Have you seen Maria Denmark’s new website? Very smart. She’s also been releasing some gorgeous patterns – & spreading tips for customising them to make them look unique. I’ve bought the Olivia tee and love it – will be posting more on that shortly. However today is all about accessories. At Christmas/ New Year I think, Maria released this cute pattern to make a perfectly wonderful every day handbag. The Lotta Lady bag.
It is “just the right size” to load up with ipad, book, water bottle, other ladylike essentials plus that imaginary wad of cash that is too big to fit in your back pocket. It is lined, has an all round gusset which houses a long zip (longer than a dress zip people, be equipped), and I have to say looks adorable with its graceful curves & shoulder straps (x2) – there is something that feels just a little bit vintage about its style & proportions.
This is the Lotta Lady bag. You can add your own inside pockets to help organise your effects (& make it easier to lay your hands on that imaginary wad of cash), but pocket pieces are not specifically part of the pattern – you make them to suit yourself (or not).
So I bought some “oilcloth” not long after downloading this pattern & had it waiting patiently for the bag-making urge to hit me. It arrived with the onset of spring & the prospect of being out & about more & wanting to look more “like a lady” rather than rely on coat pockets. Plus, what better reason to adopt a new bag than a trip to London?
Cutting out was simple, lining & outer fabric done quickly. I used a tip from Dave (Sewing Bee) to use the odd bit of scotch tape to secure pattern pieces to the waterproof oilcloth instead of pins. Nice one.
I contrived pockets based on phone & wallet & was ready to sew. It felt like it should be a quick Sunday afternoon’s project. Maria’s instructions are laden with photos & explain the construction very well. But guys. Manipulating *oilcloth* around those curved edges was a beast. Not only did it pucker but there was absolutely no ease in this awful “fabric” & that meant unpicking & that meant unwanted permanent puncture marks. So I did the best I could & didn’t swear too much. On the plus side, I absolutely love the zip insertion steps of the bag-making process- especially when there is a lining. So neat. So sharp. Love it.
Anyway. Apart from a few dodgy corners, my bag came together fine. The acid green polka dot lining provided some tang to the sky blue polka dot exterior. Spring colours. I was looking forward to using it.
So come the morning of my trip to London I loaded it with my bits & pieces & a whole lot more. You can fit a lot in- for information! I’d just put it onto my shoulder when I heard an unmistakable tearing sound
& saw that the bag’s seam where the straps are inserted & stitched (although reinforced) had shredded – the “fabric” literally split.
It has taken me a while to realise what went wrong. You see the fabric that I used is not real oilcloth, but more like tablecloth PVC. It has no strength, no fibres. It is plastic. Oilcloth contains a woven element & would be strong enough to cope with weight. This “fabric” was not suitable – my poor choice.
I had to make a quick swap on that morning for my trusty shopper (made using a “White Stuff” carrier bag as a template many moons ago.)
I am not giving up on the Lotta Lady bag though, the design is lovely & in email chat with Maria, (to try to understand where I went wrong) she’s said how much she uses hers & it has withstood all sorts of wear & tear. So the good news is that this bag does not use a lot of fabric and I have a couple of long zips, bought especially , waiting for inspiration to strike, plus allsorts of fabric in my “too big to throw away” scrap pile.
If I didn’t have other plans, this would be a perfect make in a few spare hours in the Easter break …..