For Pleat’s Sake! (The U-handbag kits) – AiBM – Part 3

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Let me present to you – my favourite bag so far… it’s from the lovely Lisa Lam‘s U-handbag site – and it has the wonderful name: For Pleat’s Sake! (I love that!)

It came with super easy to make, pattern free instructions, as it all comes out of a few simple rectangles. It looks super cool as it features proper leather straps. This particular kit is the first one I bought from U-handbag that includes the fabric. The outer fabric anyway, I just love the illustrations of the fox and the woodland motifs. And it is a lovely heavy weight lineny fabric.  I had to find my own lining fabric and I had in my head the exact green fabric I wanted to use which I knew I had some left over from a previous project. It took a bit of head scratching to work out how to cut it out as there was barely enough left but with some imaginative angles for cutting the rectangles it worked – just. And I am really pleased because it is the perfect shade of green to go with the pattern on the outside.

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I love the pleats and I love the shape of the bag. I like a ‘bung it all in and rummage around in there to find stuff later’ kind of bag. I was considering adding some pockets and a magnetic snap closure but it doesn’t really need the closure as it stays shut pretty well on its own, and pockets may be challenging due to the shape.

The one thing that makes me sad about this bag is that you have to sew on the handles by hand with embroidery thread which is very hard to do and painful on the fingers and although it looks good on the outside it looks rubbish on the inside.

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This could of course just be due to my inept hand sewing skills, but I think the next one of these I make I might try sewing on the handles before I put the bag together as then I can lose the inside stitching inbetween the exterior and interior layers. Or I might try machine sewing it on with normal thread.

I already have plans to make this bag again for my college course. I don’t have much time now between now and the course starting but I am going to need some cool bags to lug my sketch pads and lunch and stuff in and out. I have some very cute dog and bone fabric that I’d like to try out and I might try making the rectangle a bit larger so I can fit in an A4 pad.

I also have plans to make myself a big roomy pockety messenger bag for the course, but this might take a little longer… I have the fabric on order though and am determined to keep my eye in with a little sewing over the coming months either at weekends or in the evenings. Hopefully I won’t be too shattered!

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Next up is my little Elephant bag. This was another kit from U-handbag but without the fabric this time. Construction-wise this went together really well, the instructions were a little hard to follow in places but it worked out really well in the end.

There were SO many pieces to cut out for this one… the cutting phase alone took about an hour and there were a few fabric casualties along the way as I misunderstood some of the instructions! I think it must have been an early pattern from Lisa as well as the way it prints out is really hard to keep track of too – it doesn’t quite go together like a book and it doesn’t just read in order either…

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So little time so much to cut out…

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Why make me cut this out in two parts and sellotape together with a centimetre gap in the middle? It does actually fit on a page of A4?!?

I love all the pockets:

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And the contrast red elephant fabric in the pleats at the front.

And I love the big long zip close at the top with the tabs on the ends.

My only gripe with this bag. Is my fabric choice. I thought this blue elephant fabric would work really well with the red one, and it was a nice thick weighty fabric, but now the bag is made, and standing back to look at it, I don’t really like the effect, the elephant fabric is a bit too busy. I wish I had used something more plain on the outside and saved the jazzy fabric for the inside.

I find choosing fabric the hardest part of bag making, a good or bad fabric can really make or break a bag.

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And talking of fabric… let me introduce you to my favourite fabric… I ordered this lovely Japanese print from an online shop months ago as I just loved it. But they emailed me to say they only had a tiny scrap left. Less than half a metre I think. I said to send me what you have, but it has sat in my stash for a while with me not knowing quite what to do with such a small amount.

Then I came across this kit from U-handbag to make a cute little clutch and I found a really nice contrasting mustard yellow fabric for the lining that went really well with the yellow on the outside and so set about making this lovely versatile clutch.

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Don’t look too closely at the hand stitching!

What I love about this bag is that it folds over small to be a handy little clutch but then you can move where you clip on the strap and make it into a much bigger handbag for those nights out when you end up accumulating more stuff than you set out with, birthdays, leaving do’s, christmas and the like! 

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Double the size – ta da!

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I love the padding in this bag, nice and spongy and quilty!

