I made this duffle bag for my Daddy for Father's Day. I didn't get a chance to give it to him yesterday, though, because I was sick. :-( I used the Simplicity 2600 sewing pattern that I got at Joann's for $1 (their rotating pattern sales), and the pattern is all travel items that are quilted. I quilted it in a rather large diamond pattern (straight-line quilting on the straps), in an effort to make the quilting look as minimal as possible...I didn't want it to look feminine like a Vera Bradley bag.
Fabric - Okay, before you get grossed out with my choice of fabrics, let me just quickly explain the significance. My dad has been playing on the same softball team with his high school buddies for some 30-odd years. The team is the Raccoons. It's funny because every year since I was about 12, he'd tell the family, "Guys, this is my last year. I'm getting too old for this." That's hilarious, because this year I'll be 30. Anyway, my dad has a raccoon tattoo, my parents' dog has a bunch of raccoon dog toys, they have some of the raccoon beanie babies, I think there's a street sign in their basement with 'Raccoon Way' on it...you get the picture.
Another funny thing about the raccoon fabric was that I found a yard on ebay starting at 99 cents. I figured hey, I'll get a yard for real cheap! Awesome! Little did I know that there was a diehard raccoon freak out there that drove the bidding up past $8.00. I had to bow out, but I did find 1/2 yard for a bit cheaper. So, I used 1 yard of the blue baseball fabric (which my daughter picked out at Joann's), and 1/2 yard of the raccoon fabric (for the sides and front pocket). It calls for batting for all pieces (you quilt the pieces individually before assembly).
Pattern Pieces - There were many pattern pieces to cut out. The strap is made from one wider piece, which you quilt and then cut up into 3 pieces (sewing together to make one hula-hoop shaped strap). There were several pieces that I left out (like a pocket for the inside, and an additional pocket for the side of the bag).
|Red zig-zaggy straps...does it look like the red seams on the baseball to you?|
Illustrations/Instructions - I really hate commercial sewing patterns. I do. I mean, not to sound snarky, but I have sewn up a few sewing patterns before. But I mean, come on. How is someone newer to sewing supposed to make these?? I normally read over my patterns about 5 times before I get to work, just to make sure everything is clear, but I was still confused. The pattern kept directing me to 'encase' the seams (since you are quilting it, there isn't an exterior and a lining, it's one unit). For the longest time, I thought it meant I would need to make a French seam, which in my head, just sounded like a stupid idea. Finally I realized that I would need to use bias tape, like they do in the Vera bags. Okay, okay.
All in all, once I figured out what they were trying to tell me, I suppose the bag wasn't entirely difficult to assemble. The straps were a bit tricky to sew on, since (unless I missed this), it doesn't tell you how high the straps need to extend over the top of the bag (since the strap is one connected piece, like an 'O', it's kind of important to know, otherwise your straps will end up lop-sided; I had to pin and re-pin a couple times until I got it right). I feel sort of half-hearted about it. I'm not sure if it's the fabric, or just the quilted nature of the bag.
This is a very large bag. It has a zipper across the top. I felt like the bottom would be kind of saggy if you only had a few things inside it (for these photos, I had about 6 blankets stuffed inside), so I made a false bottom with fabric and some cardboard.
I do like how I sewed the straps though...I used red thread to compliment the red lacing on the baseball fabric. When I first attached the gray bias tape that I made, I used a zig-zag pattern, and then when I attached the straps to the bag, I used a straight stitch right through the middle of the zig-zags.
Conclusion - This would probably be best for an intermediate sewer, just because of all the quilting and the stupid instructions. There was one other accessory in the pattern, the small rounded cosmetic bag, that I thought was kind of cute. I'm still on the fence, though, if I should chuck this pattern or what. lol.
P.S. I'm linking this up, against my better judgement, to Sew Modern Monday and Fabric Tuesday!