Stadium Purse

There is a baseball stadium in my neighborhood. My husband is a fan of the team (I am slowly learning to love baseball) and we often go to the games. For outings like this, I prefer to carry a bag that securely closes at the top so that nothing accidentally falls out when I put my purse under my seat. I also prefer to have a cross body strap so that I can easily keep track of where my purse is and also have my hands free. This little project does just the trick!

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This purse is basically a simple tote that I adjusted until it had all the features I wanted: zippered top, cross body strap, outer and inner pockets, simple but cute design, sturdiness, just big enough for the essentials plus my husband’s score book. I started out with two 12 inch squares, added a pocket to the front and inside, and made it stand out with some navy blue and red trim. The strap is cotton webbing that I sewed the same trim over. A zipper at the top, some lobster claw clasps to attach the strap and it was done!

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Design/Pattern: My own

Materials: heavy weight cotton canvas, 12″ zipper, 3 yards trim, 2 lobster claw clasps, two small rings, 1 yard cotton webbing

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Techniques:

  • double stitched seams for strength
  • pinked seam allowances
  • installed zipper
  • decorative trim
  • darted bag bottom

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When I first made this purse, I figured I would mostly just use it to go to baseball games or other outings where I want the things in my bag to be secure, but I have used it pretty consistently all summer. I have actually used it so much that it’s sitting on my washing machine right now waiting to be cleaned! Since making a couple canvas bags in the last year or so, that is quickly becoming my go-to fabric for bag-making. Canvas seems to look good and wear well no matter the style or size of the bag.

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Zip Top Lunch Bag

My husband and I both pack our lunches everyday. As school teachers we can’t leave the building to get lunch and the cafeteria offerings barely qualify as food. The only option we have for eating healthy, tasty food during our work day is if we bring it ourselves. Having a unique lunch bag that is the perfect size to fit inside our larger messenger bag (Peter) or tote bag (me) and that fits a balanced lunch and snack makes the habit more enjoyable and sustainable. This is Peter’s new lunch bag.

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As I was planning his new lunch bag, these were the goals I was trying to achieve:

  • quick & easy to make
  • interesting, yet masculine design
  • large enough to hold a couple small to medium size containers
  • sturdy, but softly structured so it could be folded up when empty

I think this fits those requirements quite well. It took me one afternoon to complete from cutting the canvas to snipping the last thread. The longest part of the process was probably making the decorative lines of stitching. I like the stitched lines detail a lot. I chose the colors because they are Peter’s school colors. This bag is also the perfect size for holding a container with a 2-3 cup capacity with enough room to add an apple or a baggie holding a snack. I made it from a heavy weight canvas. I didn’t line the bag because I didn’t think it would be necessary from a structural point of view, and it saved me quite a bit of time too.

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Design/Pattern: My own (it started out as two 12″ x 12″ rectangles of canvas; pretty simple stuff)

Materials: heavy weight cotton canvas, 12″ zipper, matching and contrasting thread

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Techniques:

  • double stitched seams for strength
  • pinked seam allowances
  • installed zipper
  • decorative top stitching
  • gusseted bag bottom

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I know I’m not quite ready to think about going back to school yet, but fun projects like this one make the transition a little easier. I also enjoy making things for my husband that I know he can use and enjoy. As others who sew for men know, there are fewer sewing project options that appeal to a male sense of style. It can be difficult to make a sewn gift for a man. Unless Peter is being too nice to say something, I think this one was a success.

Compact Lunch Sack

The start of the school year is right around the corner for my husband and I (both of us are high school teachers). After the last three years using the same oil cloth lunch bag, it was time for me to make a new one for Peter. I think this will do just the trick. It has a little bit of style, is roomy enough for a balanced lunch and is still compact enough to throw in his messenger bag.

 

 

Design/Pattern: I combined the measurements for the extra small and extra large bags in the Origami Bag Set pattern from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches Book.

Materials: leftover gray corduroy, ivory twill and rust broadcloth from previous projects, fusible interfacing, zipper, leftover cotton webbing, thread

 

Techniques:

  • inserting a zipper
  • lining a bag
  • piecing fabrics (although not very well if you look closely)
  • creating a bag gusset

Alterations/Changes: As I mentioned above, I used hybrid measurements from two of the bag sizes so that I would end up with the shape I was hoping for. Next time I would make it wider so that the gusset can be deeper though.

 

Peter would probably give me a higher grade than I’m going to give myself because he thinks it’s just right, but I’m only giving this bag a B. As I mentioned, the size is a little off from what I think it should be and the piecing isn’t perfectly aligned at the seams. However, the zipper insertion looks great and I like the trim handle. I will probably be making a version of this for myself soon and hope to raise my grade to an A.

