Category Archives: Bags & Pouches

Squiffy Sling by Mrs H

A recent promotion on the Sewing Quarter featured two bags by Mrs H. The first was the Squiffy Sling bag and the second the Companion Carpet Bag.


A while ago I purchased a paper copy of the latter as part of a gift to a friend but now having seen the frame bag made by Adrienne, I decided to purchase a second (pdf) copy of that pattern for myself. Whilst browsing the website and reviewing the feature on SQ I was intrigued by the Squiffy Bag and so purchased that pattern as well.

The Bag is described thus:-

Overview: Although the Squiffy Sling pattern is designed for beginners, the clever construction of this cross-body bag makes it an interesting sew with a quirky finished bag perfect for everyday use. The Squiffy Sling was designed for the Winter 2017 Bag Retreat with Mrs H.

Dimensions:Small: 8” x9” x 3”, Large: 10” x 11” x 4”

As this bag involves some ‘new to me’ construction methods, I decided to make the first bag in the smaller size. I used some of the fabric that came as part of a kit for making padded covers for Lever Arch files.

The fabrics are 100% cotton with one featuring a print of gardening motifs plus a coordinating plain in a lovely Terracotta colourway. I selected brass hardware from my stash and printed off the pattern and instructions. To ensure that I made no ‘newbie’ errors, not only did I read through all the instructions, I re-visited the tutorial and also took advice from a friend who had already made the Squiffy Sling bag.

The first task was to apply a fusible interfacing on the outer fabric, the contrast panel, the lining and the two pocket pieces. I also applied headliner* wadding to the outer bag. Usually when making a bag, one tries to keep everything straight and symmetrical but the charm of this particular bag is that it is ‘squiffy’!

I completed the window zip insertion for one pocket and made the slip pocket using some of the print fabric. A slight change was that I stitched a dividing line of on the slip pocket so that my mobile phone, notebook and pen would sit tightly in the pocket.

A new method of construction for me was to leave the bottom part of the zip pocket open to facilitate the bagging out of the bag. In the past I have always turned bags through an opening in the base of the lining, or slipped the lining inside the outer (wrong sides together) before stitching together at the top.

I particularly liked the fact that the lining has a separate pattern which is deliberately drafted slightly smaller than the outer thus ensuring a snug fit with no excess bagginess in the lining.

The construction of the strap was also new to me. For this bag you need only one rectangle (or D ring) plus a slider so that the strap can be adjusted in length. I shall certainly use this method again on future bags. The only slight hiccup that I had was ensuring the correct placement of the magnetic snap but by folding the flat fabric pieces over I was able to mark the placement and will now know for future makes of the bag.

Stitching all around the outer and lining before bagging out through the zip pocket was an ‘interesting’ experience but it did work well after a short tussle. Next time I will use a longer zip so that it is not such a squeeze!


I am delighted with the bag which has turned out well, and is just the right size. I have learned a lot and am already planning the next iteration before progressing to the Companion Carpet Bag.

*Headliner is a foam backed material used instead of Bosal in-R-form

A Gift – Adrienne’s Oriental Bag

Those of you who are regular followers of my blog will know that I do not like to make alterations. However, on a recent visit to my friend in London, I was gifted a partially-completed bag. This bag was most definitely not the sort of gift where you look into the horse’s mouth, it is not an alteration – more a ‘completion’.

A beautiful bag made using a charming oriental-style printed cotton combined with very authentic-looking faux leather and the finishing touch of a rectangular frame. Along with the bag came two lengths of the faux leather so that I could complete the bag with a shoulder strap.

After a week of procrastination I settled down to finish the bag. I re-machined some of the areas where the stitching was coming adrift and completed making the strap. I applied a nickel strap adjuster and would also have used swivel hooks but unfortunately I am ‘out of stock’ and being impatient, could not wait. However, it was a very simple task to attach the strap to the nickel rectangles that were already in situ.

