Nani Iro Backpack

Hey there! It’s been a while. I’ve been doing some re-decorating and re-organizing both in my sewing room and here on the web. Last weekend I switched my site over from Blogger to WordPress, and I’ve just about got it fixed up how I like it. Hopefully the rss feeds have switched over like they should and this post appeared in your blog reader. If it didn’t or if you notice any other glitches in the site please let me know!

And now on to the backpack! This is the Cooper Bag by Colette Patterns. I first used this pattern over a year ago to make a backpack for my husband. He’s used it almost every day since and it was starting to look pretty rough. The side seams of the lining had blown out and one of the straps was starting to fall out at the top. It was time for some repairs and since I hate mending things I decided a good motivator would be to make myself a new backpack at the same time that I was fixing his! Note: I really like the idea of mending things and prolonging their usefulness. Those kinds of projects just always tend to sit on the backburner while I make something new and exciting – even if it’s the kind of thing that would only take me 10 minutes to fix.

Nani iro backpack

Nani iro backpack

I’ve been a fan of the Nani Iro “water window” design since I first spotted it at Miss Matatabi and when I saw this canvas version in person at Form & Fabric I knew it would be perfect for a backpack! The lining is also from Form & Fabric – a quilting cotton that I picked up for super cheap at their going-out-of-business sale.

The canvas isn’t terribly thick, so I used heavyweight interfacing on the body and flap pieces to give the bag a bit more structure.

It took me a really long time to cut out the pattern pieces just because there were so many options for pattern placement. I wanted to make sure I got a good mix of light and dark areas. I’m really happy with how it ended up looking. It was a happy coincidence that the printing on the selvedge was the exact width of the body strap – I think it’s a nice touch.

Nani iro backpack

Nani iro backpack

This is a pretty easy pattern to put together, unfortunately I made two stupid mistakes that prolonged my construction time. First I cut the slits for the magnetic snaps on the outside flap instead of the inside flap. Ugh. Luckily I had enough fabric left that I was able to cut out a new flap piece with the exact same pattern placement. I’d already put the straps on it, so I had to take my seam ripper to those and re-attach them to the new flap. Then I somehow managed to put the lining in inside out. Double ugh. Those time-consuming little mistakes are so frustrating.

Another mishap occurred before I even started sewing. For the first time ever USPS lost one of my packages. I’d ordered cotton webbing and magnetic snaps from this Etsy shop and though the tracking number said it had been delivered there was no package to be found. USPS was no help, but when I contacted the shop owner to let her know what had happened she surprised me by really going above and beyond to help me out. Even though it was no fault of hers she re-sent me my order for free and was so nice about the whole situation. The webbing and snaps ended up being really high quality as well, so I definitely recommend her shop if you’re looking for bag-making supplies!

The double loop sliders are kind of hard to find – I ordered mine from Buckle Guy where they’re reasonably priced and come in a few different finishes. I didn’t bother adding rivets to the flap.

Nani iro backpack

Nani iro backpack

After seeing where my husband’s backpack got the most wear and tear, I knew of a few improvements I wanted to make. The lining definitely needs some “action pleats” if you’re planning on carrying around heavy things like laptops and textbooks. For my husband’s new lining I used a heavy-duty ripstop and added side panels that are pleated at the top so the lining can still be sewn to the bag opening as usual. For my lining I just sewed the side seams at 1/4″ instead of 5/8″ and made mini pleats with the excess fabric at the top. I’m not planning on carrying a lot of heavy stuff so hopefully that’ll work well enough.

My husband’s old straps were made from self-fabric because I couldn’t find any webbing that matched. They were starting to come apart from the bag where they attached at the top, so I replaced them with cotton webbing straps – which he reports are much more comfortable. The instructions only call for one line of stitching where the straps meet the bag. Again, if you’re planning on carrying heavier things you’re going to want some extra reinforcement here. I fed the webbing in an extra inch or so and made a rectangle of stitching with an X through it where each strap attaches to the body of the bag.

Nani iro backpack

Nani iro backpack

I think it ended up looking really cool! And it’s going to be super useful for weekend trips and other traveling. Have you made a backpack or other travel gear? I may have to make the Portside Duffle next…

<3 Lindsay

Handmade Presents Round-Up

This marks my first year giving handmade presents for Christmas! I didn’t want to stress myself out with sewing complicated projects on a deadline, so I just focused on making a few simple things for people who I knew would appreciate them.

