Apr 172014

Lately I’ve been intent on finding a new bag to replace a beloved bag that I’ve worn to death.

The bag in question:


Goodbye favorite bag! Bought at Amsterdam’s Mono (now operating as parkarma and mesimu). Not pictured is the crossbody strap, as one of the strap connectors disintegrated.

When we were visiting Amsterdam in 2010, Charles bought me this bag for my birthday. Well-seasoned with great memories from our trip, it’s served me well as my go-to everyday bag. At least, it was my go-to until I moved to NYC and started carrying a backpack everywhere – so I can tote all my essentials without destroying my back. (If by essentials, you understand I mean everything I might possibly need while out of the apartment for 9+ hours: knitting, lunch, a snack or two, water bottle, journal, book…) That said, on the rare days when I do use a purse, I get excited (“omg it’s a purse day!”) and want to carry something beautiful and functional.

In terms of function, I’d like the bag to have a cross-body strap, handles, zipper closure, and at least one zipper pocket. In terms of aesthetics, the bag needs to be structured. Piping, metal hardware, and purse feet all help achieve that structured look. I’m also drawn to the contrast of the strap with the main fabric, which is both colorful and a design that doesn’t compete too much with the oft-worn patterns in my wardrobe.

When I started poking around and thinking about my plan of action, I realized I have no idea what type of bag this actually is. Is it a rectangular bowler?

women's handbag shapes

women’s handbag shapes: source

Or maybe a satchel? Safari?

purse style diagram

more purse styles: source

Or maybe it’s a Boston bag? Whatever the name, after I realized I couldn’t get another bag from the original shop, and didn’t find any amazing ready-made options, I started looking at sewing patterns.

Some of the contenders:

It's a Cinch Tote by U-Handbag

It’s a Cinch Tote by U-Handbag

Betty Bowler by Swoon Patterns

Betty Bowler by Swoon Patterns

Dorothy Day Tripper by Swoon Patterns

Dorothy Day Tripper by Swoon Patterns

This image of Diedelbug Handmade’s Dorothy sealed the deal, as I love the look of the contrasting solid straps against the patterned background. So Dorothy it is!

I’ve sewn a few simple bags before – a drawstring sack for holding my favorite knitted shawl, a little waist pack for walking the dogs, and a couple of tote style bags. I’m looking forward to the challenge of creating something with more structure. A couple resources I’ve found to help out along the way include a sewalong with photo tutorials for Dorothy, and an active Facebook group for Swoon Patterns.

The patterned fabric will be the main body of the bag, and the teal will be the contrasting straps. Still debating whether to use the solid for either half of the gusset.

fabric for Dorothy bag
So far I’ve managed to iron my fabric, cut bias strips to turn into piping, and find yarn to insert into the bias strips to function as cording. Turning an 18″ square of fabric into a continuous length of over 5 yards(!) of 1.5″ bias tape was nothing short of magic! I referred to some of my sewing books to learn this method, and also found a good online tutorial on the Coletterie.

I’ve been busy enjoying the first burst of spring in NYC, spending time with friends, traveling to see family, and hosting guests for the long weekend. Here’s hoping I’ll find (or rather, make) time to devote to this bag in the next few weeks!

  3 Responses to “Sewing project planning: a new go-to bag”

  1. Oh, did you use the continuous bias tape method? It is indeed magical–unless you screw it up, which I have done.

    • Yes, the continuous bias tape method blew my mind! I would have screwed it up had I not referred to *several* images and tutorials, as I couldn’t wrap my brain around it at first.

  2. […] almost done cutting out interfacing for the Dorothy bag. Since moving to NYC and getting rid of our dining room table, I’ve yet to figure out a good […]

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