Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Frankenbag, or why I should just stick to others people's patterns

This is why I shouldn't go rogue -- with the exception of the Abbey Nightie and the Double Skein Yarn Bag, every time I try to design my own bag from scratch I get all sorts of things just plain wrong.  For this tote, I tried to combine a couple of elements that I was interested in trying: cool pockets (as opposed to a simple patch pocket or an internal zipper pocket -- both things I feel like I have mastered) and a recessed zipper closure.  Though I was able to get this bag completed, it was not without a million bumps along the way and kind of a wonky outcome.

First of all, I tried something new without making sure I had enough fabric to spare if (when?) I screwed up.  I love this bird printed twill (at least I think it's twill?) and the geometric chevron, and I thought the navy and aqua would look cool together.  But then I forgot I needed some sort of option for handles, and I ended up stealing some cotton webbing off of a very light tan cheapie market tote.  Not exactly matching, but not terrible either.  Enough talking and on to the horrifying photographs.

At first glance, it doesn't look so bad.

But then you look closer at the pocket I tried to design and you realize that you can see raw edges of the ends of the piping peeking out at the top corners.  Whoops. I was sort of following this tutorial from ikat Bag (another one of my favorite bogs), but I screwed it all up by deciding to add piping.  The pocket still turned out kind of cute though.  I guess I should have just wrapped the binding around the piping for a more finished look.

Here is the other side.  I tried a different technique for a floating inset pocket (also from ikat Bag's same pocket tutorial series).

The pocket itself didn't turn out so badly, but my topstitching is so cruddy that I probably should have used navy thread to hide it.  The pocket hangs down on the inside between the outer fabric and the lining -- it just has a big opening just for fun.

I then tried to adapt a tutorial for a recessed zipper and kind of miscalculated how long it should be.  Turns out it should have been several inches shorter so it wouldn't fight with the sides of the bag.

And, I guess I should have made the recessed zipper sides out of the lining fabric -- not the outer fabric.  I have to pull the entire recessed zipper up and out of the bag just to open and close it, so I might as well have just sewn an exposed zipper anyway.

The inside is lined with the aqua chevron, which is fine except for the fact that this is the lightest, most wrinkly cotton I have ever worked with.  I could hardly get the wrinkles ironed out, and then if I looked away for two seconds the whole shebang was even more wrinkled than before.  I need to get my hands on some spray starch for fabric like this.  No wonder it was so cheap.

I was going to get wild and put an internal zipper pocket to make the bag super cool, but after I finished the recessed zipper and figured out that things were about to go terribly wrong, I lost the will to do anything other than get the darn thing finished.

The actual structure of the tote is very basic (other than the recessed zipper).  I spray basted a layer of felt to the outer fabric so the tote actually had some nice structure to it.  Now I need to get my hands on another zipper and try this all again with better pocket design and the proper length of the recessed zipper.  I also want to find some other instructions for the recessed zipper because I have a hunch there is a better way to put it all together.

I can't in good conscience give this bag away to anyone, but it's going to annoy me every time I use it.  Hmm . . .

Linking up to: Chris W Designs, And Sew We Craft


  1. Ha Ha Niki! All part of the learning process. You should see how many fails I come up with when I try to design something new. Occasionally things work out first time, but mostly it takes a few attempts! Your bag looks great - cool fabric, and you can actually use it!

    1. You said it! One of my sister's friends paid me a very nice compliment on the bag on Facebook, so I told her she it was hers. I am definitely going to try something like this again!