The trouble with being a sewer is sometimes you just can't leave things alone. Here is the absolutely fabulous "Upcycled Wool Bag" I made from Jennifer Clouston's new book "Foolproof Crazy Patchwork Projects". I love this bag!
That didn't stop me making a few modifications though! The first one being adding a liner made from ByAnnies Soft & Stable, so the bag stands up by itself. I slipped it inside before sealing up the lining, and the hand top-stitching holds it in place. That has worked very well.
However I very quickly decided I didn't love the black plastic handles. They are uncomfortable to grip, and I also don't like that I have to hold it by the handles - or slip it over my arm - I'm a hands-free kinda gal! Added to that, they don't look half as good as the wooden handles Jennifer used on her bag.
So I decided I needed to change the handles AND add shoulder straps. I found these wood effect handles with metal rings on e-bay at Green Grizzly U.K. and bought them. The connecting rings can be unscrewed and slipped through a tab, but I had to unpick mine anyway to take the black ones off.
Now for the shoulder straps! I cut some more of my MIL's wool skirts into two strips 4" wide and 22" long (to include 1/2" to turn the raw ends under). Once made I attached a couple of these nice extra wide lobster clips as they were similar in shape to the connecting rings. I bought them from the same e-bay shop as the handles Green Grizzly UK.
So here is the new 'hands free' version with the shoulder straps clipped on. They can clip in through the tabs, but I clipped mine to the handle rings. Now I can grab them by the handles, and let the straps hang down, or slip the straps onto my shoulder and let the handles hang down. Best of both worlds.
The next modifications I want to make are to the inside. I had added a zipped pocket and this divided slip pocket, but I didn't like the effect of the ticking fabric, and I need more pockets!
I opened the bottom of the lining and removed the old pocket. I cut out a new pocket from some more plaid fabric and made it slightly deeper and wider. I used some recycled skirt lining fabric to line the pocket. Once in place, I divided it into three sections, a pen slot on one end, and two larger pockets with straight seams. I forgot to top-stitch along the top the pocket which is a shame.
Christine of ChrisWDesigns taught me how to sew a pleated pocket to hold sunglasses when I made the City Slicker and I did that again here. Yes, I made my own spex case too. Now this holds my mobile phone, sunnies, and a nail file.
I made another pocket for my pen, notebook, and paper hankies, and attached it to the other side of the bag, just beneath the zippered pocket. I even managed to do this without catching the zipper pocket in my stitching! I thought about adding a magnetic catch to hold the bag closed, but decided that as my purse (wallet) is kept in the almost hidden zipped pocket, the bag is secure enough.
The last modification was to organize my keys - I hate having to search for them! I decided to use one of the magnetic key fobs I bought from Bag Clasps Ltd. As my keys are generally quite heavy rather than a single key, I made a fabric key fob with eyelets either end in matching plaid. Then I put my keys on their key ring in one end, and connected the key fob attachment to the other end, with another key ring.
To attach the hardware, I cut two slits and pushed the prongs through the lining fabric. I cut two slits into a scrap of ByAnnies Soft & Stable and slotted it over the prongs to reinforce it, and then added the backing plate and bent the prongs down to hold it in place. Finally I stitched lining closed again.
Now I can attach the new key fob to the magnetic catch, and the keys sit on the bottom of the bag, rather than dragging the side of the bag down. Perfect! I can even clip another bunch onto the ring and it holds them too. So convenient, without being obvious. For some things I can use them without detaching them.
So here is my updated bag, with a place for everything, and everything in its place...
... with the 'hands free' shoulder straps and nice comfy handles. As you can see, the handles match the curve of the top of the bag when they hang down, either on the inside or the outside of the bag. I LOVE THIS BAG! In fact, I may have to sew another one, I enjoyed the English paper piecing and silk ribbon embroidery techniques so much I'm having withdrawal symptoms!