This autumn and winter, I am joining with Jennifer over at Thistlebear, for her Winter Link Party, where bloggers post their craft projects over the autumn and winter months, and encourage each other along the way. Do pop over to Jennifers's truly heartfelt and delightful blog and read all about it.
For my first Winter Project Link Party post, I am sharing my most recent craft project, a small(ish) tote bag, started yesterday, and finished this afternoon (much to the detriment of my domestic duties).
The dimensions of this bag (35x28x10cm) are highly significant; let me explain...
Tomorrow, Isaac and I will travel to London, for the purpose of attending 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' at the Palace Theatre, on Saturday. These tickets were Isaac's Christmas gift last year, so we have waited a long time to go, yet it seems also to have crept up suddenly (perhaps in some Harry Potter-ish time turning manner?).
There are certain restrictions regarding what can be taken in to the theatre (cameras, recording equipment, wands not purchased at Olivanders etc). All bags are security checked, and when reading the conditions of entry, I noticed with a pang of mild alarm that no bags larger than 41x31x16cm would be allowed in the theatre.
Cue a comic scene of me measuring handbags, shoulder bags, tote bags, canvas bags, any and every bag that I own, only to find that they were either too large, or simply unsuitable for the trip. I was already planning to use a small, cross body bag for purse, phone etc, but with Isaac and I coming down from the outlying regions of the Empire to the great capital, we had both planned a little light retail therapy in the morning prior to our theatre visit, and a tote or shopping bag of suitable dimensions would be required. The obvious solution was to make one myself, well within the specified dimensions, so I selected some upholstery-weight fabric from my modest stash, and set to work.
I cut out two rectangles of blue, 35cmx28cm, and a strip for the gusset, 10cm wide. I also cut out lining fabric in the same dimensions; I liked that the smaller, paler circles in the lining fabric complimented the bolder circles of the blue fabrics.
Next, I sewed two basic bags; one from the blue fabric, one from the lining fabric, and then inserted the lining bag into the outer bag, and pinned it into place. Here are the steps:
My next step was to make a small rectangular front pocket, to add interest to the front of the bag, then on to the handles; just two strips of the blue fabric, folded in half and stitched down the long side, then turned inside out to hide the seam. I also made a little closure strip for the front, backed with the lining fabric, which I hoped could serve a double function: one, to keep the front pocket secure by means of a button hole and button; two, to close the main opening of the bag by means of a magnetic closure, situated inside the top opening of the bag.
Following this, I inserted the ends of the handles between the lining and outer fabrics, and stitched right round the opening of the bag, twice, to secure the handles, and attach the lining to the outer bag.
Finally, I secured the closure strip to the front of the bag, attaching a magnetic closure to one end, with the corresponding piece inside the bag, and making a button hole and button closure for the front pocket. At this point I discovered I had no idea how to actually make a buttonhole, but undeterred, I stitched a narrow rectangle with several rows of machine stitching, and then trimmed away the centre. It worked for me.
My last task was to stitch on the front pocket. I realised that I should have done this as one of my very first tasks, before the blue fabric was even made into the initial bag shape, but as I am no expert in these matters (the phrase 'rank amateur' springs to mind), I squirrelled that knowledge away for another time, and instead hand, rather than machine stitched the pocket into position. Last tiny step; to sew on the button. Eagle eyed readers may have noticed that I changed my mind from the first, blue button I had selected, and instead chose a smaller, white, fabric covered button.
It amuses me to think that I will be wandering the streets of London at the weekend with an unsophisticated, home-made, fun, tote bag. Isaac and I can shop with impunity on Saturday morning, and provided that no purchase is physically larger than this bag, we can be safe in the knowledge that we will be willingly admitted, for a few hours anyway, to the wonderful, wizarding world of Harry Potter.