Green Tweed Messenger Bag…

Recently, I have had a flurry of making things for myself and the house, or, not even sewing at all (gasp, shock, horror).  I find that this happens at certain times of the year, and as there is so much to do in the garden at the moment and it’s also the slowest time for the shop I am finding it quite liberating to remember that the world won’t collapse if I let my shop making slow down.  I’ve read a lot of blog posts recently about balancing the whole work/family/creating thing and also asking the ‘is it all worth it?’ question.  Like many out there, I sometimes question the profit I make in relation to the hours I work.  I imagine how clean and tidy our house and garden might be, if I weren’t always in my studio, but the reality is I would also be quite miserable.  I really need this bit of life that is ‘just for me’, it makes me a nicer person to be around and so a better parent and wife and I really can’t imagine not doing it.  I’m also quite aware with both boys in school now that I need to think about moving The Linen Cat up to the next level, I’ve built a good foundation and just need to decide in which direction to go.  But for now, I’m enjoying taking a few weeks out 🙂

Right, enough.  Time to show some goodies.

Last winter after making the boys these messenger bags from the ‘Little Things to Sew‘ book by Liesl Gibson, I knew I wanted to make one for myself.  It had to be in tweed, so after a little ebay searching I found some in green with a lovely blue fleck (which you can’t see very well on the photos, sadly).

While on the hunt for some linen for the lining, I managed to bag some Thumbelina fabric from the Far Far Away, Part 2 collection by Heather Ross in green (I struggled to take photos today as it’s very bright in the studio and I had to close the curtain, the actual background colour is more off a lighter pea green).  I love this fabric and wish I hadn’t been so late to the party, there was only a purple version left in the UK as her latest collection (Far Far Away, III) was out at this point so it was an  Etsy US seller  job hunting for the green.

I wanted something sturdier for the edging than the cotton bias binding I’d used for the boys’ bags, to match the weight of the fabrics, so I bought some green cotton herringbone webbing from Ray-Stitch.  It works quite well, I washed it first to soften it a bit and then ironed it in half before using it to edge the bag.  The only difficulty is there was quite a lot of movement so I did have to tack it into place before sewing it with the machine.  As always I use a very small zig-zag to hold the binding into place, catching both the front and back at the same time.

As with the original bags I used some heavy cotton webbing bought on Ebay for the strap (the book gives instructions for making the strap from fabric, which I’m sure would work very well) and I omitted the pocket flaps (as I did with the boys’ versions), I had intended to put them in but I honestly find the way they ‘fit’ a bit odd in that they are attached quite a bit higher than the top of the pockets and only overlap by a small amount, I’ve pinned them on here so you can see how they might have looked.

When putting the bag together, I used an iron-on Vilene Heavy interfacing fixed onto the tweed (Vilene H250/305), which stops the tweed from fraying as well as making it a little stiffer, I then sandwiched a heavy stitch-in interfacing between the tweed and linen layer on the front and back pieces (Vilene S13/313).  The sides only have the tweed, ironed on interfacing and linen, there is no stitch-in interfacing used here.

All these layers do make it heavy going on the machine, but I felt the bag needed this structure and it works really well.  I can imagine if you made it with canvas, as suggested in the book, it would be nicer left a little ‘floppy’ but this wasn’t the look I was going for.  My only advice here is make sure you use the correct needle (I use a 14 or even 16, both are for stitching heavier fabrics) and I trimmed the stitch-in interfacing back off the seams before stitching on the binding to remove some bulk.  Actually, whilst I’m mentioning needles, one of my top tips generally for sewing is to change your need regularly, I change mine for each new project, it makes a real difference.

Finally, I knew I wanted to add some removable flower brooches to the front, as I had done with the tweed bag I made for my sister-in-law for Christmas.  I had thought about a contrasting colour but as it has taken me sooooooo long to actually complete the bag (remember, I started this late last year when my working colour palette was all berry purples,reds and pinks) that I’ve been looking at a lot of images of Ariculas and have fallen in love with the many green versions so I opted for these.  I know they don’t stand out so well but I really liked the idea of a more subtle green on green, plus as they are brooches I can always remove them and add winter flower versions as the seasons change.

I’m really pleased with the finished bag and know already that it’s going to get a lot of use.  I am quite genuinely thinking of making it a little waterproof cover (in see-through plastic that can be kept in the back inside pocket (oops, forgot to mention it has a pocket inside) for hurriedly putting over it when it rains, as wet wool tweed is not always the nicest smell and I would hate it to get ruined.  Sad aren’t I?!  It reminds me of my Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag that I use a lot and I realise, looking back at this post I nearly always opt for green tweed when making things for myself.  Creature of habit, or simply that I know what I like?

Right, the sun is shining, the garden is calling and we have some minor building work going on this week so I’d better get back to work, lots to do today 🙂

Supporting handmade…

As someone whom sells my own work, I try to repay the kindness, as often as possible, by buying from small companies or other people in the ‘handmade community’ and I always photograph things to show here in the blog to spread the word.  I’ll confess I’ve slipped a bit recently and found a few photos in my  iPhoto library waiting to be posted so here goes:

Heart and Bone needle felted skull brooch and hair pin by Lieutske Visser Design on Folksy. (F keeps trying to ‘borrow’ this, he is currently in a pirate/skull/scary monster phase).

