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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Scaling the Summit (Pack)

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
We had a couple of early October snow hits and it was like winter here!
On occasion, I get inspired to make a project as soon as I see the pattern. My last two bag projects were precisely that way, and oddly enough, they were both sling bags: my customized Summer Sling courtesy of Sew4Home and this Summit Pack that you see here, the pattern for which I reviewed in my last post.

If you consider the day that I purchased the pattern as day 1, I was finished making the bag by day 10. That's still certainly more tortoise than hare if it was an actual race, but it was a pretty fast turnaround by my standards. And like I said last week, this is not a typical bag pattern that you can just "run with" based on existing knowledge.


During the first three days, I selected my fabrics and contemplated what I might add or change. I decided that I wouldn't be altering much, given how different this bag is. Oh, and of course, I read through the pattern carefully to ensure that I understood the basic process.

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A Day of Cutting Fabric

Here is what I accomplished by the afternoon of day 4. You may recognize a couple of the Robert Kaufman fabrics here from previous projects like my cousin's wallet and my hubby's Gadget Grab 'n' Go.

Allocating Fabric for the Summit Pack
It took hours just to cut and lay out the templates... 

Since I don't have an extensive fabric stash, I try to use up leftovers with each new project, pairing them up with something fresh. The coordinating Satsuki Japanese Flower in beige was the new selection here. It has an interesting gradient pattern running from selvage to selvage; depending on where you cut, it can look like two different fabrics.

Two Days of Cutting & Fusing Interfacing

I was still more or less in this mode by the afternoon of day 5... cutting. This time it was the interfacing pieces.

On day 6, I fused the interfacing onto all of my pieces. And in doing so, I made the first of my changes; I used one layer of Decor Bond for everything instead of the double application of Shapeflex. I don't have any Shapeflex on hand and the need to buy 4 yards of it (!) to accommodate this was a deal-breaker. (How did the substitution perform? It resulted in a firm bag that stands up by itself, which I personally don't mind. That said, next time — if there is a next time — I will try fusible fleece for a softer finish. In any case, I don't know what a double layer of Shapeflex would feel like in comparison...)

For the back panel and for the inside gadget pocket, the pattern calls for Flex Foam or Soft and Stable. Instead, I used some of my melton blanket remnants, last seen in my tablet envelope project. To address the lack of fusibility, my fabric glue (Tailorform's Sew No More) came to the rescue.

As you might guess, I'm a big proponent of making do with what you have on hand.

Day 7: First Day of Sewing

Did some solid sewing on day 7...
Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Three main pieces finished on day 7...

... although I had this curious outcome. Pretty sure I cut these correctly and folded the card slots correctly, but there you go. Whatever the cause, this problem was fairly easy to fix.

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs

The strap would have been sewn this day if I were constructing the bag in order. However, I was still trying to decide how to make my strap, since I didn't have a slider and my D ring and swivel clip hardware was 3/4" wide instead of 1".

My final bit of sewing on day 7 was the custom pocket on top of the front zippered pocket.

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Adding a fifth zipper to the mix!

The zipper was recovered from an old purse; I attached one of my zippiest zipper pulls to it, switching out the original pull so I could add it to my other white zipper to create a double pull.

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Day 8: The Zipper Conundrum

The morning of day 8 was when I had my minor confusion over which zipper was meant for where.

The above is from the pattern's materials listing...
Just for the record (in case I'm not the only confused one), the shorter zipper is meant for the smaller pocket on the lower front of the bag. The longer zipper is the one under the zipper cover strip.

However, do you think that just the shorter zipper is meant to have the larger pull and wide zipper tape? Or is that phrase meant to describe "purse zippers" in general and therefore applicable to both zippers? I now think it's the latter, while at the time that I was putting this together, I believed the former.

Meanwhile, here is the beginning of my "zipper problem"...

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
The start of my zipper issues... I went ahead and used a very small seam allowance!

The pattern says to use a 3/8" to 1/2" zipper seam allowance, depending on zipper. (So we are back to that zipper conundrum... what kind of zipper should we be using?)

Keep in mind that a regular #3 zipper is only 3mm — the width of the zipper teeth — above an inch wide. A #5 zipper is bigger, but not really by a whole lot. To sew with a 3/8" to 1/2" seam allowance on the zipper tape means you're getting very close to the zipper teeth... almost impossibly close if you are trying to manage with a regular #3 zipper.

