Chemisette Purse

April 2010 and August 2010

In February 2010, my most favorite oldest daughter developed gallstones of the most obnoxious sort ... they wouldn't play nice when she attempted to placate them with diet and after a particularly bad, unprovoked attack, they were deemed Unsuitable for Human Retention and in an emergency surgery, were summarily removed. Bwahahahaaaa! :-)

In a particularly sweet request, she asked if I could please come stay with her during her recuperation. What mother could possibly say no? I certainly could not. :-)

It was during the latter part of her recuperation, when she was feeling well enough to walk further than to the bathroom, we visited a quilt store local to her. It was at this quilt store that I saw a purse pattern hanging from the spin rack. I wasn't impressed. However, further down the aisle, I saw the most tremendous purse hanging from a display. To my utter astonishment, it was the same purse as in the pattern I had disregarded.

I was very happy to have seen the store display, as this prompted me to buy the pattern, The Chemisette Handbag, by Craftapple. However, in looking at the cover picture on the pattern, you'd be led to believe that this was a Purse of Doom. You'd be wrong. I have NO idea what munchkin model they used for the picture, but the real life size of this purse is MUCH MUCH smaller than the picture suggests. In fact, one reason I by-passed the pattern originally was precisely BECAUSE I do not like a Purse of Doom. The finished dimensions of this purse are approximately 10" wide by 9" tall (excluding the handles) by 2" wide ... a much more desireable size.

From the website, "chemisette she(-mi-z'e(t: little chemise. Inspired by a chemise that was worn under a corset in the middle ages. This bag reflects the past with a fresh look through the use of bright, modern fabrics. In 2 styles: the gathered chemisette and the florentine (flat) chemisette. The interior has 2 pockets and a magnetic clasp closure."

My first foray was a test run of the Florentine (flat) Chemisette version. I gathered remnants and scraps of various fabrics, not paying any particular attention to whether or not they complimented each otherr. The intent here was to make a test version, to see how the instructions were written and how the purse itself would turn out. No sense in wasting my good fabric on something when the final result might be less than satisfactory.

Even though this was test run, I couldn't resist adding something extra; I love piping on sewn articles and thought a piped edge would look wonderful on this purse. On this test purse, the scale of the piping was too large for the purse AND, more importantly, added considerable bulk to the area where the handles attached to the purse itself. This made the connection between the purse and the handles unwieldy.

You can also see the original two interior pockets. Although the pattern didn't call for it, I free-motioned quilted the lining to add some body to the purse. All in all, the purse turned out much cuter than I had expected and I was pleased with my effort. I was ready to use my "real" fabric.

I had purchased, during a previous Retail Therapy session, a stylized purple treescape of a mid-weight cotton. I had thought to use the fabric in a quilt for favorite middle daughter (Lavendar Lisa) but she nixed the idea. The purple was nice (of course) but not for use in a quilt. BUT ... it was perfect for a purse! I knew it would gather nicely for the Gathered Chemisette version.

On a trip to my local Joann's Fabrics, I happened to come across a white "leather" piece in the remnant bin. It's like a heavy weight matte oil cloth and I knew it would be absolutely the best thing to use as the bottom of the purse's exterior. Little did I realize that this stuff would be an absolute BEAR to work on. ::sigh::

One of the difficult aspects of working with this "leather" fabric was that it simply would NOT lie flat. You couldn't press it; hammering it was worthless also. I finally top-stitched the seam allowances. That lent a nice decorative touch, as well as being practical.

Another step that proved difficult strictly because of the "leather" was turning the purse inside out. Goodness gracious ... all the reasons that made this fabric perfect for the bottom of the purse made it extremely difficult to pull the purse through the side seam opening! But, I perservered and everything worked out well ... and I didn't even pop any stitches during the process! Woo hoo for me! :-)

Remembering the difficult experience with the piping, I opted NOT to put a piping around the edge of this purse but I did a piping-effect along the seamline of the purple fabric and the white "leather". This wasn't a real piping per se, but rather a twill-weave over-dyed purple denim, that when cut on the bias, resulted in a truly lovely flap of fabric that LOOKED as though it was piping.

Instead of the two long pockets that the pattern called for, I sub-divided one of them into cell phone sized divisions. The pockets, per the pattern, is one long piece of fabric folded in half, so that it forms a self-lining. Because I wanted the pockets to be made of the "leather" fabric, this technique was not going to work. Instead, I faced the "leather" pocket with fabric. I folded under the fabric edges even with the edges of the "leather" and simply top-stitched the pocket in place.

One small sop to my vanity is the machine embroidered 'pirate tag' that I sewed into the purse when the self-fabric handles were being attached. Isn't that just the cutest thing ever?? :-) The purple Gathered Chemisette was an unqualified success and Lisa just loved it.

Why was I not surprised in my favorite youngest daughter (Red Rene) wanted one also?? :-)

The only problem was I didn't want to use the "leather" fabric again. After all, BTDT, ya know? And, I just did not want to wrestle with it one more time. Gosh, once was more than enough!

But, wouldn't you know ... the white bottom was what Rene liked best so ::sigh:: I succumbed and agreed to make her a purse with the dreaded white "leather" fabric. Ugh.

However, I had a completely different fabric for the upper part of the purse ... during a previous Adventure with Mr. Pirate to the town of Locke on the delta, I had come across a length of microfiber fabric in an "antique" store. It was a luscious shade of red! red! red! and the nap was so soft to the touch! I envisioned some machine embroidery embellishment but all Rene wanted was her initial. I was very pleased with the outcome of the alphabet I used (I can't remember which one) and think it looks exceedingly elegant.

Instead of self-fabric handles, I used up the rest of the "leather" fabric so I wouldn't have any more to deal with.

Again, I put a faux piping accent at the seamline of the upper and lower portions of the purse, sub-divided interior pockets and ...

...and put in my 'pirate tag' at the handle attachment.
I did remember, for this purse, to also sew in a machine embroidered ribbon label. :-)

In closing, I have a teaser picture for you ... see that cute, little gathered clutch peeking out of the top of the red Chemisette purse? Well, that is a free tutorial that I will write about "soon-ish".

Although it is a stand-alone clutch purse, I made it with the same fabrics as the Chemisette purse so it coordinates with it .. and in fact, it can be used as an inner organizer. :-)

No, the tutorial isn't mine but *is* freely available on a creative blog. I need to get a picture of the purple gathered clutch purse before I write about it. (and sadly, the purple clutch might possibly be in Australia and I need to ask its owner if that is so. If the clutch still resides in Walnut Creek, it may very well BE in Australia because the odds of finding the purple clutch in the rabbit warren storage room are slim. :-) )


update 2012: I haven't a clue where the tutorial for the gathered clutch. It's buried deep inside the depths of my computer. Don't hold your breathe on a write-up from me any time soon. :-(