Category Archives: Bags

The Ultimate Travel Bag – Nearly Finished!

Phew! I had intended to take photographs as I worked may way through the construction of this bag which I have to say has been a labour of ‘love/hate’! However, the desire to get on and stitch through to the next stage meant that I totally forgot to take a breath – and a photo.

The process of construction is complicated but as with all Annie Unrein’s projects, the instructions both written and video are comprehensive and do help to make up this project. There were a few hiccups along the way – nothing to do with the way of the instructions or the project itself – much more to do with my desire to change the sizing and also to use materials that were to hand rather than the correct products as per the materials list.

But the bag is almost complete – I could use it as it is now but there are a few things that still need to be addressed. Firstly I have not bound the inside seams. This is not earth-shattering and I will definitely be hand stitching a binding to the internal seams once I return from my trip but for now it would be another time-consuming activity for which I simply do not have time. Secondly, at time of writing I have not made the pad for the carrying strap. I will sit down and make that tomorrow afternoon as I feel that it is an essential part of the carrying strap. Thirdly, because I used a thick heavyweight drill fabric for the straps and they are filled with cotton webbing, my machine really struggled to stitch the carrying strap ends. I have brass rivets and plan to install them before I leave. If not, I shall just have to be careful with weight distribution and hope that my stitching holds up.

Notes on construction:

The bag is made in sections. This is great as the front,back and side panels are constructed with their pockets both inside and out before the bag is put together.

Front Panel Prepared with Zip & Slip Pocket

Slip Mesh Pockets inside the Front Panel

Zipped Mesh Pocket inside the Back Panel

The straps and handles are reinforced by the insertion of webbing. I have not used this method before, hence my use of the incorrect webbing. I will certainly use this method again in the future and have already ordered the nylon webbing to use in other bag handles and straps.

The use of Bosal ® wadding helps to make the bag stand upright. Additional stitching helps to compress the foam and makes it easier to stitch the component parts together.

Below a few more photographs that I did remember to take during the final stages of construction.

One side of the side strip attached to the Back panel

Back strap with Velcro to slide over Trolley

Preparing to Stitch the Second Panel to the Side Strip

The bag measures 49 cms across x 38 cms high x 17 cms deep at its widest part and weighs in at just 800 grams. Thus I have achieved the objective which was to make a bag that fit within the dimensions quoted by the Airline and weighs considerably less than the carry-on bag that I almost purchased from Antler.

Construction of the bag was a steep learning curve. I love the end result but don’t think that I will be making another anytime soon.

          

 

Sew Sturdy: The Ultimate Travel Bag by Annie Unrein

Those of you that follow my blog will know that I am very excited. I am going on a Fly/Cruise to the Caribbean! There has been a flurry of activity over the past couple of months. I have gradually assessed the wardrobe requirements for two weeks in the Caribbean climate – very different to what we are experiencing here in Hampshire UK at present! It has seemed a little strange to be thinking of cotton tops and dresses, cut off trousers and last but not least – evening wear as the snow gently flutters passed the window!

As this is to be a Fly/Cruise I need to be aware of weight restrictions for my luggage. I checked the allowances for hold and cabin. The hold baggage can be up to 23 kgs but the cabin must not exceed 5kgs and be contained within a case measuring no more than 55cms x 40cmsx 20cms. ‘That’s OK’ I thought, ‘I can buy a small case to fit those limits’. How wrong I was! The smallest case that I could find was great size-wise but oh dear, it weighs in at 2.2 kgs! That does not leave much scope for the contents. So…. I am making my case using the Sew Sturdy: Ultimate Travel Bag pattern by Annie Unrein.

I have previously made the Sew Sturdy: Sewing Organiser Bag and the Essential Back Pack by Annie which turned out to be exactly what is says on the tin – sew sturdy.

I had hoped to be able to buy some more Linen/Cotton blend fabric from New Threads that would match the handbag that I intend to take with me – but unfortunately having visited the shop, discovered that the last of the roll had been sold – probably to me! Instead I purchased 2 metres of a beautiful patchwork print Linen by French General together with coordinating quilting cottons.

French General Outer Fabric

Lining Fabric

Combined with the cost of Annie Soft & Stable wadding, mesh for pockets, nickel hardware, zips and thread the total cost is in the region of £75 – but hey, this travel bag is going to be unique and I am sure will see a great deal of travel over its lifetime so cost per use will workout to be inconsequential.

