Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Presido Purse (Testing, Testing)

A belated Happy New Year everyone!

The Atlantic ocean kept me separated from my sewing machine for a couple of fun-filled weeks over Christmas.  We spent it with family and friends in England, notching up 10 pub trips, three London theatre shows, two visits to meet new babies, and one trip to the famous Liberty store for a rummage in their fabric bargain bin. 

Now we're back in Montreal for our third Canadian winter, this one seems to be harsher than ever.  It was so cold the other day( -39 with the wind chill) that my eyelashes actually started icing together. Perfect weather for penguins and hibernating sewists.

This weekend was a bit milder and so I grabbed the opportunity to take some daylight photos of my latest make. It's Seamstress Erin's eagerly anticipated first pattern, the Presido Purse, which I was excited to be able to pattern test for her.

It's funny as purse has a different meaning depending on what side of the Atlantic you're on (ladies wallet in Britain vs handbag in North America).  So when I signed up to be a pattern tester for a purse that can 'hold a ton of stuff', the Brit in me was expecting some sort of super-sized wallet!

Luckily Erin's Presido Purse pattern turned out to be far less random.  It's a large roomy handbag with a practical zip-up pocket and front inserts that are just crying out for a splash of colour.

The fabrics I used were both from my stash. An aubergine corduroy, paired with some in-your-face quilting cotton for the interior and front inserts.  For the front inserts I backed the quilting cotton with medium weight interfacing, but found the stiffness of the interfacing didn't lend itself well to the gathered insert option (uneven, lumpy gathers).  So if I use an interfaced quilting cotton again for future Presidos, I'll go for the non-gathered insert option instead.

The pattern is listed as being for confident beginners/ intermediate sewists.  I'm definitely at the lowest end of that spectrum but still found the instructions clear and manageable.  Erin also has a sewalong that is in full swing at the moment and which looks set to leave a valuable archive of detailed guidance for those like me who appreciate a bit of hand holding.    

My only issue was when I initially made a really muppet mistake and sewed the two bottom/side panels together at the wrong end. It was more user error rather than pattern error, but I noticed that in Erin's final pattern she's helpfully made this stage even more explicit, so it won't trip up any other late night sewists. 

The Presido Purse fills a gap in my sparse handbag collection as I don't own any large handbags at all.  Up until the Presido, if I needed to carry large amounts of stuff then out came my trusty denim rucksack.  So it's fab that I now have a more attractive option that makes me look less like a teenager/tourist!  Thanks for letting me help pattern test the Presido Erin, and congratulations on the release of your first pattern :)  

Even Mr Fabric Maverick spent time admiring my bag.  Though after I turned my back for a minute I returned to this sight...  I think he is still sad that the Dr Who Sewalong is over, as this would make a cool alien head!  


  1. Love your photoshoot in the snow, and thanks again for helping to test the pattern!!

    1. Pleasure, thanks for having me :)

  2. My huge handbag, that was a sample made by my designer cousin, is falling apart and I'm in need of a new one. Your sample looks exactly like the type I'd make, so I'm sold!

    1. Oh perfect timing! The flickr group has lots of other great versions of the bag to tempt you further...