Have you ever tried to draft and then sew your own pattern? Maybe you have walked around a craft fair and instead of purchasing a home sewn item, you said to yourself I could make that. Or you search the internet for ideas and think to yourself " I could totally make that " You can do it but it is a challenge. I made the bag above and wanted to show you my process because as I moved through it, there were several moments when I really wanted to put it away but I had a birthday deadline to meet. I also had a special request from my son and you know I was not going to let him down.
This bag was my original design. I drafted and sewed it several years ago. In fact I did a blog about embroidery machines and sewing the name on the front of it. You can check that out here. This bag came about from a Christmas gift my son received. We bought him a laptop that year and he needed something to carry it with. Both of my sons are computer geeks and their devices have always gone everywhere with them so I knew it would have to be sturdy.
My main design goals were a safe place to cradle his laptop and lots of pockets. There were so many different techniques in this bag. I had an exterior zippered pocket with lining. An interior quilted "hammock" for the device. Interior zippered pocket for smaller items. A heavy duty padded handle with D rings would need to be secure as he wore the bag on his shoulder
Here are a few views of the bag today. When I looked closely I saw some things that I wanted to change, but for the most part, it has done really well and he has used it every day. This bag helped him finish high school and it took him almost all the way through college.
The one area that I knew I had to improve was where the strap connected to the bag. I repaired these at least two times. The last repair brought the request from my son that he might need to commission a new bag from me. When I originally designed the pattern, you can see the strap connection is right at the top seam of the bag. It performed pretty well but needed to be further down into the gusset. I also wanted to add more interior pockets. So there were some changes that had to be drafted.
When I originally created my pattern, I used brown wrapping paper so I would have something to use in the future just in case. I am so glad I did that.
Then I found my original instructions. I wrote these down as I sewed the original bag. As I read them, I thought why didn't I re-write these and type everything up really neatly? It took me a day of looking over everything just to get my bearings on how this bag went together the first time. So I tried to organize it better. I got on my computer and drafted up some cutting layouts.
Then I made fabric lists and little tabs for cutting each piece out.
And it grew..... And grew...... Until........
My entire working table was covered with instructions, and layouts and templates and my first wave of defeat. I didn't know if I had everything in my fabric stash. I have a lot of fabric and my other challenge was to use some of it. Since I am home and social distancing, I am not going out to shop for anything new. I did look online to see if I could find fabric to order but that didn't last long as the shipping times would be after his birthday. So I had to use available materials. I didn't have one color for the entire bag so I had to make another list showing which colors I would use for each pattern piece.
Fast forward to all of my pieces being cut out, labeled and nicely waiting for me to begin sewing. All I can say is a lot of coffee made this possible.
Here is the quilt batting ready to sew for the device hammock.
The first thing on the bag was that name being embroidered and then the zipper being installed on the flap. I love messenger bags and I think not making use of that flap for a pocket really wastes material. It is an extra step but my son uses it all of the time.
The fabric I had in stock is Duck canvas. This created new challenges because it is very thick.
Another big issue for me was the interfacing I had in stock. The original bag used an iron on interfacing. I didn't have that in my stash but I did have Soft and Stable foam. It had to be sewn in so that added an extra task to each step.
Here are the finished views. The front pocket is fully lined.
That connection has been sewn farther down into the gusset of the bag. I also created the strap this time instead of using pre-made strapping. This one is also adjustable which the original was not..
The quilting is vertical on this bag and I added bias binding to the top instead of using the lining fabric to finish the hammock seam.
I added an elastic expandable pocket for the laptop cord to have it's own storage place.
Several smaller pockets for pencils and other loose items were added this time.
The zipper pocket is the same as the original bag. I noticed my son really used this one. It might be hard to see from these interior pictures but another change was my having to hand sew the lining into this version. My sewing machine did have a hard time when I sewed the straps to the bag. The duck fabric coupled with the soft and stable foam gave it a workout. I did some creative trimming on the foam but by the time I got to finishing the interior, I was tired of wrestling with the arm of my machine and the bulk of the bag.
Here is the back pocket and a view of that adjustable strap. So altogether from start to finish it took me six days to complete this bag. I would estimate I have over 30 hours total invested in putting it together. That includes all of the redesign, layout, cutting and sewing.
Did I go back and rewrite those pattern notes you ask? No I did not. I put them neatly away as I remembered why I didn't do it the first time. I was too exhausted. Proud that I completed the bag but brain dead and ready to move on to an easy project.
My process might look hard or too entailed to you but it is only one way that patterns can be drafted and sewn. You would probably have a different way to make your own and that is perfectly fine. If you have tried in the past and not had success, don't give up. There is no correct way to make this happen. That is why you may enjoy sewing with certain ready made patterns and not others. Reverse engineering is a great way to expand your sewing skills and all of this will follow you toward your next sewing adventure. So are you ready to challenge yourself and try your own pattern? You can do it. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
Lagniappe Peddler believes that the process of working with our hands can be one of the best forms of healing the hurts in our lives and welcomes all who visit this safe little corner of the world.
What is a Lagniappe Peddler?
ˌlanˈyap,ˈlanˌyap - something given as a bonus or extra gift
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