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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Nakkashi Euphoria 11042 anarkali & co

And now for a change of pace, let’s finally catch up with a project finished last year, but was waiting for the matching slim trousers which I just finished… This is the Indian anarkali tunic outfit kit I bought last year:

Nakkashi Euphoria 11042

fabric for Churidar trousers + part-stitched Anarkali tunic + RTW Dupatta shawl

1. Anarkali Tunic ⇒ Shirt Dress / Light Flared Coat ✔

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted slim pants + Nakkashi dupatta shawl 2 Self-drafted tent dress;

Fabrics:

  • Loose weave Khadi shell fabric – this looks really similar to the raw silk gauze I used for Burda 2014-02-117 top (another one waiting to be blogged)
  • Poplin / Batiste lining

Design:

Originally I was going to leave this quite loose & robey as it vaguely reminds me of dreamy Pre-Rarobes. But Ms Practicality vetoed that idea. And I went back to something more like the original intended design. Ms Practicality also insisted that I make this tunic open front to maximise wearing opportunities. (Though in retrospect, the flared shape doesn’t really lend itself to being worn with front opened.)

Fitting:

  • Examining the marketing photo I saw that armhole bust darts were added to give the tunic a fitted silhouette. I followed suit & modified my Fitted Top Block to shift some of the bust shaping into a new armhole bust dart.
  • The bodice did not quite fit into the panels neatly. To minimize the number of vertical seams, I ended up removed the equivalent of one panel – front outer panel – at the side seam & kept the corresponding back outer panel for the underarm area – ie no proper side seams… kind of like in some tailored jackets.
  • Additional dart shaping (bust, waist, shoulder blade) were done at the existing panel seams with varied seam allowance widths.
  • For sleeves I used my more mobile Tunic Sleeve Block.
  • Hem were shorten for my less than modelesque stature (yielding scraps to squeeze out #2 Peplum Top below).

Construction:

Ms OCD demanded that I redo the collar, chest appliqué, hem border, and lining “properly” the Western way. So…

  • Collar & front opening were properly interfaced.
  • Chest appliqué reapplied incorporating bust shaping.
  • Hem border reapplied after everything else was done (saving me a chunk to squeeze out #3 Bustier Top below).
  • Lining flipped to hide the seam allowance the Western way. (So far I find that the Asian garments seems to favour exposed seam allowances even when the garment is lined. Someone told me it’s to facilitate alteration in case one gains weight. It’s less pretty in side, but certainly quicker to let out or take in. I guess I better not grow sideway any further now that I’ve hidden all the seams!)
  • Hooks & thread bars were used for front closure to minimize visual disruption to the design whether worn open or closed.

Now can I just moan about hooks a bit? I thought all hooks are equal. Apparently not. I bought a bunch of Hemline hook & eye fasteners that you’d find in all the sewing shops here in the UK. Trusted brand right? Nope. Total fail. They won’t stay closed, because the bump at the base of the hook is too shallow to properly do its job of stopping the thread bar or eye from slipping off. Maybe if the garment has negative ease – eg in a bra band or bustier – then this won’t be a problem as the busting tension would stop the hook & bar/eye from moving about. But given the positive ease in my tunic, it’s wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Actually the hooks I recycled from old Victoria Secrets bras for my choli blouses also have the same problem of wanting to come undone. I only properly understood the problem when I examined a couple of custom made choli blouses I ordered from India: These have hooks with prominent bumps & are properly secure once done up. Annoyingly online shops don’t show profile photos of hooks they sell, so it’s impossible to tell which brand has the secure hook design with a proper gate-keeper bump.

1a. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Peplum Top

I wish I had scraps bigged enough to make Burda 2014-03-118 Square Neck Peasant Top. I didn’t. So I tried draping the scraps on Q to see if there’s even enough to cover Q’s modesty. Thankfully I did. This peplum top design is the result. The front, peplum, & back for each (L/R) half is one continuous piece of the excess length panelled hem from the tunic. The bodice sides & straps are from the tunic’s two excess front outer panels (minus length used for the shirt dress front opening facing).

