Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Bags and a Whale

Sophia is always asking for toys from TV shows or books rather than toys she sees at the store. For instance, she doesn't want a Max or Ruby doll, she wants a red elephant like Max has. Well, I have looked for a red elephant with no avail. Then I saw this post on Crafster ( and thought that I could make her pillow dolls of her desired toys. It just so happened that on the day that I was attempting this, she decided she wanted a blue fish. I found a whale instead and this is the result.

In true Sophia form, she did not say thanks. She said, "It's too big." Arrrgghh. If you know Sophia, you know that she is obsessed with small things. Oh well. I did promise to make a baby whale, but I got distracted with the bags.

We are on our way to Germany in the next few weeks and I wanted to make something for my friend and Sophia's Godmother, Anna. We are not going to see them this trip due to bad planning by me, but I still wanted to make her and her son, Filippo, something. I have also been wanting to try the Everything Tote from Weekend Sewing, so it was a perfect opportunity to do both. The orange bag was my mock-up. I wanted to try out the pattern first and get out a few kinks before I made it as a gift. I had also read online that it was a HUGE bag, so I wanted to try a smaller version.

As so many people have blogged about, the bag is pretty simple to put together. The shape gives it some style and makes it a bit cooler than a normal tote, but basically it is a tote and those are easy now (one class and 6 or 7 totes later). The two main problems that I found are associated with the attachment of the binding and handles.
I do not know if there was a typo in the book or what, but they instructions result in a super thick handle that caused me to break my first needle!! (I am actually pretty proud of that.) I finally had to manually sew the place where the two handles meet by turning the wheel of the sewing machine instead of using the foot pedal. This was not hard, but time consuming and my wrist actually hurt after doing this just for an inch or so on each side.
The other problem is more of just a learning experience. With the first bag I followed the instructions and along with making the handles thick, it also made it difficult to get the binding and handles over far enough on the inside to hide the seams. The picture below shows the sloppy results. I don't mind that for myself (too much), but for a gift, I think not.

So, for Anna's I decided to use the original size (and yes, it is HUGE) since in Europe one is really required to carry lots more stuff with them (It is just not as easy to run home or to your car there). I picked out the fabric to make it look summery and sort of like a beach bag. Anna is from Italy and LOVES the water. I thought using this bag even in the midst of winter might make her smile. I thought that it would be a great bag to carry bulky beach towels and toys when going to either the beach or the indoor swimming pool.

I added a bit of embroidery because I have to make use of my machine!!

I made changes to the binding and handles. I don't know how to explain it, but I will try. The instructions had one making a lined bias tape that was folded three times by the end of the project. On the bag below, I still lined the bindings and handles, but I only folded it twice. This meant that they are a bit wider and much easier to sew. It also took care of covering the inside seams since I had plenty of material to fold to the inside. As you can see at the side, I opted not to overlap the handles. I am not sure if that was a smart idea and I am contemplating sewing the two edges together, but again, it prevented me from having a super thick area to sew over.

All in all, I am pleased with both bags and the whale. I have learned some new stuff and got back into sewing. That was a bit difficult after our trip to TN. I also have to say that it is much easier to sew for others than for oneself. I like my new orange bag, but I really didn't need it. That seems to be my thought on most things. I also like that I take more time and do a better, prettier job on gifts than I do for my own things. For myself, I want to make it and make it NOW. For others, I usually have a deadline, but I also want to be proud of what they get.

That is all for now. I will post soon and share some of the pictures from our Dollywood trip.

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