Howdy. I’m Kaelin from The Plaid Scottie and I’ll be reviewing Liesl & Co.’s A Day in the Park Backpack Tote. I’ve made this bag 6+ times, so I’m very familiar with the pattern and will be happy to field any questions you might have in the Comments section or via my email at firstname.lastname@example.org! First I’d like to share my thoughts as a whole on the bag so you can decide whether or not it’s a pattern you’d be interested in using, and then I’ll dive into more specific construction tips & thoughts at the end.
- This bag is in the advanced category, and if you’ve been wanting to attempt hardware like snaps and inset zippers, this pattern is a great way to dip your toe in the water because it’s extremely well written. I speak from experience, because this pattern was my first attempt with both of those hardwares, and it taught me how to do it. The instructions are thorough with lots of diagrams to baby step you through the process. Whenever I go rogue with other bag patterns and decide to insert a zipper when it’s not called for, I actually use the templates from this pattern to do it.
- It’s VERY well constructed and sturdy, and will take a beating. I’ve made a few for my friends’ children, and they’ve put them through the wringer – sleepovers, school, horse riding lessons, soccer – and they still look great. No holes, seams holding up, and the canvas lining will practically support a tank (or 20 pounds of school books). When needed, you can run it through the wash and then line dry (I usually throw it in the dryer for a few minutes after it air-dries to fluff out the wrinkles) .
- It’s a great multi-purpose bag, especially for pre-teens/teens. It can function as an everyday purse for them and then convert into a backpack if they’re carrying a bunch of stuff to and from school, home, practice, etc. For adults, I think it’s better served for vacations and travel. I use mine when we go to Disneyworld and it’s perfect because it easily holds all our stuff, but still small enough that it’s not heavy & tiring to lug around all day. It also easily fits within the mesh pockets on rides.
- The outside of the bag is a blank slate. Since the design is so simple, it’s great for embellishing with applique and whatnot. I’ve played with materials like corduroy when making versions for the Fall/Winter, and done cute little appliques like owls, school buses, etc. (see below – you might not be able to tell because the pictures aren’t great, but the bottom two are corduroy)
- Uses flimsy pattern tissue instead of regular white printing paper, which kind of makes me want to stab someone, but what can you do?
- Large time committment – it takes me about twice as long to make this bag as it would a normal purse or bag.
- Sewing through all the layers can be difficult at times, especially toward the end when you’re finishing the bag, because you have that added layer of canvas in between the lining and thick exterior fabric (which will either be heavy home décor fabric, or quilting cotton + interfacing). This is really not a bag that a basic $100 sewing machine like a Singer or Brother could handle…it could easily break a lower-end machine like that when you’re topstitching over some of the bulky seams when finishing the bag (I’m dead serious).
- Rather expensive to make, because it requires several types of hardware (denim rivets, snap, O-rings, zipper, button), plus your general materials like the canvas/duckcloth and home décor fabric (or quilting fabric + interfacing). You also might need to have a few extra tools in order to install some of the hardware (like an X-acto knife or awl, fabric glue, etc.), and if you don’t have those on hand, they’d need to be purchased. (See Below for close-up of some of the hardware – snap, zipper, rivets)
- I really recommend using home décor fabric for the exterior. If you’re going to go to the trouble of making this bag, it’s really worth it to use a more durable fabric that will last.
- When making the straps, less is more. If you use a home dec fabric, I’d forgo interfacing because once you fold up the end of the straps, it can be difficult to wrangle the rivets through all the layers if they’re too thick.
- When inserting metal snaps, I like to put a dab of Gutterman Creativ Textile Glue (sold here) on the back of each side of snap before inserting through the fabric. It helps keep the snap in place (and not wiggling around), and even though you have that little piece of interfacing on the back to prevent wear, the glue is added protection to keep the prongs from pulling/wearing too much on the fabric.
Happy Sewing! And don’t forget to link up a photo to Sara’s Purse Palooza Flickr group if you decide to make a bag using one of the reviewed patterns 🙂