wool & wax

Technically not wool or wax, but Rifle Paper Co. Amalfi canvas from Cotton & Steel.

Made into a Wool & Wax Tote (another noodlehead pattern :) this project was also featured in the second issue of Making, Fauna.

I made a few modifications, the first one was to work it all out of the same fabric, no contrast bottom. For some reason every contrast bottom I tried reminded me of commercial tote bags, conference tote bags, promotional tote bags ..ew.. this was going to be my everyday carry and the fabric a gift, so I wanted it to be extra special. (Heavy weight toffee colored canvas was used as a interfacing/lining two-in-one)

 I also changed the handles and added a patch (exactly like my making backpack). The original pattern has you sandwich straps between the lining and outter prior to sewing, and I did try that first, but again it really toted it up and pulled hard on the top edge puckering the shape. I did however slip in little fabric loops and silver rectangle rings at each side, just in case at some point I want to clip on cute charm dangles or hook on a key strap.

My handles were sewn on after all layers of the bag were finished, working through all layers so as to not put extra strain on only the outter layer when carrying.

Tip: To have the stitches disappear when sewing on after thought handles, use top thread to match handles and bobbin thread to match lining!

Sometimes I like to sling my bags, so I opted for a matching adjustable strap. Utilizing those side loops, but leaving enough room to clip on my cute stuffs!

I really loved the oversized divided pocket on the front, so I did the same thing on the back, never enough pockets! Rivit front/back detail to help secure the thick layers and prevent it from ripping out when I over stuff these sweet pockets! I added simple slip pockets to the lining, putting them down low around the inside base, because the outter pockets fall roughly 3″ short of the bottom of the bag and I didn’t want them doubling up on eachother creating overlapping inner/outter pocket bulge. (Because I’m gonna stuff them!)

 Just enough little bits leftover to make a small matching Petal Pouch (again another noodlehead pattern, and this pattern was also featured in an issue of Making, issue one Flora).

Added a little washable paper zip pull to match the patch.

I like to take the time to hand finish the fine details, on this, it was blind stitching the lining opening, it’s the kind of a peaceful wind down I need at the end of every project, the last little drag out to something I thoroughly enjoyed making.

I thought about fussy cutting the hell out if this, and having seamless pattern matching at every intersection, but this fabric was too pretty to waste and I am trying to be more chill about being perfect. Ginger beer helps keep me chill, real beer helps Jason :)

Close up view of washable paper. It’s this really interesting material that off the bolt is stiff like thick stock paper, but becomes soft and supple like leather the more you crumple, crinkle and wrinkle it. You can get completely wet and even wash & dry it, without it falling apart (I can’t even rip it!) It comes it quite a few colors and is easily ironed or sewn into anything you can imagine. I want to make a bag out of it at some point, like an indestructible brown paper bag tote!

Back to Basics

I’ve loved sewing as far back as I can remember, I was 13 when I asked for my first machine, mom bought me a brown & cream Kenmore portable that I could barely lift.  It had a hard plastic case, front load bobbin and a habit of breaking needles. (I actually had to have surgery on my foot as a kid because I had lost a needle in the carpet and that tender space between my littlest toes found it ..still makes me cringe!)

It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I upgraded from that old kenmore to a blue and white lightweight, top loading bobbin, adjustable speed, automatic button hole Husqvarna, with its 1st generation (kinda shitty but kinda cool) built in needle threader and this feature that allowed you to start/stop with the needle in the down position (I still love that!). No hard case, instead a soft plastic cover, that the cats liked to chew on.

Over the years, I’ve managed to collect vintage machines (mostly from estate auctions and people not knowing what to do with grandmas old machine ..I can’t seem to turn them down or leave them behind for the landfill). Some have treadles and ornate wood cases, others exposed gears and hand cranks. Weighty highly decorated all cast bodies, silky threads, and gold leaf. There is so much history, durability, style and grace built into these utilitarian beauties and I was missing that in the newer machine I was using.

Granted I don’t want to pack my body into a little victorian sewing desk OR possibly run the risk of sewing over my finger (I think I saw this in a movie once as a kid and it has since become a valid fear!) and I’m far to lazy to want to treadle my own speed, plus the one time I tried, the leather belt must have been gummy and the treadle was stuck, so I gave it a good firm press and snapped the metal pedal right in half, slicing the bottom of my foot ..ugh more cringes! (anyone else sew barefoot?)

Instead this joined my life, the perfect combination of old & new.  A surprise from Jason when the reverse went out on my machine and I was frustrated with getting it fixed and flustered with using it broke. You wouldn’t think going back to manually adjusting stitch length at the beginning and end of a run would be such a big deal, but it was, it totally sucked.

I’ve come to understand I don’t use fancy stitches, my sewing needs are pretty basic: I want easy,  I want uniform straight stitches, I want strong and sturdy (this came with a Teflon foot and leather needles just to prove it’s industrial AF!), I want a high presser foot for jamming in bulky layers and the power to sew through it all with zero attitude. It doesn’t hurt that this has a much better built in needle threader, big tool bin, metal body and slip on hard cover. It even came with cute vintage decals ..WHAT!? 😍

I didn’t even realize my old sewing heart was craving such a sweet little workhorse 💕