Saturday, 12 July 2014

My First Handmade Bag!

I love bags, but more importantly I love a practical bag. The other day I was driving home from work one day thinking about the perfect bag for a meeting.... like a minute takers bag with room for your notebook, meeting papers, pens, water etc but in their own compartments as I always end up taking a tote and fumbling through it then having to get everything out to put it on my desk and then hiding the bag under the desk. So one night, when I couldn't sleep, I looked online for messenger bags to get some ideas and came across this picture:
When I went onto Chris W Designs site I found it had numerous pockets including one for your iPad/tablet! I brought the pattern straight away (I must point out at this point I didn't notice the four handbag images on the page to show that it was an advanced pattern and I've never made a bag before!)

The next day I went about sourcing the bits I would need. Sounds straight forward but for the life of me I couldn't find ANYWHERE in the UK that had the right sized oval eyelets, it was hard finding any at all but then I could only find smaller ones but luckily found on the site it suggested going to Emmaline Bags (a site in Canada). I was a bit worried about price but I ended up paying less than £10 for enough hardware for two bags plus some extra bits that just fell into my basket....

I must quickly mention how great Emmaline Bags are. I ordered some zip pulls which said 'handmade' however the wrong things were sent but Janelle was amazing and popped the right bits out to me straight away. Thank you!

The patterned also suggests using ByAnnies Soft and Stable from the US, and having looked I found it in the UK but it would have been £15 extra on top of the cost of the other materials so used fusible fleece (as suggested) as I had to buy a metre of it anyway for the strap so I had enough for the rest of the bag too. I was a bit worried in case the bag went wrong as well. In the end the total cost for all the materials and hardware was £30 (not including the pattern) and only £6 of this was on the fabric.

I spend one Friday evening cutting out the pattern pieces which actually took 4 hours. The pattern comes with pages to print which act as your templates and there are also tabs for pieces without templates (ie when you just need squares) so you know what each piece is. I found this ever so helpful and really helped me stay organised as I kept everything in a plastic wallet.

I liked the fact that the pattern had instructions without photos, so you could print it, and also had instructions with photos so you could view the images on a tablet/phone or computer. I saved the pattern on my Dropbox (a free secure online storage programme) so I could view it on my phone, tablet or computer at anytime (well when I had internet connection) which was really handy.

The instructions were quite easy to follow, and where I wasn't sure of what to do, I found the pictures really helped. 

The only bit I didn't like was adding the side gussets to the bag as I didn't like going round the curve at the bottom and found it a bit tricky but I managed it.
Front view

Inside the main pocket
The back view showing the tablet pocket

In total the bag took 3 1/2 days to make and 10 minutes of tears when I accidentally stabbed the top zip with my scissors when I was putting in the eyelets for the straps and it cut the zip. I was inconsolable and my husband tried to suggest ways to fix it, including having a zipless bag and adding in buttons, however when I calmed down I saw that the broken part of the zip was only 2 centimetres from the end so I was able to chop the end off and make a new bit of zipper casing to hold the end of the zip. To be honest it actually looks better as the zip isn't protruding as much at the top of the bag.

I'm so pleased with how this bag has come out. I have learnt things to improve on too for my next attempt as I'm going to make one for my sister and have invested in a mini craft iron so I can press the fabric while at my sewing machine so I get better lines and creases and so I can improve on the strap. I'm also going to improve the hidden zip pocket as the end of the closure isn't hidden although the zip is black so isn't mega obvious.

When I showed my sister the bag she loved it and has asked for the same fabric so I may just change the lining or add in piping to the front pockets to differentiate a little.

Using the fusible fleece the bag is soft but still maintains its shape so I think I'll carry on using this instead of Soft and Stable.

I really enjoyed making this bag and I will definitely be making more and look at making my own pattern at some point to fit an A4 folder in and pen loops for when I need to go to meetings and taking minutes.

I didn't get paid anything for this blog post and didn't get anything for free. I did it all off my own back and have written this post as I loved making the bag and was so impressed with the results.

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