Happy Birthday, Karen!
Another piece of the “secret sewing” I’ve been working on can finally be revealed! I was hoping to post this on Wednesday, but the rude post office didn’t get it delivered until yesterday, a day late. It’s a success! 🙂
So, for Karen’s birthday, she got a size small “Retreat Bag” in Downton Abbey fabrics!
Plus, chocolates, because you can’t gift a bag empty, right??
My dad had mentioned that Karen is a big fan of the show Downton Abbey when he visited last month, and I’d seen that Andover Fabrics has an entire Downton Abbey inspired collection. When asked how big of a fan of the show Karen was (on a scale of “passing interest” to “rabid”), my dad confirmed “just short of rabid” (sorry, Dad, you’ve just been tattled on) so I thought some of the fabrics would be just perfect for a bag for Karen! I paired it with some Robert Kaufmann Essex Linen in “natural linen” (because I’m in love with that fabric line) and a brass zipper from ZipIt on Etsy. Since I also really enjoyed the show, I ordered extra fabric for projects yet-to-be-determined.
I came across this pattern from Emmaline Bags on Instagram a while back (I swear, life would be much cheaper without finding new sewing patterns to try on Instagram), and wanted to try it. As of today, the pattern is free, but you have to buy the metal frames for it to work properly. Thanks to a favorable exchange rate (Emmaline Bags is based in Canada), they’re fairly inexpensive, even with shipping. The basic assembly of the pouch was pretty similar to the few “open wide zippered pouches” I’ve made from from Anna’s pattern at Noodle-Head, so I was pretty familiar with the basic assembly of the bag. One extra top-stitched seam at the top created a casing for the wire frame, and a quick hand-stitching closed up the casing! Voila! The finished bag size is approximately 8.5″ long, 5″ high closed (about 7″ high opened), and 4″ wide.
The lining inside the bag is two of the fabrics from the “logos and labels” line. There are two slip pockets – one on each side of the interior. The fabric on the outside is also from the Downton Abbey line (“Taupe Vine Wallpaper Stripe”), I love how the metal frame pieces hold the bag firmly open at the top, and that there is enough interfacing (Pellon SF101 on both the lining and exterior, as well as fusible fleece on top of the Pellon for the exterior) that the bag has some structure to it. I also really love that the pattern has you cut the interfacing pieces smaller than the fabric pieces, to help reduce bulk in the seam allowances.
(I would say “sewing nerd rant over” here, but we both know that’s not true)
The shape of the wire frames creates a boxy shape to the pouch once they’re folded inwards and the zipper is zipped.
The zippers ended up a little longer than necessary, as I didn’t realize that the “16 inch zipper” meant 16″ including the toothless tape on the ends, not 16″ of zipper teeth. The pattern calls for shortening it down until the entire thing is 16″ and then sewing fabric tabs on the ends, but I don’t think there’s exactly a good way to do that with a metal zipper, and I wasn’t about to try to find out with my new sewing machine!
The only things I did differently on this pattern that what was recommended was eliminating the center bottom seam on the exterior of the bag, to give it a flatter, more finished look, and making the bottom two-tone. The lining has to be two pieces, for turning, but it worked out easily to have a one-piece exterior. I wanted the two-tone bottom to come up the sides about two inches all the way around, so instead of cutting two exterior side pieces that were 13.5″ wide by 9″ high, I cut two “side” pieces to be 13.5″ wide by 5″ high, and a “bottom” piece to be 13.5″ wide by 8.5″ high. I sewed the side pieces to the bottom piece, using 1/4″ seam allowances, to create a single piece 13.5″ wide by 17.5″ high. I pressed the seam allowances towards the “bottom” piece, and then cut the interfacing and fusible fleece in the correct dimensions to have a single piece of each. After those had been ironed on, I top-stitched the seam on the bottom, with 1/8″ seam allowance for a nice, finished look.
I’m really looking forward to making one of these for myself, in either the small or large size (maybe both?) but somehow I have such an easier time picking out fabrics for other people than I do for myself!