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I make a lot of bags for myself, actually, but they don’t always make it to the blog. I started out sewing bags, after all, and even though I make far more clothes, I do still enjoy making bags for various needs and occasions. Frankly, I think there’s just so much great fabric out there that is not suitable for garments, so I have to use it somehow. Echino, I’m looking at you.

IMG_0331Anyway, very occasionally I make a bag that I don’t think anyone has really made before. This little front zip cross body bag was inspired by a friend’s RTW leather purse that I admired and then thought, wait, I can figure this out! I actually managed to take notes and pictures along the way, so I thought I’d throw together a tutorial for it, in case anyone else has a thing for grommets on bags like I do. And yes, finally, it’s another bag tutorial for those of you who subscribed to my blog because of my messenger bag tutorial and then thought, jeez, what’s with all the clothes?

This is not a super detailed tutorial – it’s probably best for folks who’ve made a zipper pouch or two and are familiar with the basic process of getting a zipper onto a lined bag.

So if you’re looking for a quick last-minute gift, or just need some cute fabric in your life in the form of a bag, the tutorial begins after the jump.

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It seems possible that even those regions that have been unfairly smothered in winter for ages are starting to see small signs of spring, so I thought I’d throw out these winter accessories I made for my trip to New York before they’re totally obsolete.

Now, I have a ton of scarves. A simple jersey infinity scarf is my favorite thing to do with a leftover half yard of fabric, and as a frequent nighttime bike commuter in a coastal area, I get a lot of use out of my lightweight jersey scarves. But for real winter I thought I would need something more substantial, like with wool. I am by no means a speedy or skilled enough knitter to knit a scarf in the time I had, so I was at a loss for what to do until an opportunity presented itself in the form of an 18 inch width of leftover gray merino french terry from a cowl sweater I whipped up.

The idea of the infamous lululemon snap scarf (called the Vinyasa scarf, of course) has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and while I didn’t have enough fabric for a double-layer version, I liked both sides of my fabric so I decided to make a single layer scarf. Extensive googling gave me lots of pictures of the scarf in various snapped and unsnapped states, and I improvised some finishing that I’m really happy with. So here’s a sort of mini-tutorial for my single layer version of the Vinyasa scarf:

vinyasa scarf knock off 1

I started with a roughly 18 inch by 60 inch rectangle of my french terry. I think this would work with any thickish fabric that you like both sides of – one of those reversible double-knits would be really cool. Luckily my fabric pressed well, so I was able to press a narrow hem along the long sides of the rectangle. I just did a single fold because I didn’t mind seeing the raw edge, but you could do a double fold narrow hem if desired. I used a wide zigzag stitch to hem the long edges, just barely catching the raw edge in the edge of the zigzag. I reasoned that this would be a nice sturdy and decorative edge for the scarf. (There’s a lot of decorative zigzag stitching on the lululemon clothes I’ve seen, perhaps it’s not the becky-home-ecky stitch I always thought it was.)

For the snap ends, I wanted to add a pop of color with ribbon a la some of the inspiration scarves, so I went hunting for a yellow grosgrain or petersham ribbon. What I found instead was yellow twill tape, which ended up being even better than ribbon. I found this great yellow color twill tape at a local fabric store, but I imagine you could also dye white twill tape your desired color. My tape was 3/4 inch wide, which was about perfect.

scarf tutorial edge     scarf tutorial tape

I also didn’t want the darker side of the fabric to show under the snaps on the non-tape sides, so I folded a slightly less than 3/4 inch hem toward  the right side of the fabric and laid the tape over it, folding the ends of the tape under. I stitched the tape on first with a zigzag stitch, then I edgestitched it as close as possible to the edges to really seal it down. (I used yellow thread in the needle and gray in the bobbin to match the respective sides.)