What I don’t love about this bag is that I thought I would be clever and add in some gold ribbon to the join to jazz it up a bit. In the pattern they suggest using three different fabrics, one for the top half, one for the bottom and one for the lining. I decided to use the same fabric for the whole outside (as I love it so much) but thought the gold line of ribbon would break it up a bit and make good use of the seam that I had to put in. Sadly my execution of this was not great and the ribbon sticks out much further than I would have liked on one side. I was tempted to cut it off completely. (I leave this decision now to the bag’s new owner – I won’t be offended at all if you don’t like the gold ribbon and want to cut it off!)

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The offending gold ribbon at the moment of thinking it was a good idea to put it in…

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Don’t do it!!!

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It’s not too late to take out that sad gold ribbon…

The other thing I do not like is the handsewing again! You have to hand sew on the frame with embroidery thread and it is really tricky – especially as I realised too late that when following the pattern you need to be religious about things like seam allowances to get an exact fit. Mine was a tinsy bit on the small side for the frame and so I had to really wrestle with it to get it to reach the frame all the way around. And so in consequence you can really see the stitches on the inside too.

If I make this clutch again I would be more careful with my measuring and err on the side of being too big rather than too small. I’m always a bit devil-may-care with my measuring and cutting and seam allowancing, this is why I love making bags rather than clothing as it is much more forgiving, but note to self – when dealing with a frame, you need to be much more accurate!

I was really delighted with the strap though, I got my topstitching right on the edge and it turned out really need and professional!

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I like the brass effect clips on the ends too, professional!

I know I am really bombarding you with blog posts this week! I’m sorry about that – don’t worry things will calm down a bit more now, I just have so much to tell you and will have so little time from next week.

I think I will aim to write up the last few posts about what I got up to in December and then post them throughout the rest of the month so you don’t miss me too much! 😉

It’s like feast or famine at the moment isn’t it!

Best wishes to all. And thank you for reading. I always like reading your comments and thoughts – so please do post a comment and let me know what you think, or tell me a joke or just say hello! It’s always nice to hear from you guys. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “For Pleat’s Sake! (The U-handbag kits) – AiBM – Part 3

  1. Pingback: Back to Bagsics… | How Hard Can it Be?

  2. Hello! I’m a bit behind and haven’t read 1 and 2 yet so not sure why your having a bag making frenzy. They look amazing tho, and a lot of fun too! No fitting issues which must be really good! Shame you can’t have some matching shoes for these bags! 🙂

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  3. Hi Anne, sorry I’m only commenting now, but these Bags posts have been coming so fast and furiously that I haven’t been able to keep up with them 🙂 I completely understand that you want to get them “out” before you begin your course, but I’m glad you’re also intending to keep up a future flow, however gentle. I find I really miss some bloggers when they take a break, and if the break is unannounced, I can even become concerned for them!!!
    I’m wondering two things: have you tried using buttonhole twist instead of embroidery thread when you to do topstitching that can be better controlled? You’d have to get the twist out of it first though. You can see how they do it on Savile Row in this beautiful (and very endearing) video https://vimeo.com/144756175 or I love that Alabama Chanin “untwists” every length of hand-sewing thread 17 times, and each time she sends it Love too 🙂
    Anyway, that was question 1.
    And 2, I loved your frame clutch/handbag, and was wondering whether you think it’d be possible to recycle the frame from an old bag to make one of these? or does it have to be a brand new “kit” frame?
    Thanks and good luck for this fantastic 2016
    Sally x

    sarsaparillasal.blogspot.com

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    • Hi Sally – yes sorry for the numerous posts in one week – I don’t normally like to bombard people like this, but it has been nice to put all my bags out there at last, they are almost like my little friends now that I have been working on for so long in the run up to Christmas – it’s nice to finally be able to talk about them!

      I’ve never come across buttonhole twist before but it looks really nice stuff, possibly better than embroidery thread, do you really have to get the twist out of it first though, that might make it a bit more time consuming. I didn’t mind using embroidery thread and I have plenty of that kicking around which is handy – it was more tricky just because it was fiddly and tough on my fingers, I needed to use a thimble which made it all a bit less fun!

      I should think you could re-use an old clutch frame if you have one spare if you are clever enough, it might be tricky to adapt the pattern to get the sizing exactly right though. I struggled to get the size right on the right size frame with the pattern made for it! You’d have to be pretty good with your pattern measurements and religious with seam allowances etc. And you’d have to make sure the frame worked in the same kind of way with the holes all the way around to sew it on with.

      I’d love to see your recycled clutch if you end up having a go!

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