Swoon Vivian Sewalong Day 2: Exterior

Day 2! Today we will work through completing the exterior. This is a long day, you may need to split it up between two or three days depending on how much time you get to sew and how speedy you are.

Grab a Handle piece.  Fold the piece in half-hot dog style.


Open it up and fold each raw edge toward the center fold.


Fold the piece again on the original middle fold line.  Repeat for the other handle/connector piece for the handbag size and the other handle and both connector pieces for the traveler size.


Handbag final width is 3/4″. Traveler final width is 1″.

We will top stitch down each long end of all handles and connector pieces.  I highly recommend using either a top stitching foot (on left) or a walking foot (right) for top stitching.IMG_3817

Top stitch down each long edge.  Repeat for other handles and connector pieces (for traveler).IMG_3818

For the handbag size: Grab one of your handle pieces and cut a 16″ long piece and 2- 12″ pieces.  Repeat for other 40″ handle.  In the end,you will have 2-16″ pieces and 4- 12″ pieces (pictured below).

For the traveler size: Grab a 40″ stripe and cut in half to 2- 20″ lengths.  Grab both 32″ stripes and cut both in half making 4-16″ handle connectors.



Take a loop and one of the handle connectors (you’ll have 4 loops and 4 handle connectors) and slide a loop on one end, folding the connector on to the wrong side by 1″.  IMG_3820

Stitch just below the loop to secure the loop on.  (I use my zipper foot for this.)


Repeat for the 3 other handle connectors and 3 loops.  Line them all up so the loops are even.  check that the bottoms of the connectors are even.  Trim any connector that is too long.  You want to ensure your connectors are all the exact same length.IMG_3822

Grab a main panel and fold in half. You actually want to fold the panel wrong sides together (NOT like I did here).  The foam makes the fabric bunch up so you won’t get an accurate mid line crease if you fold right sides together.  Folding wrong sides together, you can ensure a more accurate mid line. Hand crease or use a soluble marking pen to mark the center of the panel.


For the handbag, measure 1.75″ to the right and left of the center line.  For the Traveler measure 2.5″ on the right and left of the center line. I like to measure at the bottom of the bag and in the middle. Draw two vertical lines. For the handbag, measure up 11″ from the bottom on each side of the of the center line along each vertical lines and mark.  For the traveler, measure up 15″ from the bottom on each of your vertical lines and mark. I realize it’s difficult to see, look hard and you’ll see my two purple lines.


Take a connector with a loop on it and pin the connector so the connectors are on the outsides of the lines you just drew but following along the line.  Pin in place with big pins.  Double check the top of of your loops are even with each other.


Starting at the bottom of the bag, sew up one side of the connector following your previous stitch line. I use a long-ish (3) stitch for this and my walking foot.IMG_3826

When you get to your original stitching line for the loop, turn your bag and stitch over that stitching.IMG_3827

Sew down the other side, following the previous stitching by 2 stitches.IMG_3828

Turn your work again and stitch across the connector piece back to the first side.IMG_3829

Stitch down by 2 stitches again.IMG_3830

Turn your work again to stitch back to the second side. These three stitch lines will provide extra support when carrying a heavy bag. When you get to the other side, then stitch all the down the other long side of the connector.  Repeat for connector on the other side of panel.  Repeat measuring, drawing, and sewing connectors to the other exterior panel.IMG_3831

Pin both top exterior panels right sides together.  along the straight long edge without the foam.


Measure 1/2″ from each of the sides.


With a 1″ seam allowance sew along the top panels right along the foam, but not through it.  Stitch the first 1/2″, until your mark with a regular stitch.  Back stitch. Change to a basting stitch (5 length or the longest your machine will go) and stitch until you reach the next 1/2″ mark. IMG_3837

When you reach the 1/2″ mark on the other end, change to a regular stitch (2.5″ ish length), back stitch, stitch to end and back stitch again.IMG_3838

Open up the top panels and press the seam open.IMG_3839

Now we will put the zipper on the top panels.  I like to use kids glue. The purple stuff that dies clear.  Or you can use clear scotch tape, or both!IMG_3840

Put a healthy amount of glue on the wrong side of the panels along the fabric.IMG_3841

