Preview: The first bag

Bag in the wild

Exterior pleated pocket

interior zipper pocket

Exterior detail

The perfect bag for each purpose is different for every person. I started my bag challenge with the goal of learning more about bag making. The amount of inspiration that’s come with the experience has surprised me. It has me reflecting on some well known and wise words about creativity by Ira Glass and . Essentially, it takes a whole lot of work to get good at something and diving in and doing it is both the hardest and the most important part. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to make this year the year of diving in.

I want this bag to be the one you can carry every day if you’re someone with things to do, littles to ferry around, or papers and light electronics to carry. My ongoing problem is that most bags that can carry as much as I need (or want) to carry lack the pockets that make it actually useful. Or if they do, they are too sporty for my taste. So this bag had to have pockets, but stay slim enough to not become a monstrosity.

My solution was to add (for now) an exterior zipper pocket big enough to carry my wallet, phone, and card holder. The zipper extends the width of the bag to make it easier to access the contents. I added a pleat to the bottom to make it big enough to carry everything and easier to look into. I’m the lady who’s always, always standing at the counter digging around in the bottom of my bag for something I can’t see – it’ embarrassing!

There’s also a small zipper pocket on the inside for little bits and pieces – lip balm, tissues, change, whatever you need. Originally, I was going to make it a slip pocket, but I found instructions for a zipper pocket in my Bag Making Bible and decided that was a better option. It came out beautifully thanks to the clear directions, so I was delighted.

As for size, I wanted this bag to be big enough to hold a magazine, A4 paper, books, or a small laptop. The first version is 40 cm tall, 31 cm wide and, and 4 cm deep. It’s handy without being gigantic. There’s a trend towards really big shoulder bags right now that I’m not a fan of. When they get so big, you’re hunting again.

The big, big surprise that came with making this bag was the colors. I usually use a fairly muted pallet and thought the red and vintage pattern would be too bright for me. To my surprise, it is amazing! I’m rethinking all kids of choices I’ve made up to now. The solid red is so punchy and happy, I kind of want to just gaze at it and enjoy.

There will be some changes with the next version, but it was hugely satisfying to get this first version done. It’s the first time I’ve seriously worked out a design beforehand and tried it out like this. It is going to be really neat to go through the process of taking this through another version (or a few) until it’s just right. Since I’ve decided to only carry bags I make from now on, this one went right from the sewing machine to full of my stuff. I’ve been using it for a few days now and like it quite a bit. I especially like the zipper pocket – suddenly I’m not searching for my bike key all the time! Hurrah!

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