A few of weeks ago I posted about the Wardrobe Architect Challenge. In the first month I constructed a mediocre blouse using no pattern, but for the February part of the challenge, I decided I was going to try my hand at another blouse, this time using Colette’s Violet blouse pattern. Well, this is the part where I tell you I did exactly as I said I would and finished the blouse. But it is not. The first week of February we went on vacation. Then a giant metaphorical storm rolled in at work and I was exhausted. Then my sister joined us for the long weekend and we had way too much fun doing non-project things. So then there were about 10 days left in February. While it wouldn’t have been impossible to tackle the Violet, I hadn’t gotten around to ordering my fabric at this point. So I decided to switch the February and March projects and instead work on my accessory first and save the blouse for March. This is also the part where I tell you I actually completed this part of the challenge in February, but that would not be true. I completed the February challenge in March.
The timing actually worked out. I’d realized just after my vacation, and after buying two new purses, that I should have also purchased myself a nice heavy tote bag while I was on my bag buying spree. The reason is actually practical: I often bring two bags to work with me; one purse for my wallet, phone, etc. and one larger bag, usually a canvas tote or a baggu for carrying my lunch, shoes, sweaters, etc. I have a lot of baggage. The canvas tote and the baggus work fine, but are more suited for groceries. I really kind of had a bag like this in mind, but without the heavy price tag (after all, I did just blow a ton of money on nice designer purses!). The main reason the February challenge didn’t get finished by the end of the month is that I waffled too long on materials. I wanted a leather bag but I was just unable to find exactly what I wanted. Feeling a little bit defeated, I pushed the challenge to the back of my mind. After about a week or so of avoidance, a little inspiration hit and I decided that I would use some fabric that I already had on hand and add the leather touch I wanted through straps.
I mentioned in the first Wardrobe Challenge post that I already owned several bag patterns, but I actually decided to instead wing it, because that’s what I kind of like to do with personal sewing projects. As much as I do like making the bags with patterns, I didn’t really have anything that was exactly what I wanted. Making a basic tote bag is really simple using two pieces of fabric that are the same size and then attaching straps – it is unbelievably simple to alter your bag however you would like. I decided to give my bag some extra stability by using leather straps and then adding a fusible interfacing to all of the pieces of my fabric. In addition to this, I also boxed the bottom of the bag so it I could easily stack lunch containers in the bag without the containers falling over (Purl Bee has a great tutorial and bag pattern for free that you can use).
I also wanted my bag to have hidden pockets on the inside, as well as the ability to close at the top. I considered a zipper or a magnetic snap but instead opted for one of these adorable little button closures and some scrap leather. I didn’t do any finishing to the leather edges because I really love the look of raw leather.
I want to talk for a minute on costs. I didn’t mention cost at all in my original wardrobe challenge post because I didn’t think about it much until I started this month’s challenge (my January project did not incur me any additional costs because I already had all of the materials in my stash and I made my own pattern). This month I only had a few of the supplies on hand, so I needed to purchase a few things. The entire project cost about $59, which includes fabric ($16), fusible interfacing ($18), leather straps ($20), and thread and finishing accessories ($5).
In addition to the cost of the materials, the project took me about 2 hours from start to finish – which isn’t too big of a time commitment for a sewing project (I estimate the Violet blouse will take me about a whole day).
Now that the bag is finished, I’m feeling inspired again for the next month’s challenge. Also, even though I didn’t stick exactly to this month’s challenge, I think it is okay to be flexible. The blouse is a little bit daunting for me and I was feeling a bit stressed out, especially about time constraints. Instead of immediately failing the challenge and crawling in to the fetal position, I decided to make adjustments to the challenge and do something that I was more comfortable with and that I knew I would enjoy making. After all, what’s the point of the challenge if I’m going to be stressed out and hating every minute of it?