Alina Sewing and Design

Blogging twice in one month! I’m almost back to normal. 😉

I had the lovely opportunity to fly to Denver to join some incredible women a couple of weekends ago. Eight of us flew in for a long weekend of sewing and hanging out (most of us meeting for the first time). Are you ready for this? I spent the weekend with Leslie of Threadbear Garments, Gabriela of Chalk & Notch, Emily of Enjoyful Makes, Nicole of Merritts Makes, Michelle of Sewjourners, Sara of The Sara Project, and Fleurine of Sew Mariefleur (yeah, all the way from Norway!!!).

We also did all of this sewing/hanging out in this amazingggggg Airbnb–an old church converted to this modern home with room for tons of people.

#whyisew I’ve always wanted to create and I’ve had access to a sewing machine for nearly as long as I can remember. This past weekend I was reminded that sewing does much more than simply fill my need to create. It has connected me to amazing, kind, and talented women who have become dear friends. We spent the weekend laughing, creating, eating, and chatting. I had only met a few of these women prior to this trip and was a bit nervous, but almost instantly felt surrounded by old friends. We came from different backgrounds, life stages, and even countries (@mariefleurine); but came together in the #churchofsewing. Without sewing, I never would have met these beautiful women whom I now call friends. 💕#sewphotohop

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Most of you probably also know that Denver is home to Allie of Indiesew, Adrianna of Hey June Handmade, Kelli of True Bias, Erin of Sewbon, Fancy Tiger Crafts (aka the most amazing fabric/sewing/knitting/crafting store), and probably many others that I didn’t get the chance to meet.

So, suffice it to say…I didn’t sew anything. I was too busy hanging out and talking life with all of these wonderful women. I decided that week to leave my machine at home because 1) it’s heavy…and 2) I know myself and I wanted to maximize the limited social/fabric shopping time. I did, however, assemble my pattern, cut all of my fabric, and interface all of the appropriate pieces.

Everyone brought projects to work on, and a lot of us were working on bags. I bought the Retro Rucksack pattern last November (after looking at it for a long time), and knew this was the perfect weekend to finally work on it.

I briefly considered designing my own fabric, but a quick look through Hawthorne Threads web site brought me to Erin Dollar’s new line, Arroyo and it was love! I wanted something graphic and black and white so that I could easily add pops of color.

Remnant shopping @winter_session with some favorite people. @heyjunehandmade @mariefleurine @sewjourners @enjoyful_makes @anelementallife

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While in Denver, several of us went to a “garage sale” Winter Session was holding in their warehouse–they were selling waxed canvas scraps, linings, hardware, leather scraps, etc. I found the *perfect* mustard waxed canvas for just a few dollars, and knew it would make the perfect straps for this bag. I also had already planned to wax the bag, so having pre-waxed canvas for the straps made this a lot quicker.

@winter_session remnant sale haul: ticking, waxed canvas, hardware.

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Once home, I got to sewing! I big time love this bag.

I’ll start with the number one reason I love this pattern. It’s a backpack…that converts to a shoulder bag.

So often, I need one or the other, so I switch between a backpack and a cross-body bag.

And that mustard waxed canvas? I’m so, so pleased that I found it. Not only is it the perfect color, but sewing the straps is the first step of the pattern, so I would have had to wax those early on and then taken a long break while they cured. Using pre-waxed canvas for the straps saved me a lot of time.

The colors read a little bit differently here (still trying to find a good photo spot in the new house), but the other fabrics I used shiiiine here. Like I said, I used essex linen from Erin Dollar’s new Arroyo line, purchased from Hawthorne Threads. I loved that the black-on-black gave me a lot of contrast to the upper fabric and will hide dirt really well (because it’s the bottom of the bag), and still gave me pattern. The tossed print on top kind of reminds me of tiny oreos, which is all kinds of awesome. 🙂

The only change I made to the pattern was to the side pockets. I knew they were going to be on the tight side for basically anything I wanted to put there–my phone (the larger iPhone), keys, a slim water bottle, etc. So, I made them two inches wider, pleating it at the center bottom of each pocket, and gathering the extra at the top with a piece of elastic. Now, I can hold all of the things I want.

In addition to the convertible straps, I also love the V on both the front and back of the bag. Next time I sew this pattern, I think I will add a small zippered pocket in the bottom section for small things like my headphones–or maybe even a slip pocket to easily slide my phone in and out of. Because more pockets is always better, no matter how many you have, right?

The pattern also includes an optional recessed zipper (or skip the zipper and roll the top of the bag down). I mostly leave this unzipped, but went ahead and added it for those times that I want to make sure nothing is rolling out (think under airplane seats).

Inside, there’s a large patch pocket (large enough for a small laptop or tablet) and a zipper pocket. I took the diapers and wipes out of my bag for the photo, but let’s keep it real…this bag is full of that kind of stuff most of the time. 😉 I so appreciate the large patch pocket because I always have a notebook with me (never know when inspiration will strike!) and now it’s not getting curled up and bent at the bottom of my bag.

Also! My pins! The “LOVE” sewing machine pin is from Handmade Rebels on Etsy, the cactus pin is from the Target Dollar Spot (yup), and the “Don’t Over Think It” pin is from the Get To Work Book shop.

Sidenote: both the Get To Work Book shop and Erin Dollar of Cotton & Flax are new to me this month, and turns out they’re both local to me in San Diego. How fun is that?

Final note before I end this novel of a post: if you can buy pre-waxed fabric, that is the way I would choose. I did use Otter Wax to wax the exterior of the bag after sewing it up, and it was not my favorite process. It’s great when you have specific non-waxed fabrics you want to use (as I did in this case), but if you have an already-waxed alternative, I would choose that. That’s my two cents!

I’ve sewn a lot of bags in my life (I used to sell them on Etsy), but they have almost all been from my own self-drafted patterns. So, the world of bag patterns is somewhat mysterious to me. I see the draw though! Tell me: what are your favorite bag patterns?

P.S. Happy beginning of Fall!!!


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