The bag measures approximately 10½ inches high x 11 inches wide. It has a plastic grid base stiffener and 4 feet. Inside there are a window zipped pocket and a slip pocket. The frame is secured closed with a tab which has been fussy cut to highlight a bird from the print and incorporates a magnetic snap fastener. The rectangular frame opens to reveal a void of approximately 6 inches square.


I could not be more pleased with this lovely bag which is exactly the right size and in colours to complement my Autumn wardrobe.

I have never made a bag incorporating a frame, so this gift has given me the inspiration and incentive to make my own.

Re-sized Saddle Bag – Room for Improvement!

The original pattern was for a small bag measuring 6 inches wide and 6 inches deep, free from Swoon Bags.

I definitely need something larger so decided to re-size up to a 10 inch.

I drafted out the new pattern but before I swept onto construction of the new size, I thought it would be a good idea to make the original-sized bag first. This way I could check out the construction techniques.

A good idea in theory but in practice I still managed to miss a couple of key points when making up the re-sized bag.

As this was most definitely a ‘trial’ bag I did not want to use any of my ‘special’ fabrics or the faux leather that is destined for the final iteration once I have mastered the pattern.

Instead I used some 100% linen that was gifted to me along with lots of random lengths of furnishing fabrics. This particular fabric is ‘Up the Garden Path’ by Vanessa Arbuthnot, © 2011. I do not have a bag in this colour so if it worked out well then I would have a useful addition to my collection of bags.

For the lining I would use some of the spare fat quarters of Beautiful Birds on Duck Egg Blue cotton that I purchased a couple of years ago from Dunelm Mill. If you are interested, the design is still available in a wide range of products.

Due to the larger size of the bag I thought it would be OK to use headliner foam wadding. This was fine except that again, I ended up having to apply a binding to the top of the bag rather than stitching the lining to the outer and then ‘bagging out’.

I side-stepped the difficulties of turning through the long magnetic tab by making a short tab which was inserted between the outer flap and its lining.

However, I did not allow for the depth of the bag and so the magnets are not in exactly the correct position. The one on the bag side should be nearer to the top edge of the bag. At this stage I cannot change the position so will have to ‘live with it’.

A small mistake when cutting the lining for the bag flap means that the birds are well-placed – but upside down! Other than that I think that I have done quite well with the pattern placement and pattern matching.

Having assembled the outer bag, I realised that I had not cut the panel for the outer pocket that should go onto the back of the bag – oh well, this is definitely just a trial. I have marked up the pattern pieces so that next time the outer pocket panel is not overlooked.

To make up for the lack of a pocket on the outside, I did make two pockets for inside; A small zipped pocket in which to keep valuables, plus a slip pocket for my mobile phone. As the bag is quite deep, I also added a loop to which I can attach my car and house keys which otherwise always sink to the bottom of the bag.

The long strap has an adjustable slider so that the bag can be worn ‘cross body’. As I have temporarily run out of nickel magnetic clasps, the one on this bag is brass, the remaining hardware is nickel.

In conclusion: this bag is not perfect, there is definitely room for improvement but I am nearly there.

Mollie Mini Cross Body Bag by Swoon

Some years ago I purchased two lengths of faux leather from Sew Hot at a very reduced price probably due to the colours of the faux leather – a Bright Turquoise and a Very Lime Green. Those that know me will also know that I am not afraid of bold colours! I set the fabric to one side until I could locate a co-ordinating cotton print as I had set my heart on a two-tone ‘saddle’ bag.

I eventually found just the right print but in the meantime – lost the original pattern which was a cut-out from a magazine, Love Sewing I think.

After a thorough search of the sewing room and a browse on the internet I came across two patterns. One was the Poppy bag from BoutiqueUniqueDesigns and the other was the Mollie Mini Cross body Bag. By this time I realised that I had been hoarding the faux leather for such a long time it was more than overdue to be made up. The pattern for the Poppy bag was printed off and passed to my very good friend along with the fabrics, headliner fabric wadding and hardware with a plea for her to make up the bag.

