East Dakota Quilter

Sewing an Owl Purse

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Prowl: Madeleine bag by Imagine Gnats

I posted before that my sister loves owls. I wanted to make her one last Christmas gift with that theme and decided on the Madeleine purse tutorial I found on Pinterest. A woman with blue hair (read: probably more creative than I am) at the fabric shop told me the owl fabric I picked was cool. That made my day!

Then the project turned into a nightmare.

At the Quilt Expo, I attended a class by Nancy Zieman of Sewing with Nancy. She had this great trick for using Steam-a-Seam-2 (“SAS2”) instead of normal interfacing on certain projects. I had trouble the first time I used interfacing, compared with a stunning victory when I tried SAS2 for the next project. I decided I would save myself a headache by using SAS2 for the purse project… and learned that Steam-a-Seam has its limitations.

First, my sewing machine hates sewing through paper. I see all kinds of cute projects online and have even attempted a few, but alas, I make it about 2 inches into the project and throw my hands up in despair at the hundredth broken thread. (Preempting: Adjusting tension, stitch length, needle size, etc. doesn’t help.) When sewing through two interfaced layers of the purse, I was also sewing through 2 layers of paper, plus the sticky interfacing itself. My needle was gummed up and the thread broke constantly. Not fun. I even experimented with removing the paper in favor of a tape and wax paper concoction. (Worse!) And toward the end of the project, I had to figure out how to get the paper out from between the lining and the exterior after flipping the purse right-side-out. (Solution: I removed the paper in advance and hand sewed the seam! I hate hand sewing stitches that are not even visible when the project is finished!)

The tutorial itself was pretty good. However, I strongly urge a better interfacing selection if you decide to try this project. Some additional points of clarification:

1. The pleats are not box pleats (both left and right sides tucked toward a center point). You can just bring the pleat lines together and fold either right or left. Be consistent with your direction.

2. On the final sewing step (sewing the lining and exterior together), the wrong side of the lining should be the outermost layer (clear in the pattern) and the purse exterior, which is tucked into the lining, should have the sticky/interfaced side out, with the front side of the bag facing in toward the lining. It’s possible I did a fantastic job of attaching the two, double- and triple-securing the strap, only to find the exterior was facing the wrong direction…

finished owl purse

As an added bonus, I did the owl embroidery (patterns here) while my sister was sitting right next to me! She was just home from the ER, I had food poisoning, and we were too self-absorbed to worry about each other while we watched Christmas movies together. About 45 minutes after I started, she asked what I was working on, and I told her it was a project for another friend. She didn’t ask to see it! Whew!

cleaning pins

When I was all finished, I had to wipe down with rubbing alcohol all the pins that had secured the interfaced pieces. They were extremely gunked up!

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