First up is this faux fur and wool trapper hat! I used this free pattern by Sewbon and it came together really easily. I made one version for a secret santa hat exchange at work and I liked the way it turned out so well that I made a second version for my sister-in-law!

This hat hardly uses any material, so it would be a great scrap-buster if you have any faux fur lying around. I just used a bit of the faux fur I bought to make a jacket with (which I’ll hopefully get around to doing this month…) I lined the inside with rayon bemberg in the hopes that it would reduce hat hair frizziness.

For my mother-in-law I made some home goods to go with her newly remodeled kitchen and living room. I found two fabrics that match her new color scheme – and that are totally her style – and decided on doing an accent pillow for the living room and a potholder and towels for the kitchen.

The fabric for the pillow is a Japanese cotton/linen blend by Kokka (the company that produces Nani Iro) that I found at the (now sadly closed) Common Thread in Austin. I used a spare Ikea pillow form I had and just sewed two rectangles of fabric together with an invisible zip at the bottom – super easy!

The kitchen towels are also just simple rectangles. They took a bit longer though because all the edges had to be folded over twice and the corners mitred. The potholder was actually really fun to make! It was my first experience using batting and quilting, and it was easier than I expected. To make it I just sandwiched two squares of batting between two squares of fabric and stitched diagonal lines at regular intervals. Then you trim the corners to be a bit curved and sew bias tape around the edge, making a loop at the end. Making a few for my own kitchen is definitely on my list!

The fabric I used is a cotton canvas by Lotta Jansdotter (available here) that I got practically for free at Form & Fabric’s going-out-of-business sale. I’m really hoping a new apparel fabric store opens in Austin soon, because both my favorites are closed now!

And finally, for my mom I made this cozy flannel infinity scarf. This only took about fifteen minutes, but I love the way it looks! I kind of wanted to keep this one for myself… :)

How about you? Did you give or receive any handmade presents this Christmas? I’d love to hear about them!

<3 Lindsay

Buffalo Plaid Archer

Well whaddaya know, it’s another Archer!

I’ve made a few Archers before (and you probably have too) so I don’t have too much to add construction-wise. I did do one thing differently though – I tried the famous “burrito” method for attaching the yoke. I’ve attached so many yokes perfectly well using the traditional method that I’d never really felt the urge to find a different way. But after seeing this technique referenced so many times I figured I’d give it a go. And I have to say I’m a fan! It’s definitely faster and less fiddly than what I was doing before, so it’s going to be my go-to method from now on.

On a similar note, I also tried the different way to attach a collar tutorial that I’ve seen referenced a lot. This one I felt pretty neutral about. I had about the same level of difficulty and degree of success that I normally do with collars, so I think I’ll just stick with my usual method. It’s more a matter of preference than a time-saver, at least for me.

This cotton flannel is from Mood and it is AMAZING. Good quality, super comfy, nice and warm… I’m basically going to be living in this shirt until spring. The black and white colorway is almost sold out (which probably means it is actually sold out, knowing Mood), but the red and black is still available.

And thanks to input from my sewing pals on Instagram I chose these wooden buttons to match.

I used Grainline’s plaid-matching tutorial and cut the placket, outer yoke, and pockets on the bias. I’ve never been a huge fan of the large size of the Archer pockets, especially on my petite frame, so I used a smaller, angled pocket. I also tried out Andrea’s tutorial on getting perfectly matched pockets and it worked really well! You baste the two pockets together, turn them inside out, iron, take out your basting stitches, and voila! your seam allowances are perfectly folded under and your pockets are ready to go. It’s definitely better than trying to iron under tiny seam allowances while also getting the points perfectly centered.

I’m glad I tried out some new techniques on this shirt. It made for more interesting sewing that way, and I’m definitely going to use the yoke and pocket methods going forward. Plus it’s so fun adding techniques to the ever-growing sewing library I keep in my head!

So, if you can’t tell, I’m really happy with the way this shirt turned out, and I’m sure I’m going to get a ton of wear out of it this winter.

Wishing you all a happy new year!

<3 Lindsay

Coat-along Round-up!

Sorry it’s a bit belated, but here’s the coat-along round-up! Thanks again for participating ladies. I think we made some pretty kick-ass coats!

Bella from Bellbird: Burda bubble coat

Kirsten from Fifty Two Fancies: Malu coat

Friederike from Sewing Is Therapy: Chloë coat

And I’m sure you’ve already seen my Gerard coat.

