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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Pattern Review: The Summit Pack

Summit Pack pattern by Cloudsplitter Bags & Designs
Image courtesy of Cloudsplitter Bags & Designs...
Let me introduce to you today a relatively new pattern, the Summit Pack by Cloudsplitter Bags & Designs (full link at the end of this post).

As you can see from this cover photo, it's a sling bag in a style that is appropriate for all ages and genders. I was checking out Craftsy's site revamp (and wondering if it was an early Halloween prank) when I decided to see how they may gummed up the indie pattern side... and up popped this pattern.

How fortuitous! I had been contemplating making a pattern for this type of a bag for the past year and a half and here someone had already done the hard work for me. ;-)

Let's be clear, this is a complex thing to conceptualize, so full marks to Sydney (the designer) for figuring it out and offering up the pattern. It's definitely not for beginners, but then — while it is somewhat elaborate in number of pieces and features — it's really not an advanced project either. If you are a confident intermediate sewer with bag making experience, can follow directions, and can approach a project without rushing, you will be able to make this bag.

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Let me evaluate this pattern in five separate categories, starting with value for money.

Price Point: 5/5

The Summit Pack is very affordably priced at only $6 USD. At that price point, I was ready to buy it the moment I saw it, but wanted to search for some more information first.

Cloudsplitter Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
The Summit Pack ended up being bigger than I expected...

Unfortunately, I could not find very much about this bag online. It is fairly new, having been released only this past July, but I would have thought that the pattern testers would have posted more photos of their bags or said something about their experience in making them. I saw four or five pics of these bags via Instagram, but I am not on Instagram to be able to access anything more than the Google search results, so could only see small shots of the finished front of the bag. (I ultimately found several completed projects being sold on Etsy — for over $100 each — but that was after I had made my own bag.)

But like I said, six bucks? Sold! I picked it up the day after I first saw it.

Instructions: 4.5/5

The whole PDF is easy to read and to understand, which may well be the most important attribute of a pattern. The written instructions are clear and concise. You might say that there is just enough detail to get it done and maybe not quite enough to make it absolutely foolproof; hence my rating.

I was never truly confused at any point, but I did experience a few instances of "does she really mean..." and would have appreciated an extra few words of confirmation or affirmation. I read from one of her testers that you need to take the designer at her word, so I will second that thought.

Cloudsplitter Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Summit Pack's main compartment: at left is a padded "gadget pocket",
a standard zippered pocket is opposite...

My issues arose from the two main zippers. Up until it was time to install them, I was under the impression that my white zipper was for the big main pocket and my black zipper was for the lower arched pocket. In her list of materials, she had identified one of the zippers as "with larger pull and wide zipper tape." For whatever reason — because it wasn't made clear — I assumed that that was the zipper leading into the bag's main compartment.

Cloudsplitter Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Back view of my Summit Pack...

My other zipper issue led to my one main headache in the sewing process, and it has to do with the fact that once you start using zippers of smaller or larger size (in terms of the zipper tape width), you will affect the overall size of the piece to which you are attaching the zipper, even if you follow the seam allowance. (On a piece that has two potentially variable zipper sizes on it, you could very well end up with a situation where your lining piece will not match the exterior.) I thought that a mention could have been made about that possibility to warn us ahead of time.

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Photos: 4/5

The photos that accompanied the step by step instructions are more than adequate, and I've seen so much worse in that department that I am just being picky here. (Less picky people might say that there are just enough photos.) However, there were a couple of spots where — while trying to fit together some of the curved pieces — I wondered, should the end go all the way up to here, or just to here? Should this be even with this or this? A few more pictures (or maybe some measurements) to clarify would have made it perfect.

Cloudsplitter Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
This is the inside of the lower front pocket... the entire card slot assembly also serves as a patch pocket...

As with all patterns, once you've made one, the second one will be so much easier. Which is fine if you intend to make multiples, but in making that first one, it's essential to feel like you're proceeding in the right direction from the start. In this case, when you're trying to manage so many different pieces, you just know that if you let one mistake "go", it will likely bite you in the butt later. It's a concern that having a few more photos — or a few more words — might have alleviated.

Cloudsplitter Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
I customized the front of my Summit Pack by adding yet another zippered pocket!
(The hanging loop is also my addition.)

Oh, and back to my original thought about not being able to find much info/photos about this pattern, it would have been helpful to see more shots of a (different?) finished bag from various angles, of both the interior and exterior. The PDF actually didn't even include a photo of the back of the bag.

