Cross-body bag & wallet

OK one last blog catch-up before I go back down the rabbit hole….I made this bag & wallet set last year. Now while I can’t recall all the details for you, I can at least update you on how they held up…or not!

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who love things to death. This just-big-enough & reassuringly-secure-crossbody RTW bag I bought on holiday a few years ago is a case in point. It’s probably made from plastic leather, so the strap had started to crack and in danger of literally hanging by the threads. Plus one of the metal strap clips have broken. Super-glue & electrical tape tide me over for a while. But it was time to make my own replacement, not least because I would like it to be just a little bit more personalised to my needs: While it’s my favourite amongst my RTW bags, it just a tad too small and with too few inner pockets. The wallet bought from the same shop also can be improved by having a separate coin pockets and be more accommodating of different size notes – especially the yucky plasticky new £5 & £10 notes that don’t fold well.

The Design & Pattern

So here are the originals by zzzz2005: compared to my replacements:

 

Design changes:

Bag

  • Bigger bag body (2″ wider & deeper)
  • More inside pockets: 2-tier pockets for cards & keys + extra pockets for pen, phone, misc.
  • Simple non-detachable strap attachment. The original bag used swivel clips & the straps would get all twisted over time. Plus clips just seem less secure, easier to break.
  • Custom print for the flap. I do actually like the original print a lot, so could have cannibalise the original bag to reuse the print. But I decided to fix & keep the original bag as well for those times when the smaller size would do.

Wallet

This is a love-child of the one I got from the same shop & the Paul Smith wallet I got for DH, peppered with Make Supply’s tips on making leather wallet.

  • Base design is modeled after the Paul Smith folded wallet construction
  • Sizing-wise I changed it to match my wallet when folded as that dimension fits my smaller hand better
  • Changed one side’s card pockets to a zipped coin pocket
  • Followed Make Supply’s approach to card pockets even though I’m using thinner fabric instead of leather for these inner pockets
  • Added custom prints for one side of wallet outside & coin pocket

For the custom prints…

I ended up using Printfab UK‘s fabric printing service. I looked into the high street photo printing services, but they mostly offer printing onto finished goods – cushions, wall canvas artworks – which means higher prices and more work to recover the fabric for sewing. In addition to per metre pricing, Printfab also offers metric Fat Quarter size (printable area 70cm x 50cm with 0.5cm unprinted border, rather than the smaller imperial FQ size of 8″ x 22″/ 46cm x 56cm). Their fabric choices are all cotton apart from one linen-cotton mix & range from lightweight Cotton Muslin (66gsm) to heavier Cotton Hopsack (398gsm). I went for mid-weight Cotton Half Panama (230gsm) to minimise bulk, especially as I’m adding a protective clear plastic layer on top of the print like the original bag & wallet. The Fat Quarter size is enough for me to decorate 4 bags & 4 wallets. Mine cost £12.78 including VAT & UK domestic shipping and arrived more quickly than I expected – ordered late Saturday night & it arrived on Wednesday.

For the prints, I had trouble sourcing the same vintage Chinese ad poster print, or similar ones that I like as much. So I initially went with some Tang Dynasty scroll paintings with a fabric / sewing theme (“Fang Lady With Servants” by Tang Dynasty painter Zhou Fang and “Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk” by Tang Dynasty painter Zhang Xuan). It took a fair bit of image hacking to cajole these into the shapes & sizes I needed. But there was enough scenes to compose a couple of matching sets. After finding out that the Fat Quarter was bigger than I expected, I decided to make the effort and recreate a similar old Chinese ad poster design as the original bag. I didn’t bother with matching wallets for this design, instead cobbled together a couple of design meaningful to me, one a fabricholic quote that maybe some of you can relate to too! 🙂

I was originally going to use clear PVC fabric to protect the print – like in the original bag & wallet. But the one I bought from Aamzon had that nasty toxic smell. I hung it outside to air & I think it flew away. Oops. So I ended up laminating the print instead.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

