Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lorelei and Alanna

Okay, I know I said I was going to try to do better at blogging in January. Well, just so you know, this post makes one more than the number I did in December. Ha! Still bad. But I can't blog and sew at the same time, and I've been sewing. Here's what I've been working on.

This is the Lorelei Bag in one of Jess's barkcloth designs from her new collection In Theory. The fabric is supposed to be released... well... soon... from Cloud9 Fabrics. And by now we all know "soon" is relative. ;) So we'll wait and see. (We did get the sample fabrics sooner than expected!)

That's a zipper pocket with pleather and rivets for trim.

Inside is another zipper pocket on one side and a large divided slip pocket trimmed with outer fabric on the other side. It fastens with a magnetic snap.

It's a big bag! My hair dresser graciously agreed to model it for me to give you an idea of how big it is.

The pattern came as a set of two bags, and here is the other, the Alanna Zipper Pouch. It has the detailed outside pocket to match the Lorelei Bag.

The straps and the pieces that surround the zippers are pleather, as is the zipper pull (that I just made up to go with the rest). Here are Lorelei and Alanna together.

The patterns are by ithinksew. I'm not going to link to them for you because I just can't recommend them. The instructions were skimpy, so bag-making experience was certainly necessary, but even aside from that, there were a number of issues that just made for a lousy pattern in my opinion. It was apparently not tested, because one of the steps was simply impossible to do. Ugh. And although the pictures showed a snap, there was no mention of installing it! For some reason, I expect a pattern to be accurate.

In the making of these bags, I relied heavily on tried and true methods. I used my favorite tutorial for the zippered pockets, and I followed the wonderfully clear and detailed instructions for the Essential Wristlet by Erin (Erickson) Gilbey for constructing the zipper pouch itself.

Since I was going back and forth between patterns, I managed to forget a step. The pouch was supposed to have a strip of the pleather across the top front and back, like this, which I had cut and ready, but....

It would've been cuter with that trim on there, but as it turned out, I'm glad I forgot it, because those strips would've made for very bulky seams at the corners.

The pattern called for sewing the pouch and lining together, then binding the seams on the inside with bias seam binding. Umm... I like Erin's method much better, with the seams ending up between the exterior and lining fabrics.

Incidentally, the zippered pockets are very small. They are about 5" wide by 3" deep. They're probably only good for car keys, chapsticks, etc. You'd have to have a very small cell phone to fit it in them.

I'm very pleased with how the bags turned out, even if it was a frustrating process. If you REALLY love them and decide to make your own, you can email me for details on how to work around the not-so-great pattern. By the way, I checked the pattern reviews for this seller. For the most part, they said things like "This pattern looks great - I can't wait to make it!" Not exactly a helpful review, is it? There was one, though, that said it all: "I got so confused I gave up." Now that's a more realistic review.

I'm off now to start another project, and this one I know will go well, because it's from a tested and much loved pattern by Erin, but one I haven't made before. I'll be showing you later......


Jessica Jones said...

These are adorable!!!

annie dee said...

The resulting bags belie any problems you may have had in the construction. They are really wonderful. And the fabric is spec.tac.u.lar. When you have had a cup of tea and a cuddle with the nearest kitten, think about leaving your critique about the pattern on ithinksew's website. I'm sure they'd want to know changes are needed. Maybe it's nothing more than a mistake. If not the folks from ithinksew, then other purchaser's need to have eyes wide open before making the purchase.

Kudos! Gorgeous bags!

cynthia tomlinson said...

Very beautiful bags and lovely fabric. Jessica's designs are always gorgeous! Thank you for the heads up and honest critique of the bag pattern. I'm glad I didn't purchase it. I just finished the Time Warp Tote by Cloud 9. What a frustrating experience. The pattern was incomplete and not detailed. She could have constructed this bag in a much easier way. I was able to finish the bag because of what I've learned from Erin Gilbey. She has spoiled us all. No one else can even come close to her precision and attention to detail. It will be nice when Emmett Christopher gets a little older and she has time to bless us with more amazing bag designs.

