Quest for a Professional Purse

I’ve been using my current purse for almost a year and a half.  I made it before I got my serger. Before I really cared about things like interfacing and reinforcing my fabric. Before I cared about using quality thread.  In other words, before I really believed that I could make things that were worthwhile and good enough to really be used. In spite of all of that, it quickly became my favorite purse.  I used it year-round, even though it was a heavy blue/beige woven, wintery-looking home decor fabric, and got compliments on it all the time.  I loved everything about it.  However, it has finally lost its shape and begun falling apart.  As I’ve been interviewing, I started thinking that maybe it wasn’t quite the most professional looking bag I could be using.

Since I love everything about this bag, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I would use the same pattern.  What is this pattern, you may ask?  The Evelyn Handbag by Chris W Designs. Evelyn is really the perfect size bag for me.  It is small enough that it doesn’t take over my petite (4′ 10″) body, but large enough to hold all of the stuff that I haul around on a daily basis, including my HP netbook.  At one point, I crammed my netbook, Kindle, portable GPS, wallet, phone, and a reusable shopping bag into this little bag, and it all fit more-or-less comfortably, without straining any seams.

I knew I wanted a neutral color and fabric for this bag, one that would look good with almost any outfit.  I found this cool faux suede at JoAnn several months ago that I bought with the intention of making a case for my new (then) Kindle Paperwhite.  I haven’t yet managed to create or find a Kindle case pattern that does exactly what I wanted, so the fabric sat in my closet.  I have a huge stash of home decor fabrics that would make a great Evelyn bag, but none spoke to me quite the way this suede did.  It’s a kind of brown, kind of black blend of colors that changes depending on the way the light hits it (which you can easily see in the following pictures, all taken at the same time, in the same spot, with the same lighting and same camera settings).

Brown Faux Suede Evelyn Bag Front

Although I tweaked the pattern a little, changing the types and amount of interfacing,  width of the strap, interior pockets, the finished purse looks almost exactly like the designer’s pictures of the bag.  I did miss a step (step 7d, sewing the straps to the body of the bag), but it didn’t render the bag unusable.

I love all of the pockets in this bag.  Between the three large patch pockets on the lining, the two elastic pockets on the sides, and the zippered pocket on the back, there is plenty of room to keep all of my stuff organized.

Evelyn bag interior


Evelyn bag back


I love my new bag.  It is everything that I hoped for when I started, nice/neutral enough that I can take it on an interview, yet casual enough that I can carry it when I go on errands.  I am looking forward to making yet another Evelyn bag in fun spring/summer colors.


The Jeans Saga (Muslins, Muslins, and More Muslins)

I’ve never been impulsive.  I try to think everything through.  Which, I guess is why it has taken me so long to make progress on my jeans.  I have been almost obsessively studying jeans and learning about their construction for the past several months.  I’ve been reading about them online and in books, looking at them in both high- and low-end stores, and covertly checking out the jeans on people that I see walking down the street.  All in my quest to make the “perfect” fitting pair of jeans.

Armed with McCall’s 6610, Butterick 5682, and Kenneth King’s Craftsy course, Jeanius, I began working on my first muslin. Since none of my current jeans had quite the fit I was hoping for, I started with McCall’s 6610, a relatively new pattern that had one glowing review on and several good reviews on various blogs. I should have been able to guess right off the bat that this pattern wouldn’t work for me, but I didn’t listen to the measurements (neither mine, nor the ones on the pattern) and went ahead and traced the smallest option. To start with, the pattern pieces were almost as tall as I am. Even after following their petite alterations suggestions, the pattern was a good 8+ inches too long (and also way too loose/baggy and all around too big, but that’s another matter). After sewing up the muslin, and standing in front of a mirror, I decided that no amount of moving fabric around would help the pants become anything close to wearable.

Not wanting a repeat of this, instead of making a muslin of Butterick 5682, I simply looked at the pattern pieces in comparison with the McCall’s 6610 pieces. They were just as ginormous. I guess there’s a reason I have such trouble buying RTW clothes. I’m just too tiny.
Since the Butterick pattern was just as big as the McCall’s, I decided to change course and try copying a pattern from my current jeans with the Craftsy course.

After weeks of working on my jeans pattern, all I have to show for my work is a huge pile of muslins on the floor. Which roughly equates to 8 different muslins that I consider ill-fitting failures for one reason or another. And none of which are special enough to warrant taking and posting any photos.

I’m still working with the jeans pattern from the Craftsy class.   I think I almost have a working pattern and/or a wearable muslin (after numerous unwearable muslins). I’m happy enough with what I got from that to give the pattern its own post, so look for that in the next few days.