Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beaded Purse with Wrist Strap

The idea of making a purse with one strap for a handle appealed to me because one handle seems so unbalanced yet so right. I came across this book The Art of Making Hand-Beaded Bags by Karen Torrisi at the National Library and I just love how every step is illustrated clearly in simple terms, including the beading parts. The only obstacle. I'm not a beader. Not even a beginner. I thought about skipping the whole beading part but the "impossible is nothing" part of me rose to the occasion and I raided my girl's beads. With the purchase of a beading needle, I had no more excuses. Besides, the book was due soon. I used my girl's old overalls and I beaded away. Truthfully, my beading looks nothing like the book's sample bag which is gorgeous, a bit tai-tai for my taste though. The next 2 days were spent trying to assemble the bag. My Secondary 1 Woodwork teacher once commented I lacked "bird's eye view" when I kept assembling my wood craft wrong. (Huh?) I don't know which view was missing but I kept leaving the handle in the lining. I would unpick the darn thing and redo and the handle would end up in the lining. I really wanted to give up on this bag. In all fairness, the assembly of this bag is done a little differently from what I usually do. (I adapt slow) I discarded this project and returned the book to the library. Funnily, (ha ha) I was drawn back to the bag one day and I just got it right at first try. Unfortunately the side seams of the lining was all scrunched up.

Denim Beaded Purse

Once again, giddy with success, I had to make another beaded purse with one handle. This time I used store bought cheap black poplin and I embroidered chain stich for skull/bones structure. The eyes and teeth were beaded. I did everything right this time. Only thing. The black poplin attracts lint like crazy.
Black Skull and Bones Beaded Purse

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wonton Drawstring Bags

When I first saw a picture of a delightful simple round drawstring bag with tatted edging in Beeton’s Book of Needlework Consisting of Descriptions and Instructions by Isabella Beeton found at Antique Pattern Library. (Tip: Don't try and print the whole book. It's a lot of pages.)

I knew I had to make it. Just 2 round fabric, sew together, turn right side out. Sew 2 circles for casing and add the tatting edging. Ha ha, ha.

Tatting, what's tat? (pun, get it?) Tatting is an ancient art done by people who had no television or computer or internet. Now, people who have television, computer and internet turn to tatting because it's a challenge and all that "impossible is nothing" propaganda.

Tatting, it turns out is not for the patience impaired. It took me hours to finish the simple rings. All my picots have different sizes! Finally sewing the edging to the edge of the bag numbed my fingers and every nerve on my arms. I'm never making another tatted edging again. For the cords, I just crochet a simple chain stitch. (Fingers can't feel anything by now.)

When I showed the finished product to my husband, he said it looked like a giant wonton.

White Wonton Bag with tatted edging

Colourful Wonton Bag with multicoloured cord

The numbness in my fingers and arms slowly left and having recovered sufficiently, I knew I had to make another wonton bag.

Okay, okay. When I was making the white tatted one, I was overcomed with ambition to make dozens of wonton bags. (I don't know why. Okay, it's called obsession.) So I had jumped the gun and cut out 2 round fabric from my tropical island fabric collection. Therefore I had no choice but to make another wonton bag.

This time, I left out the tatted edging. (I wasn't kidding. Absolutely no more tatted edging. Ever.)

For the cord, I braided 3 different coloured yarn using my braiding machine. The braiding is done like how you would braid your hair. I love the braid. When I grow up, I want to be a braider.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fat Bottomed Drawstring Bags

Lately I've been having a strange obsession with fat bottomed drawstring bags. I thought I was done with drawstring bags... When I first started exploring bags bottoms, I thought that logically the circumference of the bottom should fit the surface area of the bag perfectly. But it soon became clear that I would end up with a tube-like bag. Not very attractive.

Fat Bottomed Bag No. 1

This blue-white gingham piece started out like a usual flat-piece bottomed bag. At this point, flat-bottomed bags was beginning to bore me to death so I thought why not explore round bottoms.

I started out with a rectangle. At four corners of the rectangle, I marked four small squares. To calculate the length of the rounded corners, I found this website which gave me the formula. After driving myself insane with the massive calculation, I finally finished with the paper pattern.

Just to be sure, I used a measuring tape to measure the paper pattern. It fitted the base of the bag perfectly. I should have been a mathematician! (Um, what do they do?)

