The 221B bag

So I’ve been on a bit of a blog holiday. I didn’t really mean to be – I’ve got four draft posts of things to show – but I’ve been drowning in things to do lately and haven’t been managing my time very well, so blogging was the bit that went by the wayside. (Even that Sunday Stash post the other day? That was written ages ago and then scheduled. It wouldn’t have been posted at all if not for that.)

This is probably the least important thing I’ve got to talk about right now, which means it is the easiest to talk about and therefore the one that will get talked about. Today (Yesterday, at this point – I fell asleep before I finished writing this entry!) I went to Calgary Comic-Con. I’ve never been to any kind of comic-con before, I’m not really into costuming or comics particularly and I think paying for photos/autographs is kind of lame (sorry if you’re into it, but I’ve never put too much stock in celebrity, which means I find it kind of appalling to think of paying for an experience that several hundred other people are also paying for – what’s the experience really?) and while I enjoy some fannish pursuits, they’re largely of the Easy Entry variety. Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Sherlock… there were so many more cosplayers for things I didn’t recognize even remotely, but who were probably among their people, so to speak.


Anyway, there’s me in a terrible Instagram photo, dressed sort of… costume adjacent, if not in a costume exactly. In theory, you could say that I dressed up as 221b Baker Street from Sherlock, but since I don’t really do costumes I wanted the sort of costume that could be not a costume without much effort – take off the earrings and hide the bit on the scarf and it’s not a costume at all!

Comic-con was interesting, but I was super tired, so I’m sure that affected my response to it. I spent most of Thursday sewing my 221b bag, then slept for about three hours, got up and worked a night shift, came home by 8:15 AM, got ready, and left for the convention at 9 AM. So tired! I’m surprised I was still walking by the time we left because by that point I’d been on my feet for most of 15 hours. I’m surprised I didn’t crash into anything while I was walking because my eyes were trying to close too by the end.

Anyway, the bag. Even though I bought my ticket in January, naturally I didn’t actually do much by way of costume creation until the dead last minute. On Tuesday this week I washed and pressed my fabrics, then on Wednesday I cut out and started adding interfacing/fusible fleece to my pieces, but I only got so far:

Birdie Sling bag

At this point, there were still 4 pieces without interfacing and I hadn’t actually started any of the sewing. Patterns for things other than quilt tops always give me a bit of a fright – they often don’t make all kinds of sense to me and Amy Butler patterns in particular really set my brain into knots, but I got from there (the photo above) to here (the photo below) on Thursday:

221b Birdie Sling bag

Okay, Amy Butler patterns scare me, but this one – the Birdie Sling – wasn’t scary at all. It was easy, even for someone like me who can find a way to mess up any sort of non-quilt sewing pattern that gets put in front of me. It all came together perfectly and I couldn’t be happier with the finished bag. (Actually, yes I could be happier. The print on the fabric faded when I washed it so that my black straps/band around the top became way more intense than the black in the print. If I’d had a charcoal twill, it would have worked out perfectly, but I did not.) I suspect I’ll even make this pattern again, if I find a fabric I want to use for it. It’s easy to make, it looks fantastic finished, and it holds a TON of stuff.

The reason I call this the 221B bag is because that fabric on the base is the same print as the wallpaper in the lounge in 221b in BBC’s Sherlock. I bought it from Spoonflower in a cotton-linen blend, which was nice to sew with (and large enough that I could probably cut a second bag out of the leftovers), though the print seemed to fade unevenly in the wash. The proper wallpaper from the show, if you’re a fan, has blue stripes that fade into cream, but I thought it would be a bit more versatile without the blue (you can buy it with the blue stripe though). I had planned to stitch a yellow smiley face into the black band, but to be honest I couldn’t bring myself to ruin it that way — it looks good enough to use every day without it and if it had the smiley face, I wouldn’t. I think what I need is to get a badge/pin with the yellow smiley that I could just pin on if I were going somewhere like Comic-con again.

Birdie Sling Bag Interior

Please forgive these terrible photos – it was getting dark when I took them (yesterday) and then it snowed all day today and was kind of dreary out. (Yes. It’s almost May and we had a day long snow. It’s all been melting as it hits the pavement, but I bet there’ll be a dusting of it at least when I go to work in the morning.)

On the interior, I used an Amy Butler print, largely because it was one of a few fabrics I had enough of, but also because I just really love that print and it gives me a way to use it. The print is Sketchbook Roses from her Alchemy line. It’s not terribly visible, but on the left I added a kind of lobster claw clasp – this is an enormous bag and I don’t want my keys getting lost in there!

221b Scarf

As for the rest of the “costume”, I also wore my 221B scarf, which I bought from Geekiana on Etsy and a pair of earrings I made out of the Sherlock and John charms I bought from Red Bow Tie (also on Etsy, but currently on vacation). I put the IOU apple onto a bracelet chain, but I didn’t have any other charms to go with it (I’d have put on a Union Jack and… I don’t know, other things that apply) so I didn’t wear it.

Sherlock and Watson charms

I’m pretty sure Sherlock isn’t nerdy enough for Comic-con, but it was still a fun way to get at least a little bit into the spirit of things, since I’m not quite ready to go full on Batgirl or Lego Fig or Disney princess like so many people did.

