Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Post Retreat (sigh)...But Project Complete!

So sad when retreat comes to an end....  Once again - I took WAY too much stuff.   HAHAHAHA! Go figure...  BIG Surprise. 

However... I legitimately only had one project goal in mind and I can proudly say that THAT got accomplished. It took about 3 days to pick the fabrics I wanted to use out of my stash.  But once I pulled EVERYTHING came to me.  That AHA moment, when you have found exactly what you were looking for.  Unfortunately, it took rethinking every planned project pile in my sewing room, and several already in progress piles to find it.   But I wiped 2 UFO's that I was no longer interested in and used a beige mini polka-dot, that's been in my stash since the beginning of time, that I thought I'd never, ever use.

So here's the story.....I bought a purse from Walmart a while back and it has been the BANE of my existance.   It's like the bottomless pit of purses.   It didn't matter which section of the purse I put something was gone.   Poof!   Every day it was hunt for car keys, "where's my lighter??", what the heck happened to that $20 bill??... I would only find things after the third or fourth pass of the abyss and even then, I had to practically dump the entire thing out on the table to even find my keys, my phone, my bank card.  UGH.  In addition to this black hole of a bag, I was carrying an additional book sized tote bag to keep my new-found love - safe and sound.   My iPad.  

I swore to myself that when I finally got out of my "no-sew" rut, the first thing I was going to make was the MOTHER of all purses.   It took me most of the weekend, but I was bound and determined to GET-ER-DONE....

So first - I DUMPED my purse out on the table - and threw it away.  (That felt REALLY good).  Assessed the items that I tend to like carrying with me and then....measured my iPad.  Comfortably 8x10.   This would be the nexus of the bag.

  After a TON of Math - dreaming, thinking, adding pockets and features for the specific things that I like to ULTIMATE PURSE was born.
(can't you just hear the angels singing when you look at this?? - I sure do...)
And all my CRAP....including my precious iPad....fits perfectly in each little designated space.

So here's what I did.   I pulled out my pattern for "The Professional Tote" and went hunting the web for the Designer.    Found her!   Laura Martell at "The Creative Thimble" I browsed to the "Contact Us" page and immediately wrote to her desperately seeking the super secret formula to reduce her pattern with the center zipper pocket as the focus size to fit my iPad.  Cuz everybody wants to right?!?!?!

Laura, bless her heart, got back to me in less than 24 hours.    Now, I'll have you know that she was much more interested in joining us at our retreat house on the lake, but needless to say, she hadn't tried to reduce the size of the tote and tried to think it through with me.  In theory, I thought "reduce everything by 2 1/2 inches".  Voila!  Right?!?!  Yeah - probably not so much..  She quickly identified that pieces #2 and #3 shouldn't be altered one way, and #3 & 10.....yeah.    Good luck and have fun!  HAHAHA!  Send pictures!  Geez - thanks Laura.  <grin>

So then I texted my mathamagician genius friend Dee all in CAPS ....that I had an emergency math problem.   And like the geek that she is, within seconds, called with pen and paper in hand.   (dork.  lol)   So we measured the FINISHED center pocket (because I've already made a full size Professional Tote) and started reducing from there.  Dee helped me determine to get the center pocket to best fit my iPad was to reduce EVERY measurement in the 20%.   So I copied the "tag" pages of the pattern on my printer and started doing the math.    Converted everything to decimals then multiplied by .80.  Found an engineering chart somewhere on line that gave me fraction equivalents in inches, and started changing all the measurements.

WARNING - Measure TWICE......Cut ONCE
I rechecked every calculation THREE times before I started cutting into fabric.   Very smart of me don't you think?   Good think too, cuz I screwed up in 2 places.
Then, and only then, was I ready to pack for retreat.  HA!  I went carefully down the list of required materials and checked them off one by one.   A quick stop at Joann's on my way out of town for 4 yards of black nylon "Strap" and I was off.
Once I got the fabric & interfacing cut out and fused together, I started to get very creative with the inside of the bag.   I love the front pocket with the lined pocket behind the lined zipper pocket, so I decided to make a double one on the inside.  Seperated it with a piece of fabric covered strap and added a kewl key fob.

Then - I added an extra layer of batting between the pieces for that inner zipper pocket to keep my iPad EXTRA safe.  The pleated pocket with the flap was a MUST for my charger & cable, because that's bulky.

Two lined pockets on either side of the inner pocket (instead of the vinyl see-through thingy" and viola!   She is done!  Once loaded back up again, I added an additional magnetic snap to the top because I knew I would never zip the thing shut, even though I ensured that the top zipper was added just in case I did want to shut it up tight.  :-)

Next Project?   The Quilters Wallet to match!  


  1. Jan,
    I still think I should have come with you to the retreat! It sounds like so much fun. I LOVE your tote, you did a beautiful job. Now, aren't you even more proud that you figured it all out yourself (with your friends help).I was just thinking this morning that I will have to try a smaller one myself, now I know how!:)Great job, enjoy all the compliments you get on your new bag.
    Laura Martell - The Creative Thimble

  2. Holy freakin' cr*p. That was a lot of math! The finished product looks fantastic! Okay, so Christmas is coming up...I'd like one in turquoise, please. :-)

  3. Rock Star!!! It looks AWESOME! So glad I could be a part of it! :)

  4. Wow! I made one of the professional totes a couple years ago and although I loved the tote would never make one again being so complicated. The thought of making your own plus tailoring it to your needs just boggles the mind! I am in awe!!

    I wanted to send you my chickadee pattern (you left a comment on my blog on Black Friday, but can't find your email address.
    Email me at if you would like it.

  5. Beautiful work. Greetings from Finland