This smallish bag was a gift for my 14 year old niece. I will refer to it as a purse. The basic pattern found in Bags–The Modern Classics, by Sue Kim, is very simple. I chose to modify it in a few ways, particularly based on things I learned reading Lisa Lam’s book The Bag Making Bible.
First, I padded the purse body and flap. The idea was to give it a more solid form. I suspect it also somewhat protects purse contents. However, it makes the sewing process a bit harder. I used some left-over, 1/4 inch quilt batting. This was sewn to the lightweight woven cotton that I used for interfacing, trimmed close to the stitching, then sewn to the purse lining with the batting sandwiched between the two woven fabrics.
Now, the darts became more challenging. I initially only marked the darts with the normal Dritz wax-free tracing paper. (Lisa Lam recommends making marks with disappearing pen, but I never know when I will actually get to sew, and opted for my more permanent method.) With the multiple layers, I could see that keeping track of how the dart should lay would work better if I sewed a straight stitch through all the layers to mark the dart. After that, I trimmed away an inner section of the dart, but not too close to the point. It was still not easy to make all that padding lay cooperatively, but I did the best I could. It ended up looking fine from the outside.
I had to break down and buy some zippers for this purse, my stock being depleted in certain colors after all this bag making. But, I’m still not ready to buy fancy metal purse closures or decorative chains. So – I asked my husband what he might have in the way of round metal washers. I just needed something heavy enough to encourage the flap to hang down. He brought me just what I thought he would. Upon measuring the weights scientifically in one palm, 😉 I decided to put two of them into the flap. Once I had positioned them, stacked, in the tip of the purse flap, I pinned the fabric down around them. I drew a curve above them, such that when I stitched it, it would keep the washers from slipping around. I did not stitch completely to the outer edge of the flap, as I thought it avoided any potential bunching at the end of stitching line. (if you double click on the first photo, you can see the stitching. The chalk from drawing the line is still visible.)
When I constructed the inserted zipper pocket (Lisa Lam’s book has very good directions for this type of pocket) for the lining, I did it through all the layers, thinking this would be more sturdy. The padding made this difficult, but topstitching the welt-like opening for the zipper before I tried to sew the zipper in helped a lot. It not only kept it all laying better, but made it easier to set the corners of the opening more squarely, so that they wouldn’t twist when sewing the zipper in.
I seem to have developed the pattern of a group of 2 – 6 insert, or open-top, pockets on one side of the lining; and a zipper pocket on the other side. It has been useful to make the pockets for the inside of the purse before the pockets on the outside. It helps me get a better feel for how any pockets will work with the shape of the purse. The inside of the purse is also a good place to practice before attempting a pocket on the outside where it will be much more noticeable!
The size of the purse limited the number of pockets I could make, but I managed to get an inserted zipper pocket where the flap would cover it on the outside. One last little open pocket is on the purse where it will be next to the person wearing the purse.
I am concerned about the narrow strap irritating the shoulder, so told my niece to let me know if she wants me to put a small pad at that point. I could make it look discreetly fashionable. 🙂
After I make every new bag, I can’t help but think of how I might make one for myself. This one I have pictured out of ultra suede, using some of my silk scraps (from the Taipei fabric market, I may get to go there again soon!) for an extravagant lining. Would have to think about how to reinforce the pockets for that, though. I am learning so much every time I make a new bag or purse, I may be ready to move on to more challenging fabrics soon.