Purses, Handbags, and Wallets

It seems that summer for me is the time to finish old projects. I took out a handbag pattern I cut out in June 2008 and finished it, and then sewed a very nice handbag with a pattern I bought back in April 2008.

The first one is the Yin-Yang bag by Scrap Bags, designed by Jamie Kalvestran. I had previously made a matching Wonder Wallet by Lazy Girl Designs for it, and earrings with a small yin yang charm at the end to complete this ensemble, but got hung up finishing it. I think I was intimidated by the topstitching. In some spots at the bottom of the bag you have to go over the stitching three times, but it worked fine, Jamie has excellent diagrams and directions.

I used a very vibrant batik with leaping frogs on it with a navy blue print and I just love these colours together. The one change I made was to make the gusset out of a third piece of coordinating batik fabric and it turned out fine. There are inside pockets in this, formed by the way you sew the pieces together.

Here it is with its matching wallet and earrings. I made the button for the wallet with an image transfer and polymer clay.

The second bag is Joan Hawley’s classic Runaround Bag. Her Lazy Girl Designs are delightful to sew and she has quite a following, deservedly so, as these patterns go together beautifully. I have been quilting for 26 years but I absolutely hate following sewing patterns, yet Joan’s patterns are such a pleasure to use, it amazes me.

What got me fired up about finally sewing this was that I borrowed the book Flower Origami by Kumiko Sudo from the library, and just had to make some of her flowers. I thought they’d be perfect for embellishment on this bag, so after re-sizing the pattern to make it more in scale for my project I tried a few of the Gladiolus pattern and was so pleased at the way they turned out.

I am also rather pokey when sewing. I often see people remarking on how an item took them only an hour or two to sew. For me, it’s usually five hours or more. However, the Runaround Bag went together in an hour and a half for me. Embellishing it took about five hours (typical for me to fiddle) but the actual bag pattern is remarkable in design and function and you can practically spit these out of the sewing machine, and neatly too!

Here is the lovely front with the easy zipper, beads on the zipper pull and the origami fabric flowers.

On the back pocket I put an extra folded flower. This was my original prototype to test my folds and dimensions after altering them, and I didn’t want to waste it, so on the back it went. I’ve got to get hold of some more zippers and make more of these, I am so impressed with the pattern and easy directions.

Like little sweets, Wonder Wallets seem to proliferate when one makes handbags, and I also made a matching wallet for this bag. I find it hard to find nice buttons, so for this one I simply appliquéd a circle of coordinating fabric and sewed a bead on it.

I managed to save enough money to buy another of the Lazy Girl patterns, the Sassy Bag. Having has some success with redwork embroidery for quilt blocks, I decided to try the method to embellish a purse flap, and the Sassy is perfect for embellishment.

Here is my recently finished “The Big J” quilt block which I talked about previously on the blog. This was adapted from a piece of Dover clip art, and I love the Renaissance feel to it.

I was aiming for something similar for my new handbag and adapted an Art Nouveau design from Dover. This was the original:

And this is what it looks like simplified and embroidered on a deep red fabric for my bag. The botanical print underneath it will be the body of the bag and the straps.

I have also traded for two more bag patterns. Here are photos of some of the materials and purse handles I have gathered for them. One is going to be a Lazy Girl Chloe bag, in a gorgeous black and white fabric. I have already made a fabric flower and put a button of the spade symbol of a suit of playing cards in the centre. I collect playing cards, so got a kick out of that.

The other is going to be a Veronica Pocketbook in a deep blue fabric with some pink toile accents. I will also be doing origami fabric flowers in miniature for embellishment on the front of this, so looking forward to that. I bought a perky retro print to mix in for flowers and maybe inside pockets for this.

Then I got involved in sewing up a free pattern. (You can see why I haven’t updated the blog for a while, too many ideas and projects.) This free pattern is for a Hexagon Bag. I resized the hexagons and made my own templates in Adobe Illustrator, and I have sewn them all and just have to stitch the rows together to finish it, then sew the straps on. The pattern calls for wrapping the hexagons together underneath but that leaves the area for the straps asymmetrical which will bother me, so I’m going to take a seam across the bottom and maybe box the corner for a gusset, thus ensuring symmetry at the top although the bottom won’t fit together as they show in the pattern. I have some beautiful wooden parrot buttons which I’m going to sew over the straps for embellishment, and they pick up some of the green and blue colours in the fabric. Mine will finish up to be about 9 inches in size which is fine for me as I don’t like huge handbags.

I used hand sewing for this as I find it relaxing and I can sit on my sun porch and do it while enjoying the garden sights and birds.

I suppose I shall have to make a wallet out of that beautiful botanical print and then I have another Sassy Bag planned using bluework embroidery and an old electric blue and fuchsia-coloured dress I wore in the 1980s and saved. I also have several more redwork designs to sew up for my red sampler quilt and some beaded necklaces to finish.

It’s going to be a great summer.

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