Saturday, 8 November 2014

Almost Frocktober: Burda Style 05-2013-124 Petticoat and Frock versions. Sewing with silk-hemp and sheer fabric.


When I inadvertently sewed a see through Tiramisu, I developed a sudden need for a petticoat with a deep v neckline. Naturally, thinking of such a requirement, my mind instantly turned to Burda, who seem to specialize in chest exposing garments.
Fortunately for me, there were some magazines with possible frocks with sticky labels on them lying about on my sewing table, so it didn't take me long to find a candidate, Burda Style 05-2013-124.

 Technical drawing from
The only thing was, that I had no idea what fabric to use for a petticoat under a knit dress that would not cling, and would not be too hot to wear for a Spring to Summer garment. I was leaning towards silk charmeuse, this working so well under my merino knits for winter, but really, this is rather a warm fabric for our climate.
Delving deep into the what-was-I-thinking layers of the stash, I came up with some slippery, semi-translucent,slubby, bouncy fabric that I vaguely remembered was silk/hemp. I posted about this 2011 purchase here. (In the interest of unusual fabric reporting, the hemp/cotton sheets are wearing nicely and are now beautifully soft, and the hemp/cotton knit top is now just like a rag but I am still wearing it around the house because it is so comfortable- this made me more willing to try this unused fabric, which is really quite unusual - my husband said "plasticy")


I had some fun making this. I cut out a single layer (and used the Tiramisu skirt, without the center seam - its a similar shape but the skirt is more full). I used several different seam and edge finishes.
At the neckline, I used fold over elastic, slightly stretched. This worked really well, or would have worked really well, had I noticed that I had sewn one of the front bodice pieces on backwards before I applied the elastic.
I am now very practiced at unpicking 3 step zig zag stitch at 1.0mm length from fold over elastic. Sigh
For the underbust seam ( I gathered the bust instead of darts, as I'd enlarged to a D and didn't want to redraw the darts) I folded the gathered seam allowance over the waistband allowance by hand (the gathers were too fiddly by machine) and whipstitched.
For the waistband, side seams and shoulder seams, I used french seams.
For the armscyes (these are trimmed to make the petticoat sit fully underneath the outer garment), I used a fine bias finish - applying bias binding to the right side, turning the bias over the trimmed seam allowance and edgestitching at 1/8 inch, then turning the bias to the wrong side and topstitching. This gave a very neat, thin edge on the silk hemp.
The silk hemp ravels very easily. As it felt so plasticy, I did a burn test, where the fabric burnt like paper, and left long strands of ?hemp after I blew out the flame. This is definitely all natural fibres!

Having finished the petticoat, all the sheer fabrics in my stash suddenly looked very appealing as a frock.
Somehow, I cut out another version of 124 from a mere 1.3m of silk chiffon print that I may have bought to make a scarf.
The chiffon was pre treated in a gelatine bath to improve its handling qualities. I cut out using a rotary cutter, and continued using the size 60 universal needle I had used for the sheer silk hemp garment. This time I used the fine bias edge finish on the (raised 5 cm) neckline as well as the armscyes, but the other seams are mostly finished in the same manner as in the petticoat version.
For both versions, the fabric under the invisible zip is reinforced - in the petticoat with a woven nylon ribbon, and in the chiffon frock with a strip of silk organza selvage.

 The silk chiffon dress was a challenge for me. I tried finishing the neckline with the same technique as the armscyes in the petticoat.
Unfortunately I neglected to first stay stitch the neckline, and the neckline rippled in an unsightly manner. (The armscyes in the silk chiffon, finished in the same manner, behaved perfectly)


I tried to fix this with clear elastic, but this attempt failed.
Eventually, I took 2 small pleats from the neckline on either side of centre front , handsewing these, and was content with the fit and finish. However, it is not my best work. I anticipate becoming a better seamstress with my next silk chiffon frock!


