A bag fit for a bag-maker

You already know I am a bag fanatic. But did you know, I hardly ever carry one of my own bags. Yes, for a night out or a holiday I do, I am forever making one suitable, but not when it comes to my everyday bag.

As you can imagine, I do have rather a large collection of handbags, favouring something strong in leather that I can stuff to the gunnels with ever more junk that I carry around when leaving the house – how did we ever manage with small handbags??

So I finally made a bag for myself for everyday use. Amazing we bagmakers don’t ever have time to make one for ourselves.print

What started me on this thought was seeing a fabric on a Facebook board that was just so ‘Me’, I couldn’t live without it, and then trying to track the print down all over America. I just had to have it; it was so apt and just perfect for an everyday bag for a stitch lover like me. I finally got hold of some and then had to wait impatiently for it to arrive a month later.

DS 2
Yes, I’ve finally got my hands on it! I don’t look too happy, must have been the extra charges.

I wanted a tote bag as I often stuff a bit of shopping in there along with dog treats (and the odd poo bag), a purse the size of a bag, sweets, scissors, my Kindle, tablet etc etc, but to improve on the tote bag I currently use, I wanted to add lots of pocketry in the lining so I could find things like my phone, keys and car park ticket easily without having to empty out the whole bucket on the street swearing and cussing that I’ve lost them, happens every time!

My gorgeous bright sewing print fabric never arrived and after chasing the American supplier numerous times, I located it in a Royal Mail warehouse in Manchester. Finally – oh not quite, I had to pay £18 to get it out. In the end it was probably the most expensive fabric I have ever bought per metre when you include the shipping and charges.


I already had my pattern planned out with a wide top opening tapering to a nice rounded base, with leather handles large enough to get over the shoulder. I felt the print needed framing somehow, so I pulled out some black from my vinyl stash. I’m such a snob though. I like a leather bag, so off I went to my leather stash, but it revealed nothing that was large enough for the whole width of the bag. Then, light bulb moment – I remembered, that black leather jacket that’s been hanging in my wardrobe that I hadn’t worn since nineteen oatcake!


I cut pieces from the sleeves of the leather jacket to make a top and bottom frame for the side panels and used the back of the jacket to make a quilted base with lovely gold feet.

I used Bosal foam throughout so the bag will stand on its own (knowing I tend to throw things in my bag like it were a basketball hoop)

Yeah, I know, it’s inside out.

I set the whole thing off with extremely bright pink lining trimmed with accents in the Love Sewing print (I still don’t know who it’s by). A large divided pocket on one side for my Kindle and chargers, three pockets on the other side – suitable for phones, pen diary etc, plus a specific Polo (the mint with the holo) pocket at one end. Yes its true, I did – well I carry them everywhere and it’s so hard to find them in the bottom of a tote bag full of crap.


I added a concealed zip opening to the top using a rather beautiful gold Emmaline zip with double puller – so decadent!


I added leather handles that I had harvested from a bag some time ago, and had been sitting around waiting for the ideal project – not the easiest things to stitch on though through the 8 layers I had included, but thankfully now attached. If they ever get loose, I will be hauling out the rivet machine, I couldn’t face that fight again with the sewing machine.


So here it is, my finished project I hope you like it. I am really pleased with it, but haven’t started using it yet as I don’t want to get it dirty! Right, I am going to swap all my handbag contents over to it right now and make it part of my everyday life – And I’ll get much more wear out of that leather jacket this way too.


If I get lots of adoring comments when I am out and about – I may even make this bag my next published pattern.

Oh, I made a purse to match this morning too! (Another pattern that I have on the go at the moment) A girl has gotta have matching accessories. Maybe I could make some shoes next.

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A Bag’s Story – A reason for being

hero.So…Today I launched my new transforming bag pattern onto an unsuspecting public.

I believe every bag has a story and here is this one’s.

Last year we booked to go to Florida on holiday and of course the first thing I think of (it is me!) is what bags to take with limited luggage.

