Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: Tudor Bag by Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness

So, I'm back with another bag review (major shocker, I know)!

I've chosen to review Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness' newest pattern, the Tudor Bag.  I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the name was chosen because the bag on the pattern cover uses fabric from Tula Pink's upcoming fabric collection, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth I of England was the last of the monarchs in the Tudor line (hey Mom, I did learn something in school after all).

I used Skull Camouflage from Timeless Treasures for the exterior and a Black solid for the accent & lining

Sara describes the pattern as a "choose-your-own sewing adventure" style bag that gives you options for a magnetic snap vs zipper closure, whether or not to have a front zipper pocket, and a choice of handles, a long strap, or both!

I love the idea of the pattern because I love a nice, boxy tote, and I especially love that she made it from Elizabeth.  (I also love smooshy totes though too in case you were wondering.)

Sara also says that she wrote the pattern so that it should be doable for a confident beginner.  I totally agree.  Customizing the bag to include both zippers and both straps does increase the skills required, but her instructions make it easy to follow along.

The fabric requirements are easy for this one.  The pattern calls for a yard of fabric for the exterior, a yard of fabric for the lining (additional fabric may be required if directional), and 1.25 yards of a solid fabric for the straps/accent pieces.

Other things required include 1/2 yard of my favorite interfacing, Soft & Stable from By Annie, Pellon SF101 (I love it too), and some optional bits including Peltex 71F by Pellon for giving stability to the bottom of the bag, zippers, and metal hardware.

I did use the Peltex because I don't like the bottoms of bags to sag a lot, 2 zippers and a metal hardware set that I had bought from Annie's site.

As with Sara's other patterns, the Tudor Bag has great written instructions and lots of pictures.  I really liked that this one had only actual 1 pattern piece because most of the pieces were designed to be rotary cut.

In the way of modifications to her pattern instructions, I only had a couple.  The first change that I made was to actually quilt my Soft & Stable to the exterior fabric.  There are a few things that are important to remember if you want to go this route - you MUST cut your fabric and Soft & Stable pieces larger than the pattern instructions (I'd recommend at least 2" larger on both length and width) before you quilt them because they will shrink once quilted.  After the pieces have been quilted, then cut them to the required sizes before proceeding with basting 1/8" from the edge of the pieces.  Please also remember that quilting these pieces can add a significant chunk of time to the whole process.  With this pattern, I used simple grid quilting with the lines at 1.5" apart.  One of the many great things about Soft & Stable is that it does not have to be quilted to the fabric.  Personally, I like the look of it quilted, so it's pretty rare that I will leave it un-quilted.  It's just my preference.

Look how cool the back side of the black Soft & Stable looks when it is quilted with the 40 weight Aurifil cotton thread!

I opted to use 1" black polypro strapping instead of fabric handles because it suited the style of my bag.  If I hadn't wanted the exposed strapping, I would have made a fabric tube, turned it right side out, inserted the polypro strapping, and topstitched it per her instructions (instead of interfacing and then topstitching).  I feel like the strapping is more sturdy, and I like the look and feel more than simple interfacing.  I also added a couple of extra inches to the length of the detachable strap because I tend to wear my cross body bags a little bit lower than most people.  As I mentioned earlier, I used 2 fabrics (one main print for the exterior and one for the lining and solid/accent) instead of 3.  I made the top of the zipper panels and interior pockets out of the exterior fabric so that they would be more visible inside the black interior of the bag and that the bag would have a consistent look from the exterior.

I did have 2 minor issues when making my bag.  The first was with the main zipper.  I did not have a zipper the correct length, so I cut one shorter.  Not having made this style of recessed zipper before, I didn't think about the fact that there was no zipper stop on one side (the pattern has you sew a fabric stop on one of the ends but not both).  So, I made a small zipper stop in the same black fabric that I used for the lining.  The second issue went unnoticed until I had finished topstitching the whole bag... my lining was rotated 180 degrees from what I had planned because my top zipper (if looking at the front of the bag with the pocket) was installed to pull right to left.  Ugh.  I am really picky about my zippers all opening the same direction, so this one will continue to irk me.  Is it bad enough for me to rip the topstitching, the stitching in the lining that I used to turn the bag, and then another row of stitching?  Nope.

