Introduction: The CROWN Bag
Be you Queen B, Queen WannaBe, or Elizabeth II, the best way to channel your inner Mighty Monarch is to fashion a crown of your very own. Though your royal self will, of course, outshine all the peasants, you can ensure your bag does as well by adding some fun little lights. The matierals to make this precious joo-elle encrusted statement piece can easily be found in the local thrift shop, dollar store, and fabric market, but it looks like you just busted it out of The Tower. So, c'mon princess, get your coronation on!
Step 1: Materials, Tools
- velvety fabric for bag exterior, about a half meter/yard by 115cm/ 45" (if buying at textile store), or a velvety curtain or table cover or the skirt of a circa 1984 cocktail dress
- a similar amount of lighter material to line the bag
- fairly stiff interfacing/webbing, preferably the iron-on kind
- a piece of felt (15cm x 30 cm / 6" x 12") or stiff material for the base of the bag - a really big, flat insole might work
- a piece of faux fur, white, about 15cm x 75cm / 6"x 30", or a crappy Santa hat
- assorted cotton crocheted laces that, if you squint, might look like filigree
- acrylic paint in your choice of gold or silver
- joo-elles, the kind you sew on like buttons, in assorted colours and sizes. pearls and beads could work too.
- a string of 8 to 15 little battery operated lights and batteries
- thread, super glue, some sort of glue that is rubbery and flexible when it dries
- chain for the handle
- zipper or hook and loop fastener
- crappy paint brush(es)
- chain or pearl rope for handle
- fine and heavy sewing needles
- sewing machine
- hammer, grommet tools
- small pliers
- a thimble - no really you need one!
Step 2: Planning and Preparation
The velvety material will be the base of the bag. The crocheted lace, once painted, will be the precious metal CROWN frame (I went with "platinum". Others may call it "silver", but others may be sent to the dungeon at my pleasure, so they had better watch themselves.) You will want to have an idea what you want to put in your CROWN bag so you know basically what size of a bag to make. I used my giant wallet as the starting point, and made the CROWN large enough to hold it, a small bottle of hand lotion and my phone.
measurement 1 - Gather all your important stuff in once place, wrap it in a plastic bag if it helps keep it in place and measure the circumference of the gathered stuff. Add 5 cm / 2 " seam allowance plus wiggle room.
measurement 2 - How tall does your CROWN need to be? This will be decide partly by Pleasing Proportions, and how tall your important stuff is. The finished CROWN should be about half the height, give or take, of the width of the front or back. Too tall, the monarch clearly is trying to hide a pointed head. Too short, the monarch looks as though his head has caved in (eew). Again, add 5cm / 2" or more for seam allowance plus wiggle room. You can always trim it off later, so be generous.
cutting your fabric - Cut one piece of velvet and once piece of lining measurement 1 X measurement 2 for the walls of the CROWN bag. For my personal CROWN this was 75cm x 35cm / 28" x 14".
bottom of bag - The CROWN bag will be a flattened circle, somewhat like a rectangle with rounded corners. The easiest way to cut a nicely fitting bottom is to baste or pin the cut base rectangle into a circle. Get a couple of soup cans (coffee mugs, whatever) of the same size. On top of a scrap piece of paper (one of the annoying flyers that arrive at your door whether you want them or not will do nicely) put the soup cans into the basted/pinned CROWN base circle and push them far enough apart that the fabric is taught and will not fall. Trace the shape with a marker onto the paper. Remove the soup cans and CROWN base and neaten up the tracing. Outside the tracing, draw the same shape a nice even 2cm / 3/4" larger than the tracing - seam allowance and wiggle room!! - this is the cut line. Pin the pattern to your fabrics, one at a time. Cut one bottom piece of velvet and one of lining material on this exterior cut line.
Remove basting/pins from base of bag. Lay the fabric out flat.
Step 3: Lights, "platinum", CROWN!
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Some one said that once, and they were spot on.