I was pleased with my other seam finishes on the sheer fabric. Having just practiced on the silk hemp, I was able to make french seams throughout, including the curved underbust seam, which contains gathers. I pat myself on the back a bit for this.

In the end, I have a pretty, floaty dress in time for seasonal socialising, which does not photograph to advantage on a windy day.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Frocktober: Tiramisu


It is highly unlikely that a dubious not-what-I-expected internet purchase fabric and a pattern-bought-for-other-than-aesthetic-appeal would, in combination, turn into my new favourite at-home dress, but somehow, 2 wrongs have made a right. How did this happen? Sewing serendipity is not a frequent occurrence under these circumstances.


I was making a not wearable muslin, out of a sense of duty and thriftiness. The pattern, you have already read in the title, was Tiramisu from Cake Patterns. I bought this pattern last Spring in the pre release sale, thinking that although I had several wrap and mock wrap knit dress patterns, and I loathe cut on sleeves, it would be a Good Thing to buy a pattern from a relatively local blogger- newly-turned-sewing-businesswoman in the initial throes of her start up. My vague thought that I would make up this dress straight away and get it over with was instantly killed by the teenage fashion panel, who thought the pattern illustration looked dumpy. Dumpy is not a good word. I realise that there is a unwritten rule in blogging that when a micro pattern company is deliberately using "realistic" illustrations you are not supposed to criticize them, but there you are, Dumpy. We must be indoctrinated by the fashion industry to expect 6 foot underweight imaginary models for pattern illustrations, very sad.
This is also why I gave in to the commands took my teenage fashionista photographer's advice to pose in a "look at me" manner as above. I am astounded by the apparent skinniness of the first shot. How deceptive! I shall have to stand side on and leaning backwards for the rest of my life.
Unfortunately  I do not think this is possible.


I knew that there were many, many completely non-dumpy versions of this dress on the internet, but one's personal teenage fashion panel is fairly influential, and the pattern had a dumpy aura in our house that was hard to shake off.
I have a long term goal to use all my patterns and not have lurking fabric stash dwellers. To try out this dumpy dress, that could possibly be a dress-about-the-house if my daughters were not at home to despise it, I used a striped rayon knit that is very thin. This was not a fabric I would have purchased in a shop, but on the internet it was called medium weight and suitable for t shirts. Some people must like to wear see- through t shirts. I really thought I would be using up two dubious possessions at once, and clearing out my sewing materials oversupply.
I sort of fancied the illustration of the stripey version of the dress, although personally I usually think that cutting out a knit on the bias is a waste of fabric. Knits already drape and stretch rather a lot. Increasing the drape and stretch on my thin and not-very-stable knit by following the bias cut out was possibly a bad decision, but I did it anyway.
However, I did not throw caution completely to the wind. I stabilised a lot - more than suggested by the pattern instructions.

The horizontal seams are stablised with lingerie elastic, no stretch. The bias vertical seams are stabilized with woven selvage ( I used woven selvage where the pattern instructed fusible interfacing as well). I added clear elastic (slight stretch) when topstitching the neck binding.
 I didn't use the pockets. Pockets in a knit have a tendency to stretch whenever you put anything in them, which I find unappealing.

I quite liked this pattern as I cut it out - several cup sizes, including A as different from B, and up to D, check. Draw your own waist measurement, check. However, having only one size for high bust 30 (inches) to 34 (inches)? Uncheck. I am the smallest size, and so are my daughters? Come on, I am 43! I am not skinny! My daughters are not the same size as me, and yet are fully grown and quite normal sized young women, and this dress does not come in their sizes, as the smallest size was fine on me, and like a sack on them - that would be the 10 cm of extra ease they don't need at the bust! Taking in this much at the side seams as suggested is a lot of distortion, and when I pinned it, still looked awful on them. In my opinion, this pattern starts at a size 34 high bust, which would be about a size 38 in Burda, a size 12 in big 4 patterns (or 10 really, as Big 4 have a lot of ease). This is limiting.