This morning whilst the snow converts the landscape to a chocolate box picture, I have cut out all the pieces ready to start quilting this afternoon. I will keep you posted on progress……

An experiment that failed in the final furlong

  Stitching showing through from the internal pockets

A little while ago I made my first ‘Peek-a-boo’ wallet with vinyl pockets. I am pleased with the result but have always felt that there was room for improvement.

End of the zip ‘ripples’ at the edges

I was unhappy with the way that the KAM snaps were inserted, that the shaped end was left open for turning rather than the straight end, that the zip teeth went right to the edge of the wallet and ‘rippled’ and finally that the stitching of the pockets on the inside came through to the outer cover. I decided to address these issues and make a new wallet using some remnant Skandi print Christmas fabric and leftover shower curtaining from a.n.other project.

All went exceedingly well until the final furlong which involved inserting the second KAM snap into the flap that would enable the wallet to be folded up and secured.

I realise now some of the reasons for the failure are; 1) I have used a thicker polyester wadding and 2) the flap not only has wadding, 2 layers of fabric AND some medium weight interfacing. All these layers mean that it is a struggle for the snap to be inserted fully. I used the ‘male’ snap on the flap and try as I might (at least 5 attempts) I could not get sufficient closure on the snap so that it would ‘pop’ into the ‘female’ part. I wish that I had used an alternative closure!

So a lesson learned. I will definitely make this wallet again and next time will avoid issues with the KAM snaps by using a button and loop instead.

Here is the final wallet, closed but not secure!

Peek-a-Boo Pouch

Pouch closed

During a recent visit to a friend she showed me a project made from a free pattern on the Craftsy website. This Peek-a-Boo Pouch is very different to other projects and at the same time offers another opportunity to use some clear vinyl. I had to try out this project as I felt it could be a contender for Christmas gifts to friends and relatives. I decided to use a fat quarter of a pretty pink cotton printed with poodles and various other motifs.

Now, I am a pretty confident stitcher but I did not find this pouch particularly easy to sew. Firstly, I had difficulty stitching the zip to the clear vinyl and in the end had to bind the edges of the vinyl to provide a good base for the feed dogs on the machine. Secondly, I could not work out which part and why, the KAM popper should be inserted at this stage, to the straight end of the pouch. This all became clear when the pouch was all but finished and to apply the KAM popper was made very difficult as virtually all the seams had been stitched. As demonstrated by my friend, the ends of the zip are enclosed in the outer seam of the pouch which does not make for the neatest of finishes. Next time I will apply binding at the ends of the zip. I think that my measuring of the vinyl pockets must have been off – the line of dividing stitches for the slip pocket shows through onto the outside front of the pouch and it does not fold into 3 quite the way that it should. Finally, the instructions advise to leave a gap in the curved end of the pouch to facilitate turning through but then it is more difficult to get a neat curve on the finish. Next time I will leave a gap in the straight end of the pouch.

Pouch opened out

That being said I believe that the concept of the pouch is very good.I fully intend to make another and incorporate various features that will improve the final project.

Zip Top Window Project Bag

Some time ago I made a ‘trial’ version of a zip topped bag that had a ‘window’ at the front so that it was easy to see the contents of the bag. I have found the bag to be very useful and wanted to refine the project.

Original window project bag

The original bag size had been defined by the size of the vinyl (shower curtain remnant) used for the window but as I now have metres of clear vinyl I could make the bag to whatever dimensions I wanted.

I wanted the finished bag to be approximately the same size as a piece of A4 paper so that if the project had written instructions, they could be included in the bag without being folded. After a false start when I made the window much too big with bindings that were too narrow, I did eventually come up with the correct dimensions to have the finished bag the size that I wanted.

A4 sized window project bag

Due to the ‘trial and error’ nature of construction I have not timed myself for this bag but now that I have the correct cutting dimensions I intend to make another to check the time required to make this project.

 

Strip Patchwork Storage Bin

Whilst surfing the worldwide web I came across instructions for this charming and useful storage bag made from scraps of cotton fabric. The scraps are cut into strips measuring 1½ inches x 5 inches. The base of the bag is a single rectangle and then the lining is cut from a co-ordinating fat quarter. I needed only a small piece of wadding and the end result is a charming storage bag measuring 5 inches high x 5 inches wide x 3 inches deep. The bag is an ideal size for storing a variety of items or as a gift. For the next version I intend to increase the size. As I had originally intended to make window project bags for my friends for their Christmas gifts but with time passing at an alarming rate, they may eventually end up with versions of this storage bag.

