Useful Handbag Hacks

Do you ever want to make a handbag and the pattern looks great, but it just doesn’t have all the features you want? That’s how I’ve been feeling.

Here’s my first Raspberry Ripple handbag. I love the outside of this, but I didn’t love the inside. A zipper on one side and a couple of side pockets. It’s adequate, but not exactly what I want.

Common Patterns

I’ve been looking at a lot of patterns, and too many of them are totes. I don’t love totes. They’re fine as a tote, to throw a few books in when heading to the library, but they’re not a handbag.

Most of the patterns I have, or have seen are all missing one thing I really want in a handbag – a divider inside. I love a divided handbag. I like to put things like my sunglasses on one side, my wallet in the zippered divider pocket, and any cosmetic things like hand cream or lip balm on the other side. Nice and neat – not all thrown in on the bottom. I also like a top zipper closure to secure it all.

So, I haven’t found my perfect patterns out there. After a little searching around, it seems I’m not alone. A few bloggers have posted some hacks that look really good and I wanted to share them with you.

Purse Dividers

This first one was referred to me by Marsha (Seam of my Pants). Thanks, Marsha! Sherri at Thread Riding Hood has a free pattern (for a tote) and tutorial on how to install a divider.  I’m using a photo from Sherri’s blog post to show you just how nice it looks.

That is so lovely and such a neat-looking finish. I love her fabric choice too.

This next one came from a search and it looks really good too. On the photo it says it’s from Diedel Bug. It’s on the Swoon website. It’s adding an interior divider pocket to the Eleanor handbag. This is a great-looking tutorial, and exactly what I’m wanting. Again, I’m using the photo from the website.

This is great! It even has the zipper in the divider just like I’m wanting.

Here is one more divider tutorial for you.

This photo is from Abby at Things For Boys*, and it’s a divider for a tote bag.

These are all great tutorials, and I’ll go through them all before I draft a divider for my next Raspberry Ripple handbag.

Zipper Closures

There’s one more thing that will make my Raspberry Ripple, and so many of the other bag patterns I have, my perfect handbag – a zipper closure at the top.

Here’s one more great tutorial on how to add a zipper closure.

This one is from Lisa at Andrie Designs. And it’s for a tote!

With all these tutorials, I feel ready to make all the changes I want to make to my Raspberry Ripple pattern.

Happy creating!

A Few More Good Sales

Here are a few more good sales. Most of these are $14.99 USD, but they can’t be combined.

You just have to click on the photo, at first it will show a higher price but when you place it on your cart the coupon code applies automatically.
Conditions: Special pricing offer only valid on this class. Cannot be combined with other coupons.

Expires on March 1, 2017.

Expires on March 1, 2017.

Expires on February 27, 2017


Craftsy Sale

Has anyone else noticed Craftsy seems to be having a lot of sales? I won’t complain though. This one’s a good one, but only for one class.

Ottica Beamer class “Patternmaking Essentials: The Tailored Jacket” is on sale. Click on the link provided you will get it for $14.99, at first it will show a higher price but when you place it on your cart the coupon code applies automatically.
Conditions: Special pricing offer only valid on this class. Cannot be combined with other coupons.
Expires on February 27, 2017

A Review of Craftsy’s Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets

It’s time for my Craftsy class review again.


This month, I’m reviewing Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets with Janet Pray.


Marsha and Naomi couldn’t join me for this review. But don’t worry, they’ll be back!

Basic Information on the Class.

Janet’s class has quite a few reviews compared to the last class I reviewed. This one has 170 reviewers, and only a couple didn’t completely love the class and give it Five-stars. It has a 4.8 rating. That’s still really good. That’s a lot of love.


Here’s the Lesson outline.


My First Thoughts.

I’ve watched through the class. I bought the class in mid-December and it’s now mid-February and I only received the pattern two day ago. I contacted Janet’s company, Islander Sewing Systems and they sent a second pattern. Unfortunately, as a reviewer, I can only share my thoughts after watching. I can’t give an opinion on the pattern or pattern instructions because there just wasn’t time to even begin a project.

No Pins.

