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.