Tag Archives: travel

Completed: Craftsmanship Bag

23 Mar


Another bag post today πŸ™‚ I’ve been making clothes – tons of clothes – but haven’t had the will to drag myself in front of a camera quite yet. Also, my sewing mojo completely disappeared for a minute there, and this particular project is responsible for reviving it – so it seems appropriate to give it a shoutout!

(My apologies in advance for the quality of these photos – I got a new computer and my photo editing software doesn’t work on the new one, so I’m going through a pretty intense learning curve right now. Also, way to learn on something red. Brilliant move, Lauren :P)

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Anyway, my new bag! This one is another pattern/kit from Niizo, it is the Craftsmanship Bag. I have mentioned before that I don’t care to make bags (I’d rather just buy one really nice one and let someone else do all the sewing work!), but I do really love the ones from Niizo. I think one of my biggest beefs with handmade bags is the materials – they just always look, well, homemade. Quality materials is a big part of making your bag look nice – and it’s hard to source all that stuff, let alone get it to match. Then there’s the issue with the patterns themselves – they are usually much more simple than what you see in a RTW bag, which adds to that whole homemade factor. Thus is the reason why I like sewing bags from Niizo – her patterns have those cool features you see in bags at stores, and you can get a kit with all the supplies you need. The patterns are easy to follow, and the finished bag always look professional. This is my second pattern I’ve sewn from this brand (my first one was the Freedom Backpack,which you can read about my experience here. I have carried that thing several times on my last few trips – including when I went to Egypt – and it is fabulous!), and I had just as good of an experience with this project.

As I mentioned, I used the Craftsmanship Bag kit, as it includes all the materials you need to make the bag (except thread and your sewing tools). I love the quality of the materials that you get – medium weight canvas for the outer, Oxford cotton for the lining, beautiful brass hardware, rugged metal zippers – and that it’s all collected in one neat little package. You also have the option to buy the pattern separately, should you want to use your own materials for this bag. But I like having everything handed to me, so I opted for the kit! It was REAL HARD not to get the same olive green as used in the product photos, but I ended up going with red because I’ve always wanted a red handbag! I love the rich color, especially in contrast to the beige lining. It’s so pretty and happy πŸ™‚

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

This pattern looks deceptively simple, but it has a lot of great features that really make it special. The purse is fully lined with pockets on the inside, and includes a covered zippered pocket on the back, roomy side pockets finished with self-piping, handles and a long adjustable strap, and hand-stitched leather details. The lining pieces are interfaced for additional support (since the outer is a medium weight canvas, this makes the bag quite sturdy), and there is foam at the bottom of the bag as well. I forgot to take a photo of the bottom, but I attached mine with long diagonal rows. You can do any sort of design you want, though, which is kind of fun! πŸ™‚

Sewing-wise, this was much easier to make than the Freedom Backpack. There are tons of little pieces (like the pockets, the straps, etc) that are quick enough to put together so that you can work on this project in short little bursts. I wasn’t sure if I would have a hard time going through all the layers of at those side pockets – with the self-piping, it’s quite thick – but my sewing machine handled it fine. I used a 90/14 needle and didn’t even break one this time! πŸ™‚ I think Amy also increased some of the seam allowances on this pattern, so they’re slightly wider (still 3/8″ and under, but not like, less than 1/4″ as in the version of the backpack I sewed) and thus easier to sew. The instructions were very easy to follow and I had no problem sewing any of the pockets or zippers. Turning the bag right side out was MUCH easier than it had been with the backpack!

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

If you get the kit, you have the option to get the front leather piece stamped with whatever phrase you want. Obviously, I went with my own name, because I am totally one of those people who loves their name. No shame about that.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

The long strap is attached by a swivel hook, so it’s completely removable if you want to carry the purse by its handles.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

To be honest, I was the most excited about sewing that zippered top! I have always wanted to learn how to add a zippered top to a lined box bag, and this pattern totally delivered! It’s kind of a weird pattern piece, but it comes together SO satisfyingly and all the seams are completely enclosed.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Here is the inside of the bag. Ha! There are lined pockets on both sides. I just sewed straight down the middle of each one, so they are all the same size, but you could customize these to be whatever size you wanted – including making little pen holders.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

I anticipated that it would be impossible to get a shot of the lining, so here it is flat before I put it in the bag. The lining is an Oxford cotton – about the same weight as a quilting cotton. All the lining pieces are interfaced, with the exception of the pockets. I love how the pockets are finished – they are lined with the nylon lining (the same stuff that I lined my Freedom backpack with), and the pattern pieces are measured so that the nylon is longer than the cotton, which when everything is turned and stitched down, you have a nice nylon edge. It’s a really pretty detail.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Since the bag outer is red, I decided to topstitch the lining with red thread to bring everything together. I used the triple stitch on my sewing machine so that the stitches would be thicker and thus more visible. I love the way it looks – shame it’s on the inside of the bag, ha!

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Here is a picture of the bag with some of my stuff in it, to give you an idea of it’s size and what it can carry! (I should mention – the above photos are all with the bag empty. It holds its shape really well!). The side pockets are big enough to carry a water bottle – there is a dart at the bottom, so they are shaped (not flat). The water bottle in my bag is a S’Well mini, but I reckon most bottles would fit. The bag can also comfortably hold a full-sized iPad Air, and you can zip it closed. I didn’t take a photo of this, but the back pocket also easily holds my phone (which is an iPhone 6 – but there is lots of extra room, so I think a bigger phone would fit too) or my wallet. The interior pockets are also phone-sized.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

And here is the bag on my dressform, to give you an idea of the size in proportion to a person. It’s not a super tiny bag, but it’s also not giant. The dimensions of my finished bag are approximately 13″ long, 7.5″ tall, and 6″ deep – which is a great size for my needs! The size is pretty similar to the handbag that I use daily, which is a Coach Crosby. Big enough to hold what I need, but not so huge that I’m tempted to fill it with everything I own.

Since I already have a nice leather handbag, I probably won’t be using this bag on the daily (unless I’m going somewhere dirty, like the flea market haha). I primarily made this bag as a replacement for my travel purse. For years, I have used a Po Campo Roscoe Crossbody bag, which I LOVEEEE, but the lining is finally falling apart. I was looking for something to replace it with that was a bit wider (the Roscoe is super flat, which is nice, but then you stuff it with your crap and then it’s not exactly flat anymore haha), and the Craftsmanship bag is exactly what I wanted. I think it’s ideal for travel – you have the option of hand or shoulder straps, there are pockets to hold a water bottle, the top zips shut and there’s a zippered pocket in the back. I haven’t traveled since finishing the bag, but it’s ready to go when I take my next trip!

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Anyway, I guess that’s all for this bag! Who else is into making bags? Have y’all tried a kit/pattern from Niizo yet? What’s your favorite bag to carry – pattern or store-bought?

*Note: Niizo sent me this kit for free, as a thank you for reviewing the Freedom Backpack. I was under no obligation to post about this project, but I truly love how it turned out and felt like it deserved to be shared!

My Trip to Egypt!

6 Feb

The Great Pyramids of Giza

All right, y’all! I’m home, I’m settled, my fabric has been pre-washed (oh yes, I bought fabric) and I’ve sorted through the mounds of photos I took during the 10 days I spent in Egypt. Now it’s time to post about it! To be honest, when I originally planned and booked this trip, I wasn’t intending on writing a blog post about it at all – like when I went to Peru, I was anticipating a personal trip that would basically only be beneficial to me (and also, this is SO not a travel blog. As you know!). However, I have gotten a lot of questions about the trip – what I did, how I planned it, did I feel safe, etc etc – while posting about it on Instagram, not to mention dozens of requests for a post. So, here you go. My trip to Egypt, 2017!

In an effort to keep this blog sewing-related, this will be the ONLY post I write about traveling to Egypt. That being said, it’s a looong one. Grab a cup of coffee and maybe a snack, you’re gonna be knee-deep in this one for a while! Those of y’all who don’t give a flying fuck about this content, great. This is the only post you have to skip over πŸ˜‰

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Completed: Travel Backpack

11 Aug

Look! I made a backpack!!

Travel Backpack

Ok, let me back(lolz) up a little first here!