As always, step documentation of my self-drafts are sparse on the ground. Here’s what I can reconstruct interrogating the finished bag & wallet…

Bag

  1. Sew Pocket top hems
  2. Fold Pocket sides SAs
  3. Fold Front Pocket at double layer foldline
  4. Fold Pocket bottom SAs
  5. Sew Pocket to Lining – sides, bottom, divider – except the Back Pocket side that goes across the bag left side
  6. Sew velcro to Shell Front & Flap Lining
  7. Fold Bag Shell & Lining in half lengthwise & sew side seams, sew bottom triangles to form bottom side seams
  8. Sew Back Pocket final side & bottom that go across bag left side
  9. Baste Flap Shell & Lining together along all edges, Bag Shell & Lining together at top edge
  10. Tape binding to Flap side & bottom edges, topstitch
  11. Baste Flap to Bag at top edge
  12. Tape binding to top edge, topstitch
  13. Glue strap layers together, topstitch
  14. Thread strap through buckle & rectangle-rings, fold back ends & hand sew in place
  15. Thread strap tabs through rectangle-rings, fold in half, hand sew to bag side seams

Wallet

This one was even more hairy. I resorted to a paper prototype to work out how to pull it together. But even this + the finished wallet don’t yield up a clear picture of the order of construction. So below is again my best guess.

  1. Sew Outer Print & FLeather RS-together, topstitch seam
  2. Trim FLeather SA, Fold Print SA & Outer Lining SA to wrong sides
  3. Fuse Outer Lining to Outer Print-FLeather, Fuse Coated Linen facing to Lining top edge
  4. Fuse interfacing to Inner Lining wrong side
  5. Sew Bridge to Coin Pocket left edge RS-together, Press SA towards Coin Pocket
  6. Sew Zipper to Coin Pocket-Bridge & Inner Lining top edges
  7. Sew Coin Pocket-Bridge & Inner Lining right & bottom edges r-s-together, Turn right side out
  8. Edge-stitch Bridge to Inner Lining (closing off the Coin Pocket in the process), Fold Inner Lining remaining SA to wrong side
  9. Hem all Car Pockets top edges (in my case, turn & fuse with iron)
  10. Sew stacked Card Pockets & Receipts Pocket right edge WS-to-RS, Fold SA inside Receipts Pocket, Topstitch/Fuse SA in place
  11. Working from top Card Pockets down, sew each Card Pocket lower edge to Receipts Pocket WS-to-RS
  12. Fold Card+Receipts Pockets top, left, bottom SA to wrong side, Top-stitch to Inner Lining WS-together
  13. Top-stitch Bridge bottom edge & corresponding Outer bottom edge separately
  14. Align Inner & Outer bottom edges, Top-stitching the layers together starting from Coin Pocket left edge across its bottom edge, up right edge, top edge of Outer only, down Card-Receipt Pockets left edge, across its bottom edge, ending at its right edge.

The Verdict

Six of one half-dozen of the other.

  • While the RTW bag fell apart in the material, my me-made fell apart at the seams. Maybe I should give rivets a go to reinforce the strap tabs attachment,
  • The Shell fabric I used may also be a bit too soft to hold up the goodies in the pockets – the Front top edge keep folding inward from the weight.
  • The laminated prints also did not hold up well. They look rather grubby with daily love. Combined with the softer Shell, there’s now a tear in the laminate where the bag bent naturally around my hip. May have to go back to the stinky PVC idea. But unfortunately I laminated all the remaining prints. Not sure adding an extra layer of PVC would be enough to prevent laminate tear & grubbiness or whether I should attempt to detach the laminate…or maybe even order replacement prints.

On the plus side, one girl in the office loves the bag enough to want to buy one-off me. Of course I said no. At least not until I sort out quality assurance issues. Then again Gen Z & Fast Fashion go hand-in-hand. Maybe she wouldn’t subject one to the daily abuse mine goes through.

