Wednesday, 26 October 2011

In my clutches: redlegs becomes a bag lady!

No, I have not finally found my natural place in a Soho doorway; rather those kind ladies at Atelier Hats offered me the chance to take part in one of their workshops. You may not be aware that apart from selling spiffing hats they also hold small classes in the shop. Initially I baulked a little due to advanced sewingmachinophobia but was reassured that the teacher was good and I would cope. So last Saturday morning I found myself wearing a pinny and prepared to attempt to make a clutch bag.

My choice of fabrics

Nana's choice of fabrics
I was accompanied by Nana, a lady from Streatham who already made corsages and jewellery out of African fabrics and was seeking to expand her repertoire. Needless to say she was rather more experienced on the needle front than I. Coffee and Halloween biscuits consumed we began by rifling through a selection of fabrics, I was torn by the choice between a very forties style check or a sheeny french floral fabric but eventually picked the latter along with a rich purple silk for it's lining. Nana chose a cloth featuring geisha and a pale pink satin lining. This done we set about making our paper patterns and cutting out our fabrics.
Nana pinning 

Our instructor, the lovely April.
We were provided with printed instructions and April, the instructor, very clearly described what we should be doing taking us in hand if we seemed to be doing anything daft. Finally the sewing machines, or 'beasts' as I like to call them came out. Nana set off happily but April very patiently guided me through the process. I seemed to slowly get better although poor April had to spend half the afternoon re-threading my needle and there were a few, ahem, 'which buttons did what mishaps'. Eventually I ended up with something that did indeed resemble a bag and embarked on the final stage: fun with glue. The final result was not perfect, a bit gluey around the handle, but not bad for a beginner.

My first efforts at machine sewing

I think the handy amongst you out there could quite easily follow the instructions and get on with it but what you don't get by using a book or on-line instructions are the hints, warnings and advice that come with an experienced maker.  It would be a very good idea for the crafty to, like my fellow student, take a class like this before embarking in any kind of concerted effort to make something for sale.  Being told the only brand of glue that works well for example or being warned of bad practice/signs of low quality whilst also being told where you could solve time are invaluable pieces of info.

Sewn bag

Glue drying

At the same time a sewing ignoramus such as myself can manage to produce something. The pace was not rushed and it is a pleasant shop to sit in for a few hours surrounded by lovely hats and people coming in to enquire about them. There was no pressure or stress. I learned how to make a basic clutch bag, but it was interfaced, lined, had a neat metal handle and is quite sturdy. Other classes range from making tote bags to creating corseges and trimmings to fascinator and full hat creation.  It strikes me as a rather nice way to spend a Saturday and would be particularly good things to do with mothers, sisters, maids of honour or even a stray man. Details of courses can be found here and the Aprils's work can be found on Etsy here.
The final result

Nana's bag


Lady Cherry said...

Well done - I confess this has been on my list to do for ages. Must get around to it - I have got my eye on that geisha fabric as well!

Lady Cherry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RedlegsinSoho said...

Lady Cherry: it was great fun, I might risk hat making next time. x

LollyWillowes said...

Lovely fabrics. Someone gave me a book called, "Making Vintage Bags." It has some nice designs in it, just haven't got around to making any yet.

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