How to Make a Ramona Flowers Subspace Purse (if you know nothing about making Purses) – Part Two!

Part Two!

Ready for Part Two? Preparation is over. It’s time to get your hands dirty (that is, poked and abused by pins).

[Are you confused? Click here.]

Putting it Together

We used two layers of fabric for the middle section, so we stuck the cardboard between those two layers.

The purse, when all is said and done, is entirely too floppy to function. I lined everything with thin cardboard off boxes of envelopes from the Office Depot–they have roughly the same thickness of two pieces of poster board together. I cut out two circles of ten inches in diameter, two strips of 2″x16″, two trips of 2″x4″, and one strip of 4″x16″. I stick them in the purse between the lining and the duck cloth. I put in the circular cardboard bits after most of the things were stitched up. Since you have to sew up everything from the outside, turning it right side out is very very difficult with the bits of cardboard in them. I leave about three inches open, roll up the cardboard, shove it into the thing, unroll it and flatten it up. The cardboard around the middle can be put in ahead of time as you’re sewing it up.

We’re going to move on by doing the middle section to the front. This is a bit complicated, so get your focus pants on. I’ll wait.

Ready? Put your layers in this order:

  1. Lining for the middle
  2. The middle (duck canvas)
  3. The piping
  4. The Front (duck canvas)
  5. Lining for the front.

Before you pin, I would cut the middle portion in half, as where the top and bottom come together, we’re going to insert the tiny bits for the strap.

Now, pin all this nonsense together; everything should be this weird cylindrical shape with the pins showing on the lining side. You’ll have to trim the piping. I did not do this very neatly, but essentially, you cut the piping to almost where you need it, and then fold one part on top of the other, removing some of the cotton part in the middle, and then just go ahead and sew all those pieces together so you have a complete circle to work with.

I found it easiest to pin the lining to the front circle, so as to ensure they wouldn’t come unmatched.

This is what it should look like from the outside. But remember to always work from the inside of the purse.

For the part where the two edges meet, just make sure your circle measures to about where you want it, and then pin the edges together–all that extra space we left at the end is for this purpose.

You can begin to sew at this point. Get as close to the piping as you can–definitely check at all points that you are sewing all five layers together. The piping is teeny tiny, so it’s hard to tell whether or not you’re getting it. I’m sure this is all going to be pretty simple to run through the sewing machine. So I did it all by hand. Yep. I know. I’m a nutter. There isn’t a bit of this that I did by hand.

If you're sewing close enough to the piping, the outside of your purse should look like this.

This is definitely not a couple-hour task, sports fans, so be wary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up and just try to get that purse on Etsy. But with perseverance and good company, I survived getting my fingers pricked at least four dozen times and sewed the whole damn thing together. I felt like I actually accomplished something… that is, until I realized that I had just spent about four hours hand sewing the purse and I wasn’t even half way done. Fun stuff!

An outside view of the strap holder.

When you’ve got it all sewn up together, it kind of looks like a lemon. You should have two flaps on either side where the two portions come together. Don’t have stitched this together yet. You’ll need to insert the portion for the strap in there, halfway in the fabric. I took a bit of the fabric I had set aside for the strap and used this. I folded it in half, folding in the sides as well to create smooth edges on both sides. The whole strip ended up being 1.5″x5″, which I then folded over, inserted the strap metal thing, and pinned into the fabric. Sew all of this together with a little portion of the strap fabric sticking out. I sewed all of this about three times round because I didn’t want any part of it falling apart.

This was a pain in the neck.

When it comes to putting the zipper on the top, I saw one of two ways of doing it, and I’m not sure which one is more effective. What I did was attach it after the two pieces were connected. I figured it would be easier to judge the middle of the half-circle if I already had it pieced together. Before you set about sewing the zipper in, slide in the pieces of cardboard you’ve got cut out. I measured the zipper portions to just about 2×16″, but you’ll have to eyeball it. Those cover the long way, and then I have the 2×4″ pieces to fit perpendicularly up by the strap area. These will help tremendously keeping the purse from sagging. I cut out a line down the middle of the fabric and lining, about 12 inches in length. At the edges, I cut perpendicular lines, less than half an inch across, so when I folded the two sections over, it left a small opening to attach the zipper to. Stitch that up from the bottom, so’s all the thread bottoms are in the inside of the purse. I go around the whole thing twice, just for extra reinforcement.

