I’ve been sewing like N.U.T.S.

My friend MB, whom I’ve worked with at my school for the past 7 years (she’s the art teacher) asked me a few months ago to make some of my bags for a craft show with her.  She has such an amazing design aesthetic and is mondo talented.  So the past week or so I’ve been sewing away.  I’ve cranked out 9 handbags and 3 scrap scarves.  I had some totes that I had made previously as well as another wristlet.  She made a lot of jewelry from found objects and hairclips and headbands adorned with felt flowers.  The hit of the weekend were her hats with felt flowers on them.  Everyone tried them on and they looked great on everyone.  Here’s our table:


Business was generally slow both days.  Yesterday things did pick up considerably.  MB had a lot of her friends come by and they were very generous, but I imagine if they hadn’t have come, we would have done not so greatly.  I ended up selling 5 out of 6 of my totes, and 3 of my purses…not bad and it’s enough to fund my purchase of a little fabric and the Threads Fitting DVD series which I got for $35 cheaper than list price at Alibris.  We certainly learned a lot about craft shows though and I think we’ll be doing more of this.  If I make a little money to fund my learning in sewing, I’ll be happy, and it’s fun to spend time with MB.

I learned a lot about sewing a lot of things in a short amount of time too:

1.  Forget pinning when you’re cutting things out.  Stack things on a rotary cutting mat, use canned goods to keep the pattern pieces in place and use the cutter.  It saves time and lots of pin pricks.

2.  Denim makes an AWESOME bag interfacing.  I usually use plain canvas to add weight and structure to my bags, and I like it, despite the fact that its a nightmare to iron and hard to pin.  Around bag #5, I ran out of my stash of canvas.  Not wanting to spend money on more canvas or leave the house, for that matter, I went shopping in the closet and discovered a really big stash of old denim Nathan had been saving for “paint pants.”  After happily hacking up a couple of pairs of “paint pants” and sewing them up in the bags, I found out that denim makes for a sturdy, yet supple hand when used as an interfacing.  When the “paint pants” stash is depleted, perhaps I’ll just keep a stash of thrifted jeans for purses on hand.

3.  Fusible interfacing is not entirely awful to deal with.  There’s not too much that I hate about sewing, but I really do hate cutting out fusible interfacing.  It’s always being done when everything else is ready to go and all I want to do is sew, and when I make bags, there’s a lot of interfacing to be done.  I interface and line my patch pockets, I interface the linings themselves and if there’s a zipper involved, you can bet there’s interfacing there too.  Knowing this, I took this approach, which is not revolutionary, but it was new to me.  I unfolded my width of interfacing, sticky side up and layed out my pattern pieces which needed interfacing right side up right on my ironing board.  Using a press cloth (so I didn’t get the interfacing goo on my iron) I fused everything, peeling off the excess interfacing from the press cloth.  Then I cut around the pieces.  This saved me from cutting out the interfacing from pattern pieces, laying them out with the fabric to be fused, having them shift all over the place before and during fusing just generally being frustrated with interfacing.  The best part was not having weird scraps of interfacing leftover at the end.

There’s a lot more pictures of my individual bags, so here’s a link to my Flickr stream.


  1. Yay for you!! I would LOVE to have a crafty friend to team up with!! How exciting for you. I love the denim idea…way to “re-purpose”! Your bags are great! The vinyl handles are so original!!

    • It was a lot of fun even without hoards of people there.  We have 2 1/2 weeks before another, hopefully much bigger show.  Gotta get to work.  🙂

  2. Thanks for the interfacing tip. I do use it in bags, but I usually leave it out of clothing. Probably shouldn’t, but…

    Have fun and success at the next show.

    • It makes a big difference in clothing for sure–particularly in facings and in yokes and pockets.  I’ve been using SofKnit which I’ve been getting BTY from Ebay.  It’s more expensive than the Pellon stuff you can get at JoAnn, but it gives nice support without getting crunchy like the Pellon.  I’ve also been thinking about trying Sheer Elegance from here: which is on sale I think through the end of the week.  It’s $6.25/yd, but it’s 60″ wide, so I think I’ll have to give it a go.   ~E

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.