Category Archives: Hand bags

Sewing star??

I know it’s been a while since I posted any of my projects, but I assure you I have been sewing and there are quite a few projects that need uploading.

However I am also working on some video projects to upload, and while I was doing so, I came across this lovely opportunity to star in a 10 minute spot on US television!

Soooo…I’m entering the Burdastyle Talent Search!

Here is my submission, and also a sneak peek into the kind of videos I will be posting soon!

I do realise this video focuses more on me, but it is an audition after all.

If you want to make your own Charlie Bag you can find the free downloadable pattern here and if you’re not a member of burdastyle.com, you really should be!
I find it to be a great resource for not only patterns but techniques and ideas from other members as well. And no, I’m not just saying that because I want to win the contest. Really.

Thanks for watching!

SEW MUCH sneakiness!

Once again…I have been sewing on the sly. Its been a busy busy season and with craft shows and hiding presents that I was making for and from the very person I LIVE with, I had no way of actually documenting the entire process of everything I made without being found out. With due apologies I present to you, my latest creations…

In a hurry to make things for an upcoming craft show, I tried smaller, faster pieces. After some trial and error, I put together 2 wallets/card holders in designs I’d want to have for myself…

From Sew What

They’re both felt, covering stiffer felt, lined with cotton broadcloth and have magnetic snap closures.

I found a gem of an end piece at my favourite fabric store – an end piece being just that; the end of a roll of fabric – and knew just what to do with it when I chanced upon it. So I did something only kind of similar to my original plan.

From Sew What

This mail man satchel is made from a lovely tweedy mixed wool and fully lined in a gorgeous purple satin with a flower accent and button to match. It has a boxed bottom and a pocket on the inside for cell phones, gloss and what not.

In another rush to make a few items for a craft show, I came upon this gorgeous fabric in the upholstery section and decided to grab it for a quick and easy tote.

From Sew What

I let the fabric do the work in this one and simply embroidered an outline around some of the print – like I said – I WAS IN A RUSH! I will be going back for more of this fabric and be putting it to some good use on cushion covers.

In the same rush to make a few more items for another craft show, I put together some felt flower brooches using different techniques I made up on the spot.

From Sew What

I bought an assortment of glass beads and threaded a few in the centre for a little sparkle.

In the same vein I also did a few hair bands, but used toile and satin instead…

From Sew What

Another rush job was a small zipper pouch – perfect for small change or a camera.

From Sew What

I chose to do a ‘kairi’ or paisley pattern, cut out free hand. I just really liked the way it felt and they turned out quite well.

Along with suddenly participating in craft shows, a friend placed a custom order for 3 of my original pink ballerina stockings for her daughter and nieces – my first order! I personalised them for her with each of their initials and the resultant squealing assured me it was much appreciated.

From Sew What

The flowers on this one are copies of my original prototype, however the other two stockings had different flowers – variations on the same theme though.

And last but certainly not the least, my final creation for this year – my trump card of Christmas gifts for the manly man…

From Sew What

Yes, he is a plush robot.

All my aces went down the tube at the last minute and I desperately wanted to have something big and special for the manly man, among various little gifts, as I do every year. I had a vague idea bouncing around in my head about a plush robot or some such thing, but had put it aside for a long while.
Before I go any further though, I need to acknowledge my good friend Jess for turning me on to geekcrafts.com from where I took the inspiration and basic framework for this robot.

That being said, and my guilt at being not so original partially subdued, I have to say, I tried to up the stakes and take it to the next level. The original was made of felt. I just happened to have some very sexy silver vinyl/rexine in my fabric bin and used it for the perfect metallic finish.

Here is a closer look at his face, leg and arm…

From Sew What

I wanted his head to swivel and after a quick chat with mommy dearest, chose to have his head magnetically snap on with a purse snap. So now, it comes clean off to hilarious effect!
His teeth are hand embroidered onto white felt and eyes are buttons covered in black fabric. I added a few personal touches in there that I’ll leave out of this post for fear of a mush outbreak.

He was received with slight confusion at first – he thought I bought him at one of my many craft fairs. When I mumbled “I made him” the squeals and misty eyes followed. SUPER WIN!

For the last week of this year, I have packed away the sewing machine – eating around it on the dining table just didn’t seem to yell ‘holiday cheer’ to everyone like I’d hoped.

