Thursday, 27 September 2012

A bag for my daughter


I took this photo just a few hours before a new carpet was laid in my daughter's room. The man who we bought our house from was a perfectionist: every time he painted a room he took up all the carpet so he wouldn't ruin them with splashes of paint. We wish he hadn't as the boards would have been stunning. The carpets he left we loved less and over the last five years we have replaced all but the claret-coloured beast that still covers our own bedroom floor. I've become so allergic to everything recently that we're considering taking this up altogether and seeing if the boards beneath are salvageable. Has anyone tried this and found that sleeping in a carpetless room has cured their indoor allergies?


For a long time now my daughter has been asking if I'd make a bag for her. It always amazes me slightly that she wants to wear and use the things I make - not because I have any esteem issues around these things, but more because as a child myself I was very ready to disassociate myself from anything to do with my parents and to set about defining my own identity, so I'm incredibly touched that she doesn't feel this way. I was a strumpetty, wilful sort of child though, where my daughter is just about one of the sweetest people I've ever met, who maybe feels the need to assert her independence less: she just is who she is. Perhaps that's the difference. Interestingly, this was the first year that my little boy requested a shop-bought pencil case for school. Over the holidays he tentatively said: I think I might just try one this year and then maybe next year have one made by you again' - I appreciated that he was trying to soften the blow for me so kindly and so tried very hard not to let any amusement show on my face. I loved seeing what he chose when left to his own devices and was quite surprised that we'd made it as far as 8 years old before he felt less happy to embrace the idea of a homemade pencil case.

When it came to the bag I asked for input on fabrics even though it was intended to be given as a birthday gift, as I didn't want to make my daughter one which she secretly loathed but felt obliged to use. Katy's cushion (which I frequently return to drool over in a semi-stalkery way) happened to be on my screen when we began our search and she instantly pointed to the photo and said that those were exactly the kind of fabrics she'd love for her bag. Initially, I was going to create one central round Dresden plate in the centre of the flap, but I realised that I probably wouldn't wear anything myself with such overt decoration and my daughter is also a creature with minimalist tastes, so quarter plates peeping in from the corners seemed a more reserved use of colour. If you don't recognise the fabric already, the Dresdens are made from Liberty's Bloomsbury prints. They're all from the Rich Red/Blue colourway, which are being stocked at Patch (you can find other colourways now in stock here, here and here), while the rest of the bag is sewn from Robert Kaufman's Essex yarn dyed linen.


I've been wanting to make something from this linen/cotton mix for a while and when it arrived it was even more wonderful than I'd imagined. My thoughts instantly turned to dressmaking as it has the loveliest drape and is incredibly soft. I can imagine a Negroni shirt for my husband or perhaps a smock top for me. It would be perfect for winter clothing as the fabric has a cosiness and warmth to it. It's available in a choice of three colours (black, blue and flax, all from the lovely Eternal Maker), which are all feel exactly right (I sent for colour swatches of the other two) and as though if it has to come in such a limited colour range, then at least it's one that covers all bases.


She requested that she could wear the bag across her body (it comes up a bit short on me in this photo), that it not be overwhelming large, but still big enough to fit her lunch box and books in and also that it have several different kind of pocket within the lining. It also has an exterior pocket for her drink. We've found that the messenger bags available in the shops can sometimes be lacking in elegance, so we decided on rounded corners, gentle gathers and contrast piping to try and soften the edges of this utilitarian style of bag.


Inside are more zippered pockets and divided compartments than a girl could find uses for. I made this bag last Sunday while it poured with rain all day. My husband read Micheal Morpurgo's wonderful Long Way Home to us while I sewed and the children lolloped around. In one of his reading breaks my children discussed bag interiors and my little boy came up with the idea of secret zippered pocket within a zippered pocket. I thought this idea was adorable, and so secretly set about making his bonkers idea a reality and my daughter was delighted by it when she discovered it on her birthday morning.


I'll save showing you the rest of the details as I'm currently writing the bag up as a pattern as I really enjoyed making it. The pattern possibly won't include the quarter Dresden plates as I'm guessing they may be an acquired taste, but it will hopefully include everything else.