Sewing the bag bottom to the bag wasn't really difficult. Cutting little notches on the seam allowance of the bottom helps.

I really like this bag. It's cute. The embroidery is of my kids and me skipping. (The one with the big head is me). It's a fantasy world. In real life we just sit in front of the computer playing Heroes V.

Fat Bottomed Bag No. 2

I borrowed this book Handmade Gifts from Fabric in the Japanese Tradition by Kumiko Sudo from the National Library and was delighted to see a few fat bottomed drawstring bags featured.

I'm usually rather wary of following tutorials via books because it always turns out to be harder than it looks. Browsing through, I knew I had to choose the hardest one to make.

This little baggie consists of a million pieces of patchwork. After joining them into a tube like structure, you handsew the bottom pieces together. Check out the bottom! (You can see my ugly handsewing thread sticking out.)

I just love this baggie to death. It's completely useless though. I don't know when I might have the occasion to use it.

Cute Bottom

Fat Bottomed Bag No. 3

This bag is far easier to make as it only consists of strips of fabric sewn into a tube. The bottom is sewn together and the seams covered by a yo-yo.

I made a huge mistake when I used denim for the casing. It's too stiff and as a result I cannot close the casing all the way.

My Bottom's really a hat?

Check out the cords I used for drawstring. I braided it using my braiding machine.
My Braiding Machine

I found this stool which has a hole in the centre at a household goods store. The hole is where you put the finished braid. The empty jam jars act as weights.

This cord is a four string (lily yarn) round braid and it's really gorgeous. I like the cord more than the bag (you know because of the casing being too tight).

This bag is meant for keeping your favourite marbles and that's exactly what I'll do with it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Zippered Pouch Rush

Sick of drawstring bags, I thought about all the stuff I’m really scared of sewing. Like casing, gussets, bias binding, a straight line, evenly spaced buttonholes, zippers. Ah, zippers. I’m terrified of sewing zippers. The medical term is zipperphobia. The one time I did a zipper, I hand sewed it. I’m adverse to any form of hand sewing unless it’s some embroidery my machine can’t handle. So how do I overcome zipperphobia? I think the way to go is to sew a zippered pouch.

Zippered Pouch No. 1

I found a zipper tutorial at It looked really easy. (Easy always spells disaster for me)

I had some square fabric leftovers sewn in two rows and onto my old yellow bed sheet. I think I had seen this “pattern” in a bag making book at the National Library but I forgot the title of the book. The lining is my son’s old cot cover. You can’t see it but I have very thin batting in the bag for a quilted effect. The quilting bit was a bit unorganized. I just used a long ruler as a guide. Tip: The quilting lines need to be very precise otherwise the lines from the front and back piece won’t meet at the bottom seams. (Mine didn’t but it’s okay)

For the zipper bit, I managed to follow Anna's twelve22 tutorial petty well until when I kinda mangled 2 good Organ needles. Tip: Always use manual control to ensure your needle does not touch the zipper foot before you proceed at lightning speed. Ah, why 2 needles? After mangling the first one, I replaced it and did exactly the same stupid thing as before. I forgot to ensure the needle does not hit the zipper foot. Where are my brains?

The bag turned out pretty well especially the zipper except I had to hand sew the end bits of the zipper together. I kinda feel I missed something in the tutorial to take care of the ugly end bits.

Zippered Pouch No. 2

Still sore from losing 2 good Organ needles, I googled some more and found a wristlet tutorial at splityarn.

I like this tutorial a lot because the author talks to you like you really don’t know how to sew and that’s good because like I’ve discovered the hard way, I really don’t know how to sew.

I had this stem stitched embroidered strawberries on unbleached calico lying around and I thought it would go really well with my old gingham table cloth bits. You can’t see it but the whole bag is interfaced with fusible interfacing to achieve the crumpled vintage look. Okay, okay. It was all an accident. When I did the interfacing, the iron setting was way too hot and the fabric became all crumpled and I couldn’t get the bubbles out. But it looks good, doesn’t it? It’s all about the end result.

I followed the splityarn tutorial every step of the way. I think I achieved a pretty good result. Best bit. No ugly end bits to take care of. Only thing is I regretted leaving too big a gap at the start of the zipper. Still I love the end result. I’m definitely using this wristlet. The gap isn’t that big, is it?