I did not like this pattern as I sewed it up. 1/2 inch as a seam allowance simply meant that I sewed all seams at 5/8inch, 1.5cm, as this is what I am used to sewing, and where the guidelines are on my machine. Using a non standard seam allowance just for the sake of it is annoying.Knits don't need this much seam allowance, but what is wrong with using other standard measurements such as 1cm,( 3/8 inch) or even 1/4 inch. Grumble, grumble.
It was with the full expectation of being about to throw this in the the bin that I tried on the dress after wasting and afternoon sewing it indulging in some experimental sewing.
It looked much better than I expected.
Only see through.
I made a petticoat (more about this later).
I am eating humble pie.
It is a terrific dress pattern.
I even like the cut on sleeves, how strange.


I will consider buying more of these patterns - but not for my daughters.

 Stashbusting statistics 2.3 m or so of overly thin rayon knit from an unmentionable internet source, 2013 + 2.3 m or so of thicker rayon knit from the remnant warehouse 2013.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Threshold shorts

Melissa was very apologetic about sending all her pattern testers a running shorts pattern to try out in September, but it worked out just fine for my family. Sometimes it is a benefit to be in the southern hemisphere. This pattern was released a few weeks ago, Threshold Shorts.

I wanted to write about these shorts previously, but although I've made several pairs already, they have hardly been out of the laundry for photos.

Here they are running past.
See, I almost caught them (That's an XYT top, also from Fehr Trade)

This, you might notice, is the first pair belonging to Daughter the second, who trains most days, and competes in middle and long distance running and triathalon at regional and state level (school athletics). She likes these shorts, and compares them favourably to her many pairs of RTW running shorts including those from high end brands. (She might be a bit spoilt with athletic gear). Her only request for successive pairs is that I include a drawstring at the waist in addition to the the elastic.
This is easy to add - you just need to make buttonholes in the cut on waistband before sewing it down as a casing with a gap, (you don't use Melissa's elastic application instructions) and you thread through both the elastic and drawstrings through the gap in the casing, then sew the elastic to fit).
Fabric: woven nylon supplex (2oz) from The Rainshed (2009 or so), piping and binding from prepackaged polycotton bias binding.
Most of the other versions I've seen on blogs are in stretch fabrics, so I am pleased to have tried them in the woven so I can let you know that they work very well in this fabric too.
These are a lot of fun to sew, with beautiful curving seams that just cry out for piping. I could not resist this even in the test pair.


I also really like the binding and the shaping of the bottom of the leg.
I embellished this with some machine embroidery for sewing amusement.

Personally I find it very exciting to have a utilitarian garment, tested in the activity for which it is intended by multiple end users, that is actually interesting to sew.


I am very impressed by Melissa's dedication to making a pattern work for everybody. She sends out an already really good pattern, then graciously listens and responds to all the whinging about very minor issues and personal sewing difficulties, then changes the pattern to accommodate lots of tweaks and expand the already comprehensive instructions-for-the spatially challenged (my words, not hers), and also to include a variety of fitting tips. If it were my precious pattern I'd spent months making, I know I would be feeling rather protective about it.

I love new patterns, and have quite the addiction to them, so I quite enjoy testing patterns, but I am quite ruthless about them. I have tested things for another new pattern company, and not blogged about it, as it is not my intention to provide pseudo advertising in addition to making up a "free" pattern with my own fabric and in my precious sewing time (see, I am a nasty cynical person).  I didn't blog about the other pattern company because a) I had nothing particularly nice to say about the very simple pattern and b) I thought there were major faults in the pattern, and noted that there were no changes at all to the finished product - making me think that the pattern "testing"  of this other new business was a lie. I won't be wasting my time or stash testing for that particular company again.


 Melissa has an unusual ability to listen to her testers, and it seems to me, that she is dedicated to providing patterns that not only look like up to date athletic RTW, but are ideal technical garments for vigorous activity. I have multiple garments in 3 of the patterns I have from her line, and will continue to use them for our exercise gear. Had I bought them, they would be some of my most value-for-money patterns (I have A Lot of patterns) due to the number of times they have been used already. Please note, this is unsolicited admiration. Melissa provides a pattern pdf to those who test, but no conditions are attached to receipt of this pattern other than a request to test it and to provide feedback.

