Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Case of the Lop-sided, poorly constructed, barely functional handbag OR Why patterns are a good thing

I had big plans for a post in which I dazzled all of my faithful readers with my uncanny sewing and design abilities. I began by purchasing some beautiful Fossil-inspired fabric with which I planned to create a fabulous spring/summer handbag.

I'd seen some really fabulous bags by Fossil at various stores and I fell in love with the brightly patterned material. I did not fall in love, however, with the plastic-like finish on top of the fun brightly colored fabrics. The wheels in my head started turning and before I knew it, I was purchasing $17.54 worth of fabric and notions for my hare-brained scheme. I picked out a super fun outdoor canvas in a bold floral print for the exterior as well as a bright yellow cotton/poly blend for the lining. I knew I wanted a basic half-moon shape purse with interior pockets for things like keys and a cell phone. I never once bothered to look for a pattern that was even remotely similar to what I was picturing in my head. I just forged ahead, with visions of new handbags all over my Etsy shop. This would be my gateway bag- the one that led to fame and fortune all because of some simple sewing. I created a pattern of my own because I figured making bags can't be that difficult, so why bother with buying a pattern. I did a little playing around and then boldly cut into both of my fabrics:

The extremely short amount of time I spent "figuring out" the various pieces should have clued me in, but my hubris was running amok at this point. I did spend about 5 minutes on a muslin pattern piece for the body of the bag- I wanted the exterior to have a little pleat in it for a little more visual interest, but obviously the interior lining needed to be flat.

Despite never having attempted anything like this, I didn't do a single bit of research or  bother to sew a couple of muslin pieces together beforehand to work out the kinks. Nope. Why mess around practicing when in my head, it's all figured out? After all, it's just a purse! How hard could it really be? And if you're wondering at this point if I bothered with interfacing, then you clearly aren't getting the gist of this post.

Next, I made the pockets and actually congratulated myself on remembering to sew them into the lining BEFORE sewing the lining together and installing it in the bag:

I was so proud of my perfect creases and neat stitches. Finally, I worked on the exterior, pressing the pleats in place and then sewing the pattern pieces together. Next, I installed the lining and finally, I attached the handle. Aside from a little top-stitching and a closure, I was just about finished. 

At one point, I even paused to take pictures of the shoulder strap with the intent to wax poetic on the many virtues of owning a loop turner. What was I thinking? There's not much that's LESS exciting than turning THIS:

Into THIS: 

What? No picture of the shoulder strap AFTER I turned it right-side-out with the loop turner? One might think it was because I had started to see the imperfections in my craftsmanship and was starting to feel a little less confident showing it to the whole world via an internet blog post. You'd be wrong. I was actually starting to salivate because I could literally taste the end of this project drawing near. 

After adding the last of the top-stitching, I held my finished bag up in front of myself to admire my handiwork only to realize it was a lop-sided, poorly constructed, barely functional excuse for a handbag and under no circumstances could I ever list it in my Etsy shop. Over an hour of my life went into this bag and my best hope for it is that my mom will occasionally carry her lunch to work in it without the contents spilling out all over the place. 

At least my pleats look good (on THIS side, anyway). I think from now on, I'll stick to what I know: dresses. 

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