When I travel around (whether it’s personal or sewing workshop related!), I like to check my luggage and bring a carry-on bag that is big enough for all my entertaining shit (knitting, Kindle, etc), but not so big that I’m forced to keep it in the overhead bin. I’ve dabbled around with different sorts of shoulder bags – totes, giant purses, I dunno, all sorts of stuff – which worked fine, but I didn’t like that they weren’t super useful once I got off the plane (like, who wants to walk around NYC with a giant tote bag?). I have a tendency to overpack more than I need to, and I’m really trying to pare down on the amount of stuff I lug around when I go out of town. I wanted a bag that would work for both my flight *and* getting around whatever city I was hanging around. Big enough to hold some essentials – a notebook, my water bottle, phone charger, stuff like that – but not so big that I would be tempted to put everything I own in it and weigh myself down for the day.

I bought a small backpack while I was in Peru when I realized that my normal backpack wasn’t gonna hold all the shit I was trying to carry home, which ended up being really awesome for my purposes, except when it fell apart at the seams while I was last in NYC. Boo! I was on board with the backpack idea at that point, so I decided to change what I didn’t like about the Peruvian pack (too soft/no support, drawstring, not enough pockets, straps weren’t adjustable, etc) and turn it into my dream travel pack.

I used the Toddler Backpack pattern, except enlarged it for a school-age child (there are instructions on how to do this in the pattern). I first discovered this backpack thanks to Kelli and her awesome versions made for actual toddlers (this one is particular makes me want to cry because it is SO FREAKING BEAUTIFUL), and I realized the size was exactly what I needed. I wanted to keep the essence of a small backpack – like the tiny packs we carried around in the 90s and felt real cool about – but I wanted it to have some features like my big traveler backpack had, like extra pockets and a place to carry my water bottle. I also wanted it to be structured, because I am not about those sad and droppy cloth backpacks!

Travel Backpack

Travel Backpack

I feel real good about the finished size! It’s just big enough to hold an 8.5″ x 11″ folder (which I will not be carrying around in this thing, but, that gives you an idea of it’s size). I included a few pockets that weren’t part of the pattern, to make organizing more useful – there is a big pocket in the front, a pocket on either side, a small velcro’d pocket on the inside, a large padded laptop pocket on the inside, and also a secret pocket in the back! The backpack is fully lined, the outside fabric is interfaced, there is self-made piping around the outside, the straps are adjustable and padded, and the bottom is also padded and quilted. There is a double pull metal zipper at the top, and little zipper tabs on either end (to help with zipping and unzipping – they are just folded and interfaced rectangles). It was a lot of work, but it’s pretty much exactly what I want!

Travel Backpack

This pocket is for my water bottle – the bottom is gathered, and there is elastic along the top. It fits my water bottle pretty securely. The pattern doesn’t include instructions for a water bottle pocket, but it was easy to figure out. I used this post as a guide on how to cut the pieces and assemble them.

Travel Backpack

The opposite side has a sort of bastardized bellows pocket that closes with a little piece of velcro. I used this tutorial as a general guide to draft the pocket. I did consider adding a flap to completely cover the top, but figuring out how to insert it without crossing over the side seamlines was starting to make my head hurt, so I just went with a velcro closure instead. I don’t think I’ll use this pocket to carry anything necessarily worth stealing – but it will be handy for my reusable bag, or tissues, or something like that.

Travel Backpack

Travel Backpack

The front pocket closes with a zipper (pulled from my stash) and is lined.

Travel Backpack

I spent a little more (aka- bought one instead of taking one from my stash) on the main zipper and bought a metal one intended for purses, with two pulls. When you’re trying to quickly get into your pack, it’s nice to not have to find which side the zipper pull is on. Also, I like that I can clip the two pulls together with a keyring, to discourage someone from trying to take a peek inside. I bought the zipper on Etsy from ZipIt Zippers, who I’ve always had good experiences with!

Travel Backpack

The straps are plain cotton webbing, with gold D rings so that they are adjustable. The upper portion of the straps are lightly padded with cotton batting so they are a bit more comfortable. Just a word of warning – if you are making this bag for an adult, check the sewn strap length! The first pair I made was laughingly WAY too short and looked completely ridiculous on me. These were lengthened by about 5″, which works much better.

Travel Backpack

Travel Backpack

Here’s something I’m proud of – a hidden zippered pocket in the back! It’s sized to fit my passport/wallet, and no one can access the pocket while I’m wearing the backpack. I always hated that someone could theoretically open my backpack and take my stuff, and now at least the shit worth stealing is a little more safe πŸ™‚

Travel Backpack

Travel Backpack

I added two more pockets to the lining – a small pocket for holding things like chapstick, Advil, tickets, etc; and a larger pocket that is sized to hold my tablet (a Microsoft Surface, one of the older ones). Both the tablet pocket and the back side of the backpack are padded with cotton batting (the pocket is also lightly quilted), to protect my tablet and also for comfort against my back. I finished all the pocket edges with leftover bias from my piping, which I think looks really nice! I also included a keyring, so I can quickly find my keys when I need them.

I am not going to lie – sewing this backpack was a fucking BEAST. There aren’t a of of pieces, and it’s not even necessarily hard – but there is a lot of bulk once everything starts getting sewn together, especially if you include piping. That being said, the steps are reasonably simple. The instructions are easy to follow, the pieces fit together well, and there’s a lot of room for customization to make ~your perfect backpack~. Despite this being sized for an 8 year old, it’s exactly the right size for my needs.

I bought all my fabrics locally here at Craft South. The outer is my favorite – it’s a great woven cotton from Diamond Textiles that I loved working with cos it’s so pretty! (it’s not on our website, but I can personally vouch that we have like 30 yards in the store, so if you want some – just call the shop! I think it was around $18-$20 yard). The red contrast is Kasse shot cotton, and the lining is just plain ol’ Freespirit quilting cotton. I interfaced all the outer pieces (except for the gathered water bottle pocket) with medium weight fusible interfacing – Pellon 809 to be specific. I did not interface the bottom pieces, which in retrospect I kind of wish I had (the padding/quilting doesn’t make it quite as stable as I’d like, but oh well!). Also from Craft South came the cotton batting, cotton webbing and D-rings. Even though I get a pretty generous discount at Craft South, this backpack still cost me around $50 for all the materials – so it definitely wasn’t cheap (I could buy one for less than that). However, it’s sewn exactly to suit my needs AND the outer fabric is just so beautiful! So there’s that. Also, I am much more likely to take my damn time and do the best job I am capable of when I drop that kind of cash on a project – ha! I think it definitely shows with this backpack. It turned out even nicer than I was expecting!

Travel Backpack

Travel Backpack

Anyway, my little backpack is ready for it’s first adventure! I’ve got a few travel dates coming up soon, starting in September, so I can’t wait to start using it. And OH, speaking of traveling – after much planning, saving, and brain-racking… I just booked a big solo trip! I’ll be visiting in Egypt in January 2017!! HOLY SHIT, right!? I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Egypt and see (touch) a pyramid – which I am finally gonna do! I am also gonna take a Nile River cruise from Aswan to Luxor πŸ˜‰ (which I am MASSIVELY excited about!) Can’t wait to nerd out super hard at the Egyptian Museum, too! Until then, though, I’ve got a vacation wardrobe to flesh out and sew – because let’s face it, none of my clothes are very modest and I definitely need to stick out as little as possible! πŸ™‚

Bra-Making with Madalynne

9 Feb

As you no doubt already know by now (mostly because I’ve talked about it to death by this point ahaha), I recently spent a long weekend in Philadelphia with Maddie, to help her set up for her bra making workshop – as well as attend the damn thing myself! I was obviously really excited for this adventure – for the hangs, to explore a new city (truth: the only time I’d been to Philly prior was for a one-way flight back to Nashville after helping my friend move to NYC when I was 22. A 14 year old boy hit on me while we were waiting for the plane to take off. I think he was the most traumatized between the two of us, though), and of course, because of boobs. And now you guys get to hear/see a recap! Yay!


I won’t bore y’all with a full weekend recap – I flew in on Thursday afternoon, and spent nearly the entire time up until Saturday morning with Maddie to help her prepare for the workshop. We ran errands, we prepped handouts and the (adorable) little kits, and helped with getting the machines set up in the space the night before. I was able to sneak away for a few hours with Andrea, who took me to the MΓΌtter Museum (my request – and also this is your head’s up of knowing that Andrea is an amazing sport when it comes to visiting weird places with an almost total stranger haha) and her favorite yarn shop (where I bought sock yarn. It’s red. That’s about all that’s worth knowing :P).


