My bag obsession

There was a period of time when I couldn’t walk into an Eddie Bauer outlet store simply because if I did, there would be a bag that I would want to walk out with. (After paying for it, of course!) Then there was the day I went to the Crate and Barrel outlet (Crate and Barrel! this should not have been a problem!) and left with TWO bags. Both of them are fabulous, though one of them–which only cost $2–really needs to be trashed. It’s falling apart after having served me very, very well. The other one is great as a carry-on or as a beach tote and I’d definitely use it on my vacation if I hadn’t had so much fun making over the bag I rescued from the trash room.

So you see, I have a bit of a bag obsession. Of late I’ve been using an oversized handmade totebag as a purse/carry-all. I love it. I made a matching zipper wallet to go with it. It holds a ton. But. It’s a little uncomfortable when it’s holding a ton because all the weight is on one shoulder.

I was going to make a backpack to solve this problem. (I have a backpack. One that was factory made and has pockets to hold water bottles and I love it except that it’s not professional looking. Josh Lyman can pull off the suit-and-a-backpack look. I can’t.)

I couldn’t easily engineer a pattern for a backpack, and I didn’t find a pattern to buy in the very few minutes I devoted to looking. So I gave up (just for the moment).

Instead, I’ve decided that I want to make a messenger bag. I started making one months ago but it was very complicated, I had bought interfacing that was WAY too stiff, I sewed some pieces together wrong, and, well, it’s still in pieces. Plus, it was small.

Which brings us to now, and this blog post. I need to PLAN. Otherwise I might end up with a very pretty bag that I can never replicate, or I might end up with a lot of wasted time and fabric.

So. I need the following pieces of fabric:

13 in x 42 in: one outer fabric, one lining fabric (for front, back, and flap)

12 in x 6 in: two outer fabric, two lining fabric (for sides)

4 in x 4 in: one, outer fabric  (for a tab to hook things to)

6 in x 45 in: one, outer fabric (for strap)

12 in x 8 in: one outer fabric, one lining fabric (for pockets, one inside and one on front)

Now, already we see that it’s a good thing I am planning because I would have wanted to add the pockets as afterthoughts, but the fact that I remembered them NOW means that I can attach the fabric for the pockets before I sew the outer and lining fabrics together, so the seams for the pockets won’t cause problems.

I will also want to make a zipper pouch to match, but that will have to wait.

So, step one after I cut out all of my fabric: make a nice top edge for the pockets. Sew the outer pocket to the bottom third of the outer fabric, being sure to place it so the pocket isn’t upside down when the bag is assembled.  Then sew the inner pocket to the middle third of the lining fabric.

Step two: with right sides facing, sew most of the way around the outer and lining fabrics, being sure that a. when turned rightside out, the pockets are both facing up, b. you leave enough room to turn it rightside out (preferably in about the middle of a side), and c. towards one edge of the front, insert the fabric for the tab (folded in quarters like a tote bag strap) so that it is on the outside when turned rightside out. (In italics because I’m likely to 1. forget, or 2. screw it up.)

Step three: with right sides facing, sew most of the way around the outer and lining fabrics for the sides.

Step four: turn everything rightside out. Press everything flat, especially where you left the holes for turning.

Step five: make the strap, if you didn’t do that as step zero on account of it being the easiest part.

Step six: Sew the sides to the rest of the bag. (Yeah, I know this isn’t helpful if someone else is trying to make a bag from these steps. But it works for me.)

Step seven: Sew the strap ends to the tops of the sides.

Step eight: Enjoy the bag!


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