I knew I would be commuting through airports, whizzing down water slides and screaming on roller coasters, fishing in the Florida Keys and shopping in as many malls I could possibly get to.

One of the real deciding factors on bag choices was that I knew one hotel we were staying at ran a local shopping and Prosecco trip on bikes… (how exciting, lets out a little squeal) what bag could possibly perform all these functions?? (Yes, this was the hotel below, nice huh!)

Hawks Cay saltwater lagoon

Oh shiz, what was I to do?? I needed at least 4 bags but with no space to carry them all in my luggage. That was the moment I realised the bag I needed didn’t exist, and the idea of ‘the switch’ was born

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I needed something that could look nice for shopping, but was practical enough to be ‘hands free’ when required. Thankfully I no longer have babies and toddlers, but it would be good for that too!

Once the idea was born, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I made a few prototypes but the straps took time to change over, you had to unhook from one place and hook back on to another, many toiles hit the bin.


So I thought long and hard about how it could work without the faff, and finally came up with the patented ‘switch strap’

The bag transforms with just one single tug from a backpack to a cross-body or shoulder bag, and back again just as easily.

The straps are adjustable and long enough to fit even a leggy 6 foot lady (Which unfortunately I am not, I’m just a little short-arse!), but I made sure the bag would accommodate any size or shape.

A large easy access front pocket is great for travel documents and tickets, while a big zip compartment holds my iPad, phone, make-up and purse securely

I used fusible foam in the construction which gives brilliant protection for your electronics, and gives the bag a beautiful fixed rounded shape thanks to the added darts at the bottom, which in turn ensures more storage space inside the bag.


Style it up or style it down. I made a lovely Aztec print version to go on holiday and then a navy velvet and gold festooned one for weekends at home to go clubbing. (Nope that is a complete lie, I haven’t been in a club for years. Well apart from that one time…but that’s a different story)

I had so many compliments on holiday that I thought I better share it as my next pattern. You can buy it here


You know the good thing about a new bag is – your bum never looks big in it.

Now, don’t be copying my idea because my husband made me patent it (he’s like that)

Sewing Studio Tour

8SO….Finally it is complete. My new sewing studio. It seems to have taken forever, though it has only really been a few weeks. What turmoil we have gone through in the house, living with dust and rubble in everything from my make up to the boy’s cornflakes – it gets everywhere. We all sound like we have a severe case of asthma, gravelly voices and non-stop wheezing, I never realised how much havoc a build can create.


So that will be our last home extension, ever! We did have a conservatory built on a few years ago, but there was nowhere near as much upheaval. I felt like I was living with 10 men at some points, they were there when I woke up and I was shoo-ing them out the door sometimes at 7pm so I could have a quiet glass of wine before it all started over again.


Although it was fraught, I have to say now it has definitely been worth it.

I now have huge runs of storage behind doors along each side of the studio – this is lucky because obviously we lost the loft for storage and we still have a lot of junk to store, including excessive Christmas trees and decorations, 200 years of family photographs, 80 paintings from previous artistic family members which I am waiting to posthumously gain in value (unlikely to happen really) and more suitcases than you can shake a stick at.


I have moved most of my sewing paraphernalia in now, though I am still trying to get it set up properly and find everything a proper home, but I thought it was time to show you how it looks now compared to where we started 10 weeks ago.


The windows are large and airy and can be opened up both sides so I can feel the breeze blowing straight through (or an icy gust of wind, depending on the day) I planned the position to allow in the most light into the centre of the room where I do most of my pottering around.



I planned worktop with desk spaces along one whole side, with nothing built in on the other side to allow for my cutting table, and a bit of room to breathe.



We used Ikea Kallax units to fit out everything with Ikea worktops. I wanted lots of open shelving so I can see all my fabrics – it gives me constant joy and inspiration (Maybe I’m a bit sad)


We constructed a long thin cutting table to fit the space (from more Kallax units) which is narrow enough to walk all the way around without bumping your head on the sloping walls, well, it is for me anyway as I am a bit of a short-arse, I have a friend however who is 6’5” and it wasn’t quite as accommodating for him as the big bump on his head can testify.  Sometimes it’s good to be short.


