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The Revamped Emma Bag Sewing Project and PDF Pattern from Chris W Designs

The original "Emma" and the new revamped pattern

I had lost my sewing mojo over the last few weeks, couldn't be asked to sew.  Then I was shocked out of it when Christine Welsh of Chris W Designs asked if I wanted to be a tester for her re-vamped "Emma" bag pattern!  I was thrilled, I jumped at it and chose to try the new flap version.

I rooted through my stash but I didn't have any leather/vinyl I wanted to use.  Instead I decided that this was the perfect time to finally use some of the fabric I bought from "Chang's" at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, London back in 2013.  I knew the right pattern would come along eventually.

Chang's supply handcrafted tie dye and batik work, and I picked out these two samples. I want to use the one on the right which I believe is  (Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that typically involves folding, twisting or bunching cloth and binding it, then dyeing it in indigo).

To go with it I am using some recycled denim from some old jeans, and a piece of this 'paisley' printed lightweight denim I bought here (sadly now out of stock) for the lining. As soon as I received the pattern (Saturday) I printed the pattern pieces and read the instructions through. Then I cut it out and fused the interfacing and fleece in place.  I had to piece the flap with a center seam and top-stitched both sides.

Next morning (Sunday) I started the bag construction.  The strap is made from three strips of fabric so I used some of the printed denim and the shibori.  However rather than use the heavy denim from the jeans, I used a strip of chambray from a skirt, so it wouldn't be too thick.  Christine used a natty trick with a pin to make her folds, I used my Clover Bias Binding Maker instead. I also got to use my latest gadget, the Silicon Finger Guards by Prym which meant I didn't steam my fingers when I pressed the strips.

I used my 'stitch in the ditch' foot with the needle on the far left to sew 1/8" from the edge and used a new jeans needle to handle the denim.  Once I had made the strips I needed to plait them together.  Mmm,  I seem to remember I knew how to do it but it's been a few years... okay, maybe more than a few.

So I asked my other half to show me how, as he likes to braid leather and he just did it for me instead as it was quicker.  Is that cheating? Didn't he do a good job though, nice and flat and even!  

Next I decided to add an applique butterfly to the flap, using all three fabrics.  I fused the pieces on with Bondaweb and stitched it in place with a narrow zig-zag stitch. Obviously this is not included in the pattern, but a flap is a great place to add a personal touch like this.  The center seam made it easy to place though!

The only hardware needed for the bag was a twist lock.  I usually use a heavy one that has 4 little grub screws to fit it together, but this time I am using a lightweight version that fits with two prongs that I bought from bobbingirl.co.uk.  I used the back plate to draw the opening then carefully punched and snipped out the center.  I used my sewing machine to sew round the opening, just outside the drawn line, to hold all the layers together.  Lastly I added Prym Fray Check around the edges. I find my seam ripper a handy tool for pushing the edge of the fabric behind the metal lip.

Once I was happy that it was fitting neatly with no bits showing, I added a little Gutermann's Ht2 Textile Glue to the back of the plate before fitting it. Then it was just a matter of fitting the face plate (again adding a little Gutermann's glue on the back) and bending the prongs back with pliers.  I use a sort of 'press and roll' motion.

When it came to fitting the twist part on the front of the bag I wasn't happy with the way the washer fitted.  The prongs would not line up properly so would not fold back flat. I cut a new washer from the lid of an ice cream tub instead, which worked fine.  Here you can see the twist part fitted, and also the slip pocket (which doesn't look straight) and my little key fob.

I decided to add the key fob as I chose to shorten my strap from the maximum cross-body length to my shoulder strap length.  This meant I was left with a spare piece, which seemed a waste of all that lovely plaiting, so I added a 1/2" lobster clasp one end and made it into a key fob! 

I fitted it next to the zipper pocket as you can just see here.  Normally I would have put it on the side gusset, but it would be too bulky with the strap there as well.The next morning (Monday) I fitted the completed lining inside the exterior and finished the bag off with top-stitching and a good press, then rushed off to take photos for Christine while the sun was shining!

The finished bag; the front, a close up of my butterfly applique on the flap, the open bag showing the twist lock fittings, the inside, and the back.  I absolutely love it! 

The finished size is 8" (20 cm) wide, 7" (18 cm) high and 2" (5 cm) deep.  For some reason it looks bigger here, but it is the perfect 'grab and go' size.  Read all about it and see the other tester's bags on Christine's blog here, where she tells you how to get the update if you bought the original version.  You can buy the new PDF pattern from Christine here.

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