Anyway, I carried my freshly finished bag with me to work the day after I finished it, and I really loved it.  After I can get some other things off of my to do list, I'll probably make another one or two or three....

I love how this looks with the double shoulder strap plus detachable strap (I find the detachable strap to be the most useful at the airport).

Yup, that's my backwards top zipper!

The camo slip pockets are much more visible than they would have been with the black fabric.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: Quick Zip Cases from Patterns by Annie

Back down to business today with a review of the Quick Zip Cases from Patterns by Annie!

The large case (top) is the Sunday Clippings print on the exterior with You are Here on the interior
The small case (bottom) is Clover Field on the exterior with The Shambles on the interior

I had some of Katy Jones' amazingly gorgeous Priory Square fabric from Art Gallery Fabrics that I wanted to use for something special, and we all know by now that I'm a bit of a bag addict.  So, it seemed like a pretty logical choice.

The pattern makes 2 sizes of case, and either size can be made with 2 fat quarters (the pattern calls for 3 fabrics, but I only opted for 2 without needing any additional fabric), a zipper, and a piece of Annie's amazing Soft & Stable.  Just like the pattern says, the small size easily holds my 45mm Olfa rotary cutter with plenty of room to spare for other goodies.  I'm not sure what I'll keep in the large size to be honest, but I'm sure I'll come up with something!

I have obviously been spending too much time on making more involved bags that I was a little surprised at how quickly they went together (obviously, the name of the pattern should have been a clue that they would be quick).  I almost spent just as much time picking a fabric/zipper color combination as it took me to make one of the bags.  I'd guesstimate the start to finish of making both sizes to be around 3 hours (this includes doing all of the quilting of the fabric to the Soft & Stable).

The only concern that I had going into the pattern was in relation to the exposed seams at the boxed corners.  I have made some bags that have seams exposed, and I can't say that I'm a fan (even if the fabric is gorgeous and is laminated cotton which doesn't fray).  Of course, Annie wouldn't leave a girl like me stuck with exposed seams!

I will absolutely make these again with a couple of modifications to the original pattern:

1.  I prefer the look of 2 fabrics, so I will continue with that (I think this really has more to do with the fabrics that I choose more than anything).
2.  I feel like the carry strap is a little long, so I will make that a tad shorter.
3.  Much like I did on the A Place for Everything bag, I did trim back a little bit of the seam allowance from under the zipper so that the top stitching totally encases the seam.  

I think this is a beginner friendly pattern.  Using handbag zippers make inserting the zippers a breeze (handbag zippers have wider tape than a standard dress zipper), the pieces that require quilting aren't very large so they are very friendly to machines without a lot of space to the right of the needle, and the instructions are clearly written.

Don't forget that directional fabrics may appear as upside down when viewed from one side (no, I didn't forget that)!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I got published (well, sorta...)

When Art Gallery Fabrics releases a new collection, they release a LookBook to showcase the fabric and inspire projects for those that are sewing obsessed.  So, I wasn't surprised when the announcement was made that LookBook for Katy Jones' Priory Square collection was available.

What DID shock me, however, was that both of the bags that I made for Katy's Quilt Market booth were shown in the LookBook!  I am floored, and they look amazing with the professional photography.  Wow.  I'll totally admit to thinking, hey, I guess I did a pretty good job with those!

So, anyway, you can go see it for yourself.  The bags I made are on pages 25-26 (The A Place for Everything bag and the Sew Together bag), but you should peruse the whole thing because it's stunning.  No, I'm not credited as making them in the book, but yes, those are the actual bags that I made.

Priory Square LookBook