Place the zipper face down so the teeth aline in the middle of the seam allowance.IMG_3842

If you are using tape, the place stripes of scotch tape along the length of the zipper. As the picture below.
If you have used glue, wait a few minutes for it to dry before proceeding to the next step.  Perfect time for a coffee/tea and snack break.  I don’t eat while I sew-learned the lesson the hard way.  Off you go for that chocolate fix.  Don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards!IMG_3843

Snap your zipper foot on and flip the top panels to the right side.  Sew down each long side of the zipper at 3/8″ allowance from the seam.IMG_3844


I’m over cautious when opening my basting stitches.  Look closely and find where you basting stitches start on one end, and pop a few of those basting stitches open.  Very careful to not open the 1/2″ regular stitching on the end!IMG_3846

Open up a few on the other end to.IMG_3847

Take your seam ripper and gently slide it along the basting stitches until you’ve reached the other end that you have already opened.  The reason I open a few on each end is so I don’t accidentally rip open my regular stitch in the heat of the moment. PS-the sharp pointy end of your seam ripper should be UP , not in your fabric.  The ball part should be on the underside.  This is to avoid ripping little holes in your fabric.  The pointy end is only to pop open the first stitch.IMG_3848

Take a picture of your children nicely reading books together.  (How’d this photo get in with my sewalong???) But AHH, right!IMG_3851

Now your zipper is on and open.  Set aside.IMG_3852

Grab your two exterior main panels and place them right sides together.


Make sure the connectors aline perfectly. Pin.  Aline the second set of connectors.  Pin. IMG_3856

Then pin the rest of the bag.  This will ensure your connectors will line up perfectly.  If the edges of your bag are off a little, that’s ok.  We have a 1/2″ seam allowance to play with when sewing it all together.IMG_3857

Sew the bottom of the exterior panels together with 1/2″ seam allowance.  You can either trim the seam allowance OR you can press it open and…IMG_3858

top stitch along each side of the bottom seam at 1/4″ away from the seam.IMG_3859

It looks pretty!IMG_3860

Optional purse feet! Along the seam allowance you just sewed on the wrong side of the panels, measure down 2″ (3.5″ for Traveler).  Make a dot on both sides of the bottom seam.  Repeat for the other side as well.


Move your ruler to be perpendicular to the seam now and aline with your first set of dots.  Measure 1.5″ (2.5″ for Traveler) out from the seam on both sides of the seam.  Now I have 4 purple dots in a row but we will only be using the two outer dots. Repeat on other end of panels.IMG_3867

Take a purse foot disc thingymajiggy and place on top of one of the outer dots.  I use an Xacto knife to cut the slits open.  Repeat for the three other feet.IMG_3868

From the right side of the bag, slide your foot feet through the slits and through the discs.  Repeat for other side of your bag panels.IMG_3869


OMGEE!  This day is still not over!  If you need to go to sleep, this is a good stopping point for you.

If you’ve been rockin’ the coffee since 10pm, then let’s keep going!

Take all of your side pocket pieces.  Get one exterior and 1 interior.  Place right sides together and pin along top.  Repeat for the other exterior and interior pieces.


Sew along the top only.

Trim seam allowance.


Open ‘er up!


Press the seam allowance open.  This will help get a nice smooth turn and finish.IMG_3875

Flip the pieces wrong sides together and give another good press.IMG_3876

Top stitch along top at 1/4″.IMG_3877

Baste the sides and bottom at 1/4″. Repeat for the other exterior/interior side pockets.  Set aside.IMG_3878

Take the top panels and one of the Bottom side Panels.  Pin right sides together along the short straight edge. Stitch at 1/2″ seam allowance.IMG_3879

Top stitch the seam allowance down towards the bottom panel.IMG_3880

Fold the bottom panel in half and mark the bottom middle.  See my tiny purple mark at the bottom?  yea, I can’t either really.IMG_3881

Take one of your side pockets, fold in half and find the center bottom. Mark there too.IMG_3883

Place the side pocket on top of the bottom panel.IMG_3885

Match bottom center marks and pin together at that place.IMG_3886The pocket is slightly bigger than the bottom panel (width and height).  Align the top of the pocket raw edge with the raw edge of the bottom/top panel. The pocket will be taller than the bottom panel .  Pin both top sides as the picture below.

