Friday, June 22, 2012

A diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag

My sister-in-law's birthday was earlier this month, and I wanted to make her a diaper bag.  I've had Amy Butler's Nappy Bag pattern for years - ever since Thing 2 was a baby - but I've never made it.  Silly me!  Anyway, I decided months ago to make this for my SIL, and I even bought the fabric months ago!  (The lining fabric was the last to be purchased, and I bought that in January.  So it really has been months!)  But you know how things lose your steam, and then it doesn't seem urgent, blah blah blah.  And in my case, it was partly that I'd already given her a ton of baby stuff, and I wasn't so sure that she would appreciate this, so I just ended up putting it on the back burner.  But since I'd already purchased the fabric, I figured I'd have to get to it eventually, and eventually turned out to be just in time for her birthday.

One of the things that I really like about this pattern is that the bag doesn't necessarily look like a diaper bag, as long as you don't choose fabrics that scream "diaper bag."  With that in mind, I chose a rich black Kona cotton for the outer fabric, figuring that though it will attract lint and such, it is fully machine washable, and she could feel good using this anywhere.  (Because I used a black cotton, I made sure to get black canvas for the interlining.)  It is BIG!  I don't remember the final dimensions, but the upper part of the main front piece is 21 inches or so wide.  So lots of room to put stuff....

This cell phone pocket is a really neat idea, though I reworked it.  As explained in the instructions, the pocket is smaller and goes higher up, on the strap part.  It should also be closed with velcro, but I don't like velcro for things that get washed frequently.  I had read reviews that cautioned that the cell phone pocket would not fit some smartphones, so I texted my brother to get my SIL's cell phone info, then used the phone specs to redraft the pocket.

Because I wanted to use snaps instead, I interfaced the entire pocket, as well as interfacing both sides of the flap.  And because of the size, I had to move it down onto the main piece in order for it to fit.  But this should be much more functional for her now.

The lining fabric is geared toward my SIL's taste.  She loves horses, and when I first saw this fabric, I thought it'd be perfect.  However, at $10/yard (though I did end up buying it on 50% off), I texted a photo to my brother to make sure it was good.  He thought she'd love it, so I stalked the JAF sales flyer until I was able to use a 50% off coupon.

The "circles" are to show the topstitching along the top of the pocket, along with the stitching lines that divide the pockets into thirds.  I'm very happy with how well I matched up the print on both pockets!  And I just used black cotton for the other side of the pockets.  No sense wasting $10/yd fabric, right?  And between the three pockets on each side and the large space in the center, this bag should hold a lot!

One addition I made was to put in a D-ring on one side, about the level of the top of the pockets.  This is to be used with the (not pictured) key leash I made, using more of the lining fabric and two dark swivel hooks.  With a bag this size, it's just not going to be easy to find your keys unless they're attached somewhere!  (And my SIL has already told me that she loves this feature!)

All in all, I really like how the bag turned out.  It was simple to make, and I love that you can make a completely launderable diaper bag that is customized to the recipient's taste and doesn't have to scream "diaper bag!"  That said, I will not be making this again unless I know the recipient well enough to really know their taste.  I bought everything for this bag on decent sales (at least 40% off), but I still have at least $40 in it, without even considering my time.  I think it's totally worth it - don't get me wrong!  But since it's nonreturnable, I wouldn't put that much into a baby gift if I wasn't sure that the new mother was going to like the fabric choices.  But if I needed a diaper bag again, I'd totally make it in a heartbeat.  (Though I would consider adding a couple of snaps or magnetic closures so that I didn't dump everything out when I set it down....)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oversized denim bag

So I was thinking about what to do for an upcoming birthday gift, when I looked through a Linky Thursday post from Stacy Sews.  And there I saw it: the Hobo/Sling Bag tutorial from Morning by Morning Productions. And I thought, cool!  That looks like a fun yet practical gift!  I really wanted to find a long leather skirt to make one in leather (as she does in part 2), but no such luck was with me during the thrift store hunt.  Alas....maybe later.  I'll keep an eye out in the future.  But until then, the long denim skirts would have to do.  This one was made from a denim skirt that looked like those skirts that are made by splitting the inseams of jeans, then adding some fabric in the middle.  I don't think it was actually made that way, judging by the consistency of the thread color throughout the entire skirt - I just think it was made to look like those, which is why there's the diagonal seam in the lower right.

I cut off the waistband to help the skirt lie flatter, also removing the zipper fly - I have a friend who reuses old but working jeans zippers and wants to use the belt loops in a project, so I'm saving those for her.  I removed the back pockets and the coin pocket, then folded the skirt so that I could cut each piece on a fold.  Before sewing the pieces together, I stitched the pockets back onto the bag but in more useful places.  I couldn't find rivets I liked, so I ended up with decorative flower eyelets.  (They'll also show up on the next one - the smallest packet I could find had 50 pairs.)
The "lining" was made from a striped sheet I found months ago at the thrift store.  I was thinking originally of boy PJ pants from this - but there's plenty left, I think.  There's no mention made of interfacing, but I decided that since I don't know what will go in the pockets, it would be best to use some lightweight interfacing over the back of the lining piece.  It doesn't cover the entire piece - just a few inches around the pocket.  I managed to line up the stripes on the pocket really well on this side - not so much on the other. ;) I really like how it turned out, though!