New Handmade Bag

After finishing the Stars for San Bruno #2 top, I needed to get away from quilt tops for awhile. I really liked the Bird Watcher Messenger bag that Angela made and showed at the BAMQG meeting a few months ago. This pattern is from a book I reviewed called The New Handmade by Cassie Barden.

Organizing Bag Pieces
Organizing Bag Pieces

I am still not as comfortable making bags, as I am making quilts. I am getting better. I do get comfortable making one one bag pattern, but in terms of bags in general, I still feel like I am learning.

When I am making a bag, I lay out the pieces so I know what I have and can keep track of what parts I have. One thing I would have done differently with this pattern is I would have pinned notes to them to identify the different parts. I often use post-it notes to identify the pieces. Post-it notes are sticky, but I still pin them to the fabric.

Pinning notes to the pieces would have helped a lot, because the author refers to the various pieces by the color of the fabric she uses. This was a problem for me because I had different fabric. I had to keep referring to the pattern and translating the fabric names to the fabric I had. I have since annotated my book.

Bag in progress
Bag in progress

The directions and accompanying drawings were pretty good. Aside from translating the fabric, the bag went together pretty well. I was able to put the outside of the bag together within a few hours over a few days.

I added a lot more interfacing than the pattern requires, because I don’t like floopy bags. I like my bags to be stiff so they can stand up.  This allows me to throw things in the bag from across the room.

When I went to see Colleen she mentioned fusible Pellon. It is, apparently, stiff, but not as fluffy/fat as fusible fleece. Perhaps I will try it? We’ll see. I am loathe to diverge from the Chubby Charmer pattern after making the Sugar Pop Chubby Charmer, but it might work for the messenger bag of my own design that I am planning.

Messenger Bag in Progress
Messenger Bag in Progress

If I made this bag again, I wouldn’t use so many fabrics.  It is good to see that the maker can use a number of different fabrics, if desired, but I don’t need to use that many.

What I would do differently is use the outside fabric (Amy Butler Love) for the pocket that is currently aqua (Michael Miller Dandelion). I don’t think the lower pocket needs to be a separate fabric. I would use the aqua for the middle pocket and skip the black. Putting the aqua up where the black is would give the whole bag a more cohesive look. Aside from the pattern requiring too many fabrics, I found that I paid close attention to the fabrics I chose so they wouldn’t look weird together. I didn’t just grab the fabrics randomly so I get to the sewing part. I like it that all the fabrics are from different groups. It is easy to choose fabrics when they come from the same group and takes more time when they don’t.

I was worried about the flap, too. I don’t remember making a bag with a flap before. I was worried about inserting it  and I was also worried about the tab.

The other thing I need to remember when I make bags is that I like to have all the fiddly bits out of the way when I start. I like to make the tabs and straps and pockets detailed at the beginning of the pattern and finished right away, not at the end. A lot of bag designers seem to like to have the maker put the straps together at the end. I wonder why that is?

Inside Messenger Bag
Inside Messenger Bag

I really tried to pick fabric for the bag so the bag would be usable. The blue Amy Butler Love fabric is cheerful and there is a possibility that I will use it. The bag itself isn’t really the right size, though. It is more handbag sized than taking-stuff-to-work size. Also, I am really in love with the Innocent Crush Flea Market Bag for carrying extra stuff right at the moment.

For the inside, I chose orange. One of my two awesome 7YO nephews told me his favorite color is orange, but orange is not a color that I use often. As you know, from my Lovey Blocks post, I pulled out my orange bin and, suddenly, I was in an orange mood. The oranges really counteract the grey fog swirling around my house right now. The inside won’t show that often and orange is light so I will be able to see the stuff at the bottom of the bag. I think the inside is a bit bigger than I would like, because it bunches up. I wonder if I didn’t get the seam allowance quite right or if I should, generally, make bag insides a bit smaller.

I added the pocket using sizes from one of the outside pockets. The more pockets the merrier in my world.

Finished -Shut
Finished -Shut

Left is an image of the finished bag. It is a nice shape and an okay size. I worked hard on the fussy cutting the flower for the front and think I did a good job.

I didn’t like the way the pattern said to make the straps. Turning straps right side out makes me want to scream AND they look bunched up and wrinkled when I finally get them turned. I am not using that method again, except for Anna Maria Horner’s Multi-tasker tote. I should have learned my lesson. It is just as easy to cut the straps bigger and fold them and that method adds padding.

The other weird thing about this bag is the closure. The pattern calls for a closure like a camping bag or Timbuk2 bag – those black plastic things that pinch your fingers. Not my style. I found a Nancy Zieman closure that looks nicer, but weighs about 13 lbs. There wasn’t a lot of selection at my local fabric store and I hadn’t planned ahead. It is ok, but, again, not my style. I like the bag hardware that Sherpani uses for their bags. The Buckle Guy doesn’t have the Sherpani hardware, but he has some really nice looking hardware with a variety of finishes that I hope to use in the future. I just need to plan ahead.

I didn’t like the way the pattern told me to sew through the nicely fussy cut front of my bag to install the closure. I tried to pick thread that wouldn’t show much, so it looks ok. I think that the tab could be applied to the inside of the flap before sewing the flap together, perhaps with a little extra interfacing, but will have to test it out, if I use the pattern again.

Finished -Open
Finished -Open

I’ll have to see about giving this bag a test run.

 

 

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

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