In Search of The Perfect Purse
Many decades ago my brother gave me a black cross body bag. It became my favorite everyday purse. I used it to death. Even with the raggedy, thread bare, (w)holiness I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it and yet never made the effort to draft a copy of it. In desperation I bought a similar bag last year in purple. The material was plasticy and the straps were weirdly twisted. Then I remember a purse pattern suggestion from Accordion for Dog Under My Desk. Turns out the Two Zip Hipster was the perfect starting point for creating my perfect purse.
One of the changes that I made was increasing the depth of the purse by 1″. Sounded simple since all of the pattern pieces were rectangles but the increases need to be changed on a gazillion pattern pieces. A gazillion as in nearly every pattern piece. Oy! I added a zipper pocket in the inside.
I had 2 blue plaid zippers I had bought from Daiso that were perfect. The light blue and red matched the main purse fabric nicely. I had matching cord stops but I decided against the gathered pocket in the front because the print would have looked too skewed. Maybe for my next version.
I also put belting inside the straps for extra stability. I later regretted the extra bulk this added. But 3 needles later I’m happy with the results. The last change was that I added a second rectangle ring for the strap. This allowed me to sew the purse without having the long strap get in the way. I was able to add the long strap at the last step in the construction.
Geeky Sewist Fabric
I love this fabric. It’s a home dec fabric that I bought at M&L Fabrics at a pricey $20/yard. I wasn’t sure what I was going to make with it so I bought 2 yards. Good thing because that made the extra long straps and print matching much easier. The fabric has pin cushions, scissors, pattern pieces, sewing machines, ruler and rotary cutters all over it. Check out this print matching.
I used a red lining fabric for the lining to match the red zipper and red topstitching. I haven’t had a chance to try out the bag but I’m very excited that I finally have a replacement for the worn down black bag.
Why Didn’t I Make One Sooner?!
I walk the dog everyday and I’ve been suffering from needlessly from cold hands syndrome. Yes, I could wear gloves but they prevent me from texting and selecting podcasts on my phone. And I feel like I need to take the gloves off while picking up after the dog, just in case. It wasn’t until I was making the thumb hole cuff for the reading blanket tutorial that it hit me. I needed a sleeve with a thumb hole. It reminds me of a leg warmer but an arm version, hence, arm warmers. I thought it was going to be easy but my first attempt was a disaster. Good news for you I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to. The instructions look more complicated than it really is.
Cutting Your Pattern
- You’ll need approximately 24″ x 24″ of rib knit .
- Fold your fabric in half with the greatest amount of stretch going along the folded edge.
- Place your hand on the fabric with the folded edge at your finger. Determine how tall you want the sleeve to cover your finger and how far up your arm you want it. I like the sleeve to cover most of my fingers. I fold it down when I need more finger mobility. Cut the fabric to size.
- Fold the fabric over your arm and chalk your arm. Pin along your chalk line leaving the thumb area unpinned.
- Try on the arm warmer and adjust the pattern as needed. This try on is important since all knits behaves differently and everyone likes a different amount of ease.
- Trim your pattern with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Notice how I cut a curve at the thumb hole. This curve gives you more thumb mobility.
- Trace the pattern onto a piece of paper to keep for future use and to cut your second arm warmer.
Sewing the Arm Warmers
- Instead of pins make a clip at the top and bottom of the thumb hole.
- Open up the fabric and fold right sides together so that you have a long and skinny piece. Sew the middle section from notch to notch.
- Open up the ends to a “X” shape.
- Grab the two top flaps and put them right sides together.
- Sew from the end of the last stitch to the next clip. I marked the end of the last stitch with blue chalk to make it easier to see.
- Check the underside to make sure the fabric didn’t shift and you have sewn to the end of the previous stitch.
- Repeat with the other two flaps. Again checking that your stitching meets the end of the previous stitch on both sides.
- Open up the piece into an upside down “V” shape. Sew up one side with a 1/4″ seam allowance and the other with a 3/8″ seam allowance. The two different seam allowances is to adjust for the turn of the cloth. The layer inside needs to be smaller (larger seam allowance) so that it lays smooth.
- Sew from the end of the previous stitch to the hem.
- Baste the seam allowance open. I use a glue stick. When I turned the sleeve inside out it was really difficult to keep the seam allowance open which created weird lumps and bumps in the seam. Pressing it open seemed like a dangerous undertaking.
- Turn the arm warmer inside out with the layer with the larger seam allowance as the inner layer. Don’t worry, just turn it and look at the seam allowance. If you have the layers wrong, flip it inside out.
- You’ll notice that the inner layer will be longer than the outer layer. It’s that turn of the cloth thing again. Trim the hem even to each other.
Sew the Hem
The next couple of steps are difficult to describe. The end goal is to sew the hem right side together leaving an opening to turn the arm warmer inside out. Here we go.
