Another small project done

I decided to replace a very worn out small handbag that I have been using daily for at least 3 years. The bag is tattered on the corners, and has gone through the washer and dryer many times. I bought it for travel use at the local Eddie Bauer Outlet, on a whim, for less than $10. I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth out of it for certain.

With a trip coming up this weekend, I decided I could “MAKE” a new bag, but make it slightly LONGER than the original bag. One thing about the original I love was the outside pocket on the back that my big fat cell phone could slide into. I loved the 3 zipper pockets, but I know my sewing talents don’t go that far, and I am thrilled I got one zipper in, and made it work.

I’ve made quite a few things like this, only smaller, in the embroidery hoop. I’m limited on the length though, so I took the skills I learned from machine embroidery and came up with this bag.

New bag
front of the bag

I finally used one of those lace zippers I had on hand. (More than a year ago, my friend Nancy & I split an Amazon order). The zipper goes across the top. I made the bag substantially longer so my bigger wallet would fit in. I bought the wallet, handmade, from one of the ladies at the Assisted living facility where I used to volunteer and I just love it. I was always jamming it in the old bag.

Again, while making this project, I dug into the “leftover half square triangles” that I have sitting in a basket.

I decided that the pocket on the back of this bag could be divided, and my phone will fit on either side, and still have room for a pen or a mask or my ear buds.

pockets on the back

I ended up using the same woven strap from the old bag, as it is in pretty good shape. I can always make a fabric strap later if I choose. With so much white on the bag, I imagine it will be in the washer on a regular basis. The rings are “key ring overlap” style, so taking off the strap and replacing it should be easy.

When I was working on this, I was thinking “proto-type” for a bag done using some wonderful vinyl that I have. It looks and feels like suede, but I wanted to be sure I had worked out the process…when to attach the zipper, where to leave the opening for turning, how to attach the bits for the handle, how I wanted the pocket to work etc.

Overall, without a pattern I am quite pleased with the outcome.

I used Pellon 973 Fusible fleece on the back side of the main fabric, nothing on the back of the lining.

fusible fleece for the bag

Turning the bag thru the opening on the side of the lining was fairly easy, as the Pellon fleece is very soft and easy to work with. There are no “raw edges” on the bag to be bothersome. I quilted thru the outside bag fabric using one of the special stitches on my Janome 8900, and I think that helps give it some character too. It will certainly keep the fleece from shifting when it gets washed. (All the white means it will need washing on a regular basis!!)

close up of the quilting
Close up of the stitching

I still want to make another bag using the wonderful vinyl product, and have to “think through” the process of adding all those extra zipper pockets etc. But for now, my new purse kind of matches my sister’s bag I made yesterday.

The picture below is my old bag on top of the new one, and you can see how much bigger I made it.

Replacing the old bag

So, there you have it, a one day project! (Really just an afternoon of creating and having fun!)

What are you working on this week?? Any suggestions for adding multiple zippers in outside pockets?? I’m sure I can figure it out, but will spend my evening hunting through videos on you-tube looking at suggestions!

Small Town Charm project completed

NOTE — Edited to share the “last” photo.

I wanted to share my completed Small Town Charm project with you. The blocks I have shared in previous posts have been incorporated into a tote bag for my friend June. The bag was made with short straps to go over her walker handles, and buttons to hold them in place. It also has ties on the side to keep the bag from swinging while the walker is in ‘motion’.

Before I made this project I took a look at her existing bag and measured it.

Those measurements were important as I created the new bag, since I didn’t have a walker handy to test the fit.

I had fun figuring out which fabrics I wanted to use for the bag, making my choices from that one box of fabric I had dumped out and sorted. I really wanted to make the bag for June using her OWN fabric. My hope is the fabrics will be ones she remembers having. While they don’t have the same elegance as the beautiful blues and golds in the bag picture above, they do remind me of things she likes. And, when I agreed to make the new bag, June didn’t make any color requests. Well…you know that I like things scrappy!

sorting options
Trying out possibilities

I played around with lots of color combinations, and thought about how I wanted to “construct” the bag. Once the decisions were made, the extra bits of fabric came down off the wall, and the construction was pretty simple.

After the front and back of the bag was made, I layered it with Pellon 973F (Fusible Fleece) and did some quilting. I made the straps, and put the bag together.

SMT Tote bag
Waiting for lining

Once the outside of the bag was made, I chose one of those pretty pink fabrics and made the lining. I added pockets for both sides of the lining. I used the fusible fleece in the pockets too, so it has some body.

Construction is similar to lining any tote bag. Once your lining is ready, you slide the main bag inside the lining, with pretty sides (right sides touching). You have to make sure you leave an opening for turning. My opening was on the side, just above the edge of the pockets.

STC Lining
Right sides together

Those little clips are great for holding the edges of the bag together and keeping everything lined up during the sewing process. You can see the stitching of the pockets on the back side of that lining in the photo above.

Below, is the inside of the bag showing the pockets.

INSIDE STC lots of pockets

Once the bag was pulled through the opening and turned “right side out, a quick press along that top seam, and of the lining before top stitching around the upper edges. I use my clips then as well to make sure there is no shifting.

Button holes in the straps for two closing positions, and some bright shiny buttons on the Flower Shop side of the bag.

STC Tote bag
Small town charm bag

The blue bag she had previously had a bit of velcro tab to keep the bag closed. I added a 3″ strip of velcro near the top edge of the new bag, skipping the tab. I also added two pockets on the sides of the bag, where she can keep a packet of tissues if she likes. The ties for the walker on the bottom are made from June’s stash of bias tape binding.

The bag has a “scrappy quilter” look to it I think. My husband, who knows her so well, thinks she is going to “LOVE” the new bag. I had fun making the Small Town Charm embroidery blocks, and building a bag that will be functional for her. I’m glad I have had a little experience making bags in the past few years, or I would never have tackled this without a specific pattern in hand.

If I was making this into a tote / purse for myself, I would not have used the dimensional awning on the flower shop, but I knew the bag would be stationary once attached to the walker, and I think the flower shop will face out, so it won’t get mashed during use. For myself, I would use a magnetic closure, and put a couple of key ring loops inside the bag to have a spot for hooking my car keys. (Hate hunting in the bottom of a bag for keys!) Because of where / how June lives, she really doesn’t use keys.

Do you enjoy bag making? Any tips? Do you have a favorite pattern that you make frequently?

EDIT — bag delivered and installed!

Tote bag installed

#DimeSewAlong