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 🙂