a bag for mama

Last night, after an exhausting day of caring for my sick family, I decided to not even consider my pile of work. I needed to do something for me. It was late, snowing and cold. I couldn’t find a leash and I couldn’t stand to be inside for another moment so Alice and I headed out into the snowy night, boundless. I walked hard and fast. The cold air burned. I let go a little bit with every deliberate step.


I came home, walked through the messy kitchen only stopping to put the entire pot of chicken noodle soup in the fridge. I poured a glass of thick wine, descended to the studio put on some loud music and made myself a bag.

Our hen, 16 months, digs the new accessory

I’ve had this bag in mind for a while. My criteria:

  • Big but navigable when digging for, say, a pacifier or phone or fruit leather. 
  • Handles just the right length so I could reach in with one hand while it is on my shoulder
  • Uses awesome vintage upholstery fabric I scored at a garage sale.

I don’t love the button and I think I’ll change it. Chunky wood? Thoughts?

  • Square bottom, heavy fabric. No floppy bag.
  • Comfortably holds camera, two diapers, diaper cover, two water bottles, snacks and the other normal purse stuff.
  • Thick, stay-put straps.
  • Laptop fits.
  • Lots of pockets

The fabric for lining and pockets are all pieces from my scrap stash.

  • Is cheery.

Pattern details: The bag is a tweak on the Charming Handbag in Bend the Rules. My changes: I hand drew the pattern to 8×16″ (cut on the fold so my bag is 16×16″) . The two handles are each 30″ long and I doubled the width (also doubled the width of the casing). Because I used heavy fabric, I didn’t do a facing, only a lining. I added three pockets to the lining before assembling bag. I added a flap, a snap and a non-functional button.

I like it. And, even though its completion meant very little sleep, it was just what I needed: a little spring green to accompany my winter uniform.


Another thing that fueled my mojo happened last week when Margot’s camera was stolen from our front steps and I, as Margot says, drove way way far away all over to track down the thief. Read all about it in this week’s mama digs: depth of field.

Lastly, there is still a day to vote in the poll at the upper right about which electronics or appliance item you’d love a discount on and comment on this post answering the question, If you were offered a discount on that item, would you purchase it? Your participation determines what fabulous deal Vann’s will offer you all on Wednesday and helps me replace my broken camera thanks to the new dig sponsor. I really appreciate your support! And I really appreciate Vann’s!

69 Responses to a bag for mama

  1. Terri Holt says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Well done Nici, a.k.a, mama bear,….my blood was boiling just hearing the story let alone living it! Yes Margot summed it up very nicely in one sweet sentence! She must love this camera because she was concerned for it’s feelings….”And the camera was FREAKING OUT.”

    ‘all’s well that ends well’….Margot & William Shakespeare


  2. Jean says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Good job, Nici. Dolly would be proud.

  3. Jenn Furber says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Way to go, Mama. You’ve earned your gold star. I can’t believe beaded guy would take pink camera! I love Mama Digs, but Margot Digs are sweet, too.

  4. Tina says:

    via mamalode.com:

    First time commenter and that totally made me smile.

    And I also made your whole wheat biscuits last night and my family loved them.

    Thank you!

  5. Jessica says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Oh girl, you need a medal for keeping your cool. I would have started crying or vomitted or would have spouted off some ill advised “who the f*ck do you think you are” tirade, then cried, then puked. Nice work!

  6. Dana says:

    That bag is awesome! When will it be in your shop??? Love the camera story. you are such a great mama bear!

  7. Mary A-J :) says:

    Loved the mamadigs story and I am so glad that it ended so well!

    I would totally buy my five year dream camera a Canon Digital Rebel if there is anyway I could swing it with a great discount. I would almost sell a kidney for it at this point…

    Also, absolutely adore that purse! Maybe I will attempt it…I usually just stick to quilts which take me years to complete.

  8. KWQR says:

    Well done mama… I do not think I would have kept my cool & left it up to karma in such a situation. I love how you handled it. And that bag is wonderful… you’ve got mad skills girl!

  9. AMAZING… you and the bag. simply AMAZING

  10. I seriously think this could be example #57 in Dig’s guide to raising moral and ethical kids. And oh, wow, how well you kept your cool while your blood boiled. I really hope I could do something similar in this situation. Thanks for the challenge.

    Oh, and the bag. I LOVE the upholstery fabric, nice score. Also, I noticed the button right away and liked it: is it a piece of leather with button over; or is the whole thing a button? Anyway, *I* love it, for what it’s worth. Also, staying up half the night to do something for YOU is totally worth it sometimes.

