Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pattern Review: Hot Pattern's Nairobi Bag, or how avoid too much of a good thing...

Anyone who knows me will attest to my fixation with any garment/accessory of red leather. Mostly, I think it's a good thing and I have a few signature pieces that friends and family will always associate with me and being cool/interesting. On the other hand, it's a weakness that has lead me to some fashion choices that required intervention. We all have our kryptonite; mine is cranberry colored leather. Jackets, pants, shoes, bags, name it, if it's red leather, chances are I spent at least 20 minutes trying to talk myself out of buying it. I have accepted that this is my signature color.

Now, with that being said, I wanted to share my latest clothing purchase: the Red Leather 3/4 length coat. It's pretty awesome: vintage without being dated, interesting details, fantastic cut, still fairly supple but could probably use conditioning, and well, it's red and leather. It set me back a cool $24.50 + tax, so I didn't even have to make a show of talking myself out buying it.

Recently, I also decided I needed a portfolio. When I decided this, I was thinking some sort of dark brown pleather job with those little metal corners. You know the kind that you find in your neighborhood drug store next to the index cards? This is what I fully expected to leave Staples with the other day on my way to an interview. Imagine my surprise and delight to find that not only could I purchase one in leather but also in my signature color. How cool is that?! And, it was a very affordable $20 for a letter sized portfolio with a folder and little business card inserts, etc. It's a nice little accessory. Look how nicely it coordinates with my bag :) One could almost think they were made for each other...
So, when I went to my sewing class the other day, I grabbed my coat and bag and just before I slipped out the door, it occured to me that it would be prudent to bring something to take notes. Sitting right there on the counter is my portfolio, so off it went with me to class. Only as I was sitting in class did it occur to me that was an awful lot of red leather on my person. I also had on some red leather flats, you see. It was kind of enough to make me fearful of becoming the "one who wore all the red leather," but not in a good way. You see, I am aware it is possible to have too much of a good thing and then become ridiculous.

Clearly I should have worn a black handbag instead. However, I don't have a black handbag. Part of the problem with loving red leather is being sorely unimpressed by other colors. Hence the dearth of black bags in my wardrobe. Dude, I even have red luggage. The only option was to make what I needed, which leads me to...

Pattern Review: Hot Patterns' Nairobi Bag

Pattern Description:
From Hot Patterns: This super-stylish bag is inspired by the fabulous YSL Mombassa bag, a must-have for every fashionista. this bag is perfect for those luxe smaller pieces of fabric you have in your stash...This is a variation on a classic tote bag, so it's open at the top but has an optional snap or magnetic closure strap inside. the bag also features optional inside phone & zipped pickets, and classic handbag feet on the bottom.

Pattern Sizing:
Full sized it's on the larger end, roughly 15" across. I opted to shrink the pattern 50% and emerged with a bag that is about 8x6," small but not still roomy enough to handle my essentials. As I made it, it's too small for a shoulder bag but just right to hang on the forearm. The strap is on the smallish side, but this could be lengthened if you want to wear it on the shoulder.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I would say that it did! I think the lines of the bag are quite elegant yet very fashion forward.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I would call them adequate. Better than Burda WoF, but not quite as comprehensive as Kwik Sew or Simplicity. They are more "suggestions" than directions. For example, they tell you that you'll have to ease the bag fronts to the bottom piece but don't tell you how. It's assumed you can do this step on your own.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
As I said above, it's a classic bag. I am really digging that I was able to shrink it to fit my needs. I'm not one who carries a whole lot around, just the wallet, lipstick, and tissues.

Fabric Used:
I used a black microfiber that has been in my stash since 2006's clearance sale at Joann's. I think it was 0.50/yd, so I bought what was left on the bolt, maybe 5.5yds. At half-sized, the bag required just under 1/4yd. I interfaced it with the heaviest interfacing I had in my stash since I really didn't want to have to buy anything else. It was heavy, but the bag could use some additional structure at the base. It's a little too soft at the rounded corners and that annoys me.

The lining was a remnant from the lining of a jacket that is still in the works. It was there, within arm's reach, and just right for what I needed. So, the poly was interfaced as well, but with a featherweight fusible. I used only one pocket and I didn't add the zipper. I think I'm going to have to increase the seam allowances on the bottom of the lining since there seems to be too much fabric in the bag itself. As it is now, I haven't sewed the 6" I left open for turning the bag because of this.

I also included a magnetic snap that was in the stash and some U-rings for purses. The magnet is probably the strongest snap magnet I've ever seen. So strong that I have to dig my nail into the snap to pry it loose. I can totally see myself tearing the bag one day just trying to get it open!

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
As I said, I shrunk the pattern 50%. Also, I added some decorative stitching to the seams with black embroidery thread. It's like baseball stitches, but better :) I was really quite happy with how it turned out. The stitching somehow improved on what otherwise would have looked like a cheap little bag. Also, I didn't include any feet. Really, it's too soft to stand on it's own anyhow. I'd be open to recommendations to change this.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I think I am going to *have* to sew it again. I went through a period where I was buying random fabrics that I liked in 1 yard pieces. Really, what else can you do with 36" of aqua corduroy or butterfly brocade? Not big enough to make a skirt and even if it were, I don't know that I'd want to wear that anyway...

It's a cute little bag that gives some room for play. Next version, if I do indeed make one, will be redrafted to have a zip opening. I think that would be an improvement on the recommended snap. If I had some kind of faux or real skin, I would definitely use it for this bag. Now that I've made it, I can see it's fairly simple to put together and embellish. Great pattern!


Anonymous said...

Very interesting site that I find rich, pleasant and well organized!
Honour for me if you include it in my

"Multilingual" topliste Panorama


Best continuation!
Sincerrely Yours! Kamdou

Keely said...

I'm partial to cranberry red too. But most of mine is sitting in the stash cupboard still waiting to be made up. :) Lovely bag. Over on Patternreview Judy made one with a zipper gusset.

Cennetta said...

I am a crimson fan too. Love your version of this bag.

Lori said...

Very pretty bag, it will look fantastic with your red.

Chicago Sarah said...

What was the weight of the interfacing you used on the black? I have some that's almost like thin cardboard. Anyway, I do think it's a very cute bag, and although the zipper would be nice it's fun to see the lining poking through.