*Thank you for everyone who applied for tester positions yesterday, the positions have all been filled, however could ‘Unknown’ who is also a No-Reply Blogger let me know who they are please?!

I was talking to my friend Danny last week, where she was very nicely flattering me about my bag-making skills.  I laughed and said, ‘Oh, but you want to have seen my first ones.  Or maybe not.’  But actually she was rather excited by the prospect, drat her, so I agreed to out myself…

I bought the pattern and the fabric for this bag around about the time I graduated from uni in 2002.  As I recall, the pattern was one of the big name ones, you know the kind, tissue paper pattern, instructions leaving a lot to be desired?  I suspect it was Butterick or Simplicity, but I can’t find it either in person or online.  That’s probably a good thing, as you can’t see what it was *meant* to look like ;o)  Anyway, I didn’t touch another bag pattern after this one and one other for about, oooh, 9 years!

So here it is:

With the arrogance of youth, and a good, oh, I dunno, 4 or 5 sewing patterns under my belt at this stage, I thought I knew *everything* about sewing, and, you know, some of the requirements and instructions?  Well they were made to be bent/altered/ignored all together, right?  Let’s take a closer look:

This fabric – I loved this pincord, but those flowers were unravelling a little even when I bought it, and I had no idea how to fix it when it unravelled on the bag.  Also it was definitely not on the recommended fabric list.

Those straps should have been stitched onto the flap, but I just couldn’t work out the instructions, and by that point, it had taken me so long to get that far that I couldn’t be bothered, I was losing the will to live!

The top stitching round the edge of the flap – nowhere does it tell you how far in you should top stitch.  Safe to say, about 1 cm is too far, as will be evident further down…


Oh yes, the magnetic snaps.  Hmm, there’s nothing holding this in place but a metal washer.  And I think I forgot a couple of them in places.  It makes them challenging to open…

Oooh, and what’s this?  Oh yes, the basting stitches holding the zip in place.  I was too scared to remove them.  I still am.

How did I do joining the gusset to the front/back?  Wrinkly apparently.

How does it stand up?  Badly!  And see how it’s kind of sitting funny?  That’s because I used heavy duty dressmaking type interfacing, the kind that’s like thick paper.  It is not kind to bags!

And the final insult?  Oh yeah, that’s a big old hole there!  Remember what I was saying about that top stitching?  Yeah, the top stitching is meant to hold the flap onto the bag, and effectively close the turning hole.  It doesn’t really do that here…

You can also see the funny wrinkly texture where pincord and heavy interfacing are not meeting harmoniously.

So what have we learned from this horror story children?

  1. Don’t buy patterns for accessories from the big name pattern companies, their instructions are terrible!  Indie designers generally put a lot more time and effort into their patterns, mainly because they’re not as concerned about trying to cram instructions on as few pages as possible for multiple designs.
  2. If a type of fabric is recommended, there’s probably a good reason.  Oh, and don’t buy embroidered pincord ;o)
  3. Don’t ignore instructions, or you will find your seemingly practical bag rather challenging to get into.
  4. Topstitch close to the edge of your fabric, I usually do about 1/8″ (well, I do these days!)
  5. Magnetic snaps need more reinforcement than a layer of fabric can provide, unless you want to pull the whole thing through the fabric.
  6. If you’ve had to baste something, remove the stitches once you’ve done the main seam, don’t leave it til later or they will be a bugger to remove.  Or you may fear that it’s actually holding something vital in place.  Note that basting stitches should always fall inside the stitching line!
  7. Clip your curves if you don’t want a wrinkly bottom…
  8. Use the right kind of interfacing – the pattern should make it explicit
  9. Ladder stitch your openings closed, don’t leave them hanging
Did that make you all feel better?  There’s another horror from a different pattern kicking around somewhere that had the reverse problem, ie the fabric was about 10 x too thick, but I can’t find it right now.  It’s probably acting as insulation in the loft or something…