Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I'm "Swooning"

Do you Swoon?  I don't mean that feeling  you would get when and if George Clooney ever walks by and winks at you. And I don't mean that hysterical frenzy thousands of Elvis and Beatles fans experienced  either. Damn, those girls were out and out passing out!  What  I am referring to  are "Swoon Bags". 

courtesy swoonpatterns.com

I discovered this bag pattern purveyor while link jumping one afternoon. I was really impressed with their patterns. They had a fair degree of challenging elements and style. Swoon is not afraid of real bags as opposed to the ubiquitous totes many bag pattern designers are marketing. I don't think I am far off in thinking that PDF basic tote bag pattern designers are multiplying  like PDF garment pattern designers. However what we also have in bagland are some really talented bag designers that are not afraid of design risk, not afraid of "difficulty", are highly skilled, put out a well tested product, publish errata and are able to offer their customers excellent tutorials and service. They know what they are doing. . I have found the FB pages, "groups" and websites encouraging and really wanting the buyer of their patterns to succeed. The fans are VERY helpful. They share their tweaks in FB files all can access, do videos on youtube and really support and help each other. It's fun to see what everyone is making on the pages and how they overcame challenges or changed up the designs.

Lucy backpack courtesy swoonpatterns.com.    Love the zipper and sturdy padded look.

Back to "Swooning", a verb describing those in the process of making a Swoon bag, which I am at the moment. My choice was the Stella Weekender that you see above. You can see lots more amazing examples of the Stella on the Swoon site here.  The Stella Weekender is also the one Rhonda Buss has featured on the Sew News website in her latest sew-along.   I will leave you in Rhonda's excellent hands to get the construction details on this bag. 

I have to throw this out there. Alicia Miller, besides being the gifted bag designer of Swoon Patterns, you are a marketing genius! Don't we all wish we could think up a great names for a business like this one? That one word name "Swoon" is a stroke of brilliance but I bet Alicia has heard that before! 

Here are some of my pieces cut, fused and sorted. They each have labels as there are so many pieces and it's really important to keep track. One of the lovelies in the Swoon Pattern FB group ( not the official Swoon page, but where makers share their results, tips and issues) did an excel spread with all the parts, how many to cut of each in the various  interfacings, exterior fabric,lining, etc.You print it off, cut the little squares out, pin to the parts and save your sanity. I like that type of thoughtfulness and sharing.  One generous act saved me numerous swear words! Besides, all those rectangles can look the same after a brief bit of cutting.  At this point all I have to do is finish the lining and drop it in and that should be soon. I'll do a full review when I am done. I am having fun with this and again, enjoying the challenge and the generous help that exists should I have a question. 

photo courtesy Blue Call and Barabooboo designs.  gorgeous!

There are some other really good pattern designers out there besides Janelle McKay of Emmaline and Alicia Miller of Swoon and I hope to try a few. Blue Calla is one that has impressed me as well. You can search them out on FB and check out their group vibe there. Their patterns include camera bags and convertible backpacks with unique styling and detail. More to come from Blue Calla and I will try to keep you posted on other purveyors as I come across them. 


To me there is difference in the Big Four patterns  and the Indie baggers, just as in garment patterns. Frankly, some of the Big Four patterns now look a bit home ec-y to me, certainly not all, but many. Maybe it's the lack of bling, the sometimes dated quilting cottons or just the way they are marketed. I do like the Vogue designers, like  Koos, Kathryn Brenne and Marcy Tilton but find that most ( not all ) of the Big Four designs are  various iterations of  the basic tote, simple sewn in straps and slip pockets. The Indies I've found don't hesitate to use serious hardware on their bags, unexpected layering and interesting combos of vinyls and fabrics. They are loaded with zippers installed in all sorts of ways with all sorts of zips. Multiple interfacings are used, often three different kinds, to get the appropriate finish. The Big Four don't get as specific with their interfacings requirements. I do take issue with Vogue's interfacing requirements which are often hair canvas. I've tried it and I just frankly don't care for the final structure of a bag made with only hair canvas as the iinterfacing. Readers, this is where fusible interfacings shine. 


In closing, I'm so impressed with the numerous sewists who have just taken up sewing and made a bag from one of these three designers as there first project. They started with bags and showed great success on their first attempts. What a wonderful introduction to all sewing! When you don't have to deal with fit issues and honest body measurements, isn't it far more pleasant for a beginner? They achieve success and all in good time will lose  the intimidation of making clothing. Or maybe they'll just keep making the sweetest bags ever.............................Bunny

Friday, September 16, 2016

I'm an NCW Addict!