Here is my second pair for me, in which I tried out all the pockets. For me, the pockets need to be deepened - instructions for this are in the final pattern.

 Unfortunately, this pair is not yet up to vigorous activity.
I lengthened these a tad (instructions for lengthening in the pattern), for middle aged legs, but made no fitting adjustments as yet (I did also increase the waist height, prefering a wider elastic here). As is usual with my trouser-resistant-figure, there are some fitting changes needed to make these practical for running - notably a front thigh expansion adjustment, which Melissa has now included in her pattern. Surprisingly, I do not need to change the back crotch depth, which I usually do for my generosity of backside, but this may be due to the large amount of ease at the waist - controlled by elastic and drawstring.

These however, after additional lengthening for my personal preference for leg coverage, have proved very useful to wear over my swimmers during a sedate walk to the local swimming pool - and also as board shorts at the beach, so quite useful after all.

Stashbusting statistics about 2 m of remanants, nylon supplex The Rainshed, 2009 (3pr shorts)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Wardrobe sewing: The winter work 6pac demonstrating unusual virtue

I think a lot about  my wardrobe. I find this an engaging pastime. Unfortunately, most of the thinking seems to avoid the fact that I spend a considerable part of my time at work, which necessitates trousers. I have not yet overcome my aversion to sewing trousers. Thank goodness, I can force myself to sew them by joining in a sewing project. (I assure you, buying them would be more work, and with no chance of success, but still, wasting valuable sewing time on trousers is deadening to the sewing enthusiasm)


To entice myself to sew dull work clothes, I started with my fabulous-almost-a-disaster winter coat.  I told myself in October last year, when I finished it just in time for warm weather,(as one does when the sewing ambition outstrips the available sewing opportunities), that I would definitely wear-it-all-the-time in order to distribute the cost of the fabric over many occasions of use. This is how I manage to convince myself that pricey designer Winter fabric fits into my tightwad fiscally responsible life in the subtropics.
Unusual virtue 1.
Completing the entire project

I report success. Not only have I actually (although belatedly) completed a dull work 6 pac mostly according to my plan, I wore the coat nearly every work day for 2 months (assisted by a particularly cold Winter), on my pleasant, short but sometimes frosty walk there, because these 3!! pairs of trousers all co-ordinate quite nicely with it. (Sewing trousers is the second unusual virtue - I can't bear to write a post solely about the trousers so they are previously unblogged -2 Burda Style 04-2009-118 variations, one self drafted and all tropical or lightweight wool, all lined with cotton batiste).

technical drawing from
 You can probably see that my personalised versions are rather different, I don't do cuffs, and the zip is on the side (blue pair) or at the back (grey pair).

 I do admit that the third pair, grey, has been languishing in a partially sewn manner on my sewing table for at least 2 months and has not actually been worn with the winter coat- yet. I wore them today though.


Fortunately, you can't see any of the blouses when I wear the coat, so I didn't have to think hard about that element of co-ordination. Blouse 1 here, Blouse 2 here and 3 here, Burda Style (when it was BWOF) 01-2008-106/7
(I have also worn the coat quite often over my lone pair of denim trousers in my soccer mum role). I am loving having a knit coat that bears no relation to polar fleece other than its flexibility.

Unusual virtue 2.
Stash and scrapbusting
The blue and grey trousers are not my usual colours, but I am quite happy with them for work clothes with some warmer shades in the blouses to prevent a terrible sallow appearance from scaring off all my clients. As I have purchased a few fabric bundles (see fiscally responsible self reporting above - it takes creative self accounting to convince oneself that purchasing a fabric bundle is really saving money, but I am quite accomplished at this aspect of fiscal irresponsibility), there are beautiful quality fabrics in my stash that are not necessarily perfectly suited to me, and I don't want to palm them all off on my long suffering daughters. All the fabrics used in this wardrobe (cough, except the fabric of the coat) are from 2010 or earlier stash - or are remnants from other projects.