The wallet is holding up much better, though again the laminates look a bit grubby from the get-go. Practicality-wise it’s an A.

Sets 2-4 are already cut. One of these days I’ll get around to them. For now shabby chic will do!

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Vietnamese Ao Dai robe top

This one is a straight replacement for an authentic Vietnamese Ao Dai robe that a friend gave me when it no longer fitted her.

The original is made of a silk-rayon mix and is absolutely heavenly to the touch. Originally I was a bit disappointed to learn that it wasn’t 100% silk. But then I learnt that rayon is not only more comfortable for hot humid weather, it may also be partly responsible for the superb softness of the Vietnamese jacquard, which none of the other Asian silks have. Sadly it’s impossible to find this variety of jacquard in the Western fabric shops. I would have just kept wearing this original, except the moths loved it as much as I did. And now it’s shredded in places.

The fabric I end up using I got by chance. It doesn’t have the same softness & drape, but is the closest I can get in the West.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1-2 high-rise Ginger Jeans 2018;

The Pattern

Block Used: Fitted Top Block

Design Changes Made

  • Change to raglan sleeve by loosely following the instruction in Designing Apparel Through The Flat Pattern. My personalised Block is too irregular to follow these standard drafting instructions to the T.
  • Disregard front waist dart
  • Marked side splits to end 1″ above waistline
  • For lengths & bodice hem widths, follow the rough measurements of the shifty original
  • For neck opening under-flap draw styleline on front neckline as guide & copy with side bust dart closed.
  • For mandarin collar, started with a rectangle the length of the jewel neckline circumference, then slashed & lapped the top edge to make it fit closer to Q my custom dressform’s neck.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Cotton/Rayon ? Jacquard from Minerva Crafts UK
  • Notions: Linen interfacing from the stash for madarin collar. So Sheer interfacing for neck opening binding/facing. 7-mm snaps x 10. Size-2 hook x 1.

Construction Notes

  • I mostly followed the original’s approach to seaming & hemming. So seams pressed open with overlock finishing. Double folded hand blind stitched hems.

The Verdict

Not bad. But the stiffer fabric does make it look more boxy. Next time I think I’ll start the side splits at the waistline instead to for a bit more shaping if I can’t get hold of a softer jacquard.

It’s not a top with many styling option, but oh the romance of the panels flapping in the wind – it’s a sensual pleasure I can’t resist. So there definitely will be a next time!

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Floral Burda 2012-04-128 Cowl Neck Dress

The companion dress to my CdG wannabe hoodie, this one also started out with high aspiration…and fell way short.

Because the fabric is slightly see through, I toyed with the idea of something like this Jean-Paul Gaultier 1990 Autumn/Winter dress ? extended vest ? But Ms Practicality vetoed the high side slits & I ended up with yet another variation of Burda 2012-04-128 dress…previously incarnated as a shimmering snake print dress & a defective yet still much worn camisole.

I had wanted to make this dress longer like the JPG inspiration, but Ms Cheapskate didn’t buy enough fabric. So the result – especially when worn together with the matching top – is just this side of twee.

The Pattern

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Burda 2018-01-106 Top; 2-3 all by her lonesome self;

WORN WITH: 4 Self-drafted Hooded Top based on Burda 2014-03-119 + Altered RTW HiLo Skirt;

Size Used

Same as my last make – 36, as recommended by the size chart.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

Same as last time.