10 thoughts on “The 221B bag”

  1. Spoonflower fabric fading isn’t fab at all. I’ve yet to get any (not sure if that makes me a good girl or a complete amateur?!). Your bag is brill of course and the clasp for your keys was great forward thinking; good thinking Batman! πŸ˜‰

    1. Yeah, I’m not very familiar with Spoonflower products – I think I have one other piece of it in my stash somewhere – but figured it’d be the only way to get the Sherlock pattern. The fading is pretty frustrating, since I followed their care instructions, and it didn’t seem to fade evenly, it’s a little splotchy if you get up close. I don’t know if that’s common with all their fabric or just with the linen/cotton blend, it’s possible it just doesn’t “take” the dye very well, I suppose.

      Once upon a time I had a (store-bought) bag that came with a clasp in the side and I always look for it now when I buy bags (and rarely find it), so I’m sure I’ll definitely be adding it in to any future bags I make – it’s just so helpful!

  2. The Birdie sling is one of Amy B’s bag patterns I’ve contemplated as it looks pretty easy and I love the shape. Some of her others look terrifying to make lol.

    I can’t believe the people who go all out in their cosplay outfits (people get crazy about their Anime ones) but I think I prefer costumes like yours where, you’d get it if you were a *fan* . Anyone can recognise Sailor Moon or Darth Vader or whatever, so how creative is it really (and there’s probably 10 other Sailor Moons there too). I do remember seeing someone post a picture of a dress they made of the tardis which was pretty cool though (and the skirt opened up to a scene of inside the tardis).

    1. It really was an easy bag to make – I was surprised! I knew it was going to be more simple than, say, the Weekender bag, and I’ve seen people mention it as a good starter bag, and yeah… it really was.

      There were a lot of people dressed up like Homestuck characters and tons and tons and tons of Doctors and Tardises (and even one pretty awesome Weeping Angel). The Lego Figs (there were two together) looked pretty great, but simultaneously incredibly uncomfortable. It was fun to watch, anyway, even though I’m very much not the type to participate.

  3. Nice job with the bag. About the fading: I recently had a color run issue with a printed photo on fabric and believe me, I was very distressed, as it made the item look “antique” and no longer bright. So, I have been reading A LOT about how to make your fabric color-fast.
    I read recently (too late for you this time, but for future reference) that when it’s time to prewash the fabric, start with 1 cup Vinegar and 2 TABLESPOONS Salt; put in the washer with your fabric and run through a normal wash. I read this on a posting of a woman who grew up in a Mennonite community. The woman who posted said this is how the Amish do all of their dark colors too. Of course they are using wringer washers etc.
    I think what I would do, is to let washer fill to the minimum water level, put the vinegar and salt in, let agitate to mix, then add the fabric if you use a top loader. Let it swish for a minute to get the fabric good and wet, then let it rest for a few minutes before starting back up in a normal wash cycle. In a front loader, I would be inclined to mix the water and vinegar up in a plastic bowl before putting the fabric in, and pouring in the washer then adding the fabric. Of course, it is harder to set a “rest” point on a top loader. My machine has a pause, but the water drains out.
    Color – catchers are nice commercial products, but in my case, it did not save my printed photo. Good luck with the future use of the fabric. Cut it into little pieces and nobody will see the change of color!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll have to remember this if I want to try something like this again!

      They only briefly sold colour catchers up here and now I can’t find them any where. If I ever get down to the States again, I’ll probably come back with a trunk full πŸ˜€ Anyway, I think that mostly helps to prevent colour bleeds, rather than keeping the colour locked into place.

  4. Love your photo with the Tardis, and adore your Sherlock purse. It is such a disappointment on the fading, one of my fears with ordering Doctor Who fabrics as well. I have heard the vinegar setting works but have never tried it. Your purse is wonderful, and thinking ahead with the key clasp was super. I totally agree with you on paying for autographs, it galls me. i love to costume and my daughter goes to Comic Cons in fabulous costumes, but by the time you pay for the tickets, parking etc. it’s insulting to pay for pictures too. Sorry for the rant. Glad you could post!

    1. Yeah, there’s some pretty awesome Who fabric out there too – I’ve got a few things on Spoonflower bookmarked in case I ever decide I want to pay their prices and chance the fading issue – but I haven’t talked myself into buying any of it just in case. I know people who have used Spoonflower cottons quite a bit and really like them, but I guess I’ll have to try some of it for myself, someday.

      Matt Smith and Karen Gillan were both here this year, but… well, you know what I think about the whole paying thing, so I didn’t see either of them. Or care, so much. I’d be way more excited if David Tennant had been here. (But I still probably wouldn’t have paid to have a chat.)

  5. Just finished catching up! Love that bag – I’ve made it and the pattern is remarkably easy to follow and yields a consistent result.

    And Sherlock is totally nerdy enough. I think that Brit shows are quietly taking over pop culture and my inner “colonial” is secretly very happy. πŸ™‚

    1. I’m glad I decided to try it because it’s a good summer bag, if that makes sense.. πŸ˜€

      It wasn’t nerdy enough at this comic-con – I don’t think I saw anything Holmesian there at all! Though I did have a couple teenage girls who were Benedict Cumberbatch fans come up and do the whole “Omigod, omigod, that’s so awesome, omigod” picture request because of the bag and scarf, which was sort of simultaneously embarrassing and funny πŸ˜€

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