Now pin the the sides of the pocket to the bottom panel.IMG_3888

Baste the pocket to the side panel at 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat for the other pocket piece and the other side of the side of the top/bottom panel.  It will look like a very large feminine hygiene product now.IMG_3889

Piping.  Yes do it.  Don’t be scared.  I don’t want to see a single person say they are scared of piping.

Take an end of piping, rip open a few stitches and peel it like a banana. Cut about 1″ of cording off.IMG_3890

Pull the peel back up. You’ll see why in a few…IMG_3891

Remember that bottom center mark you made on the pocket piece? Now find the place in your piping where your cording starts inside the bias tape-about 1″ in.  IMG_3892

Pin that starting place where your bottom center mark is.    The 1″ non-corded part of the tape hangs off to the left of the bottom center. Purple mark is where my piping starts and that is aligned with the bottom center mark.IMG_3893

Start pinning the piping all the way around the “pad”. On the corners, you may need to make tiny little snips 1/8″ into the seam allowance of the piping to help it turn nicely.IMG_3894

Now, when you get back to the beginning, cut your piping so it ends at the same place as your CORDING at the beginning starts (that tiny purple mark two photos up). Let it hang loose for the moment.IMG_3895

Slap your zipper foot (or piping foot) on your machine.IMG_3896

Pull the end of your piping out of the way.  Starting at the original purple mark (where the cording at the beginning starts).  DO NOT sew the non-corded bias tape part yet!
Move your needle position to the far left, start sewing the piping to the pad starting at that purple mark.IMG_3897

Take it slow around those corners.  Get it nice and tight.  Following the existing stitching line on the piping tape. I use my fingers to hold it in place and the needle becomes dangerously close to my hand.  Don’t do this if you aren’t comfortable.  I can’t be liable for needles through finger tips!IMG_3898

When you get pretty close to the end, stop and pause.IMG_3899

Take the end sans cording.  Fold the raw edge to the inside by 1/2″.IMG_3900

Place the corded end into the cordless end.IMG_3901

Lay the corded into into the cordless end.  (Repeat of above? yes, basically. Just follow the pictures.)IMG_3902

Sammich up the corded end into the cordless end.  The raw edge tucked in nice and neat!

Finish sewing that baby up!IMG_3904

Piping done and painless.IMG_3905

OMGEEE!  This day is still not over.  If you need to sleep, again, go do so for your own sanity.

Too bad Dunkin Donuts doesn’t deliver, eh?

Fold the top panel in half, matching bottom panels.  Mark the center mark of the top panel on either side (see my pins at the top??)

Place pins in the bottom center as well (on each side). IMG_3909

Grab one of your beautiful main panels.  Fold in half , mark the top center on each side.IMG_3910

Align the bottom center of the the top panel with the bottom seam allowance of your main panels.  See picture below if that did not make sense.IMG_3911

Pin in place.  Here is the reverse picture that may or may not help. Repeat for the other pad end with the other side of your main panels.IMG_3912

Now match the top panel center pin with the corresponding main panel center pin.  Make sure your top panels are not twistedIMG_3913

Now pin each side of the top panel to the main panel.  Only pin one side (bottom center up and around one main panel to the bottom center of the other side).  The other main panel gets no action right now.IMG_3914

Stitch that side in place, following your piping stitching at 1/2″ seam allowance. Start at the bottom center of the top panel up and around the main panel down and stop sewing once you reach other other center of the bottom panel.IMG_3915

Smoosh those corners down and in place.IMG_3916

Stop sewing at the other bottom center pin placement.IMG_3917

Turn that side right side out and double check everything is beautiful.

Flip it wrong side out again and repeat for the other main panel and top panel.  Remember to pin the center pins together first then pin along either side. Sew in place.IMG_3919

Turn right side out and double check.  If there is anything you are unsatisfied with, pop open those stitches and re-do.  Once all is 100% acceptable, trim the seam allowance and snip the corners.IMG_3920You are FINALLY done with day two!  See ya tomorrow!