 Janet emphasizes that no pins are used in making the class project. I know she’s not alone in her no-pins philosophy. However, I had a neck/arm injury years ago and although I’ve recovered quite a bit, I’m not where I was before the injury. No pins and using my hands more isn’t a selling point for me.

I did try the no-pins a little though. I tried it on the Raspberry Ripple handbag I was sewing. Yup. I tried it. Then I ripped the seam out again because I only caught part of the fabric underneath. Then I pinned it the second time. So, if you have any reasons of your own why you need to use pins, then follow your own wisdom.

I will say though, after watching how Janet does her no-pins on a long straight stretch of fabric, if you don’t have any hand/arm issues, try it! It does look simple, easy and very efficient.

 Helpful Class Features

Something I’m finding very helpful in Janet’s class is after explaining each part of the jacket construction, she shows you exactly which pieces you’re working on.

Here’s a screen shot from the class showing the pattern pieces that were pressed at this stage of construction.

That is such a helpful part of the class. I haven’t seen this done in any other classes.


This class is all about techniques used while constructing a jacket. I’m sure you’re all wondering how panties fit in with this.

Well, when Janet is showing us how she does the inside shoulders on the jacket, I’m thinking panty construction. She gets things twisted around so the seam is enclosed once it’s sewn. It’s the same as when we’re using the burrito method for our panties. Just take a look at how twisted the material is for sewing this seam. I love it! I definitely want a few pins though.

This sewing method also produces a great finish that is just as neat as the burrito method is on panties.

More Burritos

 Imagine my surprise when just a little later in the class, Janet is demonstrating The Burrito Technique! She tells us ‘we will know it’s a burrito because of the filling. If we don’t have any filling, it’s just a tortilla.’ It makes more sense when you see it, but it is another great technique to make a really nicely finished garment.

Here’s the photo showing everything all nicely encased in the cuff using The Burrito Technique.

Personal Recommendation

So, do I recommend this class? Even though I wasn’t able to sew along and make the jacket, I do recommend this class. I think Janet really knows her stuff and I learned a lot of great tips and tricks watching her class. Some of them I will incorporate, and some of them I will not. I’m mainly thinking of the no-pins.

Other than that one point where I have personal reasons for not following Janet’s tips, all of her tips were great! The jacket she makes is lovely too.

If you’re interested in this class, Craftsy has offered me a 50% off code for it. Just use the code 1ae2cdd2-8f56-4de7-9c5c-2 at the checkout. The sale is only good until the end of February.

Happy creating!

Just a quick note to everyone who’s coming to my page for the link to Craftsy’s Daily Buzz. I’ve moved the link to my side bar. (I was tired of searching through posts for it too.) So now you can just click on the Daily Buzz image on the right hand side, and it will take you right there.

Raspberry Ripple Completed

I thought my Raspberry Ripple would be completed easily with no more bumps in the road. Well, so much for that. My husband decided to share the flu with me just as I was recovering from that cold. Bad. Just bad.

So, my Raspberry Ripple sat some more.

I did make it to the fabric store before he shared. I bought this lovely material for the lining. And the gorgeous red polka dot for the lining on the 2nd bag I have waiting for me.

The photo really doesn’t do this material justice. The two fabrics look much better together in person than they do in this photo.

Here is the red polka dot lining to use with this next bag.

I’m still not feeling quite 100%, but I have been sick for the better part of a month and I really want to get working on something. So, I cut out a couple of linings for the animal print bag, and then decided it was time for a hack.

I did not feel well enough to figure out all the written instructions, and the parts that are crossed out over it and written in again. I’m putting in a basic lining with a few pockets and that’s it. No zipper. Nothing complicated.

Here’s my hacked lining. I put in five basic pockets. Three on one side. Two on the other side. I do like pockets.

Here’s the outside of the bag all finished. I’m rather liking this.

I even have a plan for looking at those instructions again. My friend wrote all over them in pencil. I’m going to make a copy of the instructions with her notes, and then sit down with an eraser to erase all the notes from the original. Then I’ll try to make sense of the original without all her notes. I’m hoping I can figure out what is really supposed to be done here.

 I’m hoping the notes will make more sense after I read the original pattern maker’s instructions. But having things crossed out and then written in again, and having the flu really didn’t help.

