Saturday 4 April 2015

Don't Shoot the Messenger bags...

I have two sisters, one older and one younger (and a brother, but he doesn't want any bags). We are all very different, we look different and have very different tastes and hobbies. When we were growing up it was not unusual to receive presents that were the same thing but in a different colour or pattern. This was not always appreciated but as we have become adults we have adopted this tradition. Every year we find things that are the "same but different" and send them as 'Sister presents'. This could be anything from socks to earrings, where the colour or the character fit with the personality of the sister.

Last summer I took my shiny new pattern book "Sew Cute to Carry by Melanie McNeice" (of Melly and Me fame) when I went to visit them. They both really liked the same bag and the thing was, so did I. This got me thinking that I could take the idea one step further and make a really big sister present. This also gave me an excellent excuse to make something for myself. I get told off a lot by a friend about how I make less for me than for anybody else. The bag in question is a messenger bag with a nice big flap in a feature fabric.

Sister Bags - Melly and Me Messenger bag design
As soon as I started to think it through I knew the fabric that I wanted to use. I had come across fantastic black and white TIDNY  fabric at IKEA. I have a history of stitching with IKEA fabric, My first ever bag was made out of blue and orange IKEA fabric and I love the fact that you cut your own fabric and weigh it. It is also thick, hard wearing and good quality. The TIDNY fabric looks like somebody got a big piece of fabric and had fun doodling on it. As soon as I saw it I wanted to colour parts of it in with embroidery. I decided that I wanted it to be classy as well as fun. This is not a common combination for me but that just made the challenge more fun.

Embroidered teapot of TIDNY fabric
The bag uses three fabrics, I knew I wanted the TIDNY as my flap fabric, I paired it with black to keep it simple and decided on a textured but plain coloured accent fabric for each bag. I chose a section of the TIDNY that reflected each of us and matched the colour to the design and the colours we like. For my little sister I chose a design with an owl holding an umbrella. I embroidered the umbrella using a simple satin stitch in purple and used a dark purple cord. For my big sister's wedding she had a tea party in the afternoon and everything was blue and white. I chose a section with tea pot and tea cup and stitched in blue and I used a blue cord fabric. For myself I used red textured fabric and embroidered a crab - because everybody knows crabs are cool. As well as embroidering the colours I added in the outline in black backstitch to make the animal or teapot stand out.

Embroidered crab on TIDNY fabric
The pattern itself was really interesting, I started sewing by making bags. It fascinates me how they can go together so many different ways. This design was not like Amy Butler or Kath Kidson. If you look at the design you assume that the pieces are attached to the sides of the contrast base. In reality the base is sewn over the top and tucked in with the sides. This makes it incredibly strong. The inside is well thought out with a lovely divider - I used the colour fabrics for this and a big pocket where I used more TIDNY. The pocket did not have additional embroidery but did have buildings on each one. The clasp caused me some issues as I struggled to get the cummerbund clasp in the UK. I decided to replace it with a lovely nurses belt clasp and I feel the replacement worked well.

Embroidered Umbrella on TIDNY fabric  
The book is beautifully laid out just like Sewn Toy Tales by Melly and Me, Each pattern has a difficulty rating, which is handy, and full size patterns which makes life a lot easier. The instructions are broken down into what you need, cutting, preparation and construction. This is a logical and easy layout to follow. There are loads of photos from different angles which I love as it helps me get my head around the construction. There are also a lot of helpful diagrams to keep you on track. I loved using this book and have plans for many more bags from it. My sisters seemed pleased too.

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