Vernon Fashion Studio’s Blog

Archive for February 2011

The previous post took about 45 minutes to accomplish. Add another 15minutes to make the wood holders. If you look back three posts ago at my friends finished bags, you will see the wood pieces needed for this bag. They slip through a couple of holders on either side of the bag.

The original instructions were mind-blowingly incomprehensible. It took my friend an hour to figure out, what turned out to be, a very simple procedure. First you sew the short ends together, right sides together.

Next you press the seam open, then turn right side out. Center the seam and press.

Then fold in half, seam to the inside, raw edges together.

Now we center one of these on each side of the outer body of the bag. Pin or baste in place.

Ok, now we are ready to assemble the lining. It is basically the same as we did for the outer body except the pockets are made smaller so they don’t go into the side seams.

Personally, I don’t think a purse can have too many pockets, so I put two in the inside. You can put one or none. I made sure one of the pockets would fit the cellphone and that there was a pocket for a couple of pens to reside. These pockets are spaced further from the center fold. And since they are folded, sewn and turned inside out, make sure you position the seam edge down. I didn’t do that on the first pocket so when I finshed topstitching it to the lining, I noticed the seam edge was facing up and visible. Luckily, it is one of those things that no one else will notice.

Sew your side seams and make the bottom box like you did for the outer fabric, except the inner pockets don’t touch the bottom.

With right sides together, stitch around the top edge leaving an opening to turn the bag right side out. The instructions suggest a 4″ section be left open. I used heavier weight interfacing on the outer body and really had to work at getting it turned. I think next time I will leave 5″.

After turning, a couple rows of topstitching around the top edge looks nice. You will notice the  wood holders will stick up above the top edge.

I think I will stop here. I need to get dinner put together because Hubby will be home from work soon. What are you sewing?


Worked on this project on and off throughout the week. It is going together rather easily. I have made a few suggestions for the instructions, just to round them out a bit. A brocade version might be pretty to do next.

It might be considered rude for me to show a project without offering you, my wonderful readers, the chance to get the instructions and the wood pieces you need to complete the handbag. Anyone who lives in or near Vernon, BC can drop me an email or stop by the Studio. If you live in the rest of Canada, I can arrange to mail you the instructions and the wood pieces. If you live in the US, it is expensive to send things to you but I will be in the States several times this year. It is cheaper if I bring them with me and mail from there. If by chance anyone reads this who is from outside North America we can try to work something out to get the wood pieces to you without breaking the bank. Luckily the wood pieces don’t weigh much. My friend who gave me the instructions, her husband makes the wood pieces so I have to buy them from her.

My next trip to the US is in a few days. Email me at if you want them sent to you. The following trip will be the beginning of May.

Now let me show you the next steps in the project. First we will work with the outer fabric pieces. Fold the main purse body in half and press or you can mark that fold with disappearing ink.  Next, the outer pocket pieces are sewn to the outer pocket lining pieces, along both long edges.

Sew both long sides then turn right side out, press.

I left a bit more of the outer fabric showing at the top. Then topstitch the upper edge. Then you place the outer pockets on to the purse body, using the folded line as your line to measure 2″ to bottom of pocket. This gives you a 4″ bottom for the bag, between the pockets. Then you stitch the pocket to the purse body dividing it where you want. One pocket I split into 2 equal pockets. The other pocket has one larger pocket and one smaller pocket.

Next you stitch the pocket side seams and turn right side out. To make the bottom of the bag, you set the bag down until the pockets touch the table. Looking inside the bag, line the side seam up with the center press line, creating a triangle that sticks out each side.

I marked the sewing line and after sewing it I trimmed off part of the triangle.

Next time I will move on to constructing the lining and the all important wood holders.

I don’t read too many other blogs but it seems everyone has weighed in on how to properly fuse interfacing. Everyone has a slightly different way but heat and steam are the main themes and guess what…my way is heavy on the heat and steam too. But I have a twist to mine.

So lets talk about what you need in the way of equipment to properly and easily fuse interfacing.

You need an iron and ironing board and there is nothing special about them. The iron just needs a silk and wool settings and most do. Next is a spray bottle of plain tap water. If your water has a high mineral content, you might want to use bottled or distilled water so you don’t risk spotting things up. Next you need a press cloth. I use silk organza for a press cloth, most of the time. Obviously, if you use silk organza then use the silk setting on your iron so you don’t scorch it. Or you can use the muslin press cloths you can buy in fabric stores and use the wool setting on the iron.

The last item I use is a clapper. It is the rectangle shaped wood piece in the picture. When you get into tailoring you will become acquainted with the clapper. I use it to get stubborn seams to lay flat whether it is a tailored item or not. They are readily available in most fabric stores. You can substitute something else that is small and heavy. I would not use a book since fusing  is a damp thing to do.

So you lay the fabric piece to be fused, usually wrong side up, on the board, then position the interfacing making sure the glue side is against the fabric. If we are all honest, we will admit to fusing the interfacing to our press cloths instead of the fabric, at least once if not more times.

Next I lay the press cloth over the fabric/interfacing. To keep from scorching things you need water but you don’t want too much on the press cloth. I only spray the area I will be working on next. Using the spray bottle I make two passes over the area as I spray. That should be enough. Position your iron on the press cloth and count 1000 – 1, 1000 – 2, 1000 – 3…1000 – 15, medium fast or use the second hand on a clock to time it. Lift the iron off and check the area. If it is still wet, you used too much water. If the press cloth smoked or scorched then you don’t have enough water. The area should be dry and warm not really hot. Put the clapper over the area and move the iron to the next section. Spray, count, clapper…repeat. The role of the clapper is to keep weight on the interfacing until the glue has a chance to cool in place.