Trial bag on the Left, my new bag on the Right

Within 4 days I received a photograph of the completed bag – along with the initial ‘trial’ bag! Wow – they look absolutely great.

Now, where was I with regard to the saddlebag?


The Mollie Mini cross body bag – this is a free pattern from the Swoon website and is described thus:-

A compact cross body with style, this small bag features an exterior slip pocket, fold over flap with magnetic snap closure and long adjustable strap.”


  • 6” wide 6” tall 2.75” deep

The Swoon pattern looked ideal apart from just one thing – it was much too small. Full of confidence I decided to grade up from the 6inch size to something nearer 10 inches. But, I hesitate to use my lovely faux leather on something so untested. I know, I will make a trial bag using some gifted linen. I have cut out most of the pieces but once again, anxiety stepped in. I have never made this type of bag before – I was unsure of the construction techniques. I would make up the bag to the original pattern – just to test out the various techniques and get a ‘handle’ on how the bag is put together.

Fabric requirement for the Mollie Mini are very small, a fat quarter of main fabric, a fat quarter of contrast and a fat quarter for the lining plus foam wadding, interfacing and hardware.

I had bought a short length of a charming linen print at the Festival of Quilts and this coordinated well with some Terracotta linen from the stash of gifted fabrics.

Although the pattern calls for ¾ inch hardware, I used 1 inch as that was the smallest size that I had. Being in a rush to get on with the project I ignored the instructions for fusible wadding and instead used some leftover pieces of headliner wadding which in hindsight was far too thick for the size of the bag – will I never learn?

Placing the contrast shape onto the front of the bag went well, also applying the magnetic snap to the front panel and the shaped tab. Next was preparation of the magnetic snap tab. I carefully stitched right sides together only to discover that due to the thickness of the headliner fabric, it was impossible to turn right side out. I cut off the stitching and ended up running a satin stitch around the outer edges 3 times to seal them. The end result is just about OK.

When it came to assemble the bag I simply could not make head nor tail of the instructions. It was only after I browsed the finished makes on the Swoon website that the light bulb finally switched on as to how to layer up the various parts!

Now it was relatively plain sailing until I had stitched the gusset to the lining front and back panels only to realise that I should have left a gap for turning. Instead, I put the lining inside the bag with wrong sides facing and applied a binding to the top of the bag. I quite like how that looks which is just as well as by now I was feeling pretty fed up with the whole project.


Final analysis. This is definitely the style of bag that I am after but I think I will leave it a while before I attempt the larger size in the linen and even longer before I make the Faux leather version.

Beads of Courage bags

A grand daughter of one of the members of Sprat & Winkle is currently being treated for Cancer. At her hospital they have a programme called “Beads of Courage”. Here is the link to find out all about it:-

Lizzie contacted the site, purchased 100 labels and the members of the Group volunteered to make up the bags. I signed up for 4 bags and here they are.

The bags are quick and easy to make,each takes only 2 x fat quarters of fabric and some cord. I used cord purchased from Franklins, Salisbury and stitched the bags on ‘Pearl’s a Singer’ my darling Featherweight machine. A most productive and enjoyable afternoon.

Sprat & Winkle Rookwood Retreat Day

I have previously mentioned the Rookwood Retreat Day that is arranged by the Committee of Sprat & Winkle Quilters. Now three weeks after the event, I have finally got around to posting on the blog!

This year the event was held on Saturday 12th May at Rookwood School in Andover and was very well attended by both members of the quilting group and several guests.

Having registered we took our places at the tables set out in the assembly hall. Christine and Lizzie regaled us with a brief review of their recent weekend away at a hotel in Oxfordshire that had been arranged by Purple Stitches followed by a quick re-telling of Lizzie’s adventures in the world of Singer featherweight sewing machines.

After instruction and demonstration we then set about making up the kits of ‘granny squares’.