No, what we are here to discuss is a recap of the workshop! Actually, I don’t think this post warrants too much typing – you can get a good sense of how things went just based by the photos alone (and yes, those were professionally taken. OBVIOUSLY my hands didn’t go anywhere near the camera that weekend, ha!).


Honestly, the entire day was more of an event and less of a workshop. I knew Maddie had something special planned when we were cahooting about this shit months ago (well, my side of the cahooting was just being a personal cheerleader. I love cheerleading my friends while they are doing amazing things πŸ™‚ ), but I was surprised when I started seeing things coming together. Of course, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised – anyone who’s lurked up Maddie’s blog knows that that woman is all about turning everything around her into beautiful art (y’all should see her condo. I couldn’t even DEAL) – but yeah, it was all lovely. The production for the workshop, as well as all the styling and catering, was handled by The New Old Fashioned, and the event took place in the Love Me Do Photography studio. There was beautiful vintage furniture everywhere, fresh flowers, a never-ending supply of coffee (and later, prosecco. Yay!), a catered lunch, a light breakfast, adorable cakes, a photo booth – even a freaking spot to get your make-up professionally touched up. I’m telling you, this shit was an EVENT. It was amazing and there was obviously a lot of love and attention that went into every detail. Definitely not the kind of half-assed workshop that I’d throw together – but that’s what you get when you are dealing with Maddie. You get something that’s just as beautiful as it is useful.


To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting to learn a whole lot at the workshop itself – I’ve already made a couple of bras at this point, and I have an ok handle on how they come together. I knew I’d be hitting Maddie up for fitting advice outside of the classroom, and I knew that the environment itself would be amazing and fun. I’m happy to report that I was wrong, at least in the subject of “learning new things.” I definitely learned a whole bunch of new tips and trips – a more effective way of cutting the fabric and lace, when to use certain zigzag stitches and widths, a way to beautifully finish the top of the bridge, amongst other things. And duh, of course the class was fun as HELL! I had such a great time meeting everyone, talking boobs, and making bras together. My kind of awesome day!


(I am sharing this photo because I have no idea why I’m making that expression! At least my hair color doesn’t look like swamp sludge haha)




Oh yeah – and the food was fucking fantastic!




Here are some more photos so that you can be good & jealous of our fabulous day. Our take-home goodie bags included those beautiful cookies, a tiny bottle of prosecco (again – yay!) and a fresh bouquet with a handmade medal.




We also had temporary sewing-themed tattoos – which, by the way, who else thinks Maddie should get a pair of shears tattooed on her neck? Amirite?!




I was REALLY excited to see that Carolina and Jen were also part of the class! I met both of these ladies last time I was in NY – Jen was one of my students in the Pants Making Intensive at WORKROOM SOCIAL, and Carolina randomly asked me for coffee (which clearly ended up being a match made in heaven – I mean, we make a pretty adorable prom couple). It was great to be able to see both of them – in a completely different city than before, even.

I know that my friendship with Maddie does make me a bit biased, but this workshop was seriously fabulous. I’ve never felt so pampered while in a class – it’s kind of a nice feeling (I might be kind of spoiled now! Ha!)! And, hey, the bra didn’t turn out so bad, either πŸ™‚ Want to see?



If you recognize the fabric, it’s because I used it before on a Bambi bra; it was originally given to me from Maddie. Let me just say – the kits that we got with this workshop were seriously nice. Everything was included – all the fabric, notions, hardware, even a tiny rotary cutter and a really nice marking pen – and it was all super high quality stuff. I think most of it came from Bra Maker’s Supply – which, if you’ve ever ordered from them before, you know how nice their products area. No cheap plastic sliders or questionable elastic here! I would have found this very helpful had I been making my first bra – it gives you a good idea of what the good-quality stuff feels like, so you know what to shop for (plus, it’s easier to sew!).


We used the Marlborough pattern for our bras; I brought my own copy (everyone got a copy with their kits) since I already had some fitting tweaks done. The lace we used is really stretchy, so everything is backed with power mesh to make it more stable. It still has more stretch than the duoplex I get from Bra Maker’s Supply, but the resulting bra actually fits pretty nicely! I’ve spared y’all the floating ghost bra photos for this post (mostly because I’m feeling lazy haha sorry), but, just trust me.



Our tableware at the workshop was tied with this cute twill tape that looks like a measuring tape – I saved a little piece to make a bow for my bra. Love it πŸ™‚ And check out that pretty gold hardware! Honestly, that’s my favorite part of the whole damn bra. Looks so luxe.

Let’s see, what else? Sunday, Carolina & I walked all over Philly (ok, seriously, maybe 5 miles, tops. haha) and it was cold but also really fun! I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with her and get some bonding done. We visited Andrea at Butcher’s Sewing Shop, where she was teaching a class. Actually, we crashed that shit and drank their mimosas, but everyone was really friendly and the shop is just adorable. No ragrets. Finally, I made it home just before the next snow storm – and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t hit on by a 14 year old this time. Also, the Philadelphia airport is WAY nicer than I remember.

I had an amazing time – the workshop obviously being the highlight of the trip, but it was so wonderful getting to hang with everyone and meet some great new people (and reunite with people I know I already love πŸ™‚ ). If you were interested in taking the workshop, but were put off by the price or didn’t know what to expect – hopefully this revs your engine a little πŸ™‚ It’s definitely an experience! For a more in-depth recap, with lots more photos (as well as a run down of all the vendors who contributed to all the pretty that you see), check out Maddie’s blog.


I am just gonna leave this picture here, because I think it really illustrates the class well. There is alcohol and cookies on that table – and we can’t tear ourselves away from the machines. TYPICAL.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ticket to the Bra Making Workshop, in exchange helping with prep, set up, and trouble shooting – as well as keeping Maddie’s nerves calmed for her first class (I shit you not, she started VACUUMING her condo like 30 minutes before we had to leave that morning hahaha). I paid for all my travel and food expenses, but my workshop ticket was gratis! This review is just cos I think the class was awesome, and I wanted to talk about it.

Completed: The Portside Travel Set

22 Jan

For the past couple months, I’ve been planning to up my luggage game. Over the years, I’ve made do with a fairly old suitcase (handed down from my parents – I’m not sure exactly it’s age, but I know there are receipts in the pocket from when we went to Disney World in 1994, so at least 20 years!) and a really ratty/cheap duffel bag. My travel schedule is starting to ramp up this year, and one thing I don’t have is a duffel bag that is suitable for a weekend getaway. The aforementioned ratty bag was pretty small and difficult to carry comfortably. Also, I broke the zipper while I was in Paris – rather than repair it (it was really REALLY cheap – even down to the hardware, which I also threw away with the bag haha), I decided to make a new set, courtesy of Mood Fabrics.

Portside Travel Set

The Portside Travel Set is the perfect pattern for my casual luggage needs – a roomy duffel bag, plus a matching dopp kit and a small zippered pouch. The pattern is designed so you can really play with color blocking and fabric options, and it’s not difficult at all to put together. The duffel bag is nice and big (20″ x 11.5″ x 12″), and includes both hand and shoulder straps (the shoulder is adjustable, as well as removable!), a zippered top, and two exterior pockets. The dopp kit has both a zippered top and a zippered exterior pocket, plus a small handle. The little zippered pouch is one of the most basic things ever – like the kind of pouch you’d make in a ‘learn to sew zippers’ class – but I can see it being very useful. And it all matches! Yay!

Anyway, let me also point out that making this set gave me an excuse to peruse the home decor section of Mood Fabrics. I rarely sew with home decor fabrics (I know some people love them for clothing, but I’m not much of a fan, unless it’s for a very specific purpose), but I totally jumped at the opportunity! There are SO many cool designs, it was really hard to narrow it down to just 3! I started with this cool turquoise geometric print, matched it to a charcoal grey faux suede, and lined the inside with grey and white polka dots (I’ve been eyeballing that polka dot fabric for over a year now – so glad to finally have an excuse to buy it!).

