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My Pattern Tester Bag for ChrisWDesigns "Ellen's Esplanade"

I was moaning about the dreary weather when I got an e-mail that brightened my day. Christine asked me to be a tester for her latest Easy Street Pattern "Ellen's Esplanade". It can be sewn from quilt weight cottons or combined with vinyl/pleather.

As I had some black vinyl I decided to use that, together with this rather nice nautical print I bought from Ditto Fabrics a while ago. I'm going to use it for the lining too.  I found a couple of 22" zippers in red and black to cut down to size. For once I had the right size O rings, hooks and slider, and a sufficient supply of fusible woven interfacing (Vilene G700), fusible fleece (Vilene H640) and ByAnnies 'Soft & Stable'.  I was good to go!

I fitted a new needle and got out my Teflon non-stick foot for the vinyl.  However when it comes to getting accurate seams I like to use my 1/4" foot or my stitch-in-the-ditch foot (with the needle moved to give me the right seam allowance). To get around the fact they are not non-stick I put a piece of masking tape across the bottom and that helps keep them moving.

There was the option of doing some awkward topstitching on the back panel, so naturally I decided to give that a go too.  Here I am sewing down the tunnel!  I mostly used my new Janome Memory Craft 6600pro (and even used the extension table for the first time).  Later on however I got my old Janome DC3050 out, as the 6600pro does not have a free arm, which I like to use when topstitching around the top of the bag.

The pattern includes instructions for an internal zipped pocket, and the option to try 'pocket supplement A' (a separate stand-alone pattern) or add whatever pocket combination you prefer!. So naturally I had to try the pocket supplement (love my pockets).  I picked out these red and black polka dot fabrics to make it, rather than use more of the nautical fabric,and I think they work well.

As always Christine's instructions led me by the hand through the construction process. As  I went for the 'structured' version (vinyl and Soft + Stable) rather than the' slouchy' version (cotton + fusible fleece) mine stands up by itself and opens up really wide making it easy to fit things in and find stuff.  I'm not great with slouchy bags when I am looking for something in a hurry!

The bag is closed with a recessed zipper, and the zipper has a metal zipper end instead of a fabric one.  I bought mine from U-Handbag here in the U.K. and padded it out with some folded vinyl.  Lots of chances to add rivets, and I took them all, after all if you are testing you may as well test everything! 

The finished bag

  • Saturday - printed pattern, cut out fabrics, added interfacings
  • Sunday    - started construction
  • Monday evening/Tuesday evening - finished construction


*I made a h*** in the vinyl by accident whilst fitting rivets, and had to add this applique heart to cover it!

*I melted the end off my completed zipper casing whilst pressing it and had to unpick the zipper and make a whole new casing!

Ellen's Esplanade

Oliso Smart Iron

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Comment by Judith Clauss on February 17, 2017 at 1:12pm

Great Blog! The heart fix is a terrific idea. Need to try something like that on a bag that I miscut the h*** for a turn lock. Love your version of Ellen's Esplanade.

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