Monday, January 15, 2018

Christmas FO: Stripe Stricken Bag

So you've seen the first bag I made from this pattern - the simple version, lol - now let's look at this version - the full she-bang. This time in stripes! 
When I told my other sister, Marisa, about my plan to make her a bag for Christmas, she said she wanted it to have clear compartments so she can see what's inside and she wanted it pretty simple. Not knowing what she meant by simple, we face timed and I showed her my Trello board that has my fabric stash so she could pick from there. After joking that I would make the bag out of her most hated fabric - a cotton poplin printed to look like medium wash denim that inexplicably has whole apples, half eaten apples, and chewed apple cores on it that I ended up with in a thrift store lot (she judged me pretty hard for having that one, lol) - she settled on one of the most boring fabrics I had in the category I was showing her: a black and white stripe cotton. Really? I was showing her all kinds of pretty florals and novelty prints, most from fancy quilting brands like Michael Miller and Alexander Henry, and she picks something this plain? She also said that if I added any color that it should be plain navy blue ... ok ... After reminding myself that she can have what she wants since it's her gift, I figured out a way to make the bag still interesting by playing with the stripe directions, so at least it feels a bit fancier than something you'd get in any old store. Anyway, let's see how this bag is different from the Mix Tape bag, shall we?
For this bag I used the entire pattern - the outer bag and the pocket pages. The pattern includes 4 different pocket options. I went with 4 of option A - all vinyl and all with zippers. But more about that below - let's keep looking, lol.
Inside the covers of the bag has the only navy blue - mesh pockets. Funny story - I knew I wanted mesh for this bag, and certainly mesh isn't expensive from various fabric and bag suppliers online, but shipping costs more than the piece of fabric itself and I just couldn't feel ok with that. That's when I thought of mesh laundry bags! I went to the Dollar Tree expecting to find at least a mesh washing bag or something with white mesh, but I discovered that they actually sell pop up mesh laundry hampers :) And they even had a navy blue one :) So I got an entire hamper worth of mesh for $1 - Ho yeah, I'm cheap, lol. But this mesh worked just fine. I made one side with an open topped pocket - this pocket is capped with the striped fabric.
The other side cover has the navy blue mesh, but this time I pleated the fabric to accommodate thicker items and this side has a zipper. I put the zipper as well as the top of the other side pocket so that they are up when the bag handle is up (if that makes sense), so this zipper looks like it might be on the bottom of the pocket in this photo, but it is correctly positioned when the bag is closed.
Another added touch to this bag is that I added velcro to the center pocket area to attach the pocket pages - which are completely removeable (how cool is that?). This is 2 strips of 3/4" wide velcro stitched side by side. I also made sure to play with the stripe directions inside this area - so the stripes that cover the seam allowances here are perpendicular to the stripes on the bag.
Also this time I made the stabilizer pocket fully functional :) On the other bag I accidentally sewed this pocket closed - after all the work sewing in velcro and whatnot. This time I made sure that didn't happen, especially because this may need to be washed since it will be carrying makeup. I used the same hard cardboard canvas that I used in the previous bag - 2 pieces stacked - so the handle stays nice and straight when you hold the bag.
So here you can see that striped top of the side pocket - I made sure to pattern match with the stripes underneath, so this pocket edge kind of blends in.
And the zipper pocket. You can see the pleats better here too.
I played around with thread color on this bag too. For the outside, I did all the top stitching in black, but on the inside pocket pages I did everything in white because it blended in better. Here is a close up of the zipper and handle area. It's not perfect when you look close, but I'm still pretty proud of how it turned out.
I love all the stripe directions around the handle :) I had to break it all up somehow, right? How else can you make a plain stripe fabric interesting? I'm particularly happy with the bias binding. I think it really sets off the rest of the bag.
Also this bag sits much better when closed since it has the pocket pages inside. Basically the pocket pages keep the entire area filled even if there isn't a lot of stuff inside, so the bag keeps its shape better.
And now to the pocket pages! I tried to keep the multi directional stripes going here too with the center area binding (p.s. that piece was improvised by me, lol, not part of the pattern) and the bias binding. This pocket page is what made me question my sanity in starting this project.
The pocket page has 4 zipper pockets in vinyl. The vinyl is pleated so you can put thicker items inside without a lot of distortion. Add the thick vinyl to the fact that it is then pleated, than add the fact that I am sewing through zipper tape as well as zippers that have thick plastic teeth that are technically not supposed to be sewn over on a machine, and you end up with a lot of broken needles. Like a lot. I think I broke 7 or 8 needles on this project. Craziness! I was so frustrated making these pages I actually had to set it aside for a week and muster up more mental strength. I switched to a heavier needle (thicker than I would usually use on a cotton like this but I can't remember the number), and then I only broke 1 more needle, so that's progress, right? I also had to contend with the fact that my pockets somehow were not the same size once the zippers were sewn. I pleated them all identically, so it had to be something with the zippers. Also I would not be making any additional pocket pages (thank heaven), so the velcro would not be sewn in the center to cover the pocket edges like the pattern indicates (seriously - you don't need infinite pockets and to put the velcro on each page is a waste of velcro in my opinion). So I decided to make a band to cover this area. Once I had every pocket top stitched to the base, I measured how wide my band would need to be, added seam allowances (which were folded under before top stitching this piece on) and went on my way. I decided to use this opportunity to change the stripe direction once more, so this band is perpendicular. Now you can't tell that my pockets weren't the same size :) Problem solved!
This is what the back of the pocket page looks like. I was worried it would look super messy with all the top stitching on the edges of the fabric, but happily that all stayed within the velcro so it's completely hidden :) This is also 2 strips of 3/4" wide velcro - I used the soft, non-grab-everything-kind so it wouldn't pick at the fabric. I seriously love the bias binding! Are you tired of hearing me say that yet, lol?
My final touch to this bag was a bit tongue in cheek. My husband had the idea to add a bit of the apple core fabric since Marisa was so offended by it, lol, plus she calls everyone a bitch when they disagree with her, so I made a patch :) I fussy cut a very offensive already-bit-into apple piece, backed it with a heavy sew on interfacing (Pellon 40), and overcast the edges all the way around. I also used my machine to embroider a little message for her, lol. (For the record if this were for anyone else I would never have made such a thing, but this is my sister who requested the humping deer hat, so she was certainly fine with it). I was kind and just pinned the patch inside the back of the pocket page, so she can remove it if she so chooses.

And that's the stripe stricken bag :) This was a lot of work, but again everyone was amazed at the factory like finish. I'm very glad I had the Craftsy class to make this one with - particularly when I ran into problems with the pocket page. Now that I've done all this work and made a few of these, I want one for myself! I'm not sure yet what I want to put in it, but rest assured I will make one, lol. I've even had other family members request these for birthdays, so I'm sure there will be more in my future. This turned out to be a very useful pattern and a fun challenge, so I would definitely recommend this class to anyone interested in bag making!

Fabric: 2.5 yards black and white stripe polished cotton (thrifted), navy blue nylon mesh (from laundry hamper, lol)
Pattern: Everything In Its Place Organizer by Annie Unrein (from Craftsy's Sew Sturdy: Travel Organizers Class)
Notions: Bosal In-R-Form fusible foam interfacing, clear 12 gauge vinyl, 6 pieces of zipper by the yard in white, thread, heavy card stabilizer sleeve
Time: 15 hours

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