Half Dresden Peg Bag

I did say that I was hooked on this new (to me) patchwork block. Today I played around with some scraps and made a new peg bag. This project is also being promoted as a half-day class at New Threads Quilt Shop but before it is listed on the internet I need to make a ‘master’ version of the bag.

I have learned quite a few tricks by making this one and I look forward to using it. I guess that once I have ‘finessed’ the design it will be a useful project to give as Christmas presents (oops there’s that C word again!).

Bag-making Workshop at New Threads Quilt Shop

My bag – finished at home

Roberta, Pauline and Anne had seen the various examples in the New Threads Quilt Shop and on-line so on Saturday the three ladies arrived to spend the day making a ‘Maggie’ bag. In addition to the examples in store, I also showed the latest incarnation – a prototype for the smallest bag which includes an unusual fastening of grommet and tab with popper (posted on my blog 20th May).

Roberta and Pauline elected to make the Medium-sized bag.

Roberta’s bag – a work in progress

whilst Anne (who had previously attended one of my workshops for the Cross Body Bag) decided to tackle the small size with the grommet!

Anne’s bag – just needs some finishing touches

Pauline’s bag – awaiting the lining

We all enjoyed a day of cutting, stitching and chatting. By the end of the day each lady had made good progress with her bag, leaving only a small amount of ‘homework’ to finish the project.

Window Project Bag

On yet another occasion when sleep has evaded me, I got to thinking about sewing projects. I recalled that I had some leftover sheets of vinyl from when I made the Sew Sturdy Organiser Case (posted 31 December 2016). Surely there was away that I could use them up? I often have part-completed projects piled up at the side of my sewing desk, how much better it would be if they could be stored in project bags – and how much better if those bags had a clear vinyl window so that I could tell quickly and easily what was in the bag.

I had a few pieces of the quilting cotton left over from the small Maggie bag project and decided to see if I could make up a window project bag. The sewing machine was threaded with the correct coloured thread and I had a spare zip in Bright Pink that would compliment the colours in the printed cotton. Within 40 minutes I had completed the project bag and I am delighted with it. I will keep it on hand and as soon as I have another ‘window’ (see what I did there?) in my sewing schedule will write up instructions on how to make these decorative and useful bags.

Small ‘Maggie’ Bag – a trial run

Small Maggie Bag – Front

For the upcoming ‘Maggie’ bag workshop, I needed to calculate the cutting plan for the smallest-sized bag. The best way to do this is to make a bag. It is so much easier to check the proportions when you have an actual bag in front of you.

I checked my stash of bag-making fabrics and pulled out a script-print linen from New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, which co-ordinated really well with some faux suede (source unknown).

Fabrics: Linen, Faux Suede, Quilting Cotton

I checked back to the cutting plans for the large and medium-sized bags and then made some size decisions based on those comparisons and proportions. I cut the bottom panel, straps and flap from the faux suede. The top panel, top binding strip, external slip pocket and external zipped pocket were cut from the linen fabric. For the lining I used a fat quarter of cotton print purchased from Fabricland. The wadding was a one-side fusible Bosal ® and the zips for the pockets came from my stash.

I did some test stitching and was a little concerned that the faux suede was a real b….. to sew. But hey ho – onwards and upwards!

I decided to go ‘off plan’ with the flap which for the other bags in the range have a twist lock. This bag would have a circular grommet on the flap which would then be fastened by passing through a strap which would be secured with a popper.

Grommet and strap popper top fastening in nickel finish

Underside of the popper is plastic

The construction of the bag was fairly straightforward with only a few minor adjustments to the dimensions of pieces which were jotted down ready for a new cutting plan.

Internal slip pocket

Internal zip pocket

The finished bag measures 10½“ high x 7½“ wide x 2¾“ deep and was just about completed when I thought the long handles look a bit floppy and unsubstantial.

I decided to try inserting some piping cord – a method that I had seen on bag patterns from The Bobbin Patch. It would have been easier if I had planned ahead for this! By using the zip foot and some ‘gentle persuasion’ I managed to stitch the cord inside the folded handles. They now look much better and more in proportion to the rest of the bag. This method for handles is something that I will be using again on other bags. Next time I will make the straps a little wider so that I can use plastic tubing for the insert and thus avoid the ‘crinkles’ caused by the piping cord.

Small Maggie Bag – Reverse

On the whole I am pleased with the resultant bag although I am not impressed with the fusible Bosal ® which tends to leave a ‘dimpled/cellulite’ finish if you are not careful. I much prefer the sew-in version and will make a point of stocking up with some more as soon as possible.