Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Strawberry+Chocolate+Vanilla Collection

Very silly, I know. And even though I tried to
it with chocolate, it's still... pink.


This was a belated birthday present for Emily.
It started innocently enough, but escalated into pure
madness. You might be familiar with the process: you take
a straightforward project, and then start adding more
features, and then ask yourself, at the height of that
feverish, heart-palpitating, hand-trembling burst of
adrenaline, "Hey......I wonder if (insert new technique)
can be done here. Hm."

So here's how it all went out of control.

Emily needed a backpack for school, so I thought I'd
make her one (three weeks after school started, I mean).

Not hard, backpacks.

Especially if you have bought enough backpacks to
know they come in standard shapes and sizes

and have standard features like zippers
and padded shoulder straps

and maybe a pocket or two.

But then I thought I'd set myself a (on hindsight) dumb
challenge: to try and make it without any raw edges
and no bias tape on the inside like commercial
either. Everything tucked in.
Sewn wrong side in and turned right side out.

And because Emily sometimes brings home wet artwork,
it also had to be lined with ripstop nylon. Ready, set, go!

Sometimes I am more foolish than usual.

OK, backpack done. Most of my hair still on my
head, too. Off to school, then, Emily. Whee.

What's next.... let's see...... oh, cosmetic case!

To contain those tubes of lipgloss and maddening little
claw-like hairclips and miniscule barrettes and hair ties
that somehow end up in Kate's little hands
on their way to her mouth.

Same rules. But no ripstop nylon this time -plastic canvas!
Because we've got a real glass mirror to support (didn't
know where to buy plastic. Anyone know?)!

Let's up the daftness factor several notches - fit a zipper
around a curved oval (read: bias cut, therefore vairy, vairy
stretchyyyyyyyyy) on one side and straight body on
the other. And put piping everywhere!

Verdict: wonky zipper. It works but it's not pretty.

Insanity levels dangerously high now. Practically impervious
to reason/ psychiatric help/counseling. I blame all that
overexposure to pink, of course. So obviously, the
next one to try is a duffle bag.

Same rules.

Verdict: Wonky corners. And lots and lots of
seam-ripping. But I think I can now sew piping around
cars, houses, tractors, jet planes......

So, Dr Freud, sir, that's my story.

Do I like the outcome?
Yeah, I think. I might even borrow that duffle from Emily
to use myself sometime. Like when she's not packed for

What did I learn?
Apart from the fact that I have no upper limit on lunacy?
Three things:
  1. I love my sewing machine. It was well worth forgoing the extra embroidery stitches model for this heavy-duty workhorse.
  2. Yes, any number of compartments and zippers can be added with the turn-everything-out-through-a-hole-in-the-lining technique.
  3. What a Mobius strip feels like when it's having a bad day.

Would I do it again?
Please, someone, hit me on the head, hard.
I have a chicken to make.

P.S. I actually did start a tutorial/pattern. Gave up in the very early stages. Couldn't with a clear conscience invite anyone to try this. Some day maybe I'll do a pattern for the cosmetic case without all the silly rules.


  1. Ooooh! You've combined several things I love - polka-dots, bags and pink (errr... maybe not love pink but somewhat partial to it - teehee)! Absolutely LURVE the duffel bag! Lucky Emily! :)

  2. you don't mind if i sit here and drool, do you? the insanity certainly paid off!
    i am soo soooo sooooooo sooooooo impressed! and so in awe of your sewing skills!
    WOW WOW WOW!!!!

  3. Too good. Love the fabric, the play of colours and how professionally it has been done. Way to go!

  4. Wow, that's awesome! Really great! :)

  5. WOW!!! I really mean it! What should I say - I am completely stunned! How can you make such things on a sewing machine?!? There must be something REALLY wrong with mine! I am happy if I get a tote stitched. The bags all look simply awesome!!! Really ... am going to hide and cry now ... or eat lots of chocolate and tell myself I DO NOT NEED A BACKPACK! Need to focus on things I need ... and can do ... oh well *sigh*

  6. I'm actually a fan of pink ( i know don't kill me) I think the whole set looks gorgeous, and love how they match. The little pocket in the cosmetics case is a darling touch!

  7. Wow! That stuff is amazing, even in pink ;) I'm still trying to think my way around all the pieces (and order) needed for a play wallet for my kiddo. Thinking about your no-edges rules make my head hurt a little. Well done.

  8. Ooooh! I love them all (well, except for the pink part). I've used the no raw edges rule too. Only it was on a drawstring bag. Just a tad easier! However I do have a doll backpack on my to-do list and I had been thinking to try with no raw edges. Apparantly it's possible!
    Great post to find just before I set off for a sidewalk sale in the fabric district. (Or it's a dangerous one, depending on your view.)

  9. Hmm they are yummy.And i am amazed.Your work is more than perfect!

  10. you are amazing!! I feel like I am years from attempting anything like that and if you wouldn't have pointed out all the flaws, which I still don't notice, I would have thought that they were store bought.

  11. These are gorgeous! What a lucky girl!

  12. OH MY HECK YOU SEWED WHAT?!?!?! I am absolutely speechless! Those are completely and utterly incredible!!! I can't believe you sewed those bags!!! I can't even begin to wrap my mind around how you dissected gross mass-made bags to come up with something as beautiful as the incredible bags you made. Seriously - I swoon just trying to figure out what the heck the pieces would be!

    Amazing, incredible, magnificent!


  13. This is beyond amazing! What an awesome gift! I love the colors. It looks perfect to me.

  14. So impressive!! They look great!

  15. Un. Be. Lievable. These look amazing. Lucky little girls!!!

  16. So awesome! I started a backpack with no edges also. 2 months ago. Now I know it is possible to finish it. Those details are awesome! The mirror, the pockets, the mesh, the zippers! Just amazing! Even in pink.

  17. Amazing! So lovely! You sew, girl!

  18. They look so fabulous! Drooling over the backpack!

  19. OMG they are FABULOUS. Insanty is worth it when that happens. Never tried a proper backpack. Might have to now. Thanks for the inspiration.

  20. You got mad skilz, lady. Mad skilz.


    When are you going to start holding sewing workshops? Or at the very least, start your own YouTube sewing show?

  21. I mean this in a nice way, but you ARE crazy! I am beyond impressed!

  22. You blow my mind. Again. I could never come close to your sewing skills.

  23. C'est superbe ! Beau travail et joli choix de tissus.

  24. What did you use for the padding in the backpacks straps? I made my daughter a backpack this year. It turned out nice, but your's is awesome!!


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