Tag Archives: discount

Completed: Niizo Be Strong Backpack

30 Nov

I made another backpack! While my original Freedom backpack from Niizo has been holding strong (and been schlepped across the US many times over the past 2 years), a couple months ago I was offered the opportunity to try the newly updated Be Strong backpack pattern from Niizo. While I don’t necessarily need a new backpack (what is a “need,” anyway, amirite), I was looking forward to the chance to sew one up! Niizo patterns – as well as the kits – are some of my favorite satisfying projects to work on.

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I also, in all honesty, have been yearning for this specific pattern since I first discovered Niizo a couple of years ago. The patten was only available as a PDF with no included kit, and I wanted the kit… so I stuck with the Freedom backpack. But now the Be Strong backpack has been updated with some new features, and comes with a kit option. Yeah! And let me tell you – it is as good as I was expecting it to be!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

The Be Strong backpack is a bit similar to the popular Herschel backpack – with a large zippered opening (no flap) and a 3-D zippered pocket on the front. The backpack features padding in the back and the straps, adjustable straps, a few interior pockets and exterior pockets, and a leather-wrapped handle. It also has a cool hidden pocket on the side that can be used to hold small items that you need to reach quickly – such as your phone, wallet, passport, etc (I don’t think this pocket is exactly pickpocket-proof, as it’s pretty visible, so obviously use some common sense if you are traveling somewhere that this could be an issue. But for schlepping around the airport and not wanting to dig through a huge bag to find your cash, this thing is AWESOME).

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Of course, you can buy the pattern solo and use your own fabrics, but I wanted one of those sweet kits! I chose the kit with the waxed canvas, in the khaki colorway. The lining is waterproof nylon fabric, and the contrast is a basic cotton. The kit also includes all the zippers (with leather pulls!), leather pieces (with the holes pre-punched, as well as waxed thread for sewing them), nylon strapping and adjustable sliders, and foam. Basically, all you need to supply is the thread and sewing machine.

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I wasn’t sure what waxed canvas would be like to work with, but this stuff was really nice! The biggest thing I noticed was that it finger-pressed with absolutely NO effort – I didn’t need to use my iron at all! And while it does have a good amount of body (the backpack is completely empty in these photos, fyi), it isn’t hard to wrangle around and manipulate under the sewing machine. Although, there were a couple of points when I was literally sweating while I was sewing it haha. For the most part, it was fairly straightforward and super relaxing to make up. I found it easier to sew than the Freedom backpack – primarily because you don’t have to pull the entire backpack through a small hole in the lining (which can get difficult with all those layers + foam). Instead, you assemble + line the front and back, and then connect them. That connecting seam is then covered with a cotton binding. It looks REALLY nice and makes sewing the backpack soooo much easier!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I did encounter one big problem when I sewed this – I actually finished the entire thing (including hand-stitching the binding for a really clean and flawless finish), went to put it on… and realized I’d attached the zippered panel in backwards. Which meant the bulk of the backpack went toward the back of the pack, not the front. I don’t know how i managed to mess that up, but after a few minutes of thinking about what I was going to do, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to be happy with a half-assed backpack. I knew I’d never use it. So… I ripped the pieces apart and re-did the backpack. It added an extra day to this project, but I’m so glad I fixed it!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

The backpack is slightly smaller than the Freedom backpack, but still big enough to carry my laptop (a 13″ MacBook Pro), along with my ipad, Kindle and Field Bag full of whatever I’m knitting. I prefer a smaller backpack as it means I’m not tempted to overpack, which can get quite heavy! This one has been the perfect size for the last 2 trips I’ve brought it on. I especially like that it holds its shape when it’s less full, which makes it good for a daypack to carry while exploring around a city.

Oh, and in case you were wondering – the “Nope” patch is from Mood Fabrics!

And, because I’m a spoiled brat… I also got a kit to make the Fortune Wallet:

Niizo Fortune Wallet

I’ll spare you another 20 photos and direct you to this Instagram post, where you can see lots of sexy close-ups (or just stay here and admire how beautiful this wallet looks when taken in Portrait Mode haha).

The kit I chose was the royal blue colorway, and again, it included everything I needed to sew the wallet. This was a SUPER easy project that I finished in the course of a couple of days, to warm myself up for the backpack. Not really much to report here – everything came together perfectly and now I have an adorable wristlet that I can carry when I just need my wallet/phone and am lacking pockets.

My biggest advice for making one of these patterns (whether you buy just the PDF or order the kit – but – you should order the kit! They are really nice!!) is to TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t try to rush the project – go slow, take accurate measurements and rip out stitching when you fuck something up. The #1 reason why these look so good is because I didn’t cut corners at any point in the construction. My other smaller tip is to try using a e-reader or your computer for the instructions, rather than print them out. I use my iPad – this was originally to save on paper, but I found that I can zoom in on the photos if a particular step is confusing. Can’t do that on a printed sheet of paper! (or can you? Are we in the Matrix yet?)

