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Gizmo Garage!

Welcome to the ChrisWDesigns Global Blog Tour!

First, a few tour details: At the end of this post, you will find links to all the tour participants as well as links to sponsor prize giveaways and tour discounts. (ChrisW Designs is offering a 20% discount on all patterns during the tour, and there are other discounts as well.) I'll also be giving away two copies of the Gizmo Garage pattern

Without further ado, I'd like to present my version of the Gizmo Garage bag:

I am not a tech junkie. As a medical transcriptionist, I spend eight hours a day in front of a computer and the last thing I want in my life when I am done with work is more tech. The one gadget that I really love, though, is my iPad. I love it so much that when I saw the Gizmo Garage pattern in ChrisW’s collection, I knew that was the bag I wanted to make to carry my iPad when I travel. I received the pattern for free. It’s a great design. Half of the fun of making it was watching each of the sections come together. I am not an experienced bag maker by any stretch of the imagination—this is probably my fourth bag—so this is a great choice for novices, although you should have some basic sewing experience. 

Fabric and notions:  The focus fabric was an easy choice. Tim Holtz is one of my favorite fabric designers. I tend to hoard pieces from his collections and when they do get used, it’s for very special projects like this one. Eclectic Elements Wallflower Ledger is a soft neutral, text-based design with pops of larger black text here and there. Those pops of black text made it easy to choose a solid accent fabric—black was the obvious choice—but I didn’t want just to default to my all-time favorite, Kona. That would have been too easy. Another dip into my stash yielded a gorgeous piece of 100% black linen fabric. It’s subtle, but it adds just a bit of extra texture and I think it was a great choice. 

Choosing a lining fabric is always tricky for me. I love bags where the lining is a surprise bit of a bright color. I auditioned quite a few brightly-colored small prints for this bag, but none of them really seemed right. In the end, I scaled it back a bit and chose something that—while brighter than the focus and accent fabrics—didn’t clash with them. 

Black nickel hardware added the finishing touch. It’s not as easy to find as hardware in the more common finishes, but I love the way it looks with the focus and accent fabrics. 

Rivets are used to add strength to the strap area and also as an accent detail:

The pattern calls for Pellon SF101 interfacing to add stability to the fabrics. White is the standard color available at most stores, but it’s worth searching out the black SF101, too, if you happen to be using a dark fabric. I suspect that using white interfacing on black linen would have been a disaster, especially with the looser weave of the linen.  

Sewing machine(s): Regular readers of my blog know that one of my other hobbies is collecting and working on vintage sewing machines, especially the Italian-made Necchis. I am not opposed to modern machines—I have a Janome 6600P that sees quite a bit of action—but I really prefer to sew on my vintage machines. (I also have a vintage ironing board and iron.) I used two of my Necchis exclusively to make this bag. For the lighter parts, I used my Necchi BF, which is a no-frills, straight stitch machine that was manufactured some time around 1948-1950. This particular machine used to belong to a professional seamstress. There are days when I am convinced that my only job is to operate the foot pedal; this machine knows what to do and does it without much help from me. 

For the heavier parts, when sewing multiple layers of foam and interfaced fabrics together, I went to my industrial Necchi. My industrial Necchi also happens to be a treadle machine. Yes, it’s foot operated, not electric. I have a fascination with treadle machines and a treadle machine has the added benefit of being able to sew very s-l-o-w-l-y. You would not believe how handy that is for some of the trickier parts of a bag where I want the stitching to be perfect. 

The Gizmo Garage pattern: I spent 16 years as a professional knitting designer and wrote over a hundred knitting patterns. I know a thing or two about pattern presentation and Chris’s patterns are up there with the best of them. I have some pretty significant spatial perception deficits that make it difficult for me to “see” things in my head, so I appreciate patterns that explain steps in several different ways and are liberally illustrated either with line drawings or photos. (Sometimes what seems like Greek to me when explained one way will “click” when explained a different way.) Any issues I had with this pattern were strictly a result of me being unable to visualize something the first time around, but a careful reading of the instructions and a moment or two to ponder them always cleared things up. 

This is not a short pattern. At 70+ pages, you might want to do as Chris suggests at the beginning of the pattern and print out the 2-3 pages of text instructions at the end and come back and refer to the digital version of the pattern as you come to each step. (If you have an iPad or laptop in your sewing room, that’s very easy to do!) Also, Chris provides individual pattern pieces which can be cut out as well as the measurements for each piece. You choose which to use to cut out your pattern pieces. Because most bag patterns are made of up rectangular shapes—and because I am used to cutting fabric with my rotary cutter—I prefer the written measurements over the pattern pieces, although I did have to use the pattern pieces for the flap details. I really only needed to print out the first half dozen pages and the last couple of pages of the pattern. For those who like to work strictly from pattern pieces, though, Chris has you covered and includes all of them for all three sizes (I made the smallest size bag). 

Quilters and bag makers all tend to grumble about the amount of time needed to cut (and in the case of bags, interface) pieces. It seems most sewists would prefer to get right to the sewing. I am one of those rare birds, apparently, who relishes the prep work as much as the sewing. I spent one whole afternoon cutting and labelling the bag components and another afternoon ironing on the interfacing. I don’t like to rush this part. Accurate cutting and interfacing at this step makes the actual bag assembly that much easier. 

