Friday, December 27, 2013

Sewing for the Holidays: Winnie the Cooper

Apologies for the gap in posts, but I permitted myself to take a break from the siren song of the laptop for the start of my winter break. By that I mean I was avoiding opening up my laptop because it'd mean I had to actually deal with the bureaucratic mess that is getting some paperwork done for my history thesis, but I do genuinely believe it's good to take nice, long breaks from the internet and it's charms when possible. And I promise I put that time to good use, as I whipped up two new makes during that time!

Without further ado, the first of the two Christmas gifts I handmade for special people in my life: the Winnie the Cooper Satchel for my sister!

The elusive sophisticated Winnie the Pooh print fabric has been found.
Initially, I was going to make a Cooper satchel for my dad, but I knew he'd be more particular about what he wanted in a bag so that plan got scraped. I really wasn't planning on making my sister one, but then I discovered this Winnie the Pooh printed burlap while traipsing around the Joann's website and everything clicked beautifully into place. I mean, a mature-looking Winnie the Pooh print?! Knowing how obsessed with Winnie the Pooh my sister is, I knew what I had to do, and thus in a marathon night of sewing (more because I had the motivation to tackle it right then and didn't want to stop working on it than because of time constraints) this Cooper satchel was born... with a slight modification.

No pannier here!
My sister doesn't ride a bike. She doesn't live in a very bike-friendly place, so she couldn't even if she wanted to. I knew the pannier straps'd be a waist on her satchel, but I still wanted to put the clasps I got in the hardware kit to good use. I considered a shoulder strap but my sister doesn't really like those, and then it hit me: why not make horizontal straps for it rather than vertical ones, so it could slide over the handle of a rolling suitcase and serve as an awesome travel bag? It was a really simple switch to make. First, I sewed the back handle into the top contrast panel rather than the bottom one, so it was neatly enclosed. I then eyeballed the length of the horizontal straps I'd want, taking the fact that the straps would need to be longer than one might think to accommodate the bag being full (okay, that makes it sound like I planned everything out, when really I just cut two long pieces of fabric and sewed them up as per the instructions for the bag's handles and it just happened to work out well), then sandwiched the raw ends into the side seams, backstitching there to reinforce it. Dad and I stuffed a twin-sized thick blanket into it to test the straps and they worked like a charm!

The body fabric is a great thick corduroy I found on sale that matches the red of Pooh's shirt perfectly; it makes this bag look a lot more "fashionable" than utilitarian, like the pack cloth of my messenger bag. It was my first time working with a fabric with pile, but mercifully bag sewing is a bit more forgiving than garment sewing so it wasn't tedious to work with at all, although I did have to give my machine a through cleaning afterwards as it left everything with a delicate frosting of red fluff. Since I was using burlap for the contrast fabric, I lined the bottom gusset with the corduroy as well, to make the bottom of the bag extra sturdy. I also lined the flap pieces with the lining fabric (a cute blue and white polka dot waterproof fabric that was cryptically labeled "bag fabric" at the Joann's, but it was in the utility fabric section and was $2.50 a yard so I figured what the hell, let's go with it), to ensure that the snaps wouldn't tear out of the loose burlap and that the flap itself wouldn't be too, well, floppy.

This pattern sewed up even more easily the second time around, with one notable difference: I totally bugged up those straps at first! I had the messenger bag instructions too fresh in my mind so I stitched the front straps down the entire body, which made it so that when I went to test how the bag looked with the handle done up I found that completely impossible. Mercifully, since the straps are sewn down entirely on the outside of the bag, it was a simple matter to seam rip out the extraneous stitching with no damage to the bag. Bless my lime green seam ripper, it's my best sewing friend (don't tell the shears or my teapot pin cushion).

I do wish I'd taken more care with cutting out the burlap- it'd be nice if I'd managed to get a Pooh between the handle straps rather than being cut in half by or creepily blindfolded by them. But! My sister is incredibly pleased with it, and really that's what matters the most to me.

Next up: a Deus Ex: Human Revolution inspired Newcastle Cardigan for my boyfriend, which was many a first for me (first time sewing for a guy, first time making a jacket, first time using facings- the list goes on!) But first, I need to recapture the cardigan from him to make a few fixes (definitely made the arms a little too long as I forgot that the cuffs were a thing) and so I can take some decent photos!

P.S. I got the Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas, so definitely expect more Colette Patterns makes in the future. I love all the patterns (well, I might make the Pastille Dress have a fuller skirt, because I don't like dresses that are so fitted everywhere even though I know that's kind of the point of the dress, but) so I'm going to work through it almost like the Home Ec class I never had. I might go a bit out of order, though, as I have the perfect hunter green chiffon for the Taffy Blouse, and I'm itching to cut into it and try it out. This really is a beautiful book, full of great tutorials for the beginner and just inspiringly pretty in general!

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