       

Then I attached the back of the purse to the middle. We put a zipper and pocket in the back. I attached the fabric to the zipper first before sewing the pocket together. For the pocket, we just folded the fabric lining in two and sewed the edges together. The lining will go over the pocket, which will be attached when the whole thing gets sewn to the middle bit of the purse. I used blue thread because I thought the contrast would look cool on the nugrey. I considered doing it for the whole thing, but I forgot after a while, so that’s the only bit I did blue.

When attaching the remaining outer pieces together, follow the exact procedures as the front side. I used the embroidery circle to ensure that everything was keeping a circular shape. That is the hardest thing to keep up, this whole time. Be careful how you’re putting them together, because one time I accidentally pinned the back wrong, where the zipper was upside down. Not good.

Now you can turn your purse right side out, pulling the fabric through the zipper on the middle portion. Be careful not to bend any of the cardboard you’ve put in round the middle. Then I got to work on the strap.

The strap measures about 1.5″ in width, and the length varies based on what you had left from preparation. Mine was long enough to warrant a strap adjuster, but you can cut yours short enough to keep it just one length. One of the ends you loop around the strap holder and sew it together. The other end, you’re going to either do the same, or loop one end in the strap adjuster, from the top, moving down, looping into the strap holder, then back up to the strap adjuster, where you sew it around the middle ring.

So. Now that you’ve got everything turned right side out, fold back the purse and shove down that cardboard into the front and back circular panels and close up those holes.

AND THEN YOU ARE DONE!

Do you feel validated? ‘Cause I sure did!

Here’s some general things I’ve noticed:

  • Duck cloth attracts fuzzy stuff. You might look into different types of fabric, that is just as thick.
  • If you don’t fold over the fabric to cover the edges, the edges fray.
  • Sewing things by hand sucks, but five layers of fabric is probably difficult to go through with a sewing machine.
  • Lots of layers bend pins. Make sure you have plenty.
  • Find good things to watch on Netflix while you’re working! I recommend Doctor Who, Sports Night, and Parks and Rec. Those got me through some tough times.

Check this action shot!

 

 

 

 

 

Questions, comments, clarifications, concerns, wisecracks for the Guide? Hit the comments below.

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How to Make a Ramona Flowers Subspace Purse (if you know nothing about making purses)

An image of Ramona’s bag from the Scott Pilgrim set

Part One!

Those who know me are probably pretty tired of experiencing my Scott Pilgrim phase through facebook status updates and general conversation. I’ve read all six books, read all of the short strips, seen the movie, and downloaded the soundtrack. So naturally, the next course of action for a fan such as myself is to construct my very own Ramona Flowers outfit (modeled after the picture to the left) for use at Halloween and/or Dragon*Con. Among the most important aspect of this outfit is the Subspace Purse. It has an infinite capacity, has in-verse importance to the plot… and let’s be honest. It is REALLY cool.

So because I don’t have $120 to spend on the really really nice purse I have pictured below (that is, incidentally, Bryan Lee O’Malley approved), I enlisted my best friend Taylor–who not only has a sewing machine but is something of an artistic genius–to help me on my quest to make the world’s awesomest purse. Useful for not only fashion, but also stowing large hammers (+2 against girls) and Scott Pilgrims, but also in the event that I need to make an escape through Subspace. Because these things happen in real life, you guys.

farfallagialla’s Etsy Purse

I decided to stay with this general color pattern because I like it much better than the really blue and hot pink version that I have seen with comic Ramona. We have set about our mad task, and, of course, if you are reading this blog post now, it means that we were ultimately successful and the following instructions may not be the most efficient way to get it done, but it is very craft-ignorant friendly (that’s me, I’m the one who’s craft-ignorant).

If you’re thinking about pursuing this, read all of the directions before you get started, because I have some parts where you can choose what you want to do first based on how you want to go about it.