Portside Travel Set

Portside Travel Set

Portside Travel Set

I went over all this briefly in my post for the Mood Sewing Network; here I’d like to talk a little more about the pattern itself. Overall, it’s a great little pattern – good instructions, the pieces fit together, and I think the end result is really nice. There were a few points in the pattern that I found a bit confusing, though. For one – I completely mixed up the main and contrast fabrics when I was planning my fabrics! I assumed the contrast was the bottom half – i.e., the part I’ve made out of suede. That’s actually the main fabric, as far as the pattern is concerned. The contrast is the top part. This isn’t marked anywhere on the pattern except on the pieces themselves, which meant I ultimately ended up marking the line drawing with a map of what piece was what before I knew what piece to cut from which fabric. The contrast and self changes for the dopp kit and pouch, so I would really recommend at least mapping out the design before you start cutting. I know I would have been PISSED if my bag had ended up with the suede being the top sections, ha.

Speaking of the suede, that wasn’t difficult to sew at all. I used a standard 80/12 needle and my normal machine feet (no need for a special Teflon foot or anything), and since my iron has a shoe, I was even able to press it and fuse interfacing to it. The bag is lightly interfaced – more so to keep the cotton from wrinkling, less for structure. It’s pretty floppy when it’s empty.

Portside Travel Set

The instructions, like I said, are pretty good. The only part that really confused me was assembling the shoulder strap for the duffel bag. I have made plenty of stuff with sliders – hell, even all my bras have adjustable straps with sliders – but this bag uses D-rings for the sliders. I could not figure out how Jen did this, and even googling didn’t really help (turns out everyone else uses sliders too, who woulda thought?). I just ended up playing around with the straps and rings until it worked. Couldn’t tell ya what I did to get to that point, sorry! At least they look good now!

Portside Travel Set

Also, sewing up the little dopp kit was… interesting. Not all the pieces matched up perfectly (I read this in a random google review of the pattern as well – so either we cut it wrong, which is possible, or there’s a minor drafting error. I know Jen is really precise with her drafting so I hesitate to believe that it’s an error on her part, but I thought I would point that out), but I just trimmed off the excess. We are talking about rectangles that form a bag, after all – no crazy fitting or anything. I really struggled to get the bottom sewn on square – it’s passable as it is, but it’s not my best work.

Then again, it’s a dopp kit. I’m not unpicking that shit hahaha.

Portside Travel Set

Portside Travel Set

Portside Travel Set

Portside Travel Set

I love all the neat details in this tiny bag, though! The front zippered pocket is a personal favorite – also love that little leather zipper pull! And check out that print-matching at the top zipper! That was actually unintentional, but it worked out amazingly well. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super impressed with myself haha.

Portside Travel Set

Portside Travel Set

Like I said, the pouch was really easy – like, sewn up in under 20 minutes easy. Since it’s unlined, I serged the inside with matching aqua thread (it was almost navy because I didn’t feel like re-threading the serger, until I reminded myself that I paid for this serger specifically because it self-threads haha). The zipper pull – as well as the pulls for the dopp kit – is loosely based on the pattern included in the travel kit. I had to change it up a bit to get it to fit my smaller-than-normal zippers.

Portside Travel Set

One thing I did not anticipate when I started this project was how much all the materials were going to cost me – and how difficult they’d be to source. The fabric wasn’t terribly expensive (and since it’s a project for the Mood Sewing Network, it was free for me), but all those little extras add up! I found my swivel hooks and D-rings at Joann’s – not in the sewing section, but in the… dog-leash making section? Joann’s, keepin’ it weird as usual. I bought my cotton webbing from A Graff Supplies on Etsy. This was after shopping around quite a bit – Joann’s didn’t have the right colors and widths, Mood was sold out of most everything, and any other supplier I found only carried one of the two widths I needed. A Graff Supplies had both widths, with a great selection of colors – and while I did spend $15 on JUST WEBBING, I can’t imagine it being that much cheaper anywhere else. I would have loved to find nylon webbing, but cotton was much more prominent in my searches. All my zippers are from my stash – the black zip on the duffel bag is new (I bought it for a dress, which I obviously never made haha), the rest are vintage. Been looking for a use for those turquoise zippers πŸ™‚ Oh, and the little leather scrap for the pulls is from a shop on Goldhawk Road in London. I bought it because I loved the color, bonus that it matches my bag!

Portside Travel Set

The bag is REALLY floppy when it’s empty (to get these photos, it’s stuffed with every pillow from my couch, plus a couple of blankets), so it was hard to get an inside lining shot! The lining is all polka dots – the self fabric at the bottom is actually a fabric-covered removable piece of thin plastic, to keep the bottom from sagging open.

Portside Travel Set

This isn’t in the instructions (hence why it’s self-fabric – I ran out of lining!), but it’s a trick I learned when I made one of those Amy Butler Weekender bags years ago (which I still have, and yes, it’s too small for a weekend! More like an overnight bag haha). You cut the plastic the same size as your bottom, remove the seam allowances, and make a fitted sleeve to cover it. I like that it’s removable because now I can roll the duffel up if I need to. As far as sourcing plastic – I ended up buying it on Amazon. The EZ Quilting Template Plastic is 18″ x 24″, which I needed (anything sold at a craft store is usually 12×12) for the base. It’s quite a bit flimsier than what I wanted – I doubled up and bought two, but it’s still not as rigid as my Weekender. Still, it’s better than nothing. Plus, I have quite a bit left that I can use for bra pattern templates, yay!

So, in case you couldn’t tell – this bag is pretty big. Like, I could probably squish myself into it if I tried hard enough:

Portside Travel Set

But, like I said – it folds down pretty flat for storage (or putting in a suitcase, which is what I usually do – then I have a bag for all the fabric I buy hahahahaha):

Portside Travel Set

Anyway, I’m happy to check this off my to-do list – and I can’t wait to put it to good use! It’ll definitely come in handy for my trip to Philly at the end of this month. Now I guess I just need to start looking for a new suitcase – mine is starting to give signs of wearing out (wires poking out, the zipper is struggling, corners are threadbare – I told you it was old! And very well-used πŸ˜‰ ).

Portside Travel Set

Just look at that unintentional print-matching. If that doesn’t make you want to run out and SEW ALL THE DUFFLES, then I don’t even know who you are anymore.

** Note: All fabrics for this project were provided to be as per my involvement with the Mood Sewing Network. Notions and pattern were purchased by me!

My Trip to London & Paris!

8 Dec

Hey everyone! Ok, whew, I’m finally back and mostly caught up with boring adult life things, so now I can get back to the fun stuff! Wheeee!! Today is all about my trip to London (with a little two day stop in Paris). Sorry if you just wanted me to dive back into the sewing shizz! Deal with it~

deal with it
God, that gif never gets old.

Anyway, sooo, London! I’m just going to touch on highlights, and share some photos (nearly all of these have been posted on Instagram/Twitter, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little backstory with the photos, yeah? πŸ™‚ Oh, except for the ones I shamelessly stole from other people. Hey, if you tag me in it, I get to use it hahaha). Don’t take this as a ~London guide~ because I really am not a travel blogger by any stretch of the imagination, but hey, I’m happy to share all the things I learned while on this trip πŸ™‚ Fair warning: I did not take very many pictures. I never do when I go on trips; I find that for me it’s really hard to stay in the moment and enjoy myself if I’m worried about getting good photos. Also, this post ended up being reeeally long, despite my best efforts at condensing it – so yeah. Sorry! It’s totally ok if only my mom ends up reading it πŸ™‚

Thursday: I flew into London on a red-eye, arriving on Friday morning. Not much to say about the trip, as I mostly slept on the plane (or, rather, tried to). I will mention that I never once saw my seat mate do anything other than stare straight ahead. Not even watching TV – that was off the whole time – just staring at the back of the seat in front of him. At one point, I noticed he was wearing headphones. Later, I realized that they weren’t plugged in. So there’s that.