Rest assured – the three of you that read this – it will be back in less than 48 hours from now. I have many MANY projects lined up and not nearly enough friends to give them away to.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and may whatever it is you believe in bless you and shower you with sugar and molten-but-not-boiling chocolate! HUZZAH!

For inquiries and custom orders please contact me on weewomanworks@gmail.com.

Sew sneaky…

I have a confession…

I have been sewing…on the sly!

When I began writing about my sewing adventures I wanted to document everything I made, even if it didn’t always turn out right. However, recent events or EVENT rather, forced me to plow through 6-7 items without time to breathe or photograph!

Said event is the 2nd Annual Holiday PopUp Art Shop at Kensington Market, 165 Augusta Avenue, Toronto. I was fortunate enough to find out about it through my friend Sam Dizon and even more fortunate to have my work accepted to be displayed and sold there.

If you are in the area, please come down and join us for the opening party on December 10th 2009. The even runs through till the 31st.

These are the items I will have up for grabs, all 100% hand made by yours truly.

Christmas Stockings:

From Sew What

Bags/totes/purses:

From Sew What

I will have a step by step Christmas stocking post soon, as I make 3 more baby pink ones for a friend.

Stay hemmed in and watch out for my Etsy store launch, coming soon!

For custom orders and inquiries, please contact me at weewomanworks@gmail.com

Sewl stitching

Let me start by introducing you to my newest and bestest friend…

From Sew What

Isn’t she a beauty? I finally saved and caved and bought myself a nice basic machine that should see me through many many years of happy sewing, senility and altering. It’s already taught me a trick or two! I grew up using a Singer with a hand wheel and have never used a foot pedal before so this is a HUGE leap into the future for me. I’m still getting used to it and hope to use it for all the fancy functions it has built in, in due time. For now I am just thrilled watching the bobbin fill up with no snags or bunching. Talk about TECHNOLOGY!

The very first thing I did with it was shorten my manly man’s tunic sleeves. The second thing I did with it was a little more complicated.

As I mentioned in my previous post, they don’t make industrial grade felt in pretty colours. However, it is with pretty colours alone that I wanted to make my next purse. I had said pretty colours in thinner felt fabric and so decided to club two pretty, but thin fabrics together to make a durable, double sided fabric. This led to the idea of a double sided or reversible purse and the various complications that come with trying to make both sides presentable and seamless.

I started by simply cutting two pieces of felt of the same size, one purple and one green and sewing them together along the longer edges to make a single, double sided piece.

From Sew What

I left the shorter ends open because thereafter I turned the whole thing inside out, thus giving me a seamless dual sided fabric.

From Sew What

I then folded in and pinned the two raw edges on either side of the piece, which would make the top hems of the purse and sewed them down.

From Sew What

I then simply folded the whole piece in half and sewed the side seams together, using black thread on what would become the outside or right side of the purple side of the purse. When turned inside out, the green side had a different look with hidden seams.

From Sew What

After this point, the actual chronology goes a bit wonky. To keep myself interested and also to satisfy my IMMEDIATE need to work on things the minute they occur to me, I digressed and worked on embellishments and things around this time. Also, newly bought pretty coloured felt distracted me. SHINY!

However for the sake of continuity and in the interest of keeping your interest, if in fact you had any interest in the first place, I will continue in what seems to be a logical course of events.

To make the handles I cut out four strips of off white felt, two for each. I rounded off the edges, stacked two of them and sewed two parallel lines to hold them together, leaving the rounded edges free for no specific purpose, yet.

From Sew What

From here on in, I went back to hand sewing for all the finishing work and embellishments.

At this point, or at some point I will call ‘this point’ I realised that I needed to dress up the ugly black stitching on the top hems of the green side, ugly only due to contrast. Although I don’t have a clear picture of it, you will see in time, that I took a thin strip of off white felt and hot glued it onto the top edge, almost like a piping, but not quite. Hot gluing things is my favourite part of non-garment sewing. Efficient, clean, deadly. And just like a bullet, it too comes from a gun. 😀

To attach the handles I took some thick, durable thread and just went at it, going right through 4 layers of felt, doing two lines of simple running stitch and double backing over it to make it strong and cabable of some load bearing.

From Sew What

To hide any uglies and add some pretty details, I cut out small felt ‘buttons’, brown for the green side, and off white and green for the purple side and hot glued them on right over the point where the handles were stitched on. I also glued down the open ends of the rounded edges of the handles and hot glued other free ends to make a solid joint.

