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Lotus Handbag Sew Along Day 1

Hi there!  Welcome to my very first sew along (well the first one I've written).  I'm Sheri, founder/maker of Lil' Munkee Designs.  I've been sewing since I can remember, but bag making came into play close to 10 years ago after I moved to a small town in the Kootenays from the bustling streets of Kitsilano in Vancouver, BC.  I've been lucky enough to be a pattern tester for Celine for almost a year now, and I just adore her patterns!  So when she asked me to do a sew along I thought it would be great fun and a new challenge.  Enough about me!  Let's get sewing!!! 

What's first?  You need to get the Lotus pattern (here). Make sure to use coupon code LOTUSSAL to get it at 40% off.  Print that baby out - making sure it's at 100%!  Then read through the entire pattern, please.  I may do things slightly different than Celine and I want you to choose the right way for you.  

After you've printed and read through, it's time to tape our pattern pieces together, match up the red lines and tape together the pieces for EXTERIOR A, and LINING G.  You will also want to print out a second copy of BOTTOM C and tape those together creating one bottom piece.  You should have 7 pattern pieces in front of you.

Make sure you have all of your other hardware and zips ready.  I will be using a #5 22" zipper (I'll be cutting it down to 14"), a #3 8" zipper, some small rivets, 4 x  1" O-rings,  2 x 14 mm magnetic snaps and a beautiful "Handcrafted made in Canada" bag bling! (O-rings, rivets, snaps and Handcrafted bag label are all available from Emmaline Bags)

Other supplies you may want to have on hand:

a disappearing ink pen/frixon pen/tailor's chalk, glue such as Fabri-Tac, fray check, double sided sticky tape, masking tape, and scotch tape.

 

CUTTING:

I like to cut all of my exterior pieces at once, then move on to the interior and straps.  Choose your exterior fabric (I've chosen Charcoal Essex Yarn Dyed Linen from Flare Fabrics) and cut TWO each of EXTERIOR A, EXTERIOR BAND B, INTERIOR BAND MIDDLE D, and INTERIOR BAND E (all on the fold!).  

Then from your chosen interior fabric (I've chosen some Cotton & Steel from Fishskin Fabrics) cut TWO LINING G on the fold, FOUR SIDE POCKET F on the fold, ONE piece 10" wide X 12" high for the slip pocket and ONE piece 10" wide x 14" high for the interior zip pocket.  A quick note here - I choose not to cut the notches from the Side Pocket F pieces, I'll show you how to deal with them on day two (I find it's easier to fuse the interfacing and a bit of a shortcut - stay tuned).

Next is straps and base, I'm going to walk you through putting connectors on the body of the bag.  If you prefer the "sew in the top" connectors, just skip past those steps.  I am also using cork leather for the base and straps, I sew cork leather EXACTLY as I would vinyl so if you are using vinyl, just follow along.  Every machine is different and I find for mine the magic potion to no skipped stitches and no sticking is longer stitch length, a new universal 80/12 needle and a teflon foot.  Some people love their walking foot, some have luck with a roller foot, others love microtex needles or leather needles.  Try out some combinations and see what's right for you and your machine.  I am also purposely using my "regular" sewing machine - aka not my industrial to show you that it can be done!

Now let's cut ONE piece of BOTTOM C on the fold for the base.  I'm choosing to make my straps a bit longer and use the entire width of the cork leather so I cut TWO strips at 2" x 56", alternatively you can cut 4 strips of your desired strap length (in my case 28") at 2" wide.  For the connectors I cut TWO strips 2" wide and 20" long.  I also trim a bit off all four edges (see photo).  While you have your straps on the table it is a great idea to draw a line down the middle of all of them, marking the center.  My black cork has a black fabric backing so a chalk pencil works best for it.  

Now we will cut our fusible fleece (I am using fusible thermolam)!  You will need two each from the EXTERIOR A, EXTERIOR BAND B, and INTERIOR BAND E all on the fold.  Before you remove the cut pieces from your table, you are going to want to trim 1/4-1/2" off all the way around each piece.  

Last but not least is the peltex, cut one piece 13" x 4.75".

No, I didn't forget the fusible interfacing, I'm getting to that.....  

 

FUSING and GLUING  

My method of fusing interfacing isn't for everyone, do what you are happy with, for me this is the quickest and most efficient way.  Another note is that I will be putting woven fusible AND thermolam/fleece on all exterior pieces, I find the combination of the two gives the bag the structure I want.  I place my woven fusible interfacing glue side up place my pieces right side up on top and fuse ALL my pieces to it.  I have scraps of fabric I will place over the places where I can't fit my iron into without getting glue all over it, or where there are big gaps of exposed interfacing.  Here is what you will have after fusing:

   

Then simply cut the pieces out.  

To save a bit of time I now take four (approx) 2"x2" squares of extra woven interfacing and fuse them into the center of INTERIOR BAND MIDDLE D and to the bottom center of INTERIOR BAND E pieces. 

Now I will fuse the thermolam/fleece to the EXTERIOR A, EXTERIOR BAND B and INTERIOR BAND E pieces, making sure to center them, keeping the fleece away from the edges evenly.  It's also really handy to clip your pattern pieces to your cut pieces at this point to make the next day's sewing a little more smooth....

I love fabric glue, specifically Fabri-Tac.  It's quick setting but not too quick and holds a nice bond really well for vinyl, cork and fabric.  I like to glue my Peltex to the base piece as well stitch it in.  You know those cardboard backings to piping and bias tape?  Don't throw them away - they make the BEST glue spreaders!  

Apply glue to the Peltex, spread it out a bit and center it on your BOTTOM C piece, apply a bit of pressure and set it aside.  

Then we are going to glue our connectors, spread a bit of glue on the back side of each and fold the outside edges into the center (meeting up with those chalk lines we made).  These can be a bit trickier to do so I find using something flat with weight to it to flatten them out well works great.  Enter those sewing books you never read but can't let go of.....

After they have set they will look like this:

(sorry, it was hard to take a photo while I was doing it - I need another arm!!!)

I usually let my glued items sit for at least an hour , sometimes overnight, to make sure they are set well and in the connectors case - nice and flat.  

Before we sign off from Day 1 - just one more quick thing to do - mark those corners of the SIDE POCKET F pieces.  I lay them out on top of each other and draw the triangle with my frixion pen ON THE WRONG SIDE.  

That's it for Day 1!!!  Now go grab yourself a cocktail and admire your pretty pile of sewy goodness! 

See you back here for Day 2!!!



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  • Sheri F on

    No problem Shanel!!

    Rachel – I think for this bag the commercial foam interfacings (annie’s/bosal/pellon) would be too stiff in the bends and bulky in the seams – however, I think something like headliner would totally work, it’s just that bit less sturdy and solid, giving more flexibility. I’d still recommend keeping it out of those top seam allowances.

  • Shanel on

    Thank you for stating you used Thermolam…I am always never too sure which to go with. Several times I have guessed wrong, (used fleece when I should have used Thermolam and vice versa)..LOL

  • Rachel on

    Have you tried using flex foam instead of the fleece? I love bags with structure and I was just wondering if the foam would give it TOO much structure (or bulky seams)?


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