Messenger Bag for Spring

Spring Messenger BagSpring has finally sprung in these parts, and this weekend it was time to switch over to a spring/summer purse. But I didn’t really have one I wanted to switch to, so I made one—the beauty of knowing how to sew!

First, I stopped by Sewn Studio to find some fabrics. I thought about getting heavyweight fabric but decided to just go with regular weight once I saw this pretty blue floral fabric by Joel Dewberry. Next I hunted around for messenger bag tutorials and ended up using this one from No Time To Sew as a guide. The size and shape were just about what I was looking for, and the instructions are nice and clear.

As I cut out my pieces, I made the bag a bit longer than was called for in the tutorial—her bag is about 8 inches long and mine is a little over 9 inches. I also changed up some of the pockets.

Spring Messenger Bag outside panels

Above are the outside panels for the bag, which I stiffened with fusible fleece. I thought her idea for the panel pocket was super cute, so I made one for the front panel. For the back outside panel, I added a small, low zippered pocket for keys.

Spring Messenger Bag lining panels

The lining panels, above, are interfaced with just plain fusible. I added another zippered pocket on one panel; on the other I made a divided pocket for my phone, hand sanitizer, and a pen. I love knowing exactly what I need in my bags!

The tutorial called for an adjustable strap, but I just didn’t feel like fussing with that. So I made just a regular one. But I did feel like fussing with a two-fabric strap, and I wanted to get it nice and stiff, so I again used both the fusible interfacing and the fusible fleece.

Spring Messenger Bag strap folded

I cut the strap sections to 3 inches wide and the fusibles to 2 inches wide. I ironed the fusibles to the center of the strap fabric, leaving the 1/2-inch seam allowances unfused. I thought sewing a tube with the strap and turning it right side out with all that fusible would be tough. So I sewed one long seam, with wrong sides facing, and then folded up the seam allowances for the second seam.

Spring Messenger Bag strap pinned

I then pinned the folded seam allowances together and sewed about 1/8 inch from the edge. It’s not perfect, but it looks good. I think it helped that I could press the seam allowances crisply thanks to the fusibles forming a guideline.


Spring Messenger Bag side

Overall, I’m happy with the way it turned out. I kind of like that the side of the bag has two fabrics, and I think the inside fabric of the strap adds a nice pop of color. The strap could have been a smidge longer than 40 inches, just because I like to my bags to hang a bit below my hipbone.

The bag is already filled up and in use. Hooray for spring!


Canton Inspiration


This past weekend, Greg and I took a little mini vacation to celebrate our anniversary (three big years!). Our destination? Canton, Ohio. Why, you might ask. Well, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is there, and that’s always held some interest for me. But I knew Canton was the place for us to visit when I heard it is the home to the National First Ladies Museum. When I hear National First Ladies Museum, two things come to mind: dishes and dresses. And what’s not to love about that?

The tour of that museum started in a bank building a few doors down from the main museum. In the bank they had only a portion of their collection of official china sets from different presidents. The oldest dishes I remember seeing were Lincoln’s; my favorite were Harry Truman’s (because they had a pretty teal edge).

The bank building also housed the special exhibits, and right now they are showing The Art of First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson: American Impressionist. The paintings were all small landscapes, all nicely done, but I have to admit, I would have preferred a dress exhibit.

Next we walked over to the Ida Saxton McKinley House, which was Ida McKinley’s family home, although the McKinley’s did live there for a short time as well. The first floor of the home had been gutted years ago, but it was now restored to close to what it would have looked like in the Victorian era.

McKinley wallpaper 2

This photo shows the many different wallpapers on the wall and ceiling of the front entry of the home. I love how the Victorians mixed patterns.

McKinley wallpaper

There were photographs of some of the home taken in the late 1800s, and the photos were used to restore the rooms as accurately as possible. This wallpaper is an exact replica of the wallpaper in the dining room of the home. Great texture.

McKinley wallpaper 3

The second and third floors of the home had more of the original woodwork and furnishings. This wallpaper combo was in the office of William McKinley; the overall vibe of the room was masculine, but there’s no getting away from pink wallpaper on the ceiling. The ballroom of the home was dedicated to all the First Ladies and included photos and bios of each.

First Ladies Flash Cards

At the gift shop, I picked up a pack of First Ladies Flash Cards. It turns out, I do not know my First Ladies. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t know my presidents that well either. A few of my favorite images from the deck: (top row) Lucy Hayes, Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft, (bottom row) Lou Hoover, Grace Coolidge, Jacqueline Kennedy.

McKinley Memorial

Since we were in McKinley mode, we decided to go to the McKinley Memorial and Presidential Library and Museum. The Memorial was on a hill overlooking a park and cemetery.

McKinley Memorial floor

McKinley Memorial floor 2

Inside the Memorial were the sarcophagi of Ida and William McKinley and their two small daughters. I love the marble flooring.

The Presidential Museum was really more of the Stark County Historical Museum. But there were several items that caught my attention including an early vacuum cleaner and the face of an old clock.

Vintage vacuum

Clock face

The next day we had a great time at the Pro Football Hall of Fame (sorry, I was too busy looking at Packer stuff to take photos). And later in the day, we stopped by the Belden Village Mall where I found this lovely tile design in the women’s bathroom. What a perfect quilt design!

Belden Village tile

We also did a bit of hiking, stopped by one comic book store and one fabric store, and even got caught up with Game of Thrones thanks to free HBO at the hotel. Definitely a fun and relaxing weekend.

Tote Bag Swap

Tote bag for swap

For the April meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild we were asked to bring a tote bag to swap. I was in the mood to make something small but challenging, so I purchased some heavy clear vinyl and intended to make a clear storage bag for the swap. But it turns out, vinyl is kind of hard to work with. And even the patterns that called for vinyl required that the piece be turned inside out, which creased and distorted the vinyl too much for my tastes.

Aborted vinyl bag

So, I decided against challenging and went with a simple and fun bag I’d made in the past. The pattern is the Reversible Tote from the book Stitch by Stitch by Deborah Moebes.

The bag is very basic, but that leaves a lot of room for modifications. Instead of cutting the bag pieces to 18 inches square, I decided to make mine a bit smaller at 15 inches square. And while the pattern doesn’t have pockets, I like to add at least one to my bags.

Tote for swap pocket piece

Tote bag for swap detail

This time I opted for a simple flat pocket that’s lined with the fabric I used on the outside of the bag. I sewed it to one of the lining pieces, adding a seam down the center to create two separate pockets.

I also added interfacing to the lining pieces, just to give the bag a bit more body. Next time, I want to remember to add the interfacing to the outside pieces rather than the lining (it just felt odd to me to have the lining stiffer than the outside), and I need to remember to interface the handles. I kicked myself last time I made this bag for not interfacing the handles, so I wrote myself a note in the book for next time.

Tote bag for swap

The interfacing gave the bag a very cute shape, I think. And look at this seam matching.

Tote for swap detail 2

Impressive, I know. Now, maybe this is the only seam that matches this well, but they’re all closer than I’ve gotten in the past.

At the meeting, I was thrilled to receive this cute bag from the lovely and talented Andie Johnson.

Andie bag

The front of the bag is a UFO block that she put to very good use. Look at all that great quilting. And her boxed corners meet up perfectly.

Andie bag detail

The inside of the bag is nice and deep, and it even included a bit of fabric and a cute note card. So much fun. And I like that the zipper allows the bag to open all the way.

As luck would have it, Andie received my tote, too. She seems pleased with it, despite the lack of interfacing in the handles. I think I officially have the bag-making bug again, so off to find some fun patterns!