Purse Dimensions

  • 11″ diameter
  • 4.5″ deep
  • 10″ star
  • Strap length yet to be determined

Materials for the Purse:

  • 24″x60″ Duck Canvas Fabric, NuGrey
  • 12″x60″ Cotton Fabric, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle
  • 2″x60″ Cotton Fabric, Symphony Black
  • 24″x60″ Apparel Lining, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle/Whatevs (get funky if you can)
  • 1 package of 0.5″x2.5 yd Maxi Piping, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle
  • 10″ embroidery ring (optional, but SUPER handy)
  • 1 12″ Zipper, NuGrey (or 2, if you plan to do the back zipper)
  • 2 1.5″ Rectangle Rings, Silver
  • 1 1.5″ Strap Adjuster, Silver

All of these materials were found at our local Joann Fabric and Craft store (with the exception of the strap adjuster, which is available online on amazon.com–the website address is amazon.com, Scott) for roughly $30. I’m assuming that you already have a sewing machine and will therefore not need to factor in that cost. Taylor’s sewing machine is ‘Vintage’, which is just a nice way of saying, ‘Doesn’t work 80% of the time’.

Materials for the Preparation:

  • Ruler and/or T-Square
  • Compass for Circle Drawing (or a large bowl)
  • Compass for Angle Drawing
  • Sharp Scissors of Sharpness (did I mention they should be sharp?)
  • Iron with Ironing Board
  • Tape Measure
  • Fabric pencil or light colored pencil
  • Calculator (or your brain, paper, and pencil)
  • Patience and/or a good sense of humor

And so it begins!

Preparation

We spent about six hours total driving, shopping, driving, going back because we forgot a zipper, driving some more, making measurements, and cutting for preparation. So if you’re a little more organized than us, you might not need as long. But this is definitely an all day kind of activity.

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to go ahead and iron all of your material. Then everything looks all nice. If you don’t know how to iron and/or you don’t have an iron, it’s not the end of the world. Just try to move around any creases. But I’ll bet you your mom and/or somebody else’s mom has an ironing board and would be more than happy to demonstrate if you promise to do some ironing for them.

First we figured how large I wanted my bag to be, which was more or less 11 inches. This is where having a rather large compass comes in handy. We didn’t have one, so we scoured Taylor’s kitchen until we found a bowl that measured exactly 11 inches.

This forms the front and back circles for the purse.

Fold your Duck Canvas in half.  Trace the circle toward the top of the fabric, next to the edges that are touching. Don’t trace on the side by the fold–it’ll be easier to cut out both circles for the front and back of the purse. When you’re tracing, you’ll want to make sure that you leave at the very least one inch of fabric around your circle. This extra border will be integral in the sewing to come.  You should have two circles drawn on your fabric–one with diameter of 11″, and with with a diameter of at least 13″.

Don’t worry too much about markings on your fabric. Anything you write on will be covered with lining later, so have no fears about writing any measurements down on the cloth or labeling what piece is what.

The bottom portion of your canvas will become the portion that holds these two circles together as well as the strap. We’ll worry about the strap later.

So getting to the middle of the portion is when you’re gonna bust out the maths. You’ll need to figure out the circumference of your purse. The equation for the circumference is the diameter times π (3.14….). So we figured that with a circumference of 11, we were more or less looking at 35″ of fabric, and then we added about three inches in order to account for the flaps to fold down and sew together and the fact that the strap must be inserted into the middle portion… and, let’s face it,  you’ll always want extra room in the event of screw ups.

Measuring out the middle.

So here’s where your T-square and/or ruler comes in. Measure about 38″ long (for this, you’ll unfold the canvas) by about 5.5″ (4.5″ depth with .5″ on either side to account for sewing space) If your cloth is long enough (the canvas from Joann isn’t), a 6.5″ strip is preferred just in case you make an error. You can always trim these flaps later when all is said and sewn.

Your fabric should have the front/back and the middle traced.

When you’ve gotten over all of your anxieties about making mistakes on your measurements and drawings and such, you get to cut! If you’re feeling brazen, go ahead and refold the canvas and cut out both circles simultaneously.

If you’re not so sure (like us),  fold the canvas over like before and cut out the one circle on the top part of the fabric. Then retrace the circles and such on the bottom portion of the fabric (that is still folded). We cut out a square around our circle and then cut all the points of the square off. We found it was easier that way.  So of what’s left, you’ll have an odd L-shape. Go ahead and cut the middle portion off the bottom of the fabric. Whatever’s left will go into the strap. So just sit the leftovers aside for now.

