Sunday, July 30, 2017

Odile's Bag

I have to admit, I feel really cool when I get to announce that I have a French friend. I mean, how many people have international pals? Okay, okay, a lot...but I still feel pretty cool.

I met Odile while on a study abroad to Paris with my university. My university contracted with a local housing company to place students with host families, and Odile happened to rent a room from the same woman I was placed with. At the time, she didn't speak English, and I spoke French very poorly, but we still became friends and have stayed in touch over the past 14 years. I can't believe it's been that long! Wow. We've seen each other a few times since then, I've been back to Paris twice (and last time, she took me down to her family's home in Lyon) and she's been to the US once.

So, it had been a couple of months since I'd heard from her, and I just wondered how she was doing. While I was thinking about her, I decided that I wanted to send her a package. Because who doesn't love getting mail? And mail is even better if it has something exciting inside. But, shipping to France is decidedly not cheap, of course, and so I set out to come up with a gift that would be worth the postage, and decided to sew her something. Now, as any sewist knows, the problem with sewn gifts is that people who don't sew rarely appreciate the work (or the item) and people who do sew may appreciate it, but don't really need you to sew them anything. So, Odile is not a sewist, so I wanted to come up with an idea that anyone would love. I settled on a bag, but I wanted to make sure it was stylish and not cute in the quilters' idea of cute. Does that make sense?

I picked a smallish bag so I would be able to fit it in a small box for shipping, and the pattern is a free pattern from Swoon Patterns. I had made a free Swoon pattern before, and knew the patterns were well written. For the record, I was willing to pay for a pattern, but the Dollie Mini Crossbody was perfect for what I wanted.

This is the back of the bag and it's a pocket.

I started searching for fabrics to use, and found this awesome Cotton and Steel gray with metallic gold print. And I knew it was perfect--it's modern, and fresh, and not quilty. I wanted to use a linen for the main fabric, and had considered a camel/khaki color, but the awesome folks at Hawthorne Threads helped me out with fabric matching and suggested this Essex linen in black with gold metallic thread. It is perfect! I love how it turned out. I also found some Joel Dewberry fabric in green (her favorite colors are green and yellow) and I think it works really well to add a fun element while still being stylish.

I made one change to the pattern to add an interior pocket. I originally planned to stitch down the middle of the pocket to create two pockets but opted against it because the bag is pretty small to start with, about 6-1/2" wide.

Since the fabric had gold metallic in it, I knew I couldn't use my standard chrome hardware and ordered antique brass hardware from Bagmaker Supply on Etsy. They have a good selection, good pricing, and fast shipping!

I really love how it turned out. The magnet is a little strong for the bag, and kinda pulls on the front of the bag when you try to open it, and the flap is a little stiffer due to the heavier linen, so I'm hoping it relaxes a little with use. But I also assume that once it is full of stuff, it'll hold its shape a little better, too! And really, I just hope Odile loves it. She's been a great friend over the years and I hope she enjoys it.

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