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I received a very polite e-mail from a reader asking about the pattern for the cyclette bag (see here and here). I had intended to write up the pattern with pictures and apparently didn’t get around to it. Not a surprise. But looking back through the pictures I did actually make three of them! Which is a lot for me, I rarely make two of the same thing. But I didn’t take process pictures of any of them, waah.

So I decided to make another one and write up the instructions and take pictures along the way. It turned out to be a bit more involved than I had thought it would be. None of the sewing is particularly difficult, there were just more steps than I remembered. It is a rather clever construction (If I may say so myself) and requires no hand sewing but all seams are neatly enclosed. I’m not sure how I will proceed with formatting this one. The pattern lends itself to a few variations, which I may play out in order to incorporate into the finished pattern/tutorial.

But here are the pictures of the latest cyclette bag, inspired by the musette bag or feed bag carried by cyclists. The bag is sized to hold lunch and a water bottle, plus your wallet and keys in the inner zippered pocket.

random-charm's cyclette bag musette bag cyclist tote inside zipper pocket detail tote bag

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Leopard kitty

Several weeks ago I gave the kids a deadline for deciding what they wanted to dress up as for Halloween. The girl had her mind firmly set on dressing up as a leopard. I bought the leopard print fabric at the local fabric store. It’s synthetic but fairly soft and heavy so I thought it would be warm, especially if I lined it which I did, using hemp/cotton fleece for comfort. I made pants from her regular pants pattern, slightly flared. The pattern for the hooded top was cobbled together using her long sleeve shirt pattern and a comparison of the hoods of two jackets. The tail snaps on to the bottom of the jacket. Placing the pattern pieces on the fabric was rather tricky as there were darker and lighter bands running with the grain and I had to deal with matching those up and deciding how they would go together. I used most of 1.5 yards without much waste. A cool clear separating zipper makes the top into a jacket that she can wear this fall and in the spring. The hood turned out rather large despite the fact that I cut the pattern pieces down from my original tracings before cutting the fabric. Oh well, now I know.
For some reason this is the only picture I have of the girl from the pumpkin party we went to at the home of a classmate of the boy’s. Hopefully we’ll get some better pictures at Halloween. I may do a few more things, maybe some mittens with paw pads?

child's leopard costume

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A skirt for me. Wow, it’s been a while. This skirt has a lot of features that I wouldn’t normally wear or sew for myself. First I used a conversation print – Alexander Henry‘s Starlings. I rarely wear prints at all. I also used red! as a secondary accent to highlight the red in the print and contrast with the main fabric of the skirt which is denim. I also appliqued one of the birds to the back waist, I don’t know why but hopefully it looks cute in a good way. I can’t think when was the last time I used piping and I’m sure it wasn’t on a garment for myself. I was originally going to use bias tape as the edging but went with the piping after seeing Rae’s use of piping on a child’s backpack. It really made the lines of the design stand out.

birdskirtfront birdskirtback

Other details: I’ve never cared for waistbands so that’s not new. But I don’t think I’ve ever done one like this. I cut some of the print fabric on the bias and used it to bind the top of the skirt which also helped reduce bulk since the body of the skirt is made from a hefty 12 oz. denim. The pattern is my own, rough modification of an existing six gore skirt pattern I drafted ages ago. Red topstitching. I love invisible zippers! And a resin snap for the closure. I also fused the lightweight print to white cotton to give it some bulk so it would stand up to the denim and a crisper hand to hold the pleat even when walking. That worked out very well.


I apologize for the grainy pictures, these were all taken at night and Frances (my dressmaker’s dummy) was a bit tipsy as well. And unfortunately the skirt turned out a tad big despite stopping for a fitting midway. Oh well. Maybe it will shrink in the wash. (I pre-washed the fabrics of course.)

I need to thank FW and the gals on designer-stashers for turning me on to new fabrics and for hosting a skirt sew-along which is probably the only reason I got this done! And finally, the skirt on the reluctant model, wearing some eye-brow raising 70s looking clogs scored from DH’s office. (Amazing things turn up when you are cleaning out an advertising agency. :) )
birdskirtside birdskirtfrontview

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cyclist musette bag inspired toteMy friend, TheJen, has become an avid cyclist and she was telling me about the small bag that cyclists use for carrying food and water. Here’s a link she suggested that shows traditional styles of musette bags or feed bags. Often these are imprinted with promotional messages and handed out at big races. Anyway, I got it stuck in my head and couldn’t get it out so I decided to make a tote based on the basic proportions and idea of the musette bag used by cyclists.

Since this is not for real cyclists, I used a double layer of home dec canvas, a print called Sprig by Jessica Jones for J. Caroline Designs. I really liked this fabric although it’s a large design which is unusual for me. It’s a graphic treatment of leaves, very much up my alley. I had to have it but I really did not know what I was going to do with it! It would make great couch pillows or upholstery for cheery kitchen chairs, or any number of things. But when I got the idea to make the musette bag I knew immediately I wanted to use this fabric. I did use the basic proportions that I could find on the web, about 11x13inches I think. The strap is very long for wearing across the body rather than over the shoulder. There is no closure but I did add a teeny zippered pocket on the inside that would hold cards, money, keys. I was able to cut two bags, including the little pocket, out of a single yard so I went ahead and used the same fabric for the lining. Almost no wasted fabric!

inside zippered pocketThis construction of this lined bag is my own design and was done entirely on the serger and regular sewing machine with no handstitching! It’s roughly based on some self-lined shoe bags I made years ago, also my own design. Anyway, it went together fast and easy (except when I decided to put that little pocket in). I will definitely make this again, especially since I already have the second one cut out, lol. When I make the second one I will take pictures along the way for a tutorial. I am really excited about the construction method I used. It’s fast, trim but sturdy. Now I do have plans to make another musette bag out of a much lighter weight fabric that would actually be more practical for cyclists, but this is one we can all enjoy, yes?

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The girl had been asking for a pink backpack for some time, just like her brother’s. His was made a few years ago from an old pair of my jeans. I threw it together without a pattern but it lasted through two years of pre-school and it’s still his go-to bag for going on a trip. I took the time to make a pattern for the girl’s bag. This was particularly important because I was using some narrow remnants of a mod pink swirly canvas. I used a coordinating plain pink canvas for the sides and shoulder straps.  I pulled the zippers and hardware out of my stash. The first backpack used hardware and webbing salvaged from a damaged-beyond-repair bag. I used the shoulder padding from the old bag for both backpacks.

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The boy started kindergarten this year. We were all excited and a little scared but he made a great transition and loves his new school. The only supply requested was a bag big enough to hold a standard pocket folder and library books. His old bag wasn’t big enough so I decided to make him a messenger bag from a pair of his dad’s old jeans. I didn’t have a lot of time so I didn’t really make a pattern but just started measuring and cutting! I did line it with a lighter weight chambray but forgot to insert the stiffener that I had planned to use. Oh well, it worked out fine. The shoulder strap is adjustable and the flap conceals one large zippered compartment. On the back I sewed one of the back pockets from the jeans. The boy found this pocket useful for bringing along little toys and action figures.

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The boy got a Leapster for his birthday last year and it was soon apparent that the sister needed one of her own. I made these denim zippered cases to house the Leapsters for Christmas. The gray layer on the inside is 1/4 inch layer of neoprene which molds to the shape of the contents and provides better cushioning that most anything else I could find rummaging around the house. If I find the pattern I’ll post it. It does involve a zipper or two but they really aren’t all that hard. The idea could certainly be adapted to other fragile items such as cameras, etc. The sister’s case has little handles that make it look like a purse.
denim Leapster case

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