After making the Retro Bag from my newest and favourite book purchase 101 Fabric-By-Fabric Ways To Sew A Metre I decided that I couldn’t wait to get back to cutting, basing, pinning and sewing. I have found myself in a rhythm these past two weeks when I have had a day off work or a weekend whereby I enjoy sewing before lunch and then curling up with my knitting in the evenings.
I had spent the previous evening flicking through the pages of the book, deciding which pattern I should choose as my next project, and decided on the Charming Bag.
I loved the details on this bag: the shaped handles, buttoned embellishment, flare to the handle end and the mis-matches pleats which give the bag so much comfortable texture.
The first hurdle was to locate the pattern pieces. The sheet numbers are clearly given and the pattern pieces very clearly labelled, but it is almost overwhelming the first time you reach into the pattern envelope attached to the book and look through the nine huge sheets of tissue paper pattern pieces.
Once I had laid the sheet out on the floor and carefully cut the pieces I wanted from the giant sheet of tissue paper I decided that I was now bold enough to make a few changes to the pattern as given, using the published pattern pieces to guide me in making some changes to the overall look of the bag.
You might be able to see in the picture of the bag published in the book that the finished item is quite shallow. I really love the handles and overall shape of the bag but wanted something that would hold all that I wished to carry around with me, so I decided to increase the bag by 7.5cm (3″) to give myself a roomier bag. I was easily able to do this as the fabric I was working with (a 1 metre length of Hildis Red fabric from Ikea, at £5 a metre) is 150cm (60″) wide, allowing plenty of extra fabric. It’s a good thing that I had the extra wide piece of fabric as I initially cut on of the pattern pieces the wrong way around as I hadn’t followed the pattern piece placement diagram for cutting as given in the book (because I was too busy lining up and centring my polka-dots!)
The book is fantastic at providing the solution as to how to get the most out of your piece of fabric if space is tight, and this bag will fit onto a standard 110cm (44″) wide 1m length of material, linings included. With the extra 3″ depth to my bag (and the mis-cut piece) I still had fabric left for breathing room, and I love the finished shape of my bag with its modifications.
When making the Folklore Bag from the first book in this two-book series I had a bit of trouble working out which way the pleats should have faced, not noticing they should have faced outwards when I pleated them inwards. The pleat markings on the pattern pieces of this second book are far clearer with direction arrows and bolder markings added, so the numerous pleats were easy and fun to pin into place.
Both the front and back of the bag feature the pleating, with four pleats on the bottom of each side and six on the top. This adds a wonderful amount of tactile sumptuousness to the bag, which I thought worked beautifully with the fun large polka dot print.
This bag was purposefully a bit more of a challenge for me, both in my modifications to the pattern and the amount of pieces and stitching involved, plus the relatively complex shape of the handles. It’s really satisfying when having shaped, turned and then pressed out the pieces to add the top stitching to highlight your work.
The one thing I didn’t have on hand to finish the bag was a big, bold button, so I ended up using some of the polka-dot fabric to cover a couple of buttons to finish the handles off. I think they look fun but unobtrusive, and in that respect I actually really like the finished look.
Unlike the other bags that I have made so far I decided to follow the pattern and make both the exterior and lining of the bag out of the same polka dot fabric, rather than lining the bag in a light coloured plain cotton. I thought that the red and white spotted design was still light and bright enough to be able to find my things inside the bag, especially as I again enlarged the inside pocket to be able to old the all-important mobile phone.
I love this bag and can’t wait to take it out and about, and I also can hardly wait to choose my next project from the book. I really do feel as if I have found an absolute gem of a book and it is offering me so much opportunity to learn so many new skills. I can’t believe how great the finished projects look and look forward to choosing my next project.