Anyway, here it is, The Bag to End All Bag Making:
I started out with the desire to make a sturdy canvas bag to schelp all of my stuff to work - normal handbag items plus lunch and a water bottle. The natural colored canvas I painted with a wash didn't thrill me, but the pieces of linen I had painted with silk screen images did. So I switched to black duck, and was going to make "windows" in it and stitch the linen pieces in behind. Ever try to make a clean, flat window in duck? Not a chance. That's when Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8173 popped out of my pattern cabinet.
(Yes, I own a retro Butterick cabinet, gifted from an acquaintance who purchased it from a store that went out of business decades ago. It holds my pattern stash and much, much more.) But I digress.
The pattern is out of print, and I purchased it years ago because it incorporated silk screening. In fact, it's one of the patterns that nudged me into learning to paint fabric. I had never made it, and I had all of these images painted onto colorful fabric, and I had some gray silk dupioni and gray silk organza, and steam a seam lite, and batting, and Craf-Tex, and hardware, so I dove into the project. And it consumed me. For days. Weeks. For, maybe, 60 to 80 hours. Waaaaay too much time. But it was only time, and I was having fun, so it was all good.
Why did it take so much time? Cutting was partly to blame. I was very careful to cut the dupioni on grain, so I didn't double layer it. The various interfacings were stiff and bulky, so I cut them in one layer. All together, from the outside to the lining, there are 9 layers.
|Interfacings, Steam a Seam, batting, and stiff |
paperboard to stabilize the bottom.
|Materials for the exterior, and templates for |
cutting the images into shapes.
These, along with dark gray squares across the center and dark teal rectangles along the bottom, were painted on the Steam a Seam. After they dried, I fused them to the two outer pieces of the bag. Peeling away the paper, I had a nice, tacky surface to lay the linen pieces and ribbon on. Then I fused the silk organza on top. The Steam a Seam melted into the dupioni, but also held the organza in place.
Quilting was the next step, and it took a long time. Probably 4 to 5 hours for each side. I used two colorways of variegated thread, outlining each piece and tying the ends on the back side of the fabric. This added a big Wow factor, bringing the linen pieces into focus behind the organza.
I love how the many layers give so much depth. You can see the texture in the dupioni, the painting on the Steam a Seam, the linen pieces, the organza, and finally the stitching. The light batting gives the linen fragments some dimension.
I didn't have enough aqua/turquoise linen for the lining, so I used a stretch cotton satin from Sawyer Brook. I applied a non-stretch fusible interfacing to keep it from stretching, which worked very well.
Marcy included a zippered pocket in the pattern. I made it slightly deeper, and changed the technique a bit. She used the top zipper tape as the top edge of the pocket. I chose to cut a strip of fabric for the top instead. I love the contrast of the zipper with the gray dupioni.
I wanted more pockets, so I created a double pocket that is tucked to make pouch shapes. I couldn't resist using a painted linen remnant for the lining.
I love trimming interior pockets with ribbon. It adds a little detail that makes me smile when I see it.
These pockets are perfect for my glasses case and phone. I added a magnetic snap at the center above the pockets, to hold the bag closed.
I thought the shirred handles shown in the pattern photo looked dated, so I made stiff ones. I cut them a few inches shorter, as I don't carry bags on my shoulders. The handles are made with the technique I described in my previous post. I love how rigid the Craf-Tex makes them. They don't crumble in my hand!
Before assembling the outer bag, I cut pieces of heavy Craf-Tex the size of the sides of the bag. The corner edges of the bag are edgestitched, which holds the Craf-Tex in place. Craf-Tex is a very stiff product that gives the bag the rigidness and stability I like. I didn't use it on the ends, because I wanted them to fold in.
Applying the binding was the point at which this became The Bag to End All Bag Making. I vowed to never make another handbag again, ever. I recall begging the Universe to save me from myself. Sewing through all of the layers and getting the binding even were very demanding tasks, and tried my patience. it was quite crazy making!
In hindsight, I should have used the lite Craf-Tex, as the heavy was very difficult to stitch through, especially with 8 other layers involved. It was a real struggle for my machine, and I had to hand stitch the ring tabs in place on the inside, as my Pfaff just couldn't handle it.
Surprise, surprise - the Universe did not save me from myself. (Does it ever?) Two weeks later, I made another bag. With Craf-Tex only in the handles. And lots of paint, lots of color, and lots of play. It was a blast. So was this one, actually. I really enjoyed the process, enjoyed seeing what the bag became as I worked on it. And now I enjoy carrying it. It's not a canvas tote, but my handbag necessities fit inside, and I can even squeeze a sandwich into it!