Saturday, April 2, 2022

Bella Bag: My Version Made as a Cross Body Bag

Hello my lovely flowers. I wanted to make myself a cross body bag, but which one? I have a lot of patterns from several designers, so I looked through them all and nothing really hit me as to what I wanted to make. So I thought, what is it that I really want in a cross body bag, besides being cross body? There are several style bags I like, such as Hobo, Messenger, Saddle Bag, etc. 

The more I thought about what I like and want and need in a bag, the Original Bella Bag (by ChrisW Designs kept jumping out at me. Bella is a retired pattern.  When Christine designed the updated Bella II bag some years ago, she retired the Original Bella. I know why she wanted to retire Bella, because Christine has so many more updated ways of sewing her bags now, that it seemed a bit too dated. I tested the Bella II for Christine and I love that Bella version too. I made 2 original Bella Bags before Bella II came out.

Both Bella versions are rather large bags. Now I love that they hold a lot of stuff and if I take my large wallet with me, my keys, reader glasses in their case, sunglasses in their case, a pen, a small pad of paper, that really does take up a lot of space and my bag becomes heavy. Carrying all that on my shoulder is starting to be a bit too much. Oftentimes I will take a smaller bag with me and only take my keys, a little wallet with just my ID and license and one credit card and a bit of cash, and wear my sunglasses so that I don't have too much with me, but that depends on where I am going and what I need. 

So as I was looking at the Original Bella, I thought about the changes I could make to make it cross body and add and subtract some of the things on the bag, so here is what I changed:

  • First thing I did was to print the pattern pieces at 90% to make the bag a bit smaller as I didn't want it to be quite as large of a bag.
  • I had to reshape the curve of the bag top so it didn't have 2 straps and stick up so high.
  • I didn't make the side pockets as they would be too small being I made this at 90% and I wanted to add strap connectors on the sides.
  • I added some binding pieces to cover up the raw edge of the side connector straps and placed another one above it and added rivets to the connector straps too.
  • I also wanted to open the bag a bit easier and faster so I didn't want to add that narrow flap closure and instead added the magnetic snap to the upper lining to make it quicker to open the bag.
  • I added some rickrack to the upper front pocket and sewed a line down the center of the pocket to divide the pocket into 2 pockets and added a rivet at the top of the dividing stitch line.
  • The bottom of the bag where the Heavy Weight Stabilizer base is, I quilted it to the bag bottom to make sure it stayed in place.
  • I sewed the back zipper pocket so that I turned the bag through the bottom of the zipper pocket instead of leaving an opening in the lining.
  • Inside I added some rivets to the top corners of the pockets. 
  • I hadn't made the Bella in quite a few years and I forgot about the little gap at the start of the zipper pocket inside. So I sewed a button to cover that gap up, which I didn't do until the bag was finished because I forgot. I made a note on the pattern to sew the zipper differently with zipper tabs at each end instead of bending the zipper back as in the instructions, if I make another Bella in the future. I am sure Christine would have updated this step too. In fact, on Bella II she did sew that inside zipper pocket differently.
Okay so now to see my Bella Bag as a cross body bag:

I had just enough of this Chrysanthemum fabric to make this bag. Chrysanthemums are my birth month flower (November).

There is some text written in gray on the fabric that reads, Chrysanthemums: the Symbol for Long Life & Harmony.

The side connectors I added with binding strips horizontally and added rivets.

One thing I forgot about was that the lining isn't as snug a fit as Christine's newer patterns. Mainly because you cut the lining using the same pattern pieces as the exterior and sew with the same seam allowance. Christine has come a long way baby with her bag designs; because she always has the main lining pieces as separate and smaller pieces to achieve a really nice and snug fit. If I had remembered this, I would have sewed the lining with a larger seam allowance. Oh well, once my stuff is inside it won't show and only I will know (and anyone reading this, lol)!

My after thought button I sewed on to cover up the little gap there next to the zipper pull. I made notes to change how this is sewn by using zipper tabs if I make another Bella.

The back of Bella has a zipper pocket. 

Unzipped the pocket to show my pretty lining.

The divided front pocket I created by sewing it in half.

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  1. A great bag, Daryl. Fun prints and colors.

  2. That is such a beautiful bag, Daryl! I know you will enjoy using it! I know I would!

  3. I am in awe of the way you can alter a pattern to make it your own. You made so many little adjustments to come up with a fantastic purse. the chrysanthemum fabric is wonderful for this project and the little bit of rick rack really gives it a nice subtle pop. great job as always. cross body bags are my favorites as well.

  4. Oooooh! I'm so tempted to go find that pattern somewhere in my archives. I just love your bold fabric choices! And the detailed hack instructions. Daryl, have I ever told you you're a genius?


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