Before I begin, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Sara for including me with this year’s list of reviewers. It’s an honor to be included with such a talented group, and I’m super excited to participate.
With that out of the way, I’d like to say hello. I’m Leslie from 50 sq ft studios, but you may know me as lelliebunny on most social media. Bags have always been one of my favorite things to sew, but I’m also a quilter and occasional garment maker.
The bag that I have chosen to review is the Mail Sack by Pink Chalk Studio. It is a modern cross-body bag with 2 size options (I have chosen the larger size for my review) with a large, open top, divided pocket plus a large zipped pocket on the interior. There are small darts that give the bag shape. The instructions are extremely well written, so do not fear the darts or zipper insertion. I believe this pattern would be suitable for a person that would classify themselves as a confident beginner. I had no problems making this bag from start to finish within a day.
The pattern suggests a home décor weight cotton, canvas, Japanese linen, or quilting cotton for the exterior with quilting cotton for the interior. Staying true to my personality, I knew I would have to make more than one version. So, I used several combinations including all quilting cotton, a fine wale lightweight corduroy exterior with quilting cotton interior, and a home décor brocade with quilting cotton. With proper interfacing, I feel I had successful results with all of the materials.
For the 16” x 16” large size, you will need the following materials:
- Bag Base – ½ yd
- Yoke + Strap – ¾ yd
- Lining + Strap Lining – 1 1/8 yd
- Interior Pockets – 5/8 yd
- Interfacing – Medium Weight Fusible – 2 yds (you’ll want 4 yds if you use all quilting cotton)
- 9” zipper to match lining fabric
The pattern lists a medium weight fusible interfacing in the materials requirements. I opted to use Pellon ShapeFlex (SF101). ShapeFlex is a woven fusible interfacing that gives fabric great body and added strength while still retaining a soft shape and staying pliable. It works very well for many styles of bags. Please note that if you opt to lighter weight fabric for the exterior pieces (bag base/yoke/strap), such as quilting cotton, you will need to remember to double the amount of interfacing.
As I mentioned toward the beginning of my review, I found the instructions for this pattern are very well written. Pink Chalk Studio’s Kathy Mack has included fantastic diagrams and clear, concise, yet detailed, wording for everything from pattern piece layout to checking and modifying the length of the strap to suit your body type.
I always recommend reading through the entire pattern before starting, and I only noticed a couple of things that may be concerning to someone that hasn’t made a lot of bags or someone that is new to sewing. I believe that all of these are easy enough to manage for a beginner as long as you are aware of them.
The first thing to keep in mind is fabric selection. If you are selecting a print that is directional, just take the extra few seconds to make sure that your pattern pieces will have the print oriented properly when the fabric is cut. If you are concerned, I would recommend using a non-directional print.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, interfacing your fabric appropriately is important. Make sure that you are following the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply the fusible lining, and think about how you you’re your finished bag to look. If you like a bag to look more crisp than soft, an interfacing like Pellon’s 911FF might be a good choice.
One thing that I like about the bag is that it will lay close to the body when carried cross-body. If you carry the bag on one shoulder or set it down, the bag comes open. This is not generally an issue for me so I have not felt the need to add a magnetic snap closure to the top, but it was something that I wanted to mention. This would be easy to do prior to making the bag sandwich and sewing the lining to the exterior. If you want to add the snap, I would recommend adding an extra square of fusible interfacing to the area where the snap will be inserted to reinforce the fabric and a dab of a product like Fray Check or Fray Block to keep the slits along the snap insertion lines in the fabric from fraying (this is a tip that I learned from Sara.)
That’s it for the Mail Sack. To sum it up, I think this is a great, beginner friendly pattern that would be perfect for those of us that like or want a cross-body bag.
Thanks for checking out my review and huge thanks again to Sara for bringing Purse Palooza back for 2014!