- Fold over the hem seam allowance. It doesn’t matter how much seam allowance.
- Grab the seam allowance from the inside.
- Turn the seam allowance inside out. Zig zag the hem all the way around leaving a 2″ opening. When you get to the point in the sewing where the bulk of the arm warm preventing you from sewing further you’ll have to stuff the material in. I know this is confusing. You will understand when you get to this step.
- Turn the arm warmer inside out.
- Hand stitch the opening close. I’m not sure of the name of the stitch I used. It’s like a ladder stitch where you’re stitching the edge of folds. I make almost like a back stitch in order to give the stitch some stretch so the thread doesn’t break when putting the arm warmer on and taking it off.
You have arm warmer with thumb hole. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. I’ve been wearing everywhere, not just walking the dog. The grey goes with everything but I would love some colorful pairs.
Happy Arm Warmer Sewing,
How to Sew a Reading Blanket
Yeah! Counting hanging chads, I got 10 votes for a tutorial how to sew the sleeved reading blanket that I had made. The reason why I asked my readers to weight in is that I want to blog about things that my regular readers would enjoy. I know some of my free patterns and tutorial get a lot of views. It’s people who come to the site, grab the pattern and leave. That’s a great amount of traffic that
will has crash my site now that I’m on a cheaper hosting and made it worse for my regular readers. Since I don’t have advertising or affiliate links on the site, extra traffic does not benefit me. And in all fairness since the blog doesn’t make money, I can’t afford to spend more on hosting for random strangers who are just looking for free stuff. Sorry that got a bit ranty. Let’s get to the tutorial…
Instructions and diagram on how to sew a reading blanket are below.
** Don’t attempt to use this diagram ** It’s just plain wrong **
What? You don’t understand that? Neither do I. Ha! I had made so many changes, especially, with the cuffs I’ll have to reverse engineer the pattern.
- 2.5 yards of fleece 59″ width. Solid or non-directional prints like the donut one I used is recommended.
- machine that can do a zig zag stitch.
- armhole template
Cut Pattern Pieces
- Cut a 49″ x 64″ rectangle. This will be the body of the blanket.
- Cut two rectangles 23″ x 24 5/8″. These will be the sleeve. Mark the 23″ edges with pins or tailor tacks.
- Cut two rectangles 9″ x 24 5/8″. These will be the cuffs.
- From the body rectangle. Cut two 7″ circles for the armholes. The holes are 17″ apart. This will leave 16.5″ from the outer edge of the hole to the edge of the fabric.
- The best way to do this is to fold the body piece in half (see dotted line in diagram above). Mark the center with a pin. From the pin measure out 8.5″ and place your armhole template. Double check that your measurements match the diagram above before cutting.
- Hem the sides of the body piece with a 1″ hem. I folded over 1″ and did a zig zag with a 4 width and 4 length.
- Hem the top and bottom with a 3″ hem.
- I hem from the wrong side so I can see that I’m catching the hem. Nothing is worse than unpicking on fleece fabric.
- Here’s the finished hem. There are cleaner ways to finish the hem but I choose the quick and dirty method.
- Sew up the sleeves. Remember the pins I had you put in? You want to sew the 2 edges with the pins together to form a tube. This tube will be your sleeves. I used the same zig zag stitch and sewed using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Set in the sleeves. You want to match the seam of the sleeve with the inside edge of the hole.
- Sewing the cuff is a bit complicated if you haven’t done it before. I recommend looking up a few videos on YouTube for sewing a thumb hole sleeve to help make it more clear.
- First you need fold the cuff in half (see diagram below).
- Mark the cuff edge at 1″, 2 3/4″, 1.5″, 2 3/4″ and 1″ with pins. Pin each layer separately. Do not pin them together.
- Sew rights side together between the 1.5″ section in the middle.
- This is where thing get tricky. Rotate the cuff 90 degrees. Open up the cuff into a “X” or butterfly shape.
- Grab the top “wings” and put them right sides together.
- Sew from the end of the previous stitching to the pin.
- Repeat for bottom “wings”.
- Next you want to open up the remaining little flaps and put right sides together. Sew from where the previous stitching stopped to the edge of the fabric.
- Repeat for the other little flap.
- Turn the cuff inside out. You should have a cuff with a slit in the seam for your thumb.
- Repeat for the other cuff.
- Sew the cuff to the sleeve matching up the seams. I put right sides together and zig zagged together. There are cleaner methods of finishing this seam. I like the quick and dirty method.
You made yourself or someone you love a reading blanket. Say “good bye” to cold arms. If you spot any errors, please let me know in the comments so others can be alerted. If you made a blanket send me a pic. I love seeing that people are actually sewing my tutorials and patterns. Don’t be that random person who comes for the free stuff and leaves.
