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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Birth of the "Make it Yours" Bag

My old standby, circa 2010...
So after having sewn a few bags and some accessories, I got to thinking that I could actually create something from "scratch".

My poor vacation bag (shown here) was purchased from Sears in 2007 to take on a cruise. Over time, as with anything, it started to show the dust and the dirt from many trips. I cleaned it as well as I could, but the white soon appeared quite grey in places and then I resorted to using fabric paint to try to bring back some vibrancy. By the beginning of 2013, I knew that it had seen its last service and should be "retired".

But the fact that it's really such a simple bag gave me the idea that this should be my design project. And the best part was, I had already run across many free patterns corresponding to this bag's essential shape. If I could successfully make one of those, creating my own version shouldn't be difficult.

So to give credit where it's due, I happened upon a free pattern and tutorial for a pleated, lined bag from Robyn Vines Smith/Warehouse Fabrics Inc.

Make it Yours Proof of Concept Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
My "proof of concept" bag...
However, I knew from the start that I would be "testing" this pattern to make a replacement bag for my dearly departed Sears bag, so I went into the project with the intention of using only what I needed while adding some features that I wanted my future bag design to have.

So first of all, here is what I did not do per the original pattern: 1) did not add piping, 2) did not pleat the lining pieces, and 3) did not add an interior pocket with flap. And here is what I added or modified: 1) two exterior angled zippered pockets, 2) an interior zippered pocket, 3) plain lining (i.e., without pleats; saves on fabric and makes it easier to attach the interior pockets), and 4) full face exterior slip pocket.

[For those curious about the source of my fabric and notions, the main body used to be a pillowcase; the lining is from the matching duvet cover (a set purchased from IKEA several years ago for $9.99 but never used). The top band of the purse (along with the interior patch pocket and all pocket linings) is from a Wal-Mart tea towel. The lovely gold zippers were rescued from yet another purse that I threw out.]

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As an equally striking replacement for my flowered Sears bag, I think the result meets the basic requirements. There is more that I would change if it were truly my own design, but finding that out was the whole point of this endeavour. By the time I sewed the last stitch on this, I knew what my ultimate purse would be called: the Make it Yours Bag. I envision creating a pattern that will allow individual crafters to pick and choose what features they want (using simple to advanced techniques) to create a truly custom bag.

I've carried this purse on two trips now. (And after washing, it's bright and new as ever!) While in BC this past September, I stopped for coffee at a Timmy's in Vernon. I was complimented by a woman at the counter who — after hearing that the bag was handmade — said that I should make these to sell... and that she would buy.

Coming next week... I will unveil another free pattern for an easy DIY project: a collapsible fabric tray. Stay tuned!

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