I had to step away from this project for a few days before I could write about it. It’s pretty intense; but I will say that I don’t think it was nearly as bad as some people made it out to be.
For the record here’s my list of injuries/broken stuff:
- Poked Fingers – 1
- Broken needles – 0
- Sore fingertips – 4
- Times I really needed to take a break – 3. After sewing each side to the gusset and once while sewing the lining into the bag.
That’s it! Not so bad really. So following suit, here is my list of advice and changes I made to the pattern.
1. I used ShapeFlex SF101 (my new bestie :D) and Peltex #71 (one-sided fusible). I fused the ShapeFlex to all pieces and then added the Peltex right on top. I did use the three layers of ShapeFlex on the gusset. This worked fairly well for me.
2. I used stitchwitchery on the piping, as some other blogs have recommended, I loved it, but making the piping was pretty time consuming.
3. I used 4/32 piping instead of 6/32 piping, which meant my piping seam allowance was actually too wide to align to the edge of my fabric pieces. WOOPS! So if you use this smaller piping make sure you cut your piping strips a 1/4″ thinner than the pattern says BEFORE you make it into piping.
4. I added a zip pocket inside the outside pocket. I only used one outside pocket because I didn’t want to waste my typewriter print and the thought of lining up those cuts was daunting. So I just didn’t bother. I also didn’t add inside pockets. I didn’t think I’d use them. I also didn’t put the pockets on the sides of the bag. Didn’t think I’d use those either.
5. I added leather strips to the handles for extra strength and stability. I really love it. I also stitched the handles down both sides and did a handle X near the top for extra security, and I added about 5 inches to the strap length so I could carry the bag on my shoulder. I sewed the straps THROUGH the Peltex!!! This is really important for the bag’s structure and handle strength!
6. I added a board of masonite and used acorn nuts and carriage bolts on the bottom of the bag. I got the kind of masonite that had holes in it, pegboard essentially, and it worked fine, I didn’t have to do any drilling. I rounded the corners of the masonite so it would sit in the bag better, and I put three layers of Peltex between the board and the bag bottom to add thickness so I wouldn’t have to cut my carriage bolts. Yuk. So I used 1/4″ x 3/4″ carriage bolts, 1/4″ acorn nuts, and 1/4″ x 3/4″ washers.
7. Hand sewing the lining was definitely the worst part, but that’s because I didn’t have a thimble and wasn’t patient enough to go buy one. I should have used duct tape or something on my finger, but as it was I used the lid from my lotion bottle and it worked alright. But for those of you without leather fingers, GET A THIMBLE.
8. Sewing the gusset to the bag sides was definitely awful, but really just required patience. I actually went around my bag about 4 times, and then still had to go around some corners more than that. Just keep sewing and checking and sewing and checking.
9. Zipper insertion – This zipper method was AWESOME. Just do it, it’s great. Oh, and I used a 40″ parka zipper from JoAnn’s. And in fact it had two zippers on it but one was going the wrong direction, so I just cut the end off, took off the one zipper, turned it around and put it back on to make a two-pull zipper that opens from the center out. Easy Peasy.
10. I did not break a single needle. Those people that are breaking needles must be using the wrong size or a crappy brand, that’s all I can figure. I used a Jeans/Denim needle and it lasted the entire project.
11. If I make this pattern again I will NOT make the straps long enough to sew into the bottom seam. That’s just stupid. I’d also only sew the piping wrap fabric into the seam, not actual pieces of piping. These two things really messed me up.
12. I machine sewed the lining to the outer seam allowance only across the top of the bag. I couldn’t invert my bag because I’d had to put the masonite in, which made it too bulky to invert, and the lining wouldn’t fit around the bag.
Stuff I’m not happy with:
- I intentionally didn’t show it in the pictures but the bottom of the bag has a couple of wrinkles that just won’t come out.
- The lining is a bit loose. Next time I’ll use a thimble and take more care.
- See #11 above.