I made myself a bag.
I never make myself bags -have you noticed? They are always for other people - Mum, Mother-in-law, sister-in-law, daughter's party guests, daughters' teachers, and you, of course. What I actually do carry around with me is some ratty purse thing bought at a store. It's filled with rubbish - children's snacks, old tissue paper, receipts, bank statements, pens, makeup, one pair of emergency earrings - those sorts of things. Why would I need a beautiful bag for stuff like that? I'd sooner give it or sell it to people who actually deserve it.
Unless it was in Orla Kiely fabric.
Then I might be persuaded to keep it.
Might as well have the set, right?
So meet Bella Bag #5.
It has 11 different fabrics in it, of which 5 are real Orla's.
Like the lining and the straps.
And the trims on the side pockets
and that iconic stem print. It's hard not to recognize that.
Can you tell that I really had fun making this bag?
Some of you asked me where I got the stem fabric. I wish I could say that I'd discovered a store here in the US that stocked Orla Kiely fabrics (ebay does not count) but no.
The real answer is: from my bed. I bought this and cut part of it up. Most expensive single fabric purchase I'd ever made. Don't worry- I didn't touch the comforter (that's still intact and on the bed). I'm not that crazy. The fabric, however, had to be prepped before it was suitable for a bag. It has a gorgeous sheen and tight weave but it was too thin for a bag. So I backed it with twill. Not interfacing (gag) - just twill. And quilted it, but without the puffy batting. See those stitching lines around the motifs? Each piece of fabric I used had to be stitched to its backing piece of twill this way. The prepped fabric was as robust as twill and felt like twill but looked like the original fabric.
There's a reason for sharing this technique with you. If you've been reading this blog awhile, you might have noticed that I get on my soapbox whenever I can about using the right-weight fabric for bags i.e. home-dec or heavier. I never use quilting cotton, no matter how beautiful because I'd either end up with a flimsy excuse for a tote or something heavily interfaced that still crumples and softens over time and with wear. However, I know I am fighting a losing battle, given the popularity of quilting cotton, so (sigh) if you would still
insist on prefer to make bags with quilting cotton, yes, it can be done. Just be willing to quilt it a bit. You could even use sew-in interfacing, although not for the Bella Bag, since interfacing won't work with the gathers.
Well, let's move on! Let me show you something I really like about this bag: the textured base! It feels like what the straps look like- all scribbly.
Let me show you something else:
It has the same roomy side pockets,
one of which has that hidden strap with a swivel hook for your keychain, just like mine.
And there's that big back pocket.
Your straps are backed with orange, to match the piping on the side pockets.
It makes me smile, this bag.
Because now, this is my favorite Bella Bag.
I am aiming to get the Bella Bags in the shop by Labor Day. And I am thinking of auctioning this Stem Bella rather than just putting it in the etsy shop with the other Bellas. I can think of many, many worthy causes that could benefit from an auction like this. So I have a couple of questions for you: if I list it on ebay rather than etsy, do you have an ebay account to bid with? If not, would you be willing to open one just to bid for this bag?
And finally, a pattern update: Stage 2 testing is done and I am planning to work on the pattern this weekend to get it ready for you! Meanwhile, you can see Grandma G's Bella here, which she made from the alpha version of the pattern. It is beyond gorgeous. Hurrah for Jessica Jones! More photos of her bag, plus her review of the pattern coming later on her blog.