Unusual virtue 3.
Wardrobe culling
I actually threw out one dismally faded pair of trousers and  one pair with unfortunate signs of insect affection. I don't think I've ever thrown out a pair of trousers that  fit me and had mostly intact fabric/hardware before. This unfortunate tendency to retain clothing has led to occasions of unsuitable scruffiness in the past. I now only have respectable and presentable work trousers in my wardrobe - not even an laundry emergency pair lurking in the top of the cupboard.( I may regret this)

 Unusual virtue 4.
Thinking about the accessories. As my (inside whilst at work) work wardrobe is invariably a pair of trousers and a blouse, my opportunities to accessorise are limited.
I made an accessory. This is a leather version of the Hot Patterns Nombad Hobo Bag. My accessory mostly co-ordinates with my new work wardrobe. This is much smarter looking than taking one's lunch to work in a supermarket bag. I also already have work shoes to co-ordinate with the trousers (one pair black, one pair dark brown). There will be no new trousers languishing in the wardrobe because I don't have the right shoes.I may be learning something from all these wardrobe planning threads after all.

Unusual virtue 5.

Cutting my losses when the inner layer cardigan did not look good with a collared shirt and trousers. - Formerly, I would have made a different cardigan, or different tops, or gone off on a tangent to force the cardigan into the 6pac. Instead, I worked out that I did not really need it to complete the wardrobe for my needs, and kept to the core plan of trousers and shirts for work with something to wear as an outer layer for commuting. I virtuously made a third pair of trousers to make sure it really was a 6 pack. See my halo?. I have left the inner cardigan in the "wardrobe" shot because it will remind me not to make it again in a work colour.

Unusual virtue 6
Not starting a new project in the middle of the schedule. Unfortunately this is a very unusual virtue for me, I failed to display this virtue.
I was very distracted by the Vivienne Files posts about a starting from scratch wardrobe, and the discussion concerning this that started in July. I feel it is an unusual virtue to have restrained myself from instantly starting a 4 piece collection in the same colours that I would never wear for work anyway. However, I did make the blue trousers without any pockets, belt loops or details, to make them unnoticeable, as the Vivienne Files suggest, and unfortunately, I find them not only boring, but impractical.
The other pairs of trousers have at least one pocket for my phone, which sometimes needs to be on my person whilst both hands (and shoulders) are free. This is how I did it.  I think my  pleasure in wearing hand made clothing is more "non boring basics" as described in Imogen Lamport's post here.

To reward myself for all this virtue I am planning a lovely virtual shopping trip with some vivid prints- or maybe I should put in some more work on that formal dress.


Here is the walking to work look, which I probably should not admit to, as I allow my hair to dry on the way there.... I promise it looks OK by the time I get there (you can see why I wear a hat in the top photo ;)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Project formal: The day version, frankenpattern Burda Style 12-2013-122 and 123 with a dash of Colette Parfait

When I made a formal dress for my older daughter, two years ago, she wanted a lattice smocked bodice, so I made a practice version of her formal dress in linen,as a day (or casual evening) version, so as to test the properties of this never-seen-anywhere lattice smocking application.

