A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Yuka Koshizen’s sewing book “Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to Sew” and I immediately fell in love with the bag (titled the “Left Bank Granny Bag” in the book) and had to make it right away.
I put all my other sewing projects on hold (impulsive stitching, I know, I know) and got started. This was my first time sewing from a Japanese craft book and while I’ve been admiring Japanese craft books for some time now, I’ve been intimidated by the instructions for no good reason. They’re so easy to follow! Yes they do require you to check out the precise measurements before you cut your fabric, and yes, you do have to draft the pattern yourself based on instructions provided but after this book I realized that I love this process so much more than tracing and cutting out paper patterns.
I often have mixed feelings about accessory craft and sewing books because while I like one or two projects, I feel the rest are fillers and not challenging enough. But this book took my breath away, each and every single project is so tastefully designed and doesn’t give off the Vera Bradley vibe (which I do like, but not for every single bag I make). You can even make your own suitcase!
Anyways, after two days of obsessive stitching…voila!
As you can see, the stitching is not as beautiful as I would have liked but my only defense for that is that my old machine (from the 1980’s) was acting up. I added a zippered pocket on the inside, and used a heavyweight non-woven fusible interfacing on the bag lining. The instructions call for interfacing on the outside bag and the lining but my outside fabric was pretty sturdy (a corduroy home decor remnant that I bought years ago when I worked in a fabric shop) so I skipped that. I used a mystery rayon fashion fabric for the lining and it was kind of finicky because it was slippery. The fabrics kept unraveling so I used a zigzag stitch for most of the construction to limit fraying. I hand stitched blue bias tape along the top bands for a decorative finish.
I love that the instructions for pleating are all up to the individual stitcher, that way you can personalize the design details to suit your taste. There are no closures but it should be easy enough to include them as you like. Be warned that this bag is incredibly roomy (my mom used it as a weekender bag) and if you’re looking for something smaller you can scale it down.
Not all the projects are this time-efficient and while I would love to make my own suitcase, it just seems like a project I’d start and never finish because of all the details. Some of the other projects that caught my eye in this book were a laptop bag, beachbag, and cute circle shaped cross-body bag. All in all, I absolutely love this book and would actually like to make every single project in it if I didn’t get so distracted by other projects (hehe). I highly recommend it to an intermediate sewer (if sewing bags is your thing), only because an absolute beginner might have some trouble figuring out the pattern diagrams, but that being said, if you love it as much as I do just dive in and make it regardless of where you are with sewing because the projects are practical and extremely well constructed and you’ll build on your skills.
I wish I had taken pictures of the inside of the book and time to make more of the projects in it but I borrowed the book from the library and didn’t get around to it before it was due back. Ah well, I’ll probably end up buying it anyways!