Templates: 5/5

Exemplary is how I would describe the quality of the many pattern templates that are provided with the PDF. Of the 39 pages, 14 are for pattern pieces. Since there are still other rectangular pieces required, Sydney has helpfully included a cutting list page that you can refer to as you cut your fabric and interfacing.

Pieces that need to be taped together are very clearly marked and the joins are essentially foolproof. Each template indicates how many pieces need to be cut out in what fabric and in what interfacing. If you read what's on each piece, you should have no difficulty whatsoever in understanding what to cut and how to cut (with pattern side facing up or down).

Cloudsplitter Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Bottom view of the Summit Pack...

Be aware that if you're normally the sort to just take a look and then cut merrily away, you may want to exercise a little caution. The way this bag is shaped and constructed, you need to have several mirror image pieces for the back/lining.

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Design & Usability: 5/5

As I said at the beginning, I had been wanting a pattern like this, so I was pre-sold on the design. Not like I've been on a constant search, but I'm pretty sure there aren't many patterns out there for this type of bag. Of the few that could be considered similar, none have the same aesthetic appeal. The teardrop shape and general curviness of this bag set it apart from the usual rectangular versions.

This one came out a little bigger than I expected, however, so if I do end up making another — or develop my own — it will definitely be a scaled down version.

Usability? I've gone out with it and it seems to hold a lot more stuff than one might expect. It's not as humongous as a normal backpack so is unobtrusive. It's comfortable to carry. (I added padding to the strap.) All in all, it looks good and functions well.

Cloudsplitter Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Summit Pack side view...

On a personal note, it's odd that while I'm not a backpack sort of gal, this is now my second backpack sort of project! (And I've actually been using my modified Summer Sling bag since September.)

Final Score: 94%

Bottom line for the Summit Pack? Highly recommended, for many reasons.

First, it's not often that you can find a bag pattern that you can make for a guy. (That in itself is significant; although my guy says he'd want his to be smaller.) Second, the design is not your run of the mill, "been there and seen it many times before" type of design. While not original as a bag, as a pattern, it's definitely different. Third, it's a practical bag and highly usable. And fourth, while it's already a multi-purpose, multiple-pocketed bag, you can still customize it. I'll show you what I did with mine next week, as well as give you a rundown of the sewing experience and where I had my (relatively minor) difficulties.

Want the pattern? Go to Craftsy or check out Sydney's website here.


  1. I am really excited to see this review! This pattern is on my Craftsy wishlist, and every so often I go to look at it and think, "Should I buy it today?" I haven't yet. I thought the same as you that there were not too many photos out there of testers' bags. A few on the Facebook group, but I wouldn't have minded more.

    Your observations are great, and I'll definitely be referring back to this post whenever I actually get to the sewing point. I had a bag of this similar style and used it until it wore out, and I'd love another one. Like you, I considered making my own pattern, but this one is close enough so that I would go with it instead. I have not made a Cloudsplitter pattern before, so this would be my first experience with one of those, too.

    I'd love to see a masculine styled one. Are you going to make one? And how much would you scale it down if you were to make it a second time? I would be interested in knowing that, too.

    Thanks again for a really informative and timely review. Enjoy your bag!!


    1. Thanks, Krista: glad to be of help. Have no immediate plans for making a masculine styled one myself, but all it would take is darker fabric or - and I am definitely planning to experiment with this - some ripstop nylon. (I saw one on Etsy made out of black faux suede that would suit a guy.)

      I imagine going down to about 80 to 85% if I were to try scaling this particular bag, but I am leaning towards making my own version because my main sizing issue involves the base of the bag. (If you look back at the photo I have of the base, you can see how it is "thin and wide"; my version would be thicker and narrower.)

      Be sure to come back next week to check out the "particulars" I had during the sewing process.

  2. Such a detailed and honest review, Rochelle. Looks like it has plenty of pockets - a must for any bag I carry.

  3. Thank you soooo much for the added pictures and review. I'm just starting the bag and needed all the info you put out there!! TY TY

    1. You're welcome, you're welcome! Very pleased to be of help to you and thank you for letting me know in return.

  4. Thanks for this review. Even 2 years later, there still aren’t many out there. Getting ready to make and wondering if you think sunbrella fabric would work for the main pieces rather than quilting cotton?

    1. Not familiar with sunbrella fabric but assume that if it's close to home dec weight, it should be fine. The pattern calls for double layers of interfacing, so if you use anything other than quilting cotton, I would just take that into consideration.

      Good luck with your bag and thanks for stopping by!


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