I love it when a plan comes together

Remember that random pile of fabric that I was starting a new project with rather being disciplined and doing something from my to do/finish pile? Well, I have absolved myself from any guilt as I have now finished another Presido purse from Erin’s wonderful pattern and this is the best one yet!


It started when a neighbour was admiring my Spotty Presido. I said that I might have enough of that fabric left* to make her one. However she said that she’d be fine with lots of different scraps of fabric. Now I have just joined a stashbusting group on Facebook. The theme this month is seasonal change in your wardrobe which has made me realise that due to me being very new to sewing clothes, I don’t have much fabric suitable for clothing in my stash. (Although I do have items I could make on my to do pile, which is arguably stash, so I don’t really have an excuse not to join in.) What I do have in my 3 large boxes of stash includes quite a few upholstery remnants that I’ve picked up over the years, thinking “this would make a good bag”. And this thought kept swirling around my head and wouldn’t go away. My neighbour likes blues and purples and lots of colours, so I had a rummage and a plan was born.

I started with the lining. I had just enough of this funky camper van fabric left from making my niece a PE bag to cut a front a back piece for the bag. For the sides I used the leg of an old pair of linen trousers from my husband. I realised that the trousers had unused pockets still sewn up from when they were bought on the back, so I unpicked them and added them to the bag with an extra camper van on one as they were looking a little plain. The bag side got an extra pocket too.

Completed lining

Completed lining

I was pretty pleased with how things were going. I like the two tone look, the camper vans might be a bit much all on their own but with the green they look pretty stylish. Plus I award myself points for inventively squeezing a lining out of what was to hand. At this point my husband predicted that the lining was going to end up being the outer fabric again but I had other ideas.

For the outer I had a plain purple textured remnant of fabric like the blue that ended up inside the birthday bag – perfect weight for the bag and the right kind of colour. I had learnt my lesson that this fabric was too plain on it’s own to have the impact I wanted, but I didn’t want to make the inserts as in the pattern. Somewhere on the wibblyweb I have seen a version with the pocket featured on the outside but I’m darned if I can remember where. Anyway, whoever you were, thank you for your inspiration. I put a featured blue pocket with a satin stripe in it on the front of my bag to spice it up.

blue stripey pocket feature with reclaimed zip

blue stripey pocket feature with reclaimed zip

This time of following Erin’s instructions the cunning zipper end fabric bits that help make it look a little more professional are nearly lined up with the rest of the pocket, but they still step in a bit. Dashed if I can work out what I’m still doing wrong there, I read the instructions really thoroughly. Also I carefully pattern matched the pocket top and pocket bottom (the bits above and below the zip), then ruined my hard work by sewing the top on upside down. The non matching stripes are annoying but seemingly not irritating me enough for me to have been bothered to unpick it and resew. Also the zipper lies a little wobbly rather than flat, but I don’t think anyone but me will notice. And its recycled from a trashed coat of hubbies so more brownie points for me there.

Spot the outer pocket lurking in the background waiting to be sewn over the inner one after its finished having the pen pockets tested

Spot the outer pocket lurking in the background waiting to be sewn over the inner one after its finished having the pen pockets tested

To save my shiny blue fabric I lined the pocket with a thin denim piece my mum had given me – strange shaped offcuts from a skirt she made that was cut on the bias. I made the inner pocket in this fabric too and it got a heart appliquéd on because I had it lying around in my sewing box cut out (it was cut out from scraps lying about from the girls birthday dress in order to wind my husband up – I threatened to patch a hole in the knee of his trousers with it. Unsurprisingly he objected).

stripey sides

stripey sides

The side is some similar upholstery fabric in greeney stripes with one stripe of purple that matches the other fabric well. Its the same bumpy style of fabric too, but has some white stuff (fire retardant?) sprayed all over the back of it which makes it noticeably stiffer. I cut it on the fold so I didn’t have to seam it and pattern match. Another top tip picked up from a source I’ve forgotten (sorry, must pay more attention when late night blog browsing). As well as taking off the seam allowance I made it shorter still as with the other two presido bags I have found there was more fabric in this piece than the front and back pieces and struggled to match them. This tactic worked well with the lining but on the outer I ended up with too short a stripey piece and ended up having to put a couple of tucks in my purple fabric at the corners to get them to fit together. Maybe it didn’t work this time as the bottom/side piece was stiff and the front/back pieces were stretchy. Anyway, blame me, not Erin.