What's the NCW? It's the Necessary Clutch Wallet from Emmaline Bags. There is just something very potato chip-y about this design and I am eating the chips! What I like about this pattern is that it makes a really functional wallet, requires no fitting, is definitely more challenging than I thought it would be (fun) , can be uniquely personalized, makes a great gift and has its own community of sewists who have made tons of them. That community, the NCW Addicts group on facebook has tweaked this tiny bag every which way imaginable and provides amazing support, knowledge and inspiration.

The outside of the wallet can be made with or without the band. Some add wrist straps and/or cross body straps, which I have done and really like. Some have put beautiful hardware on the front flap. Some have personalized the bag with photos, weaving, artwork and more. Many are made of leather, faux leather and cork that is to die for. You see the addiction setting in?

The inside of the bag has loads of credit card slots on each side, a zipper pocket and dividers. The side flanges are sewn in but I soon took the groups inspiration and now use Chicago screws and a bit of E6000 glue for holding in the folds. Many use rivets as well. I never knew Chicago screws even existed before this!

On this NCW#2 the exterior fabric is Kaufman Essex linen blend. The focal fabric is a quilting cotton and the piping and inner pocket are patent leather. I've since learned topstitching tricks from the group that improved later versions. This version closes with a simple magnet closure and has a swivel hook and D ring for the strap.

One of the learning curves on this project is about the interfacing. The first wallet was made per directions and looks sweet but it is a bit softer than I'd like and I am not alone in that opinion. Advice abounds in the Addict group on improving the feel of the bag through interfacing and there are various possible combinations. This blue wallet below is my first, NCW#1,  and made exactly as the pattern dictates.

This has the sewn side flaps. Since making this one I have found a template in the FB group files for lining up the sides for perfect folds, which I then made in oaktag and just lay it down and mark.  I also now interface both sides of the interior pocket for a flatter, crisper finish as well.

Here you have NCW#3. The exterior is a cotton batik and the flap is a home dec fabric. I clearly have a bit to learn about scale but I'm getting there. On this one I used a thumb lock closure to take full advantage of the print on the flap. I also piped the edge. Next time I pipe I will use a smaller cord.

Placement on the bird is much better on the inside. The thumb lock is screwed and glued to the edge of the flap. Notice the zipper. The ends are covered in little squares that get caught in the fold and make it prettier and more secure, another tweak from the group. I love the colors on this one.

A bit of bling was added to the zipper pull.  Topstitching was done longer and in a rayon embroidery thread,

The interfacing in the bird wallet includes a sheet of Flex Foam from Pellon slid into the area between the exterior and lining and under the flap and bag body only, not the side flanges. In the rose wallet fusible fleece was ironed to the exterior flap and a piece of Peltex interfacing, non fusible, was slipped into the same area. I really like that "feel" but again, its personal. I like a crisp feel and look.

My NCW#4 bag is a "Mini". I made it for my granddaughter to have for school and she loves it.  She loves it so much that when she got home with it she changed into a matching outfit, her decision, and then asked her Mom to send me a picture. It is just like the big versions but about 65% of the size. It's a free download with the purchase of the original pattern. Wish I had a better picture for you. It is navy linen with the blue and white floral on the flap and green piping around it. For the cross body strap, which she asked for, I did the navy strap and green grosgrain ribbon on the other side. Love to see my girl happy and I love that preppy color combo.

A bit about the actual  pattern: I did the paper pattern for my NCW and the PDF for my mini. I have since purchased other patterns that I chose in PDF format. I am liking PDFs for these bags. There is very little paper used and very little taping. The instructions are VERY  thorough and there is a you tube video to follow along as well. There are also other NCW "experts" who have youtube videos as well and  they are really helpful. The instructions are really clear and at no point was I scratching my head. The pictures are clear and even clearer printed off in color if you can do that option. Janelle McKay, the designer really knows her bag business. I like her designs and the hardware most of them use. She has a craftsy class which I have taken and reviewed and  she proved to be an excellent teacher. Her patterns are the same quality. I recommend this pattern because it is very good, fun to make, challenging and still very doable. There is also a support system through the "Addicts" group as well as Janelle herself on the website and Emmaline FB page. After completing my NCW and the Craftsy class, I didn't hesitate to order other patterns

Let's get clear that I have no affiliation with Emmaline bags. I have simply become an addict like the other 7000 people who have purchased this pattern. ( Wish I could remember where I read that, but I did. ) It is fun. I have a stack of fabric all ready to go for NCW#5 and can't wait. In the meantime I will work on the diaper bag I have to hustle up for my gift for my darling new little red headed niece. But right after that I will make bags for two little boys!!! Bagapalooza continues......


