Monday, November 15, 2010

It's a real, live bag!

My mom’s birthday was a little while back, and I wanted to try to make her something special. I’m still pretty new to sewing, and I’m only really beginning to stretch myself in terms of project difficulty. I was underwhelmed by the bag patterns in the books I own, so I went in search of a great everyday bag pattern and found this one from Jen Giddens. I snatched it up and was so excited to get to work.
Around the same time, my mom had asked me to make a simple tote for one of her work friends, so I sent her friend a link to Hawthorne Threads’ color grid, asking her to pick a few fabrics she liked. I slyly asked my mom to do the same, you know, “for future reference.” The problem, of course, is that my mom didn’t know what I was making, so while she picked some cute fabrics, none of them were right for the bag. With some input from my sister, I ended up taking the color scheme from one of my mom’s fabrics and choosing something more suitable for the bag, Valori Wells’s (for Free Spirit) Tapestry in Cinnamon. The lining was from a local shop.
This bag was a first for me in many ways: first bag from a real pattern, first time installing a magnetic snap (great tutorial here), first time using duck cloth (recommended in the pattern to add some nice weight), first time making pleats. It was really fun to make, and I loved seeing it all come together. But I did have some issues along the way, most noticeably with the duck cloth. I bought the only stuff they had at the local shop, but I’ve since discovered a much less stiff version available at Joann’s. Anyway, the stuff I bought was terribly hard to work with – very stiff and thick – and I was really worried when I finished the bag because the whole thing looked awkward, and the handles were particularly thick and stiff. Thankfully, after my mom had used it for a week or so, the duck cloth started to “break down,” lending the bag just the right amount of structure and weight, but I’ll definitely use the Joann’s version next time around, which looks far more supple and like normal canvas, plus it comes in multiple colors, which is a lot more fun. All in all, not a bad first effort. What do you think?

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