This post is part of Purse Palooza. For contest rules, full details, and schedule, please click here! Today’s post is from Tracey.
Tracey in Israel here. I’m super excited to be part of purse palooza this year, thank you Sara for asking me. I have been making bags for a number of years now. You can see my work here http://www.traceylipman.etsy.com and here https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceylipman
I’m reviewing the ‘On the Go’ Bag by Annie Unrein of Soft and Stable fame. Described as ‘Small but mighty, this stylish 6″W x 8″H x 1½”D bag with a secure zipper closure has plenty of pockets to keep you organized’. I like my bags organized so this pattern appealed to me.
For me the signs of a good pattern are
- Are the instructions easy to follow?
- Do the pieces fit together nicely?
- Can I learn something new from this pattern?
- Does it have everything I need/want in terms of pockets, closures etc. and if not can I add my own?
- Do I like the finished bag and the process of making it enough to want to make the bag again?
Are the instructions easy to follow?
As a visual learner I was worried that this pattern would be hard to follow as there is a lot of text, with few pictures. This is Purse Palooza so I took a deep breath and jumped out of my comfort zone. And boy am I happy I did. There is no guess work, Annie’s instructions are precise with clear step by step instructions. Through her words she helped me visualize what needed to be done so after a while I forgot there were no step by step photos. I strongly suggest that you read all the text as Annie really does tell you everything you need to know, with tips and diagrams as needed and links to video tutorials on her website should you want them. I also like that the diagrams are computer generated and easy to follow.
So yes, the instructions were easy to follow.
Do the pieces fit together nicely?
This fit together so well I wanted to give Annie a hug to say thank you for not making me squish, pull, stretch or pleat the gusset (anyone who has made a bag knows what I am talking about J ). From the binding to the gusset each piece consistently worked, which meant I really enjoyed making this bag. So Yes the pieces fit well together
Can I learn something new from this pattern?
Yes I also learned something new. I never thought to use binding like Annie suggested, she makes it so easy, this is my new go-to technique. I am no longer a bindaphob (made up word, meaning phobia to binding J )
TIP: To save a step when you are binding the gusset to the bag. Match the raw edges of the binding and gusset lining and sew the binding to the gusset before you attach it to the bag. This way you can sew the binding and gusset in one step. Then follow Annie’s instructions to finish the edge with your binding.
It is also the first time I have used Soft and Stable. I can honestly say I now see what all the fuss is about. It does what it sets out to do, it is soft enough to be able to squash the body of the bag when going around a corner but stable enough to bounce back and hold a bag’s shape. It is slightly thinner than the ½ cm foam I managed to find locally, which made it better suited for a small bag like this. With a bag this size if you don’t have soft and stable you could probably use a fusible fleece and shape flex alternative, so don’t let that put you off making this bag.
Does it have everything I need/want in terms of pockets, closures etc. and if not can I add my own?
Yes this bag does have a lot of pockets but I think every girls bag should have an inside zipper pocket for her to put her personal items. I also wanted to use magnetic snaps instead of Velcro.
Annie’s instructions call for you to make a large sandwich with the external fabric, soft and stable in the middle and then the lining, quilting them as one big piece to hold the soft and stable in place. This piece is then cut into smaller pieces for the front, back, flap, pockets and gusset.
For this bag I didn’t do that, instead I cut each piece separately. I added my lining pocket and snaps where needed and then I made a separate sandwich for the back, front, gusset, pockets and flap with the external fabric, soft and stable and lining. I sewed around the edge of each sandwich to hold the pieces in place.
Using this method this pattern is very definitely customizable and less daunting for people who don’t like quilting. I chose to quilt the front and back pocket as I wanted to highlight the panel fabric I had chosen, but if you don’t like quilting then there is no need for this.
Things I liked about this pattern
- Clear easy to follow instructions (even, in my opinion, for the visual learner)
- Pieces fitted together like a dream
- As each piece has straight edges they could be cut with a rotary cutter (or scissors if you don’t have a rotary cutter)
- Pattern is customizable
- This pattern is available as a PDF or paper pattern. I am a big fan of PDF instant downloads and it was a big plus for me that it was available in this format.
- I like that Annie gave a sheet with labels to cut out and pin to each piece
- As far as I can see there are no restrictions on selling bags you make from this pattern.
Things I changed
- The biggest change I made was in the way I cut out my pattern. I cut each piece individually, rather than in one piece as the pattern suggested, this allowed me to customize the bag and make the rest of the changes I wanted to make.
- I personally don’t like exposed zipper edges so I used a piece of binding to cover them
- I am not a Velcro fan so I changed this to a magnetic snap. I centered the snap over the place Annie said to use Velcro.
- I added a magnetic snap to secure the back pocket too.
- I left off the flap vinyl pocket.
- As I only had ¾” hardware for the strap in my stash I cut my strap 3 inches wide, rather than 2”, so it came out wider than Annie’s original bag.
- I replaced the inside credit card pockets with a zipper pocket
I would rate this pattern as intermediate. The instructions are clear but I would not suggest this pattern if this is your first bag, because of the gusset.
I had a lot of fun with this pattern and I have already made some more of these bags.
I completed each bag in a day and once I had finished my daughter said ‘wow, how did you find a bag that has everything I need’ so I guess I had better go and make her one too. Thanks again to Sara for putting on Purse Palooza, highlight of the year for us bag fans and thank you to Annie for a great pattern.