Little zippered bags


Such a tiny project I’m not sure it’s worth blogging about. I was visiting a friend yesterday and she had just made a bunch of these. Then today, I remembered why I wanted a couple, so I made some. Hurrah for timely inspiration.

I should have used a finer lining fabric for the blue one, it’s sitting badly. I also suspect a different order of operation would give a neater effect at the top corners. Oh well, they will do for the purpose in mind.

The red toile fabric is left over from a tablecloth and napkins I made years ago. I bought the fabric in Florence. The blue willow pattern love birds were originally part of a tablecloth that I bought in an opshop, I think in Holbrook. It was damaged, I made a kitchen hanging from it first. A few years later I cut that up to make trim on a curtain for the then new servery. This is the leftovers from that, so the third purpose for these scraps of cloth. The zippers are stash cast offs from a friend.



A Little Augmentation

This is the original of those fabric bags I’ve been making. I decided to add internal pockets so that it is more useful as a travelling handbag. I have also shortened the strap because that had been so annoyingly long I had knotted it up.

I’ve sized one of the pockets to hold my passport and phone.


This would have been SO much easier if I had thought to do this during construction in the first place. I had to carefully handsew through only one layer of the bag so that the stitching doesn’t show on the outside. Well, I could have done it on the machine, but I didn’t want the ugly stitching lines.


Here is the bag from the outside. Looks no different.


I still might make myself another, but later.

Paua Inspired Cardi

I have lots of cardigans but I’ve been wanting a light weight loosely fitting one. Most of my existing ones fit on the firm side. So I took some white pure wool rib knit fabric that I had bought very cheaply, and cut an embiggened and flared version of my Tshirt pattern. I did a few rounds of pin fitting and chopping bits off before I was happy with the shape and ran it up on the overlocker. It was still too large, but then I remembered that the rib was likely to tighten when washed. So stopping at that point felt wise.

I put it to soak in some warm vinegared water for a bit, and yes, it did tighten up. Then I had fun with a dye pot, trying for an elegant gradient effect of some sort using green/blue/red dyes. I wish I’d taken a shot of the before version laid out on the table, but I’d been too keen to get to the dyeing. Here is the result from the dyeing but before finishing, next to the leftover starting fabric. I love it!


The buttons look like they were made for it. Instead they were a serendipitous stash gift from a friend.


The label shot. I did a subtle prick stitch by hand around the neckline to keep the seam from rolling. The same trick was used at the bottoms of the arm and side seams to neaten the hem edge. Oh, the hems are done with just a zigsag stitch on a regular sewing machine, but with silk thread so it would take the dye along with the wool.


Here it is on, pre dye (see, it’s too big at this stage):


and finished:


The sleeves are too long but if I shorten them now, I’ll lose the full effect of the dye job. Other than that I’m really pleased with it.


Purple handbaggage

Another bag for another recipient and a reminder that I must focus and be really present even for simple projects, or I will keep stuffing up. I thought to myself that I could “just throw this together” in time for a planned visit. Nup. Yes I had time to build it, but I made more mistakes and did more unpicking for this little, simple project than I have in ages. Plus I broke two needles in quick succession trying to sew through the metal stops at the top of the zip*. Stupid. After I pulled myself together and concentrated properly, the bag came together much more smoothly.

I got that zip in after a silly amount of mistakes. The sparkly crystal pull looks nice against the purple lining.


It’s the same shape as the tartan bag from a few weeks ago, but on a smaller scale. The outer fabric is apholstery stuff left over from a doorway budgie barrier I made maybe 12 years ago? The lining is from a friend’s reject stash. Button and zip from a different friend and threads for the plaited loop from my large box of perle cotton. I do heaps of things with that stuff.


The strap is long enough to be worn cross body, the way the lady prefers. I think I want to build myself one for travelling. It’s almost weightless, squashable and machine washable.


*in my defence I had though the first breakage was on the pull tab, which I moved for the second attempt, but I was mistaken.

Under-Skirt Leggings

Not an exciting project but I have been meaning to make some short leggings to wear under dresses for summer comfort. I had a piece of knit fabric in what I think is viscose/elastane in a slightly mucky white (from someone else’s stash again), but I didn’t want white. I decided to use a packet of Rit dye from stash on both this and a length of white pure cotton fine knit (actually bought by me!). The cotton went a pleasant neutral colour* but the viscose just went a slightly deeper shade of dinge. Oh well, I need test the pattern with something, and these aren’t really meant to be seen.

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I drew a pattern from two pairs of my winter wool leggings. The fold you can just see at the knee end is the cut edge for the ones made today.


Then cut and made it up in the dingy viscose. First pair I stuffed up by sewing the wrong bits of leg together. On the overlocker of course so I cut the seams off and resewed with minimum seam. That pair is a bit tighter than it should be but still wearable I think. I managed to make a second pair to pattern. Really, the pattern is for fabric with a bit more lengthwise stretch, but these will do for now. I didn’t hem them. I like the very smooth finish of the cut edge. If they go manky in the wash, I’ll just shorten them to above knee with a proper hem.


I’ll share a picture of them on, but only with a skirt over top.


*I mean to make tshirts from this and my favourite summer tshirts are either black or shades of urk- cream, ecru, mole.

Lacy Handbag Resurrection

A few months ago, a friend invited me over to go through her remaining fabric stash and take what I wanted. Very generous. Amongst the bag of bits I took home was this old hand crocheted bag that had seen better days. I wanted to have a go at making it both useful and pretty again and give it back to the lady.


