“The Things I Did Not Know At First…

…I learned by doing twice”.

Billy Joel fans might recognize this line from “The Entertainer”.

I grew up with Billy Joel and his lyrics speak to me in all kinds of ways.  I love this one.  There’s a hopeful vibe that reminds me that mastery happens over time, and no matter what we think we know sometimes there’s no substitute for getting out there and doing it.  Messing up on the first go-round is almost a given.   This lyric pops into my head so much these days, undoubtedly because I’ve been trying so many new things.  I’m a relative newcomer to all of my creative hobbies.

Which brings me to this:


This was a summer bag I made about a year ago.  I had only been sewing for a few months and trying to make a bag felt like a relief after struggling with fitting garments.  I picked up a remnant of home decorating fabric at a salvage place (no investment!), tracked down the hardware (where do they even sell that stuff?) and started cutting and sewing as I pored over pages and pages of single-spaced instructions printed off the internet.  What I thought would be an easy project completely kicked my butt!

BUT, when it was finished I loved it.  It was roomy and fun and summery.  Even my hairdresser, Ron, commented (unsolicited) that it looked like an Anthropology bag.  High praise!  Sadly though my newbie construction was no match for the daily abuse routinely inflicted on my handbags.  Little by little the bag started falling apart. Here:


and here:


Up close it didn’t look so hot:


Plus, the straps were too short and I couldn’t get my hand into it without sliding it off my shoulder.  Not so good.

I can never find a summer everyday bag that I like and this year was no exception, so (with Billy’s encouragement) I decided to try this one again.   I have to say that even a year later the bag kicked my butt, however, this time in the debacle that was Lisa versus bag, Lisa won:


Yay!  Since this is so much better constructed I don’t mind showing off some of the details.  Like I said, the design of the bag is fantastic (can’t take the credit there) with an outside zipped pocket perfect for sunglasses and phone:


And an inside pocket to hold lipstick, pens and other junk:


The bag can also be “cinched up” like this, giving it a different shape


Some of the “things I didn’t know at first” were that I needed to use a special edging foot to do the topstitching by the zipper:


and I needed to use a wider seam allowance to catch all the layers in the corners:


So now I can say goodbye to my first bag, knowing that the experience of making it taught me exactly what I needed to know to get it right the second time.

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I’m off!  Catch you later…