achievement unlocked: shoulder pads for bags


It’s not all garments around here. I also made a couple of detachable shoulder pads for some of my handmade bags.


I originally planned to make one for my Weekender bag. It’s a pretty large bag & it can get very heavy when it’s full of library books or whatever, & the straps are narrow enough to be a little uncomfortable. I used the freebie pattern from Sew Sweetness, which comes in three different sizes, depending on the size of the straps you are working with. I chose the largest size. I had the shoulder pad for the Weekender cut out & ready to roll almost a year ago, but then I got distracted by other things, which is ridiculous, because once I sat down at the machine, this thing was done within half an hour. So I made another for my Supertote, which is my daily use bag right now.




It’s all pretty simple. It’s a curved shape to conform to a shoulder, with wings that wrap around the bag straps. You can fasten them with Velcro or snaps (I used Velcro on the Supertote shoulder pad & snaps on the Weekender shoulder pad), & the whole thing is bound with bias tape. Sara claims that you can machine-sew the bias tape, but I utterly failed to achieve a clean finish doing that. I hand-sewed instead, which still turned out kind of janky. I’m pretty sure this was at least 75% user error, because I just had a complete brain erasure & forgot how to attach bias tape (ie, sew it down along the innermost fold, then fold over to hide the stitches, folder over again to wrap the raw edge, & then sew the outermost fold). So I sandwiched the raw edge of the shoulder pad between the tape & hand-stitched either side, with fairly clumsy results, especially around those curves.


My meh handstitching here reminds me of this time I went to a friend’s house, & his new girlfriend was over, but she had the flu. I hadn’t met her yet & was really looking forward to it. But she just hid out in his room because she wasn’t feeling well. She came out at one point to get a glass of water & threw her hands over her face & said, “Don’t look at me! I am hideous!” But she was French, as in, actually from France, so she said this in a French accent, which made it ten times funnier. Jared & I still say this to each other on the regular. “Don’t look at meeee! I am ‘ideous!” That’s how I feel about my stitching.



This project requires very little fabric. You can make it from scraps & a bit of interfacing. Sara calls for Soft & Stable (she loves that stuff) to give the shoulder pad its requisite padding, but you can use fusible fleece or even leftover batting scraps–whatever. I bet even scraps of thick fabric like sweater knits or coat wool would work. & the finished product sits very nicely on the shoulder & does provide more comfort when lugging around a heavy bag.

So, that’s that! I was pretty stoked to finally get this project out of my UFO box.

I was doing so well, sewing through my unfinished objects & using up my stash. Then I totally fell off the cliff this week.

I got this in the mail yesterday, with to make another shirtdress. When Ramona saw me opening the package, she said, “Is that more fabric? Is Mommy going to turn that fabric into a shirtdress?” Yes & yes. Nice to see she’s paying attention.

Then I went to Hancock & bought some teal gingham seersucker to make another sleeveless shirtdress, & as long as I was there, I also picked up some deeply discounted purple pique to make a Cressida skirt. I’ve already made one out of blue pique, but it needs a few alterations to fit better, so I haven’t photographed or blogged it yet. I will say that it is a remarkably quick sew that comes out looking pretty profesh. Plus I have everything I need to make at least three (maybe more) shirtdresses, & jeans, & like eight bras, & a whole drawerful of underpants, & another Lady Skater, & a t-shirt or two…I could go on. To say nothing of craft sewing. The point is that I am in no way hurting for the materials I need to sew sew sew, & I definitely did not need to go to Hancock or buy ridiculous cat fabric. Though I did promise Jared that I would make the cat dress & wear it to his graduation in May. Haha!

I am also trying to fit in more time for reading after squandering all my downtime in the last few weeks watching “Bob’s Burgers”. I started watching it on a whim while Jared was in Wisconsin, because I didn’t have the brainpower to do anything else after chasing Ramona around by myself all day. & then, being a completist, I had to watch all six seasons.

I have a secret weakness for self-help books, so I got this book called You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero, out of the library. Supposedly it’s the self-help book for people who are embarrassed by self-help books. Guys…I don’t know. There’s a lot of sketchy stuff about how you have to “vibrate at a high frequency” in order to “attract” what you want into your life. With the corollary being, of course, that vibrating at too low a frequency attracts cancer & rains of locusts into your life. She has this whole thing about how people don’t do anything that doesn’t reward them on some level, so you need to identify the rewards you’re reaping from the negative stories you tell yourself & find positive ways to get the rewards. She uses depression as an example & seriously comes right out & says that the rewards you might get from depression include a ready-made excuse for not trying & not taking care of the basics of your life, like laundry, & the attention you get from people being worried about you. Um…maybe consider fucking off with that, Jen Sincero? Can you imagine someone suggesting to a person with cancer that it’s just a “story” they’re telling themselves because they like the attention? So yeah. Not wild about this book.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: shoulder pads for bags

  1. That book sounds… horrible.

    LJ totally has my number when it comes to sewing as well, except she just wants me to make stuff for her. “Can we go up to your craft room? And make a Star Wars pillow? For me? How about we go to the store and buy some more Star Wars fabric?”

    Last night she piled up a bunch of fabric scraps, soaked it all in spray starch alternative when I wasn’t looking, and then asked me to sew it all together for her. She said it was her baby. Creepiest baby ever.

    1. I have since finished the book (it was a pretty quick read) & it was indeed fairly terrible. There was this whole chapter about how you need to get over your hang-ups about wanting money because you’ll never have any if you keep feeling guilty about it. Her example was this one time when she needed a new car but was broke. She bought a luxury Audi anyway & then “manifested” the money to pay for it. Seemingly without doing any soul-searching about why she felt she needed or deserved a luxury car.

      I practically never make things for Ramona, so she doesn’t ask. She is really chill about my sewing stuff. She doesn’t mind if I sew, but she also doesn’t get into my supplies. Sometimes if I am hand-sewing, she sits next to me & watches. Sometimes she will stand next to me & hand me pins. She’s really nothing but helpful. I hit the baby jackpot over here!

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