Finally, the snaps. I used the regular pound-in snaps, because I liked the ring that shows on the opposite side of the functional part. For my scarf width, 7 snaps made the most sense to me. I spaced them one inch from each end and one and a half inches between snaps. Hammer ’em in and snap ’em and you’ve got a scarf!

vinyasa knock off snaps

The appeal of this scarf is obviously all the ways to wear it (there’s even a video about it), but I found that I mostly wore it fully snapped and double wrapped, or double wrapped and half-unsnapped. I love the twisted two-color look from the contrasting sides of the fabric, and the little pop of yellow from the tape. Plus it didn’t cost me $50!

vinyasa scarf knock off cowled

The hat I’m wearing is the first ever hat I’ve ever knit. I learned to knit a couple years ago, but it never really took hold – I think I don’t have the attention span required for knitting. Nevertheless, I was determined to knit a hat for this trip. Fortuitously the perfect pattern presented itself in my blog reader in the form of Ginger Makes’ version of the Mock Rib Watch Cap. (That horse sweater, by the way, is totally amazing and a great example of something I would never ever have the patience to knit.) The lovely owner of my local yarn shop pointed me to an appropriate-weight charcoal colored yarn that is so soft and actually pretty warm. (It’s SimpliNatural by HiKoo in Slate Gray, alpaca/merino/silk, for those who are interested in those kind of details.) I used the recommended needle size and my gauge swatch was pretty close, but I found the finished hat to be a little big, if still wearable. I suspect I’m a rather loose knitter and my band is really stretchy. I’m not much of a hat-wearer generally, but I wore the heck out of this hat in the frigid New York weather.

scarf and hat

So about my New York City experience – just a couple things. First off, I absolutely loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. If you’re a theatre person at all, and you have the chance, go see it. The things they do with the ensemble creating the world of the main character are just really innovative and exciting.

Second, yes, I did do some fabric shopping. I hit up Mood, Metro Textiles, and Paron (everything was an extra 40% off when I was there, so that was cool). I also popped into Spandex House (or was it World? one of them) which was impressive but I didn’t need any more swimsuit fabric. Here’s my haul:

NY fabric haul

Top to bottom: from Metro, a super soft poly jersey that feels like cotton, a nice gray ponte, a gray herringbone stretch denim for pants of some kind, and a spotty poly charmeuse; from Paron, a crazy blue pinecone print stretch twill for awesome shorts, a lovely poly crepe de chine print from Italy (which they made me buy the remainder of the bolt, 3 yards, but I think I’ll use it all for something), and a dotty stretch poplin for more awesome shorts; and from Mood, a fantastic Anna Sui silk that I couldn’t pass up. Not a bad pile, and worth cramming in my suitcase, I think, but overall I didn’t think I found anything crazy special or super different from what I might find in LA. The feeling of the Garment District is totally, totally different from the LA Fashion District, though, and way less intimidating, even though I did have to take elevators to two of the shops. The one store I did want to import to the west coast, though, was Pacific Trimming. That place has everything you might need for any number of projects, but is absolutely the kind of place you visit with a particular project in mind, not just to randomly shop. I’m sure over the next year I will wish I could drop in there for some specific item, but as it was I tried to pre-buy for some theoretical projects:

NY trim haul

Two lengths of high quality strapping and some accompanying hardware, some white cotton rope and some gray faux leather rope for bag handles, and a couple random buckles and clips. The store was so well organized, and while I know all this stuff must exist in LA, it’s much more of a pain to locate.

So I guess I did enjoy a little taste of real winter, but all the same I’m glad to be back in California, where spring cannot be denied. It was fun to make winter clothes, but now it’s time to pull out all the sleeveless top patterns!

For Christmas, my mom got me this super cool bag (from Boden, sadly sold out now):

It’s quite a bit bigger than the purses I usually carry (I’m a smallish purse person, I don’t tend to carry my whole life in my purse – that’s in my work bag…), but looking inside I realised that it was a perfect size to carry all my purse stuff plus my camera (a DSLR)! I have a couple great camera bags (including one that looks like a purse, which I love, from here), but they hold all my myriad accessories and lenses as well as the camera, so they’re big and heavy and not necessarily what I want to bring on a casual trip to visit friends. So I determined that I would make a small foam insert for this bag to hold just my camera with one lens attached. After some googling, thinking, and yes, sewing, I had this:

A safe little cozy for my camera, leaving room for my water bottle on the side. I did document how I put the insert together, but what follows is not quite a tutorial – it’s less “you should do this” than “I did this”, so I’ve coined the term “how-I-did-it-orial” for it. Yeah, that’ll catch on, right? Anyway, see how-I-did-it after the jump… Read More

Well, after a rather long hiatus from my Christmas crafting (justified by my early completion of my first three gifts), I rushed out a couple more things the night before I gifted them:

