Belt Bag

finished objects, sewing

Here’s something a little different: A belt bag (or by its pattern name, the Fennel Fanny Pack). I spotted this pattern at Rhinbeck on my friend Kiyomi. It looked so good on her that she inspired me to make my own version. I used a little bit of the Pendleton wool I bought in Portland (and still have enough to make something else!!), and lined it with some yellow linen scraps. I spent around $20 on notions at Pacific Trimming, since I was picky about the zippers and buckle.

a woman models a handmade fanny pack.

I must say the pattern is pretty steep at $14. I appreciated how the DIY pattern pieces saved paper, but I wish I had a visual reference for how to orient the zippers once the pieces were ready to be sewn together. My front zipper doesn’t close at the same side as the main one. I had to seam rip this more times than I’d like to admit, and by the time I realized the front zipper was backwards I was not willing to do more surgery. The pattern does mention that you have to be mindful of the zipper placement, but I think an illustration would help reinforce this.

Finishing the interior seams with such thick fabric was beastly until I remembered that double-wide bias tape is accurately named—switching to it helped things tremendously. Despite my complaints about its construction, I really like this bag. I’m not quite sure I can pull it off, but I am trying!

a closeup of a pendleton wool fanny pack.

Bonus: here’s a cute lil’ gif of me unzipping the fanny pack:

a gif of a woman unzipping a handmade fanny pack.

Stasis: A Christmas Sweater

finished objects, knitting
a woman stands in the city, wearing a hand-knitted sweater.

I just finished my Christmas sweater with some serious time to spare! I haven’t knit a fingering-weight sweater since the Twigs, which was the biggest beast of a sweater to finish ever. This is Stasis from Leila Raven. I’ve wanted to make it for oh-so-long, and I love how it turned out. I did the same mods as many others by adjusting the post-colorwork rounds for a less-high neck.

a woman stands in the city, wearing a hand-knitted sweater.

I decided to finish the neckline with red and green stripes since I omitted the waist colorwork. I knit the entire first round of each color change to avoid the “icky dots” that normally happen with color striping.

The pattern has you knit the sleeves first, which I really liked because 1. you make progress much more quickly than if you start with the body, and 2. the first sleeve can count as your swatch! I noticed that the colorwork looked sorta bad at the sleeve BOR, so when I got to the yoke, I started the “next” row’s colorwork a stitch or two (if the color change was very close to BOR) before the end of the previous row, rather than the end of the upcoming row so there was less of a noticeable shift. IMO the yoke BOR looks much better than the sleeves. I’m pretty happy with it.

the back of a woman's hand-knitted sweater.

I could not have timed knitting this sweater better for travel, I had juuust joined the sleeves to the body before a work trip to Indonesia. On the trip, I finished the colorwork and yoke so I only had the neck ribbing left to do when I got home. I already am dreaming of another more neutral version of this sweater to wear all year round. It fits perfectly, I love it so much!

It was pretty chilly and windy when we took these pics, so I was pretty ready to put my coat back on by the end of things:

a woman is jumping because of how cold she is.

Raw Japanese Denim Dawns

finished objects, sewing
woman walks away from the camera in high-waisted, rigid denim Dawn jeans
Special thanks to Tillamook State Forest for being so pretty!

Up until last week, I had only dreamed of having high-waisted rigid denim jeans. So, after dreaming long enough, I decided to get to work. Some very special vintage Japanese selvedge and a hardware kit from Blackbird Fabrics was patiently waiting in my stash, begging to be made into said dream jeans. So really, no excuses besides my fear of failure.

woman poses in high-waisted, rigid denim Dawn jeans

When I decided I was going to make these, I almost went for the Ginger jeans again, but 1. I wanted a higher rise, and 2. Ginger is designed for stretch denim. Much like Jasika’s commentary on the Dawn Jeans, I was very skeptical when that pattern came out. But after seeing how amazing Jaskia’s and Lauren’s versions turned out, I decided to go for it.

I measured the straight leg pattern pieces against my favorite pair of RTW jeans I own (that are too tight in the thighs but are perfect everywhere else). As I cut out a muslin, I sharpied the original inner thigh cut line and added ample ease so I could easily add room after I sewed the inseam and side seams if needed (and I did need it). I also tapered the straight leg in a bit to match the RTWs, and I like where I ended up.

I only muslined the front and back legs and back yoke. In order to get pants that were try-onable I extended the front pockets to the side seams.

closeup of the rivets and selvedge coin pocket high-waisted, rigid denim Dawn jeans.
Selvedge coin pocket!! (Thanks for the idea, Jasika!)

