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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Quarter note clutch

To add to the list of things that I am guilty of (this is not a finite list) would be to get so busy sewing that I neglect the blog posts about my sewing.

This is not my intention but one day leads to the next some times.

Also I have been in a minor slump for a while now, my boys moving far away, the end of my summer school term and releasing another crop of students, my husband coming to the end of five months working away from home only back for a bit on the weekends, thinking about Nancy Zeiman, the grandchildren back at school, the leaves turning. The usual.

Now I have to say that getting down, which I absolutely believes runs in families, does not run in mine. I also believe every family has their theme and we run pretty busy and intense instead. More burn out that worn out. Truth is we are probably more likely to cause depression than suffer it ourselves. That said for about a couple of weeks I felt like I was at loose ends, knocking around in my own head a bit, so I decided to put all the ruminating aside and just sew.

I have my wonderful niece living with me and as she passed by she laughed at me, you're just not stopping are you?

Got that right.

I made the bed and swept the floors and cooked things I could eat for two days every two days and I took care of the dog and did the babysitting I could.

But apart from that I just sewed my brains out.

Like  always I picked right up, more or less right away. Life got back to looking exciting and the changes, like opportunities.

Not exactly sure how this works but something about giving myself over to sewing completely always fixes me up and gets me back to normal.

I have a theory that there is something fundamental about creativity that not just resets but outlets. 

There is a direct flow out of yourself into the world when you make something that just has to happen. In fact I would go even further and say that when that ability to be just making something gets blocked, which in my case occurred because I had a long period of being too overbooked to sew, something backs up inside you and makes you off kilter or, if it goes on too long, actually some kind of sick.

Does any of this make any sense to you?

So getting to some of the things I made during this mighty restorative couple of weeks I will start with my out of my comfort zone project, a leather clutch purse with a detachable chain strap.

First, because it's about time there were pictures, here they are:

I used my regular machine, a long stitch length and a leather needle no problem but the last step of topstitching the flap to the bag opening was too many layers to get under the presser foot. As a result I used Chicago screws instead for this step

Closed up and ready to wear

As a bag maker I am a newbee.

This was a great pattern however, very easy to do, from the wonderful Janelle Mackay at Emmaline Bags

I have read a lot of sewing instructions in my day and I have to tell you Janelle's are the best, really, really clear and thoughtful with all the handy hints built in.

The hardware, the large flip lock and the chain with hooks attached also came from Emmaline bags. Hardware is key of course to making a first time home made project just a lot less so.

Because this was a completely experimental project I used scraps - in this case some Liberty of London lawn left over from a blouse project and some leather from a thrift store coat.

With a 4.0 stitch length, a leather needle and walking foot I had no problem at all sewing the leather except for the multiple layers at the top of the bag front where the flap folds up to meet the bag opening. The issue there wasn't so much stitching as I couldn't raise the presser foot high enough to get it all under to sew.

Since attaching the front flap (actually this is just a long clutch that you fold up to make the folded look) mattered I resorted to rivets, or in this case Chicago screws. I used a Clover punch I bought years ago to insert garment snaps to make the holes and unlike rivets, which have to be sort of hammered on, the Chicago screws just screw together- I like them a lot, far less traumatic.

I interfaced the lining with a woven fusible. I fused some fusible fleece to a sew-on interfacing (minus the seam allowances in the fleece of course) and stuck that to the wrong side of the leather with fusible tape.

I used fusible tape, the sticky kind you unpeel the paper from (anyone have a source for this in big rolls BTW?) a lot for this project, to attach the lining to the leather before stitching for instance.

Leather isn't hard to sew but it does stretch, like a knit, and you do need to stabilize the stitching area. I found the fusible tape helped with that a lot too.

If I did it again the only thing I would do next time is use a firmer interfacing like a foam. Didn't have any on hand or available locally for this project and was sewing too quickly and randomly to order it in (I needed a 20 minute delivery time once I decided to start making this bag).

Next week we are headed off to the US for a fall road trip with a destination at a wedding in DC next weekend (my son's brother-in-law) and we will certainly be hitting a few fabric stores en route- although I doubt if we will have time to get into NYC and the garment district this trip, as much as that breaks my heart.

As always I will be crossing the border with a supply list.

More project photos to follow in the next few days.