A Couple of Bellevues

I’m tired of seeing that 100 Pouches in 100 Days post at the top so I’m giving you a new post to enjoy. Let me just say I have not done nearly as much sewing as I would have liked in the first four months of 2021 because of: 1) my bathroom reno; 2) my Red Cross donation gone bad; 3) my arthritic knees; and 4) my right eye. You know how to reach me if you want to know what any of those things are all about.

Now let’s talk about what’s important—sewing! I made two Bellevues this year, and am getting ready to make a couple more as soon as I finish six masks for someone who asked.

The Bellevue is a Sew Sweetness pattern, part of Sara Lawson’s Minikins Season 1. It’s an easy pouch to make, and the only thing other than fabric and interfacing that it needs is one zipper. Truly, easy peasy.

Both of these bags were made with fabric kits I bought based on a marketing email I received from My Handmade Space. The proprietor, Anabelle Delgado, has the coolest zipper pulls. She pairs a couple of fat quarters of coordinating fabric with a coordinating zipper that sports a great pull, and occasionally even puts them on sale. My first purchase from her was two sale kits, and I have since purchased several zippers. Check out her space.

The first of these two bags that I made was the Large. The exterior fabric is Tula Pink’s “Mineral” in the black-and-white colorway she calls “Paper.” The lining manufacturer was not identified in the kit. Honestly, you could use any solid fabric for which you have a matching zipper. No complaints for the construction process on this pattern. My only suggestion is for the zipper tabs. I use Wonder Tape on both the front and the back of the tab to hold it in place while I topstitch it into place. Less angst, less ripper-using.

This bag now lives in Amarillo with my son’s wonderful mother-in-law. When the bag was finished, I texted my daughter-in-law, her mother, and her daughter, and said, “Raise your hand if you need a new Jan-bag.” (This is how my Amarillo family refers to my sewing production.) My DIL immediately texted back, “Mom does.” I love when kids look out for their moms.

The second kit was purchased with a recipient in mind. There’s a couple who are old friends of the Jazzman’s and, a year before I met him, I bought a house two blocks up the street from his friends. They’ve become our travel buddies. The wife loves to bake and has been gifting us with delicious baked good throughout the nightmare that the past year has been. Since I’m not much for kitchen activities, I thought this fabric would make a great “thank you” bag for her. She’s as much of a Francophile as I am. This is the Bellevue in size Medium. Again, no complaints, no suggestions beyond the Wonder Tape above.

My bags are always sprayed to protect them against stains. I recommend to users that they just spot-clean with a damp cloth. I’ve been using Scotchgard for years, but they recently changed their formula and package and now the spray stinks much worse than it already did before the change. While searching to see if I could find any of the old Scotchgard, I found Trinova Stain Guard, which I like much better. It’s non-aerosol and fragrance free.

Here’s the info on the fabric for the Paris bag: Fabric from Riley Blake, designed by J. Wecker Frisch. The collection is “Coterie Parisienne.” Exterior: Blue Couture Cartes Postales. Lining: Blue Couture Coterie PiĆ©res. (And look at the zipper pull in that photo!!)

I want to say something about the three Minikins series of bag and pouch patterns. They’re not cheap. But the options you get for that price—worth every penny. If you make two or three bags and sell to friends or think about what you might have paid in the store for an equivalent bag for a loved one, the set is paid for!

Here are the links if you want to think about them. (I receive no remuneration for any links I ever attach here.) If you want to see some of the great bags and pouches and accessories that various users have made, and you’re on Instagram, search on #minikins or #minikins2 (etc.). You’ll be astonished.

Minikins Season 1

Minikins Season 2

Minikins Season 3

You’re welcome. 😉

Mask Matching

Sara Lawson, of Sew Sweetness Patterns, introduced a new bag, called the Rockstar Bag, about two months ago. Frequently, Michele Graham, who is one of the moderators on Sara’s fans group on Facebook and a super sewist in her own right, will host a sew-along when a new bag comes out. I’m participating in the Rockstar Bag sew-along, but am lagging behind the group because of musical obligations and mask-making needs.

The sew-along lasts about six weeks, and I made it through the fourth week. One of the optional assignments in the fourth week was to make a coordinating pouch to go with the bag. I chose the small Persimmon Dumpling Pouch, which is just the sweetest little bag.

I posted the little finished pouch on the sew-along page, but also on Instagram and Facebook. I have a Crews cousin who lives in southern Georgia and loves the bright fabrics that I love. When she saw this little pouch on Facebook, she immediately asked if she could buy it. I texted her a price and she mailed me a check. But before shipping it off to her (which I will do tomorrow morning), I quickly made a mask to match the pouch.

