Sunday, January 10, 2016

Blossom Shoulder Bag

I made this. It's the Blossom Handbag/Shoulder Bag from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags, but the pattern for this particular bag is available for free at Sew Mama Sew. I made the "shoulder bag" variation, which basically means it has longer straps. (Is shoulder bag even a term? I mean, why have a purse if you can't wear it on your shoulder? Who wants to hold it all day?)

It's a bit big for my taste, since all I carry in a purse is my phone, wallet, and keys. These days I don't actually use one, because I don't have a convenient place to put it at work, and I realized it's much easier to just keep my phone and wallet in my pockets. In the past year or so, I can think of two times I used one - once to sneak candy and drinks into a theater, and once when it was really cold and I wanted a place to keep my hat and gloves while I was in Walmart. But I really, really liked this bag, and honestly, it can hold a LOT of candy and drinks.

Things I love about it:

  • The shape. And it's fun without being girly.
  • Neat, clean strap attachments that look really cool without having to use metal hardware.
  • My fussy-cut "tie ends" and "tags" (the strap attachments). Not that you'd notice, but I wanted all of them to have yellow dots showing. All four look exactly the same.

Things I didn't like, or that confused me, or that I possibly did wrong:

  • It's bigger than I realized. Pretty humongous in fact, for only a wallet, phone, and keys. (But, candy potential!)
  • The Peltex creases and wrinkles easily. It creases along the top (the flap) from wearing the purse under my arm. It also crease there and down the middle of the front just from closing the purse. It can keep its structure while it's closed, but it pinches and creases in several places getting the two halves of the snap together. The sides crease along the folds.

    I used Peltex 71 (fusible), but it turns out the pattern called for Peltex 70, which I'm pretty sure is the non-fusible kind. Perhaps if I'd used the correct one, the wrinkles in the Peltex wouldn't show through to the outside. The inside of the flap (the side not fused to the Peltex) looks much nicer than the outside.

  • The dividers don't reach the bottom. I'm not sure if they were supposed to. They're bar tacked to the bag at the top corners, so the pattern didn't say anything about how they fit the rest of the way around. It's not a problem for me, and I knew they wouldn't be attached at the bottom anyway.
  • They also sometimes shift so they stick out on one side or the other, instead of centered, and it makes it look like I added the flap in the wrong place.
  • I still have about half of the fabric I bought. The pattern called for 54" wide fabric, and mine was only 44" wide, but I still have so much of it left. I'm going to make more projects with these fabrics anyway, but I don't know why the pattern called for so much.
  • Stabilizer! The purses I've made before were floppy, because that's just my style. But I really loved this one, and it requires heavy stabilizer. Turns out, that's pretty hard to sew, even when you trim it so there's none in the seam allowance. Adding the side panels was a nightmare. I had to rip seams, restart the seams and sew for an inch, rip it out again, try again but stitch with the other side facing up, stitch a half inch decently, rip out the rest again, etc. Pinning through several layers was slightly less of a nightmare, because I used quilting (i.e. bent) safety pins, although I once made the mistake of closing them. They were so full of the two layers of Peltex, I bled myself trying to get a pin open, and bled on the purse.
  • The Peltex is nice for the structure, but it's stiff. Stiff = hard to maneuver through a sewing machine. As more and more pieces come together, it's harder to keep things out of the way of the needle while also making the part under the needle lie flat.
  • The pattern called for a 12" zipper. I used a 14", because that's what I had, and it fit perfectly. What would a 12" have looked like?
  • My zipper turned out a little wavy.

Modifications I made to the pattern:

  • Buying the wrong Peltex.
  • I used quilting cotton for all fabrics. Home decor fabric doesn't usually come in prints I like. At all. It's probably more expensive too.
  • Longer zipper.
  • I added edge stitching along the tops of the dividers. Which was just as well, because I accidentally left the gap along the top seam on one of them anyway.
  • I actually stuck to the pattern pretty closely, which is new for me. Usually a sewing pattern is a pirate's code for me, more like guidelines than actual rules. I look at it to see what size pieces the person used, and make up the rest as I go along. But I liked this bag well enough the way it was, and also really wanted it to look good, so I didn't take any chances. I pressed, pinned, measured meticulously, cut carefully, ripped and restitched seams instead of settling for "good enough" - all things I usually don't do.

If I were to make it again:

  • Peltex 70. Not 71.
  • I might move the female half of the snap a little higher up on the purse front, or else make the flap longer. The bag looks really good when it's closed but, again, you kind of have to pinch the top and front to reach to two halves of the snap together.

People harmed in the making of the purse:

  • Just me.

Injuries sustained in the making of this purse:

  • Four iron burns on my hands.
  • A jab from a safety pin. It feels like another iron burn.
  • A slice from my rotary cutter that took one layer of skin off my fingertip without drawing blood. It also feels like an iron burn.
  • The pain and suffering that accompanies the inconvenience of having to change a needle when you break one.

Now I'm going to make a Necessary Clutch Wallet from my leftover fabrics. It's by Emmaline Bags, but it kind of looks like it was made to go with the Blossom bag.

Update: Necessary Clutch Wallet post (four wallets I made) found here.

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