Karlene's Workshop

My sewing, refashioning and upcycling projects revealed
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Fancy handbag part two

  • 20/02/2010 2:44 pm

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks here getting organized to go to our friends wedding last weekend. We had to travel a long way, 7hrs drive to the grandparents, chit chat and drop off kids, next day another 3hrs to where we are staying. Keith is the official photographer and wants to go to the rehearsal which we miss, never mind we still get to go over venue for photo opportunities. Wedding day starts off with bad weather and photographer is worried, but clears up in time for ceremony and turns out great. And he got some lovely photos, good job dear!

Next two days are spent traveling home again, its now 4 days later and we’re still not fully unpacked. I have a huge mountain of washing to sort and fold up and the boys are running out of clothes.

Good news, got the bag finished in time to take to the wedding. Well, just, I left off any type of fastening and didn’t have time to pin stitch the flap.

I had to sew the lining twice due to doing it wrong way around with interlining on the inside (the wrong side!) the first time, whoops.

My second go

Had lots of fun with the trimmings on the front flap. Stage one, the net over lay.

Next, the ribbon and cord trimming.

Yo yo’s

Fabric roses

Then beaded loops and we’re done. And the final finished product!

I was careful to get the lining of the flap with the picture up the right way when the bag is open.

Here I am wearing it at the wedding with my matching dress, a birthday gift from Mum.

And a close up of the flap, for those like me who strain their eyes and put their noses to the screen to take in the details,

I love my new little bag, can’t wait to take her out again :-)


Hand bag designed by Alyssa

  • 30/07/2009 12:47 pm

My seven year old niece Alyssa asked her mum if she would help her to sew a bag with her sewing kit. I asked her if she would like me to make one for her, of her design. She looked up at me with big round eyes and said “Can you make bags Aunty Karlene?”. I replied that yes I could, and showed her the bag I was using that day, that I had made. She had a look, got very excited and announced that she would draw a picture of her bag design right away.

Her is her drawing, complete with detailed design brief:
Alyssa's design brief
She wanted a round blue bag, with two handles, red on the top, a green button, a pink bow surrounded by black dots, “a real one, you can make the bow and then sew it on, Aunty Karlene” and a purple letter A for Alyssa. Wow! You can also see her first drawing of a more square bag that got crossed out when she changed her mind. This girl knows exactly what she wants.

I followed her design as much as possible and here is the result:
Bag for Alyssa
I used blue denim for the base and red velveteen for a flap. I wanted to use black sequins for the “dots” but do you think I could find any? After an hour of hunting in the sewing room and house, I decided to use beads instead. I used zig-zag stitch to sew on the purple ribbon to make the A, and managed to find a green button in my stash that looked ok with the other design elements.

I hope she likes it!

Her younger sister Briana also wanted a bag, more details on that soon.


Handbags for me

  • 28/05/2009 11:08 am

These are the two handbags that I just had to keep for myself.

Groovy paisley bag

This one is made from some groovy paisley fabric that my Nana had cut out for a dress – with hot pink crimplene cuffs and collar – that wasn’t a happening thing, so sorry Nana I used it to test the pattern for this bag. I liked how it turned out, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like it!

The button on the tab closure is pink mother of pearl from Nana’s button box, possibly from her mother so is quite old.

Next is the royal blue crimplene, which sounds terrible but actually is a light fine textured fabric rather that the stiff boardy variety.

Little blue hand bag

I had wanted a bag this colour for a while so am pleased to finally have one.

This was a test pattern also,  the next one will be a little bigger with a longer flap and slightly more shaped. I have also done a smaller version for evening style bags that I used for Mum’s bag.

The inside is made from some vintage cotton, from a partly made little girls dress that my Mum was going to make for me but didn’t get around to before I grew too much! It makes me smile to see it inside my bag.

Inside bag



  • 12/05/2009 11:17 am

I’m going through a bag phase at the moment.  Have been making a few when I can, mostly out of fabric from my Nana’s stash (thanks, Nana) and am finding it very satisfying.  They don’t take too long, don’t use much fabric, don’t need to be fitted and hopefully you end up with something useful when you finish!

Here are a couple of my first ones:


This tote bag fabric is recycled from a knit T shirt I bought from an Op shop. I liked the floral print. The inside is lined with vintage cotton (Nana’s stash!) and a layer of thin flannel (from an old sheet) to pad it out a bit and give body.  I also stabilized the outer fabric with fusible/iron on interfacing to stop from stretching.

This next one is a little evening bag, just big enough for the essentials:Little green bag

I’m not sure what the outer fabric is, it was semi sheer and reminded me of my Nana’s curtains…maybe it was a scrap of that? But it looked pretty anyway, especially over the teal lining. The inside is lined with a coordinating velveteen fabric and as you can see the handle is beaded.  I gave this bag to a friend as a birthday gift.

And this one is the last one I have made, to give to my Mum for Mothers day:

Mum's bag

It’s a bit hard to see the details – this is what happens when photo’s are taken at night :-(

The fabric is a yummy soft velvet with a large velvet covered button closure and hand  stitched ruching on the front.  Took a lot of fiddling to do!