Before you pick up a paint brush or cut your crocheted lace, spend some time arranging your CROWN components on your base piece. If you chose to use lights (and, personally, I think its a royal shame not to) you will need to decide the spacing and arrangement of the lights. Mine are about 5cm / 2" apart at the bottom part of the crown. Mark where your lights will go on the wrong side of your fabric. Be sure they are well above the bottom of the bag and are not lost in the seam allowance. Make a little bitty button hole, using the sewing machine, for each light. If you don't have a sewing machine, you can try just poking small holes and "cauterizing" the edges with a bit of clear nail polish or PVA glue. But its not the best.
On my CROWN, the button holes are disguised by aligning two strips of 2.5cm / 1" (crocheted lace painted silver) "platinum". This forms a convincing ring upon which the CROWN frame is constructed.
To make fleurs du lis, form 3 loops of pointy edged narrow crocheted lace. Sew together in a 3 "petal" shape, paint.
A cross can be made in a similar way, with 2 pieces of straight edged crocheted lace. Sew and paint.
Once all your uprights, edges crosses, flowers and filigree have been decided upon, formed, painted and dried, you can pin and sew them to the base velvet. Up right pieces can be, sewn down only part way, left loose on their upper halves, so they can "bend" outwards to give depth and shape to the CROWN. Include seam allowances and wiggle room when cutting the crocheted that will later be sewn into the bag seams.
Sew many of the pieces of crocheted "metal" as possible to the base velvet with a sewing machine. Tip: sew on as much as possible before you sew the seam of the bag and make it into a tube shape. You can do it after the bag is formed, but its easier to do it before while the base velvet is flat.
Step 4: Becoming Royal
To make ermine from faux fur, dot some black spots with a permanent black in a line along your crappy santa hat band. Give the pom pom to the cat. Toss the in-between bits.
Sew the ermine to the bottom of the still flat bag base, just below the "platinum" band. Tip: lay the fur on top of the velvet base, right sides together. Align the bottom edges, so that the seam allowance of the velvet (the 1.5cm / 5/8" that will be used to attach the base of the purse) is visible below the bottom of the fur. Pin or baste in place. Turn the pinned together pieces over. On the back of the velvet, you can see the stitch line where you sewed the "platinum" bands on. Using the machine, sew the fur onto the velvet, just below the lowest "platinum" band.
If you are not too confident, baste it in place first, then turn it "right side out" to make sure it looks right.
Use a tooth pick to extract sewn in fluffs of fur, and brush it all out with an old tooth brush to look really snazzy.
Sew on all your joo-elles. You will ave to do this by hand, using a fine needle. You will want that thimble to push the needle through the layers of materials.
If you find the appearance of the thread on the sewn joo-elles a bit tawdry, put a drop of silver paint over it.
Step 5: Extras
If you have any odd bits, chandelier crystals or strings of pearls or whatever fabulous things you want to add, now is the time to figure our how to mount them in/on your CROWN. May have to exert your own genius here. But this is what I did with a "diamond orb".
Found this delightful bauble on sale for a mere $3.50, so I splurged. Its kind of a tiny geodesic dome with all the holes stuffed with faux diamonds, save 2 - one on the top and one on the bottom.
To make a crown topper out of such a bauble,you need a corsage pin a small piece of felt (2.5cm x 1") and some flexible-when-dry glue.
Put a blob of glue on the top hole of the bauble, stick the corsage pin through and weave it into the felt. Smear a little more glue on both sides of the felt where the pin shows.
Set aside to add later.
Step 6: Lining, Shaping and Zipper
Your CROWN bag is really going to take shape now!
Sew the back seam of the velvet bag to form a tube. Tip: be careful to match up any horizontal bands. The only thing worse than seeing HRH with her crown all wonky is seeing her with her card buttoned up wrong.
Pin and sew the bottom on the velvet tube you just created. Clip the rounded bits of the seam allowance to ensure a smooth fit. This is called "easing". If you don't ease the seam, it will bunch up and will look like your CROWN bag looked like a balled up dirty sock with joo-elles. Not a magisterial look.
