Tablecloth Handbag

Last night I was standing the dark next to my car, with a first aid dummy hoisted up onto my hip and two ukuleles in my hand as I tried to find my car keys in my bag. I decided then and there to finally make the handbag I’ve been looking at. That’s not quite true, I decided later I’d make a new bag but gosh it was a dramatic moment wasn’t it?

Anyoldway, as much as I love my old handbag, it’s actually gone from “Nicely roomy” to “too big too big!”. I’d like to say I’ve made a smaller one in an effort to streamline my life and embrace a minimalist ideal, but really it’s just because I’m fed the fuck up hunting for my keys/lighter/phone/purse in a big bag.

Handbag made from vintage tablecloth

I’ve been eyeing off the tutorial for this bag over at Mmmcrafts for ages on the basis it looked quick, and was a nice size. I was right on both counts. The most time consuming part of this project was all the wandering around I did, poking things and looking out the window in a very procrastinatey way. Although I’ve taken the time to fling some scrap fabric over the cutting board to make a proper background for once, I can’t help but feel yellow wasn’t the right choice. Too late now, the camera battery is on charge and all hope of a redo is lost.

The outside fabric, you may have gathered from the post title, is a vintage tablecloth I got in a bundle from eBay a while back because I buy fabric bundles when I’m sad (don’t judge me). The fabric of the tablecloth was a little bit soft to be a bag on it’s own, but the lining fabric is sturdy and that holds all the shape. Well done lining fabric, unsung hero of the handbag world.

Front pocket of the bag

I changed a few bits of the tutorial pattern. The tutorial has the external pocket on the back of the bag, but I’d rather have the pocket under the flap so I did that. There’s a photo even, to prove that I would not lie to you about flaps and pockets.  The other change I did was not rounding the flap corners. This was because I couldn’t be bothered clipping curves. I mean, that’s for aesthetic reasons and nothing at all to do with me being slack.  I also didn’t divide the inner pocket into two because I don’t have many tiny things that need a pocket all their own.

Inside of the table cloth bag

The lining fabric came… oh. It’s from eBay. I bought a bundle of …fabric one time. Shush. The bag is plenty big enough for what I need to carry such as my frog purse (which I made but never blogged), my tobacco pouch (which I made but never blogged), a Morsbag (which I made) and my phone (which I bought with money I made). I’m perfectly willing to pretend that this is all that’s ever in my bag, and that I never carry around loose change in the bottom of the pockets. Or old receipts. Or loose tobacco. Or random bits of crap. Not me! Minimalist! Streamlined! Not at all full of shit!

Mors Pause

See what I did there with the title? Puh-retty clever, I know! Thanks, kind of you to say. Work on the rainbow skirt ground to almost a halt over the past week or so as I worked on these Morsbags. (Click to embiggen, as per usual.)

Morsbags with applique ukuleles

The Morsbag people are running a competition which I figured I might as well enter.  Entry requirements are simple, you need to make 10 themed Morsbags and make sure the label is included. I went with ukulele themed bags so I can hand them out at ukegroup and make people like me with Morsbag based bribes.

Sadly, the sewing machine came back from servicing with an incredible amount of oil and grease sloshing around on it. I don’t know why the screw that holds the foot on had to be coated in grease, for example. I’ve run a lot of scrap fabric through and wiped the casing down a few times, but there’s still oil/grease lurking. It’s not a problem on the skirt sewing yet as those are small bits that don’t get moved around much. There’s some splots on these bags though, which is frustrating. It’d be okay if they were for me, but I’m giving them away so it’s a bit “Sorry about the splodge there, the sewing machine service people are completely kinky for grease”.

Morsbags Timelapse

So basically what I’ve been making over the past month and a bit is Morsbags. There’s a festival coming up, and I want a bundle to hand out to people. Also they’re fun to make. But I made a big overexcited post about that before.

One thing I have bought recently is a new Brinno timelapse camera. I had one, but it didn’t have the viewfinder so I got some fabulous footage of “not quite what I wanted”. I decided to test out the camera inside and out, and the inside one is… sewing Morsbags. You can watch it if you like, it’s just here.

That’s about it for now, I bought some more sheets at the op-shop this morning as I was running out of stash to sew up into bags. I’m off to cut some more bags. Addicted. Little bit addicted.
If you’re interested in the Morsbag idea, you should visit the website.

More Morsbags Please

Being ever so slightly tragic in my adoration of “The Great British Sewing Bee”, I follow a lot of contestants on Twitter. I love that show, not just for the sewing – but I dream of a fabric stash like that, let’s be honest – but because unlike most competition style shows there’s no bitchy comments to a secret camera, no gloating when someone has to unpick their seams – it’s just nice, comfortable sewing with lovely people and Claudia Winkleman who is gorgeous. I digressed, oops. Anyway! The winner of the 2014 season, Heather, was photographed making a “Morsbag”. This was a new word to me, so I went over to the website and went “Oooh!”

A pile of Morsbags

On the face of it, Morsbags are a simple idea. You make a cloth bag, and use it instead of plastic bags. What makes Morsbags a bit special is that you make them and then give them away. You don’t sell them. You gift them. To people you know, people you don’t know – anyone anywhere. The fabric can be anything too, there’s a big push for recycled fabrics such as old sheets or clothes. As you can see I’ve made a bit of a stack so far (I’m up to 13, but I’ve another 5 or so cut out ready to sew) and all of mine are stash fabrics. Some of them are failed projects. The purple up there is a skirt I was halfway through before I just thought “This isn’t working” and shoved it into the stash, and the brown flowers are a sheet I dyed yellow and then forgot to use. The rest are  fabrics I’ve hung on to because they’re “special” but I thought “What am I hanging on to them for? They might be special, but they’re not being very special hidden away in a box”. I’ve made two froggy ones, one of those lives in my handbag and the other one is currently in transit to Lizzie in the UK who also adores frogs.

