September 23, 2009

still lovin' my hana - and finally! the modification tutorial...

so i've been meaning to blog about some recent playground experiences but instead, i'll just update quickly about how much i still love my fleurville hana. i could use this as a full-time diaper bag, no doubt about it. the size and organization possibilities are perfect. the side, snap-lock pockets have quickly become my favorite feature! my cell fits perfectly in the top pocket and the bottom pocket seems like it was made specifically for a pack of wrigley's 5 gum. they're awesome! of course, not all phones would fit in the top pocket but it fits my motorola krzr like a glove.

i think the fact that it's a very feminine hobo style, yet has a rugged and durable feel to it is also what makes it a favorite. i prefer hobo bags, in general, so i don't feel like i'm giving anything up in the style department, when i'm carrying the hana. it doesn't seem boxy since i modified the bottom (tutorial below) and i still maintain that i will use this bag long after my last baby is in diapers. i mentioned durability and it deserves a bit more explanation - the re-run fabric is soft but feels somewhat like canvas. it wears well and the darker colors won't pick up stains. i treat my bags very kindly but it does seem that spills seem to repel, rather than saturate, and i'm not afraid to put this bag down on the playground, even though i removed the metal feet.

so all in all, i'm still quite enamored with this bag and it's my park/playdate/music and movement class staple! basically, any time i'm too nervous to carry a leather bag, i'm carrying the hana. (yes, that means my modern floral babymel amanda is sadly being ignored - but i do pull her out of the closet every now and then, when i feel like wearing something even *more* feminine than the hana!)

now, i'd mentioned before that i'd modified my hana to suit my needs. below i'll explain, in detail, how i did this since i know it might be purposeful to at least a few fleurville fans out there!

DISCLAIMER: i am not suggesting that anyone perform this modification on their bag and i am not responsible for individual results, if such mofication is performed. i am also pretty certain that altering the bag in such a way will void any warranty that fleurville may provide. since i purchased my bag used, on ebay, i wasn't too worried about this since the manufacturer's warranty did not apply to my purchase.

that said, one day i accidentally discovered that the metal feet under the fleurville hana were nothing more than large brad-style fasteners that weren't permanently attached to the bag. this gave me an idea! see, the hard, structured bottom of the hana was the only major issue i had with the bag and without it i'd have a bag something pretty close to my dream bag.

one problem i could forsee is that the hard, structured bottom piece could be attached to the bag somehow so i spent some time undoing the brad fasteners through the inside of the bag, without altering the lining, to determine whether or not it would move freely. not an easy feat and difficult to explain but since the hard plastic piece maintaining the structure of the bag WAS NOT attached, i don't have to explain and the feet can be more easily removed after the seam is open.

another problem was that my sewing machine lives at my mom's and i wouldn't even know how to use it, if it were in my home. but since i can hand sew pretty darn well, i looked over the bag to see where i might be able to easily open a seam and hand sew it back together. i was prepared to open the seam near the top but then i realized that a section of seam wasn't sewn inside out. i'm not sure if this will be the case for each bag but in mine, the area was at the bottom of the lining, on the back of the bag (the side where the interior zip pocket is):

i pulled the lining up and out of the bag to easily access this section. there was probably about 10" of exposed seam but i took these pictures after i'd already opened it so you only see a little bit between my thumb and finger:

in this photo, you see the area i ripped out. i didn't remove the entire seam, but rather about a 6" section (just enough to pull out the plastic bottom) between the two halves of the interior fabric:
after wriggling out the plastic bottom piece i folded the two pieces of lining and held them together as they had been sewn. then i used some fabri-tac glue to keep them together until i had a chance to fix the seam by hand:

it did a pretty good job! i used some binder clips to hold the seam while the glue dried, and to be honest, it's been more than a month and i still haven't fixed the seam by hand. not sure i ever will, unless my glued seam comes apart and it seems necessary. i did fold in the excess thread on either side of my opened seam and made sure to glue the thread down to the fabric so that my seam would (hopefully) not open wider. so far, so good! i've realized now the advantage of doing this at the bag bottom, rather than the top, because if i'd opened the seam near the top, as originally planned, i would have definitely had to sew the seam together since the weight of the bag contents would have stressed the seam by now:

it's possible that some people may want to put the feet back on, but for me, i felt that without the structured bottom, the feet served little purpose and were visible even when the bag was worn. using a bit of fabric paint to create "feet" of your own is a good alternative. the right shade of brown will blend and if you cover the holes, entirely, it will prevent the openings from possibly fraying or opening further (not that i think this is a real problem, but it could happen, if you're rough on your bags).

next up, i got even more brave and decided to remove the metal hardware on the strap. so far i've only managed to add an extra 2" to my strap drop and it is no longer adjustable, but it was worth it because not only did i find the strap length too short at it's maximum length, but i also felt that the square corners of the strap slider were sharp and potentially dangerous. i was nervous about removing the hardware but armed with a flathead screwdriver and a hammer, i set to work. it was a success! i put the bag on my sidewalk, placed the screwdriver in the center of one metal piece, and hammered the top of the screwdriver. sure enough, a nice indentation was made. with this, it was easy for the screwdriver to stay in place until i hammered through and the metal piece cracked in half:

one side was easier than the other - i hammered the screwdriver quickly on either side of the hardware and removed the piece:

the slider was slightly more challenging because of the bar that goes through the center, but i was able to carefully place the tip of the screwdriver between the strap fabric and metal center and hammer, while keeping the facric folded out of the way. then i only had to crack one other side of the hardware and the strap easily slid free: i had in mind, a large metal, replacement d-ring, or something similar, but have yet to find what i'm looking for. in the meantime, a small carabiner clip is holding the straps together (and it even matches the silver finish on the stroller d-rings). as i mentioned, i only gained about 2" in length but i will gladly update if i ever find a better solution.

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