From Sew What

For embellishments, I knew I wanted big, pretty spring time flowers and I knew they had to be somewhat 3D and gorgeous. They also had to be detachable, since if they were to stay attached, you’d have big flowers INSIDE your purse. So I decided they had to be brooch like.

My first attempt at white daisy like flowers, although successful, did not suit the purpose of this purse perfectly. They were a bit bulky, and too heavy for the it. They turned out to be gorgeous brooches though, which I will save for a mini post later.
Since I initially thought I was done with the white daisies for the purple side, I started working on some yellow flowers for the green side. I pulled out another flower concept from thin air and was successful on my very first attempt.

From Sew What

Quite simply, I cut out a thin strip of bright yellow felt. I ran a simple running gather stitch through it, pulled and gathered the material into a circular shape and roughly but tightly sewed it together for it to hold. Looking to some of my existing store bought brooches for ideas, I made a small round backing and put a safety pin through it. I then hot glued the little backing to the back of the flower and added a little brown core to the flower and there they were, beaming back it me. I could not have been more pleased when they turned out so pretty!

Hereafter, I went back to solving my white daisy problem. After some hard thinking and chai drinking, I quickly adapted my yellow flower method to the daisy as well, cutting out a long white strip and then cutting tassles into the strip, for the ‘petals’.

From Sew What

I then followed the same method I used for the yellow flowers, gathering up the strip with a running stitch and sewing it together to hold. I repeated the backing method and added a little yellow core. I covered the black embroidery you see in the centre with little green felt dots as the black did not gel well. This worked extremely well and figuring out a way to make non-bulky, light weight daisy like flowers gave me much satisfaction and many more ideas.

Hereafter I decided where exactly I wanted the flowers to go and cut out small round shapes of purple and green, similar to the brooch backings. I carefully hot glued them to those chosen spots, making sure the glue remained around the edges and did not spill over to the centre, where I had cut small slits. The convoluted though practical purpose of doing this was suggested by the manly man, so that the removal and re-pinning of the brooches would not make unnecessary or unsightly holes on the actual body of the fabric. I thought the idea was smart and incorporated it into the purse, as durability is a prime concern for me.

And that was it. I pinned on the flowers and VOILA!

From Sew What

One bag. Two looks. What a wonderful world!

Sew hard, sew fast!

As summer rapidly descended into fall, my motivation to sew pretty summer clothes descended with it.

I am left with several metres of gorgeous fabric, but the inability to wear projects soon after completion has sapped me entirely of the desire to create them. Despite what my patient hand sewing over several days or weeks might say about me, I need INSTANT gratification. Waiting for the endless Canadian winter to go by with pretty summer clothes mocking me as they wait in my closet to be worn would make my usually mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder a full blown case of Seasonal Affective Dementia.

I exaggerate, of course. But only mildly.

Nevertheless, the urgent need to sew pretty skirts and dresses left me come September, but the urgency to create something else and write about it did not. I knew I would turn to other sewing or embroidery during the winter but cushion covers and the like didn’t seem exciting enough to actually get started on. I needed something I could…WEAR.
The idea for the project I share now has been with me for some time, and given the weather and my mood recently, two days ago seemed the perfect time to do it. It is not an original idea, but a modification of something I saw at a Harbourfront street stall and thought the price tag was too exorbitant, even though it was made by artisans in Peru and buying it would be supporting them and what not. After the initial disappointment of the price tag, my mind instantly went into “I CAN MAKE IT AT HOME FOR FREE” mode. Since then I have been working and reworking it abstractly in my head and have been on a hunt for materials, which I finally found in my good old fabric store.

Without further yap, follow along if you will, as I put together a unique alternative to the little black evening purse…

I started with very thick, almost upholstery grade felt.

From Sew What

I wanted a prettier colour, but apparently they don’t usually make industrial felt in canary yellow, so I settled for chocolate brown.

I knew I wanted it to be circular, not too big, but not so teensy as to fit nothing bigger than my pinky finger. I finally settled on a regular dinner plate size. Literally.

From Sew What

I marked and cut out two identical circles to make the main body of the purse and then went around my kitchen searching for something that would be the ideal measurement for the handles. I settled on one of my smaller juice glasses and marked and cut out perfect circle shaped holes towards the top of the main circles.

