Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A Bag and a Book

I've been sewing!!  

This one has been at least a month in the works - I got the pattern (I'll get to that in just a mo) at the beginning of May and I constructed the lining before I went to New York.  Everyone makes the lining first, right?  It's a great way to check you know how the bag is constructed and you get to test out any new techniques on the bit that is least visible and usually a cheaper fabric.  I always do it that way round anyway.  

The fabric is all from my stash ... quite possibly a first for me!  The lovely green fabric with the woodpecker print was passed on to me by a friend who had received it from a Japanese contact and didn't have a clue what to do with it.  It is a tenugui or piece of cotton cloth - it's hand-dyed and has multiple uses as the accompanying booklet explained at length.  

Nowhere in the booklet did it mention cutting up the cloth to make bags but I figured that if I made a very simple bag with it, it would work nicely!  I used Wonder Under to attach this very fine cotton to some black cotton canvas.

OK - onto the pattern!  I treated myself to a copy of Nicole Mallalieu's latest book and it arrived at the beginning of May ....

This is Nikki's second book and I prefer this one because it's just about bag-making and I really don't sew much else if I can help it!  Many of the bags I have made in the last 5 years have been from Nikki's patterns as her instructions are always extremely comprehensive, clear and well-illustrated.... and this book is no exception.

It starts with a section on Tools and Materials which includes a very handy guide to interfacings; then there is a chapter on Key Skills, followed by in-depth instructions on the Techniques used to make the bags (how to alter the patterns, different types of straps, pockets, bases and closings).  Approximately one third of the book comprises the background information that you need to make the 11 bag patterns that follow.  The patterns are graded from Beginner to Confident, so there really is something for everyone and the instructions for each pattern are very detailed.  Pattern pieces are included at the end of the book for tracing.

I have made a lot of bags over the years and I will be having great fun over the months to come making several of these patterns, but I would also recommend this book to someone who has never sewn a bag before as you get comprehensive guidance at a fantastic price (no, I'm not being paid to rave about this book - I just like it!!) - $17 gets you 11 bag patterns which works out at just $1.50 per pattern.

Back to my bag ...

OK - so photographing bag interiors has never been my strong suit, but I thought I'd give you a quick peek.  There is a zip pocket on one side and a compartment pocket on the other and it closes with a magnetic snap; it also has an internal base support so that it doesn't pull out of shape as soon as you put anything inside!  I thought about making it fancier with O-rings and bag feet but decided it didn't really need it.

Now I really should get back to some of the other things I had in the pipeline before this book arrived on my work table!


  1. Wow Fiona...I thought that bag was from a store when I first saw it. Girl, you do nice work!

    Cindy Bee

  2. Love the woodpecker fabric, making a bag with it should definitely be in the list of recommended uses! I am tempted by the book but I already have both of Lisa Lam's books so think there would probably be a lot of duplication. Not that I need to add to my craft books library either but that has never put me off buying before :)

  3. What gorgeous fabric, Fiona!!! That was a real score. Like Fiona, I'm also tempted by the book, but I really should make something with Nicole's first book, before I buy a second. I know the patterns would be well written, if they're anything like the shell purse pattern I made up.