 This time, as I am not manipulating fabric and drafting my own bodice pattern, I saw no need for this step in the process. However, daughter the second, pointing out that the day version has been an extremely useful garment for her sister, described a sense of unfair garment distribution when I disclosed my intention to move straight into tracing pattern pieces on organza for the evening extravanganza version after fitting her dull calico toile. Being putty in her hands when she fancies a dress I fancy sewing, I have obediently made a more casual version of her frock, as a trial, using the pattern pieces I had selected for the evening gown, and practicing my techniques and finishes for sheers with a lace overlay.


technical drawing from

The bodice is taken from Burda Style 12-2013-122, which conveniently comes in a size 34, so only needed petiting and taking in at the waist.
technical drawing from
The skirt, which I really did want to try before wrestling with the chiffon, is from 123A of the same magazine issue and starts at size 72, which is the tall version of size 36 - too big, and my daughter is petite, so normally I would avoid a "tall" pattern like the plague. Fortunately, as this is a simple half circle skirt I was able to merely add a  big seam allowance at the waist line ( 2inches) and to draw a line parallel to the long-legged hem length at a more appropriate level to make this skirt approximate my daughter's measurements. The skirt was a bit difficult to handle due to using slightly unstable lace. I cut out the lace and thecotton batiste underlining in one layer (as I did for the bodice) then handbasted a strip of silk organza to the waist at both the cutting line and the seamline of the lace and the batiste separately, whilst the skirt was still lying on my cutting mats to minimize distortion. To fit the skirt to the bodice, I marked centre front  and back of both pieces, pinned, then draped the skirts around my daughter whilst she wore the bodice, and took in the single seam at the side (where I had chosen to place the invisible zip opening)

The bodice pieces were sewn with the lace and batiste together as one layer, and lined with another layer of batiste ( the pattern gives a bias layout for many of the lining pieces). I used silk organza to interface the upper edge of the finished outer bodice layer before applying the lining,and understitching the seam to prevent the lining showing to the right side.


The two layers of the skirt were sewn as one at the waist, but separately in the skirt itself, below the zipper. I reinforced the lace seam with a strip of silk organza selvage.


The straps are from the Collette Parfait sundress. I like these wide straps for lingerie coverage, and also because the shaping at the shoulder keeps them actually on the shoulder. Instead of having the seams at the sides, I moved the seam to the underside of each of the front and back shoulder piece for a clean finish at the edges of the strap.

Having bias sections, the frock was hung for a few days before hemming - lace layer with a 3 thread rolled hem on the overlocker and batiste layer with a machine rolled hem.

She is very pleased with this frock, and although she plans to leave it languishing in her wardrobe until after the formal so as to keep her fancy dress a Big Secret (although really, I don't think any one who doesn't sew would guess that both garments are from the same pattern), I am allowed to show it off for the blog. You are under strict instructions to ignore her sock tan line and to instead admire her beautiful shoes from Grandma. Isn't she lucky?


I am also lucky, because fortuitously, this frankenpattern frock has been made within the time frame when there is a frankenpattern challenge on at Pattern Review, so I shall enter this concoction (which was very easy to franken) just for fun. I am in favour of adapting patterns.

2014 FRANKENPATTERN (Sept 16th - Oct 15th)

Stashbusting statistics: about 2 metres lace yardage (Jan 2014 Remnant Warehouse, about 2 metres of cotton batiste, 2009)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sorbetto second serving. Lace.

One of the advantages of taking on an ambitious project, is the opportunity to stretch the sewing repetoire. Having lace in The Formal Dress means that I have been making practice garments with lace in order to refresh my skills. This has led to some very pleasing garments as a (much more useful) side effect.


I made this little top to use up some remnants, but ended up liking it just as much as the practice dress (which I haven't shown you yet due to henious inavailability of the model)

The pattern is Sorbetto again, this time made in its original sleeveless version, and with the centre panel folded out.
The underlining is poly/cotton batitste, and the outer lace a non-stretch but mysteriously non-ravelling lace yardage I bought a few months ago from The Remnant Warehouse.


I sewed the lace and underlining as one( using a size 60 universal needle) except for a few centimetres at the side seam, where I sewed the pieces separately  to allow a free hanging, shorter hem for the lining.


 The neck and armscyes are finished with bias binding made from the batiste, turned to the inside and sewn to the underlining by hand - as per the excellent pattern instructions.


To finish the lace hem, I sewed the trimmed scalloped lace edging to the lace yardage using a zigzag stitch, following the inner curves of the lace motifs. This also makes the top a more suitable length for my tall daughter-the-first.

