Secret Sewing #3

So, as well as getting distracted making an extra bag to match the skirt project, it may not surprise you to know I was inspired to start another extra item.  I even finished it in the end.  Just about.  Wanna know what it was?

Well, watching Sewing Bee got me reading Lauren’s blog which has some really great tutorials, including one on making a snap frame purse (which the woman from the mobile phone shop in town assures me are all the rage. No seriously, apparently she’s a fashion and textiles graduate). And Guess What, Lauren also sells the snap frames in her shop! So I ordered two and a magnet closure (figuring that one day it’ll come in handy, after all I like making bags). They came really quickly and the had pretty Guthrie and Ghani logo stickers on the packets to boot. I also asked if Lauren would make a tutorial for the double snap frame’s she also sells (at this point I was already daydreaming about making lots of purses) and I got a lovely email pointing out that she has already, that was so nicely worded I didn’t even feel embarassed (actually, I think I may have got a little star struck, but don’t tell anyone because I don’t approve of such behavoir).

So I set about to follow the tutorial and make a spotty purse with a pale blue ribbon bow (that matches the ribbon on the skirt but is thinner) with the flowers on the inside. I was a bit worried about the final stage, where you glue it onto the frame, but as there are lots of pictures of purses people have made on Lauren’s maker gallery I figured it must be easier than I feared.

Now Lauren’s tutorial links to another tutorial, also by her, on how to draft a pattern to fit your purse. Which includes the sensible instruction “Once you have your pattern piece, I’d still recommend running one up in some chalico or scrap fabric to make sure its fits and looks how you want it too.” I read this and decided that as I wasn’t intimidated by the pattern instructions I would skip this, after all I was in the middle of making lots of bags and skirts and hats at the time, no time to waste….

Well, I found the tutorial really clear and went ahead and made my pattern, cut my fabric, sewed my bow. The only bit I found connfusing was whether to iron the interfacing to the main fabric or the lining as I couldn’t find that instruction in the pattern. I figured it wouldn’t make much difference and guessed. Then I found the instruction, nice and clear, slap bang in the middle of the section I thought I’d carefully re read several times. I guessed right and was relieved I hadn’t emailed to point out the “mistake”.

Storming Ahead

Storming Ahead

I managed to get my polka dots running horizontally but found to my irritation that despite my best efforts my ribbon didn’t match up at the side seams, grr.

Match up Mishap

Match up Mishap

I decided to press on to that tricky looking glueing stage. I struggled and struggled, the fabric kept pulling out of the metal casing. Eventually I had to admit it was pattern drafting failure, my fabric simply wasn’t wide enough to fit properly. Shame I didn’t take Lauren’s advice.

Gap Issues

Gap Issues

I was quite disappointed. Husband tried suggested helpful things like adding zips (which was kind of missing the point). Then I for some reason decided that by trimming off the now crusty (due to glue) top I might make it fit. I can’t work out what was going through my head, “hmm, it’s too small, I know, I’ll make it bigger by cutting some bits off it”??!?

Attempted Fix

Attempted Fix

Needless to say, it didn’t work. My daughter made me put a strap on the abandoned purse so she could use it as a little bag. It made me wince everytime I saw it but she was happy. I did draft another larger pattern, but did no more for months until I was finishing the skirt off. Then I tried again as I wanted to be able to send the purse too, plus I’m trying to clear my pile.

This time I used the larger pattern. I couldn’t find any floral fabric left (it turned up later) so I lined it with skulls and crossbones. The construction was straight forward again and this time it seemed big enough, but I didn’t have enough superglue left and the fabric wouldn’t stay in the casing long enough to stick (my fabric, even with two layers plus interfacing, seems much thinner than the metal channel).

Next day armed with new glue in a less than helpful dispenser I struck upon a method that worked for me.

  • Squeeze some superglue into one side of the casing.
  • Take a kirby grip (a.k.a Bobby pin) and use the end where it opens to push the glue around inside the casing until its spread evenly.
  • Push the fabric into the casing using the rounded hinge end of the kirby grip, start at the middle and work outwards to the bend, hold in place with a peg, work to the other bend, peg, work down one side, peg, work down the other side, peg
  • Leave to dry completely then remove pegs.
  • Repeat on the other side.


    After gluing the first side I reread the glue instructions and when glueing non porous substances such as metal, you’re supposed to spread on a thin layer, leave for 10 mins, then add some more before attaching the two bits together. The fabric on the other hand is very porous and soaks the glue up. So for the second side I tried putting a little glue in the casing, leaving for 10 mins, then adding more and stuffing the purse fabric in. Unfortunately this left too much glue in the casing which lead to seepage, so I’ll only try that again if I can find a way of smearing the first layer very thinly.

    I was relieved to have finished the purse and have it come out well enough to send as a present. It even fit inside the skirt pocket, so I put the skirt in the bag too and sent a little nested surprise. I still have the other frame and I have an idea of what to do with it. But I think I might play around with the proportions of my pattern as I wasn’t 100% happy (I really should’ve had a practise go!).

    This is a quick, fun project that looks really good when finished. But next time I must remember to slow down, read the instructions properly and not be trying to make 3 other things simultaneously! Don’t be put off by my problems if you’re thinking of making one, as they were my own fault, not the tutorials. And the result was worth the hassle in the end.

    All done

    All done



  • 6 thoughts on “Secret Sewing #3

    1. Have you ever thought of going into business with your sewing? There is certainly a market for it. I had a beautiful Liberty fabric dress turned into a skirt and waistcoat by a place in Oxford. They did an amazing job. You are so good at it too.

      • Thank you Emma. I’m blushing now.

        I’m not sure how well doing it professionally would work, the problem is that people don’t want to pay for stuff because they’re used to being able to pick stuff up cheap and they don’t think homemade should cost a lot. If I charged a low rate of £5 an hour, I’m not sure how long the skirt took in the end, guestimate 4 hours (although some of that was ineptitude, I hope toimprove with practise), so that’s £20, plus probably another £20 in materials, not considering electrics, I’m not sure how many takers I’d have for a £40 summer skirt. Plus it was fun to do (including channelling your phsycic dressing when fabric shopping), not stressful, I think charging might change that. I didn’t have to worry about my mistakes too much (although that reminds me, please don’t let your sister examine the construction with her professional eye!) nor deadlines.

        My favourite knitting blogger Susan puts it well .

        I did briefly try selling some knitted hats for about £15, which is smilar to prices I’ve seen for similar items in the shops, but I didn’t have many takers.

        I’m really pleased you liked them though. I always thought there was a market in kids style clothes for adults, there so much more fun, if you can get them to flatter. Now I just have to make something successful for myself.

    2. But you could offer more of a reworking service (a bit like you used to do for me in the olden days of yore). They charged me 30 quid (no pound sign key on my laptop) for the skirt part of the dress and that must have involved a couple of hours work (detach from bodice, add black waistband and new zip). Going to show the skirt to mum 😉

    3. Your skirt that is…

    4. Ah, alterations. My mum worked in a shop doing that for a while. Say hi to your mum from me, I think it’s ok for her to see the skirt as she doesn’t have a textiles degree!

    5. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | A little something extra

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s