There are a few spots in this pattern that call for the use of foam interfacing such as byAnnie’s Soft and Stable or Pellon FF77. I have both but used the Pellon for this project. Chris has a great method for keeping the bulk of the foam out of the seams. She has you baste it in with a 1/8” seam, then come back later and cut off that basting edge and cut the foam down to the seamline I used appliqué scissors to do that, which worked splendidly. I’ll note here that it’s also helpful to keep the SF101 interfacing out of the seams, either by cutting the interfacing smaller than each pattern piece before fusing or by going back after the seam is sewn and carefully pulling the interfacing away from the fabric and cutting it off. I’ve used both methods. 

Because Chris is an Australian designer, she uses metric measurements. (Imperial measurements are also given in the pattern.) This is the first pattern I have run across that uses a 3/8” seam, but the equivalent 10 mm must be pretty standard in other parts of the world. I think I need to invest in a set of metric cutting rulers, because it would have been so much easier just to use the metric measurements throughout the project. That 3/8” seam threw me a bit at first, but then my eyes got used to “seeing” where it needed to be. 

The Gizmo Garage bag: The pattern includes instructions for bags in three sizes, with measurement guidelines to ensure you make the correct size for your device. I chose to make the smallest bag, which is 14" tall and 8-1/2" wide. 

If you are a pocket person, you will love all the pockets included in this pattern. There is a large divided pocket underneath the front flap for carrying cords and other tech necessities:

Just behind that is a large slip pocket perfect for papers/manuals and a second slip pocket for smaller items, like your phone and a pen. 

The main section of the bag—if you don't use it for your computer or a tablet—is perfect for holding the usual purse items such as a wallet, mints, lip balm, and for those of us with older eyes, our reading glasses (and now you know what is in my purse). 

My iPad fits perfectly into the padded iPad pocket on the back side of the bag:

And that pocket flap echoes the flap design on the front of the bag (I also love that grab strap, which is unbelievably handy):

This bag has no zippers, making it a great first choice for novice bag makers. (I don't mind zippers, but I know that they can be scary if you’ve never done them before.) The pattern incorporates the use of interfacing, foam, and basic hardware (magnetic snaps, D-rings, and rivets). There are plenty of opportunities to practice topstitching and good seaming techniques. If you work slowly and always "measure twice and cut once," you should have no trouble with the construction, even with techniques you may not have tried before. 

I know that a project has been a success when I have had fun making it, but also when I spend a lot of time admiring the finished product. I’ve already picked out several other ChrisW patterns as future sewing projects, and I know they will be as enjoyable to make as this one was. 

To be entered into the giveaway for a copy of the Gizmo Garage pattern, please leave a comment below telling us your favorite flavor of mints or lip balm. The husband will pick two commenters at random (by number), each of whom will get a copy of the Gizmo Garage pattern. 

Tour Discounts

  • ChrisW Designs is taking 20% off all patterns until end of day (Australian Central Standard Time) November 21. Code GlobalBlogTour17 (applied automatically with this link. Buy without fear: If you purchase during the tour and then win a pattern, your purchase price will be refunded.
  • Handbag Hardware Australia (aff link) is offering a 10% discount for the duration of the tour. Use code: CWD10. (Excludes interfacing and Emmaline Bling.)
  • Bobbin Girl has a 10% discount using code BLOGTOUR17. (Not to be combined with any other discount or rewards points.)
  • Gold Star Tool is taking 15% off for our tour readers. Use code chriswdesigns.
  • Zipit (aff link) is also offering a 10% discount on shop items. Use code ChrisWDesigns.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

(Australia Central Standard Time)

// Please note that none of these post links are available before the scheduled date (ACST). If you click on one too early, you will get an "Error 404: Page not found." You know about those, right? //

Sunday, November 12

Monday, November 13

Tuesday, November 14

Wednesday, November 15

Thursday, November 16

Friday, November 17

Saturday, November 18

Tuesday, November 21

  • Giveaway winners announced on all the blogs:

ChrisW Blog, Glitter in my Coffee, Michelle's Creations, Flying by the Seam of my Pants, Serial Bagmakers, Tiger in a Tornado, Vanaehsa, Judith Stitches and More, Doctora Botones, Sewsewilse, Suck It Up Buttercup, Vicky Myers Creations, Marvelous Auntie M, inspinration, Fée bricolo, Trisha's Craft Corner


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Reader Comments (39)


November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHusband's mom

What a wonderful post, and bag! I love it. And your material is gorgeous! Thank you for giving such detail on the bag and the construction process. I enjoyed the read.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle


November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKaren


November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRho


November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristy


November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPamlyn

Got to be wintergreen!

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDeb


November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKathy


November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTammy Lamb

I love your gizmo garage. Not a fan of mints but I do like Orbit Sweet Mint gum

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPnelson

My favorite flavor was a citrus one my mother in law used to bring from a date farm in California. ...they were yummy

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHjordis


November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCindy


November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSonya


November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmy mills


November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNan

First, great work on the bag. And second... Oh how I love me some Tim Holtz fabric! Every time I go into a quilt shop, I stand in front of the TH collections and drool. I have a few pieces that I'm saving for just the right project. It's either that or I'm hoarding Tim. :)

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha

Grapefruit - weird eh?

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Spring

Love the bag and blog. Altoid peppermint ("Curiously"strong).

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterConnie in VA

absolutely peppermint. This bag is amazing, thank you.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVicki

Plain old original chapstick. No flavour as such, but I love the smell of the camphor! Just wish we could get cinnamon or wintergreen here in the UK.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy Lockhart

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