Fini had asked me several months ago to make her a bag just like one she already owned. She used this bag for everything including diapers, snacks, sippys and toys. Essentially it was her diaper bag, but it was smaller and more of a mini-messenger type bag. It was given to her while she was in nursing school by her brother-in-law who had just came back from Japan. He said that all the students were using these at the time. Well, leave it to the Japanese crafters to come up with a simple, easy to use, stylish bag!
So last week, I set off trying to duplicate it. And as usual when it comes to me trying to copy something without a pattern, it took me a while and I ran into several problems. Last night, I bit the bullet and finished it:
The outside fabric is a beautiful, soft corduroy, but it was thin so I added some weight by fusing flannel interfacing. The original bag was thick blue canvas-type material that wasn’t lined or fused with anything. We had decided to line this bag with some cotton polka-dot fabric which I fused with the flannel as well. The two layers of flannel and fabric gives the bag some stiffness, but it’s still nice and soft.
I top-stitched around the edge of the bag, but it was a real pain going through all those layers. I finally switched to my walking foot (which I hate because it sounds like I’m using my old clunker again) and the stitches went in smoothly. I highly suggest getting a walking foot when sewing bags or anything thick, but they are spendy ($40 for my Janome). I kicked myself for not putting mine on earlier, but the kids were sleeping and I wanted it to stay that way.
For me, the hardest part of this bag was the backside:
The original bag, in it’s one layer simpleness, had this outside pocket which Fini really liked and wanted so I had to be sure it was right. The pocket had a somewhat water-proof lining which I thought was a great idea to keep things separated and if something spilled, the entire bag’s contents wouldn’t get wet as well. (Sippy cups DO leak, no?) All I had that would match was this red polka-dot oil cloth, but this was thicker than the stuff in the other bag so again, I made my bag thicker. Aaargh!
Figuring out how to sew the outside pocket together also threw me. I had sewn the outside form and the inside lining of the bag as usual in it’s two separate pieces. The difference in this bag was that on the outside form, there was the zipper panel with white polka-dot lining sewn together already. Also, on the inside form, the oil cloth was sewn onto the outside (to be inside pocket) back panel as well. Now getting these two forms together was a challenge to figure out. I’m sure I didn’t do it the right way, but in the end, I go it all together with the outside pocket stitched closed and separated, and the inside lining tacked down. Whew!
It was a challenge and I learned alot. (#1- do not line a bag unless you have to!). I love the shape and size of the bag with it’s adjustable shoulder strap and oil cloth pocket. Although, now that I’m looking at this picture, I think it needs a little side pocket and a key thing-y. I guess it’s not done yet. Off I go…
(Fini- It’s coming… I promise!)