I wanted to extend the pockets to become stays, as I hate re-stuffing my pocket bags every time I put on jeans. I copied the Ginger Jeans stay by extending the pocket of the Dawns to sew in the center front seam, but because the directions have you start with the zip fly and I forgot to baste them in prior to constructing said fly, I had to redo it. I also wasn’t paying enough attention when I cut out the pocket bags and cut both on the same side, so I have one pocket that’s right-side in, and one right-side out. I ended up taking out most of the extra room I added to the crotch seam, but I am glad I had extra and was able to take it in (rather than not having enough). Lastly, I had to re cut the waistband with a much more pronounced curve (using THIS very awesome tutorial). The fit is MUCH better now, but they still could come in a little tiny bit more. When I ripped out the first waistband, I also took a small wedge out of the back yoke, since I already was in there ripping out stitches.

I used regular thread throughout this project, as my machine HATES topstitching thread. I found the bar tacks were super easy to just do a very small length zig zag and go back and forth a few times. I am quite happy with how they turned out.

The rivets, man, the rivets. I don’t have a tailor’s awl, so I used a nail to poke holes in the jeans, but the rivet posts were a little bit wider than the nail, so it took some serious wiggling around to get them to poke through. Super worth it, though, I think it makes them look so much more legit.

woman poses in high-waisted, rigid denim Dawn jeans, a pattern from Megan Nielsen

I am SO HAPPY with how these turned out, I cannot wait for them to develop their unique wear lines. I am gonna try to maximize wear and minimize washing…. we’ll see how I do. They stretched out a bit from wearing them on my trip to Portland, but I think once I give them their first wash, they’ll tighten up a bit. They do fit very snugly when I sit down, so I can’t imagine them being much more fitted when I am standing. The toils of rigid denim I guess!

Sadie Slip Dress

finished objects, sewing
a woman poses for the camera in a red and blue silk dress made from Tessuti Pattern's Sadie slipdress.

I was not in the market for more fabric (…groan), but curiosity gets me every time and I always check Blackbird Fabrics’ emails to see whats new. Recently they had some “leopard print” deadstock silk, and I pounced on it.

I’ve had the Sadie Slip Dress on my “to make” list for quite awhile, and this fabric seemed perfect for it. As soon as the fabric arrived I got to work on cutting and sewing up this bad boy. I cut a straight S, but ended up taking in the waist a bit after I sewed the first seam of the french seams. It was a little tricky to cut the pieces on the 45″ wide fabric, I ended up having to shave off an inch or two of the total length.

a laydown photo of a blue silk dress made from Tessuti Pattern's Sadie slipdress.
Closeup of the neckline.

The bias cut is SO swoony, but the neckline facing was very tricky to get right. I completely ripped out and re-understitched twice, thinking I wasn’t careful enough, but every time I tried it on, it wanted to flip out to the front of the neckline. I was unable to get past this flaw, and I decided to blind stitch the facing to the dress. That solved the flipping-out problem beautifully, but now it messes with the bias drape. I might undo some of the hand-stitching and do it yet again… we’ll see how annoyed I get with it. I suppose I could edgestitch the neckline, but I love the look of it without it.

Understitched-only facing:

versus stitched-down facing:

Definitely some trade offs with both options.

Still assessing how to best handle this scenario, but in the meantime, I am wearing it and loving the swish of bias silk on the recent hot summer days.

Bucket Hats!

sewing
a woman at the beach wearing a patterned bucket hat.

A few weeks ago I was texting my friend with a very cute newborn baby, and I wondered if she had a summer sun hat. After hearing “not yet,” I immediately started googling for a kid hat pattern. I stumbled across this GREAT free pattern from Oliver + S. I went for the smallest size, and it used barely any fabric.

a blue linen/chambray baby-sized bucket hat
a blue linen/chambray baby-sized bucket hat. Liberty-print lining peeks out.

After I made the first one, I could not get over how cute it was. Just for kicks I measured my tiny head, and could not believe I fit the measurements for the kids Medium. I went into my stash and pulled out some options. I rediscovered this super weird faces quilting cotton I got at the Center For Creative Reuse forever ago. I decided this would be perfect for a test hat. I paired it with a very neutral Essex linen to balance it out. I used smaller seam allowances (1/4″ instead of 1/2″) to add some extra wiggle room. If you had asked me 2 years ago what I thought of bucket hats, I would have told you they are really ugly, but here we are in 2019 and I am loving my hat! Its perfect for keeping the sun off my face and neck.

a group of different patterned and textured materials

I ended up making a 3rd hat for another adorable 1-year old I know… watch out, he’s a heartbreaker already!

a baby poses for a photo wearing a plaid-lined bucket hat.

If you have a normal, adult-sized head, I bet it would be really easy to add some SA to the pattern and make it a bit bigger. I think I am going to make another soon with a wider brim… a one way ticket to floptown!

a woman at the beach wearing sunglasses and a patterned bucket hat.

Lina Tank

finished objects, knitting
back view of a hand-knitted linen tank top.

My first foray into knitting with linen! I used the Lina tank pattern, and some white and brown linen I bought during our trip to Spain last year. The pattern is very well-written, and has lovely shaping and finishing details.

I started with the back bodice, and thought I would have enough yarn to make the entire thing in white. Whoops, I was definitely wrong, and decided to do a marl/colorblock look. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it yet, but it definitely looks unique.

side view of a hand-knitted linen tank top.

