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Personalized Signature Cosmetic Bag: Happy Mothers' Day!

Pattern: my design
Yarn: Peruvian Collection Highland Wool, <1 ball Navy, <1 ball red
Needles: US 5 straight or circular
Recipient: Mameleh
Finished Dimensions: 7" x 5"
Gauge: 4.5 stitches / inch on US 5 needles
Notions: 1 7" zipper (or appropriate size for your bag), small amount of plastic liner material (could use cut-up shower curtain liner), needle & matching thread

Notes:
Mystery project goes public! This idea originated with Margot, who suggested a cosmetic bag on the uber-useful Mom Keep Out thread.

My Mom's handwriting is beautiful (and large - her signature on a check takes up half the paper), so I decided to try a knitted gift that would incorporate it like this signature bag I saw on Craftster.

The great thing about bags is that dimensions don't matter too much. Yours will vary depending on the size of your yarn and your chart. Here's what to do:

(1) Solicit handwriting from the recipient in thick marker (if it's a surprise, reassure them that you won't be defrauding anyone!)

(2) Scan handwriting sample and run through knitpro freeware charting application. You'll have to play around with the image size until you get the number of stitches on the chart you're seeking. I used this:

I had to crop out the rest of Mom's signature, because the letters were too narrow to chart well. It became this:

intarsia

(3) Complete front panel according to chart. You could also knit one long piece for front and back panels, to avoid having to sew the bottom seam.

Here's my front panel. Baby's first colorwork:

I'm not thrilled with the colorwork, but I started over like three times and couldn't bear to do it again to fix the bumpy spots. I don't know whether it's possible to get a smooth edge at this gauge on a letter so curvy. If it is, I'm too lazy to figure out how (sorry Mom!).

(4) Knit a matching back panel in a solid color.

(5) Sew panels together at the bottom seam.

(6) Cut a piece of plastic slightly narrower than knitted piece, and about 2" longer.

(7) Sew in zipper. Sewing in zippers is mucho tricky, and I couldn't adequately explain it. Try this tutorial. The only difference is that you'll be sewing an extra lining layer on top of the zipper fabric. Basically you'll make a zipper sandwich, on either side of the bag, then sew it all together.

(8) Now that you've sewn in both sides of the zipper, you can sew together the sides of the plastic piece to form an inner bag.

Here's the inside of Mom's bag:

(9) Seam sides of knitted piece as usual. Stuff in any loose threads or yarn ends (yay! no need to perform the hated task of weaving in ends).

(10) Deliver to impressed recipient, who should be thrilled to see her name in lights stitches!

Related Entries:
No Mom Allowed (Stay Away Sandi!)
Mother's Day Gifts for the Prepster Mom
Super-Duper-Chart-Anything-A-Tron (or knitpro)

Posted by jess at May 8, 2005 8:20 AM
Comments

Jess, I think you did a great job on the cosmetics bag! From the pics I can see, that cursive S looks very very impressive. I've tried intarsia a couple of time and it has NOT been pretty. But seeing your FO here makes me want to break out of the knitting graph paper (or that very handy link that you mentioned a few posts before) and try it again. And this time hopefully succeed.

And no weaving in ends? Sweet.

:)

Posted by: Sandra at May 8, 2005 2:22 PM

It turned out fantastic! As someone who's tried to do fiddly self-designed intarsia recently I can sympathize- I ripped out a Strongbad scarf for my son 5 or 6 times before I thought it was "okay" enough to keep. I'm still not happy with it but boy do I appreciate the folks who design intarsia now. Next up is a penguin hat for hubby who's all into linux. Oi!

Posted by: Julie at May 8, 2005 3:38 PM

Wow, what a great idea! I love it!

Posted by: Theresa at May 8, 2005 4:49 PM

Jessica,

What a gorgeous bag! Congratulations on such great work.

And I've tried intarsia too--believe me your colorwork looks great!

Lisa

Posted by: Lisa at May 8, 2005 5:04 PM

Great job! I just love all the fun stuff you do.

Posted by: Jenifer at May 8, 2005 6:48 PM

what a great idea! i'm sure your mom loved it :O)

Posted by: Amanda at May 8, 2005 7:12 PM

Nice job! Lucky mom!

Posted by: Sara at May 8, 2005 10:35 PM

What an awesome, awesome bag! Gotta say, my mom has some vintage knitwear with cursive writing on it, and yours looks just like it - really, it's lovely.

I'm a bit leery of intarsia, so I've gotten around it but using thin lengths of i-cord for cursive letters. Not the same effect, true, but also nice.

Posted by: mindy at May 9, 2005 11:20 AM

Nice! Thanks for showing the lining. Jess, how to you knit so quickly and so well? I must know! :)

Posted by: la chica alta at May 9, 2005 1:54 PM

what a nifty gift idea! it looks great!

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