ strips were cut. There is simply only so much room for storage.  Eventually I have to decide what is most important to me and get rid of the rest.

Also I decided this box at 14x14x17 is far too large. It took a day and a half to cut and stack everything. My back ached for 2 days after that. I thought at 38″ my table was high enough. Perhaps not and then again perhaps it was the hours of continually cutting which I seldom do that caused my discomfort. Either way, the box is getting replaced and this is a chore that will be done more often.