Saturday: This was the day of the London meet-up on Goldhawk Road. Yes. The day after I flew in. In retrospect, planning a meet-up during which I will likely still have jet-lag (spoiler: I did. Ohhh I so did) is a terrible idea. I ended up feeling very tired, a little sick (in that I-barely-slept-last-night kind of way, although, I *did* sleep well the night before. When you’re staying with Clare in her Elvis Presley Deluxe Suite, how couldn’t you? πŸ˜‰ ), and was generally very quiet and a lot overwhelmed – not overwhelmed with the meet-up, per se, but just the whole thing about being in a completely different country and all that. All that being said – I had a wonderful time at the meet-up! We had a smallish group of less than 20 women, which was nice and manageable (I’ve heard stories about those 80+ people meet-ups, and y’all, I would be horrified. Haha!). It was so nice to meet everyone who came out, not to mention shop with them! I do like buying fabric solo, but man… I’m a big fan of the peer pressure influence too πŸ™‚ And Goldhawk Road is pretty awesome! It’s no NYC Garment District by any means, but there were still loads of shops to check out, the prices were good, and everyone who worked there was pretty friendly πŸ™‚ Also, some of the window displays were insane.

The fabric shops here have the best window displays πŸ˜‚βœ‚οΈ

This was my favorite window display out of all of them. How good is that? The more I look at it, the more it makes me laugh.

Price-wise, all the shops in the area were pretty reasonable. I had to be very mindful of whatever I bought – I was limited to one checked bag (an additional would have cost $100), plus, my dollars don’t go as far in London when compared to the pound. Not to mention, I have TONS of fabric at my house that I need to sew through! So I tried to stay pretty restrained (and make everyone else buy lots of awesome fabrics, heh heh heh) and did not buy much.

Just hanging out with myself here 😜 #lladybirdinlondon (also, @bbhandmadedress made me a tag, yay!)

After we were all shopped out, we went to Defector’s Weld around the corner for drinks and food. I unfortunately did not get a photo of the meet-up (again, me and taking photos doesn’t really jive), oh well! So instead, here’s a photo of my name on the table. Big thanks to Stevie for wrangling the reservation for this part of the meet-up – couldn’t have done it without her! β™₯ Also, big huge thanks to Sally and Fiona for being my personal Tube Guides during this day, as I otherwise would have definitely gotten myself super lost.

So yeah, first meet-up was excellent! Thanks to everyone who made it out – I just wish I’d been feeling better, so I could have talked more and not just sat there staring at my soup like a freaking zombie. I have learned my lesson for the next time! Get over the jet-lag first!

Fortunately, the jet-lag only hung around for another day… then I felt REALLY splendid for the rest of the trip. So that was good!

Sunday: I met up with Birgitte, who was also visiting London from out of town (albeit from Norway… but still! Somewhere Else!), and we went to see the Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 exhibit at the V&A Museum. One thing I loooove about London is that basically all the museums are free! SWEET! Of course, certain exhibits may cost you regardless – such as the one we saw at the V&A, I think it was around Β£10? It was totally worth it, though! They will also check your coat and bags at the museum for free, which was nice since it was cold and rainy that day.

Guess where I ammmm... 😜 #lladybirdinlondon

After the museum, Birgitte and I wandered into Liberty of London. At the risk of making myself sound like a complete idiot – I had no idea Liberty was a department store? I’ve only ever known it for the fabrics. So I was pretty surprised to see that – not only is it an entire store, but it’s a fucking FANCY store! Now I understand the hype. Still don’t care much for the fabrics (I tried, I really did! But no Liberty fabrics came home with me on this trip), but, I get it.

dalston shopping

Monday: This was the day I really started feeling 100%. I met up with Nicole, Rachel and Vanessa for a shopping day in Dalston Mills, at the Ridley Road Market. Nicole lives in the area and was kind enough to show us around – it. was. AMAZING! Such a completely different culture from what I’d seen the night before (I mean, I went into Harrod’s at one point, for fuck’s sake hahaha). We shopped for fabrics at the little fabric store – as well as on all the tables selling beautiful African wax prints (which you can also get on Goldhawk, but I liked the wax prints here better!). I also bought hair dye (because, why not?) and a new neon green purse, having realized my sling bag was not big enough for the necessary umbrella & other necessities.

Hi, I love meat πŸ—πŸ”πŸ” #lladybirdinlondon

There is a lot of dead meat on Ridley Road. Here I am standing next to some. Yay, meat!

me & Rachel β™₯

It was such a treat to be able to spend some time with Rachel. We may or may not have bought mostly the same fabrics (all destined for lingerie, no less!). In case you were wondering – she’s just as gorgeous in real life as she is in photos. Maybe even more so! And she’s so tall – especially next to this 5’2″ runt πŸ˜›

And now I'm hanging out with @ohthepeteroh, who was my first roommate in Nashville before he moved back to London. It's been 10 years and he's aged like a fine wine 🍷 #lladybirdinlondon

After my shopping day in Dalston Mills, I stayed in East London and met up with my friend Peter for drinks at a couple of the nearby bars. Peter is an old friend of mine – we go ‘way back, like, pre-high school, and he was my first roommate when I moved out of my parent’s house. I haven’t seen him since he moved back to London 10 years ago, so it was REALLY great to see him and catch up. We both drank ourselves into hangovers that night. It was awesome.

Classic English breakfast today! I will not be eating those beans hahahaha #bpSewvember

Tuesday: Hangover day! I started my morning with a big, proper English breakfast with Clare, which I ate about half of (I know! I hate wasting food, but hangovers for me tend to be the really sick/no appetite types). I did not touch the beans, which horrified about half of Instagram, apparently. Sorry, dudes. Baked beans are gross and I wasn’t about to risk trying them when I was already feeling sick!

Anyway, a hot shower did a good job of clearing me right up, so I was able to drag myself out of the flat and take myself on a date to the British Museum. This was pretty much the only thing I had planned in advance before getting to London – I knew I wanted to see mummies! And I did see mummies – three times, in fact. I kept going back to the Egyptian room, because mummies are awesome haha.

Took myself on a date today and made a new friend #lladybirdinlondon

I also took a selfie with this guy. I felt pretty silly, but I’m trying not to care. I really wanted to take a selfie with the naked Greek statues (head height for me is right about at the weiners, which is PERFECT), but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Next time!

It was also pretty cool seeing the all the Parthenon stuff. We have a full-scape replica of the Parthenon in Nashville (because of course we do), and it’s pretty true to the original. Except for that whole collapsing part haha πŸ˜›

Tower Bridge hangs! πŸš£πŸŒ‰ #lladybirdinlondon

Wednesday: In the AM, I met with Melissa Fehr in her floating house boat on the Thames river. Yes, you heard me – HOUSE BOAT. I had no idea that was a thing in London, but it is, and it is excellent. There’s a whole boat community out there, with floating gardens and community centers and other impressive floating things. Also, Melissa is fucking hilarious, and her cat is adorable and extremely good at laser acrobats.

Great lunch/beer (ok, I'm the only one who had alcohol 😜 haha) this afternoon with @fehrtrade and @tillybuttons 🍻 yay for mini sewing meet ups! πŸ‘―

After tea & pumpkin pie and general boat-awe, we took a bus to get lunch with Tilly on her side of London, as well as check out her beautiful studio where I would be teaching my class later that evening.

class at Tilly's

Oh, so, my class! Zips & Buttonholes was 3 hours of great fun! My students were all fabulous and really killed their zipper insertions (and I’m a little jealous that my first zippers never looked that great! Many, many MANY years of dodgy zippers are in my past, ha!). Everyone was so lovely and fun to chat with – one person even brought me a gift of bicycle print jersey (for real! I was – and still am – completely floored by her kindness and generosity. Thank you so much, Caroline!). We did have one injury in the class – I think that was a first for all of us (knock on wood, haha). Poor Rosie! Actually, she was a really great sport throughout the ordeal – and I love the photo we got together haha. I hope your finger is feeling better now, Rosie! You should be proud of your battle scar πŸ˜› haha!

train to Paris!

Thursday: While my family spent the day feasting and hanging out, I woke up at the ass crack of dawn (aka 5AM) to catch a train to Paris! Our party (me, Clare, Kelly and Emmie rode the Eurostar into Paris bright and early, with a couple hours to spare before the big meet-up arranged by Carmen. Clare was staying in a separate hotel (being preggers, she has greater rest needs, plus, she was staying an extra day in Paris), but Kelly & Emmie and myself – along with Tilly & Freya (who I just met during the trip and OMG LOVE HER) – booked ourselves up a swanky little pad via AirBNB. Like, my bed nook (hell yes I got my own bed… I’m opening to sharing, but I also snore, so that usually means I end up solo hahaha) had PARIS DISCO LIGHTS:

Made it to Paris! Our swanky flat has a lofted bed with red and blue lights... Naturally, this is the one I chose #lladybirdinlondon

I almost wish we staying in Paris longer just to enjoy that damn apartment. We were on the top floor, with skylights on the roof and chandeliers hanging off everything. There was also pink toilet paper, which really cracked me up. Apparently, that’s not uncommon in Paris (or London, for that matter)? I’ve just never seen it in the US – only ads from, like, the 60s. I wish we had colorful toilet paper here now. My bathroom would be so much more exciting.

