Another red leather handbag

The changing of the seasons… the circle of life… and another Nairobi leather handbag for me!

I’ve become a bit boring with my handbags, but I just love everything about the Hot Patterns Nairobi bag and my own little evolutionary improvements that I just can’t bring myself to mess with a good thing. My mustard handbag has lasted over two years of heavy, every day use now, but it’s on its last legs, so it was time to create a new one.

This bag is very similiar to the bag I made Pip for Christmas last year, but without the central strip (I find it just too big with it in!), and with my own special lining pockets added inside.

(Belated) Christmas gift – red leather handbag

We were supposed to meet up with my friend (and former bridesmaid!) Pip and her boyfriend back in mid-December to celebrate Christmas, but we had to reschedule due to my swine flu, so I’m only just now able to show you her present – a Nairobi bag made up in gorgeously soft red wine leather, bought in NYC from Global Leathers (I find it interesting that Americans would call this colour “burgundy”, whereas in the UK it’d be “claret”).

I sewed this up before Christmas (so you saw a sneak peek in my 2010 roundup), but she asked me to hold off posting about it until she received it. I actually made this same bag for her a few years ago in black corduroy, and she famously texted me later that night exclaiming “I can fit a whole bottle of vodka in here!”

When I made the Nairobi bag for myself, I usually leave out the strip that joins the two halves together as I find the bag is just too big for my liking with it in, but Pip asked me for the bigger size, and bigger she got!

Summer in the Sunshine top

Remember back to the warm, sunny days of August… You there yet? Because that’s when I sewed up this top, in between the dresses I made for my mom while she was visiting!

I’d bought the Hot Patterns Weekender Sunshine Top pattern almost two years ago, but I’ve had such a hit & miss experience with their patterns that I never quite worked up the nerve to sew this one. But with review after glowing review appearing on PR, I finally had to take the plunge and make my own, especially since it seemed quite a forgiving style for my hospital- and medication-induced chubbiness.

This cotton/lycra knit fabric from Totally Fabrics is so lush and soft that I’ve actually held off posting this so I could buy some more before you all snapped it up (but alas, it sold out just before they posted another site-wide sale)! I got this on sale, so the 1 metre I used here was only £3.75!

Mustard yellow leather bag

This bag was long overdue, so I finally managed to squeeze in another HotPatterns Nairobi bag this weekend, made for about the 6th time now(?) I think!

It was originally a download-only freebie pattern, but it’s been long discontinued until a few weeks ago, when they started selling it again in paper form for a limited time! I highly, highly recommend getting this pattern if you don’t have it already!

I find it’s really difficult to photograph bag linings once they’re done, so I’ve taken some photos of the lining before assembly so you can clearly see my pockets!

Upcoming spring sewing…


  1. The KnipMode jeanskirt:

  2. The KnipMode pink knit day dress:

These both just need photoshoots this weekend! (Actually, I’m wearing the former for the second time today…)

In Progress:

In some vague order…

  1. The Colette Patterns “Eclair” dress in gold silk crepe (with aubergine silk ties), being sewn for Iain & Steve’s wedding in early May:

    I beta-tested this pattern back around Christmas so I know my muslin fits perfectly, but the silk arrived too late to sew it for holiday parties!

Two duds in a row

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a pattern that just did not work for me at all, but strangely, I’ve just had two in a row that I’m giving up on entirely.

I fell in love with the chic styling of the Hot Patterns Monaco Top – the slit opening, the slim lines, the angular bib, the pieced bottom, and all sweetened by the cute gathered sleeves. At least, that’s what I thought the pattern was for…

I should have really listened to the earlier reviewer of this pattern (who also didn’t make it past the muslin stage) and just cut my $18.50 losses and run far, far away.

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.

Copying Keira

As part of my fabric buying spree in the States, I bought some gorgeous emerald green silk charmeuse from, with plans to make HotPatterns’ Deco Vibe So Pretty dress. As my FW/07 collection is keeping me rather busy, I hadn’t given myself a timeline to make this dress, even though I’ve got all the materials to hand.

But last night James and I finally went to see Atonement at the cinema, and I couldn’t help but notice that the beautiful 1930s evening gown worn by Keira Knightley’s character in the film is very similar to to the dress I’d already planned!