Design changes
  1. Removed the right hem flounce
  2. Changed the skirt shape from pegged to slight A-line

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Polyester 93% Lycra 7% Floral Jersey from Minerva Crafts UK – pretty to look at & yucky to touch.
  • Lining: Nylon 80% Lycra 20% Power Mesh from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics UK – much nicer against the skin than the shell fabric despite both being synthetics.
  • Notions: 3/8” clear elastic as insurance agasint knit fabric shoulder straps stretching from the weight of the dress!
  • Tools: Corn starch! (for temporarily stiffening the jersey & tame the edge curling for easier sewing & handling)

Construction Notes

  • As with last time I back stitched the darts by hand for wave-free soft seaming & slip stitched the strap-binding closed (rather than top-stitch by machine).
  • This time because the shell fabric is thicker, instead of narrow seam & rolled hem, I went with normal overlocked seams & turn and twin-needle stitched hems.
  • Again, because the shell fabric isn’t as translucent, there’s no extra modesty layer.
  • The lining’s actually the same length as the shell, but maybe because of different drape of the fabric, the lining hangs lower. So thank goodness I chose a nicely contrasting lining that doesn’t mind flashing strangers!

The Verdict

Comfy if a bit boring by herself. But some days boring is good. And other days you take styling inspirations from the crazy fashion crowd or iconic historical heroines and entertain yourself if no one else!

But this Burda pattern still got stome mileage to go. I’ve already altered for a version without the cowl neck, hoping to fly closer to my JPG sun. Let’s hope the humongous resulting bust dart doesn’t send me crashing down into the sea!

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Floral CdG FW1996 wannabe hoodie top

This one started with the fabric. Rejected for the Burda draped back T I felt I owed it one. Unfortunately it’s handicapped by having a 70s polyester hand, so not so comfortable against the skin. But the print reminds me slightly of a beloved 1996 A/W COMME des GARÇONS collection. I love the fancy duvet look, the contrast between rich brocade print & humble muslin – a bit yin & yang, just my cup of tea.

The Design

For the specific design, I went with a sketch of a CdG top I saw a lady wearing at the NYC Met Museum back in the days.


The runway shots don’t look as appetizing anymore, but the memory’s still rosy. And the fabric not precious enough to not risk it!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted Petticoat Skirt; 2 mid-rise Ginger Jeans 2018 + Camisole based on Burda 2012-04-128;

WORN WITH: 3 Self-drafted Lace Straight Skirt; 4 Modified Burda 2012-04-128 dress + Altered RTW HiLo Skirt;

WORN WITH: 4 Self-drafted Lace Straight Skirt; 5 Altered RTW HiLo Skirt;


The Pattern

Base Pattern Used:

Because I haven’t quite worked out a boxy Block yet I went with a commercial pattern as the base. There’s actually two versions of this Burda pattern and I had wanted to make both since the magazine came out. The other version – a tie front top – looked like the right amount of volume for my vague design. But my sketch had no CF seam, so I went with this pull-over version instead. It’s the exact same base pattern.

Size Used

Graded down to 34 instead of the 36 recommended by the size chart.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

Compared with Tunic Block & made the following changes to give me 3″ extra bust ease on top of the 1.5″ ease already in the looser fitting Tunic Block. As I said, baby steps!

  1. Removed 1/4″ from CB
  2. Removed 3/8″ from Front shoulder-sleeve seam to bring B & F to the same level

Here’s how this one compares with my recent ventures into loose fit tops…

pattern block block ease design ease total ease
BS 2014-02-117 v-neck T woven tunic 1.5″ 16.75″ 18.25″
BS 2018-01-106 draped back T knit loose fit 2.5″ 0″ 2.5″
BS 2016-08-125 tie front T knit loose fit 2.5″ 0.5″ 3″
BS 2014-03-119 (this top) woven tunic 1.5″ 3″ 4.5″
Design changes
  1. Omit sleeve & bodice peplums
  2. Extend bodice & create high-low hem (muslin lining is slightly longer than shell fabric to create the hem border)
  3. Extend sleeves
  4. Separated the kimono sleeve from bodice to conserve fabric
  5. Widen front neckline by 1/2″
  6. Bring back neckline up to jewel neckline (based on Block)
  7. Added hood with drawstring tie

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Polyester 93% Lycra 7% Floral Jersey from Minerva Crafts UK
  • Lining: Cotton Muslin from the Stash
  • Notions: Vilene Bias Tape to stablise the necklines
  • Tools: Corn starch! (for temporarily stiffening the jersey & tame the edge curling for easier sewing & handling)

Construction Notes

Another blur I’m afraid. That’s the problem with the more experimental self-designs – figuring out the construction as you go along & not remembering the steps afterwards!