You know it's been a good trip when you forget to take any pictures! Paris, you are amazing. Thank you for being so lovely these past 2 days πŸ’• #lladybirdinlondon

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The Paris meet-up was SPLENDID. Carmen really outdid herself with planning everything down to the last detail, with an itinerary, maps, and GOODIE BAGS.


I am pretty sure I have the worst manners ever, but Kelly & I fucking ripped right into those bags the second they were handed to us. Everyone else was standing patiently and politely up to that point. Whoops.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

I was really excited to see Norma! I met her in NYC while I was there in March, but we didn’t really have a chance to talk then – so it was nice to actually have a good chat with her. Love Norma!

Ok, so, as far as places we shopped in Paris… I’m afraid I can’t really give you a running list. I ended up following my small group like a little puppy – not to mention, I couldn’t read any of the signs (I really did try to brush up on my French in the months before I left, but learning a foreign language is hard!), so I don’t remember them. Sorry, guys! If you want suggestions on where to go for fabric shopping in Paris, best ask someone else… because I’m pretty useless haha.

We did find some great shops, though! There was one- Les Γ©toffes du Sentier (I took a photo of the bag, ha) – who liked us so much, they led our small group (we were long split off from the big group, being slow shoppers and all) to their big warehouse where they had even MORE stuff, including (really inexpensive, really nice quality) leather. Loved those guys!

Spoolettes in Paris

We also went into La Maison Sajou, which is basically the cutest shop in the world. I could have bought one of everything in there, were my bank account limitless. I am chatting with Rehannon here, omg that girl is such a trip! β™₯ Also, I’ve never seen a bigger collection of Lauren derp faces than there are from this trip HAHA!

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The ladies at Sajou were kind enough to make us all tea, and clever enough to serve said tea in their branded mugs. PROTIP: If you want me to buy something, just let me carry it around for a while. By the time I finished my tea, I knew that mug was coming home with me. You can totally see it in my eyes, haha.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Oh yeah, we also hit up the sweet Les Coupons de St-Pierre, which is one of those mythical “coupon” shops where you get 3 meters of fabric for 8€ or 10€ (or more of less, depending on fabric!). That place was sweet, the employees were awesome, *and* they gave us a discount because of Carmen! Woohoo!

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Finally, what was left of our party moseyed over to The Pink Flamingo Pizza Parlor rue Muller (fair warning – that link auto plays music!) for drinks and dinner. I really loved this place – the pizza was outstanding and there were some cray flavor combinations. We shut that place down with our chatting and drinking.

Friday: We had a small meet-up rendezvous at Anna Ka Bazaar the next morning. They served us tea and cookies and gave us a nice discount (and yes, I bought myself a special piece of splurge fabric. Anna K instead of Liberty, fuck yea!), and let us hang in the shop for a bit. Norma came out, because I wanted her to see my Marlborough bra and assess the fit. Sooo… long story short, after realizing there was no bathroom to duck into, and determining that no one in the shop (especially the owners, obviously) minded seeing some bewbs, I just stood behind the counter in my bra and Norma gave me an impromptu fitting lesson for the crowd’s entertainment. Ha! Fortunately, the major fit areas (band, bridge, most of the cup) are spot-on. I just need to tweak the upper cup and the strap placement, which Norma told me how to do. How’s that for some customer service, amirite? Also, the ladies at Anna K were really excited when they realized that, not only did I make my bra – but the patternmaker was Norma! And now I can say I spent some ~topless time~ in France hahaha.

Jolies Bobines met with us and took our small group (me, Kelly, Emmie, Tilly, Freya & the addition of Nicole) on to more shopping after Anna K to some of her favorite Paris fabric shops. One of the places she brought us to was Malhia Kent, which was AMAZING. So much brocade and sparkly lurex! It was hard to restrict myself to just one special piece, but I was worried about luggage restraints at that point. I managed πŸ™‚ Also, it was really cool to finally meet Jolies! Despite my complete and utter lack of French knowledge, she was able to speak enough English so that we could get a good conversation going πŸ™‚ She did suggest that I start following French blogs and reading French patterns, as it helped her learn English faster – so I might have to try that!

After Jolies left while we ate lunch, I starting feeling my hangover (two in one trip, argh), so the rest of my time in Paris was spent avoiding the wine and steaks that my fellow travelers were eating. Bummer! As luck would have it, I felt better right about the time we boarded the Eurostar to get back to London. Figures!

Shopping date with @tillybuttons today! I'm a little fabric'd out after Paris, but managed to squeeze a little piece from Cloth House in my bag πŸ˜‰ #lladybirdinlondon

Saturday: Since Clare was still in Paris for another day, I went back into central London (by myself! I am getting so good at this tube navigation system, haha!) and met with Tilly for a nice relaxed shopping day in Soho. We went to lots of little shops in the area – some fabric, some gifts, some clothing – but the only place I bought anything from was Cloth House (see above for fear of my loot not fitting in my luggage, ha). Tilly also took me into the clothing store Joy, which is full of some of the cutest stuff I’ve ever seen (I really really really want to knock off this toggle coat now. I mean, come on!) (Oh, I just lied to you; totally bought a necklace from this store). We also went to Bravissimo, because the bras there cost about half as much as they do in the US (even with including the exchange rate). This is probably bordering on TMI – but, Tilly & I actually wear the same bra size (lolz), so we were able to get side-by-side fitting rooms and swap bras haha. I ended up buying the Satine bra in black, in case you were curious!

I’m really happy with how well Tilly & I got along. I’ve been friends with her online for ages, but this trip was the first time I was able to meet her in person. Sometimes, people can be different than their online persona (this hasn’t happened to me in the blog world, but I’ve heard horror stories! And I’ve used OkCupid in the past hahahahaha), so it can be a gamble when you plan to spend a multitude of days with one person if you’re not sure that your personalities will mesh. Like I said – I haven’t had this issue with anyone I’ve met through this blog (no, really! Every single one of y’all has been really cool and fun!). That being said, Tilly far exceeded my high expectations. She’s just a really great person and I’m glad I got to spend some time getting to talk with her and hang out. Now I’m getting Tilly withdrawals! Wah!

sewing party at Tilly's

Sunday: Last day in London! When I was originally planning this trip, Tilly offered to let me take over her studio for a little sewing shindig on the last day I was there. After nearly 2 weeks away from my machine, it was pretty awesome to be able to sit down and sew again! We had a small group – unfortunately, Clare was feeling pretty beat up after Paris, so she wasn’t able to make it 😦 – but it was great seeing the rest of the ladies: Karen, Roisin, Freya, Emmie, Jane, and of course, Tilly! Everyone brought a project to work on, foods to snack on, drinks to drink on (I’m currently a Prosecco convert… mmmm), and we just had a lovely afternoon. It was a great send-off to a really really awesome trip.


I will live on Party Rings for the remainder of my time on this earth πŸ˜πŸŽ‰ #lladybirdinlondon

After we left Tilly’s, Tilly took me to Sainsbury’s in my quest to find Party Rings. These ridiculous cookies biscuits were a staple for my family back when we were visiting London in the late 90s – as in, my siblings and I ate the SHIT out of them. We brought a metric shit-ton back to the states with us, and it was a sad day when we finally ate the last one. I was bound and determined to find some to take home – and I did! Yay Party Rings! πŸ˜€

me & Jamie Susan

Finally, I met with my friend Jamie Susan in Greenwich for some Vietnamese food and much-needed Nashville gossip. Funny story about Jamie Susan – she’s an old friend from Nashville (we used to go on laundromat dates together haha) who moved to London about 2 years ago after getting married. I knew she was in London, but I figured she’d be so far out from Greenwich (where I was staying) that meeting up would be too much of a hassle. Turns out – girl LIVES in Greenwich! What are the odds, amirite? Anyway, I’m glad we made time for each other because it was great to catch up and I realized how much I miss her. Dammit, Jamie Susan! Come back to Nashville and visit already!

