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The Stow-It-All Bag Sewing Pattern from Chris W Designs - My New Tote!

I find I need help to stay on top of my 'to do' list these days.  I get so annoyed with myself when I go out with a list and mail and find them still in my bag when I get home!  So I decided what I really needed was a bag with a clear exterior pocket that I could pop my lists and mail in, where I could see them and not forget them.

The New "Stow-it-All"

Now I could just use my trusty old Style pattern again, but I really want to move on, and after the experience of making the 'Quattro' I wanted to make a designer bag again!  I started looking for a pattern I could use and found Chris's newest bag the "Stow-it-All" .  I checked with her that I could use vinyl for the pockets on one side, then bought the pattern and downloaded it.

I have now finished the bag, which is beautiful, and I love it.  It took me much too long to make as I had to;

Here are my clear vinyl pockets on the back of the bag.  I used the vinyl doubled for strength, and divided it into two pockets in place of three.  I used the lining fabric to bind the top edge in keeping with the front.  

My Mistakes

So now I am going to share my mistakes with you, so you can avoid making them, and also pass on a couple of tips you might find useful!

Number One - I quickly realised something was wrong, but I couldn't see what I had done.  I sent an e-mail and a picture to Chris, who pointed out I had managed to tape the pattern pieces together the wrong way round!  There is an exterior slip pocket A and an exterior slip pocket A lining.  They both have a top and bottom piece and I managed to switch the bottom pieces. So make sure you double check you have got them the right way round!  

Number Two - I don't have a local store for bag hardware, so I ordered it all on-line.  I was excited at the thought of using a twist lock for the first time, and chose a nice oval shaped lock.  What I didn't do was check the size.  When it arrived it was huge, the twist lock was twice the size I needed.  Everything involving the lock was put on hold until a new one, the right size, was posted out to me.  So remember to check the size!

Number Three - Chris suggests using template plastic for the bag bottom, and bag feet.  I had a piece of white Correx I thought would work well instead.  Until I realised I would have to wrestle it through a small gap in the lining!  Correx is rigid, not flexible at all and I panicked, worried I would break my stitches, or the correx!  I carefully undid all the feet and washers and tape and took it out, and then turned the bag right side out and tried to fit it all back in again through that same gap.  My other half took pity on me when he saw me struggling, and fitted it for me.  Got to love that man!  Template plastic or plastic canvas might be better for you!

The recessed zipper is so neat, the tabs are cute and I love all the polka dots!

So, aside from those three mistakes (which mainly slowed the whole process down) the making was straight forward and enjoyable!  Chris's instructions are clear and easy to follow.  The reason I originally got into using rivets was from reading a tutorial by Chris in her blog, so it was thanks to her that I was fully equipped and happy to use them on this bag!


Fabrics - I used two curtain fabrics by Clarke & Clarke for the exterior, 'Rosebud' in sage and 'Dotty' in rose.  The lining was White on Pink 'Polka Dots' by Rose & Hubble.  I decided to reverse my flap once I had made it, as I preferred the effect of the lining on the outside.

InterfacingChristine suggests Pellon products which I can't get in the U.K. so I used;-

  • Vilene H250 in place of Pellon 931TD (fusible non-woven), seen above fused to the lining fabric
  • Vilene G700 in place of Pellon Shape-Flex SF101 (fusible woven)
  • Vilene fusible fleece H630 in place of Pellon 987F

You can see the effect here.  The the limp piece on the right is the lining fabric without any interfacing.  The one in the middle has woven interfacing applied, and the one on the left has the non-woven interfacing as seen above.  (Sorry the focus is a bit off).  All from my usual supplier, Julia at Gone to Earth 

Bag Base - I have ordered some plastic template sheets for my stock cupboard, but I note it is not very big.  I used a piece of Correx for the base (plastic corrugated sheets, used for "For Sale" signs etc.) which I bought at my local patchwork shop.  It was large enough to cover the base easily and it is a nice product to use, BUT IT IS RIGID, NOT FLEXIBLE AT ALL (see "mistakes" above!) but now it is in I am very happy with it!