You can see above that the outer section of the lacy edge was quite badly damaged. My first thought was to fix that by sewing it together, using beads to enliven it. I started doing that but the fibres were just falling apart as I worked. So instead, I decided to snip off the worst of the damage. Thankfully the crochet was worked in rounds so taking off the outer section was easy.


Here it is sans damaged section.


I was sad about having to lose that lovely depth of lace trim. So to both replace the fancy and give back some weight and drape, I decided to sew the beads all around the edge. Besides, doing that was fun. The beads are a mix of ones I had in my stash.


Beginning the bead trim:


It needed a strap. I was a bit stumped for what to use until I thought of plaiting one from a mix of almost right colours. Thread from my stash. I think it looks quite good.


Then I built a liner for it. The blue silk I hand dyed. I had hoped for a more purple colour, but this is what I got and it’s pretty as is. The green is lightweight cotton drill from another friend’s stash rejects.


It has a pretty zippered pocket in a mix of colours


Then I stitched the liner to the lace outer around the opening edge. I forgot to get pictures of that. Here is the whole thing finished though:


and a good detail of the beading with the liner in place


She should have it by now. I very much hope she likes it.

Horizontal and Vertical

I’ve been wanting a new sleeveless, fitted bodice pattern for ages. Loose garments are easy to make and wear but tend to make us well endowed ladies look even bigger than we are. Patterning fitted things on oneself is annoying, but possible. This is entirely draped from rectangles of cloth. I didn’t want this really closely fitted and certainly not figure altering like some historical styles. So I tried a new technique of patterning only one side, the other held only at the shoulder and under the arm. This allowed me to slip the pattern on and off quickly to make alterations to the pinning. Mark the centres when done and voila. It definitely helps that I’m pretty much symmetrical.


Then I needed to test the pattern. So I cut a white lining to test the fit of the pattern with both sides present. It needed a bit of tweaking, but thankfully only in ways that enabled the lining to be used. Then transfer the changes to the pattern and proceed to choose a fabric for the test garment.

This fabric has been out of the stash cupboard for weeks, begging to be made up, so despite it being one of the pricier pieces in my stash, I decided to be brave and use it. It’s pure cotton in a lovely teal with a white woven lace like stripe and texture in the background. From “The Fabric Store”, who have such lovely things that I’m sometimes tempted into paying more than usual for my fabric, even at sale time. I shell out for the occasional carefully selected piece.


In my enthusiasm to get a test garment made, I forgot all about clever ways to construct a bodice to avoid hand sewing. I had already sewn shoulder and side seams before I remembered that isn’t the most efficient order of operation. So I ended up doing the neckline by machine, turning that out and facing the armholes with self bias tape. Oh well, it got done. The zipper is a recycled vintage one I had in stash. Cotton tape and metal teeth with a lovely clean action.

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I decided to cut the skirt as a half circle, which inspired me to change the direction of the stripe on the bodice so the front is horizontal and the back vertical to match the skirt stripes. Amuses me at least. I’m very happy with the fit, a good shape on my current shape without being tight. There will be a few more versions of this made up soon methinks. I haven’t yet tried to see if it still works with different underwear. Fingers crossed.

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Particoloured Sideless Gown

I have a bit of a fascination with sideless gowns. This one makes the fifth in my garb wardrobe at the moment. I think it might be the ninth one I’ve made for myself in the 27+ years I’ve played with the SCA*. The versions I had in the wardrobe are either heavier or lighter than I think is ideal for the travelling wardrobe so here I have made yet another. This is a fairly fine wool suiting fabric. It provides appropriate historical layering rather than much warmth, but for January in the Southern hemisphere, that should be fine. It’s also 475g vs the 700g one I would have otherwise taken. The right hand pink half started out the same colour as the left half and is the fabric freshly dyed in this post on food dye. I love the line of it and the way the fabric falls


The neck and side openings are faced with a straight grain double fold silk tape. Yes I dyed the silk to match the wool.


The seams are done by machine but then I went mad and hand felled them. The hem can drop now until after Christmas, then I will level and sew it.


Here it is as an outfit with an undergown and my silly particoloured hood. The latter is made in the same fabric as the sideless.



*For those that don’t know me personally, I have played with the Society for Creative Anachronism for most of my adult life. This is an approximate recreation of a 14thC overgown. To be more authentic, the fabric should probably be a bit thicker and fulled. Of course there should be no machine sewing either, but for myself, life is too short.

Sweet chilli revised

I thought the tiny bit I’d licked off my fingers was super hot. Last night I had a teaspoon of the sweet chilli sauce from this post in a large bowl of noodle soup, and the resulting mix was almost too hot for me to eat. So today I scooped that sauce out back into a pan and added 2 cups sugar, 2 cups vinegar, and the “apple water”* I had in the freezer. So multiplying the volume by about 3 times. I heated that lot slowly to melt and dissolve everything, brought to the boil for about 35min. Then bottled it. So now I have more volume and it’s still very spicy hot. This time the chilli solids have floated, despite resting the hot mix for five minutes before bottling. As I intend to eat this myself rather than giving as a pretty gift, that’s not a huge problem. The plain red syrup is still the business.


*apple water= one granny smith apple roughly chopped and boiled in just enough water to cover. Strain and reserve the liquid (~200ml). I’d done this to add pectin to the strawberry jam I made recently. However, I was working with pears at the same time, and generated 3 pears worth of skin peelings and cores, which I boiled up similarly to add to the jam. I was pleased to find something to use up the apple water in and retrieve my freezer pot. The chilli sauce recipes I’ve seen that use a lower proportion of chilli to sugar/vinegar, also add cornflower, which I wasn’t keen to use, so I wondered if the apple water would substitute.