The only thing I bought for this bag was the flanged piping (spot the newly learnt technical term), which is black with gold flecks. I was a bit worried that the gold flecks would look tacky, but they’ve come out just fine. I love how professional the piping makes the finished bag look, I’m becoming addicted and it’s only the 3rd time I’ve used it (thanks again Erin for your sewalong piping tips). But the only shop I’ve found so far to sell it has just 3 or 4 colours and they told me they’re not getting any more in once they’ve sold out, so I will have to find a new source or tackle making my own. This time I sewed it to both sides of the straight side of the side/bottom piece, rather than round the curved front back pieces, and this was definitely easier.


Front and back completed, now came the time to sew them together with a zip. I was really pleased how they had both come out, the lining looks good enough to be an outer, yet it’s not really outery fabric. Then I had an almost cunning plan whilst looking through my zipper box. I found a big long zip salvaged from a tent. One that went around the door and had two zipper bits each double sided. I thought that if I used a double sided zip the bag could be reversable, unfortunatley I forgot to think about the toplogy of the bag (‘scuse the technical maths term for the shape – specifically here I’m referring to the fact that the handle makes the bag have a hole in it, like a dougnuht, ok, enough maths, I know not everyone loves it like I do).

Anyway, I sewed on a cut down to size double sided zipper but, when you turn the bag inside out you cant use it as the handle gets in the way, like this…


If you actually want to make a reversible presido purse you’d need a double sided open zipper, not sure where you’d get one from, certainly not my zipper stash.

Apart from that cutting the long tent zip down to size worked quite well in the end. I used less than half of it and only one of the zippers, so I still have a super long double sided zip I can use for something else. Did I say it went well? Except for the bit where the zipper tape was unravelling as it got caught being unpicked and I couldn’t find my clear nail varnish so I used some gold thinking it would be inside the seam, but as it was at the end that sits inside the bag it is visible. Oh and because the ends of the zip were cut off it is possible to zip the zipper off the end before the ends are sewn into the seam. I was very careful not to do this. And then I forgot and did it anyway. Gahhh. After much gnashing of teeth and head scratching this was solved by a trip to my friendly local shoe shop where they cut off my lovely fabric end stop from the beginning of the zip and reset it for me. This meant one end was a cm or so longer than the other, but it still seemed to match up ok so I trimmed the zip, unpicked and resewed the endstop (a campervan one side, demin the other) although it doesn’t look quite as neat as it did before after all that mucking about.

My zipper (extra long as per pattern instructions so that you can fully open the bag), complete with campervan end stopper and dodgy gold nail varnish to stop the tape fraying.

My zipper (extra long as per pattern instructions so that you can fully open the bag), complete with campervan end stopper and dodgy gold nail varnish to stop the tape fraying.

Then I was very careful with the end of the zip until I had sewn on the handles (purple and green linen with piping just down the sides (not around the anchor bit) that I remembered to assemble so as to not have raw edges showing at the end this time), sewn the lining on, turned the bag (which feels like it shouldn’t work but does) and folded the remaining raw edges under, carefully trapping the zip ends in to prevent further accidents and topstitched all around.

At the end I had a little piping left so I replaced the tag on the zip with it even though it meant hand sewing the ends of the piping to stop it fraying (I don’t really have the patience for handsewing).

And voila, one thank you present bag which was happily received.


*apart from the stuff that’s earmarked for a make for a friend, I haven’t forgotten you Y

7 thoughts on “I love it when a plan comes together

  1. 🙂 I spotted (haha) that lovely piece of fabric in your stash the other day. Ah stash… I sinned today and picked up two pieces of cord. Now what…

  2. This worked out really well! You have a good eye for putting different fabrics together.

  3. Thank you Philippa. I’m pretty chuffed myself.

  4. Fun! Love the scrappy look!

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