As the fabric is loose woven & seemingly delicate, I will need to line the top. The lining scraps are not big enough, so a batiste from the Stash will have to be pressed into service.

While the neck opening is big enough to slip over my head, I want the waist to remain trim, so some sort of opening must be incorporated to make it possible to put on/take off the top. Back overlap with buttons perhaps?

Now I just need to figure out the construction… one day some day!

1b. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Bustier Top

The scrap hem border from the tunic just barely goes around my torso. As the embellishment is so lovely, it seems a shame to throw it away. Taking inspiration from a Dolce & Gabbana editorial & a Alexander McQueen F/W 2008 designs, I think I will turn this into a bustier. To bridge the gap in girth I’m going for a contrasting deconstructed aesthetic of exposed zipper, braided elastic, or hook & eye tape. To maximize wearability, I may add sleeves & peplum – or maybe make this a separate top to be worn under the bustier. I have nothing as fancy as McQueen’s silk tulle, so instead I’m going to use a plentiful cheap gauze from the Stash (formerly window drapes). Haven’t quite work out the pattern yet let alone construction. So yet another project joining the long queue.

2. Churidar Trousers ⇒ Slim Pants

Since the fabric is a stiff Jacquard, the usual Asian instructions for a drapier Churidar Trousers won’t work. So as you already know I turned this into a Western style slim trousers, doubling as wearable muslin for my new Slim Pants / Trousers Block to statisfy Ms Two-Bird-One-Stone.

2a. Churidar Trousers scraps ⇒ TBD

There’s enough fabric for something else… Something I haven’t yet decided, but probably a dress or a-line skirt because this stiff fabrc with no give needs plenty of ventilation.

3. Dupatta Shawl ⇒ TBD

This was readymade. But the rose coloured fabric is rather scratchy. So I initially added a dual-tone chiffon lining. But then it doesn’t drape as well anymore. So off the lining comes.

I think I will have to make this into something I may wear more often. I have way too many dupatta shawls for my Western lifestyle!

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Burda 2015-11-106C Sailor Trousers wannabe

Mixing up a little bit for the 2nd pair derived from my new Slim Pants Block… a flared version with higher waist and in a totally different type of fabric.

The Design Inspiration

This one was actually supposed to be a Burda alter-to-fit. But I gave up when it seemed like numerous non-standard adjustments would be needed. Plus the Burda version is designed for stretch woven and I’m using a bog standard woven suiting. And their sailor button front is an imposter bolstered by a side zip whereas I wanted to try out a functioning one. So my Block with Burda stylelines it is then.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted fitted T; 2 Zara blouse;