Make sure to check out everyone’s blog posts at the links above for more pictures and pattern info!

<3 Lindsay

One Year Blog-iversary!

Last Sunday marked my one year blog-iversary, so I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the past year!

I rang in 2014 with my husband in Auckland during our two week honeymoon in New Zealand. That trip was definitely the highlight of the year! I’d been wanting to go to New Zealand since I was 11 and first saw The Fellowship of the Ring, and I have to say it did not disappoint! Totally worth the wait. New Zealand is an absolutely gorgeous country, and everyone we met there was so friendly as well! Definitely go there if you ever get the chance.

After we got back I started following along with Colette’s Wardrobe Architect series. It really helped me define my style and start making garments that fit into a cohesive wardrobe, rather then just making whatever struck my fancy at the moment. I now know what fabric types, color palettes, and silhouettes work for me, and while I still experiment with different styles, it’s done much more thoughtfully, and therefore with more success.

Other Sewing Highlights:

  • I had the opportunity to be a part of Perfect Pattern Parcel #2 and #3 and help raise money for teachers and students in need!

And now some Top 5 lists:

Top 5 Favorite Makes

1. Gerard Coat
I love Gerard! I’m still really proud of myself for making my first coat. The fabrics I used are so nice, and I think Gerard is classic and neutral enough to stay in rotation for a long time!

2. Bruyere Shirt
This is definitely one of my favorite patterns. I really love the silhouette, and the double gauze I used is so comfy!

3. Birthday Shirt
Out of all the shirts I’ve made for my husband, this one is my favorite! I really took my time with the construction and I think it shows.

4. Tania Culottes
I made these for my birthday trip to New Orleans! The bold floral fabric makes me happy and I love this pattern for being comfortable and practical, but also super cute!

5. Rigel Bomber
I love the way this garment came together! I’m crazy about metallic accents on fabric, and I think this was the perfect fabric for this pattern.

Top 5 Most Worn Garments

1. Sleeveless Archer
I lived in this shirt alllll summer long.

2. Maritime Shorts
Same goes for both my white denim and blue denim Maritime Shorts.

3. Merino Plantain
This striped merino wool is one of my all-time favorite fabrics, and this is one of my all-time favorite shirts. In fact, I’m wearing it right now!

4. Otago Archer
My first Archer! I love this fabric too. Both it and the merino were bought in New Zealand, so they have great memories associated with them.

5. Julia Cardigan
A more recent make, but I’ve already worn it a ton. It’s just what my closet needed!

Special mention: my husband uses the Cooper Backpack I made him every day. It’s gotten so much wear and tear that I’m about to replace the lining and the straps!

Top 5 Boundary-Pushing/Skill Learning Makes

1. Bombshell Swimsuit
My first time sewing swimwear! I was a little intimidated to try the Bombshell, but Heather’s instructions were fantastic and I love how it turned out!

2. Galaxy Anima Pants
These were the result of a make-it-work moment when my first pair of Animas didn’t go as planned. Painting the fabric was really fun and I ended up winning a great prize pack in the Anima Pant Competition!

3. Leather Jacket Refashion
I deconstructed my dad’s old leather jacket and reconstructed it into a new cropped jacket. This was my first time sewing with leather and my first jacket. It’s not perfect, but it was a great learning experience!

4. Shibori Prefontaine Shorts
My first experiment with dyeing fabric! I’d definitely like to try out some more fabric dyeing techniques next year.

5. Madewell Copycat Dress
I learned a lot by altering the Lady Skater pattern to make this Madewell-inspired copycat dress. It’s also one of my favorite dresses!


  • I’m taking a trip to Paris and Barcelona in March (which I’m super excited about!) – if you have any fabric store recommendations or if you live there and would like to meet up please let me know!
  • I’m also (probably) going to Chicago in April – same deal with fabric stores / meet-ups!

Looking back I’ve really learned a lot this year, and I think I’m a much better seamstress than I was a year ago. I’m so glad I started this blog. Not only has it been an archive of my style/what I’ve sewn, but it’s been an amazing way to connect with the sewing community. I’ve become acquainted with so many truly lovely people, and I hope you know how much I appreciate every one of your kind comments!

Thank you all so much for reading, and I can’t wait to see what Year Two has in store!

<3 Lindsay