Crafty Traveler blog hop

     Howdy Blog hoppers! Today is my stop on the Ellison Lane Crafty Traveler Blog hop. I was thrilled when Jennifer asked me to join in on this round and I figured it would be a perfect time to finally blog about the two bags I decided to make at the same time as a personal growth challenge.

                                        The Weekender Bag by Amy Butler  

It’s pretty much a rite of passage on the path of sewing bags. Those in the know usually get that wide-eyed, distant look in their eye, like they’ve caught a glimpse of a Heather Ross unicorn, running in the wild, at the mere mention of its name. “The Weekender” they whisper, as they unconsciously reach out to stroke it.  Now, you might be sitting there thinking, “But Ale, it’s so hard, it has interfacings and Peltex and layers and PIPING. OH MY GAWWWDDD SHE WANTS ME TO MAKE PIPING AND BREAK A MILLION NEEDLES AND MY HOPES AND DREAMS IN THE PROCESS!!!!”

Except, here’s the deal… its really not that bad. The most important “tools” for projects like this are PLANNING, PATIENCE AND TAKING YOUR TIME. And with some help from the online sewing community; you, too, can have your very own unicorn to use everyday of the week!!!!

So let’s get down to it!!

While I’m a fairly advanced sewer in the areas of quilt and home goods, I’m by no means a bag expert. In fact, the Weekenders were my 2nd & 3rd bags…. ever!! Having heard of this harrowing urban legend, I spent a good hour really reading through the pattern. Visualizing the process and making sure that I understood all of the terms mentioned and familiarizing myself with any rusty techniques called for. Then, I spent a good 3-4 hours searching for blog posts, tips/tricks and modifications. Find my pinboard here: Conquer the Weekender

Here’s a brief rundown on the most modified parts of this bag ( based on my own and and countless inspiration blog post changes). This isn’t a project you can do in a day. Plan to spend at least one evening cutting, ironing and interfacing the pieces. This is a lot of work so just try not to rush through this part. Mistakes can be really expensive!!!

Handles: This is a really BIG bag. As written the handles are too short to be comfortably slung around ones shoulder, and too thin to really support the weight of this bag, packed to capacity. I added 12” of length to the handle and still could’ve added more. Think about where you want the bag to fall on your body and adjust accordingly. Increase width of the handles when cutting to 4”x 60” and the Peltex to 1” x 60”

Also, sew them up high and do a reinforcing X at the top to really anchor them while backstitching like it’s your J-O-B.

Piping: This can technically be skipped, and I’ve seen several bags without it that are still totally gorgeous. However, in my mind, the piping is a touch that elevates this from a homemade looking bag, into a polished finished piece. I couldn’t find the exact 6/32” cotton cording called for, so I chose one slightly larger and it hides mistakes a little better! Rather than sew the binding together, I used ¼” Steam-a-seam tape. This way you don’t have to worry about hiding the original line of stitches. Also following advice of others, I increased the strip width to 2” so it wasn’t as fiddly and prone to shifting while wrestling the layers together. A piping ( or zipper) foot is a great help if you’ve got it!!!! Use the right foot for the job!!

Outer pockets: Added magnetic fasteners between the outer pockets and main body panels for a little added security. I’ve used this as a carry on bag on 3 cross-country flights now, with no issues of stuff falling out in the security line!

Zipper: Got mine here

Step 11: By far the most challenging part of the bag is joining the thick layers together. This is where people report breaking dozens of needles. Switch out your needle at this stage for a really heavy-duty denim needle and go really SLOW. I made two bags without a single needle break!!!!! I also found that using Clover Wonder clips helped A TON when holding the layers together to prevent shifting. Trying to jam needles through all those layers is dangerous! Don’t try to get the stitch line perfect on the first go round. I found that I needed to get the first line of stitching on well enough to join the layers. After that it was a matter of carefully sewing closer and closer to the piping to get a nice tight finish. Remember, this won’t show in the finished bag since it’s lined. So you can get a little freaky with the method to get it sewn nice and snug. Mine resembled a standing lunge with weird arms.  I like to break it out at cocktail parties and serious event.

