Dottie Vintage (Dance) Bag

Perfect combination of fabric and sewing pattern! Dottie Vintage Handbag | The Inspired Wren

A few dancers monkeying around on a Dottie Vintage Handbag -- perfect for a dance class of first-graders, no?

This Sewing Showcase post aims inspire with a unique combination of sewing pattern and fabrics.
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This fabric!!! Perfect combination of fabric and sewing pattern! Dottie Vintage Handbag sewn in Alexander Henry Monkey's Bizness Ballet Class and Rip Stop Nylon | The Inspired Wren

Back in September, soon after The Peanut signed up for tap/ballet dance class, I purchased this fabulous fabric for a dance bag. This fabric! I had seen it a year prior and had no reason to buy it. I'm not a fabric collector (I know, that makes me an odd duck among the many on-line fabric stashers), so without a reason to buy it I walked away. The very day I sent in the forms for the dance class, this fabric popped back in to my head. The charming local quilt store where I had initially spied it no longer had any in stock. But that didn't stop me! I found some on-line and not-so-patiently waited for it to arrive. As an instant-gratification-girl, that was unusual for me, too.

While I waited for the fabric to arrive I searched for the perfect pattern. If I could, I would get The Peanut the exact dance bag I had in those first years of tap/ballet dancing: the classic vinyl box with a top compartment and a second one underneath with a side snap opening. I can still remember the smell of that bag, those shoes, that first studio. But alas, it's not the 70s (what?!) and it's not my dance class. So I decided on the Dottie Vintage Handbag: perfect for little dance shoes.

Perfect combination of fabric and sewing pattern! Dottie Vintage Handbag | The Inspired Wren

And then life happened. And sewing did not. So The Peanut carried her dance shoes in the original (un)Lined Canvas Tote all year. Early last week when I asked her if she wanted new pants or a new dance bag, she didn't hesitate. Dance bag! 

It was great to pull out the project bag I had put together back in September -- an oh so classy gallon zip-lock freezer bag -- complete with threads and zips ready to go. I also loved that the rectangular pattern pieces from Swoon included the final measurements so I could just cut with my ruler and rotary blade. Then life happened again! (Congestion and a fever this time. The Peanut, not me.) And it took me over a week to finish what felt like a day's work. 

The dance bag came together in a lovely contrast of cream and black. The lining is rip-stop nylon, to withstand the tap shoes flying in and out with a first grader's enthusiasm. I would have loved a pale pink lining, but I was set on using rip-stop and my in-store choices were limited to black and a few basic primary/secondary solids. I also had the same problem of not finding pink for the inner pocket zip; yes, I could have shortened a longer zipper, but I was clearly shopping lazily and didn't think that through.

Love the Rip Stop Nylon lining for a dance bag! Dottie Vintage Handbag as Dance Bag | The Inspired Wren

I was able to fuse the rip-stop to the woven interfacing as the directions called for; I found if I went fast with the hot iron -- rather than holding it in place -- the fuse worked without too many waves/bubbles. It was not as slippery to sew as I anticipated, and the binding clips [affiliate link] worked wonders (get it?) without leaving holes in the nylon. 

Rather than use the rip-stop for the handles and the zipper tabs, I used a scrap of black twill I already had on hand. I really like the feel of the bottomweight on the handles. I also used prepackaged piping rather than make my own -- more lazy shopping/sewing. Did I mention I love the contrast of the blacks against the natural background of the dancers?

Perfect fussy cut! Dottie Vintage Handbag | The Inspired Wren

The final recital is only eight weeks away, but the dance bag is finally done. And it's ready for Summer classes and the 2016-17 school year, too.


Dottie Vintage Handbag by Swoon Patterns


Alexander Henry Monkey's Bizness Ballet Class, Natural [affiliate link] (; Rip Stop Nylon, Black [affiliate link] (Joann Fabric); Sew Classic Bottomweight Cotton Twill, Black [affiliate link] (Joann Fabric)


I used the main fabric to create the interior pocket; while I love the dancers hanging out inside the pocket, I don't love that the edges of the pale fabric are visible around the black zipper. I also joined the piping in the round, rather than cross the edges as the pattern calls for; I never seem to have luck with that cross over method.


This fabric! This perfectly sized bag! I took the time to fussy cut not only the front and back panels but also the bottom panel of the gusset. I cut that panel as two pieces so that those adorable dancers could jump on each side of the bag -- they make me happy every time I see them.

Perfect combination of fabric and sewing pattern! Dottie Vintage Handbag | The Inspired Wren

Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren.

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