Have you thought about writing bag patterns Grandma G? I think you would be fabulous!

Grandma G said...

Thanks, ladies!

Annie Dee... you're right, I should post something. Maybe I will eventually, but I've spent way too much time on this project already, and my next one has a deadline coming up very fast, so I must get that done first. It would be for the benefit of other potential purchasers, because from what I've read on their Facebook page, they're not very good at responding to problems. They seem to be a pretty big company, going by the name sewingwithme on Etsy where they have 6 different shops. I'd beware. They have very positive feedback, but like I said, that doesn't tell the whole story.

Cynthia... yes, we've come to expect a lot from patterns after having used Erin's. It's too bad so many others don't give the care to their pattern writing that she does. But thankfully we have her lessons to fall back on. Yep, that baby has sure put a halt to the pattern writing! :) But that's okay... he's worth it, and when she does get back to it, we'll appreciate her even more after our experiences with others' patterns. Thanks for your vote of confidence, but no, I will not be writing any patterns. I've tested enough patterns to know what all goes into writing them, and it's a ton of work!! (No wonder so many take shortcuts!) I'd rather just sew for fun and let somebody else do the work. ;)

kathy said...

I have found calling attention to bad/impossible directions usually results in adversarial emails. I rely on my sewing experience and good pattern writers (like Erin gilbey - Dumd) to get from point a to b. Some pattern sellers have a stick up their hineys. I still have the email somewhere from American girl sewing patterns.
I am loving these cloud 9 fabrics that you and lier (ikat) have been using.

LiEr said...



And I adore your hardware use - the brads and zippers, I mean. That brass finish is just perfect with these fabrics. And the pleather! Can't swoon enough. When I first saw the bag, I thought it was a very cute design, especially for a big-print fabric like this In Theory print - it's has clean enough lines (no pieced pockets, pleats, ruffles etc. that many other bags have) that, while it might look a tad plain with a solid fabric, looks absolutely wonderful with this lotaspace print. So, good choice! And looks like a very simple construction.

Um . . . am not a fan of sewing lining-and-outer together and then binding seams on the WS of the finished bag. That's not a bad method - commercial bags are almost always done that way. BUT with handmade bags, I personally expect (and advocate) a much higher standard simply because they aren't mass-produced and therefore folks can afford to take the time to get a more elegant finish. It gives dignity to a bag, you know? But that's my personal opinion. So kudos to Erin for choosing that SA-between-the-layers method.

And I agree with Annie Dee - a constructive review (or perhaps a feedback email) to the designer might help them improve their future designs.

kathy: thanks for the mention! Jessica makes such cut-above-the-rest designs that I can't bring myself to use other designers' prints, honestly. Much too loud. Except for linings. I use them for linings so I don't have to look at them too much. Again, personal opinion, and I know lots of people really love the busy designer prints. So to each her own.

Grandma G said...

Thanks, Kathy. If I write something, I'll be very careful in my wording!

Thank you for all your lovely words, LiEr! Yes, it was a pretty simple construction... all very basic stuff... for someone who's made bags before. I guess that's why the designer felt she could keep the instructions short, but the pattern still should've been tested for accuracy.

Geneviève Thiffault said...

Bias seam binding? That couldn't have made a very nice bag. Good thing you have a lot of sewing experience (and patience!).

If an experienced seamstress like you such had a hard time with that bag pattern, I can't imagine the mess I would have made with it. So maybe Erin puts an unusual amount of efforts and details in her patterns, but I think it's the way patterns should be. Maybe DUMD should be the standard?

Still, you overcome all the flaws of that pattern and the result is stunning! Just like Lier said previously, that bag showcases so nicely the fabric. Great choice! The rivets are a beautiful addition too. Nice work!

Time to reward yourself with a DUMD bag now! :P

Grandma G said...

Thank you, Gen! Yes, I definitely think DUMD should be the standard! And as you saw, I did reward myself with a DUMD pattern. It was very refreshing to get back to a well-written, thorough pattern!