Next I think I’m due for something new!

Happy creating!

Craftsy’s Daily Buzz

I posted about this last month, but I was having trouble with the link I used. It kept taking me to an old page with an expired deal. I thought, if I’m having trouble just seeing what the Daily Buzz is, then maybe everyone I shared that link with is too.

So I deleted that old post and am reposting. I hope there aren’t any troubles checking the Daily Buzz now.

Happy creating!

Raspberry Ripple

Keeping to my plan to do a Craftsy class review each month, and work on my UFOs, I started working on the Raspberry Ripple handbags I have waiting for me. These are the bags I was given, all cut out and interfaced. All I have to do is sew them.

Raspberry Ripple Handbag

If you haven’t seen the Raspberry Ripple bag, here it is.

I think it’s adorable. You can find the pattern here.


The one I’m working on first is an animal print and a lovely coordinating fabric.

The coordinating fabric is lined on the back, which you can see – it’s the darker brown.

The above one is my trial run. I also have this one all cut out and interfaced just waiting as well. I love this black floral print.

I thought I’d save my favorite material for once I’m a little more familiar with the pattern. I was told that shiny material is leather, but it’s really thin and lined. I don’t think it’s leather, but it’s pretty.

I was also given this material, but after checking, there aren’t enough pieces for the bag, and not enough to cut more out, so I’ll have to think of something else to do with it. I’m thinking wallets or small clutch bags as all the material is interfaced.

A First Melly & Me

This is a new pattern for me, and also a first time sewing anything by Melly & Me. There’s a lot of text in the instructions, and step after step with no illustration or photo. I’m a visual learner, so I don’t know that this will be a favorite pattern for that reason, but it is all coming together fairly easily and well so far.

Illustrations don’t always mean a project will turn out either. There were lots of photos in another pattern I tried last year and it ended up in the trash! There was also a lot of ripping out with that one.

So far, on this Raspberry Ripple, I’ve only had to rip one seam out and that was all my fault. I was trying a no-pins method of sewing. More on that in another post.

Other than the no-pins bump, my sewing did have another bump in the road. I caught a cold, and spent more time than I wanted on the couch with Netflix. So, I did start my bag, take a long break, and then go back to it.

Unique Challenges

Do you know, or can you guess the most challenging part of sewing something someone else has cut out? Figuring out what pieces are what. Nothing is labeled.

I thought I had all the pieces, but I searched through everything I had again when I was ready to sew the band on. There wasn’t a band. There was some fabric to cut out a band, so whew! I was able to cut it out and get it interfaced.

My friend had lengthened the pattern for the band for some reason. I had to adjust it back to the original pattern size. I’m not sure why she did that because the lengthened band pattern piece did not fit the bag, but it’s all good again.


It’s kind of fun to follow along on a pattern someone else owned first. I love to read the notes from other sewers to see what they felt needed to be added, or clarified, or even just their reminders.

There are lots of notes on this from my friend. It makes for interesting sewing and sometimes more complicated too.

And this is where I feel like giving up. All that text and not a photo to help me out. Add to that I don’t know if I really want right sides together or wrong sides, or right sides!

Well, I’m stopping for the time being. It will remain a UFO for a few more weeks. There isn’t any lining material, or pocket material and I don’t have anything that coordinates with it. I also need a zipper.

So, I’ll take a swatch of this fabric and the black floral with me to the fabric store and buy enough lining for both bags.

Finished Bag?

No, it’s not quite finished, but here’s my outside part of my Raspberry Ripple handbag:

It’s lovely! Now to get to the fabric store.

Happy creating!

How I Adjust Photos for my Croquis

Here’s a photo tutorial on just how I adjust my photos. (Warning. It’s a little bit technical.)

The first thing I do is find an image for something I like. Here’s one I found.

This is Vogue 9202. It’s best to find an image that is straight on so it will paste over the croquis, which is also facing straight on.

You can see from the above screen shot, I save the image. I save all my images as JPEGs, as I find that the easiest image to use.

Once saved, I open my Photoshop program (I’m sure there are other programs that can do the same thing, or look for an older version of the program – it doesn’t have to be the newest. Mine isn’t new.)