I can’t pinpoint what’s so exciting about these things, really. It’s a combination of things – using up forgotten fabric, reusing failed projects, the fact that making them is a breeze and the fact that once you’ve made them they’re gifted away. All of these things, combined together, make for exactly the sort of thing I love. Making, re-using and random acts of kindness.

If you’re interested in the project, you can find all the details at To make official Morsbags to hand out, you are asked to buy the labels to sew on, but these are sold at cost and are only 5pence each (about 10 US cents). You can also join a local pod (or group) to make it a social thing if you fancy that. You can use a different pattern if you prefer, or modify the given pattern (I sew my handles on slightly differently to make them extra super strong), and you can go nuts and embellish or patchwork or dye… whatever you like. I’ve so many smaller bits of fabric lurking in the stash that a patchworked Morsbag can’t be far away.

Look at all that blather, I’m pretty excited about this whole deal.

Bag Ladies

My mother had this old black handbag which she carried slung over one arm like the Queen (or, more accurately, like my Grandmother – my enduring memory of her is as she wandered the garden, pruning back everything while carrying her handbag slung over her forearm. I do mean everything, she could turn a lush oasis into a tree stump and clippings in an hour flat, bless her). Mama complained about this bag for months before I actually found a pattern we both liked and I was able to make her a replacement.  The pattern I used for both bags is the Rachel Bag Pattern from Crystelle Boutique, which is free. When I showed her the pattern I said “This one has a hessian bag as the front, we can find something else”, but as it turned out there was a hessian coffee bag lurking in a cupboard, so I used bits from that for both bag fronts.

A couple of things to keep in mind now, the first is that “hessian” is burlap. The second is this – you know how there’s a ton of bloggers out there who spend hours setting up their photos and messing with the light, props and backdrops? I am very much not one of them, so in the upcoming pictures I’d like you to imagine the “Sheet over a pillow” is actually a perfectly selected backdrop with super adorable props scattered around. Thanks, I appreciate it. I would have skipped the sheet if… well it’s the dog pillow most of the time so it’s a little bit doggy and even I have standards for what goes online.

Mama's Bag

Mama’s favourite colours are greens and browns. She decided she’d like hessian as the backing of the bag, the sides and the strap because she likes to hear me say swears as it starts to unravel before I can fix the edges. I followed the pattern pretty much as written, but did add a backing to the loops holding the hoops. The pattern just has the edges folded in, but I wanted to secure and protect the hessian edges so I popped some cotton in there as a backing. The pattern also calls for a two part strap, with a decorative knot in it. We’re not really decorative knot people, so I just made it a solid strap instead.

Bag lining

I also added a second pocket into the lining of both bags, because pockets are super handy. The inside of Mama’s bag is a bit patchy because the fabric I used was from a stack of fat quarters she won last year in an art show, and there wasn’t enough to do the lining in full pieces. She quite likes the patchwork effect, so it’s all good. Also, I hope you will enjoy our genuine 1970s floor there.

My Bag

Now, my own preferred colours are reds and oranges (warms basically). The top fabric is a fat quarter I picked up at Spotlight because it was so nice but didn’t have any plans for. The middle fabric is from a pack of chopped up kimonos. A local shop sells them as patch working or small craft grab bags and I’m a shameless addict of these bags.  The kangaroo is from the coffee bag. I had to lose some wordage to get the roo on, but I think it was worth it. If I’d gone with the words I’d have had a roo nose and it just wouldn’t have been as sweet. I did ponder using hessian as my backing and side fabric, but I decided on corduroy so that I could be a magnet for every piece of fluff ever. My strap is longer because I prefer to carry my bag with the strap crossing my body, which is unflattering but less annoying. Oh, also – we couldn’t find hoops we liked in the handbag bits section, so we bought curtain rings instead.

Lining in My Bag

For the lining of my bag I used a sarong I’d bought in Darwin on holiday. The heat in Darwin makes you think these purchases are a good idea, but then when you get back to Melbourne you think “Why did I buy this? I will never wear it again”. I’d already chopped half of it up for something else, but I had the perfect amount left over for the lining. For the record, I did wear it in Darwin, but not in public.

The pattern is a good one. The bags are roomy without being massive and they are straightforward to sew up, if a little fiddly in places. There’s lots of other free bag patterns on the site to poke at too, I just liked the roundy shape of this one.

Hidden Panda Purse

I have a friend, her name is Julie (I have more friends that just Julie, but this post concerns only her). She’s a bit bonkers about pandas, even though frogs are clearly way better than pandas. I wanted to whip up something cheery, yet pandary for her, and decided on a little coin purse.

Coin Purse

The fabric was one of my fat quarter impulse buys which I am prone to, but it’s clearly bright and happy. “But wait!” I hear you say, “wait! I thought you said, Lyn, that this was pandary!”. Well it is. I hid the pandas inside.

Sneaky Pandas

See, this way, should Jools choose to use her coin purse in public, she can hide the fact that she’s a panda nutso from the general population, and see pandas only for herself. Surprise! Pandas!

There are two kinds of purse frame you can get, sew in or glue in. I went with sew in, because me and glue don’t always get along very well and sometimes there’s angry words.

Stitched Frame

Of course in this close up you can see where I botched the thread. Don’t look. The thread obviously goes through the pre-punched holes, and is for the most part hidden behind the inside of the frame, so it’s pretty neat and tidy.

Overall, this came out okay. I’m not 100% happy with the shape, but I can improve that next time (sorry Jools!). It also came together really quickly, the longest part is sewing the purse onto the frame. Getting the purse and lining done was the work of about half an hour.

To make this, I followed the tutorial at Skip to My Lou.