Old/New Favourite

At the end of last winter, my beloved handbag was looking decrepit and sad, and I forced myself to throw it away (but not before taking a memorial photo). The exterior was brown suedette, with the last remnants of James’s dogs playing poker fabric as the lining.

I used that bag to its death, but I knew that come colder weather, I’d set out again to make my 5th (I think?) Hotpatterns Nairobi bag. This pattern was given away as a free pdf when they first launched the site, but as far as I know, it’s not available anywhere any more.

After making this bag so many times for so many people, I don’t even look at the instructions any more, and I don’t use any of the interior pocket pieces, either, much preferring to scope out my own pockets according to the contents I carry around every day. This one is made from super-soft leather originally bought from a leather goods shop on Brick Lane (and then used for my pirate corset), and the lining is an Alexander Henry print I fell in love with.

I omitted the side and bottom “spacer” piece between the front and back, as I didn’t have quite enough leather for it, and the bag is plenty big enough without it. In the lining I made one big zippered pocket on one side, and on the other I created a block of rectangular patch pockets. From left to right: for my Moo cards, for a pen, for my headphones, and lastly, for my old 3rd gen iPod and my Oyster card.

Instead of a loop’n‘button or the usual magnetic snaps, this time around I tried out these sew-in magnets for the closure. I sewed them onto the reverse of the lining, through the rubbery film that they’re embedded in, so that from the right side you just see your stitching. It was a bit interesting trying to sew them on while they kept sticking to the metal throatplate of my sewing machine, but I got there in the end, and I think they look nicer than the usual magnetic snaps.

I also realised with my last bag that I kept having to fish for my keys more often than not, so I cannibalised a swivel-clip off my boyfriend’s dying backpack, and used that as the end of a key leash. It’s utterly perfect, and I’m not sure how I managed without one before!

So with the completion (and continual petting of) my new handbag, I’ve started work on the Go Patterns little black dress. I can tell already this is going to be a behemoth project – 17(!!) pattern pieces for one sleeveless dress, and the amount of handstitching in the instructions is making my head spin! I think I need to look at this as a couture project instead of a quick little dress. I’ve cut out the muslin pieces already, so fingers crossed I won’t have to make too many alterations…

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