In the above photo, I’m selecting the Lasso Tool. You also want to select the Magnetic Lasso Tool next.

In this next photo, I’m part way around the dress with the Magnetic Lasso Tool (MLT).

That might be a little hard to see, so I’ll enlarge this one.

Those little dotted lines and squares show the part being saved, and what will be cut out of the photo. It only takes a minute or two to do all of this so far.

The next thing I do once I’ve gone around the entire image with the MLT is I go to Edit, and Cut. Below is what remains. An outline of the image. This is the background that is left over. The image itself has been cut out from it.

Select the Move Tool (just because it’s easier to use at this point).

Now, I go to File, select New and then Blank File. That’s going to be my new photo without the background – the one I can now use to paste or layer over other photos.

Here’s the new blank photo ready to have the dress pasted onto it.

With this blank photo, I go to Edit, and select Paste.

There. My dress is back. This looks pretty much the same as the first image I opened in Photoshop, but it will behave very differently! As well, I cut the back neck away from the dress.

If you’ve done this with me, you’ve done the work and now comes the fun!

I open my croquis now. It won’t close the other photos I have opened in the program.

You can still see the new dress photo without a background, and the original dress photo with only an outline left, and my croquis all at the bottom of the screen.

Now I simply click on the dress and drag it up over my croquis.

You can see it doesn’t fit yet. All you can see of my croquis is an elbow and wrist peeking out from behind the dress. That’s okay.

I click on the dress photo and a small box appears around it, which I can adjust in both height and width.

Above I’ve adjusted the top. You can see the box in the photo. The dress is still too big, so time to make another adjustment or two.

There. I’ve brought the bottom up to about the right length for me. Still too wide though.

Now to adjust the side. I try to adjust it so the width of the dress is covering my hips. They’re my widest part, so I want to see how this will look covering that part of me.

There. That gives me a really good indication of how this dress will look on me.

Just one more click outside the dress area, and I see the final results. The box is gone.

If there’s anything I still feel needs adjusting, I can simply click on the dress again, and that same box will show up allowing me to make adjustments. This new image can now be saved.

It’s not perfect. If you look closely, you’ll see the shoulders are too big on my croquis, however, the croquis proportions are right. I can see what this dress will look like on my figure – shorter than the image on the pattern cover, and wider too. At this point I can see if I like it or not, and decide if I’m going to try the pattern or if it’s a pass.

I hope this helped. Let me know if you try this, if you have Photoshop or another program that you use to do something similar.

Happy creating!

Making a Personal Croquis

Have you used a personal croquis? Last year I decided I was going to make one. This is one of my UFOs that I’m completing this year. If I’d had any idea of how much fun I would have, I’d never have put it off!

To me, a croquis is a basic drawing used to see how clothing will look on a body – in this case, on my body.

Adjusted Hourglass Figure

I think croquis are a great concept, except I don’t look like them, not even the hourglass ones. You almost never see a croquis with shorter legs! You definitely don’t see them with a little more padding than they need, or with curly hair! I found the image on the right online and played with it to give her shorter legs, more curves, and curly hair!

I have to say, I’ve been having fun with my curvy curly girl.

Digital Paper Dolls

Here she is trying on a couple of outfits.

Here she’s wearing the top from McCall’s 7538. The original is below for comparison.I’ve been wondering about this pattern because of the emphasis at the waist. There’s a fine line between defining a curvy girl’s waist and looking like Jessica Rabbit.

Here she is with the same pattern, but wearing one of the dress options.

I’m not loving this dress on her. It makes her hips look even wider.

However, this dress shape is from the same pattern. I can see right away this is a better shape for my curvy curly girl.

For all three of these clothing images, I copied the image from the web, played with it in Photoshop to remove the background, layered it over a photo of my girl, then adjusted the height and width to fit her figure. It sounds like a lot of work, but it only took a few minutes for each image. I found it rather fun. It really is like playing with digital paper dolls.

It was also very helpful in seeing how the dress design would look on my shape.

Beautiful Croquis

Gwen, a fellow blogger, goes beyond a simple croquis outline and does an illustration of herself in the garment she plans to make. I love it! Here’s an image from Calm Under Tension (used with permission).

