Saturday, June 14, 2008

Purse Nicole Mallalieu

This is the last post for the moment. I won't be blogging the next week or two. Though I like sewing and blogging (you didn't know, did you?) but I have a lot of work at the moment, and want to study a new programming language, so I need my time for that. Not much time for sewing, so no blogging too. Though I will follow what others are making. There will be some time in between (I'm at the computer anyway most of the time) to read the new posts on sewing blogs and pattern reviews. One has to feed the addiction a bit.

The purse

By lack of inspiration for a new text, here the almost identical text as the review I'll post on Pattern Review. It gives you the possibility to see the pictures direct with the review.

The moment I read Connie’s review of this purse I was totally smitten (can you say that of a pattern?). Impressed by the design and the way Connie’s bag turned out I immediately went to Nicole Mallalieu’s website and after some e-mails ordered the kit (and another pattern and some notions too!).

Like Connie said in her review, Nicole (and Leah who works with her) are very quick in responding. This was my first order from Australia, and it went smoothly.

As Connie has already written such a perfect review, I’ll make mine short. Besides for the pattern idea I owe her for the way of handling the topstitching on the straps and getting it perfectly straight. Read her review for great details.

Pattern Description from the website
This little framed bag is a bit retro, and extremely cute.
With very detailed step-by-step instructions, you'll learn how to construct the bag, add rings to the straps and add purse feet and a hard base.

Pattern Sizing
Purse for a 30 cm frame. Bag Size 40cm x 20m x 11cm. Strap length is variable.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions are very extensive. For me there are a few “duh” moments in it (like what is topstitching, what is backtacking), but I think these instructions are written for people with no particular clothes sewing experience. A few times there was something unclear to me when reading the instructions, but when doing it on the purse it was clear what to do.

Not sure if this is clear for everyone, but as this is rated as a difficult pattern, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s not your first experience sewing something and you have some insight in construction details.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Like I said above, I was smitten from the moment I saw it.

Fabric Used
The blue is genuine leather, the black a fabric with a coating. Originally I cut out an all blue bag, but found it to be dull when I laid the flat pattern pieces together.

Other notions
Because of the leather I used special, thick nylon thread, that was sold at the specialty leather shop where I bought my leather.

I used a leather needle and used a long straight stitch to sew all the layers. This is important, certainly when you sew many layers of fabric or leather, because part of the length of the stitch will go into the layers. Using a straight stitch the length you use for clothes, would make a too short stitch, and too many holes in the leather at a short distance.

I did not use a special leather foot, and encountered no problems at all. Of course I tried on scraps first and the result was good enough. Don’t know if a leather foot would have given even better results, but as the special leather foot for my Bernina costs 60 Euro I decided against that investment now.

For the leather I used special interfacing and cement glue to hold the seam allowances and to glue the straps before topstitching (it did feel more like a craft project at the start than a sewing project, one evening I was only glueing things together).

I ordered the kit to see what exactly is used (I don't have a lot of experience in bag making, just the one I made in March), but in the pattern itself the things you need are described clearly. For the bottom a special stiff interfacing and a plastic template is used.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made
As I used the “flat square rings” I had to alter the width of the straps. No big deal. But I did change the size for cutting and attaching for the straps that go onto the bag.

When you follow the instructions, you end up with straps on the bag that consist of 4 layers of fabric. When using fabric that might not be a problem, but with the leather I used that really is a lot of layers, as they have to be folded over the ring and topstitched, which means there are 9 layers of leather to go through. Though I trust my Bernina on almost everything, I assumed this would be too much.

For the strap on the bag it is enough to cut the width of the strap plus seam allowance. This decreases the number of layers that you have to topstitch on the bag by 2, and on the point of topstitching the ring to the bag it decreases 4 layers.

Be aware that you can’t do this when using a continuous strap!! You want the strap on top of the bag to be neat on both sides, there I used the pattern as provided.

As the black fabric I used was very thin, I folded this over a length of grosgrain (?) ribbon of the exact width needed. Here you can see a picture of that.

I topstitched the two centrelines before attaching the strap, and did the two outer topstitching lines and the horizontal line in one go. A picture of this says more than words.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I do recommend the pattern, it’s a wonderful purse. I have another frame, that will be a purse for my daughter. She wants an oilcloth at the outside and we saw something nice when we were in the UK (but stupidly didn't buy. Do you know that feeling? We should have bought it when we saw it, and now regretting we didn't). Still looking for something here that has the same feeling.

Wonderful pattern, with nice details to make a purse that is a bit exceptional. And it's not a short review after all, I'm sorry.

Some pictures from the inside and the bottom. I share Connie's opinion that a zipper does not belong to this style, but I like a small zipper pocket in a bag so much, that I added it.


  1. That is such a cute purse! Lovely color, too!

  2. What a fabulous handbag! I loved Connie's and now yours gives me the impetus to order the kit. I'll miss your blog but I do understand the need to work! Damn, work does get in the way, doesn't it?

  3. I adore your bag! How clever of you to use the webbing to beef up your fabric for the straps. You have inspired me to order a kit for myself!

  4. Well done, Sigrid! You've done a superb job. Love the leather - and your decisions on altering the pattern to accommodate it are spot on!!

  5. When I saw Connie's I loved it too and even thought about taking a class with Nicole. It is definately on my "to do" list now after seeing yours. Lovely!

  6. Fantastic bag and review Sigrid. I really like this kit idea for handbags as finding all the right bits and pieces can be problematic. I also think your addition of an inner pocket is a good idea. I'll miss you blogging too but see you back soon!

  7. Sigrid, your bag is fabulous. Wow!
    Good luck with your work, we'll miss you, but reading you again in a few will be all the more enjoyable!

  8. Great bag Sigrid! Glad you loved Nicole as much as I do. Have a productive time working.

  9. Oh. My. What a fabulous bag! That color is perfect for this summer.

  10. What a beautiful purse!!! Fabulous and the color... OMG, I LOVE IT!! I have a similar purse (purchased) in brown leather!

  11. Gorgeous, gorgeous bag! I'd be proud to carry it. It looks a million dollars!

  12. Sigrid .- beautiful handbag. I admire his good work with handbags, you're an expert, really. I like a lot, is a nice complement to any clothing. best wishes. Paco

  13. What a fantastic purse! I love all of your details! Stunning!