For a friend at work, this is a purse organizer and a small zipper pouch. She always wants to change her purses to match her outfits, but complains about what a pain it is to transfer all her purse contents all the time, so I thought this might help. It’s basically a strip of pockets that she can fill with purse stuff, roll up and stick in one purse, then pull it out and move it to another purse easily. To make it, I cut two 10 by 20 inch pieces of fabric, interfaced them both with midweight interfacing, sewed them wrong sides together, turned, pressed, and edgestitched all the way around. Then I sewed a line across 4 inches from the bottom of the long edge, folded along that line, and sewed lines from top to bottom in somewhat random intervals to form the pockets (I think there are 6 pockets ranging in width from 1 to 5 inches). The zipper pouch is from this tutorial. It took me a minute (or several) to wrap my head around how it would all come out finished on the inside and such, but it worked great and I may make one for myself sometime too!

I also made a quick circle scarf for the same friend:

This has got to be the easiest gift of all time to make. I bought a third of a yard of jersey from the bulk bin at my local fabric shop. I trimmed off the selvages, then used a ruler and rotary cutter to make the long edges nice and straight, and sewed the short ends together. Done. So if it happens to be Christmas Eve and you’re one gift short, might I suggest a jersey circle scarf? I think it took me longer to buy the fabric than to make the scarf, seriously.

Finally, I made one more thing for my mom that I’ve posted over at the Crafty Christmas Club.

Woo-hoo, Christmas Crafting complete! So to all those who celebrate it, have a Merry Christmas. May it be filled with family, friends, food, and plenty of crafty gifts too!

Well, the gift-giving season is upon us, and my holiday present-making is beginning… a bit later than most other people’s, I imagine! So if there are any more craft procrastinators out there, here’s something for you – I thought I’d share this little messenger bag I came up with a while ago:

About a year ago, when I started riding my bike around town to dinner and pubs and whatnot, I discovered that there was a hole in my bag wardrobe, and what I really wanted was a purse-sized messenger bag. Something that would hold my wallet, phone, water bottle, and a light sweater, a bag that I could wear across my body on the bike and then the strap could be shortened up to a shoulder bag length to make it more manageable in crowded places. Of course, I wanted to make it. But when I went hunting for a tutorial online, I didn’t find exactly what I wanted. So I sat down with some graph paper and sketched out a sort of pattern/plan, and just went for it. (Click on the sketches to enlarge.)

  

Inspired by my Timbuk2 messenger bags (which I love, but they’re giant), I created a three-panel front with a pocket. There is also an interior zipper pocket as well as a set of patch pockets on the inside front. There is no closure on the front flap, I’ve found I haven’t needed anything and it stays closed on its own, but velcro could easily be added. Here’s a better look:

 

I’ve made two of these bags for myself so far (one in browns and one in greys, have to have one to match any outfit!). I wanted to make one for a friend for Christmas, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to photograph all the steps and put together a tutorial, if for no other reason than my own personal future reference. The sketched pattern is great, but I needed to document a sensible order of construction if I’m going to keep making these! I think this bag would make a great gift (obviously, since I’m giving this one to someone), or you could sew selfish and use your holiday break to make one for yourself!

I’ve used quilting cotton for all my bags (this one is fabric from the Avalon line by Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Fabrics, aka Fabricworm (love that store!), but you could use a heavier weight canvas or something as well and not need interfacing. I think it’s a great showcase for your favorite fabric – large or small scale print (I sort of fussy cut this one to get the birds in good places), and one, two or three fabrics (the contrast pockets are fun but not at all necessary).

The finished bag measures 8 inches tall by 11 inches wide by 3 inches deep. It can probably be enlarged by adding, say, 10% to every measurement except the strap (which wouldn’t be practical any wider than 2 inches). But I like the small size – it’s a purse for your bike! Here are some pictures for scale:

 

The tutorial can be found after the jump. I’ve also made a pdf file of the tutorial to download (here), if you’d like to save it to your computer. Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional or even moderately skilled bag maker. I’ve made a bunch of bags from other people’s tutorials and used a lot of those techniques to construct this bag. If you’ve ever made bags before, most of the steps will be familiar to you. If you have questions or something is confusing, let me know, or check out other bag tutorials for  a different look at the same step. I’ve also always thought that patterns and tutorials are springboards for customization, so make this bag your own! That is why we sew, after all, right?

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