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Last year for Christmas I received both One Yard Wonders books.  You can find them on Amazon; here is the first one and here is the second one.  The second book is actually called Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders and has projects split out by fabric types.  The Retro Bag is from this book and I kept coming back to it every time I would flip through the book.

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I purchased Terrain by Kate Spain from Fat Quarter Shop during one of their 50% off Wednesday specials….be sure to follow them on Twitter to keep up to date with the Wednesday specials.  I couldn’t believe I was able to get it for less than $6!  Talk about being excited!  I don’t think you can find this fabric in many shops anymore, which is a complete bummer, because I still love it and don’t have much left.

Anyway, I really love purple and especially LOVE this fabric!  I ordered it in March, but couldn’t find the perfect project for it so I waited until last month to make anything.  I knew I wanted to make a bag, but just couldn’t decide on one that I loved.  I didn’t want to waste the fabric on something that I wouldn’t use.  I finally decided on the Retro Bag, even though I wasn’t 100% sure I would love the bag.

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Overall, this bag was pretty simple to make.  I used interfacing on all of the pieces even though the pattern doesn’t call for it.  I also used a different fabric for the lining (as you can see in the above picture).

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Like I have mentioned in other posts, pleats are pretty easy to do.  While sewing this, I almost forgot to make pleats on the bottom of the bag.  Luckily, it worked out without having to undo any stitches.  I sure do hate taking out stitches!  I figured it out when I went to sew the front and back pieces together and the front piece (the one with the pleats) was too wide.

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Honestly, the instructions were a little confusing at points, but then again, I’m used to following full picture tutorials.  My only complaint about the finished bag is that the straps are narrower than the bag body part that connects to the strap (see the above picture).  It’s the same on both sides, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be like that or if I made a mistake.  Once again, this is something that others probably don’t notice when I’m carrying the bag, so it’s not a huge deal.

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Isn’t the fabric fantastic?  This bag only has the one pocket so any items are loose on the inside, but so far, that hasn’t been a problem for me.  The strap length is perfect and the bag isn’t too large or too small.  I like that the whole bag can be made with a yard of fabric, but still seems like a fairly large bag.

If you haven’t already, you should take a look at the One Yard Wonders books because they have a lot of cute projects.  Maybe add them to your Christmas list?  If you haven’t noticed, I like fairly quick projects and it seems like most of the projects in these books don’t take too much time.

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I purchased the pleated wristlet pattern from Michelle Patterns awhile ago.  For some reason I just never got around to trying it out.  When I saw that she was having her annual DIY for the Holidays sale, where every pattern is on sale for $5, I knew that I wanted to make one and do a pattern review for everyone.

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To sum it up, the final product is as cute as the pattern pictures show.  It’s a pattern for intermediate sewers, but if you are up for a challenge then a confident beginner could probably follow the directions and still have success.  Overall, the directions are easy to follow, but there are a few parts that are difficult to understand.  If you want more details then continue reading.

This pattern has three sizes to choose from and I decided to make the small size.  I like the size, but the opening is pretty small so it’s hard to see what you have inside.  Since it’s a wristlet, that really isn’t an issue since it most likely won’t be completely full.  It’s small enough that you could also fit it into a larger purse or bag (like the diaper bag).  I didn’t try, but I’m guessing you can fit a cell phone, license, lipstick/chap stick, and keys without any issue.

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I chose to use two fabric patterns for the outside (my fabric is from Hobby Lobby) to give it a little more eye appeal beyond the pleats.  I really like the way it turned out and how the fabric on top adds a little something.  I am definitely going to be using this fabric for something else…I’m just not sure what it will be.

The pattern calls for muslin and batting so that the lining piece can be quilted.  I didn’t have muslin so I used white quilting cotton and I also used Warm and Natural for the batting.  For the fusible interfacing, I used Pellon SF101 like I use for everything.  All of these worked out just fine, but for the small size something a little less fluffy might be a better choice than the Warm and Natural.  I do like the added structure though.  Also, you could easily not quilt the lining and just use fusible interfacing.  There would be less structure to the wristlet, but it would be fine.

