Thursday, December 18, 2008

Strap happy


I made tote bags for two of Del's fabulous bosses and a very helpful administrative assistant. I wanted the bags to be practical, yet chic. I had no trouble choosing the pattern - the Aivilo Pocket Handbag is as functional and stylish as they come. Fabric selection, however, gave me fits. I've been very good about using my stash for giftmaking, but I really didn't have anything suitable for these recipients (polka dots and cutesy prints just weren't going to cut it). Since the "Thrifty Under Fifty" challenge ended on the 15th, I lifted my spending freeze and made a trip to Super JoAnn's. Del and Lou were with me (actually, they were in the neighboring Home Depot, thank goodness), so I didn't have all that much time to shop.

I wandered around, finding lots of fabrics that would be great for other projects, but nothing for the bags. It was getting close to our lunchtime, and I knew Lou was going to pull the heart-wrenching "I'm HOOOONGRY" routine on his dad. In the interest of time, I narrowed my search to the Legacy Studio quilting prints. These fabrics are in line with what you find in a high-end quilt shop (both in terms of quality and price). They are normally $8.99 /yard, but were on sale for $6.29/yard - yippee! I decided to go with the cool-colored, gold-touched Asian prints. There were six different ones, so I figured I would just get them all and use 2 for each bag.

When I got home, I played with the pairings a bit, but wasn't all that inspired. I put the fabric aside, hoping that I would have a more creative brain on a non-shopping day. Nope - even well-rested, I couldn't come up with three winning combos. The problem was that the collection looked so great all together. I thought about doing a patchwork thing using ALL the prints in ALL the bags, but decided that it would look too busy. Plus, some of the bigger motifs would be lost. I came to a compromise and went with three prints for each tote - 2 for the pockets, and 1 for the main bag.

Feeling proud of myself for finally coming up with a solution, I got out the rotary cutter and cut out my pieces. All went well (meaning no mislicks or blood) until I came to the strap. Because of my little modification, I didn't have enough length - WAH! There was no way that I was going back to the fabric store, so I decided the only solution was to piece the straps.


After stitching my pieces together, I started to worry about durability. Even though I had used good thread and small stitches, I was concerned that a full tote would put too much strain on the seams. And no matter how good looking the fabric combo, a busted strap would be an ugly thing (and could result in the boss having bruised apples or blemished books - ack)! I had to come up with a reinforcement.

Interfacing was a possibility, but all the stuff I have on hand is pretty flimsy. I also considered cutting strips of canvas, but I was really sick of using the rotary cutter at that point. I had a little webbing, but not enough for three bags. In the same snakepit of a drawer, however, I found the perfect solution- grosgrain ribbon!


Ok, I know it doesn't match, but it is the perfect width, very strong, and I have miles of it (post-Independence Day clearance). I noticed with the first strap that the fit was a bit tight in spots where I didn't do a perfect job with the folding. So for the remaining straps, I used a little tool to improve my accuracy.


I cut a piece of cardstock that was just a bit larger than twice the width of the ribbon, and used it as a folding template.


I folded the edges over snugly and pressed (the iron is disgusting at this point, so no action shots).


After pressing the edges, I folded the straps in half lengthwise and pressed again.


I then unfolded the straps and tucked the ribbons inside.


I refolded the strap and stitched. I'm pretty happy with the finished products. The straps have a nice, substantial feel to them. I think the ribbons will provide the support needed to mitigate mechanical failure of the seams, but if not, at least the apples/books will be saved, and the boss will get a patriotic surprise!



littlebuttercups said...

Very Chic Miss Carla! Love the fabric choices! By the way, your blog looks amazing!

Courtney said...

Very cute handbags! Love what you did with the straps! I will have to use the cardstock idea, it made really nice looking straps! And, I have a TON of grosgrain that needs to be used!

crystal_crtr2 said...

Very creative. I might have to give that a try.

Jennifer said...

Those fabrics are gorgeous..nice work girly!!