Niizo Be Strong BackpackLast thing! Niizo is currently offering a discount on all items in their Etsy shop! Yay!

🍎Dec 1st βˆ’13th 10% off on all items in the niizo Etsy shop

🍎Find out the coupon code in the maze. It is valid from Dec 1st βˆ’ 7th, 15% off (when you spend over US$15)

To get the secret coupon code, you must solve this maze. Need more clues? Visit these websites for the other pieces of the map:

☞ https://lladybird.com/

☞ https://www.instagram.com/trine.schroeder

☞ http://bymyhand.net/

V1419 Sewalong: Fabric Selection

29 Sep

Vogue Patterns V1419 Ralph Rucci coat pattern sewalong

Good morning & happy Monday, sewalongers! Today, we are going to talk about my favorite part of coat-making (or, really – any sewing project πŸ™‚ ) – fabric selection! Forreal, I could spend all day perusing fabrics and never feel like I’ve seen enough!
(psst – if you’re just here for the discount code, it’s at the bottom of this post πŸ™‚ FYI)

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, let’s take a minute and look at the original garment:

coat inspiration

A couple things that immediately come to mind when I see this picture-
1. As far as coats go, there is not a lot of ease in this guy. This is not your wear-everywhere-and-pile-the-thick-sweaters-underneath sort of coat – it’s very fitted and the shape is quite dramatic. Something to keep in mind while choosing your fabric!
2. To get that dramatic shape, we need a choose a fabric with quite a stiff drape and a very firm hand. The original coat is made of a sort of heavy wool garbadine backed with a stiff wool flannel. The resulting fabric is very substantial – stiff and sturdy enough to hold it’s shape. If you make this coat in a fabric with a softer drape, you will not get the same end result. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want the finished coat to look!

Still having problems wrapping your head around the whole drape factor? Don’t know if you even want a coat that’s this dramatic and structured? Go ahead and start your muslin, using a fabric that is a similar weight to what you have in mind (if you can’t find muslin fabric with a stiff enough drape, try inexpensive cotton twill or even home decor fabric). That will give you a good idea of the drape you need to get the coat you want. For more information on fabric drape, check out this post I wrote a couple months ago!

Now let’s talk about possible fabric choices! With all big projects like this, I URGE you to swatch before you commit to anything! You don’t want to spend a lot of money on coating fabric, only to find out that the drape wasn’t as stiff as you were anticipating (been there, done that! And you can’t return fabric most of the time, argh!). Especially when it comes to the contrast for this coat – you want to make sure the colors work together, that the coating is the right weight/drape/hand, and that you actually *like* the way it looks in real life. I’m recommending these fabrics based on the website descriptions, but please don’t take my word for the gospel until you’ve actually touched it in real life.

Also, please keep in mind that this coat is UNLINED. You will want to choose a fabric that can easily slide over your arms – or you will need to underline the coat with something that serves that purpose. As far as I know, there’s not a way to completely line this particular coat (with all the insides hidden and all that). We will be covering underlining in this sewalong, we will NOT be covering lining. Consider yourself warned!

virgin wool
For a dense and warm coat with a nice stiff hand, you can’t go wrong with virgin wool. This fabric is not quite as stiff as the original – it will still hold that nice bell shape at the sleeves and skirt, but with softer folds. Virgin wool is actually what I bought for my coat – in a beautiful lipstick red πŸ™‚

Another great option that will provide lots of warmth and structure is wool felt. Definitely swatch this – you don’t want it to be too thick for all those seams!

boiled wool
Similar to wool felt but not as dense is heavy flannel coating. Check out that purple!

wool twill
I really love wool twill for a nice dense coating. Wool twill comes in many weights, so make sure it’s heavy enough to give the structure this coat needs.

wool twill
Here’s another nice, heavy wool twill – this one is from Marc Jacobs!

wool coating
Classic wool coatings, such as this dark turquoise solid coating will also work, as long as they are stiff enough to give the effect you want.

plum coating
This plum coating is pre interfaced!

Looking forsomething a little more fancy? Up the luxe factor with this italian velvet.

metallic brocade
Another great fabric option for this pattern (one that I believe Meg is using for her coat – although hers is this beautiful double-sided brocade!) is brocade. I love this metallic brocade!

Also, this floral brocade if you’re dying to stand out a little more.

silk brocade
Or you could go all out with this bright pink ribbed silk brocade, because YES.

silk wool
How gorgeous is this silk wool? This fabric would give you a much softer drape than the ones above – think less of an exaggerated bell shape for the skirt and sleeves, and softer folds at the arms.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with black cashmere coating – a true classic!