My main feature was my ‘Wonderwall’ at the back which is designed to show off glass jars with my trims and haberdashery – a bit like an old fashioned sweetie shop, with a large open shelf in the middle for photography. (I’m actually finding it very useful to prop my iPad in there and watch TV at night if the boys are all out, it’s so very cozy, especially if the fire is on.

wonder wall

I purchased a lovely patchwork chair and footstool from Ebay which sits beautifully in the corner and is exceptional for watching Stranger things 2 on a dark night when the rain is battering on the Velux windows.


The lighting in the ceiling is LED and very good, but I have bought task lighting for the desks as, I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but I am allergic to any lights that flicker – which include LED and fluorescent – which yes, is an absolute nightmare in today’s world.  I had loads of electricity points put everywhere. I think 16 sockets in total, and I am already wishing I had more. I had accounted for machines, but not for phone/tablet chargers etc.

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Along the long shelved wall I have my sewing machine and computer. I have a separate desk for my embroidery machine by the stairs. This little spot also handily fits my ironing board as if it was made for it.



Anyway, my Spencer Ogg decal has been applied so I am now well and truly installed and working every day from my new haven. It’s the best present I could ever have. A total joy to work in. I just have to keep it tidy – unfortunately I am a bit of a messy worker, but it’s too nice to be untidy so I will be trying really hard to keep everything in its place.


In the morning I don’t go off to work any longer, I go up to FIBRESPACE.

So many friends have been around to enjoy a bit of crafting and Prosecco, I now have a permanent wine cooler up there, and Mr O has put a sign on the door –


Flexible container anyone?

A lovely round bottom

The Shapely Tote – there is nothing like a lovely round bottom.

Shapely tote bag social media
The Shapely Tote sewing pattern

So….if you are looking for a bell bottom tote bag that makes a beautiful every day handbag, (and even if you aren’t), look no further.


The major selling feature is there is no hardware required ! Always a massive plus point for me because when I want to make something, it always seems that I don’t have exactly the right components already in my considerable stash, so I have to start shopping around stores and web sites to find the right bits of metalwork.

That of course leads to a massive shopping spree to stock up on any other bits I imagine I may be requiring over the next 6 months (which usually then sit in a drawer for eternity), and also means I cannot make it there and then – and I am a kind of immediate gratification type of girl.

So, one click of the finger, grab your sewing paraphernalia, and away you go.

It is a pretty easy and quick make too. Not many PDF pattern pieces to stick together, and once you have cut everything out it goes together really quickly.

The bag has an inside phone pocket and a large profile stitched outer pocket which has a contrast bound top edge as a style feature.

I used fusible foam inside (Bosal or Annies Soft and Stable) I find the one side fusible foam is by far the best for me; it holds the fabric shape and crispness so much better than sew-in foam and the bag will stand up on its own.  I have been waiting for this product to become commercially available for years (whilst using car headliner in the long interim period)


The bag has a generous gusset, which is pretty easy to attach, and means that the finished tote has lots of room inside for your essentials and even your sandwiches on a day out.

I made this example up in Harris tweed, but it is suitable for most medium weight fabrics including tweeds, denim and medium weight furnishing weight cottons. Did I tell you of my deep love for Harris Tweed. Actually someone from Harris Tweed recently posted on a photo of a Harris Tweed bag on one of my Facebook posts that I had used it the wrong way round – woops, sorry HT – just shows how much I know (Just like John Snow)

Lots of colour photos and comprehensive instructions to walk you through every stage of makeup, and it’s a sew and sell pattern so you are welcome to sell your finished article in small scale.

I just checked the definition of ‘bag’ in the dictionary, and it states – a flexible container with an opening at the top, used for carrying things

Maybe I should change my shop name to FLEXIBLE CONTAINERS ?

