Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blue Satchel - with bikes!

Every now and then you get a vision of something you'd love to make that exceeds your current sewing skills. This struck me in the form of a bright blue satchel with bike fabric as the lining. I could see it clear as day in my head but it freaked the hell out of me just thinking about how to make it a reality.

Instagram tells me that I cut out the fabric pieces for this bag 11 weeks ago before putting it under my sewing table and getting on with easier things. But it sat there in the back of my mind being all awesome and unattainable. The bag that I wanted to take to work, to outings, interstate and tote around all my stuff in it was still just an idea in my head when I wanted it to be a physical thing out here in the real world.

As it happens I found myself in the midst of fit dramas with my 60s dress I'm attempting to sew and suddenly this bag looked like a walk in the park in comparison. So I dove in.

Now let me say from the outset that this is possibly some of the worst sewing I've ever done in my life. True story. But I was chasing a dream and that meant more to me than neat and tidy stitching. This bag would be made.

It's Simplicity 4535 View D which I bought for a dollar and I believe is now out of print (probably for very good reason). And here is where the rookie errors begin. I wanted to sew it in vinyl, which I've never worked with before. I wanted to sew it without making a muslin first (it's a bag right? it doesn't need to fit.) I also wanted to sew it on a regular, humble home sewing machine. Can you see what a wonderful mix of mistakes I'm brewing up here?

So it starts off with this hideous part where you're meant to sew up the front pockets and somehow wrangle them flat so that you can sew them straight onto the front piece. Topstitching fail.

And it only gets worse along the way until suddenly I'm wondering whether I'm competing for The-Wackiest-Topstitching-That-Ever-There-Was competition. And boy was I WINNING at that competition. There should be an award for this shit.

In the midst of this madness it dawned on me that the proportions of this bag were rather more epic than I had anticipated and it was time to start scaling back. I lopped 5 centimetres of the top of the bag and 4 centimetres on the fabric that wraps around the bottom and sides. It was slightly easier on the eye. Slightly.

In the end I found myself with a rather cool looking bag with giant proportions. I mean I could deliver the whole city's mail in this thing.

My machine was quite a trooper all the way through. It sewed 10 layers of vinyl at one point and only whirred and roared at me a handful of times but it drew the line at this strap. The needle broke and my machine just looked a little sad and defeated so I stopped sewing.

I'm not sure where to go from this point because it's too thick to hand sew and I can't bear to ask my machine to tackle it again. I know some bags have some kind of snaps or press studs or whatever you call them that keep straps together so I may have to investigate those (if you don't have any better ideas for me??).

This may sit in my sewing room for a while again until I can figure out how to attach the strap and finally give it a test drive. But I made it!


  1. Love this! I used to sew up crazy vinyl projects on my mums old sewing machine (like my massive arts folio that was as big as me) but I think I would be too scared to do it to my own. I think the older machines are tougher.

    So I have 2 ideas. 1. Take it to a shoe repair place who will have machines to get through this. 2. Yes go for studs. You can get some pretty sturdy ones and they are fun to hammer (I used some in the baby project I recently blogged)

    Oh and a third idea. Go to the hardware store and use rivets. Then you can tie the two pieces together, maybe with a sash from the bike fabric. It could be a cool design feature. I did hundreds of rivets like this for a design project a million years ago. I might be able to get some pics if it helps (they are old photos from film it really was a million years ago).

    I hope that helps. And I LOVE the bike fabric. And I love that your made such an awesome and bright bag!

    1. WOW! Thanks so much for all that info! I like the idea of studs or rivets so I might keep my eye out for some and experiment to see which suits the bag best.


  2. Ooooo I like it. I need a new lunch bag - can you make me one?

    1. Haha I think I'll be steering clear of bags for quite some time but it's most kind of you to ask!

  3. That is such a lovely blue! The satchel looks very well made :)

    I'm holding a giveaway at my blog, I hope you would check it out!

    1. Thanks! Even with the dodgy topstitching it'll still be usable.
      I'll head over to your blog and check it out.

  4. From here it doesn't look so bad! Honest!

    I've never sewn with vinyl before so I can't recommend anything from experience. But I think buying some hardware snaps from the fabric shop could do it.

    Alternatively you could take it into your fabric shop and ask what they would recommend?

    1. Yeah I think hardware snaps are the way to go.
      It's currently sitting in my to-tackle pile.
      I'll get back to it soon.