  11. via mamalode.com:

    good for you momma bear!!

  12. Carla says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Well done! Those sorts of confrontations are very hard to manage well and you got it just right.

  13. Jennifer says:

    via mamalode.com:

    What an AWESOME ending…..Love it!
    Love Margot Digs too. Kids takes on stories are the best:)

    You were MUCH calmer than I would have been. Way to go.
    And SHAME on that guy, but perhaps your approach taught him, in an amazing way, to think before he acts.
    Good job, Mama!
    Jen Slayden

  14. You are such a great mother and I loved how you handled the bearded camera thief!

    By the way, I totally would buy that bag if it was in your Etsy shop…just saying…

  15. Rachel says:

    Gorgeous bag!

    To add to my answer on the poll question, I chose laptop. I only buy hardware items if they are on sale!

  16. LOVE the bag. You’re killing me…I dropped my machine off on Friday for it’s annual cleaning. Now you’re giving me inspiration – tease!!! Fine, back to knitting.

    A big chunky wood button or something funky vintage. Great material. Nice to have something that fits all things including your camera.

    As for your article, I don’t know how you held it together. If and when it happens to me, I’ll remember how you held it together. Lead by example. And so glad that the pink camera made it back to your doorstep. Way to go.

    -Jennifer from Annapolis

  17. Annie says:

    Love your bag. How great to be able to whip something up that fits your criteria.

  18. Marti says:

    I am Mama Bear hear me Rawwwrrrrr! Good job!

    And that bag is SUPER cute – I’d def go w/ a wooden button

  19. dana says:

    i like the bag. maybe you should add bags to your shop. and i kind of like the square button. in fact, i do like the square button.

    dana v

  20. Tonya says:

    Wow, I am seriously impressed with how you handled the whole camera situation! I don’t know what I would have done, but I don’t think I could have handled it as well. So glad bearded guy did the right thing, hopefully he learned a lesson.

    Love the new bag, the fabric is gorgeous!
    I voted for a new DSLR, but even a great deal would not fit into my budget : ( Can’t wait to see your new camera!!!

  21. Lauren says:

    I need this bag (or a twin sister…or identical cousin). Love it!

  22. Beth B. says:

    Mama bear is one of the most facinating things I’ve encountered since becoming a mom, cannot believe what a fierce bitch she can be!

    I adore your new bag and have been wanting something *just* like it. Wanna do a custom order through your Etsy shop?!

    I would love to purchase a new camera, which received my vote, if it were being offered as a screaming deal from Vanns.

  23. Jenn says:

    It’s amazing what we are capable of when it comes to our kids. I have surprised myself many times, when I have to confront something or someone to protect my boys.

    As far as the bag, I want it! The colors are great! If you are looking to change the button, I would keep the square and replace the button with a turquoise one to match the inside pockets or quite honestly keep it as is. I looks good.

  24. Nicki says:

    Love the bag!

    Great mama digs this week. :) And way to handle that situation. Glad it all turned out okay.

  25. Karen says:

    I love the bag. The fabric is a perfect spring time pick me up. i would definately go with a chunky wood button or toggle of some sort, but the contrasting button is also kind of nice :)

  26. Aly says:

    I love the bag! I voted that I would buy a new camera lens. I have a 50 mm that I love but would like to get acquainted with a different lens.

  27. demandablog says:

    I love your bag! I think that a chunky wooden button would be awesome.

    Also, that story of the camera thief is too adorable.

  28. Dakota says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Yow. I’m really not sure how I would have reacted in this situation although I am definitely sure that the mental commentary would have been similar to yours. Kudos to you for your balanced approach. And I’m so glad that Margot got her camera back.

  29. Zoe says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I am so impressed with how you handled the confrontation. It probably is really good that you had the 20 minutes to calm down.

    You are awesome! So glad Margot got her camera back! And yeah, little chick does have a way with telling a story doesn’t she?


  30. Aunt Penne says:

    via mamalode.com:

    So glad all ended well and what a lesson for Margot, that people can make mistakes but then attempt to rectify them (even if it wasn’t with a sorry)and hopefully learn another lesson in life. Sounds like Margot has added to her vocabulary! Cute!

