Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review: Natural Patchwork Hexagon Bag

This post is part of Purse Palooza 2012.
For full schedule of guest post pattern reviews and prizes, click here!

Today’s guest post is from Tamiko of Patchwork Notes. Besides the great sewing and quilting projects on Tamiko’s blog, she is also a real paper-piecing expert…just gorgeous work, and you will have to check it out!

Hexagon Patchwork Bag from Natural Patchwork

Interfacing for the pocket – I used a lightweight fusible interfacing from Joann’s
Batting for the sides and bottom – I used Warm and Natural. I felt that one layer of Warm and Natural was not stiff enough, even with ~ ¼” quilting lines. Next time I will use fusible batting.
Leather Straps – I bought leather straps from SoraShop but decided not to use them.
This pattern is a good use for scraps! The hexagons require scraps at least 3.5” square. I used mostly vintage fabrics and Japanese Imports (Lecien, Suzuko Koseki).
Handles – Annie’s Farm Stand, Seed Catalog
Lining – Joel Dewberry Deer Valley, Architectural Glass in mustard
Binding – Hello Betty, Retro Blossoms
Pattern Pieces
3 pattern pieces (1 side, 1 bottom, 1 hexagon) – all of which must be drafted based on schematics.
Japanese pattern books tend to rely heavily on detailed schematics rather than printed pattern pieces. The schematics provide detailed measurements that show where to draw lines. Use a ruler and pencil to draft the pattern pieces on pattern paper or regular copy paper.  Schematics are great because they allow for easy pattern modification but sometimes it can be difficult to draw a nice curve that will fit the curve of another piece (foreshadowing!).
While the body and bag for this pattern must be drawn, the hexagon can be photocopied or digitally reproduced.  The book does not use English paper piecing for the hexagons. If you would like to English paper piece the hexies then be sure to measure the finished size of the hexagon.  Pre cut hexies can be ordered from Paper Pieces. The hexies from Paper Pieces are made from recycled cardstock, which weighs somewhere between copy paper and regular cardstock. The hexagon pattern in the book assumes that you will not be English paper piecing and therefore adds a ¼” seam. Keep that in mind when you decide how to go about making your hexies.  
Step by step photos or instructions are not included in the pattern description. Written instructions explain the basic steps and the order in which to construct the bag as well as how to sew the hexagons together by hand (not English method).
I did not have a good experience with my drafted pattern pieces.  Although I followed the schematic as precisely as possible, my pattern piece for the sides of the purse was too large for my finished quilted hexagons. I measured my purchased hexies against the hexies in the book and the size was an exact match. So I went back and redrew the schematic. Again, it was too large. I ended up having to reduce the size of the pattern piece, which then meant that I had to reduce the size of the bag base. Despite several attempts, I was never able to get to the bag body and bag base to fit using my modified pattern. I ended up scrapping the base and closing the bag with a straight seam. 

As previously noted, I used English paper piecing for the hexies and modified the size of the bag to fit my quilted hexagons.  This resulted in a straight bottom instead of a rounded bottom.  Modifying the size and shape made me realize that I would not use the bag very often so I opted for quilted handles instead of leather handles.  The quilted handles are 10” long by 1.5” wide and have a piece of warm and Natural in the center for stability.
Difficulty Level
Had this pattern come with pattern pieces, I would have rated this bag as a beginner project or maybe a confident beginner because of the hexies. However, the struggles I had with the drafted pattern being too large for the quilted hexies and the adjustments that I played around with put this bag at the intermediate level. Perhaps someone with much better drafting skills would do a better job drawing the pattern pieces but I had a more difficult experience with this bag than other bags I have drafted from schematics.  
This bag is cute! I think that I would use it all the time if it had turned out the bag in the book– with the oval bottom and leather straps. But, sometimes patterns just don’t work as planned.
If I was to make the bag again, I would draft my pattern pieces before I sew and quilt my hexies.  That way the pattern could be compared against the hexies, before they are quilted, and adjustments to add more hexagons could be made if the pattern piece is too large.   This should eliminate the problem of the base and body not matching up. 
Thanks for inviting me to PursePalooza, Sara! I wanted to make this bag ever since I got the Japanese version of the book. I’m glad that you gave me opportunity to give it a go!
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