I have a large bag that I made a couple of years ago that I usually take as my carry on when I fly, but it's shaped like a beach tote, has only one tiny zipper pocket inside, and it doesn't have a closure for the top. I always worry that I will tip it over and everything will come spilling out, or the plane will be really crowded and they will try to make me gate check it, and I don't see a bag with no closure keeping its contents inside while in the baggage hold. Certainly not an ideal situation, but I just hadn't gotten around to making something better. So really, this was the perfect opportunity to tackle this project (which is almost like a rite of passage for sewers, and I so wanted the feeling of extreme accomplishment)- get a new carry on bag, make something awesome that I'd been wanting for while, and feel great about myself. Ready, go.
Step one for me when starting a big project is to Google the heck out of it. I came across a lot of Weekenders that were done using the quilt-as-you-go method, which creates such a sturdy fabric that you don't need all the interfacing that Amy Butler patterns are known for. I was like, bingo. That's perfect. BUT, I didn't really like the patchwork look, so I just took the idea of these bags and did it my own way. I picked out my fabric- Kona in coral and Riley Blake Medium Chevron in gray. I know that both coral and chevron are kind of trendy right now, but I guess I'm either hoping that those trends stick, or I will just decide I don't care because I loves them too much. To make the panels, I layered the chevron fabric, a layer of cotton batting, and a layer of cotton duck. Then I used my walking foot (and a denim needle, so crucial) to quilt a chevron pattern to hold everything together. So it's the same idea as quilt-as-you-go, but just no patchwork. Much more my style. The Kona coral was something I already had on hand, so I didn't have enough to make the straps, handles, AND linings, but I had a yard of Too Muchery damask in a pinky coral that went, so I used that to line the pockets. The inside lining is a basic gray. I see no need for expensive prints inside of the bag. And just for fun, I used fabric glue to attach some rhinestones to one of the large pockets.
Here are my tips for this bag. I am positive that most or all of them are elsewhere on the interwebs, but I think that a little reinforcement is never a bad thing.
- Like most people, I lengthened the straps by about 6" to make it easier to carry over my shoulder.
- I used fusible tape to make the piping instead of sewing it, and I am so happy I did. There is no way I would have been able to cover the stitching.
- Just sewing the handles onto the bag at the two points she tells you to will only work if you plan to carry the bag around empty. The bag holds a lot, and there's a lot of stress on those handles. Sew from the top mark all the way down to the bottom of the bag. I also sewed big Xs between the two stitching lines- I can't remember if this was in the pattern or not, but do it. Much more secure.
- The only Peltex I used was in the bottom of the bag, but I didn't do the three layers that she has you do in the pattern- I just did one.
- I used binder clips to hold everything together. Aching fingers, bent pins, and anger are what you'd get if you used pins.
- I don't see any reason to use expensive fabric for the lining- this is a good place to cut down on the cost of your bag. I just used some solid gray from JoAnn's and it's fine.
- I flipped the bag inside out when I hand-sewed the lining in place. Otherwise you kind of have to get inside the bag to do it, and it's awkward.
- I know that a lot of people had trouble finding a 30" zipper, but I didn't. I think it was a jacket zipper, and it was right there in the zipper section at JoAnn's.
- Break up the sewing. I sewed for an hour or two a day until it was done. I think I would have either thrown my machine out the window or had a nervous breakdown if I'd tried to do it in larger blocks.
But here it is! My own personal Weekender. I've already gotten a decent amount of use out of it- it holds a shocking amount of stuff. I went on a girls' night to San Francisco, and it held three outfits, two pairs of high heels, a leopard fur coat, a makeup bag, straightener, and a magnum of champagne with room to spare. Yeah. It was that kind of night.