The only thing I remember is that the corner where the hood overhangs join the sides of the square front neckline was tricky to do neatly. I had to fudge with hand-sewing afterwards. Oh and that I might have bagged the lining with the opening at the hood-neckline seam (hand slip-stitch closed).

The Verdict

Not bad if I may say so myself. Unfortunately I ran out of fabric to make the matching dress long & kabuki like for full-on CdG effect. But otherwise a cute top. Just a shame that London has gotten too global warminingly hot to wear this right now.

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Stripy Burda 2016-08-125 T with front neckline ties

Or Stripe & Drape Take 2… This one started out as an after-thought: Ms Cheapskate insisted on squeezing a second top out of the stripe fabric. But I ended up liking this better than the star of the Stripe & Drape show!

The Pattern

The pattern is actually designed for woven. But I struggled to find another loose-fitting knit top pattern in my Stash that would both showcase the stripe and fit the scraps I have. The direction of the cut-on tie patterns vs the direction the finished ties hang makes it a more successful match than the drape on my Burda 2018-01-106.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 mid-rise Ginger Jeans 2018; 2 Self-drafted Slim Trousers;

WORN WITH: 3 Refashioned RTW pleated skirt; 4 Self-drafted Lace Straight Skirt + Mom’s shrug; 

Size Used

34, instead of 36 recommended by the size chart, chosen because it’s closest to my Dartless Semi-Fitted Knit Top Block

Changes Made

Fitting changes
based on comparison to Dartless Semi-Fitted Knit Top Block

Sorry, my changes seem a bit whimsical & hard to summarise into any clear principles…

  1. Shortened above bust to bring bottom of armhole no lower than bust line & back neck-shoulder point hitting my Block’s back shoulder line. (This also brought the pattern’s back waistline closer to my waistline.) On the front did this only on the simpler half without the tie (right side).
  2. Tilted right front at armhole bottom level to bring front shoulder slope closer to the angle of my Block & front armhole hem slope closer to back armohole hem slope.
  3. Ensured there’s at least as much ease in the bodice as my Block – back needed no change, front needed more ease at the hem so tilted at bust point.
  4. Ensure back & front side seam are same lengths – shorten back below the waist to match the front.
  5. Folded front in half. Shortened & tiled the left tie piece to match the right side shoulder & armhole hem slopes. Shortened & tilted the left side of the main front piece to match the raglan seam slope & front neckline… or something like that 😕
Design changes
  1. Added Front Neckline Facing as I was worried my fabric would be too limp for the ties if used single layer.
  2. Change banded hem to high-low hem with side seam slit… Because I wasn’t I can rock the blouson silhouette… And because I ran out of fabric anyway!

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Cotton & Lurex Stripy Jersey from Moods Fabric NYC
  • Notions: Vilene Bias Tape.
  • Tools: Corn starch (for temporarily stiffening the jersey & tame the edge curling for easier sewing & handling)

Construction Notes

  • Stablised the necklines.
  • For neckline finishes used standard Burda cowl neckline instruction (binding-facing for back neckline, sandwiched shoulder seam between front & front facing).
  • Stretch-stitched seaming & overlocked edge finishes. Hand catch-stitch for bodice hem & stretch stitch for armhole hems.

The Verdict

Despite the struggle to style this multiple ways this one is a win. I can definitely seeing myself sewing a replacement should this one wears out from too much love.

Something about the drape that I can see (rather than one in the back that I can’t see) just turns me into a kitty chasing a laser point! 😻

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