Well hello again to all of my lovely followers! I know I’ve been MIA for several months and it has definitely been a weight on my mind! This summer has been wonderful so far, but certainly a busy one! For those of you that don’t know, I spent the better part of May & June working on a wedding dress and 3 bridesmaids dresses for some very special people. That brought many challenges and learning experiences that I’m sure I’ll post about in the near future! So far, July has whizzed by as I chugged through many Etsy orders & outside commissions to get back on track. I thought I’d take a few minutes to share one of my latest and favorite-to-date makes, the DARCY handbag! The pattern is from RLR Creations, which you can find HERE. When I stumbled upon the pattern thanks to Susan Hewitt on Instagram (an extremely talented bag maker from the UK) I instantly fell in love with the adorable doctor bag style. I knew I had to try making one! Luckily, my sister had a birthday coming up and since the Darcy fits her tastes perfectly, this would be a semi-selfless make for me! Now let it be known that in my mind, this was one of my most ambitious projects to date. I say that simply because the pictures make this bag LOOK complicated, don’t they?? I may have made ball gowns and wedding dresses, but never something with hardware and shaping quite like this. For those of you that might be worried it is over your head, I say FEAR NOT! The sewing instructions are rather straight forward and I am confident even newer seamstresses can tackle it. The first thing I did upon receiving my pattern via email was to print out the pattern pieces at the end of the PDF file. It took me a bit to decode what I was looking at, so hopefully I can make it easier on those of you who want to try for yourselves. The only pages you need to print are the last 3 in the file (labeled Pages 1, 2, and 3). If you choose to use a contrast fabric that won’t unravel (like vinyl, leather, etc.) then you don’t need to use the printed piece G, M, or the 2nd piece A that says “use for fabric” on the last page. Basically, this last page allows for a seam allowance to fold back the raw edges of a woven fabric. If you’re using a vinyl, you can leave the raw edges exposed because they won’t unravel. Since I made mine with the latter, I only needed the first A piece, B/F, D from page 1, and piece B from page 2. Now you may be thinking, surely this bag calls for more pieces, right?? Well you’ll find that the rest of them are merely rectangles with the sizes listed on 4 of the PDF under “additionally cut list”. I found this extremely straight forward along with page 26, which helps ensure you cut your pieces in the correct direction. There are a LOT of pieces, so just know that cutting and fusing does take a while!One discrepancy I did find was that materials list at the beginning doesn’t mention the need for buying fusible Peltex, but you will need enough for piece B/F that you printed out. This is the really thick stuff that goes in the bottom of the bag to hold its shape. I actually didn’t realize I needed this until after shopping and cutting everything out. The LAST thing I wanted to do was run back to the fabric store, so I started digging around my house to see what I might substitute. For my bag I ended up using a piece of hard plastic (cut to the right shape) that I found in one of those nice reusable grocery totes. I’ve made a few of these handbags now and I actually like the sturdiness of this better than the Peltex! You just have to cut it a teeny bit smaller and be careful not to sew through or your might break a needle. In addition to fabrics, you need to think about what hardware to use for this project. I spent WAY too many hours trying to find the best & most cost effective options from various sites & shops, only to come back to the company suggested by RLR Creations – soyouneedhardware.com – and I would recommend simply going through them if you want nice and affordable hardware. This is the only site that sells the bag frames you need for this pattern and since it’s flat rate shipping, you might as well get everything in one place! I also highly recommend paying for their package kits only if you want to add the optional shoulder strap to your bag. I found it cheaper to buy my own zippers elsewhere and purchase the items individually from their site since I didn’t want the shoulder strap on my bag. However, they do have some lovely metallic coil zippers that look spectacular. I ended up using one for my 2nd bag. For the first, I fortunately found a double pull coil purse zipper in the correct length from Joanns. On a side note, I want to warn you -DO NOT use the zippers with metal teeth!! (The bag on the left in the picture below has a metal zipper… this was taken before I changed it out.) I thought this would be a great option for my 2nd bag only to complete the entire darn thing and realize that the zipper heads got stuck trying to go around the curves created by the bag frames. After having to step away in frustration, I decided to rip them out and replace with a coil teeth zipper. After all, who would actually use a bag that was so irritating to try and zip up EVERY time?!?
As I mentioned before, the sewing instructions are really easy to follow. Just be sure to watch the parts that give you options and follow the correct one for your case. Also know that a few things can be flexible, like the size of your inside pockets or the length of your handles. Make these adjustments before cutting your fabrics. You’ll also notice that I used metal rivets on my handles. If you chose to do this, I would also recommend stitching to secure them permanently and then adding the rivets for aesthetic reasons only.
For the most part, I was shocked at how easy and quick it was to create this handbag! All together it probably took me 6ish hours for my first attempt and I gained a lot of confidence to try making other handbags and wallets in the future. If you’re on the fence, definitely give this awesome pattern a try. Feel free to send me any questions you might have and I’d be happy to assist!