Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tough Lessons from a handmade purse!

Wow... I love my new purse!
However, it has taught me some really hard lessons about sewing purses in particular.

I really loved the look of the striped patchwork purse on Creative Little Daisy. I found some great fabrics that my friend Anna had left for me at her old house - and they were perfect for it! So I got to work... I read Autum's tutorial, pretty thoroughly I thought, and started a few days ago, the beginning was fairly easy... I said to myself: "Well, this will be a breeze!" Hmm... shouldn't have said that! I'm going to just go through it step by step, and you can see what a wonderful, and trying time I had making a really cute purse! (if you just want to see the purse, scroll to the bottom)

First I cut out the wedge shaped pieces of fabric, 11" from top to bottom, with the top being 2" wide, and the bottom being 3". It was easier than I thought! I just cut a strip of fabric 11" wide, then measured from the bottom 3" in, then 2 inches, then 3", then 2". I then did the opposite at the top, starting 1/2 inch in from the side at the top. Does that make sense to you? It worked anyway, the shapes came out perfectly!

I layed the pieces out in a kinda random pattern, just so it looked good to me, and sewed them together with a 1/4" seam. They were ironed, then used as the template for cutting the interfacing and inner lining fabrics. I used Pellon fusable fleece interfacing to strengthen and add puffiness to the quilting. I then sewed the lines... this wasn't the easiest thing to do! The lines started about 1/2" apart at the top, then by the time I got to the bottom they were about 1 1/4" apart. I am sure there are some wavy lines in there, but I'm not going to point them out to anyone! Ha ha!

When I finished quilting the outer pieces of the bag, I looked at it and thought: "This is not perfect, but it's great and pretty easy too!" So then I stitched it together right-sides together, and turned it out so I could see it! Lookin' good huh?The kids were in bed and I felt that I was getting a lot done. I decided to do pockets on the inside of the purse, so I cut out some scrap pieces to use for the pockets. I made one about the size of a checkbook, one for my cell phone, and one that can hold a fold-up hairbrush, hair bows for my daughter's hair emergencies, and it also has a pen slot. One of the many "lessons" I learned at this step was -(LESSON ONE) you should really cut out the interfacing before trying to iron the pieces on. I thought I could just lay the pieces of fabric on the ironing board, then iron on the interfacing and trim around the edges... Bad Idea! (why did I think that would be OK???)

I had to peel the whole thing off of my ironing board! It was a little funny. Anyway, things turned out Ok, and in a jiffy I had some pockets to put onto the lining for my purse. Here they are pinned on and ready to topstitch around the edges, onto the lining. Sorry the picture is sideways!

So then I was really excited about this purse - it was coming together really well, but I was out of interfacing. I had to wait until the next day to iron interfacing to the lining pieces.

I went to my handy-dandy new-found Sew-N-Vac +Fabric store, picked up the interfacing and was ready to go the next day.

Day 2: I was so happy to have a little bit of time, I guess I was rushing during playing with the kids... I sewed the lining right sides together...oops... Good thing I knew where my seam ripper was! LESSON TWO: When sewing the inner lining of a purse, sew the lining wrong sides together, then when you turn it, it will be correct! After getting frustrated with this problem, I decided to give in to the distractions:

When I got some more time on Day 3, I applied the interfacing to the lining pieces, and got to work on the straps. I wasn't sure how I was going to do the straps - I didn't have much fabric left! I decided to do patchwork straps, and so I cut 2 pieces of fabric 4"wide by 19"long, and one 4"x22" - the size was dictated by the amount of fabric scraps I had! This was not a scientific formula. I then applied interfacing to these, ironed and folded them, then cut them all in half and sewed them together, alternating patterns. ANOTHER LESSON: sew your pieces together before adding the interfacing. The way I did it made the seams really quite bulky, and it was just uneccesary.

I then re-ironed the longer strap pieces, and topstitched 1/8" around all of the edges. It gave them a nice finished appearance, even if the seams were a little bulky. I then sewed them onto the lining, but did that backwards, too... I couldn't find a really clear, step-by-step instruction on how to do this part. I sewed the straps onto the lining about an inch in from the side, so the handle was facing out (like it would after it was finished). You can see in the picture I thought about sewing it to the interfacing side first, then changed my mind. I really didn't know what I was doing here! Just wanting to get this thing together! I then also added a snap in the middle of the top for security. I added the snap at this point because I didn't want to have the head of the snap showing on the outside of the purse. I inserted the outside of the bag into the lining, right sides together inside the bag... then sewed it together and tried to turn it....Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

After turning I realized what I did wrong.... (LESSON FIVE: make sure you fold the straps IN when you sew the bag together... this way they will be OUT when you turn it)

So now some of you may say "Why didn't you just give up at this point, and put it into the 'finish later' pile?" - I really liked this bag! I really wanted to see it finished, I guess I'm a little stubborn that way - out came the seam ripper again! It was really a pain to rip this seam too, it was small stitches, and triple stitched where the handles overlapped, not much fun... but whatever right? I ripped the stiches and then took a break... dinner and a little cool down time. I had to remind myself that I am a smart person, it's just sometimes my brain cells just don't cooperate.

Later that evening, After finally ripping all of those stitches, and putting the handles where they belonged, I sewed the thing back up again, leaving about 5 inches to turn... I would recommend leaving more, it was hard to turn with just 5 inches. Here it is before I ironed it out and topstitched it closed:

I could see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point - so I decided to stay up and finish it at last! Here it is in all of it's glory - there are some wonky spots, that I would have to point out, but overall it's pretty, and I love it! If it ever gets ruined, dirty, colored on, or otherwise messed up, I will probably cry - but I know now I can make myself another one... I'll just have to remember all of the lessons I learned from this one.


Autum said...

It looks great! I love your color choices and the patchwork handle. I find as frustrating as mistakes are, they are always learning experiences.

Lucy said...

Well that was eventfull! I have had this tutorial on my list of must do things for a while. My niece makes them and they are beautiful. Thanks for the heads up on the tricky bits. You did really well though. I really want to whip some up for Christmas.