Florence x

31 comments:

  1. I never have carpet's, giving nasty dust, hair & muck a safe haven. If you don't want to sand back to wood just paint over (a good scrub with sugar soap & a light sand of lumps always works a treat) & then you can change the colour as you fancy...rugs in winter if its chilly underfoot and hopefully reduction in allergies as you can hoover up all the culprits....xx

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  2. Yes! We have very few rugs and no carpets--just wood floors in out house. It has helped everyone here with their allergies.

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  3. That's a lovely bag :-) I'm very much looking forward to seeing the pattern!

    I'd love to have no carpets in our house but the downstairs floors are all quarry tiles laid directly onto the earth floor and so would be horrendously damp and cold in the winter. I'm a very cold person so I don't like the idea of that at all. The house is cold enough as it is! The upstairs floorboards all had to be replaced when we renovated and new ones never have quite the same sort of feel. Perhaps one day we'll lay some nice oak flooring on top of our existing floors.

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  4. What a great looking bag Florence! love the secret pocket.

    Yes, pulling up your carpets will help alot with indoor allergies. Carpets are notorious for harboring all sorts of allergens, regardless of how often it is clean. Can you sand and varnish your beautiful wood flooring?

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  5. Please do include the Dresden plates, they're lovely and I, too, swoon over the zipper pocket in the zipper pocket!

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    1. Thank you so much for the feedback - they will be included :)

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  6. Such a beautiful bag! Looking forward to seeing the pattern - might have to make one for myself!!! Sx

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  7. That double zipped pocket is a stroke of genius! I love it now, and I think at your daughter's age it would just about have sent me into orbit. The whole bag is gorgeous, wish I'd had one like it at school instead of the too-sensible and very ugly rucksacks I used to carry.

    I'd love to have a carpet-free home but in our block that's not allowed because the carpets serve as excellent sound insulation. Provided you paint or varnish the floor with something non-toxic (try www.greenshop.co.uk) it'll be far healthier to have hard floors. x

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    1. Nina, you are such a source of fantastic links - thank you! x

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  8. What a gorgeous bag, and so lovely that your little girl really wants to use the things you've made her.

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  9. As others have said, I'm sure removing your carpet will help with any allergies, but it's hard to strike a balance between that and the cost feeling and warmth you get with carpets.

    The bag is beautiful and I'm impressed that you did it all in a day - it looks so much nicer than anything you would find to buy.

    I will look forward to another of your fabulous patterns, and yes, please do include the Dresden plates! x

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  10. Gosh, what a beautiful bag. And you can never have too many pockets or secret places to squirrel things away.

    Lucky not to suffer from allergies so can't help with the carpet issue, but I makes sense to have as little fibre as possible for mites to lurk in...

    Not sure why it's taken me so long to find your blog. A fervent new admirer.

    C.x

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  11. I'd love to get a hold of this pattern. As for the floorboards issue, we have floorboards in our living area and I have a great deal of trouble reconciling myself to the dust that gathers between the boards that I can't reach. It falls down. It STAYS there. I can hear it.

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  12. In our previous home I was always sick with my asthma and allergies (it was carpeted throughout). Once we tore up all the carpets and replaced them with bamboo and tile floors, I felt 100% better and was rarely sick! The home we have now is mainly tile with carpet in the bedrooms, but we are considering ripping that up too!

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  13. We took up the carpet in most of our home and put down ceramic or porcelain tile. We are getting ready to build a new home and I've told my husband no carpet in this house! I think it makes a big difference!

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  14. The bag is gorgeous, your daughter is very lucky!

    x


    sittingonherbumbaleerie.blogspot.co.uk

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  15. I love this bag! It's so sweet that your daughter appreciates what you make for her-- I was a kid more like you, and wanted to pick out my own things instead of what my mom wanted to make for me.