It's always been my preference to have more of my zipper tape showing than not, so I've always tended to sew my zippers with a 1/4" or smaller seam allowance. Not a good move in this case, since I ended up with a front piece that didn't fit the backing piece, as you can see here. (The top of the picture shows the backing piece extending beyond the front. Then along the bottom of the bag, the front piece was considerably longer than the backing piece.)

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
No amount of pulling was going to make this mismatched pair fit!

Long story short, use #5 (or #4.5 if you can find them) zippers for both "purse zippers" and ensure that you sew as close to the recommended seam allowance as possible. I ultimately fixed my issue by removing and then re-installing the longer zipper.

By the way, if anyone is uncertain about what it means to "make snips in the zipper tape", it refers to making small cuts like this to help ease your zipper around curved areas.

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Making small cuts along your zipper tape makes it much easier to curve around something!

I called it a day after determining that I'd have to rip out and reinstall at least one of the main zippers. In that sort of situation, it's a good idea to step away and come back with a fresh outlook.

Day 9: Onward & Upward

Here is my front panel and backing piece fitting much better on day 9!

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Bottom and side edge now sewn together... yay!

Here is the rest of my day 9 progress... attaching the side and bottom pieces to both exterior and lining. As you can see, clips are your friends for this project; pins won't do the job through all those layers!

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Progressing smoothly towards the end...

You may have heard this before, but it's worth repeating: learn to go with your gut. The zipper cover piece did not call for any interfacing and I kept thinking that I should add some... right up until the time I sewed the piece on — without any interfacing. The result feels very flimsy and if I had to do it all over again, I would fuse some interfacing onto half of that piece. (This is if you're using a quilting cotton. I would probably add a strip of interfacing to the top 1" underneath each of the card slots for the same reason.) Speaking of the zipper cover, I used my accent fabric for it since I did not have enough of the main fabric.

Day 10: Finishing

All that was left for day 10 was to attach the back panels, the strap (which in my case hadn't been made yet), the strap tab and then do what seemed like an inconceivable task given the thickness of everything: turn the whole contraption right side out!

In the process of doing all that, I also wanted to add a loop at the top for hanging, an interior key clip, and a pen or sunglasses loop.

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I ultimately made the strap more or less per the pattern, except that I didn't install a slider to make it adjustable. I knew this bag was going to be for me so I sized it just for me and used a couple of snap fasteners to provide two "settings": one for regular over the (right) shoulder use and one for over the chest (for when I'm riding a bike for instance). I made the bottom part of the strap (and the strap tab) just a tiny bit narrower so that I could use the hardware that I had on hand.

Oh, I also added some of my melton blanket to the top part of the strap for padding and would highly recommend doing that with whatever foam stabilizer you use.

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
I salvaged this key clip from hubby's old sling bag and attached it to the top of the main compartment...

Originally, I had planned to "split" the card slot patch pocket assembly to accommodate a pen, but didn't know how easy it would be to access once everything was put together. So instead, I just attached a simple loop to the inside edge of the main opening. Here it is with my sunglasses hanging from it, but it can do double duty for a pen.

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
My loop for sunglasses and/or a pen...

Once everything was attached — including the strap of course — the final process was to sew on the lining piece of the back panel and then turn it all right side out through the back zippered pocket.

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Sewing on the exterior back panel was challenging enough... adding this lining piece was a feat!

Doesn't this look like a big samosa?? Happily, my sewing machine did not complain about the thickness here!

I was too busy using up all of my strength pulling out the bag to stop and take a picture of the whole turning process, but it did get accomplished, obviously. I was then able to give it a good steam and press to remove most of the creases. The main interior back panel has some creasing that I can't get out, but that's partly due to the nature of Decor Bond. (It shows more on light coloured fabrics, which is one of the reasons why I prefer to use dark prints on my exteriors.)

Cloudsplitter's Summit Pack crafted by eSheep Designs
Completed Summit Pack... well worth the effort!

All in all, the project was worth the effort. (And it truly wasn't that difficult.) I'm very happy with my Summit Pack. Hopefully this post provides some useful information for anyone considering making one.