One set was for personal retention, the second set was entered into a draw. Each of the seven winners was handed 4 blocks to make up as per their heart’s desire! I did not win from the raffle but my good friend donated her spare block to me so now I have two with which to make into ‘something’!

We enjoyed an ‘American Lunch’ and whilst that settled went on to make the divided baskets. I was ‘almost’ able to  finish my basket on the day. The finished basket measures approximately 11 inches  x 6 inches x 8 inches deep. All that was required was some hand sewing of the binding around the top of the baskets before I could put it to good use in storing and transporting fat quarters and sewing accessories for yet more Caribbean bird blocks (see yet another post about those later!)


And finally – an MIU padded wristlet purse

What you may ask is an MIU? It stands for Make It Up (as you go along!)

There was STILL some remnant of this Cerise linen fabric so I had to make just one more item…. a padded wristlet purse seemed like a good idea.

Using the largest piece of remnant fabric for the outer shell plus some strips that had been parallel to the selvedge, I designed and stitched the purse as I went along.

Recently I had bought some sets of hardware and now seemed like a good opportunity to try them out. I referred to a You tube video for instructions on how to put together the wrist strap but it really was intuitive.

The fabric gathered together nicely for the frills and I was able to use yet another zip from my father’s stash for the closure. A small piece of wadding and a scrap of the lining as used for lining the jacket were all the materials required.

The finished purse measures approximately 8 inches x 6¾ inches. Having completed the make, I will note the construction for future iterations.

Now – there will be no more postings about Cerise linen-look as that is the final make from the original fabric purchase!

Cerise Linen Bag – Simplicity 2396

On completing the Cerise Jacket ( I still had approximately 1/3 yard of fabric left over. What to make? I know, I will re-visit a favourite bag pattern – Simplicity 2396.

After a search of my pattern stash I located the pattern and also a copy of the workbook that I had prepared when teaching a class for making up this bag. Result!

I cut out the Cerise fabric and having checked my remnant stash decided to use some bold-patterned stretch cotton sateen that was purchased during a visit to Norfolk.

The original dress has long-since been sold (shame as I really liked the fabric) but there was still sufficient to line this bag and maybe make another.

I had some remnant ‘headliner’ wadding (replacement for Bosal ® or Soft & Stable by Annie ®) and decided to ‘trial’ this in the new bag. I used the headliner inside the straps, fastening tab, bag top bands and also the main sections. Conclusion – the wadding is fine, easy to cut and stitch but is more appropriate for a structured bag not a ‘soft’ bag. 

As both the Cerise linen and the cotton sateen lining were fairly ‘robust’ I did not use fusible interfacing.

Construction was straightforward although I did reduce the size of the main body of the bag so that it fit the headliner fabric that I had cut from remnant. I added a loop to hang between the top band and the body.

This can be used for attaching a bag charm or tassel, for now I have added an Art Nouveau-style brooch. The fastening tab which conceals a magnetic snap is my usual addition together with several pockets incorporated into the lining.

This bag sports a zip pocket with two slip pockets behind plus a divided pocket just the right size for a mobile phone.

Finished size is approximately 13 inches deep excluding the straps which are just long enough to go over a shoulder, by 12 inches across. The bag will coordinate well with my outfits and as I frequently wear shades of Pink I think it will have many outings over the coming Summer months.


The Ultimate Travel Bag – Nearly Finished!

Phew! I had intended to take photographs as I worked may way through the construction of this bag which I have to say has been a labour of ‘love/hate’! However, the desire to get on and stitch through to the next stage meant that I totally forgot to take a breath – and a photo.

The process of construction is complicated but as with all Annie Unrein’s projects, the instructions both written and video are comprehensive and do help to make up this project. There were a few hiccups along the way – nothing to do with the way of the instructions or the project itself – much more to do with my desire to change the sizing and also to use materials that were to hand rather than the correct products as per the materials list.