  31. MinnesotaGal says:

    via mamalode.com:

    What a story! I’m not sure I would have had the nerve to track him down – or if I did then be as cool as you were in talking with him! I’m not sure you would have gotten that precious camera back had you not done both those things. He’d probably have blown you off as a crazy lady had you yelled and figured you deserved to loose that camera. Amazing! I am so happy for Margot and the poor freaked out camera! What a great life lesson for all involved. Kudos Mama bear!

  32. So~will these be showing up in your etsy shop? Beacuse I would love to rock a dig this chick bag. :)

    so get the need for a late night walk…alone.

  33. Kelli says:

    I am constantly amazed at how little sleep you are able to get by on! That purse is super cute.
    I think I would put a big round wooden button on the purse, maybe bright red? I love bright red & that shade of green together, plus it would match your lipstick. :)
    It depends on how deep the discount was on the appliance, but I’d consider it. My dishwasher is on its last leg.
    Happy Tuesday!

  34. I would like to clarify my vote… a DSLR please! Thanks Vanns!

  35. I voted for washer/dryer… Since ours is on the fritz! If I got a discount and shipping wasn’t too much, I would totally buy online!

  36. Thanks for the bag love! Hmmmm…I don’t have plans to produce these for my shop. I’ll think about it though.

    Kelli, My sleepless days are a thing of the past (thankfully)! Ruby now sleeps 10-12 hours a night. Man does it feel fantastic. Also, I think you might be the Kelli who won the garden seed giveaway? Check the post: http://www.digthischickmt.com/2011/02/virgin-harvest-2011.html and email me!

  37. rebecca says:

    ,,,love the bag, the color, the pockets and the lining,,,i don’t think i would change a thing, the bag screams “i’m ready for spring”,,,

  38. Abilew-who says:

    That bag is very, very cool – I’ll sing along with all the other ladies in encouraging you to mass produce and sell at your shop. And for the record, I like the wood button. But I think you should keep your eye out for some sweet vintage thing – do they make glass buttons? Something sparkly and pretty. I’m thinking of something that looks like those old door knobs – cut and crystal-y.

    And way to go balls-out diplomatic on that guy’s ass. My hands were sweating just reading that stolen-camera story. I think you handled it perfectly, and modeled some seriously smart behavior for your little ladies. Tough and smart. Way to go!

  39. TRB Holt says:

    Love your new bag perhaps a new Dig item?! I did find myself humming this song after I read this….just substituted mama for papa….



    ps….could Ruby be any cuter?

  40. Brandi says:

    Love the green of the bag. Though I like the current button a chunky wood button would look great!

  41. Wiola says:

    I love the green bag :) the pattern is very nice. You did a great job!

  42. jessicav says:

    I love green bags, personal time and snowy leash-free walks, so obviously I’m loving on this post.

    I think a giant wooden button with some groovy carving or a big found object would make a nice button there. If it’s a magnetic clasp, the sky’s the limit.

  43. Louise says:

    Oh no, ou’re not having much lkuck with cameras lately.
    I would totally bu a flat screen tv, 37 inch, if it was a great deal and free shipping!

  44. rebecca says:

    ,,,while i love the bag just the way it is, how about an old coin? or a medal of some sort? the seek for these items might be as fun as the display on your new, very cool, (mama-does-spring-in-the-basement-satchel) on a cold, snowy winter night,,,
    ,,,i’m with the other readers, “SOLD” if available for purchase!,,,

  45. Heidi says:

    i keep writing comments and they don’t go through…
    wth? this is a test ladies and gents!!

  46. Heidi says:

    of course, now it works;))

    that bag is AMAZING and if you are making them now, let me know. i want me one!!!!

    and more importantly, what kind of an asshole takes off with a camera that was on your front porch?!@#$

    who does that?

    anyway, i just caught up on your last few posts and they are nothin’ but love, lady!!! love them all. love your style, vibe, and brain!!! ha. is that weird?


  47. Jean says:

    I love the size of that bag. I can never find one with decent guts. This one–I love all those pockets inside.

    Sorry the fam’s under the weather.

  48. Shelly says:

    Love the bag!! I’ve had the itch for a new bag and been stalking Etsy! I’m not a seamstress by any means. Happy “thinking spring” green!

  49. ebelknap says:

    Love all of the great pockets inside your bag. All bags need those! The camera story is fantastic too. Good work Mama.

  50. Lisa S says:

    LOVE the bag! love the pockets! I think a chunky wood button would be great. Will you be offering this in your shop?

    So glad you got her camera back, love the way Margot tells a story!

  51. Jennifer says:

    I love your bag! I would love one in black on white damask with hot pink lining. You are so so talented!