Isn’t this fabulous? I marvel at Gwen’s drawings as much as I admire her makes. Gwen is a fellow lingerie-maker, so I know you’ll love her blog too.

Personal Croquis

Where did this whole desire to make my own croquis even get started? I received an email with this video. This is a great tutorial that takes you through the steps to create a personal croquis. It’s on the Threads website. The video goes through the whole process. I love seeing how something is done rather than reading how.

Making a croquis has been a goal of mine since this tutorial came out, so I finally did it. Here’s the beginning of mine.

In the video, the next step is to learn to draw your figure out, much like Gwen’s above, and draw the dress, or clothing on it. Here’s the final image from the Threads’ tutorial.

Yes, this is very much like what Gwen is doing. I may try it at some time, but I have to admit, I’m pretty happy playing with my digital paper doll and using the simple outline. It does exactly what I’m wanting as an outline.

Here’s my very basic croquis. She’s my measurements and my proportions, which I was quite surprised to find out were very close my curvy curly girl above. The curvy curly has a more exaggerated waist, and her legs are longer. I gave my croquis nicer curly hair, which resembles mine.

This last image gives me a really good indication of how that same McCall’s dress will look on me. I like it! Happy creating!

A Review of Craftsy’s Vietnamese Classics: Pho, Noodles & Beyond

It’s time for my monthly Craftsy class review. If you missed our first review of Design & Sew an A-Line Skirt, you can read it here.


Marsha and I agreed, with Christmas, holidays, and the New Year being such a busy season, we’d be a little easier on ourselves and review a cooking class this month.

A friend of mine had this class before I did and I heard so many great things about it from her, I had to buy it too. I was not disappointed. (Thanks, Naomi!)

 What is this great class? It’s Vietnamese Classics: Pho, Noodles & Beyond with Andrea Nguyen.


Great reviews.

This class has 35 reviews, which isn’t a lot, but… of those 35 reviews, only one review wasn’t a Five-Star review. That one was a Four-star.


There are so many reviews that say ‘Love this class’. I love it too. If you read my last review, I had a little trouble with my feelings towards the class. I have no trouble at all with this class! I not only bought this class, but also Andrea’s Favorite Asian Dumplings from ScratchI didn’t even think about it.

A personal comment.

Just a personal comment here. Andrea really has to be great because I can’t have gluten and I bought her dumpling class! I will share more on that when I review the class.

Class content.


There are a number of lessons in this class I was thrilled to try, starting with lesson One. I love Rice Paper Rolls, and Andrea shows how to make them, and make them so they present well too.


Aren’t these lovely? This is a screen shot from the class. Mine didn’t look that nice, but no one here was complaining about them. They were delicious!

Andrea shows us how to make these, with tips on displaying the shrimp and making the rolls look pretty and delicious. It’s little touches like this, that make this class great. As well, Andrea is so engaging.

Pho, Pho, and more Pho.

From the Rice Paper Rolls, Andrea takes us right into making Pho. In fact, she shows us Pho four ways. We start with a shortcut Chicken Pho, which I haven’t tried yet, but have heard it’s really good. Then right on to full traditional Chicken Pho, Beef Pho, and Grilled Pork Rice Noodle bowl.

Last month in our teaser posts, Marsha and I each made one of the Pho recipes. You can read Marsha’s recipe review here. You can read mine here.

For my recipe review, I made rice paper rolls and traditional Beef Pho. All I can say is my house smelled so good! And there were no leftovers. My family was delighted with the recipes I tried.


So, would I recommend this class? Yes! I have no hesitation in recommending this class. It’s really great. From the lessons, to the recipes, to how engaging Andrea is, in my opinion this class is one of the best classes Craftsy has to offer and I’d love to see more classes with Andrea!

For a frame of reference, I previewed almost every cooking class Craftsy offered in October 2015 when they had a monthly pass. There are a lot of good cooking classes, and really good recipes, but I can’t say all the instructors are as engaging as Andrea.

I’m going to head over to Marsha’s post now to read her review. Let me know if you have this class and have a favorite recipe too. Of if you don’t have this class, what is your favorite cooking class on Craftsy?

Happy creating!