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It's Another Stow-It-All Bag - Just Smaller!


My niece was looking to buy a new bag as her old one was past it's 'sell by' date.  She had admired the clean modern lines of my new tote, but said it was way too big for her petite four foot frame.  So I said I could make her a smaller one. I have only made bags bigger before, so downsizing was a new challenge.  I did some sums and 25% smaller was tiny so we settled on 15% smaller.  

We went shopping and she bought these curtain fabrics from Dunelm in Norwich.  The butterflies one was a real find, then it was just a matter of trying different co-ordinating fabrics until she was happy.  When I got home I printed the pattern pieces out at 85% with no problem, then I worked through the instructions doing little sums every now and then to reduce all the measurements Chris gave by 15%. 

I decided to cut one of the butterflies and use it as an applique on the plain fabric used for the flap.  I left a small border around it, then used a zig zag stitch in a matching colour.  I added a little freestyle brown stitching for the antennae.  I think it worked rather well!

I actually stayed up quite late in order to finish it, and got very tired.  So that is probably the reason that my lining has ended up suspended an inch above the base of the bag.  Sigh.  I know I changed all the measurements,  I wrote them on the instructions in red as I went along, but still somehow I miscalculated somewhere. Apart from that it was perfect, I even managed the gussets better this time by basting both sides of the sewing line across the base. 

I didn't bother to divide the front pocket into three as they would have been too narrow.  The flap and twist lock stops the larger pocket from gaping.  No, I haven't added rivets to the straps yet, I want her to try it first in case they are too long or short.  This time round I used my new 1/4" seam foot to do the top-stitching on the straps and it worked better than the blind stitch foot. 

On the back I split the pocket into two sections. She said she didn't need clear vinyl pockets like I made for myself, and not to bother with the bag feet.  I fitted the bag bottom anyway as it keeps it a nice shape, although without the bag feet it's not fixed in place.

I couldn't find a zipper the right length that was anything like that turquoise colour, so I decided to use the butterfly fabric for the zipper panels instead.  The beige background was much easier to match.  I fussy cut it to get the butterflies lined up nicely.  I even fussy cut the zipper tabs.  Such a shame I didn't think to fussy cut the handle tabs too!

Inside I divided the slip pockets to give her one large and one small section, divided by the pen slot, instead of two the same size.

Interestingly I managed to get her little zipper pocket to show, whereas mine is hidden by the zipper panel.  The little zipper matches the turquoise quite well, unlike the longer ones I tried for the top closure!  I actually bought a supply of ten proper handbag zippers from ZipperShop in Etsy in a variety of colours, but still not the right colour for this.

I delivered it today and as we were happy with the strap length I added the rivets to finish it off. All in all I am really pleased with how it turned out, and she is very happy with her new "made-to-fit" bag!

Next I am making a Butterfly Sling Purse from Emmaline Bags for my mother-in-law.  Just waiting for a parcel from Canada!

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Comment by Connie Richards on August 27, 2014 at 10:55am

Thanks Karen, but does the pattern you mentioned have the downsized measurements in it as well as the original?

Comment by Karen on August 26, 2014 at 3:55pm

ChrisW Designs

Ah, I put the link to buy the pattern on my original post, I didn't think to add it again here, sorry.  The Stow it All pattern is available as a pdf from and this bag is featured in her blog "Bag Brag Tuesday"week 63!

Comment by Connie Richards on August 26, 2014 at 12:09pm

Hi Karen,

I absolutely love your downsized version of the stow it all bag. And I think your "fussy cuts" are just right and give it a great look. Is the pattern available?  I would love to make one too.


Comment by Lynda on August 26, 2014 at 9:56am

Hi Karen,

Just wondering how to get this  Stow-It-All Bag pattern.  Would appreciate it if you would let me know. 

Lynda Clelland in Ontario

Comment by Brenda J. Moore on August 26, 2014 at 12:18am

I think this bag is lovely.  I also tend to think..too much of the fussy starts to look a bit, well, "fussy" and it is best to let go of that matchy-matchy tendency we have.  My friends call mine: OCD,    LOL

Your niece must be thrilled. The bag is super looking all the way here in Oshawa Ontario!


Comment by dixiequilt on August 25, 2014 at 6:48pm

Great bag; love the way it's made.

Comment by Sue Smith on August 25, 2014 at 2:06pm

Great bag! Very good looking and useful.

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