  1. I love the colors you chose!

  2. Such a lovely bag Rochelle. I've always fancied making myself a sling bag - this one looks great! Nice detailed review of the process too!

  3. I made the summit bag with your help I made it for my granddaughter out of Doctor Who material now I think I will make the Zip To It Bag for me soon I just have to do a few things first. Have you made Zip To It Bag?

    1. I'm not familiar with the Zip To It Bag...? But glad I was able to be of assistance in helping you make the Summit Pack for your granddaughter. Thanks for dropping a line. :-)

  4. Thanks very much for all of your photos! I am just at the fusing stage on my Summit bag, and finding myself really puzzled about how some of the pieces go together. Your post is helping it to make a lot more sense! And I am definitely going to add a hanging loop and a sunglasses loop to mine as well.

    1. You're very welcome for the help and thank you for letting me know! Always thrilling to have customization ideas taken up by others. Good luck finishing your bag.

  5. I know this is an older post, but I juat bought this pattern and truly appreciate your tutorial and comments on the confusing parts of the instruction. I'll reference it as I make my bag in a few weeks. Thank you!

  6. Thank you for your post - it's helped me to figure out some things I didn't feel too sure about while making the pattern; and I welcome your advice about aspects of it. Really helpful.

    1. Most welcome, Tanya, and certainly glad to be of assistance in the process. The ability to be helpful is one of the benefits of blogging. ;-)

  7. Love, love, love! I especially love the customization of the pockets. That extra little zipper pocket on the front would be perfect for quick access. Gorgeous choice of fabrics.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments! Yes, that front pocket is very handy. (I keep my cell phone in there.)

  8. Thanks so VERY much for your thoughtful review and step-by-step explanation of the construction process for this bag. I've only cut mine out and have been worrying about the same zipper question, so your description and tips are extremely helpful.
    A question for you: I'm a lefty who generally wears a cross-body bag on my right hip. This bag seems designed to be accessed from the left side of the body with the right hand. Do you think it would be OK to reverse it for my use? The one I'm cutting out now is meant to be a tester/demo for sale, so I'm thinking I should probably make it per the pattern and make any adjustments on a future (smaller) one for me. Your thoughts?
    Thanks again!

    1. First of all, thank you for your kind words. I'm happy to be helpful.

      Secondly, I'm right handed and carry this bag on my right shoulder. Apart from locating the lower strap anchor on the right side of the bag (when looking at it from the front), it didn't occur to me to change or reverse anything.

      Accessing the bag has always been a matter of having to swing it around, as it's just not built like a regular purse. That said, I don't see any reason why you couldn't mirror the pattern and sew it up "oppositely" if that's what you'd prefer. Make your first one as is and then go for it!

  9. Thanks for your note; my apologies for not responding sooner (life!).
    Please forgive my fixation on this, but I'm having difficulty understanding how you -- a right-hander -- can use this bag from your right shoulder. You'd be wearing it either (a) over your right and under your left shoulder and across your back, or (b) over and under your right shoulder only. If (a), you'd rotate it around to the front to use it, but wouldn't that place the zippers at the bottom? If (b), you'd have to swing it completely off your shoulder (vs. just letting it fall forward a bit) to be able to access the zippers with your right hand. In contrast, wearing it on the left shoulder (in my imagined scenarios) would bring it to the front with the zippers easily accessible with the right hand in either example.
    What am I missing?
    Thanks for your patience!

    1. I wore it as you describe as (b), or as pictured in my original post about this project (Pattern Review: The Summit Pack). Swinging the bag slightly to the front and holding the bottom of the strap with my left hand, I could zip/unzip the three smaller pockets with my right hand just fine. (I hardly ever opened the main compartment, and to do so, I would have to take the bag completely off my shoulder.)

      The inherent design of a back pack style bag is that it's not as conveniently accessible as a conventional purse. That's why I added the other pocket and ensured that everything that I needed on a regular basis was not contained in the main compartment! ;-)

      I'm sure your reversed version would work well for you if you normally carry your bags on your left shoulder. Since I normally carry mine on the right, it wasn't something I was concerned about.

  10. Thanks again for your responses -- and your patience!!

  11. hello I would love to make this bag. is there a link to a pattern? thank you

    1. Google "summit pack by Cloudsplitter" and you'll find it.


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