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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Making the Ava Bag


I've never made a handbag before, and I thought this would be a lot of fun.  I especially liked the pattern and design of this little tote bag.  The pattern is the "Grand Revival Ava Bag" by Tanya & Linda Whelan.  You can visit their blog HERE, and with my sister-in-law's birthday just a week away, I thought this would be a good opportunity to take advantage of the enormous stash of fabric I have and make her this little gem.



First thing I did was read the instructions.  I've had the experience of jumping right in and making something before I've read the pattern only to screw it up royally in the process.  Experience has taught me that if I read the pattern and try to understand it before I tackle it, I usually have far better results.  So that is what I did.  Then I cut out the pattern pieces and prepared the fabric.  This bag is reversible, so I used 2 complimentary fabrics.



I pinned the pattern pieces onto the fabric, making sure that the BAG pattern piece and the handle piece were placed along the fold. Then I cut out the pattern pieces for Side 1 Fabric and then Side 2 Fabric.  I also cut some of the pieces out of the heavy interfacing I used to give the bag stability.



I sewed the side seams together for the BAG of Side 1 fabric, then I ironed on the heavy interfacing to the BAG of Side 2 fabric and sewed the side seams together on those pieces too.



Then I sewed on the bottom.  This is where I was confused on the pattern, because the pattern did not indicate a broken seam line like it usually does for where the seam is supposed to be.  Oh well, improvise.  Sure enough, it came out just right.



Next, I placed the Side 1 BAG fabric inside the Side 2 BAG fabric with the interfacing, wrong sides together, lined up the seams and the corners and pinned it into place.  I use a lot of pins.  It makes me feel better.  Then I sewed the two sections together along the top edge.  It's not easy to sew with my left hand and take pictures with my right, but I'm managing.



Trim and handles came next and I found myself scratching my head a time or two putting them together.  I followed the instructions - (sometimes you just have to), and it came out just the way it was supposed to.  



You know what I hate about trim?  The same thing that I hate about binding a quilt - the finishing seam.  No matter how perfect I press the seams, and pin the trim and handles to the bag, and then sew the finishing seam at the bottom, the side that you don't see when you are sewing never looks as good as the side that I sewed on.  The backside always looks screwed up.  There's got to be a way to do trim and binding and have a clean looking seam.  


If you are wondering, that is why I put the decorative stitch along the bottom of the trim - to cover up the fact that the finishing seam is screwed up.  Thank you, whoever you are, for decorative stitches on my sewing machine.  They cover up a plethora of errors.



Does anyone out there know how to sew a trim or binding on a project and get the finishing seam to look as good on the backside as it does on the front where you sew it originally?  If so, please let me know.  I need help.



I have a real issue with pressing little seam things.  Why you ask?  Because I inevitably get burned by the iron and the steam.  Dang that hurts.  I pressed the seams for the trim and the handles while trying to use my little stick-pointy thing to push them out and burned myself about a dozen times.



I prepared the handles next and then decided to wing it and only use a straight stitch to sew it on the bag.  It doesn't look perfect on the backside, but it doesn't look bad either, so I left it alone.



This is the most frustrating thing about sewing - those places that need to be sewed and are difficult to get to.  I pull and poke and cram the project under the sewing foot, grit my teeth, stand up and cuss a little, accidentally knock the foot down with my thumb, then work my way through it while praying the whole time that it comes out right.



I think it is a pretty cool little tote bag.  Sarah wanted to abscond with it but I wouldn't let her.  Instead I told her I would make her one of her own and even put pockets on the inside for her.  She liked that idea.



After all the drama, I added a personal touch and hand sewed a label on the inside.

I like it, and I hope Marcy will like it too.  It's perfect for carrying your lunch to work, or carrying a few random things with you when you go out.

If you are interested in buying this pattern, I got mine at Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe.  They had the best price and a lot of other goodies too.  Just click on the banner below to get this pattern.  



Happy sewing!




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