But the bag is almost complete – I could use it as it is now but there are a few things that still need to be addressed. Firstly I have not bound the inside seams. This is not earth-shattering and I will definitely be hand stitching a binding to the internal seams once I return from my trip but for now it would be another time-consuming activity for which I simply do not have time. Secondly, at time of writing I have not made the pad for the carrying strap. I will sit down and make that tomorrow afternoon as I feel that it is an essential part of the carrying strap. Thirdly, because I used a thick heavyweight drill fabric for the straps and they are filled with cotton webbing, my machine really struggled to stitch the carrying strap ends. I have brass rivets and plan to install them before I leave. If not, I shall just have to be careful with weight distribution and hope that my stitching holds up.

Notes on construction:

The bag is made in sections. This is great as the front,back and side panels are constructed with their pockets both inside and out before the bag is put together.

Front Panel Prepared with Zip & Slip Pocket

Slip Mesh Pockets inside the Front Panel

Zipped Mesh Pocket inside the Back Panel

The straps and handles are reinforced by the insertion of webbing. I have not used this method before, hence my use of the incorrect webbing. I will certainly use this method again in the future and have already ordered the nylon webbing to use in other bag handles and straps.

The use of Bosal ® wadding helps to make the bag stand upright. Additional stitching helps to compress the foam and makes it easier to stitch the component parts together.

Below a few more photographs that I did remember to take during the final stages of construction.

One side of the side strip attached to the Back panel

Back strap with Velcro to slide over Trolley

Preparing to Stitch the Second Panel to the Side Strip

The bag measures 49 cms across x 38 cms high x 17 cms deep at its widest part and weighs in at just 800 grams. Thus I have achieved the objective which was to make a bag that fit within the dimensions quoted by the Airline and weighs considerably less than the carry-on bag that I almost purchased from Antler.

Construction of the bag was a steep learning curve. I love the end result but don’t think that I will be making another anytime soon.



Sew Sturdy: The Ultimate Travel Bag by Annie Unrein

Those of you that follow my blog will know that I am very excited. I am going on a Fly/Cruise to the Caribbean! There has been a flurry of activity over the past couple of months. I have gradually assessed the wardrobe requirements for two weeks in the Caribbean climate – very different to what we are experiencing here in Hampshire UK at present! It has seemed a little strange to be thinking of cotton tops and dresses, cut off trousers and last but not least – evening wear as the snow gently flutters passed the window!

As this is to be a Fly/Cruise I need to be aware of weight restrictions for my luggage. I checked the allowances for hold and cabin. The hold baggage can be up to 23 kgs but the cabin must not exceed 5kgs and be contained within a case measuring no more than 55cms x 40cmsx 20cms. ‘That’s OK’ I thought, ‘I can buy a small case to fit those limits’. How wrong I was! The smallest case that I could find was great size-wise but oh dear, it weighs in at 2.2 kgs! That does not leave much scope for the contents. So…. I am making my case using the Sew Sturdy: Ultimate Travel Bag pattern by Annie Unrein.

I have previously made the Sew Sturdy: Sewing Organiser Bag and the Essential Back Pack by Annie which turned out to be exactly what is says on the tin – sew sturdy.

I had hoped to be able to buy some more Linen/Cotton blend fabric from New Threads that would match the handbag that I intend to take with me – but unfortunately having visited the shop, discovered that the last of the roll had been sold – probably to me! Instead I purchased 2 metres of a beautiful patchwork print Linen by French General together with coordinating quilting cottons.

French General Outer Fabric

Lining Fabric

Combined with the cost of Annie Soft & Stable wadding, mesh for pockets, nickel hardware, zips and thread the total cost is in the region of £75 – but hey, this travel bag is going to be unique and I am sure will see a great deal of travel over its lifetime so cost per use will workout to be inconsequential.

This morning whilst the snow converts the landscape to a chocolate box picture, I have cut out all the pieces ready to start quilting this afternoon. I will keep you posted on progress……