Stella Weekender Bag

This post is a love letter to my darling Stella Weekender bag. Ahem:

Dear Stella Weekender,

Oh beautiful Stella. My heart swells with pride whenever I carry you around and someone gasps and says “You made that?!” You were a labor of love and also of last-minute madness and also I probably shouldn’t have tried to make you in such a hurried fashion, but I just couldn’t help it. Once the idea took me that I needed to sew up a Stella, I was a girl possessed. I had to have you for my British Isles trip, so I slaved like a fiend to finish you in time. There were many hurdles, and many late nights spent in anguish, but I believe you were worth it. You saucy minx.

Your devoted admirer,


Ha. But in all seriousness, the story of me+Stella is pretty crazy. A few months back, the husband and I went on the coolest trip ever to Ireland, Scotland, and England. It was our first big trip in a few years, on account of the babies we keep having, and we were both really excited to go. Since the only bags I own are diaper bags that have eternal crumbs and dum dum sucker sticks plastered to the insides, I got the idea to make myself a cute bag for my carry-on and to tote around Britannia.

Enter Stella Weekender. This pattern is by Swoon patterns and it’s PERFECTION. Such a well-written pattern, so beautifully designed, and all-around gloriousness in a bag. It’s rated as an intermediate/advanced pattern (3/4 on their scale) and I would agree with that. They specifically state that it’s not difficult, but time consuming. So of course deciding to make it a week before our departure on an international trip sounded like a great idea at the time. Spoiler alert: it was not. Not a great idea. Did I mention it’s the first bag or purse I’ve ever sewn? Because it was. Really bit off a lot to chew with this one.

Stella Weekender, In Progress

I ran into hurdle after hurdle making this bag. Accidentally printed the 30+ page pattern full color at a shop which cost me a fortune? Check. Bought the wrong zippers? Check. Bought the wrong snaps? Check. Ran all freaking over town looking for the right hardware? Check. Tried to take a shortcut and use half the required number of snaps, then having to unpick and resew the ENTIRE front panel when I realized that half the number of snaps was, gasp, not enough? Check. Lived in a constant state of fear that I was ruining two of my very favorite and long-hoarded fabrics? Check. Sewed the main compartment zipper incorrectly (the very last step, the NIGHT before our flight) so the zipper wouldn’t close and fear that the whole bag was useless? Check.

Never mind that I had other things I should have been doing, you know, like packing and caring for my children. I became a girl possessed and had to finish this bag. Lots of unpicking. Lots of self loathing.

Had I not been under such a terrible (self-inflicted) time constraint, this really wouldn’t have been a bad project at all. It was really satisfying to follow each step and see little by little how it came together into an awesome and totally professional looking bag. If you are smarter and less insane than I am, you can sew this bag like a champ. Order your hardware online, or collect things here and there, and you’ll be just fine. It seems intimidating, but it’s just a lot of steps, a lot of pattern pieces, and a LOT of interfacing. But just follow each step one at a time and you’ll be fine.

At the Airport with Stella

The Stella Weekender is a BIG bag. It was great for the long flight and the hours in the car. (We flew to Dublin, rented a car, drove to the Irish countryside, back to Dublin, flew to Scotland, rented another car, drove all around England. IT WAS AMAZING.) My cardi, a book, my knitting project, wallet, passport, huge stash of British sweets (Cadbury, yo. Also rhubarb and custards.) and then some all fit in my bag. It has an interior pocket that I actually split into two to keep it from being floppy, two side pockets (that fit a water bottle!), and the exterior zipper compartment and two snapped pockets you see on the front panel. There’s also a pocket on the back.

The only problem was that once I had it all packed it was far too heavy to cart around all day. We did a ton of walking and lots of places like museums won’t let you take big bags in anyway, so I mostly left it in the car and took nothing with me. As a longtime lover of carrying all my stuff with me like Mary Poppins, this made me feel a little sad, but there’s no way I could’ve lugged it all over. I really wanted pictures of it with famous British landmarks too, so it’s a shame I didn’t get any. That’s probably the most insane sentence ever typed. The day and age we live in, amiright?

Stella Weekender: The Inside Look

That being said, it’s still one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. I used my tiger canvas from Cotton and Steel’s very first collection (squirreled away in my stash for years) and decided to pair it with some Rifle Paper Co. Les Fleurs canvas for contrast. If you cut my heart open to see what fabric combination was inside, it would be this one. That makes no sense, except for it does. These two fabrics are true love. For the lining I used this hounds tooth quilting cotton I’ve had forever. Happily there were leftovers to make a zipper pouch from the floral (pictured above) and this rad toiletry bag from the tigers. I roughly followed this tutorial to make the boxy pouch. I made it bigger though so I could fit all my crap.

