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.
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
Blog Hop Schedule
2/10: Golden Willow Quilts
2/27: Owen’s Olivia
3/6: Link-up opens at www.ellisonlane.com
3/13: Winner’s announced!