I am so excited that Sara asked me to participate in the Purse Palooza event this year!
I wanted to do something a little different, so I chose to review a bag out of a Japanese book I had not sewn out of, but had drooled on the pages of several times. The book is Akemi Shibata’s Patchwork Collection. The bag I chose to make and review is this front cover bag.
Keep in mind, the patterns in this book are written in Japanese. And I’m as white as white can be. But, if you’ve ever looked at Japanese patterns, they have the most amazing illustrations, so I was pretty confident I could do it. Which leads me to the second reason I wanted to do a pattern that isn’t in English. To encourage you! Seriously, all you need, is to have a basic knowledge of what the illustrations in a pattern mean.
So I challenge you; get out those Japanese magazines/books you’ve collected and start making! If you’ve never designed your own bag or any other pattern, I think this is a great way to get out of your comfort zone a bit and move towards taking those training wheels off if you typically rely on a pattern to tell you what to do.
In every Japanese book/magazine I own, the measurements for the pattern pieces are written in centimeters, so for this pattern I did my best conversion measurements with google as my aid. If a measurement came to 2.62 inches, I rounded up to 2 3/4”. But then that meant I had to adjust measurements in other parts of the bag.
The illustrations for this pattern are amazingly written. All the pattern pieces are drawn out with measurements next to them. By the measurements, I could easily figure out if a piece was for the handle, or for the closure tab. There are even arrows to tell me which way to press when I sew, illustrations for baste stitching and regular stitching, and illustrations telling me if I needed to add interfacing or batting.
This pattern did call for interfacing, but since I didn’t have any on hand, I used some heavy weight denimy home dec fabric I’ve been carrying around for years. I cut it 1/2” smaller in width and height than the piece it was meant for to allow for the seam allowance.
And since it didn’t have the iron on layer like most interfacing, I used some basting spray to attach it to each piece. I felt comfortable doing this since the illustrations indicated I would be quilting through it at a later time.
The only mistake I made was cutting the side pieces too small. I didn’t notice in time that the seam allowance should have been wider when sewing these two pieces on. That was to allow to roll the seam in and hand tack down for a finished inside. Since I realized this too late, I decided to machine sew some binding to the inside seams instead. Not the prettiest binding job I’ve ever done, but it works.
The only other changes I made to the pattern were slightly longer handles, no decorative stitches (not my style) and I used a magnetic closure instead of the button snap closure the pattern called for.
I really love the unexpected yet effective construction of this bag and I find Japanese patterns are often that way. I have learned so many new construction techniques by perusing through my Japanese magazines and books and I hope this review helps you to take that step and let go of your training wheels and jump!