Ladies’ Weekend Bags

My mom, two sisters and I all live in different cities, which means we don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like. And when we are together, it’s often for a special occasion. We rarely get together “just because”, and when we do husbands, boyfriends and others are often part of the mix. I don’t mean to say that the others are unwelcome, but it is extra special when my mom, sisters and I are able to spend some “girl” time together. Earlier this month, we got the chance to do just that, and to celebrate the occasion I made coordinating tote bags.

We had a wonderful weekend together and the new bags came in handy. The design was inspired by this one. I made very minor changes to the original pattern so that there would be no fabric wasted and so that the bag had a gusseted bottom. They went together very easily. The only somewhat annoying part of the process was changing the thread color so often!

Design/Pattern: Modified Inside-Out Bag, from the Purl Bee

Materials: (for one bag)

  • 1/2 yard of natural colored cotton canvas
  • 1 1/2 yards of cotton webbing for handles
  • 1 package double fold bias tape
  • coordinating thread

Techniques:

  • lots of top stitching!

Alterations/Changes:

  • dimensions of the bag (18″ x ??”)
  • dimensions of the pocket (18″ x ??)
  • longer handles

I love my new bag and hope my mom and sisters love theirs too! I think part of the reason I like it so much is because of the memories I will associate with it. I have to give these bags an A+ because of the great time we had together and because the bags themselves are also pretty great even though they are simple.

I also have to mention that the colors I chose suited everyone perfectly. It was rather providential, actually. In the store, I just picked four colors that I liked and that I thought looked good together. I was definitely influenced by the bright color trend going on currently. Then, as I was making the bags I only sort of decided which family member would get which color. When they arrived, my two sisters happened to be wearing shirts that were the same color as the bag I had intended for each one! We had a good laugh about that and everyone thought the color they got was the best one.

Quickest project ever: Yoga bag


I made a yoga bag in under one hour. That is probably a record of some kind, at least for me. I had class at 6, needed to leave at 5:45 and at 5:00 I had just finished cutting out the fabric for this project. By 5:45 I had the bag finished and I had also managed to prep dinner so that Peter could throw it in the oven while I was gone. I felt like super woman!

I have to admit that I did take a few shortcuts though. I pinked the seams instead of doing a French seam or zig-zagging them. I also didn’t press anything. Oh, and I didn’t make the shoulder strap or a drawstring. Even though I didn’t put it through my usual perfectionist-level finishing, I am really happy with it. My yoga mat fits perfectly and the colors match the bag. It’s easy to carry and it makes me feel pretty happy. So, I’ve decided to let myself off the hook for taking so many shortcuts.

Design/Pattern: My own/Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter. I used her dimensions for the main portion of the bag and her instructions for creating a casing at the top. The rest I figured out based on my materials and time constraints.

Materials:

  • A remnant piece from JoAnn fabrics given to me by my mother-in-law who also sews and very kindly passes along bits of this and that.
  • A purple shoulder strap re-purposed from a purse that I didn’t use much.
  • white thread
  • A drawstring that I’ve yet to purchase and put in

Techniques: Sewing a straight seam. Seriously, that’s all I did.

Grade: I don’t deserve it, but I’m giving myself an A. My new yoga mat bag does what I need it to and it took very little effort on my part. Sometimes, an easy A is just what I need.

Teardrop Purse

My first post vacation project was to make this purse. It’s a gift for my mom’s birthday. Her birthday is past, but I haven’t seen her yet to give it to her. I hope she doesn’t see this and ruin the surprise. Although, it probably won’t be much of a surprise either way. She asked for a purse made by me and she picked a couple patterns she liked. Then, I asked her what colors matched her wardrobe best. After all that, I doubt there is much room left for surprise. Even so, I hope she likes it. I certainly had fun making it and thinking of all that my mom has made for me in my life.

Design/Pattern: The teardrop bag from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches, with a couple of my own additions (a zipper on the interior pocket and piping trim)

Materials:

  • Black broadcloth (exterior)
  • Teal cotton print (lining)
  • Bias binding & cord (to make piping trim)
  • Zipper (interior pocket)
  • Magnetic clasp
  • Fusible interfacing

Techniques:

  • Topstitching
  •  Lining
  • Sewing a zipper
  • Pleat

Grade: I think this purse is an A-/B+. I wish it was an A since I’m giving it away as a gift, but I’m afraid there are little details that could be nicer. In particular, the piping and topstitching on the handle are really wobbly if you look closely. From a distance, this project would get an A, but, up close, I can see little flaws. All in all, it’s a gift I’m proud to give. Happy Birthday, Mom!