Michelle put that the pattern is for intermediate sewers and I would have to agree.  There were a few difficult parts, but the pleats are not one of them.  Pleats are actually very easy to do if you can understand how to fold them.  Michelle included fold lines, so with this pattern it is no issue.

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If you have no sewing experience, I think it would have been confusing to follow the directions on how to “box” the outside piece.  Honestly, I’m not 100% sure that I completely understood it, but it looks right, so I must have done it correctly.  I wish I would have taken pictures while I was sewing the outside corners, so I could show you, but of course, I didn’t.  Sorry about that!

The zipper was easy to install, but mine did seem to become a little wobbly after I completely finished the wristlet.  It doesn’t affect it in any way, other than the way it looks when it’s closed.  On a good note, no one will really see the zipper, so it’s not an issue at all.

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For the strap, it calls for an O-ring, which of course, I didn’t have.  I could have waited and sewn the strap on later, but I wanted to finish the wristlet so I just used a D-ring.  I don’t think it looks as nice as an O-ring would, but it doesn’t look bad either.

Speaking of the strap, the pattern has you sew around the edges when the pieces are right sides together and then take part of a seam out so you can add the strap.  Instead of that extra step, I just pinned the strap in place (with the strap between the two pieces of fabric and raw edges toward the outside) and then sewed the edges.  If you have made a pouch/wristlet/something similar, you should understand what I’m talking about.

Overall, I really like this wristlet.  There were a few parts where it took me a little while to figure out what to do, but after reading it a few times, I figured it out.  I really think that a few more pictures included in the pattern would have helped.  Now that I have made it once, it will be easy to make more.

These would make adorable bridal party gifts and are perfect for more formal events where you still need a few essentials, but don’t want to take a large purse.  I think the pleat adds something to it to make it seem more formal.  I don’t think it’s only for formal events though.  I will probably use mine when I don’t need my purse, but want to take more than just my license.

If you have any questions about the pattern I would love to help answer them.  If I can’t, then I’m sure that Michelle would be willing as well.  Be sure to check out her shop to see if there are any other patterns that you might like.  Now is the time to buy since all patterns are on sale for $5 through Sunday, November 25th.

What Michelle Patterns patterns have you sewn?  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

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Hi everyone!  It sure has been awhile since I’ve blogged!  I do have a few projects to blog about, but I have to get pictures of the finished items before sharing with you.

Have you started your holiday sewing yet?  I have not, but have a few items planned.  Let me rephrase that, I haven’t started sewing gifts yet, but I have made one stocking.  Which you can see on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Michelle Patterns 2012 Holiday Sale

You should check out Michelle Patterns holiday sale that I mentioned at the beginning of October because she is offering all of her patterns for only $5; now through November 25th.  Oh, and don’t forget about her older patterns that are always $3.  You can find the link to them on the right hand side of the shop home page.

You can see the few items of hers that I have made here, here, and here.  I still really like the messenger bag and highly recommend it if you have already sewn a decent amount.  It’s not as basic as the other patterns, but still very possible for a confident beginner to make.

So, you are probably wondering what I have been up to lately.  Well, not enough sewing or blogging.  I could blame it on this…..

Ruler

Yeah, that is my 6 x 24 ruler.  That is what will happen when a tripod meets your ruler by falling on it.  I don’t really recommend them meeting in this way!  Luckily, Amazon Prime is amazing and I was able to get a new ruler in 2 days and I didn’t have to take the time to get to a store.

So anyway, I could blame my lack of sewing on a broken ruler, but really, I have to blame it on my own laziness and addiction to TV and the computer.  Does anyone else have this problem?  I still have a whole list of things that I want to make, so I just need to break away from the couch and get to sewing.

Stayed tuned because two of my projects that are completed, will be mini tutorials and might be great gift ideas.  I also plan on choosing a Michelle Patterns pattern to make so that I can show you and review the pattern.