I will tell you I’ve come up with a new twist on the Zippy masks that I’ve been making exclusively for several months. The Zippy has a zip tie in the center front seam, holding that seam away from the wearer’s nose. But now I’ve started sewing a strip of horsehair braid horizontally across the same mask piece that has the zip tie. The “horsehair” + zip tie combination gives lift to the fabric both horizontally and vertically and makes breathing and speaking much easier. It’s extra work for me, but—I think—much more comfortable for the wearer. I gave one to Jas yesterday, and raced across the backyard to hand one to my nextdoor neighbor this afternoon before she ran errands with her son. I have one finished for her husband that I’ll deliver tomorrow. So I have testers on the scene to tell me if this new design is as comfortable as I think it is.


And here are interim pictures of the Rockstar Bag, far from finished, but isn’t that gorgeous fabric? The colors!

Week Zero assignment, two weeks in duration, was to amass all the materials—fabric, zippers, hardware. The fabric I chose was from Allison Glass’s “Diving Board” collection. Lilliput in Sunset for the exterior; Latitude in Seaweed for the straps and handles; and Starfish in Ocean for the lining. Black zipper-by-the-yard with rainbow coils.

Week One assignment was to cut out all the pattern pieces and fuse the interfacing.

Week Two assignment, make the pockets. Front flap/pocket with zipper, two interior zippered pockets. Challenge: add another pocket somewhere. I chose to add a pocket sized for my iPhone 11 on the end panel.

Week Three assignment, straps and handles. Make and attach the handle extenders on either side of the front pocket on the front panel; sew coordinating handle extenders onto the back panel; make handles and attached to the hardware on the handle extenders; make and attach the strap tabs; make adjustable shoulder strap. (Pattern does not provide for it to be adjustable—link provided to YouTube video explaining how to make it adjustable.) Challenge: Make a coordinating pouch to comprise a bag set.

[Week Four assignment is to assemble the exterior and make/attach the piping; Week Five is to finish the bag. That will all happen before Thanksgiving, but not this week!!]

Two More Kitty Packing Cubes

I forgot to add the other components of the three-cube set. (Click any photo to enlarge.)

The first packing cube you saw was the large.


Then I purchased the blue colorway and made the medium.


And finally I got my hands on the pink colorway and decided on a black and white polka dot for the lining. I LOVE that combination! Those fabrics became the small packing cube, which is just as cute as it can be!

Now if we can just get a COVID-19 vaccine, get the entire world innoculated, and plan some travel again. #sweetdreams

A Pattern I Love to Love

I don’t remember when or where I first saw this fabric, but I absolutely fell in love at first sight. I’m a cat person from birth to now. I lost my last good cat around four years ago. If he had been my only cat at that time, I would have gotten another cat. But there was Angel, who was not an angel. When we finally had Angel put to sleep, the vet said, “You’re doing him a favor. He’s never been a happy cat.” I’m pretty sure if I examine my arms closely enough, I can still find the scars from his many bites.

So I am now catless, in a pandemic when I am home all the time and would love to have a sweetie pie cat settle in my lap. But Spousal Equivalent shakes his head every time I ask what he thinks about adopting another cat from a shelter. So I admire everyone else’s cat pics on Instagram and Facebook. And I swoon over cat fabric.

But really, isn’t this the coolest fabric print you’ve ever seen.

And the bag. THE BAG!!! This is the Sew Sweetness Vacation Packing Cube, which is part of Sara Lawson’s Minikins Season 2 set of patterns. Yes, the Minikins sets (there are two) are not inexpensive, but, boy, are these great patterns. You’ll find yourself making most every one over and over again.

As I was getting to the final half hour of sewing on this bag this morning, I was getting more and more excited. I had a feeling this would be my favorite bag I’ve ever made.

I made several mistakes on this bag, which I discovered quickly and was able to take a mulligan on. When I make the bag again, I will print out the names of each pattern piece and attach those names to each pattern piece. My error was sewing the top and bottom pieces to the front zippers instead of sewing the front top and front bottom pieces to the zippers. So I had to undo those seams and sew the front pieces on instead. That cost me the amount of time equivalent to one episode of the old TV show I’m bingeing while I sew. The only other error occurred while sewing the exterior back and sides, and the lining back and sides. I needed to leave the ends open ¼” as I sewed all those right angles together. I had finished the exterior when I went to bed last night. I sat in bed and watched that part of Sara’s video again and said, “Aha.” Then I was back in the sewing room before 7:00 a.m. to undo those corners and redo them correctly.

So if those were my only errors, I’m in pretty good shape.

The pattern set is Sew Sweetness Minikins Season 2. The individual pattern is Vacation Packing Cube, size Large. (The sizes are S, M, L, XL. The dimensions of the Large are 13¾” long x 12¾” tall x 4″ deep.)

If you want to see more examples of these packing cubes and you’re an Instagrammer, search on #vacationpackingcube.

The fabric is Robert Kauffman, the designer is Neiko Ng, the collection is Whiskers & Tails.
The lining fabric is Paradise Falls by Hello Angel for Wilmington Prints in color Pacific.

The zippers are from ZipIt Zippers on Etsy. She’s the best!

I plan to make more of these packing cubes. I’ll probably get all of them finished before we’re able to travel again, but won’t it be wonderful to have these cubes to organize my suitcase next time we head someplace fun?