Bag making requires a lot of zippers and one good yard sale provided me with close to 300 zips, nearly all new. Here is my granddaughter helping sort and organize some of them after they were all washed and dried. She loves to organize and she did a great job with the zips. She loves helping Bunbun and it does my heart good.................Bunny

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday Words

"A study at the Kellogg School of Management in the US found that when those tested were given a doctor’s lab coat they were very diligent at completing cognitive tasks. When they were told the same coat was a “painter’s jacket” their performance dipped markedly.  They call this “enclothed cognition” – what you wear affects your mindset, and ultimately performance. "....Kate from Fabrikated and her informative post on suits. 

I do hope you follow Kate. Her views on fashion are always interesting and it is fun to follow her amazing Kate made garments. ..............Bunny

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Singer Steam Press

A long craved for new toy has entered the studio and I AM LOVING IT! Say hello to my new Singer steam press. This is one serious steam maker and presser. It is easy to use and dangerous if not careful. My first pressing date resulted in three different blister burns on my hands.  Like Pavlov's dog, I am now wiser and smarter when I use this new toy.  It is simple to use and definitely is the ultimate piece of equipment for fusing. I've been working on bags lately and that means a LOT of fusing. Why I waited so long to get one of these, who knows? The price is less than some professional irons and Amazon prime provided the instant gratification.

My sewing studio opens up to the family room with french doors. Right outside those doors is a big empty space whose use is basically traffic flow. After some discussion, husband and I set up this pressing station behind the futon. There is still more than enough space for traffic flow and the family room does not feel crowded at all.  I can easily take it down if company is coming.  I have the press on the table, lots of space to the left for placing project pieces and my regular iron set up at the end. It all works really well. I'm happy!

 And here is a peak at my current project. It is the Stella Weekender bag from Swoon Bags. Rhonda Buss is currently doing a sew along on the Sew News website and you all know how great Rhonda is at teaching and inspiring! I am a bit ahead of her sew along as I need mine for a baby gift and the baby was just born. I will be following closely with Rhonda so keep an eye on her class/sew along.

THANK YOU, all of you, for the warm welcome back. It is so great to be with sewing friends............Bunny

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I've missed blogging!

It's time to return, don't you think?  Things have finally settled down. Our garden is on the down side although it is totally confused by the incredibly warm and unseasonable weather we have been experiencing up here. It has been just one perfect summer day after another and until today, not the slightest hint of cool weather to come.  Our waves of company, mucho, have now officially subsided until Thanksgiving which I am really looking forward to. We enjoyed some great visitors as well as a wonderful vakay up in Acadia in Bar Harbor, Maine. It is just so, so beautiful up there. Here's a pic from the top of Mt. Cadillac.

Hubby is doing well and got a good report from his oncologist a couple weeks ago. He still has the symptoms of his condition which make things hard for him but none of his markers have changed. He is holding, but tired and lots of discomfort. But every day he hits it with all he has and really is an inspiration. I don't know how he does it sometimes.

I have been sewing, although not any clothing and there will be more on that. I truly have tons of summer clothing and just did not feel the need or priority to get some seasonal duds made. What I have been doing is making bags bigtime. I've discovered the NCW wallet and more and you will hear a lot more about that soon. I can honestly say that so many times, as I have gone about my day, I think of a blogpost and things I can share with you. So be prepared for pent up communication!
Here's a peak at my current project, a pisser, that I am finally on the downside of doing. It's a gift and has been very challenging.

68 pieces cut out for this puppy! More to come. I have discovered the PDF bag pattern market and have lots to say about that, very positive. It is very diffferent from the garment PDF community. Cant wait to share my thoughts.

I have also taken to bag scavenging. This is when I go into the local thrift shop, usually on dollar day, and buy bags for fifty cents each. I buy them if the hardware is good and salvageable. I come home, cut out the hardware, polish it up, and use it. There are some amazing bag hardware purveyors out their and using hardware can really give you that professional look. More talk about that coming , too!

The Adirondack Museum, in beautiful Blue Mountain Lake, was visited with family who had never been there. It is a wonderful experience in the most beautiful environment. Try and go there if you eve get the chance. It's worth going out of your way to visit.

I would like to thank all who sent emails and spoke to me through FB for staying in touch and sharing their concerns. Life is good. I thank you for staying in touch. I have been following many on Instagram and will get back to following your wonderful blogs now. It's time to get back to sharing this passion of ours........Bunny

The Periwinkle Linen Dress

The Dandelion Dress served as the muslin for the Periwinkle Linen Dress. I love them both and they  are really both quite different as...