The middle portion!

So now we kicked back to the ironing board to iron up our circles. We took all of the flaps and ironed them up in a circle, which we figured might help for the sewing. It was ultimately unnecessary, but nice to have.

Cutting out the circles

Now! If you have a compass for drawing angles–we didn’t; how grossly under-prepared were we to do this?–then you can use it for drawing the star! We were figuring the whole star would measure about 10″.So what you’ll want to do is cut out the blue star around 9″. Each angle of the star needs to be 72 degrees.

We cheated. Print and trace a star.

You can do all that math-y stuff to figure it out. OR. If you’re a cheater, like us, you can find a perfect star off of Google Images, resize it to 9″, print it, and lay it under the cloth, and trace it (the cotton we picked was see-through-ish). Either way. Measure and cut your blue star.

Trace the lining and cut it out to be the same size as the canvas.

Now to mess with the lining for the inside of the purse. The lining can pretty much be the same size as the front/back covers made in the duck canvas. So just get you the bowl/compass/already cut bit of fabric again, measure out that circle in 11 inches, then get you a nice border of at least an inch. Rinse and repeat with the cutting. Don’t forget to make lining for the middle section as well.

Now the Etsy purse has a zipper in the back. We are attempting to do that, but I’ll be honest… I have no idea what we’ve done or how we did it, but it seems to be working well so far. However. Doing it is a HUGE pain in the neck. Empire State Building huge, so I don’t have any instructions. Wing it at your own risk. I’ll post some pictures, but essentially your guess is as good as ours on how it’s accomplished.

Sewing

The first bit of sewing I did was to the lining for the front of the purse. I created three types of pockets–one for my phone, one for cards/IDs/cash, and three slots for writing implements–just things I wouldn’t want to get lost in the chaos of the bottom of a lady purse (ladies, you know). So I got this embroidery ring thing that has become super useful. At JoAnn, they only come in even sizes, so I got the 10″ one for my 11″ purse. It has come in handy for keeping the fabric taut, so’s to eliminate any bubbliness and wrinkles. I pinned out what I wanted to do as far as pockets, folding in less than half an inch of fabric to make everything smooth and even. The easiest way I found to measure was to simply pin around the items going in the pockets.

Yay organization!

It’s important to get the pieces centered on your lining–if you sketched the circle as we did above, that shouldn’t be too hard. This looks kind of off-center in the picture, but only because I was tugging the fabric to increase tautness. I’m not going to say ‘taut’ anymore after this.

The top star has been folded over and pinned to give smooth edges.

Then I moved onto attaching the star to the front portion of the purse. The material we used for the star, as mentioned previously, was a little see-through, so we cut out two stars to combine.

I decided to only do one go-round with the sewing, so after pinning these two, I added the tiny black border the purse has. I had to get rid of these pins first before I could pin the black, so I’m not sure it

Because I am entirely too cheap to purchase a thick block of fabric, the nice lady gave us a thin strip as a 'free sample'. I do not recommend being cheap.

was a good idea to pin this stuff first. But the issue I was having was keeping the two stars together without pins before the black, so I just pinned, unpinned, and repinned and stabbed myself like 203 times, but it worked out okay.

If you can recreate a solid black star to put behind the blue one, good for you! Do it! I only left a couple of centimeters for a border. I was also very frustrated at the time, so I didn’t do any actual measuring. Mine looks absolutely dreadful because I was not using sharp scissors! Let that be a lesson to ye! Dull scissors rip fabric!

It looks so Seussian.

I did one go-round of the star sewing it together. I figured that in sewing the star to the purse, the stitching would be reinforced there. I used periwinkle-colored thread and I didn’t have any sort of fancy-dance stitch. After that bit of sewing was over, I pinned the star to about the middle of the circle. The embroidery circle worked yet again to keep everything straight. The star sewed on a little puffier than I’d have liked–so be careful and try to keep everything as taut (damn) as humanly possible.

Looks good, neh? Attached cat is optional.

So that’s all for now!

Halloween 2010 has come and gone and I did wear my Ramona Flowers outfit (regrettably sans purse) to a Halloween party with much success!

Continue to Part Two?

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Questions, comments, clarifications, concerns, wisecracks for the Guide so far? Hit the comments below.