Matching Toiletry Bag

Now I use my Stella Weekender as my traveling sewing bag, and it’s perfect for that. Fits fabric, a pattern or two, my smaller rulers, scissors, pin cushion, snacks (not as much Cadbury to be had here, alas) and more. I thought about using it as my new diaper bag, but I just can’t bear to subject it to such a disgusting and sticky fate.But I’d consider making a second one as a diaper bag, should I ever need a new one. (Will I have another babe? Depends on the day. And who you ask.) Anyway, that’s another topic for another time.

In conclusion, I really love my Stella Weekender bag. I’m absurdly proud of it, probably because making it was so stressful (again, MY fault!) that it probably took two years off my life. A real piece of my soul is in that bag. Like a horcrux. Except I didn’t murder anyone, promise. I want to make another bag soon; I purchased this pattern to try a smaller one, which I probably should have attempted BEFORE I did this larger and more complicated bag, but I always dive into projects with wanton abandon and foolish optimism. It usually kinda pays off.

Summer of Dresses: The Emery Dress

Summer of Dresses: The Emery Dress

Welcome back to my summer of dresses! At the end of summer! Today I’m talking about the Emery Dress by Christine Haynes. I started writing this post in July, when I actually sewed this particular dress, but then we moved and my life was over. Just kidding. I’m fine. But seriously moving is the worst. We’re in our new house now (and by new, I really mean super old, because it was built in 1925) and I’m slowly but surely getting settled in.

I was initially going to just skip this dress and pretend the summer never happened on the old blog, but the Emery Dress is too good to be missed.  Designed by the incredibly talented Christine Haynes, the Emery Dress is a vintage inspired fit and flair dress with darts in the waist, bust and back shoulders for a fitted look and nipped in waist with a full gathered skirt and glorious pockets for added fabulosity.

I actually made my first Emery two years ago for my baby sister for her to wear for her engagement photos. Here she is in all her cuteness. She chose this fabulous print designed by Sarah Watts for Cotton and Steel. Hummingbirds!

I was pregnant at the time, and I almost made myself one to wear to her wedding, but obviously would have and to make several modifications. Not quite sure how to go about that, I emailed Christine Haynes and she gave me the best response! She told me to do a full bust adjustment, remove the waist darts, and shorten the bodice for a sort of empire waist that would be maternity friendly. I didn’t end up making the dress because my sister found a ready to wear dress for me, but I was so impressed that Christine responded with such helpful advice.  I thought I’d include that here for anyone who might want to make a bump-friendly Emery Dress.

Anyway, back to present day. I decided to make myself an Emery because I’ve been wanting one so badly ever since. But as pregnancy and nursing and all that jazz do strange things to one’s bod, I decided to wait until now.

I won a fantastic contest from for last year’s Sewvember. (YAY!) With my store credit I chose this darling strawberry print in the navy colorway by Kim Kight for Cotton and Steel. (If you don’t like Cotton and Steel, you best look elsewhere. Because obviously I’m a bit of a fan girl for those guys.)

I sewed up my Emery just in time for the 4th of July!

And it’s love. This silhouette is my ultimate favorite for dresses. I love the vintage vibes and I just feel like it’s flattering on most people and so feminine.

This pattern is one of the most well-written patterns I’ve ever sewn. The directions are superb and extra clear. This is a more intermediate pattern because of the darts and the lining and invisible zip and all that stuff means lots of steps. Everything was easy to follow and understand. If you consider yourself a beginner apparel sewer but would like to tackle something a little more involved, the Emery Dress is a great pattern for you. It’s easy to follow and it’s also drafted really, really well.

Let’s chat about the modifications I made, and the ones I would make in the future. I would absolutely 100% recommend doing a muslin for this pattern. It’s supposed to be quite fitted and the better the fit, the prettier it will be. I chose not to do a muslin because I had tried on my sisters as best I could in my early pregnant state and I thought it would be fine. It is fine, but there are a few fit issues.

It’s not obvious to others probably, but my dress is too large in the shoulders and arm scye. I almost always have to size down in those areas and grade up in the bust and waist because I have a petite frame. My bust and waist measurements always put be in a larger size brackets (on account of the childbearing) but if I make the size I fall into it’s always too big. I believe my measurements put me at a 10, so I made an 8, and I still think I need to do a 6 in the shoulders and arms. But fit issues and all, I still love this sweet strawberry dress.

I also added length to mine, as the pattern falls at or just above the knee, and I like my skirts below the knee for all my baby chasing. Maybe I’ll shorten the sleeves a little next time, just for a different look. Or maybe I’ll do the long sleeves (the pattern comes with those!) There is also the option for a cute Peter Pan collar (and we know I’m obsessed with those) so I think that’ll be my next attempt.

I hope you liked reading about my experience making the Emery Dress. Check out the #emerydress on Instagram to see about a billion gorgeous version, and as always, let me know if you have questions! Happy sewing!