The Pattern

Block Used: Slim Pants/Trouser Block

Changes Made

  • Design: High-rise, F centred dart, B centred dart > princess seam, capri length, flared below knees, cuffed, sailor pants front flap (buttoned along princess seams – instead of Burda version’s faux front with side zip), no pocket, hem cuff.
  • Fitting: To accommodate lining bulk & my middle age spread, added ease by sewing a smaller SA instead of the 3/4″ SA added to the pattern for side seams & inseams (5/8″ inseams, 3/8″-5/8″ side seams).  This gave me approx 1-1/2″ extra ease at the waist tapering to 1/2″ extra ease at the bottom of the legs, almost 1/2″ extra crotch length.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Facings were cut from lining except for the top front overlap. Lining pieces were cut from the same pattern as the shell, so there’s actually double layer of lining at the waist (facing + top of lining).
  • Interfaced waist facing & front overlaps. Extra interfacing for buttons & buttonholes.
  • Although the wool suiting doesn’t fray as much as the jacquard of the last pair, I still overlocked the pieces as soon as they were cut, including the lining which does fray a bit.
  • Stretched bias edges – inseams, leg side seams, back crotch fork. Much easier with the wool suiting than the jacquard of the last pair.
  • Because of the angles of my crotch points, it’s easier to sew the inseams first, then crotch seam. This does mean it’s not possible to fit the inseam as I sew (like suggested by Pants for Real People), though adjusting the fit at the side seam is still possible.
  • Sewed side seams & inseams with a smaller seam allowance instead fo 3/4″ added to the pattern. Originally tried even 5/8″ (1/2″ extra ease), but maybe because of the higher waistline, it felt a bit too tight when I fit as I sew. So I ended up with 3/8″ (1-1/2″ extra ease) at the waist. In retrospect this was overkill. I didn’t factor in that button closure has a bit more give than zipper closure. The pants ended up hanging lower than intended. I tried adding a hook at CF, but it doesn’t really help much. Since the problem didn’t manifest fully until everything’s pretty much done it’s now too much trouble to go in & alter the side seams. So this will have to be my post-Xmas-feasting pants!
  • Because the pants ended up hanging lower, I had to increase the height of the hem cuff to keep this capri length (just), and tweak the inseam & side seam to preserve the flare design (just). I ended up with 1-1/2″ extra ease at waist, tapering to nothing at knee, then widen back to same hem width as original design.
  • You can tell from all the wrinkles that Pressing is my least favourite part of sewing. Yeap, won’t be applying for a spot on the Great British Sewing Bee anytime soon. I mean can you just imagine Patrick Grant’s reaction to this pair? Shock horror. I do wonder though whether men’s trousers are easier to press than women’s, especially slim trousers given that women’s may have more curves than men’s. Mine definitely doesn’t lay flat.

The Verdict

Good thing I don’t really like the colour of this fabric. So no tears over the less than stellar fit.

But isn’t interesting (& maddening) how the same Block fits differently in different fabircs? A bit like Goldilock: Last pair was a bit too tight. This one a bit too loose. Hopefully the next one would be just right!

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Nakkashi Euphoria 11042 slim trousers

Putting my new Slim Pants Block straight to work now. First up is Slim Capri in the pants fabric from the Nakkashi Euphoria 11042 Anarkali outfit I ordered from India a while ago.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1-2 Self-drafted Nakkashi 5036 choli top + Agnès b. Hommes shirt; 3 Burda 2016-08-125 stripe front tie T; 4 Self-drafted Nakkashi 11042 anarkali tunic & dupatta shawl;

The Design & Pattern

Design Inspiration:

You can’t see much under the tunic in the photo. So apart from a slim silhouette & capri length I had to make up the rest. I decided on fly front with button closure for a more yin-yan look. Would have added pockets and belt loop as well, but the fabric doesn’t have much give and frays badly. So I omitted this to keep the silhoutte slim and avoid tears during construction.

Block Used: Slim Pants/Trouser Block

 

Changes Made

  • Design: Mid-rise, F side dart, B 2 darts, capri length, Fly front, no pocket.
  • Fitting: To accommodate lining bulk & my middle age spread, added ease by sewing approx 1/2″ SA instead of the 3/4″ SA added to the pattern for side seams & inseams. This gave me approx 7/8″ extra ease at the waist tapering to no extra ease at the bottom of the legs, almost 1/2″ extra crotch length.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Interfaced waistband, front fly extensions
  • The Jacquard & lining both fray badly, so had to overlock as soon as the pieces were cut.
  • Stretched bias edges – inseams, leg side seams, back crotch fork – as much as possible, which is not much in this fabric with no give.
  • Because of the angles of my crotch points, it’s easier to sew the inseams first, then crotch seam. This does mean it’s not possible to fit the inseam as I sew (like suggested by Pants for Real People).
  • Sewed side seams & inseams with 1/2″ seam allowance instead fo 3/4″ tapering back to 3/4″ at hem.

The Verdict

Not the most comfortable slim trousers thanks to the fabric. I reckon it’s synthetic. There’s also not much give. So despite being almost the same pattern as my Slim Pants Wearable Muslin 5 (apart from waistline), this pair feel more restrictive. Of course I would finish something a bit thicker & not so breathable just in time for a heat wave. I still have a fair bit of the fabric left. I think a skirt or dress with more ventilation may be a happier match.

On to the next pair!

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