Lining the bag: Some people managed to machine sew in the lining, but I like to hand sew, so I went that route. My biggest complaint is that, as written, the lining has no internal pockets. I made some really simple pockets and if I were to do it again, I’d put more thought into them. I highly recommend at least one internal pocket, a deep, gathered elastic pocket would be a perfect match

Whew!!!! Thanks for reading that novel!!! I hope this helped a little and that you feel ready to tackle your own beautiful unicorn;)! Thanks again to Jennifer for putting together an awesome blog hop!!!!! To reward you for reading all the way down how about some fabulous prizes???

Crafty Traveler Blog Hop: Feb 3- March 12

Link-up your travel handmade project March 6-12 for a chance to win one of three great prizes! (US only) 
#1: Free Spirit Fabric, Crafty Traveler Tote supplies and Dritz rotary cutter.
#2: Box of 50 Coats Threads
#3: Pellon Prize Pack (Interfacing & Batting)
To enter to win simply link up your project at on March 6. Please link from a new blog post but your project can be anything you’ve made to travel handmade within the last 6 months.
You may also link from Flickr or Threadbias.



show hide 18 comments

Jennifer @ Ellison Lane - February 10, 2014 - 1:10 pm

Oh so fabulous – love your weekenders Ale! Thanks for sharing your awesome expertise and your beautiful bags with us.
LOVE your line about spotting one in the wild is like seeing a HR unicorn- YES! :)
Have a great day friend!

Katy(LethargicLass) - February 10, 2014 - 2:46 pm

Wow! Those are two seriously gorgeous bags!! I love all the tips and support in your post… Thanks for sharing your experience!

Terry - February 10, 2014 - 7:11 pm

Great review of a really nice bag. I love the changes you’ve made. I made mine about 10 years ago, long before Wonder Clips were around. They would help immensely. I still love my Weekender; maybe I should make another one.

Shoemake Debra - February 10, 2014 - 8:06 pm

I’d like to win all this stuff before my hands are paralyzed. You see I have ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and it just a matter of time. I will go over to the website you mentioned and link up my doggie quilt.

Valerie - February 10, 2014 - 9:19 pm

Love your Weekender review! I cut out all the pieces last May and they still sit! I’m determined to finish though :).

Kim - February 10, 2014 - 10:07 pm

Those are great bags! I am working on one now. I am putting the lining together now. Like you, I did a lot of reading blogs and reviews before I jumped in. I have made a lot of bags SMS this one is not for the faint of heart.

Ceil - February 10, 2014 - 10:13 pm

I’ve had my eyes on making this one for the longest time! Yes, the Holy Grail of bags! I’m going to begin to gather my fabrics and will surely miss the giveaways but thank you for the courage to pursue this one! Knowing that others were also freaked out by it but were able to successfully complete it is such a help! Thanks to all of you for taking the time to do this.

Susie - February 11, 2014 - 1:45 am

Thanks for showing us your sewing process of your gorgeous weekender bags! They are just beautiful ! You have given me courage to make one soon! And,I will use you advice and experience, for sure. (Especially the piping tips.)

Siobhan - February 11, 2014 - 4:00 pm

I’m still chuckling over your comment about seeing a Weekender bag is like spotting a HR unicorn in the wild. Love it! I am not confident in sewing anything other than quilts, but want to make a Weekender bag. Go figure. Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely refer back to this whenever I get up some courage to tackle my own bag.

Ale - February 12, 2014 - 1:09 am

:) Thanks!!! Make sure you share your bag when you start!!! You can do it!!!

Jennifer D - February 13, 2014 - 2:10 am

These are great tips! I’m currently working on my 5th Weekender (they make AWESOME diaper bags, too!) and they do get easier. I’ve done the QAYG method and the heavy interfacing method; both are fun! Your bags look great!!

Teresa at third floor quilts - February 14, 2014 - 2:57 am

Great review. Love your humor. I’ve seen these and love them… just don’t know if I would have the patience. You’ve inspired me to at least think about it…

steph zerbe - March 16, 2014 - 2:15 am

Awesome tips and a very fun read! I wish I would have read this before I made my first few Weekenders (my first bag ever). I did a lot of research first and skipped the piping part but still broke many a needle. I finally feel like I have the perfect interfacing formula and can make them much quicker now and with no needles shooting at my eyeballs (I’ve been wearing protective glasses ever since the first bag). Now I want to make a Plus bag… maybe even with piping. Yours is stunning. On to Weekender number 7… everyone I know wants one. Thanks for a great read.

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