My Bag

Since about February of this year I had so much shoulder pain that I couldn’t knit at all. My physical therapist said “no knitting!” since that was what caused my injury in the first place. So I did some sewing instead. I have also been on the search for the perfect bag, since forever, and thought “well, I’ll just make my own!”.

I started by making a couple of cloth shopping/tote bags.

The green one was made mostly from curtains we weren’t using and the blue one from face mask material and a pair of pants I cut up. I made 2 of the green ones and gave them to my mom and sister. The pattern for that one is from Bagstock Designs. The blue one I use all the time for shopping and sometimes for a beach trip. The pattern for that one is an old Butterick pattern I’ve had for a long time. I felt like I really had this bag making down pat. I got cocky.

In June we all had high hopes for being able to go to a music festival later in the summer. Vaccinations were rolling out. Things were opening up. I thought it would be fun to make a festival bag – something shiny and festival-like and a real celebration bag. I found some cool vinyl and fake leather on a German fabric shop called Fabrics Hemmers. I bought everything I needed from this web shop. Except for the pattern. I bought the backpack pattern from RLR Creations.

I had never sewn this kind of material before so I went to my local sewing shop and asked for advice about what needle to use. Just a regular needle would be good, but had I thought about the presser foot? Huh? Yes, I needed a special non-stick presser foot, otherwise the vinyl would stick and not feed through correctly. Gulp. That was an expensive addition. Ah well, a learning experience. I also had to buy clips to hold the pieces together, instead of using pins. You can’t pin vinyl because once a hole, always a hole and you don’t want holes where you had pins.

Finally I could begin with the cutting and sewing. What an experience! What I learned….

  1. Vinyl is more flexible than you think so don’t be afraid to hem edges.
  2. Vinyl is thicker than you think so making an article that needs to fold in half, like this backpack, was maybe not the best choice.
  3. Working with endless zippers was something new and challenging. It took many many tries to get the zipper pull to go onto the teeth correctly.
  4. With this pattern, and endless zippers, you have to sew over zipper teeth. Do it by hand, letting the needle slide between the teeth. Don’t use power to sew over this because you’ll just break the needle. Which I did a couple of times.
  5. My sewing machine was just barely able to handle all the layers of material when sewing in the top zipper and it was hard work with my hands too. I don’t think I want to do this again. It also doesn’t look really good – the seams don’t line up at the top and the stitching is a little wonky. Since it’s vinyl, and I’m tired of working with it, I’m calling it GOOD.
  6. Working with clips instead of pins is a pain when you are working on something in the middle of your fabric (instead of just edge seams), like the outside zipper pockets. If I were to make this again with the same materials I’d just skip those outside zipper pockets.
  7. The large size backpack is not as large as I thought it would be. It’s like a medium sized purse, especially once you fold it down and clip it closed. Of course if you want to really pack it full you can leave it standing up and zipped closed.

More photos of the bag in process and finished:

I will definitely use this bag. Tomorrow I’m taking the train to Tillburg to visit the Textile Museum with a friend and I’ll take this bag with me. It’s not perfect but it is very useful and fun.

I still haven’t found the perfect bag but I’m willing to keep making my own to find it. I think next I’ll try making a bag with waxed canvas. Something waterproof would be perfect for our weather.

And just in case you thought this new-version blog is just about sewing, I’ve also got knitting news coming up.

I’ve started knitting a hat with some beautiful and incredibly soft Western Sky Knits Merino 17 Light. I also found this cute case (“etui” in Dutch, stolen from the French) at my local HEMA which is perfect for small projects.

I’m also working on a test knit for a friend, which I can’t really talk about, but next week I’ll show you a nice tip for starting a new skein when your project needs a neat edge.

AND I’ve started on a very exciting spinning and writing project that I’ll talk about in the coming month.

Until next week, happy crafting! (By the way, festivals were not allowed this summer after all. Hopefully next year.)

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