Soft & Stable - I tend to avoid gussets wherever possible, and using Soft & Stable on a gusset can be awkward.  I remember the first time I used it this way, to make my Butterfly Bag.  So I have these tips to pass on;

When sewing gusset -

  1. Find and mark the centres of the sides and bottom of both the front and back of your bag and the gusset
  2. Fit your walking foot
  3. Use your slowest speed
  4. Set your needle to always stop "down" if your machine has that ability
  5. Every time you stop stitching, for whatever reason, take the next stitch by moving the needle manually.  That way you can adjust it if it has moved (which happens all too often) before you make a crooked stitch !

When sewing Soft & Stable -

  1. Avoid sewing Soft and Stable with white thread!  It is incredibly difficult to see!  That makes it even harder to unpick or stitch over again.  (I re-threaded in pink).
  2. Draw the sewing line with a fading/water soluble/heat erasable marker so you can follow it. It's just one less thing to worry about when sewing round the curve of the gusset through several thicknesses.
  3. When over previous stitches after trimming Soft and Stable, you will find the fluffy edge will bulge over the sewing line obscuring it.  I used my sewing gauge to flatten it as it went under the foot.

Other Tips

I followed the suggestion of using a temporary spray adhesive to position the Soft and Stable, and I did it inside a cardboard box so I didn't spray my work-space too!

Top-stitching - I used my Blind Hem foot to keep an accurate distance from the edge

When I added more down the handles, I used my Universal Twin Needles for perfect spacing!

That's it.  I'm loving my new bag already.  You can see the inside here with the slip pockets on one side and a zipped one hidden on the other.  I am so pleased with myself, I have come a long way in the past couple of years.  Zippers are no problem any more, and I can do rivets.  I would never have believed I could make such professional looking bag.  I can't wait to start showing this one off!  It's sooo pretty, and sooo practical.  I have posted that letter now!

The "Stow-it-Allbag pattern is rated 'intermediate' but I am considering one of Chris's 'advanced' bags next, as my niece fancies the "Olivia".  Watch this space!


Made a smaller version!

Design Your Own Handbag

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Comment by Patricia on July 23, 2014 at 11:33am

I love the bag  that I would love to have it. but sew I don't ... Thank you for sharing , really thank you

Comment by Lori Madsen on July 21, 2014 at 12:01pm

This is outstanding, and it's nice that they've given so many instructions with it.  Very pretty!

Comment by Gail Grange on July 10, 2014 at 4:58pm

What a beautiful bag. x

Comment by Karen on July 10, 2014 at 1:17pm

Hi Avril

It really isn't complicated. Previously I used my old pattern from the 70's to make my totes.  It was unlined so I would struggle to fit a lining.  They were fine, but this is soooo much better.  It was more like doing a workshop (without the fuel consumption).  Christine's instructions walked me through the whole thing quite painlessly, and I am so pleased with myself having made it.

Comment by Ags on July 10, 2014 at 12:27pm

Great post, and you did a lovely job sewing the bag!  

Comment by Avril Farmer on July 10, 2014 at 11:52am

really beautiful seems too complicated for me but well done you :-))

Comment by Karen on July 7, 2014 at 11:41am

ChrisW Designs

Now showing in Chris's Bag Brag Tuesday Linking Party - Week Fifty Six!

Comment by Karen on July 4, 2014 at 7:44am

Hi Alison

Trying to work out what interfacing product to use when you can't see what it does, or feel it, makes life difficult, so I'm glad this helps!  Don't forget to share pictures with us if you make one, and Chris has a Flickr Pool too.

Comment by Alison Barnett on July 4, 2014 at 7:26am

Love your version, Karen.  Might have to make one for myself now!  And thank you for all the extra information, like what would work as a bag base, and "translating" the Pellon interfacings recommended by Chris into products we can get in the UK.  I've never been quite sure I've used the right weight of interfacing and your information will be really useful.  Your lovely bag has inspired me to get sewing again!  Thank you!

Comment by Karen on July 4, 2014 at 3:39am

Thanks Christine.  I've hung it in the bedroom where I can admire it when I wake up so I start the day with a happy thought!

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