About 2 weeks ago, I had a hankering to make a new bag. I'm forever making bags: trying out patterns on patterns, shapes, pockets, etc. Almost all of my bags up to this point have been 'envelope' bags: fabric folded in half and only given volume by the width of the strap. I've become unhappy with this design because my possessions have a tendency to stack up on top of each other in the bag and make it difficult to find anything. I knew I needed help, so I went to Etsy and searched for 'Pdf sewing pattern bag.' I got a bazillion results and I slowly looked through them until I decided on the messenger bag style and then searched for that. I went with a messenger bag because it has a gusset, which is a fancy way of saying a piece of fabric going around 3 sides attaching the front of the bag to the back in order to give the bag volume/width at the bottom/sides of the bag. That would solve my stacking up of possessions problem. I found what looked like a good PDF pattern with 400+ positive reviews, bought it and then printed it out. I taped the pattern pieces together and then went about the business of cutting the fabric pieces. There was a problem, however.
I had picked two fabrics I did not have the required 1 1/2 yards the pattern called for. I figured it would work itself out. One of the fabrics, the blue one shown above, I had made into the world's most unflattering shirts, so I was cutting up said shirt for the fabric. I started pinning the fabric to the pattern pieces. I was lucky enough to get the main pieces cut out whole, but after that I had to create pieces big enough for the pattern by Frankenstitching little scraps together. In the end, when I put the whole bag together, you really couldn't see this sinister stitching. I didn't like the bag from the moment I put all of my stuff into it. It had plenty of pockets, yes, but the interior ones were designed to flap outward into the bag a little bit and they got in the way. The bag was too deep... it felt more hippie-ish and unstructured than I wanted. The flap was not wide enough and left two gaping holes next to the straps. The strap was way too long... that one I had to take action on or I wouldn't have been able to use the bag. I also could not fathom how the color I picked for the main body of the bag was grey. Grey!!! The bag took me two days to make and I was not happy with the result. I was tired of making bags for the moment.
I jumped into silk painting. I'm just learning and it's been a steep learning curve. After two scarves that both have huge beginner mistakes in them, I was ready to make myself a new bag incorporating all the changes I felt it needed and make the *perfect* bag. First, the fabric. I picked exactly what I wanted from Fabric.com and ordered 2 yards of each... more than enough. I reprinted the pattern pieces and cut them out. I decided this bag was going to have a lot more structure and added a great deal of fusible fleece: an iron-on lofty stabilizer that gives the fabric strength and heft. I made the flap wider, the strap shorter, the interior pockets less 'flappy' and added a pocket to the exterior back. When I went to sew the gusset to the back, I discovered I had not taped all of the main pattern pieces together properly and the exterior/interior front and back pieces were about 3 inches shorter than they were supposed to be. My initial thought was, "F@!!!!!" As I sat there, it dawned on me that one of my big complaints about the first bag was how cavernous it was. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise. I recut the gussets and put the bag together. Let's say when it was finished I was very happy, zippy and sparkly even. It's a keeper.