Monday: Ok, Monday doesn’t really count because it was my traveling day. However, I did want to point out that the plane from London to Toronto was pretty empty, and I somehow managed to get an entire row to myself for the whole 8 hours. That. Was. AMAZING. Also, I flew Air Canada, which was just nice as hell. The food was really good, the flight attendants were incredibly nice, and everything was just really clean and well taken care of. Oh, and there was FREE WINE. I think I’m spoiled for life, now though, after being able to stretch across an entire row and basically have a party to myself for the whole flight. It was like a First Class experience, without the First Class price tag. Go, Air Canada!

So yep, that’s my trip! Sorry the post got so long and out of hand – I tried to condense it as much as possible (and I figure – better one looong post than a bunch of short posts, especially for those who would rather skip this kind of topic altogether!). A few things I’d like to point out about traveling to London & Paris, from a non-international traveler standpoint – these are the things I wish someone had told me up front:

  • The very biggest thing that threw me off in London? They don’t put cream in their coffee! This is probably a β€œno shit, Sherlock” type statement to most of y’all, but I had no idea! Europeans (or, at least, those in London & Paris) put milk in their coffee. Half the people didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked for cream. Obviously I was able to adapt very quickly (I mean, this is coffee we are talking about) – I learned that I really like flat white coffees! – but it really threw me off the first couple jet-lagged days I was there.
  • My little passport wallet came SUPER in handy the whole time I was there. It was nice to have one place to keep my cards and my passport – and I especially loved that zippered pouch for holding all my change. One thing I didn’t realize is that the British use lots of coins, especially for one and two pound amounts (we don’t really have that in the US; the one time they tried to make a dollar into a coin, there was some SERIOUS pushing against it. I know of stores that refused to accept it as payment, even though it’s legal currency haha). So, bring something that will hold your coins!
  • Another big tip if you’re taking an overseas trip – if at all possible, get a credit card with the chip, as it’s the safest way to carry money around. I think the chip is about to become standard for all new credit and debit cards (I’ve noticed the machines in stores since I got back), so it’s really just a matter of replacing your current card if you already have one. I found that my bank has a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, which saved me loads of money since I only had to pay the exchange rate. I charged everything to my card and paid it off when I got home. Obviously don’t do this if you’re not able to pay off the card – you don’t want to come home from a vacation already in debt – but if you can be responsible and hold yourself accountable, it’s very useful. Plus, I earned points for every dollar I spent, so it’s like a double bonus!
  • Speaking of those chip cards – you’re supposed to get a pin so they can be used in the machines. For whatever reason – mine just didn’t work. The card worked, I mean, but I had to sign for every purchase. I’ve heard it might be an American card thing (some people told me they had the same issues with US credit cards), but it’s just something to be aware of. Again, carry an ID with you if this is the case because they are required to check the signature if you don’t use a pin.
  • If you’re going to a foreign country and want to still use your phone without having to deal with roaming/international charges, I would seriously recommend getting a prepaid SIM card. I had my phone unlocked through my provider (DO NOT do this through a third party – nine times out of ten, you’ll get scammed. My provider tried to give me hell about unlocking the phone because I’m still under contract – despite paying cash for the phone when I bought it – so I unlocked it through their website and it went through. Worth a try, anyway!) and bought a prepaid SIM card through EE. For Β£15, It had 150 minutes (more than enough for me; I never talk on the phone haha), unlimited text messages, and 2 GB of data while in London. Since my plan was local only, I used WhatsApp to keep in touch with my US friends, and FaceTime to talk to Landon πŸ™‚ The phone stayed off while I was in Paris (although I’m sure there are prepaid options for roaming other countries, if that’s a need for you!). This was obviously LOADS cheaper than what my provider was trying to charge for me to roam with a US number. Of course, I could have kept the phone off entirely, but it was pretty useful to have a local number so I could text people to arrange plans/meet-ups, and also have the data for mapping my tube routes and playing on Instagram πŸ™‚
  • I didn’t realize this until I was actually in London, but if you use Uber (a ridesharing/taxi program that is way cheaper than a typical cab), it *does* work in London. I used this to get home after teaching at Tilly’s, and also to get to the airport on Monday morning (I’m sure every single commuter on the train loves and appreciates me for not subjecting them to standing behind me dragging my luggage onto a crowded train haha). The rates are great – I paid Β£40 to get from Greenwich to Heathrow, which was about a 70 minute drive during rush hour traffic. If you haven’t used Uber before, here’s a shameless free code for ya – laurent319 will get you a free ride (up to $20, then you pay the difference if it’s more than that). You just need to download the free app to use it (full disclosure – if you use that code, I will get a free ride, which I will then use to take me to and from the airport when I travel. Free Ubers for everyone! Yay!). Anyway, Uber or not – I would strongly recommend setting some money aside to get you a cab back to the airport, if public transportation is your only other option. It’s worth the money just to know you can sit and relax and not be banging your giant suitcase into someone’s poor ankles.
  • Wardrobe-wise, my capsule wardrobe ended up being a really great decision on my part. I made everything I had planned and wore almost entirely handmade (save for my jeans, which I can’t bear to part with because I love them so much) for the whole trip. It was nice to have a mix and match of outfits to choose from – saved on both luggage space and getting ready in the morning time. Of course, this meant that people saw me wearing the same thing more than once (gasp!), but, you know what? Fuck it.
  • Speaking of clothing and dressing appropriately for the weather, it must have been a REALLY mild time in London because I definitely was not cold! I brought both my big plaid coat and my bomber jacket, which turned out to be very useful because I ended up needing them both at one point or another. I found that by wearing lots of lightweight layers, I stayed very warm – and it was easy to peel layers off if I got too hot. It also barely rained while I was in London – it was mostly grey, which I found quite nice. I must have brought something gross back with me to the states, though, because it’s been REALLY cold and rainy ever since I got back! Ew!

Oh, hey, I guess you want to see what I came home with, huh? πŸ™‚ Here’s the fabric pile in all it’s glory –
I just unpacked all the fabric I bought in London and Paris. I guess I have a lot of prewashing to do now 😜 #lladybirdinlondon

I was going to take individual pictures, but I’m tired and this post is long enough. Sooo, just a smattering of things! Just a few I want to point out exclusively – the pretty blue/purple floral-ish one in the very middle is my special piece from Anna Ka Bazaar, the red and gold geometic print is a beautiful boucle (with sparkly lurex!) from Malhia Kent, and the big peacock feathers at the bottom is my African wax print from Ridley Road Market in Dalston Mills. Oh, and the blobs at the bottom are laces and sheers for future bras! I also bought a piece of red and white striped knit from Cloth House, which somehow didn’t make it into this photo. Womp womp.

Also not pictured, but worth noting – I totally bought a mug from Sajou. I drink my coffee out of it every morning now and I just love it πŸ™‚

Ok, I reckon this post is long enough, so time to wrap up! Big huge thanks to everyone who helped make this trip the wonderful adventure it turned out to be – those of you who made it out to the meet-ups, my class, for London and/or Paris hangs, or who just had suggestions for making the most of my trip. You are all awesome and I appreciate all of you and your input! πŸ™‚ Big thanks to Tilly for letting me take over her studio as much as I did – and for putting up with me for multiple days (poor girl is likely sick of me at this point, ha!). Big thanks to Carmen for arranging the whole Paris meet-up and making it such a highlight of my trip (psst – want to see more photos? Here’s the Flickr Pool!). And biggest thanks to Clare, my love – who opened her home to me and initially stuck me with the I-Have-To-Go-To-London bug. I’m sad that Clare and I didn’t get to hang as much due to her pregnancy and work obligations, but even just sitting on the couch with tea and chatting at the end of the day was really really wonderful. Thank you so much β™₯

Also, thank YOU for making it to the end of this post! Whew, that was a big one haha! Come over now for your complimentary Party Ring πŸ˜‰

Completed: Travel Gear (aka I am a weirdo)

24 Oct

Hey everyone! This post is a little different from what I normally blog about… instead of showing y’all some (probably awesome)piece of clothing I made, today is all about the non-clothes crafty stuff! Yay!