Turn the velvet Crown bag right side out. Cut and fit a piece of felt or heavy shoe insole in the very bottom of the bag. This will help give it shape and make it more sturdy when you jam in that mongo huge wallet containing all the wealth of the realms, your phone and that ever necessary bottle of hand lotion.
Arrange your lights through the little holes you made. Use a blob of that wonderful flexible glue to secure each one in place. Try to do your gluing from the inside for neatness.
Iron the webbing/interfacing to the lining pieces, making it stiff enough to stand up like a paper bag. Roll your lining bag wall (the rectangle the same size as the original pieced of velvet) into a tube. Slip it into the velvet CROWN bag. Adjust to fit neatly and closely inside the bag and mark or pin where you will make the seam.
Pin and sew the lining into a tube, leaving a gap in the seam to slip the battery box of the lights through. You don't want to leave the battery box permanently trapped in the bottom of the bag, lest your ability to shine over your subjects be limited to the life span of a couple of AAs.
Sew the bottom of the lining (also stiffened with webbing/interfacing) to the bottom of the lining. Once again, ease the curves of the seams so the lining can take a nice, unbunched shape.
DO NOT TURN THE LINING RIGHT SIDE OUT.
Slide the lining inside the bag, pulling the battery box through and smoothing the lining into the bottom of the CROWN bag.
Take your time with this next bit:
Fold the top of the velvet bag under about 2.5cm / 1" towards the inside (towards the lining) and fold the lining to the same height towards the outside (towards the velvet). Tuck in any loose uprights of "metal" where you want them, and any baubles or extras between the folded edges. PIN in place.
You may have to make minor adjustments at this point. If your CROWN looks shorter on one side than the other, if you too much material in the lining or the velvet, that sort of thing, you may have to adjust, trim and rein. Do this as many times as necessary until you are happy with your CROWN.
ZIPPER: if using a zipper, pin and baste it in place between the outer bag and inner lining at the top of the bag. Again, you may have to pin it a few times before it looks "right". Once you have it, take the time to baste it in place before you attempt to sew it in properly with the sewing machine. Different materials, lots of layers and a relatively small space will make doing a neat job quite a challenge.
If you don't want a zipper, just sew all the layers neatly together at the top of the bag, preferably with a sewing machine. You can try dome fasteners, the hammer in kind, hook and loop tape or just a fancy (big) pin to keep it closed.
Step 7: Finishing, Reigning
Cut, paint and sew on (Alas, by hand. Get that thimble.) a nice pointy, scalloped topper to the CROWN. Not only will this add to the crownly appearance of the bag, it will hide potentially ugly zipper seams and messy edges of the uprights. At this time, reinforce any extras, like the diamond bauble. Chances are you were unable to sew the zipper neatly next to the bauble (or other large bling). Hand sewing the top band of "metal" allow you to ensure the zipper and other things are tacked in nicely.
Add a handle to your CROWN bag, because clutching it under your arm makes it look like you pulled off the biggest heist in history.
I made a small hole in either side of the CROWN bag and fixed a 2cm / 3/4" grommet, also called an eyelet near the top. Its a big of a pain to go through all the layers and I had to squish it in place with a rise. But it worked.
I opened up a link on either side of the chain (I folded mine double because I was obliged to buy a metre / yard, but I like the look of it that way, so I'd recommend it) and put it in the opened link through the grommet and pinched it closed.
You could also use a rope of faux pearls or a shiny piece of belt left over from the 80s.
Stuff your stuff in your bag, lights on for regal safety, and away you go.
Step 8: Make It Personal
aside: a couple of pictures have insisted on appearing sideways, no matter how many times I down load them right-ways-to.
I found theses letter beads at my local joo-elle and bead store. They have a slot in them and are meant to be strung on a strip of leather, something like a watch band. I strung them on some grosgrain ribbon and fashioned a bow-badge-medal thing. For extra snaz and to stop the cut ribbon from fraying, I painted on my sparkliest silver ("platinum"!) on raw edges.
Using a corsage pin you can fix your initials to your bag, or to your outfit to go-with. If you share your CROWN bag with your near and dear, they can have a different bow-badge-medal with their initials.