From Sew What

Along with wanting it to be pretty, I wanted this purse to be practical and most importantly durable. With that in mind, I set about reinforcing the handles. Once again I hunted about the kitchen and found a soup cup with a circumference slightly larger than that of the juice glass. Compasses and actual tools are for sissies! I cut out a soup cup sized circle and then within it, cut out a juice glass sized circle and arranged the resulting strip around the handle on what would be the inside of the purse, like so:

From Sew What

I must mention here that I bought my very first hot glue gun for the express purpose of bonding felt to felt and it worked very well. Not only did it get the two layers of fabric to adhere, upon drying it sort of hardened a bit, adding a touch of stiffness that was not necessary, but welcome nonetheless.

Once I reinforced both handles, I began debating whether I wanted to simply sew the two main circles together or attach a strip of felt between the two circles, to give it more depth and dimension. Sewing the two pieces together would be a) less hassle b) less pain and c) satisfy my impatience and get me to the finish line faster. However, as I mentioned earlier, I wanted this to be practical and usable as well as pretty. Simply sewing the pieces together would result in a flat, impractical sack that bulged everytime something was put in it. Not attractive. I went with option 2, attaching a strip of fabric between the two circles, so that the purse could hold some basics and look like something more than a flattened pie crust, or worse, poop splat!

Initially, I was sure hand sewing extra thick felt would be an uphill struggle and I’d at best be in pain, at worst be a cripple at the end of it. I even bought special needles for the job. It turns out though, that the slightly longer, thicker needles among my regular sewing needles did just fine and the whole process was MUCH easier than first anticipated. The only difficult part was bending the straight strip against the curve of the circle, holding it together, and pushing the needle through all at the same time. I managed by alternately pinching it together as hard as I could and actually pushing the pieces against my whole torso to make them bend right.

From Sew What

Due to the nature of the material, I sewed on the outside or right side because sewing on the inside and turning it out just wouldn’t work. I just did a quick, tight tacking stitch as I planned on neatening and decorating after the basic body was complete.
The strip of felt goes a little past halfway up the circle and as shown above forms the beginnings of the bottom or base of the purse; though since its a circle, it really just forms the body or third dimension if you will.
Once the first piece was tacked on, the second piece was easier and turned out neater too. I just sat it on top of the now upright standing strip, pinched together and ploughed through it!

From Sew What

Once that was done, it was pretty much a free standing structure.

From Sew What

Now all that was left was some obsessing over minute details and finishing touches.

As I mentioned earlier, the tacking was rough, almost frenzied as it was a fight to keep the curved and straight surfaces together and once they were held together, I had to move fast to keep them that way. Instead of trying to cover up the tacks completely, which might have looked a bit hackneyed, I chose to do a thick blanket stitch detail around the edges.

From Sew What

The embroidery too, was surprisingly pain free and for all practical purposes, merged with the tacking and looked quite acceptable.

Hereafter I cut out a few simple circles and some leaf shapes from cream, green and a gorgeous purple shade of felt – a much much lighter felt, though not quite craft class felt. I felt this felt to be the appropriate felt for accents and such like. I didn’t particularly try to make them perfect – I like the irregular, hand made feel. Really.
I placed and glued the eggplant circles on top of the cream ones and arranged them in a simple pleasing pattern, marked the exact spots on the main body and hot glued them on.

From Sew What

At this point I thought I was pretty much done and was clicking away happily, when the manly man pointed out that the contents of this purse might be a little too accessible if I left it open, without any fasteners or a zipper. I didn’t want to do too much more work and I was really enjoying the simplicity of my now unfinished piece so I came up with a simple, elegant solution.
I covered a small bead with a scrap bit of cream felt to make a button and used a small strip of green felt for a loop. I attached them on opposite sides with some simple stitching and an unobtrusive, functional fastener emerged. I’m not sure how much of a difference it made or how much of a deterrent it might be to a determined lip gloss thief, but appearances are everything right? Right!

From Sew What

And that was that. Within less than 5 hours I was done. Basically, from the second I got home from work, to about midnight. Its been so long that this project felt so urgent and so NECESSARY to my sanity. I could not let it sit and finish it the next day. I feel like a weight has been lifted thanks to creative release. AAAHHH!

From Sew What

This bag is now on display and up for sale at the PopUp Art Shop. Check my latest post for details 😀