And, before you start side-eyeing me – this isn’t in partnership or sponsorship or anything like that with anyone. I’m honestly just really excited about my upcoming trip and I wanted new ~travel accessories~ (especially since all I own is basically my old suitcase!). Except, once I started looking at the goods on Etsy (and, if we’re being honest – Amazon. And Target. Haha!), I found myself poo-pooing everything because it wasn’t cute/wasn’t exactly what I wanted/ugh I can make that myself. Rather than start doing idiot shit like buy a new suitcase (my suitcase, while definitely old – there are receipts in the pocket from when we visited Disney World as a family. In 1994, I might add. – it still perfectly functioning and absolutely does not need to be replaced unless I just suddenly run of out ways to spend my money), I figured I’d channel my energy into making these little accessories. And you know what? This kind of sewing is pretty fun – especially when there’s no fitting involved πŸ™‚

I do want to add a small disclaimer before we dive in, though – a couple of these projects include the use of scrap leather. I know the use of leather can be a subject of hot debate, and I don’t want any of y’all to look at something you don’t want to. With that being said – none of us need to be “schooled” on the evils of leather, at least not in this post. I’ve done my research, I’m ok with leather and leather scraps (I mean, I wear leather shoes and belts), and I do not want to turn the comments here to turn into a leather debate. All right! Moving on…

Travel Sewing

The first thing I made up was this little make up case. Isn’t she ADORABLE? Way cuter than anything I could buy, at least as far as my budget is concerned.

I used a Butterick 6072 to make the make up case. I actually got this pattern for free when I visited the McCall Pattern Company – I know, I know, I just told y’all this isn’t a collaborative post. It’s not! The pattern was in a bag of goodies that they handed to me when I walked in the door. I’m pretty sure no one is expecting me to write a review – I’m also pretty sure I looked at the pattern and thought, “Huh. Definitely never gonna make this shit.” hahaha. (I should also point out that, if I had bought this myself, I wouldn’t have paid more than $1 for it, thanks to Joann’s sales. So there’s that). At any rate, once I realized I was gonna have to make my own damn make-up bag, out came the pattern to be looked over with a set of fresh eyes. If you can get past the somewhat dowdy styling and fabrics on the pattern envelope, this is actually pretty cute. I almost made the matching jewelry case & make-up holder, until I realized that I totally don’t need or use those things. So, just this one bag! (but I still might make that jewelry case. Watch me.)

Travel Sewing

Anyway, this was REALLY easy to put together! I used a piece of beloved plaid wool blend fabric from my stash – I was a little hesitant to cut into it, because it’s sooo pretty (isn’t it?), but I ultimately decided to go for it because 1. It’s a wool blend, which I prefer to wear 100% wool; 2. It was a small yardage (maybe 1/2 yard); 3. That unbalanced plaid meant I probably couldn’t eek anything remote successful and matching out of it. Anyway, now I can enjoy it all the time πŸ™‚ This fabric came from the flea market, by the way. I have no idea it’s origins, but it feels like a thick suiting.

The pattern is interfaced with fusible fleece (there was also some of this in my McCall bag – but honestly, it kind of sucked. I don’t remember the brand, but only about half the glue dots worked. Meh.) and then lined with some navy wool blend broadcloth from my stash (if I recall, my friend Trisha’s mom gave me that, which I believe she found at a yard sale). The zipper is from my stash.

Travel Sewing

I decided to fancy things up and use a piece of leather for the handle. Ooh la la! This leather came from my last trip to Chicago – I bought a small piece at Textile Discount Outlet, having no idea what the hell I was gonna do with it. I like it as a strap, though! I sewed the two pieces wrong sides together (eliminating the seam allowances) and then topstitched onto the bag itself. The thread is just denim thread, and I used a denim needle (alas, no leather needles currently in my arsenal). I can’t speak for *every* sewing machine, but mine was ok with the leather since it’s relatively thin. I used normal thread in my bobbin and adjusted the tension until everything looked good on both sides.

Travel Sewing

I am ridiculously pleased with how good the topstitching looks πŸ™‚

Travel Sewing

I cut the top & bottom of the case on the bias, so I wouldn’t have to deal with matching the plaid any more than necessary (I also cut the back panel on the bias, but apparently did not take a photo of that angle. Sorry!) The pattern calls for a piece of cardboard at the bottom, to give the bag some structure. I also included some heavyweight interfacing (like… it’s so stiff, it practically feels like cardboard) on the top piece, because it felt really flimsy without it. I know they make lightweight plastic specifically for this purpose, but I really just wanted to destash so I went with what I had on hand!

Travel Sewing

Finally, here’s the inside! There are tiny pockets all around the perimeter and it’s fucking adorable.

I love this thing. It’s tiny, it’s cute, and I am pretty sure I can fit all my make-up/personal care shit in it. Yes! Win for me!

Travel Sewing

The next thing I made was this little wallet/passport case. I knew I needed something to carry my passport around it, and I also wanted it to include space for cards, cash, as well as a zippered pouch for change. I spent FOREVER looking for something on Etsy – and again, everything was just a *little* bit off from what I wanted (mostly lack of a zippered change pouch, interestingly enough. Excuse me, I need that change in case I have to pay for a toilet!). Argh!

Some more perusing of Etsy turned up this pattern – Passport Wallet from Teethy McGee Digitals. It’s a downloadable PDF with options for including card pockets and a change pouch, an elastic closure, and the whole thing costs $4.50. Perfect!

Travel Sewing

I made the option with a card holder on one side, and the change pouch on the opposite. Like I said, it is perfect! You can see my passport barely peeking out on the left side (side with my sneaky fingers). The opposite side, under the zippered pouch, can hold my cash. I know there are only 2 card holders – and I totally agonized over whether to add more, but in the end decided that I really only need 2 cards while I’m overseas – my debit card and my driver’s license (yeah, I know, the passport is ID King over there, but I feel weird without my DL!). I won’t be carrying my credit card on my person (it’s literally just for emergencies – like, actual emergencies, not “Ooh girl, are those shoes on sale?” emergencies), my health insurance card is useless over there, and…. actually, those are all the cards I have. Ha!

Travel Sewing

Here it is without the passport because, I dunno. Why not?

Travel Sewing

This was SO FUN to put together – even with matching the plaid! The instructions, while brief, were fairly straightforward. I decided to interface both large pieces of the plaid – the outer & the inner – so it would have some structure. Which brings me to my confession: I couldn’t find a decent medium-weight interfacing in my stash – everything I have is lightweight – so I ended up using my mega expensive Pro Weft Shirt Crisp Fusible Interfacing because, well, it was on hand and I haven’t even cut into it yet. And hey, it seemed to work all right! Ok, go ahead and stone me now πŸ˜›

Anyway, the whole thing is sewn by machine – no hand sewing required – and I added a rectangle of leather to the outside for a more ~masculine~ look. I also made a little leather pull for the zipper – just sliced off a thin piece and fed it though. The elastic is actually lingerie elastic – from when I made my second Soma Swimsuit. Again, it matched! What do you expect from me!?

Travel Sewing

I love that it closes with elastic, so I don’t have to worry about my passport falling out. I love that there is a zippered pouch, so no paid toilets will be out of my reach (yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about toilets, and I’m not sorry about that. When you gotta go, you gotta go!). And, obviously, I love that it matches my make-up bag! Yesss!

I would have loved to show y’all a shot of this with all my cards & such tucked in, but the pockets are shallow enough that you can really get an eyeful of the numbers on them. Sooo, yeah, you get a matchbook. Sorry.

And now, prepare for a let-down because the last thing I made is admittedly pretty boring-

Travel Sewing
Travel Sewing


Seriously easy. I used this free pattern from Instructables (thank you, random Google) and the same fabrics/lingerie elastic with self-made bias tape. I don’t think this one needs much explaining. It’ll be nice for my flights, though- especially that red-eye I take arriving in.

Anyway, that’s it! Super rando post, but these are some pieces I felt I needed, and I’m so happy I didn’t have to buy them (and SO delighted that they match! Yay! It’s the little things, ha πŸ™‚ ). I am dying to make the Portside Travel Set next, but it’ll have to wait until post-London, because I don’t think I’ll have time! Someday, though!

What about y’all? Anyone else here love whooping it up with some random hobby crafts? Don’t be shy, we won’t judge you! πŸ™‚