just a smidgen

Boho Gypsy Sling Bag with Leather Belt Straps



As I drove out to the lake this week, all responsibilities and even my family were left behind.. I was flying solo!
For the first time, since I can’t remember when, I just dropped everything and drove to the lake to have a visit with my parents.

My overwhelming sense of guilt got tossed out the window somewhere along the way and it felt like I was traveling back in time, back to a place where I was once young, single and childless.
All I had to be for those few days was a daughter.

We had a lovely time together, a slow time filled with conversation and then no conversation.

Just the sound of water lapping at the shore, motorboats humming, apricots bubbling into jam, water sprinkling over flower petals, pages of books being turned and iPad keys clicking.

Dinners were homemade and pure with small portions of market fresh veggies, tender cuts of meat and glasses of wine or cold tins of beer. No more grab and run, every meal was taken at the correct time and in the correct order.. simple toasts spread with Okanagan raspberry jam and later home-made relish dolloped wraps were devoured before drifting on the lake where we eased gasping into the unrelentingly glacial waters of old Mabel.

It was soul nourishing… I love my mom and dad..

The summer before my daughter was born, I rode the Greyhound Bus for 7 hours to get out to Mabel Lake with a massive bag filled with quilting fabric, thread and a pattern shoved under the seat in front of me. Every summer,  I would try to bring out a book I wanted to read or a project to work on. Katie’s “blankie” was the project that summer and with my mom’s help, I went home with a pretty ruffled pink and blue quilt that hasn’t left her side for very many nights. It also bears little resemblance to that once carefully stitched quilt, having been cradled, cuddled, and smooshed into the tattered well-loved “blankie” she has today. When she was a tiny little thing I asked her why she had to have her blankie with her everywhere. She looked at me like I must be daft and replied, “Because it smells like you, momma!”

Boho Gypsy Sling Bag with Leather Straps

This year I brought out a project that takes me back to my old “hippy days”.
I seem to be drawn to the bohemian lifestyle as each year passes and  it sure feels”right” embracing the person I once was.
Now if only I could just bring that feeling of the lake home with me..

The pattern for this tote is an Amy Butler “Gypsy Sling” pattern and the first of hers I’ve tried. I found her instructions a bit difficult to follow and had only one maddening setback when I missed the very first step where I was to tape two pattern pieces together before cutting the fabric! Why she didn’t just draw the entire front/back pattern piece in one section I’ll never know. But with the cost of the fabric, I adapted and cut out the second “extension” piece with a little seam allowance and sewed the two together so I ended up with the large piece I was supposed to have had.

Everything was pretty straight forward from there. Sewing a pocket with a little pleat and making gussets were new to me, as was sewing a bag that was lined. A gusset is made when you line up the side and bottom seams and stitch blithely across, pretty easy once you know what it is!

I was glad to have had enough experience in sewing that helped me interpret her unique pattern writing style. The diagrams can be very helpful to clarify each step. If you’re a novice sewer, I would be sure to have someone you can ask if you get stuck on any steps in this pattern. Given that so much of it is lined and sewn with heavy fabric and interfacing, it would be really challenging to rip apart any mistakes.

The final decision was whether to make fabric handles or use leather belts. My daughter promptly suggested that belts were the right choice and I agreed, thinking that fabric straps might make the bag look more like a diaper bag than the “Gypsy” coastal look I was going for.

The instructions call for cutting off the buckles and stitching the ends of the belts together. I skipped that whole step by sewing a simple channel and threading two separate belts through. I really liked the look of the buckles showing and didn’t want to remove them. They also allow me to lengthen or shorten the straps as I wish. I think if you have any two handled bag you could convert it into a similar look just by sewing the pockets and inserting the belts.

I’m now in Vernon and have gone everywhere with my new Gypsy Sling.

I love that the belts can overlap on my shoulder, this helps them “stay put” when walking around.
It opens wide enough to carry, well, anything.. from market veggies to beach gear.


This pattern cost $13.00 and can be ordered and even downloaded as PDF (not sure how you’d enlarge it) on the Amy Butler  website here. She sells fabrics on her website as well, but I choose a different fabric from our local Out of Hand shop in Lakeview.

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