I am very pleased with the effect. Sorbetto is rapidly becoming one of my favourite patterns, and I am keeping to my goal of restricting small pieces of fabric in my stash.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Hobo Bag in leather

Back in April, I bought myself leather to make the Hot Patterns Hobo Bag. I nearly made it straight away, in fact it got to 3/4 completion in a week, then I wrecked it, so it had to sit in the sewing room in disgrace for some time before undergoing rehabilitation of sorts.

First the good parts.
I thought I'd made the bag before, but actually, I had previously made the Soho Slouch Tote, for a reversible linen/hemp bag that was definitely on its last legs by April, as the denim hemp was disintegrating -just like the jeans I made from the same fabric. I found the Soho Slouch very useful, but seriously lacking in pockets, and I much prefer leather bags to those made of cloth.

It could have been a very bad decision to make my first version of the Hobo Bag pattern in leather, as having very large pieces, is probably less suited to a leather bag than the Soho Slouch- it took 4 kangaroo skins, and the scraps were legion. Had it not been a shape I like, this might have been rather an expensive experiment. I must have been feeling very confident when I cut this out (I used a rotary cutter). As lining, I used a thick shirting cotton from Michael's fabrics
I enlarged the internal zipped pocket of the pattern, in cotton, then continued with the following additions


1. Leather sunglasses pouch in the strap - the top is gathered with elastic in a casing.This was a little difficult to construct with the edges turned in with the leather, and I decided to have all the other pockets inside the bag on the lining - however, it is in a particularly useful position for quick access to my sunglasses and I would repeat this pocket in leather for a second version.
2. Leather loops, one for a pen, one with a small clasp for my keys and an USB. I would add another loop in a second version and possibly also a loop strap with buckle - It is amazing how many things I carry about that need to stay upright!
3. Cotton pocket with a buttoning flap made to the dimensions of my phone in its wallet case.
4. My best addition, never found in a normal handbag - a waterbottle pouch made like a poacher's pocket with folded expanding corners and elastic at the top in a casing. I have found with recent use that this pocket is also remarkably useful for a folding umbrella on days so wet that no waterbottle is necessary ;)

Having previously sewn kangaroo leather, I was all prepared to glue and stitch with my handcranked Singer as previously, but a bit of trail and error allowed me to construct this primarily using a size 100 needle and jeans topstitching thread at 3.5mm stitch length on my Janome after my 1933 Singer had an episode of o ring disintegration that required ordering a new part from the U.S.A.
I didn't bother gluing, and used a teflon foot, but made no other concessions to sewing with leather. Things went swimmingly, even when sewing and turning seams in the leather through 4 thicknesses, until I came to the topstitching of the incorporated handles. At this point, the extra thickness over joining seams led to horrible stitches and stretching of the top layer of the leather. I was not happy.
Now most sources about sewing with leather say you cannot unpick. This is completely true, unpicking does leave holes and marks, however, I unpicked, and I have decided that these damaged areas are mostly apparent to myself, rather than the casual observer.

Here is the unpicked, then hand sewn stitching around the edges of my bag. Yes, a little bit unsightly, but not too bad for for use in my opinion. The hand stitching took ages, and was very hard on my hands - I used some of the original needle holes, but for most stitches had to force the needle through at least one layer of the leather, and as there were several already sewn layers to get through, it was not possible to use an awl. I rested the needle on a nice thick Ikea catalogue and pulled the leather down over the needle for each stitch. Its not a technique I recommend! and was the main reason this bag took a long time to complete.


Overall, I am very pleased with this bag. It has room for all my bits and pieces, even a nice large knitting project, some groceries of the bread+milk- has- run- out variety, or a parcel-to-post, yet my phone and keys never fall to the bottom. I love the colour  and softness of the leather, and it is comfortable over my shoulder.
I will use this bag until it wears out - then I might make an even better version with beautiful topstitching the first time around.