Sunday, August 23, 2009


My neighbor had these cabinets in a yard sale. They are super well made and heavy. The drawers are deep and roomy. They sat on his lawn for a couple of days, so I casually wandered over yesterday afternoon to see how much he wanted for them. At $10 apiece, I wasted no time in getting to the ATM to make a withdrawal. These two units were stored in a closet inside my neighbor's house so they cleaned up well with a little elbow grease. He said he has a couple of more in his garage and I let him know that I want them if decides to get rid of them.

I'm looking to add legs and I'm definitely leaning towards the tapered brushed steel. The pulls on the drawers are brushed steel as well, plus I really like the mid-century vibe of the tapered leg.

I might paint them. I spotted these cabinets on Ebay, and I really like the color combinations. The drawer units would look neat in a similar color palate.

When you live in a 900 sq. foot house, you're always looking for ways to add attractive storage. Ikea has some wonderful solutions, but the nearest store is in Atlanta, some 175 miles down the road. Besides, I simply do not have the money to spend a few grand on a wardrobe system. I am still pinching myself over my lucky find.

I also happened upon this sewing cabinet on Craigslist. I have the Rocketeer and thought this would be a good match. Again, I like the mid-century vibe of the piece, and it's very well made.

I don't think this cabinet is a Singer cabinet, although I can make it work. I'm still debating on whether or not I will keep it, as I'll have to get rid of something to in order to fit it in. I do like it, though. Decisions, decisions. If all else fails, I should be able to relist it on Craigslist and recoup my $30.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stepping Away

After an unsuccessful attempt at making a strap for my LaRue bag, I decided it was time to step away from the pleather.

I'm making the bird bag in denim. This has turned out to be a lot more time consuming than expected because I have to stabilize everything. So what you see in the picture is only the beginning, but at least I'm able to accurately predict the project's outcome. I'll post more pictures when it's done.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Copy Bird

I spotted this adorable handbag on this blog . It's a really simple design, so I figured it wouldn't be difficult to copy. I think I've got a pretty good mock-up. The yellow sample you see in the pictures is a test. As you can see, I'm still working out the details. The biggest challenge has been dealing with the pleather. I'm having some issues with it sticking and pulling, so I've spent a lot of time searching the internet for solutions. So far, I've invested in a teflon presser foot and I'm testing a couple of other tips (see the cardboard surrounding the needle area of my machine). I would like to use a blanket stitch around the entire perimeter of the purse (with the exception of the opening), but initially I was having some sticking problems, so I put the gusset in with a straight stitch. I'll have to reinforce the head and tail areas so they don't flop. I'm still brainstorming on that.

No, I'm not fixated on yellow vinyl. This stuff was plentiful and inexpensive at Walmart so it seemed like the logical material to practice on. When I work out the kinks, I'll construct the purse in something closer in color to the original. I'll probably make need to make one more mock-up before I feel confident enough to cut into the good stuff.

Friday, August 7, 2009

More Walmart Fabric Finds

All of the pictured fabric is from Walmart. The majority of it is home decor weight that could be used for bags. My comments don't necessarily follow the pictures. Mixed in the home dec stuff is a paisley cotton and a Missoni knit. Since I’m terrified of knits, the Missoni stuff will probably sit for a while.

My favorite piece might be the purple imitation suede with the words Texuede Nurture embossed on the wrong side. I found it hidden behind the fat upright bolts of upholstery fabric. A scant yard and a quarter, it had slipped out of view. My digging payed off. It is fabulously soft and brilliantly colored. The pictures don’t do it justice.

Again, difficult to capture with a camera (or perhaps my photography skills), there’s a copper, semi-metallic fabric in the mix. This material is fairly stiff, so it will be good for bags.

The brown, suede-ish fabric kind of feels like velveteen. It’s soft enough to go either way, apparel or accessory.

I couldn't pass up the embossed pleather. It's fun.

Then there’s the remnant of olive drab PVC destined to be a purse, and lastly, more of the yellow pleather. Since it lent itself well to the LaRue bag I’ve become rather partial to it.

Inexpensive Purse Making Supplies

Never underestimate the dollar store (Dollar Tree in this case) or Walmart's clearance isle. This is just what I needed to finish off my LaRue Messenger Bag. Three bucks total and some nylon webbing to add to the stash.

Monday, August 3, 2009

La Rue Messenger Bag

This was my weekend (mostly Sunday) project. I've been wanting to make this bag for a while, and since I had some Walmart pleather on hand I decided to go forward. This is my first time sewing with pleather, so I looked at this project as an experiment. The bag is an unusual color. I didn't have anything at home that would work, colorwise, for lining. I returned to Walmart hoping to score an inexpensive cut of fabric that would do. No such luck. Well, I actually found a fabric on their $2 table that matched perfectly, but it was hideous. Not wanting to drive into K-town, I rambled on over to Hobby Lobby. After pacing their fabric department isles several times, I decided on a beautiful home dec tapestry. The lining fabric ended up costing more than the pleather, but I wasn't going to spend my time and gas searching further (besides, I loved the fabric).

Having done several hours worth of homework in reading reviews and board messages at Pattern Review, I started my project. Reading that the armhole binding is a nightmare, I decided to face the armholes instead. I made a quick practice piece to test the facing and get a feel for sewing on the material. The facing seemed like a satisfactory alternative. I'm pretty happy with the armhole finish, although the facing was a lot easier to deal with on the test piece, before the two sides of the bag were sewn together with the addition of the lining. There's probably an easier way to do this, but I was nearing analysis paralysis so I kept the project moving.

I didn't have the hardware I needed, but I managed to cannibalize some small d-rings from an old handbag. They're really too small, but Hobby Lobby and Walmart didn't have what I wanted, and I really didn't want to spend any more time driving around looking for supplies. The strap is on my to do list. I'm still debating on how I want to deal with that element. I'm hoping to have it figured out by the end of the week and I'll update when I reach that point.

I winged it on the tassel. It was actually pretty easy to make (thank God for rotary cutters). The embellishment at the top is simply a cleanly finished cylinder of the lining fabric, completely machine sewn. I drilled a hole in the center of a tortoise shell button and pulled the loop through. That concealed the top of the tassle nicely. A more decorative button or bead would work as well, but I used what I had on hand.

I've read several comments about the size of the bag. It's a good size for me, but it wouldn't be difficult to enlarge the pattern if you like a bigger purse. Because the bag isn't large, I decided to leave off the pocket. Pockets are handy to keep stuff from getting lost in a large bag, but I didn't see the need for them here. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the end result. I love this pattern because it's so unusual and accommodating. The final product can be highly embellished, starkly modern, or something in between. The possibilities are endless. No doubt, I'll be making more of these.