The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier
Bags. Handmade!, From scratch

The Berlin Bag

I made a bag guys! This is the first non-clothing item I’ve made that’s actually super useful and looks pretty much as I imagined it.

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

We planned a trip to Berlin with some friends (and my sis, of course), with the flight arriving at 9am and a check in time at 2pm. Since I didn’t feel like carrying my stuff around in my hand all day, I decided to make a backpack. And the endless research for the perfect backpack started. I already had a Pinterest board for bag ideas, but this time I focused on roll top backpacks. I wanted something that’s stylish, simple and expandable.

The problem with the ones for sale, apart from being overpriced, is that they tend to be more on trend and less functional in my eyes. Most of them have the vintage looking buckle fastening (which is just a hassle to open/close) and the sleek looking, unpadded leather/canvas straps don’t look comfortable to me at all. After spending hours looking at the DIY options, the handmade ones on Etsy, and pretty much every vintage looking/cycling rucksack on Pinterest, I found that  the HHI Day Pack and the Voyatzer Backpack bags that seemed to be the closest to what I had in mind.

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The bag’s top can be folded or rolled down. I thought a lot about how to close the sides under the flap, and I am more than happy with the solution, as I didn’t want to insert a zipper and I didn’t really trust putting a button there.

The leather cover on the bottom was made of a piece of leather that I scored for about £4 in Fes, Morocco last year. I bought some black cotton drill to do the top bit, but since it was a different shade of black, I got the chevron patterned wool instead. I’ve checked the measurements of other similar bags and measured my torso length before I cut the fabric out. In the construction of the straps and the back panel, this tutorial proved to be very helpful (it’s a somewhat unusual source, I don’t quite want to know what the guns are for…). I got my hardware from this eBay shop, and all I regret is not getting more at the same time (so that I can make more bags! 🙂 ).

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

Pretty much everything went smoothly except for one thing. My machine can’t sew more than 2 layers of leather. There were parts on this bag where I had to attach 3 layers of leather, 2 layers of wool, and 2 layers of the lining fabric. It was not fun. It took me about 4 hours to do it by rolling the machine by hand…but it’s done!! Ever since then my sewing machine runs a little weird, so I’m thinking about getting a half industrial vintage one, or something more heavy weight as a replacement in the not so near future. If you have any suggestions on what machine to get next, I’m all ears!

All in all, I am pretty much in love with my little “Berlin Bag”. If it wasn’t as heavy as it is, I would definitely take it to the South East Asia trip too, but since it is, I must make another one. So watch this space! 🙂

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier



From scratch

Sneak peak #3

From scratch, Refash., Stash diet/ Scrap revival

Sewing, uninterrupted

It’s kind of what I’ve always longed for. 10 days alone at home. The sewing machine constantly set up, the cutting mat covering half of the kitchen floor. There’s a constant flow jazz in the background and there’s no stopping until 3 in the morning.

My mum and sister has abandoned me to visit family in Nigeria, and although I’ve realized that even though I’ve always wanted to live alone, I’m willing to admit that it’s definitely not for me. I might -weirdly- be more organised on my own (if I don’t do the washing up, nobody else will after all…), and I might have all the time in the world to do my own thing, but I painfully miss having someone around to talk to. But enough of the self-pity, I hope they are having the time of their life, and there’s only a couple of days left until they come back, so I’m planning to make the most of the remaining time. In between hosting sleepovers and dinner parties, I came up with a couple of projects to finish until next Tuesday.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted2

Set up dressform

I’ve made a dressform guys. Again. This time around I’ll just have to show you how it was done, as there’s so much you can learn about how NOT to make one. I would like to experiment in draping, so I’ll mark the Centre Front, CB, etc. and make a basic bodice block first, to see how close it comes to fitting my real body.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted5

Finish Mum’s dress

I’ve found this fabric in Rolls&Rems in the remnants box about a year ago. It’s almost finished, but the waist line is terribly wonky, so it’s the kind of annoying but necessary alteration that keeps a garment  in the cupboard for ages. I’ve already marked the new waistline, so all I need to do is gathering the skirt bit again and attaching to the bodice.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted

Make a knit garment

I have quite a bit left from the fabric I used to cover the dressform, and I guess I got the “sewing with knits bug” from seeing all the Netties, Monetas & Mabels springing up, so I decided to join the party. I’m making a bodysuit as well, by copying a RTW garment and altering the pattern so that I can use the smaller fabric pieces.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted3

Make toille for the Birthday Dress

My birthday is less than a month away, and even if I don’t end up wearing this, I really want to finish it by then. This is going to be the first time I’m using boning and I can smell a disaster coming, but I’m pretty excited about it at the same time. If I can fit the toille this week, then I assume I could use that as the underlining later.

Upcycle the leather shorts

I found this real leather, dark brown pair of shorts on Brick Lane for about £1.40. It’s a tad too small and very 80’s, but the wrong side of the leather looks really nice. I was going to make a moccasin for myself, or for a colleague’s newborn baby, but I might stick to making something I can actually wear in public, like a skirt, some kind of a top/jacket or a bag inspired by my ever-growing Bags to make board on Pinterest.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted1

Make a bra

This is my favourite fabric I’ve ever bought, and although I have about 3 meters of it (remnants box find too!), I haven’t been able to figure out what pattern could do justice to this awesome, but very loud print. To avoid making that decision I keep coming up with small projects to use a piece of it that I cut off when I  got it. I used the flowers for the embellished trainers (still in the making…) and I’m planning on making a triangle bra this time.

 P.S.: Any advice regarding draping on a form, using boning, or making bras is more than welcome! 😉