I followed the pattern exactly as written, except I made it much more cropped than specified and I finished the hem with a self-facing instead of garter stitch. I did some digging on TECHKnitting to find out how I should go about this mod. TECHknitting has several posts about hems and the best approaches. What a fab resource.

closeup view of the double-knit hem of a the linen tank top.
closeup view of the back of a linen tank top.

Super happy about this one, but I am excited to go back to knitting with wool–much easier on the hands.

alternate view of a linen tank top.

A Bento Bag Recipe

Tutorials
a woman in an apron demonstrates how to tie a cloth bag.
© Carrie Bostick Hoge

Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese method for wrapping objects with fabric, and today it has become the essential element in gift-giving in Japan. Instead of wrapping an object with paper, a piece of fabric is folded and knotted to conceal a gift. Hundreds of variations for folding and tying fabric over virtually anything highlight this beautiful intersection of tradition and function.

A handmade bento bag is a lovely spin on furoshiki because the gift recipient can reuse it to carry daily items. In addition to sewing up very quickly, the small amount of fabric required to make a bento bag provides a quick way to use scraps of something special you’ve been saving. Additionally, sewing one is an easy way to take a break from a bigger project, or satisfy the sewing itch when you are busy with life.

3 patterned bento bags laying down.
© Carrie Bostick Hoge

Supplies / Notes

This Bento Bag Recipe is flexible to make the most of scrap fabric. The smallest recommended size uses two 10” (24cm) squares of fabric, and up to two 18” (46cm) squares of fabric. Finishing the raw edges with a straight stitch and then hand-fraying holds up with regular use, but alternate finishing instructions are provided if you prefer a more professional look.

  • Two 10×10” (24x24cm) to 18×18” (46x46cm) squares of fabric, pins, thread, sewing machine. Hand sewing needle and embroidery thread are optional.
  • Recommended fabrics: linen, voile, lawn, quilting cotton. Larger sizes can accommodate heavier fabric such as canvas. Not recommended for 1-way designs.
  • Sizing Guidelines: 10×10” (24x24cm): wrap a small jewelry box. 14×14” (36x36cm): carry a small knitting project, store a lunch, or gift-wrap finished objects such as mittens or a cowl. 18×18” (46x46cm): carry a medium to large knitting project, or gift-wrap finished objects such as a piece of clothing. The model in the first photo is holding the large size.
3 bento bags spread out on a table
Left to right: Large, Medium, Small bag sizes. © Carrie Bostick Hoge

Instructions

1. Cut one square in half diagonally to create two right triangles. Part of the long edge you just cut will become the handles of your bag. Be mindful when dealing with this bias edge, it can easily stretch out.

2. Lay two triangles on top of each other to make an almost-square, both sides RS (right side) up. Pin the free edge of the top triangle to the bottom one. Sew this long edge from the bottom corner all the way to the top corner using a ¼” (6mm) seam allowance.

3. Flip the two triangles over so both wrong side (WS) face up. Pin the free edge of the top triangle to the bottom one. Sew long edge all the way to the top at ¼”(6mm). Fray long edges to stitching line if desired
Repeat steps 1-3 with second square.

4. Take both sewn pieces and pin RS together. Sew the sides and bottom using a 1/2” (1cm) seam allowance. Finish edges if desired and press seam open.

5. Keep WS out and prop the bag open. Pinch bag shut at corner and lay the corner seam lines on top of each other. Be sure it lays flat and smooth. From the corner, mark at 1” (2.5cm) in (2”(5cm) in for larger bags), and sew across this corner. Trim excess and finish seam allowance if desired. Repeat for other corner. Be sure to move the handle out of the way while you sew! This step will allow your bag to stand up on its own.

6. Turn RS out and give a final press. Unravel the hem on the handle edges by wiggling a pin between the threads up to the stitching line. If desired, hand stitch with embroidery thread to reinforce at the point where the triangles overlap.

Variations

Selvage-edge handles or using smaller scraps: Instead of cutting fabric for steps 1 and 2, use manila or pattern paper. Using this pattern piece you just created in step 2, cut 4 triangles with long edges along selvage (or anywhere you can squeeze in the pattern piece). Continue with step 3.

Double-turned hem: before step 3, double turn and hem the long edges of each triangle. Turn the fabric under ¼” (6mm), press. Turn the fabric under another ¼” (6mm). Press and hem close to the folded edge. This will create a slightly smaller bag than the raw-edged version.

French seams: In step 6, use french seams to sew sides and bottom. When sewing the final seam, the corners will get bulky. Because of the way the bottom of the bag is finished, the corners will be cut off, so don’t worry about sewing all the way into the corners. Use your best judgement for this variation when making the smaller sizes as seams get very bulky with stiff fabric.

This pattern was originally published in the No. 4 / Lines issue of Making Magazine. All photos by Carrie Bostick Hoge. Illustrations by me.