Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sew Sweetness Kennedy Bag in vintage tea towels

Here's my rendition of the Kennedy Bag, a new pattern from Sara of Sew Sweetness. The pattern is free!

tea towel purse
I made it up in vintage tea towels, you can see what they used to look like on my flickr. One was a calendar tea towel from the bicentennial, the other a souvenir tea towel from Massachusetts.

sew sweetness bag
This bag marks my first serious foray into both online sewing contests and bag making, save random totes (one of my first three sewing projects as a little girl was a tote) and one "purse" I hand sewed about 15 years ago from fake cow print fur, nylon straps, and dice print flannel lining. I got lots of  compliments on that monstrosity, but I think it was more like those kinda compliments you get when someone doesn't know what else to say.

tea towel tote
I pinned this pattern as soon as it was released, as I prefer messenger bag style purses that I can wear cross-body, but hadn't really planned on sewing it up for quite a while. It took the announcement of the Sew Sweetness Bag Contest to really push me into trying it out! I thought it would be fun to start joining some online sew-alongs and competitions next year, so now seemed as good a time as any.

tea towel bag
I knew from the get go that I wanted to use some of my vintage tea towels to make the bag and settled on two with a similar feel and color scheme, and also chose some quilting cotton for the accents and lining.

sew sweetness kennedy
I really enjoyed sewing my first bag and would make this again if a family member asked for one, and possibly one more time for myself with leather accents. The changes I made include:
  • Accent fabric on the bottom instead of using a tea towel
  • No flap accents; the main reason being that I didn't want them covering up "Precious Moments Betsy Ross" as I've come to call her. Also, I wanted to get the bag done on time to enter the contest and have tons of other Christmas projects, so I left them out to save time. And all that hardware was getting a little cost-prohibitive and making the bag heavy. I may include them on any future renditions made up in a more plain "main fabric" as I do think they add something to the bag.
  • I left the hardware off the side accents as well, for the same reasons as above. I didn't stitch the accents down so I can clip pens to them and to keep it from looking pieced together.
  • I left out the interior zipper pocket; I never use those.
kennedy bag back
I learned a lot about bag making from this pattern. Mostly, interface the crap out of your bags and they turn out much nicer!

vintage tea towel bag
I only made one mistake when sewing up the pattern, a record for me: the part about sewing the side accents didn't really mention a seam allowance, so I went ahead and used the .5" called for in the rest of the pattern. I knew it was wrong as soon as I sewed up the first seam, but did the next three anyway. I finally gave up when I couldn't turn them, and cut new side accent pieces rather than bothering to unpick them. I used the quarter-inch SA mentioned a few steps back, that time they looked like the picture and I could actually turn them! Also, the pattern said to sew the divider line between the two interior pockets at 6" in, but the halfway point is actually 7.5", so either I was doing something wrong there, or it's a typo.

purse tea towel
So that's it, wish me luck in my first online sewing contest, and good luck if you've entered one too!

Contest Update: Thanks for your kind comments! I didn't even make the top 15. :(

Linked at: Ginger Snap Crafts, Someday Crafts, Lady Behind the Curtain, Skip to My Lou, Making the World Cuter, Crafto Maniac, Sew Can Do, Say Not Sweet Anne, Creating my way to Success, Uncommon Designs, Tip Junkie, Sugar Bee Crafts, Ladybug Blessings, Naptime Creations, Home Stories A to Z,


  1. Brilliant idea with the tea towels! I have gorgeous old ones I might just have to dig out..... sounds like another bag is about to be made! Good luck in the online comp!

  2. I think you have a really good chance of winning, what a great idea well done x

  3. Lovely bag - the print is gorgeous and you have finished it wonderfully!
    Thanks for sharing :-)

  4. that turned out beautifully!! Too bad you didn't make it to the next step of the sewing competition... I've been there too ;o) You've been featured at the Create Link Inspire features this weekend and I've pinned it to the features board... come on over and check it out!


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