Vintage Bee Hare Pin Brooch by Ruby Spirit Designs also Folksy.

Some special goodies I bought for myself at Christmas time, after everyone ignored my attempts to put them on my wish list.  Both pieces are by Joanna Rutter and I wear the necklace most days, I also bought a pair of her ‘everyday’ studs (not shown here) which sit permanently in my ears.

Last and by no means least some great bibs from A Crafty Hen, another great Folksy seller!

I tell you, looking at these photos my poor Victorian work table would benefit from some TLC, perhaps an oiling and my sticking less pins in it 😉

The winner is…

Comment number 54 – Mags (I’ve emailed you Mags, to check your  address).

Shocking photo, I know, but I couldn’t get a screen grab and had to resort to using my phone to take a picture.

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments, I did have a great Birthday and still have a last weekend of celebrations to go!  One of the things I like the most about doing give aways is finding lots of new blogs to read, I already have so many on my Google Reader list that it’s difficult to keep up with them but I’m addicted to blogs in general so there’s always room for more.

I really have been very spoilt over my Birthday, there have been chocolates, flowers, lunches out with friends.

My husband bought me this necklace by Alexis Bitter, it’s from his collection ‘Lucite’, inspired by the ‘Grey Gardens’ documentary which depicts the everyday lives of two reclusive 1940’s socialites, and their glamorous lifestyles gone awry.  I see that the movie (filmed in 1975) was selected in 2010 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  M also bought a copy on DVD so I’m very much looking forward to seeing that.

On the big day out mentioned in the last post, my Sister treated me to to a fabulous time in London.  We had lunch at Bond & Brook in Fenwicks, the odd cocktail and I was a bit over-excited she had managed to get last minute tickets for the Hockney Exhibition that I have been desperate to see.  So worth it of you can make it before it closes on the 9th April, I especially loved his iPad drawings.

We then went to the Royal Opera House for dinner and to watch Rusalka, which despite it’s very mixed review we both loved.  I’d show you some photos of the day, but I appear to have predominantly taken pictures of food….that’s what happens when you eat out of your fridge most days of the week, the slight sniff of posh nosh and I start to drool, especially if no children and cocktails are also involved.  In fact it doesn’t even have to be posh, just not cooked or assembled by me.

To follow my delight at getting to see the Hockney exhibit, I was also lucky to receive these perfect gifts from my Aunt and Uncle and…

from the sister who, as you have read, had already made my 40th very special, a pair of Chie Mihara shoes that I had been lusting after.  I am slightly embarrassed to admit that there is almost permanently a page open on my laptop of the latest Chie Mihara collection, it’s my very guilty pleasure and I can spend happy hours looking even if I can rarely afford to buy them.

To top off the most perfect of weeks I have a tweed bunny purse in Sewing World magazine this month, there it has hanging out next to Snapdragon Jane’s fabulous mirrors.

Let’s face it, I’ve had a great March so far and have been a very lucky lady, if 40 continues like this I have no complaints 🙂


I’m sorry I’ve been a bit absent recently, both in blogging and in reading and commenting on other people’s blogs.  I have been busy working, mainly re-stocking the shop but also making some things for myself (clothing, for a change), curtains for my sister and trying to get the garden in order for the coming year.

I’ve just had the most wonderful weekend, being spoilt rotten in anticipation of my Birthday (I turn the big 4-O soon) and it appears I’m stretching the celebrations out over 4 weekends (I should stress that I don’t normally do anything for my Birthday, so this is quite unusual for me) and to top off the perfect weekend, the new Country Living arrived where I’ve made it onto the hallowed Emporium pages – hurrah!

I did know in advance, and it’s partly why I’ve been so busy re-stocking the shop and making sure everything is in order but it’s still most exciting to see my little mouse cosy hanging out in such a great company in one of my favourite magazines.  I’ve been lucky to get quite a bit of magazine coverage over the past few years but I’ll confess Country Living takes top spot, I’ve been a subscriber for many years, as are most of the female members of my family so it has made me very happy indeed.

Right, in celebration of both my Birthday and being famous 😉 I thought it was time for a giveaway.  I’m sorry to notice I haven’t done one for a while, I had a couple planned over Christmas but with all the illness and accidents in this household it was one of the balls that got dropped.

On this occasion I’m giving away one of the new flower brooches, it has a slightly wonky back (ie I didn’t center the brooch pin very well),

and a pink tweed bunny purse, which has a slightly sticky zip (due to my putting it in fractionally unevenly).  Although both have these slight faults they are perfectly useable and in very good order or I wouldn’t offer them up for a giveaway .Both will go together to one person and you can live anywhere in the world, just leave a comment on this post (nothing special, just say ‘hi’) and I’ll pick out a name on Saturday 17th March.

That’s all, nice and easy and please remember I can’t reply to comments as it alters the numbers.

That’s it for today.  I have loads of half written posts and piles of half sewn projects I need to crack on with, I am feeling quite relaxed though and taking things at a comfortable pace so I hope to have more time for blogging over the coming weeks.  Good luck with the giveaway 🙂