Doesn’t this wool cashmere coating just look SO snuggly? It’d be like wearing a blanket 24/7.

boiled wool
For a lighter wool weight with a very soft drape, consider boiled wool. I just love this bright purple color!

cotton twill
Those of y’all with milder winters – no worries, I’ve got ya covered! You have a few options for making this coat in a lighter weight, while still retaining the dramatic shape. First up – consider cotton twill! I love this organic cotton twill – especially that hot pink color, yes! – but any cotton twill will work as long as it’s heavy enough to hold it’s shape. Try to avoid anything with lycra (or any stretch), as it will make sewing this coat more difficult.

silk faille
You could also make a very beautiful, very dressy lightweight coat out of silk faille.

cotton sateen
Want the shine of the silk without the price tag? Try cotton sateen – again, be sure you are getting one with no stretch and a heavier weight.

I’m thinking this coat would also look really cool (in a super casual way) if it was made up in denim! Am I crazy? Give it some gold topstitching and brass buttons and it’s like the fanciest denim jacket in the world. This heavyweight Theory denim even comes pre-interfaced!

Obviously there are many, many more options for coating – including non-natural fibers (I’m not linking these because I personally don’t like to wear or sew with polyester anything! Sorry!) – but this should be enough to get the ideas flowing. In the meantime, let’s talk about underlining and contrast fabrics.

For my coat, I knew I needed to underline with something because I’d otherwise have a difficult time pulling the coat on. I initially thought about using silk chaurmeuse, because I just love it, but ultimately decided to stick with the stiff drape theme and use silk taffeta. Silk taffeta is also recommended for all the contrast (as is chaurmeuse, but just between you and me – I don’t recommend the latter. Unless you just looove sewing bias chaurmeuse binding; in that case, don’t let me stop you!), so I actually bought two colors. I love silk taffeta! Obviously, you can use poly taffeta if that’s all your budget allows – but I like the added warmth that silk provides, so that’s why I went with that. Anyway, if you are underlining – you will want to buy the same amount of underlining as you are coating fabric. For contrast, buy whatever the pattern instructs you to buy.

silk taffeta
Check out this kelly green silk taffeta from Oscar de la Renta! Swanky! For something a little more understated, there is also this caviar black silk taffeta from Ralph Lauren.

poly taffeta
Love the look of silk taffeta but hate the price? There are also some beautiful polyester taffetas available, including this cool checked taffeta. This coat really isn’t suitable for plaids as the outside fabric – but as far as the contrast is concerned? Go for it!

For those of y’all who are not underlining and only need contrast for the binding, you might also consider shantung or dupioni. On a super budget? Check out cotton sateen.

Another thing to consider with the contrast fabric – there is contrast on both the outside of the coat (for the bound button holes, belt, and pocket), as well as the inside (bound seams). Keep in mind that, while the pattern is written for all contrast to be the same fabric – you don’t have to sew your coat that way. Use the fancy stuff for the outside, and bind the inside with something fun (even a woven cotton, if that’s your thing.). You’re the designer here! Just make sure to swatch so you know that you like the way your contrast looks next to your main fabric.

Couple more things, while on the fabric subject!
– Concerned about warmth, but don’t want to make the coat too bulky? Stick with natural fibers (wool coating, silk underlining) and consider interlining your coat with silk organza for an additional layer of warmth.
– Found your dream fabric but it’s just a *smidge* too drapey? Get some good interfacing and block-fuse that baby! Fashion Sewing Supply has a great super crisp interfacing, or even fusible hair canvas. FYI, this coat does not call for interfacing at all – so you only need to buy it if your fabric requires some extra heft.

Whew! I think that’s enough fabric talk for today. For sticking through it this far, I’ve got a discount for ya! Use the code “lladybird1013” to get 10% off your entire order at Mood Fabrics (not including PV codes or dress forms). This code is good through 10/13/14, so you’ve got time to swatch πŸ™‚

I promise I will share photos of my fabric as soon as I receive it (still stalking the mailbox, daily. Ha!). In the meantime – what about you? What fabrics are you eyeballing? Do you have any fun ideas for the contrast? Is your coat a lighter weight? Let’s talk!

One last thing – time to announce the Sewtionary Giveaway winner! Lucky number generator says:



Congratulations, Jin! Crossing your scissors apparently worked πŸ™‚ I’ll be in touch to get that book out to ya asap πŸ™‚ Everyone else – if you’d like to pick up your own copy of the Sewtionary, you can order a signed copy at the Sewaholic website. The Sewtionary is also available on Amazon!