    I commend you for keeping composure with the camera situation. I don’t think I would have been since I have had my house broken into having 3 cameras, 2 video cameras stolen by some useless thug with a 5 inch file of crime and left size 13 mud footprints all over my home. I would have liked to footprinted him!

    It paid off well and I bet he was remorseful with himself. Hopefully it will inspire him to do good and pay it forward later.


    I think I have repeated my story a million times on here about my camera.

  52. Melissa says:

    love the bag.

    love Margot’s version of how it all went down (good sequencing!) and add me to the list of folks impressed by your self-restraint.

    dude, Leeor totally wants a new camera for his bday but he wants some fancy brand that vann’s doesn’t have. he is looking for a medium format/digital thing . . .

    do all these gorgeous photos of you in the snow mean you got a new camera?


    ps. moving in one week!

  53. Ellie says:

    Lovely bag, and such an amazing story about the camera. I wouldn’t have had the guts to go after them, so I admire you for that part of the story first. And then the fact that you were able to keep from yelling at the f****r is doubly remarkable and the only way, I am sure, you could have gotten the guy to give back what wasn’t his. He must have been utterly mortified.
    Well-done, Nici. I don’t know if Margot will remember this story, but I hope she reads your mama digs when she grows up.

  54. Kerri says:

    Love your bag – so cool and especially love the inside lining and pockets! Also. I cannot believe that guy took a pink camera from a front porch. I mean, wth. But such a good ending. You totally rock with the graceful confrontation skills! What an awesome role model you are for your girls.

  55. megsplegs says:

    very snazzy bag! i agree on the button; maybe a chunky wood or something like a plum or eggplant color would look awesome against that green.
    i’m totally impressed w/your mama bear showdown w/that dude and also impressed that the jack*ss had enough moral fiber to put it back. well done, nici; well done, jack*ss.

  56. HAS says:

    I love how you handled the stolen camera situation. The way you phrased your concern was PERFECT. I hope that I remember your words when they are needed!
    Also, I love that you (a) made yourself a bag and (b) made a GREAT diaper/momma bag. And PLEASE consider taking orders in your etsy shop…I would love to purchase a bag like this rather than spend $60 (and upwards) on some mass marketed cr*p. Please!

  57. Meredith says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Oh man, you are such an inspiration. I would not have been able to keep my cool like you did if someone stole my baby girl’s camera. You were so right to model such great behavior and I know that took serious strength to not FREAK OUT on that guy. So funny that dude knew he was busted, though! ha ha!

  58. Joan Cline says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Yes Dolly would be proud. So true Jean. “But i’m eating my tofu dog.” Not someting you hear everyday. Now I know why you dance in your previous nuggets.

  59. Heidi says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Whew! A worthy lesson. I fear I would have been hot headed and my words would have blown the chances of getting the camera back. You were an excellent role model not only for your kids, but for the rest of us too:)

  60. via mamalode.com:

    What a great story! And what an amazing lesson for Margot!

  61. Tammi Salas says:

    via mamalode.com:

    You are my new hero, Nici. Nicely done.

  62. Sarah says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Way to go Nici–you really handled the situation beautifully!

  63. Kelley says:

    Laughed hard at: OH did I fantasize about cartwheeling out of my station wagon, kicking in the truck window and demanding our pink effing camera.

    I love the lesson Margot learned today and how you taught it. I love “we all mistakes but it’s how we respond to them”…a much more important lesson I think than “don’t steal.” Deeper, more purposeful and definitely something Margot won’t forget.

    Aw, love this, Friend.

  64. Jill B. says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Excellent Mama Digs. My heart was pounding (so mad about the stolen camera) yet I laughed many times as well at your talented writing. Go Mama Bear….nobody better mess with you! So happy the camera found its way home!

  65. SaltyDogs says:

    Love this story, and love Margot’s version. I am not, however, looking forward to the day my son can rat me out for hitting the fabric store

  66. Laura says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Really had to say: I am so impressed with how you handled that whole situation, Nici! Thanks so much for sharing the story – really helpful to think about. You are doing great work with those girls – and with the adventure that is life. Cheers!

  67. Stacy Kaye says:

    I am in love with the bag. I posted this on my facebook page and then all of my friends fell in love with the bag as well. Now we are all going to make the bag! Thanks for the inspiration!

  68. PLEASE tell me you are going to be making more of those AWESOME bags and selling them…PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! :) and PLEASE tell me i am on the list for people who REALLY, REALLY want one!! BEYOND cute!!!