Zippered Pouch No. 3

I obsessed over the giant gap in zippered Pouch No. 2 and I felt I had to do another one. I made this one using the same method at splityarn and this time I fixed the big gap.

I cut up my daughter’s old dress (the zipper didn’t work) and made a little pouch for her vanities. My girl thought I was fixing the zipper for her dress! The good news is she likes the pouch. The bad news is she’s still furious with me for cutting up her old dress.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Trouble With Drawstring Bags

Drunk with my success I decided I would make a few more drawstring bags. They turned out to be lessons in bag making. I’m going to call all my mistakes Humbling Bags. I shall build a palace to house them. Okay, maybe just throw them in a box. I shall look at them from time to time to remind me of my mistakes. Okay, maybe bury them in an unreachable place in the storeroom.

Humbling Bag No. 1

When I made Humbling Bag No. 1, I decided I would just do it without any pattern or even measurement. Just cut and sew. Oh, the arrogance.

This one I did with bits of an old bed sheet. The tragedy is in the lining. Because I did not measure, the lining was either too long or too big. I trimmed and squeezed and screamed and ripped and sewed and re-sewed and finally got the whole thing done. The process was not pretty. The bag started out much, much bigger.

Humbling Bag No. 2

This next bag was a disaster right from the start. First of all, I had this bit of green fabric and I just went and sewed satin stich of a rose outline on it without thinking about where the casing would be and ta da! The rose was too close to the casing. I like how the red cut-out turned out. Actually you can’t really see it but I made 2 holes in the red fabric. Butter fingers. (It’s very hard!) Another thing. I left the seams exposed. Exposed seams are very, very ugly. I cannot emphasise this enough.

Humbling Bag No. 3

I was staring at my Humbling Bag No. 2 and thought it would be such a good idea to use buttonholes instead of a casing for the drawstrings. And so began the longest journey of my sewing machine life. I had never sewn a buttonhole ever. It took many trials before I figured out how to use the buttonhole foot. Finally, I learnt how to sew an actual buttonhole. I already had the bag all sewn up. This time, I stupidly left the top seams exposed. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn bias binding. Ha ha ha ha. Somebody throw ice water at me, please! Anyway, back to the darned buttonholes. I thought the hard part was over. I was wrong. I sewed 12 buttonholes below the top seam. I sewed and I sewed. 10 decades later, I was finally done. The buttonholes were sewn in a straight row, evenly spaced. Or so I thought. To my horror, I had sewn 5 buttonholes on one side and 7 buttonholes on the other. And they were all over the place. Man! I can’t sew straight and I can’t count.

I remembered it was 2am and I needed to get bias binding instruction fast. I followed littlelizzie tutorial(no longer available online) and it was pretty easy to understand. Getting the same result was something else. I used a bias tape maker which I had bought but never used. It worked out. It really did. But I had to discard the first 50cm because it was all scrunched up. Also I burned my finger really good. Hot tip: The tip of an iron is just as hot as the rest of the iron.

I followed littlelizzie tutorial to a T. Except at the end I realized I had forgotten to leave enough binding unsewn at the beginning so I couldn’t do the right angle trick to achieve a neat finish. It was almost 3am. I could see little insects creeping about on the floor. It was time I did my usual squeeze and trim and I finished the darn thing. Not pretty at all. I hate this bag so much I want to cry. The bias binding is all wrong from the inside. It’s so much thicker than the outside.

I’ll definitely try another bias binding bag using littlelizzie but this time I’ll do it during the day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Drawstring Bags tutorial

Made my first drawstring pouch today.

Didn't quite like the result because the casing becomes too tight. I think I should do the side seams first and the top seams last. Did some ripping and redid the top seams. Better.

The applique is done using open toe feet with satin stitch. This is my first attempt at this technique. I did it on a white fabric, cut it out, and sewed using straight stitch onto the bag fabic. Tedious.

This is great because I like all my bags lined. It's so simple. I can't believe it. The embroidery is my second attempt at satin stitch. This time I just sewed onto the bag fabric.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

My Bag Pattern Shop

My Applique Patterns

My Embroidery Patterns