When it comes to accessories, I very much subscribe to the Vivienne Westwood philosophy: “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity.” I have exactly three handbags, two totes and two clutches. These seven bags get me through literally every situation from diaper duty to date night. The most recent bag I bought was more than two years ago. The oldest was purchased in Madrid in 2009. I tell you this because when one bites the dust, it’s a very big deal.
The black clutch/cross body I’ve been using for evening and formal occasions since by bar-hopping days actually disintegrated recently, leaving me without a nice, black bag for the gala and wedding I had coming up. I knew I needed to get on replacing it, but when the OGG announced bags as the February Pattern of the Month, it felt like I was being told I needed to make one instead.
I’ve never made a bag fancier than a tote with fabric straps, so I did a bunch of research and made an order from Emmaline Bags. I bought the Spring Sling pattern in hard copy, which is completely unnecessary as it’s most just instructions. There’s a hardware kit for the Spring asking, but I opted not to get it and to sort of choose my own adventure instead.
In an attempt to avoid buying fabric and ease some “why don’t I ever wear that” guilt, I chopped up that velvet sweater I made last year but actually hated the way the wrong side of the fabric felt on my skin. Instead of using any kind of quilting batting, I used fusible fleece interfacing and it was so easy. If I were to do it again, I’d use two layers to give the bag even more structure.
I obviously cut out the entire step of quilting the little triangles together to make the coloured panel and rotated the lines for quilting to get the diamond Chanel matelassé pattern. I centred all of the lines around the closure hardware and drew them 2-inches apart.
The only other major alteration I did was to forgo the grommets in the top flap for the straps and instead made little tabs and D-rings to attach the lobster-claw chain strap. I used product photos from Coach to guide me.
This was my first time installing bag hardware and was very nervous – one of the first steps is to cut a giant hole in your purse front and put in the turn lock before sewing any seams. Emmaline bags has a tutorial on the site, but I found this video easier to follow. I’m super pleased with how it looks and wish I knew sooner how simple it is to make really professional-looking bags.
If I was to make this bags again as a cross-body/ clutch, I would make it smaller in all dimensions. Even trimming off an inch from all sides, this would be a decently large bag without looking huge. My favourite feature is the zipper pouch that also serves as a separator. I’m excited to test this bag out!