I purchased Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing ages ago; I suppose it was around the time I got my sewing machine. I was drawn to the clean designs, the beautiful fabrics, and the idea of sewing lovely gifts for my family and friends.
As you can guess, that didn’t happen. I bought fabric to make some things, and then for whatever reason, like happens so often, life and other hobbies got in the way. The book sat on my shelf; the fabric stayed in a plastic bin under my bed. And I went for years without an apron, cute potholders, and charming totes.
I had my first free weekend post-yoga teacher training over Easter, and out of nowhere, I had an overwhelming desire to sew. I think it’s the time of year; the warmer weather often seems to have me wanting to work with fabric. Things that are not good when I’m itching to sew: a project that takes forever, like the quilt I started…a while ago. I pulled out Simple Sewing and started flipping through – and I remembered that I could really use a yoga mat bag.
Easy pattern? Check.
Heavier-weight cotton? Check.
Several hours of sewing time? Check.
I made a few changes to the pattern to make it a little more finished – and thus, a little less simple. (Note: I am not an advanced sewist by any means, so my changes were still within the realm of fairly basic.)
First, I changed the pocket to make the outside and the inside of it two different fabrics; the original pattern called for one longer piece of matching fabric folded over and sewed onto the bag. To do this, I halved the size of the pocket fabric called for by the pattern, then added a 1/2-inch seam allowance to that number. Placing the two pocket fabrics right side together, I first sewed my extra seam, and then I followed the pattern for the rest.
Next, I added a lining to the inside of the bag. I’m not completely thrilled with how I did it, as I mistakenly assembled it so that the seam allowance isn’t hidden, but then again, who’s really looking inside the bag that closely anyway? My approach was to cut the lining fabric the same size as the outer fabric, and then sew the bag together as if the two pieces were one. It worked out quite well except for that pesky seam allowance issue.
Finally, rather than use a cord of some type for the tie closure at the top, I sewed my own from the pocket and lining fabric. I cut a piece of fabric the suggested length of the cord and about 1-1/2 inches wide. I folded the two lengthwise cut edges so that they met at the center, and then folded the whole length in half (hiding the cut edges) and stitched it all together. Once I threaded it through the top, I tied a knot in each end.
I’ll definitely be using this book again – and the bag all the time!