Other Design Feature Ideas
- I have thought about making a small pocket for a book, reader or remote control (for those who watch TV instead of reading). This would make the blanket go on in only one direction so I wasn’t sure about adding it. If you’re interested, e-mail me and I’ll attempt to describe to you my idea on how to make the pocket 2 directional. detectivehoundstooth at gmail dot com.
- Mcathur on Pattern Review suggested adding an LED light to the collar. It’s a great idea. I just have no idea how to execute it. You’re on your own.
- You can also make this a longer length i.e. Snuggie type of blanket for lounging on the couch or other places where you don’t have a blanket.
- Obviously the best design feature is using all the great fleece prints available. There is a fleece for everyone, from John Deere tractors to Hello Kitty. I could see these making great holiday gifts for book worms, TV buffs, knitters, hospital patients… I spent about $20 in fabric so it’s pretty inexpensive, though time consuming so make sure the recipient is worthy of your precious sewing time.
Happy reading blanket sewing,
It’s Finally California Cold
Here’s in Southern CA it was hot through October. Hot as in shorts weather with temperatures in 80/90s in the days. Finally in November we’re getting some cooler weather. Nights have been particularly cold here, dropping into the mid-low 40s. In the day time I’m bundled up. At night I can’t sleep with long sleeves or pants because my clothes will strangle me from my constant turning. Instead I hide under 3 layers of blankets. The problem is the time that I’m reading in bed. My bare arms are totally exposed to the cold. 🙁
The Reading Blanket is Invented
I have a sleeved blanket but the length just adds a 4th layer and I get too hot. I thought to myself if only there was a short version that only cover the exposed limbs. Yup, you guessed it. I sewed up this little idea. Couldn’t resist the donut print fleece.
But wait! There’s more!! I improved on it by adding a thumb hole so that the sleeve doesn’t slide down your arm if you’re laying flat.
I tested several different methods and this one was the best. It’s secure and doesn’t add too much bulk that would make it difficult to hold a book or restrict your fingers for page turning. The problem is that the sleeves are pretty wide and lets a cold air in. I simply close up the open space and the fleece clings to itself a bit and keeps it close. Maybe on my next version I’ll taper in the sleeves at the cuff.
The last surprise benefit is that this reading blanket can be used right side up or upside down. If you can get both arms in you’re good to go. I had planned on adding a pocket in the middle for a small book or reader but that would make it one-directional. I do have a pocket design that can be used right side up or upside down but I haven’t experimented with it yet. And I’m also concerned that I’ll wash the reading blanket with a book or reader in the pocket. That would be a disaster.
Let me know in the comments if anyone is interested in a tutorial on how to make one. If I get at least 10 votes for a tutorial I’ll write it up.
Link to my Pattern Review.
Edited to add link to the tutorial.
Happy sewing reading,
Just a Little Rant
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cost sewing blogs. By cost I mean the time, effort and money to create, maintain and generate content for a sewing blog. I know a lot of sewing bloggers have tried to offset some of the monetary costs or maybe even tried to make a little money by being affiliates, getting sponsors, selling ad space etc. I generally get a bit turned off when this happens until I got my hosting renewal bill. For the past 2 years I’ve been using hosting that was at an introductory price of $48/year + the domain. I know I can do a free blog on WordPress or Blogger. For me, if I’m going to have a blog it’s going to look, feel and function the way I want.
The $291.63/year Blog
If I kept the hosting and domain exactly the same as I’ve had in the past 2 years this blog would cost me $291.63/year. Whoa! That can buy a lot of fabrics, patterns and machines. That led me to a cross road of (A) paying $291.63/year, (B) shutting down the blog or (C) looking for cheaper hosting. I definitely thought about leaving the blog world because I didn’t have much time to sew, let alone blog about it. I went with option C. My current hosting company basically told me “don’t let the door hit me on my way out” when I asked if there was a better rate I could get. The traffic on my blog is pretty low, it’s also not very content (gigabyte) heavy. It was painful and time consuming to transition hosting services during which I looked long and hard at option B. In the transition I did lose 2 blog posts but that’s not a big deal. If you’re looking for the post on my sewing room or sun protection fabric, I can send it to you in an e-mail. E-mail me at detectivehoundstooth at gee mail dot com. One day I might re-post it.
I did the math and if everyone who downloaded one of my free patterns, this does not include the free tutorials, paid 1.5 cents for the pattern that would pay for the expensive hosting. That’s all it would take. You can find 2 pennies on the ground on any day of the week. No, I am not asking for anyone’s pennies. I’m curious about what it is about the internet age and sewing blogs in particular that we expect so much for free? I’m definitely guilty of it myself. And then I think about the much debated, alleged pay gap between men and women. Yes, there are plenty of men sewing bloggers but I think they’re outnumbered by women. And I think maybe we’re selling ourselves short by offering up so much free content.
One More Year
I don’t quite know that there’s a point to this post besides a little venting on my part. Thanks for listening. Hopefully you’ll stay with me for another year.