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Have you made a belt before?  It’s fairly easy and quick with a lot of possibilities.  You can piece it like I did, or just use one or two fabrics.  You could get larger D-rings and make a wider belt if the belt loops are big enough.

My daughter is in size 2T pants, but only if they are adjustable.  She definitely needs that size for length, but she is so tiny that the waist is big.  I kept mentioning that I was going to make her a belt and I finally did!

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I used this tutorial by Ashley from Make It and Love It, but honestly, I wouldn’t suggest doing it this way.  Actually, I wouldn’t suggest using two pieces of fabric and then making a tube and turning.  I like the look of piecing scraps together, especially if making it for a child.  The rest of the tutorial I would still follow.

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The reason I don’t like making a tube and turning is for a few reasons.  First, it’s near impossible to turn and I just get frustrated.  Second, even with ironing, I feel like it’s really difficult to get the seams flat.

Instead, I would probably make it just like a strap, but I think I would skip the interfacing so it wasn’t too thick.  Then, once that part is done, I would follow the tutorial again in order to finish the belt.  The nice thing about this belt is that the length doesn’t really matter.  If it’s too long, then you can just tuck the extra into the belt loops.  It might not look as great, but I bet no one will even notice.

This could be a great gift for someone, so keep that in mind when coming up with gifts for Christmas.  Speaking of Christmas, I should probably get to sewing gifts!  Have you started any Christmas gifts yet?

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I prefer to have some type of closure on my bags so I thought a recessed zipper would be neat.  I didn’t actually try one out until my coworker said that she wanted a basic reversible tote, but with a zipper.  You probably remember that I attempted it a few times before coming up with something that I was satisfied with.  See the attempts here, here, and here.

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Continue reading for the tutorial.  I’m going to tell you how I did it, but you should easily be able to adjust for any bag that you want to add the recessed zipper to.  I have yet to try it on a curved bag, but when I do, I will be sure to let you know how it went.

Recessed Zipper Tutorial

I’m going to start with the tutorial for my bag, then at the bottom, I will explain the calculations that I used.  So then you can determine the size of the pieces for any bag that you want to add a recessed zipper to.

My bag pieces were 13 1/2” across the bottom and 14” up the side.  I boxed my corners at 3”, which is actually 1 1/2” down from the corner when you are boxing them.  I also used a 1/4” seam allowance throughout, except for top stitching which is more like 1/8”.  My zipper was extra long, but it needs to be at least the width of your bag.

Cut

Outside Pieces (2): 13 1/2” x 14”
Straps (2): 4” x 22”
Zip Ends (2): 4” x 3”
Zip Casing (4): 11 1/2” x 1 1/2”
Top Lining Pieces (2): 13 1/2” x 2 1/4”
Bottom Lining Pieces (2): 13 1/2” x 12 1/4”

Zip Casing

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Take the zip casing pieces and fold the short ends under 1/4”.

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With the zipper teeth face up and the casing piece right side down, sew 1/4” from the edge to attach the zipper to the casing.  Be sure to lock your stitch!

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Here you can see where to sew.  Also, you  may notice that my zipper is extra long.  I just buy long zippers and then cut them down to size for whatever project I’m working on.  That way, I always (at least almost always) have a long enough zipper.

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Repeat with the other casing piece, but with the teeth down.  Be sure to line up the casing edges (not shown in the above picture), because it will be noticeable in the finished bag if they are not lined up.

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Iron the casing pieces open.

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Repeat the last three steps with the other side of the zipper.  Again, be sure to line up all of the edges of the casing pieces.

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Top stitch the inside of the zipper casing (the part near the zipper).

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Sew across the ends of the casing.  I originally sewed all the way across in order to stop the zipper, but decided that the zip ends would make a better stop for the zipper so I suggest to just sew each casing end together for a finished look.

Zip Ends

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Press long sizes in by 1/4″ and fold in half with short sides touching.

