Welcome to May and Bag Month! Our blog of the month feature is a perfect fit for Bag Month because Christine is an avid bag maker! Christine is an Arizonan & Oregonian. Cross stitcher, quilter, bag maker at Stitch ALL The Things. Check out her website to see all of the lovely bags, quilts, and stitching projects she creates!
Hi! I’m Christine. I’m married to one amazing guy and I am a stay at home mom. My oldest daughter graduated high school in 2014, and I have a son and daughter currently in their Junior and Sophomore years of high school, respectively. I live in sunny Arizona for most of the year, but while the kids visit with their dad during the summer, my husband and I spend our summers in Oregon near his family. I’m blessed to be able to escape a bit of the summer heat. We tend to come back to Arizona at the hottest time of the year, as school starts in August. So we don’t escape the bake-you-where-you-stand heat completely.
I’ve been exposed to sewing my whole life. My mom was always sewing us clothes for school and church, so I was able to watch her create garments a lot of the time. I wasn’t really interested in sewing myself, other than getting a wild hair when my kids were very young and making a set of fully lined, Daisy Kingdom Christmas dresses, complete with sewn in tulle slips and bolero jackets with piping. I borrowed my mom’s sewing machine and serger, meticulously read the instructions, created the dresses and then blew my Mom away with the finished product. Admittedly, I was pretty blown away myself. I made myself a matching dress too (minus the tulle slip and bolero jacket), but can’t find a picture of that one. I was lucky to find a picture of the girls posing for a Christmas picture with their grandma while wearing their dresses
Making those dresses cured me of a desire to sew for quite a few years. It wasn’t until my oldest daughter was two years from graduating high school that I became interested once again. It started with an idea to make a quilt for her that had inspirational quotes embroidered on various blocks within the quilt. I knew I needed to make a test quilt first, and that was the beginning of my love affair with quilting. At the same time I embroidered some fabric to make a tote bag for my sister-in-law’s birthday. And that, my friends, was the beginning of my obsession with bag-making.
I was asked to be a pattern tester by Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness for her Tudor Bag. That was my first foray into zippers, pockets, and working with vinyl. I used some Alexander Henry Skulls and Roses Tattoo fabric, and immediately fell head over heels for the finished bag. I made it in 2013, and it’s still my main purse to this day. The straps are getting a bit worn, so I know I’ll need to make a new handbag for myself soon.
Since then, I’ve made a few bags, but I tend to give them as gifts. One of my favorites was The Epiphany Bag by Chris W that I made for my mom’s 60th birthday. She is a violinist in the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra, so I chose a fabric with instruments on it. I also made a charm fob to hang from her bag. This was probably the most challenging bag pattern I have made so far. This pattern had so many great techniques, and one of them changed the way I made zippered pockets. I also use the interior pocket panel from this bag on every other bag I’ve made since then.
Another bag pattern that I love is the Hippo Hobo Bag from Emkie Designs. This was such a fun bag to make that I made two of these, one for my best friend and one for her mom. I will end up making myself one too.
My intentions with bag making were to open an Etsy shop and sell handbags from these patterns. I had several other patterns I wanted to make before deciding which ones to sell, but I became sidetracked. In January I gifted a bag to an online friend who was just diagnosed with cancer. It was a Patterns By Annie Project Bag I had made, using fabrics I knew she would like. She showed that bag on a YouTube video to her fellow cross stitchers. That one video led to many requests for more Project Bags. I then sought and received permission from the designer, Annie Unrein, to make and sell these bags. I have made at least 75 of them this year.
Making those bags led to making little accessory bags for them as well. That, in turn, led to an online cross stitching store commissioning the Project Bags, the accessory bags, and a larger version of the accessory bag to sell. My 2017 has been filled with making these simpler bags, and I have enjoyed the process. I still plan to make and sell handbags, as I miss the more complex work. I hope to start working on those later this year.