Anyway you can get the pattern here:

Happy sewing!


Fame (I’m gonna live forever)

NEWS FLASH! Spencer Ogg pattern featured yesterday on the front page of Pattern Pile   (grab a wee discount code to celebrate)


Lovely to see one of my patterns on their site. I have been selling this sewing pattern steadily for a while now, it’s a firm favourite, and it is available in various sizes to fit various tablet and iPad models-

  • iPad models 1 2 3 and 4, and any tablet up to a size of
    9.56″ x 7.47″ x 0.5″ (24.3cm x 19cm x 1.3cm) click here
  • iPad Air models, and any tablet up to a size of  9.4″ x 6.6″ x 0.3″ (24cm x 16.9cm x 0.75cm) click here
  • iPad mini and similar size tablets: (Blackberry Playbook/HTC Flyer/Lenovo IdeaPad A1/Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and many more)
    7.87 in × 5.30 in × 0.28 in (20 cm × 13.5 cm × 0.7 cm) click here

I’ts a nice easy make and you can use up lots of your stash of oddments and pretty haberdashery.

Use the code OGG10 at checkout to grab a 10% discount on any patterns on my Etsy Shop PDF Patterns Plus

I think I may pop a bottle of Prosecco tonight to celebrate


What’s at the top of my Stairway to Heaven

The excitement is mounting. I now have stairs. I am LOFTGIRL!

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I presume the man under the stairs will eventually leave and it won’t be like the 3 Billy Goats Gruff ‘Tripp-trapping’ over the Troll’s bridge forever more. Crap, now I have thought about that I may have nightmares for years worrying that he is still walled up in there!

Speaking of which, I had a spare mannequin and gave it to one of my friends last month for her dressing room. The kids have been scared witless every time they pass the room at night. I think I might be getting it back.

So here is a bit of an update on my sewing studio build.

The supporting struts have now been removed, and it makes a huge difference.

BEFORE                                           AFTER

Walls have been plaster-boarded and now plastered. The guys are telling me I can’t paint until the plaster has dried so it will be a few more days yet, and it’s seriously killing me. I am thinking of painting everything white with whitewashed board flooring to keep things as light as possible, so I can do my photography shoots in the studio too. I am assuming the vast array of clashing fabrics should add all the colour I need. What do you think?


We are down to 4 builders this week rather than 8 so I am biting my nails hoping that the work won’t slow down as things have moved on really quickly so far.

My cupboards and shelving are being made up today.


I’m trying to keep things as compact as possible at the sides so I can get a large cutting table with seating in the middle. I’ve ordered a huge length of worktop to go across 8 metres of shelving on the right hand side, and I will have gaps in the shelving underneath to use as desks. I am trying to plan spaces now to place each machine or computer where I want to use it (still pondering on the ugly old ironing board position, I don’t want it to spoil things, but it is an old faithful)

The builders are doing well, I may have to include biscuits in the tea run this week to keep their mojo up, we don’t want them running out of steam.


If you didn’t see my earlier posts on the build, you can catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here

So you bought a machine, what next !! Part 2

antique sewing machine

Part 2 of my post on starting to sew and care of your machine. In this post I am going to concentrate on solving problems and then a little light maintenance.

Do you suffer with tension, arghhhhh! Yes, the thing we hate the most. I spend more time messing about with machine tensions than anything else.


We all struggle with tension problems – particularly to start with, I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to throw my machine down the stairs over the years – its still beats us all sometimes!


click on the pic below for an informative read on solving tension problems – from All Free Sewing


Understanding Sewing Machine Tension from Crafty Baba also gives good advice on this subject.

understanding tension

and finally, a gentle video on sewing machine maintenance – from Easy Sewing for beginners. Get your tea and biscuits at the ready again.

maintenance oil

Lots more tips on my Pinterest board here

If you didn’t catch part 1 you can see it here