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Unfold

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Fold in short sides with raw edges toward the middle

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Fold in half so that the raw edges are encased in the middle.  This is pretty much like you would make a strap.

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Then fold the whole thing in half with the short sides touching.

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Cut the end of the zipper so that it’s about 1 1/8” longer than the zip cover.

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Place over the zip end and sew onto each end of the zipper.

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The zipper is now complete!  You can see in this picture where I sewed all the way across the zipper to stop it from opening any farther, but I ended up taking out those stitches so that the zipper end could serve the same purpose.  Then, you get a slightly wider opening for the zipper.

Attach the Zipper Casings

The hardest parts are done!

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Take one bottom lining piece (the large piece) and place right side up, and center the zipper with teeth face up across the top.  Place the top lining piece (small piece) right side down and pin everything together.  Sew using a 1/4” seam allowance across the top.

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Press with the zipper down and top lining piece up, and then press again with the zipper up toward the top lining piece.

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Now you can start to tell how the recessed zipper is away from the lining.  Repeat for the other edge of the zipper and the two lining pieces.  Be sure that the first pieces sewn together are not in your seam allowance.  Press as before.

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Here you can see the lining pieces laying flat.

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Sew the lining pieces together like you normally would….right sides together, along the sides and bottom.  Be sure that the zip ends are not in the seam allowance.  Box your corners like normal as well.

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Here is what it will look like when it’s turned right side out, but remember, lining pieces are actually with the wrong side facing out.  The top of the top lining piece is what you will sew to your outer bag.  Everything is pretty much the same as it would be if you didn’t have the zipper included.

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Sew your bag lining to the outer piece (don’t forget your straps), turn right side out, iron, top stitch, and see your recessed zipper.  Here, you have two options, either leave the zip ends loose, or you can sew them to the edge of the bag like I did.

All I did was make the zip end even with the top of the bag and centered with the side seam.  Then I sewed the zip end to the bag.

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This picture is before I attached the zip end.

Calculations

First I’m going to start with some general information that you will need.

  • You will want a zipper that is at least 2.5 inches longer than your bag width.
  • The recessed zipper will become part of your lining, so the outer pieces of your pattern should stay exactly the same as written.
  • The lining fabric will include the zip casing, the bottom and top of the lining and the zip ends.
  • Since my bag had boxed corners, I decided that the zipper area should be the same width (3 inches).
  • My outer bag pieces are 13.5 x 14 with a 3 inch completed boxed corner (this means that I sewed my line 1.5” down from the corner)

Zip Casing (2): 2 inches shorter than your bag width (11.5”) and half of your finished boxed corner width (1.5”).

To figure out the bottom and top of the lining pieces you have to consider your seam allowance. I tend to use 1/4” seam allowance, but this should work with a larger one.

Top Lining Pieces (2): Take your total lining piece (13 1/2 x 14) and determine how far down you want the zipper to be. I chose 2 inches and it’s just about perfect in my opinion. I actually wouldn’t go much farther down than that because then you will lose too much of your bag space.

Make the top lining pieces the original width (13 1/2”) and then add your seam allowance (1/4”) to the distance that you chose to lower your zipper (2”). So my top lining pieces were cut to 13 1/2” x 2 1/4”.

Bottom Lining Pieces (2): You will also keep the bottom lining piece the original width (13 1/2”). For the height, take your total original height (14”) and add your seam allowance (1/4”) then subtract your distance that you chose to lower your zipper (2”). So my bottom lining pieces were cut to 13 1/2” x 12 1/4”.

To double check your top and bottom lining pieces, add the heights (2 1/4”, 12 1/4”) and they should equal your original height plus two seam allowances (1/4” + 1/4” = 1/2”). As you can see, my original height is 14” + 1/2” = 14 1/2”, and 12 1/4” + 2 1/4” = 14 1/2” so my calculations are accurate.

I hope this all makes sense and that you are now able to add a recessed zipper to any bag.  As always, if you have any questions just let me know.