I want to talk a little about the pattern for this bag. If you have made one, perhaps you ran into the same annoyances I did. I don’t want to say the pattern was not tested properly, it’s just that the directions could use an overhaul. Read completely through the steps and make sure you understand each one before you start.
First off, the yardage requirements aren’t quite right. There’s no reason to buy a half yard (18″) of the fusibles when you only need 10″; buy one third yard (12″). Of course, too much is better than too little. I’d be really hacked off if that were the case.
Second, I’m beginning to be a little wary of patterns that say “fat quarter” for yardage requirements. A fat quarter isn’t necessarily 18″x22″ anymore, it could be 18″x20″ or 21″. If your pattern makes full use of a fat quarter, make sure you know the layout of the pattern pieces before you buy your fabric. You might find yourself just an inch or so short. That’s what happened to me here. I opted not to make the pocket, which I would have made out of the lining fabric. The sleeve isn’t included in the yardage requirements for some reason. I wanted to make the sleeve out of the lining fabric and I came up a half inch short. So I bought another fat quarter. It’s no big deal this time because I have a lot of the outer fabric left, I might be able to make a whole second bag. If not one this size, then one of the smaller ones.
The next problem I encountered was understanding the step about fusing the fleece to the outer fabric. I did figure it out, but “fuse it down in the center?” I discussed this step with my friend at the LQS and she thought it meant to tack fuse the fleece in a line down the center. No, I’m pretty sure that’s not what it means. That’s not how I did it.
The step about inserting the metal tape into the casing doesn’t explicitly say if you should put it in the front of the casing, between the lining and the outer fabric, or the back of the casing, between the outer fabric and the lining (the outer fabric is sandwiched between the outside lining and the inside lining. The tape could have been inserted either way. Maybe it doesn’t matter). I inserted mine in the front.
If you’ve never made a box bottom for a bag before, you’ll never ever figure it out from the directions in this pattern. Do what I did and check YouTube, I found a couple of videos that show exactly how it’s done. Another detail that’s not mentioned is what to do with the extra triangular pieces after you box the bottom. I trimmed mine with my pinking rotary cutter. There was just so much bulk otherwise.
I bought a sheet of plastic canvas for the inside bottom on the advice of the LQS friend who said if you use cardboard and the bag gets wet… But I’m not sure this inside bottom piece is even necessary. The plastic canvas isn’t as sturdy as corrugated cardboard and really doesn’t do much of anything to keep the bottom stabilized/square. I’m open to new suggestions for that. I have enough leftover lining fabric to make another one.
The directions could benefit from better/more diagrams. The ones they have are adequate, except the one for the box bottom, which isn’t at all helpful. A photo would be better. I also used Electric Quilt to diagram the fabric cutting layouts for different options: with a pocket, without a pocket, sleeve, no sleeve, etc. That’s how I confirmed that a traditional fat quarter won’t be enough if you want to make the lining, sleeve and tabs out of it. You could make the pocket and sleeve out of the outer fabric if you want, and maybe that’s what the designer was thinking, but I wanted the whole inside of my bag to be consistent. A third of a yard will do it.
You can buy this pattern and more from the designer, Stitchin’ Sisters or from Create for Less. The pattern costs more from the designer but the shipping is half as much as from CFL. I just ordered the original pattern for the smaller sizes. I had purchased a metal tape measure from the dollar store but I wasn’t paying attention and got one that was 5/8″ instead of 1″. Maybe the smaller bags can use the smaller tape. We have a new Harbor Freight Tools store in town and this weekend they were running a coupon for a free 1″ tape measure with any purchase, so I bought some rotary cutter blades and got my free tape.
If you’ve made this bag, I’d love to hear your impressions of the experience and what you might have done differently.
ETA: there’s a few things I left out of this post. When I fused the fleece to the outer fabric, it must have shrunk the fabric a little because the outer fabric and lining were no longer the same width. I should have squared up the lining to match the outer fabric’s width because I had a problem with the side seams. I had to take a wider seam to make sure I caught the outer fabric in it. It ended up being no big deal, but I’ve made a note to do this square-up process if this happens again.
Also, when you’re sewing the French seam, go back and stitch along the casing again. This stitching takes a lot of stress when you’re turning the bag inside and right side out during construction.
My LQS friend gave me a very helpful tip that I wouldn’t have thought of myself: if you’re using directional fabric for the outside, add a seam allowance to the length of your layout, cut the fabric in half and sew it together so that your directional fabric won’t be upside down on one side. You’ll have a seam on the bottom, but so what?
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