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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 Karen on March 2, 2015 at 1:28pm

Hi Joanie

Aah, keeping my bags clean.  Well most of them I throw in the washing machine (inside a pillowcase if they have hardware) then hang them out to dry and then give them a press.  Honest.  It only went wrong once, my sister washed one where I had bought a curtain lining fabric for the bag lining as it was the right colour, and the colour bled.  That was the only time.  Nowadays I do buy new fabric more often so I tend to pre-wash it before I make the bag, just to be safe.  Other than that I try not to put them down anywhere that might be dirty!  

Yes, I have used Scotch Guard on bags, but usually when they are for someone else.  I've no idea if it helped keep them clean, but I haven't heard bad news from any of owners.

I usually list the patterns and makes of my fabrics in the blog.  We bought these in Dunelm in Norwich, they were all curtain/furnishing fabrics, what you call Home Dec.  The turquoise was a lining cotton, the taupe was a loose weave heavier curtain fabric, the butterflies a smooth medium weight curtain fabric.  Other than checking they are washable I don't remember if they were cotton or poly cotton mixes except the "Vintage Butterflies" by Fryetts which was 100% cotton.

The pink bag was also Home Dec for the exterior fabrics, and quilting cottong for the lining/binding.

Hope that helps!

Comment by Joanie Molnar on March 2, 2015 at 11:17am

I love your bags and the colors you chose.  One question -- how do you keep it clean?  Do you spray it with ScotchGuard?  Is that even good??  Or is there something else you can use to help keep it clean?  The fabrics, are they quilting fabrics, or just good cotton/poly or plain cotton?

Comment by Karen on February 11, 2015 at 1:26pm

Hi Cari

I have a couple of suggestions for you.  The first is that you contact one of these 3 ladies, who are Stateside and make Chris's bags, and commission one from them;

NormaDaryl or Marilyn 

Or you can join Christine's Facebook Group Page, and ask there

Or you could buy the Stow it All pattern and have a go yourself with help from the Facebook Group.  They have just had a Sew-along making the Sugar and Spice, so maybe they will do the Stow-it-All if you ask!

Best of luck! 

Comment by Karen on February 10, 2015 at 9:04am

Sorry Cari, it's just a hobby.  I ended up making 6 Stow it All bags because friends and family liked the one I made for myself, which has happened before but not so much.  I will ask if Christine knows anyone in the States who might be willing to make one for you.

Comment by Cari Reed on February 9, 2015 at 10:04pm

Do you make these to sell?  If you do, I am VERY interested in the butterfly bag shown above.  I think that's it's perfect for what I'm looking for in a tote and for my personal style.  Please, please let me know if you sell them.  Thank you!

Comment by Karen on September 17, 2014 at 3:25am

Forgot to say, this fabric is Vintage Butterflies by Fryetts.

Comment by Karen on September 2, 2014 at 2:25am

Hi Patricia

You need to find a sewing buddy!  All my friends have bags I have made; if you weren't so far away I'd make you one, or mentor you through making your own.  Sewing brings me such joy I like to encourage others to do it, or at least offload some of my creativity on them!  Have you read my post on "Planning a Sewing Workshop" ?


Comment by Patricia on August 28, 2014 at 6:48am

I love the design of this bag... Now I wish I knew how to sew . lovely bag

Comment by Connie Richards on August 27, 2014 at 6:59pm

Thanks. I will try it.

Comment by Karen on August 27, 2014 at 1:35pm

No Connie.  The original bag pattern comes out at 14 1/2" wide, 12" high and 4" deep.  To get the smaller version I printed the whole pattern again at 85% of the original size by using the CUSTOM SCALE option on the PRINT page.  Then, as I said in my post, I did the sums as I went along to deduct 15% from all the measurements in the instructions.  Being of simple brain I used the metric measurements as the maths is easier!

Having just made my 3rd one (full size) I have realised why my lining was too high in the small one.  When boxing the bottom I took the measurement from the corner straight down the seam.  The instructions say take the measurement along the edge.  Such an easy slip to make.

Anyway, if you buy it and have any problems get back to me, or indeed Chris herself.  The first one I made I managed to stick the wrong pattern pieces together as she kindly pointed out to me when I sent her a picture!  


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