When thinking about what to make my bridesmaids (because obviously I would make something) as a thank you gift for being a part of my big day my main goal was to go practical. I wanted to give them something they could actually use, something neutral that would please the styles of each girl (who are all so different), and something they could specifically use on the big day that would also match their dresses. Yes, that is a lot of criteria. I decided to make a purse. Something very simple, easy to make, and useful.
The Valencia bag by Seamwork Magazine was the absolute perfect pattern for this project. The simple construction was very helpful since I had to make five pieces. The design lends itself to creative choices with fabric and color blocking. And its a very versatile style that can convert from clutch to shoulder bag and can be worn day to evening. Versatility is a great feature for gift giving. If you are unfamiliar with Seamwork Magazine you’ve GOT to check it out. Its an online sewing magazine run by all the cool peeps at Colette Patterns and it’s amazing – plus free patterns every month for subscribers.
For fabric I wanted to do something semi-rustic to fit in with the wedding day, but it also had to match their dresses – which were each a different color floral. Neutral, but not boring. I chose a railroad denim ticking fabric that had a nice bulk to it and contrasted the top flap in white leather. Both of these fabrics were already swimming around in my stash – win! For the hardware I ordered an antique brass chain to “dress it down” and give it a vintage look. I love the workwear look of the ticking and utility of the chain mixed with the luxurious feel of the leather. The white and navy pulled colors from our wedding palate as well.
With the lining I did something special and was able to line each purse with the corresponding fabric of the girls dresses which were made by Rummage Style who was kind enough to send along her unused scraps. On mine I used Nani Iro fabric scraps from the lining of my reception dress (soon to be blogged about – promise!) I added an interior pocket on which I printed little labels for each girl (and me) to remember the day by every time they wear it.
Other than adding the interior pocket there are only a few changes I made to the pattern, most involving the hardware. I used matching antique brass lobster clasps (actually I think I purchased the whole strap as one piece including the clasps) in order to make the chain removable. Some girls love clutches, some love shoulder bags, some love options. I think the Valencia pattern is written with the option to fold the chain into the purse to carry it as a clutch, but then you have a chain jingling around with all your stuff. I also did a sew on magnetic snap – also in antique brass – instead of the turn clasp that the pattern calls for. Partly because I wanted the closure to be hidden, mostly because I was too chicken to try and install a turn clasp through leather and ticking.
I love love love this bag. I carry it out EVERYWHERE! I think the girls were pretty happy with it too. For the finishing touches I stuffed the bag with little goodies one might need for a night at a wedding – kleenex, mints, lip balm, blotting papers, hangover cure, etc. The girls got such a kick out of it. If you’re looking for a fun, practical wedding gift I really recommend going this route.
Pattern: Valencia Bag by Seamwork Magazine
Fabric: Denim ticking, white leather, floral cotton lining – all from stash
Notions: Antique brass chain, D-rings, and magnetic sew on snaps
Difficulty: In the middle – the pattern itself is simple but if you are working with bulky fabrics things can get a bit tricky.
Adjustments: Added interior pocket, changed closure type, made straps removable
Finishes: All clean finished to inside
Time: I made 5 so its hard to judge – maybe 2 hours?
Sew it again? Well I don’t really need a ton of these but for another gift? You bet!