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?
Outer main fabric and inner fabric by Bonnie Christine from Hawthorne Threads, outer secondary fabric from local fabric store, leather and brass accessories from Tandy Leather.