I’ve been wanting to make myself a weekend bag which doubles as a bag to hold all the stuff I take on planes, including my knitting, and have looked at patterns, thought about designing my own, then put it all on the back burner as being too hard, as I wanted something quite specific. I found a pattern for “The Ultimate Travel Bag” and decided that it was just what I wanted. Then I noticed that Craftsy had a course on sale for pretty much the same price as the pattern, so I went with that and couldn’t be happier.
There is a lot going on with this bag, it has zipped pockets and slip pockets, mesh pockets, and even a strap to go over the handle of the suitcase. This makes for many pattern pieces, so many in fact, that there are labels included with the pattern which are essential for identifying what goes where.
For Mark’s bag I used some heavy cotton drill that I had used to keep the light off my stash before I reorganised it, and some cotton lining that I found at the local recycling centre, REmida, which I was going to return after Mark had claimed it was creepy, but then he decided that it might be good in the bag, so I used the borders for the trim and the creepy bug print for the insides. Again, all the hardware came from My Fabricology and it was nice to have a conversation over messenger as Susan, the owner, and I decided on the colour of zips and mesh. The colours chosen were her suggestion and she did brilliantly – I was heading towards bright green!
There are very explicit written instructions as well as the video instruction and I found I learned a lot from both media. The first thing to do is to assemble all the components, which makes quite a neat pile.
There is a product called “Soft and Stable” sandwiched between the outer and inner of this bag and there were occasions where there were more than three layers of sandwich. The only way to hold the whole thing together was with wonder clips.
Did you know that wonder clips are designed so that the clear part is supposed to go underneath so they just slide out. If you use them upside down they don’t work nearly as well.
One of the many hints I gleaned from the video tutorial was to use a stiletto to squash some of the thickness of the layers and also to hold things together and keep everything aligned. Note how much fluff has attached to my foot – I’m not sure where this came from, but suspect that Soft and Stable.
I got so used to using the stiletto that I now use it for all sorts of sewing.
Every component of this bag is beautifully designed. All edges are bound and I found that I got quite a workout doing it. Here is Mark’s bag turned inside out, showing the zipped mesh pocket
and the other mesh pockets, which have a little tuck in them to give room to put in water bottles or other bulky things.
On the bottom are optional feet. Annie Unrein, the designer, suggested using buttons rather than compromising the fabric at the bottom by piercing it for bag feet. I had a little rummage in my button stash and found these buttons that I had found in an op shop in Tasmania that didn’t have proper holes. I simply slotted another button over the top and they worked perfectly. After stitching them on I used fray stop on both sides to help stop the thread from wearing through. I may revisit the outside with a dab of silicone before I take this bag on a trip.
There is a base inserted into a sleeve in the bottom of the bag, which gives it a firm bottom. I used some heavy card that I got from REmida. You can just see it poking out from the sleeve here.
The pattern requires that the bag be shaped fairly heavily. The sides are tapered in, as is the zipped part at the top. This gives quite a feminine, elegant feel to the bag, but I couldn’t help thinking that it wasted quite a bit of my lovely fabric when I cut it off, and also reduced the internal dimensions of the bag quite significantly.
When I made Mark’s bag I decided not to do this shaping and you can see it has much more of a duffle feeling. If I make another one I think I will make this shape again.
I have an expensive designer bag that I usually take away with me and, although it has a slot for the suitcase handle, I find that it swings round and annoys me intensely. This bag has a strap with a velcro strip that can be firmly attached to the handle. I do wonder if the strap is just a smidge too high, but time will tell on that one.
I loved the process of making these bags, but specially Mark’s bag. He would come and check on progress and spent a lot of time inspecting the bag as it was assembled. I can’t describe his joy when it was finished and it took pride of place on the sofa for a few days. I had to laugh one evening as we were watching television and I glanced over and he was examining every pocket, and even discovering the ones at the ends, which he hadn’t realised were there.
A quick snapshot of some of the features included in these bags: they have a double ended zip opening, short handles and an adjustable shoulder strap with thick pad for comfort. This shoulder strap is removable as it has a swivel clip on each end. There is a slip pocket either side which hides the strap to which the shoulder strap is attached.
At the front is a slip pocket and a zipped pocket, and on the other side is a slip pocket. I used these lovely triangle rings to attach my shoulder strap, and used rectangular hardware for Mark’s bag.
This is such a thoughtfully designed pattern that it even includes the zip pulls. I spent nearly five days making my bag and three and a half days making Mark’s so would consider this to be quite a slow sew. It was lovely to take my time and really enjoy the process, and it will be even nicer to take these bags on our excursions and holidays.