Wednesday, January 20

Handmade Weekender Bag

I got into bag making a few years ago and now, whenever I need a break from sewing clothes or just want a change, I make a bag. There are so many great patterns, styles, and kinds out there that I always find something really quickly and I use this as an opportunity to use prints I like but wouldn't wear. It's a great way to use loud, bold prints, or try a different fabric type like waxed canvas or leather. This one is all canvas but I made a faux leather purse in March and waxed canvas tote in April. I love all the different fabrics, materials and hardware used in bags. Its so different than garment making but just as satisfying!

For this project I decided on a weekender bag because my daughter and I are taking a little girls trip soon so why not make a bag for it?! Thats the thought process of a sewist, right? I hemmed and hawed for a quite a while one which pattern to use, but after a thorough google search to find all of my weekender options, I finally decided on the Sew for Home Roomy Canvas Weekender Duffle. Its a free pattern with a full blog post tutorial and supply lists. I tend to like bags with structure and lots of hardware. I think those things make it look super professional and high quality. It does mean you have quite a bit of materials to find so you need to plan a project like this in advance so you can source everything you need. 

Finding fabric is easy enough. This pattern calls for canvas, so I headed over to fabric dot com because they have tons of options. I wanted something fun but not too crazy so I went with this leopard print. You can use the same fabric for the base like they did with their sample, but I decided to do a contrast and used  different variations of black Essex cotton linen canvas for the bottom and lining. I usually grab zippers from wawak but I didn't need anything else from there so I just headed to Joann for a 24 inch zipper. My ulrta firm stabilizer (which I used instead of plastic canvas) is from there as well. The pattern doesn't call for cording to be sewn into the handles, but I sewed some in anyway to make them more substantial. You can use drawstring cording or whatever else you can find. I bought this stuff, seen below, but it was too big and I ended up using a smaller drawstring I had on hand instead. 
Then you get to hardware, which when I started sewing bags seemed daunting to me. So many different little pieces in varying quantities are needed but have no fear, they're not hard to find! I like to get hardware from Bag Maker Supply on Etsy. There are other places too, but I go here first because they tend to have everything. It can take a minute to find it in the right quantity, size and finish, but they are a great resource. Joann usually has all the basic hardware as well, but I've struggled in the past to find it in the right sizes, or found they'd have half of what I need but not the rest. So this place is great because they tend to have it all. And they are super affordable, ship really fast and refund any shipping overages. 

The webbing I hand on hand - it originally came from Wawak but Joann has it too. If you can find the cotton kind, its a lot better. But I had this poly kind on hand so its what I used. 

For hardware like snaps, I recommend just getting a little kit like this. It's hard to find snaps where you can buy just a few at a time in the right finish and size, so I got this kit (and another in a smaller size) on amazon last year. It comes with 20 sets in each finish and all the tools and instructions to install them. Don't be intimated - they're very simple, straightforward and fast to install. A few hits with a hammer and you're done!

For materials, all that's left is interfacing (I like Pellon SF 101) and fusible fleece (from Joann or Wawak). It sounds like a lot but really, a little online shopping one evening is all you need and maybe to pop into your local fabric store and you'll have it all. 

The bag has hardware that converts the shape of it from a standard duffle where you would carry using the hand straps, and a cross over style bag using the long, adjustable shoulder strap. It's nice to be able to use it both ways, and s the edges down keeps everything so tight and secure.
It has two interior slip pockets, a large zipper pocket, as well as an exterior pocket that snaps closed so you can keep smaller items tucked away, too. I like that I can use it for a weekend trip, an airplane carry on, or really anything. It's not so big as to be annoying and its not small enough to make it useless. It really is just the right size. I took it on a little trip to visit my sister and it was perfect. 

So if you're looking for a bag project, or something to get you familiar with using hardware, or just want a different kind of project for a change, I highly recommend bags, and this pattern in particular. I promise sourcing materials isn't so bad. Just plan an online shopping evening and once everything arrives you'll be good to go!

Do you like sewing bags? Is it something you're interested in trying? 
Its so fun!

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