Caution: If you have a lot of fusing to do, like I did on the purse project, take a break part way through to let everything cool down, then start up again. When the ironing board and the press cloth and the fabric and the iron get too hot, there is a big risk of scorching and smoking. The water evaporates instead of staying damp.

Happy fusing everyone!

A friend of mine has asked me to ‘road test’ the instructions for making a handbag, that she has written. The bag itself has an interesting history that includes very poorly written instructions. I wouldn’t normally be interested in doing something like this unless I was taking a class but since she has been so good to me and the handbag is an interesting design, I am going to do it.

I feel naked without a purse on my person. I am not a big fan of fanny packs and when I travel I still take a purse with me. I also am very bad about keeping my purse closed. Right now I am carrying a designer bag with a nice wide open top and one snap to hold it shut. With my usual work, my purse is left sitting on a the floor or in a cart in retail stores, while I am working on a display or something. The fact that nothing has been stolen out of my purse is somewhat surprising.

There are places in the world where my purse would not present much challenge for the local people who unbeknowst to us, make a living off of pickpocketing tourists. This handbag is the answer to these ‘problems’.  You really can’t carry it without it being shut tight and unopenable by anyone but you, without you knowing it. Here are pictures of the bags my friend has made:

The outside fabric is Home Dec fabric. I had some upolstery pieces laying around for another project so I re-purposed one of the pieces and then pulled a fat quarter out of my quilting stash for the lining. The animal print will be the outside:

There is medium to heavyweight interfacing fused to most of the pieces. This gives me a chance to spend quality time with my iron and ironing board. You also need a stiff bag bottom so I will be using coroplast.

I got all the fusing done today so when I am next in the Studio, I can start the assembly. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Two weeks ago, at quilt guild meeting, Eleanor brought a big pile of her scraps for us to root through and we could take whatever we wanted. Now most of us have our own piles of scrapes and need more like we need a hole in the head but it is like flies to honey…we can’t help ourselves. Since I don’t drink coffee, I was one of the first to dig into the pile at coffeebreak time. My first find was a strip of five small blocks with purple sashing between them. There were other ‘end’ pieces from the same project also, so I grabbed them all. It looked like the start of a table runner to me.

So for the last two weeks I have been constructing a smallish runner to use over a sewing machine cabinet.

It isn’t easy taking a picture of a runner but you  can see two of the original five blocks. I squared it up and added the bright pink border from my own scraps.I assembled small rectangles from my scraps and one of hers to make the binding. Then I made squares and triangles out of other remnants of the quilt. I used two big triangles for the ends of the top, added a border to it, then arranged several others on top of more pink material, used Wonder Under to fuse them on, then did a machine blanket stitch around them. I cut the pink to fit, added the triangles from my stash, sandwiched it with old poly batting and did ‘Stitch in the Ditch’ quilting. I then added the binding and as a tool for practise, I actually handstitched down the binding.

So here is the finished front and back. It isn’t perfect because I couldn’t quite get the triangles and squares perfectly square and if there is binding involved, it is a guarantee that it won’t be perfect. I am binding-challenged. But it was a good practice piece and it will look nice draped over one of my sewing machine cabinets. It and the tote from my previous post will be presented today at quilt guild Show and Tell. Hopefully Eleanor will like it.

BTW: The bedspread that the runner has been photographed on is a mass produced item I got from my parents.

My plan to get some of my pending projects done seems to be working. Several have deadlines on them so that is driving my choices now.

I finished my Twisted Tuck bag. This design is the “official” tote bag of the quilt guild. The main outside pockets have the twisted tuck design on them. There are several options for this twisted tuck effect and I did the easiest of them. With everything going on in December, it seemed prudent to not do something any harder. However, I have to admit that the next harder option, which involves more ‘fins’ would have been nicer looking. If I do this bag again, I will do that option.

Notice I twisted the pockets in a different direction on each side. Adds a bit more interest to the bag. I also used bamboo handles which are bigger in diameter and 3/4″ longer, than the dowel size suggested. I had to extend the top pieces to hold them and use a buttonhole with a button to make it possible to remove the handles for washing.
There are water bottle size pockets in the side panels, inside pockets and a coroplast piece for the bottom that is also removable. I plan to use it to take sewing supplies to classes and guild sewing sessions. It will be a nice knitting bag also. I just had to decorate it with those large wood buttons, with a big bead in the center, sewn on with embroidery thread. Couldn’t leave it bare. The pin is helping to hold the handle in place. It says “I Love to Sew” and I have had it for many years kicking around my button box. Glad I found something for it to decorate.

I am almost done with the table runner. Both the bag and runner need to go to Guild meeting on Thursday for Show & Tell. I should have pictures of the runner tomorrow night.

…To all my sewing buddies who take the time to read my little blog, thank you and share the love today!

I am putting the finishing touches on one of my projects I said I would get done this weekend. I have to decorate it a bit.

The other project is coming along but isn’t done yet. It seems to be getting more complicated the more I work with it. It does have to get done before Thursday so I will keep plugging away at it.

Have a great day with ones you love!