Let me tell you what’s easy. It’s easy to look in a book and think to yourself “I could do that.” I do it all the time. The pieces don’t get made because I don’t need that particular bag or shirt or because it would mean buying some special new notion. I don’t do it because if I actually tried, I could fail. That’s safe. But it’s also a bit silly. So I make a really ugly or ill fitting piece. According to my blog stats, at the most, only about 20 people will ever read about it, if I decide to post it. And you all love me dearly, right? So I’ve made a decision.
It’s time to stop playing safe and above all to stop being smug. I sew well but I want to be great. So, it’s time to start challenging myself more – a whole lot more. I’m setting myself two projects. The first it to learn to make a fitted button down shirt. More on that some other time. The second is to make every bag in Lisa Lam’s book, The Bag Making Bible. That means also the ones I have to (gasp!) buy hardware for or (double gasp!) don’t think I need. It’s a good book and I can learn a lot from it. I want to learn from it because I’ve got some bag ideas floating around and it would be good fun to get them made, made well.
The first three patterns are actually one pattern in three variations. It’s the Versatile Book Bag. I combined the first two patterns since they are the same except for adding a box bottom for the second variation. You’re laughing because I’m cheating already, right? That’s OK because I did go all the way on the handles, as you’ll see.
The instructions for this bag were clear. They aren’t precise, which would be nice if you were a true beginner, but a little bit of thinking for yourself isn’t a bad thing. She says to place the contrasting fabric in the middle of the main fabric. It might be nicer to indicate that you should match the middles and then when you sew up the bag you can match the seams for a consistent line around the base of your bag.
Lisa’s instructions say to finish the edges of the bag with a zig-zag stitch and then sew them up. I used my serger instead. It was a beautiful thing to do. That gave a me a seam that had to fold to one side instead of open. It made for a very thick spot when I sewed the top hem, so that was fiddly, but worked out. With the seams to one side, they don’t iron as well either, but that might just be something I have to get used to.
I worked from fabric that’s already in my stash and didn’t have enough fabric to cut handles unless I pieced them. I shortened the handles a bit (63 cm instead of 68)and added interfacing to give the straps some body. They look good and I’m curious how they’ll feel in use. Lisa’s method gives you a lot of fabric to stitch for the straps. I should have used a new needle, but always have a hard time keeping track of how long I’ve been using the heavy-weight needle. A new needle made stitching the handles to the bag much smoother.
All in all, a good first project. I’m looking forward to the next one and planning to use completely different fabrics just to see the difference. Like I said, so much to learn! Are you interested in sewing along with me? I’d love to compare notes!