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  16. It's beautiful, love it. I will definitely be buying the pattern from you as i know my girls would love one (did i only say one!) x

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  17. with the boards if you do go back to the boards make sure you get them properly sealed otherwise all the dust and hairs that fell through to underneath will get disturbed and be just as bad as having old carpet in there. They should be salvageable with a good sand (although with allergies you may way to go away the week they do it especially if they are pine.)

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  18. it's oh so lovely! good luck with the no carpet trial x

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  19. I never stopped loving the things my mum made but then went on to make my own. I found that identity thing with my sister rather than my mother as we were always called 'the sisters' and it was a bit of a struggle to be 'me'. I was never like my mum so didn't feel the need to try and be different. My sister and I had similarities and differences and I liked to stress those differences.

    My own daughter loves what she loves and couldn't care who made it. Mind you, the things I want to make her are things she doesn't want to have! I am hoping to make her some knitted fingerless gloves this year and possibly a bag. However, her taste in bags even though she is in her twenties has not really moved on from a medium sized tote bag. So an easy one to make.

    I like your daughters bag more for myself, the detailing is lovely; although I find long across the body straps pull down on my shoulder where a strap slung over my shoulder doesn't. I saw a very trendy girl with a long messenger bag worn at the back just yesterday and she looked great if uncomfy.

    A friend of mine has floor boards and she sanded and sealed them herself - they started off a bit manky but look beautiful now. She sealed them with whatever the man in the shop recommended but I don't know what that is. I have had lino floors and it can be hard work to keep floors clean but if you don't mind that then yes, there is less fluff around. Very noisy overhead though, if that is an issue.

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  20. You are a most wonderful mother. That bag is fabulous. Love the motifs in the corners too. This is a great design.
    About the carpet. First check if the carpet is causing the symptoms by having a comprehensive allergy test. If you suspect a dust mite allergy then removing the carpet will not eliminate it. Dust mites can collect in mattresses, curtains, behind furniture, even in wardrobes. There is always the possibility you have a low grade virus that is lingering.
    The floorboards can very easily be sanded and will come up looking beautiful. Have done this. The room will then be colder and noisier. Carpet keeps a bedroom warm and softens noise. Soft on the feet on cold mornings.
    Personally I like carpet in bedrooms but I am pretty fussy about cleanliness. Not implying you are not a perfectionist housekeeper at all.

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  21. It's a lovely bag, lucky girl and yes, so nice she appreciates your work. We are most definitely original floorboard people and have them throughout our homes. From what I can see, yours would come up a treat. They are very easy to care for, great with pets and I don't personally find them cold, especially with good sheepskin slippers and a few rugs. Then again, I'm not a fan of carpets, UPVC windows and all that, I like the home to breathe! And think of all those bits of thread, so easy to sweep up.
    Hen x

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  22. love, love, love your blog and have for years! I was curious when you mentioned "Eternal Maker", then when I went on Katy's blog to see her cushion, I saw the ad for Eclectic Maker.....Keep sewing and posting, very inspiring!
    I comment as anonymous only b/c I don't know how to proceed otherwise. Reading from Seattle, WA

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  23. Amazing bag! Love it :)

    Yes to taking up carpets too. We only had to take up the carpet in our living room to see a difference in my kids Asthma and Eczema!

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  24. What a beautiful bag .. I love it ... we have no carpets here ... seems to help with allergies ... Bee xx

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  25. I was hugely allergic to everything when I was growing up, so we replaced carpet with cork tiles. They're much warmer than porcelain tiles, look beautiful and are supereasy to keep clean and care for (a bit of wax occasionally, otherwise just dust either dry or slightly damp).

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  26. We pulled up carpet from a house we bought and found wonderful hardwood flooring underneath. It was a bit scratched, but ok. It helped quite a bit with kids allergies and asthma. The floors were rather dirty when we first pulled up carpet, so I swept and wet mopped. Then generally just had to sweep to keep clean.

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  27. The bag is great and so thoughtful!!!!! Your daughter is very sweet and it's so nice that your efforts were so personal and appreciated.

    Stephanie

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  28. Thank you so, so much for all your lovely comments on this post - both giving feedback on the bag pattern and also suggestions about flooring - I really appreciate them - thank you! x

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x