Weekend-Away Travel Bag

Standard

This is (sort of) a tutorial for the pattern found in Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. I took a lot of pictures, because when I had some trouble spots the only shared ones I could find were just pictures of the finished product. While they were all cute, that didn’t help me much in trying to figure out the last step, attaching the zipper panel to the body of the bag. Other than that, this pattern is (pretty) simple.

[Click “More” for the mostly step-by-step pictures!]

I used green canvas I got on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics, and a busy print cotton I found in the remnant bin. I didn’t want the outside to be too plain, so I decided to try embroidering. It didn’t turn out exactly how I envisioned, but I think it adds to the bag.

Embroidery1

I used a pen to very lightly mark an outline (minus that little dash where I marked a little too darkly)

Body of the leaf...

The stray dash is what forced me to fill in the leaf when I hadn't decided if I wanted to or not. Oh well. I'm not 100% in love with this part, but that's ok I guess.

Zipper panel

Pieces for my zipper panel. Pressing your seam allowances is crucial to getting a zipper to turn out right.

Zipper

Then you must pin pin pin your zipper sandwhich.

Bobbin

I chose to use dark blue thread (one of the colors in the lining print) because I thought it would be a nice contrast on the green. I got the zipper to match.

Bobbin

Loading my bobbin...I hate this part.

Once you have pinned the first side of the zipper panel, obviously you sew it together. Make sure you use your zipper foot.

Once you've sewn both sandwhiches of fabric to the zipper, press and try to make them match up as evenly as possible.

Finished Zip

Yay, zipper panel finished! I only had to rip one seam and do it again... I opted to do a zigzag stitch because I like the way it looks in my contrasting thread and it looks neater than my straight stitching did.

Side panels

Next you will press the top edges of your side panel pieces, which will also need to match up.

side panel

Sew a lining/main set together, right sides facing, then turn it inside out.

Side Panel

Tadaaa. Cute little side panel. This will slide over each end of the zipper.

Main body

Next, you will do the same thing with your main lining and outer fabric, sewing them together with right sides facing in. Leave 2-3 inches unsewn so that you can flip it right side out. Then press this edge so that when you attach the pieces, it gets sewn closed.

I also attempted to make the lining pocket as instructed, with elastic thread. However, I’ve never worked with elastic thread and I found it to be a pain in the butt. I freestyled my own pocket, partly because I wanted a small skinny one to stick bobby pins in. It turned out alright, but I would definitely make it deeper next time. They’re too shallow for much more than bobby pins to stand upright inside.

Pieces

Now that all your pieces are sewn, pin the body piece to the zipper piece. This is where I went horribly awry. Try not to get impatient, it makes more work for you in the end.

Pinning

First pinning attempt...

Ugh.

Yeaaah. So, my pinning was not very good. And it came out NOT even at all.

Ripping stitches

Thank goodness I have a seam ripper.

FAIL.

This is what happens when you get impatient. I do not advise wasting another 30 min ripping out all your seams and starting over because you were getting antsy.

Let’s discuss where I went wrong. I realized I had to shorten the end tabs on my zipper a little- the zipper called for by the pattern is 16″, but the panel pieces are about 2 inches longer than that. I trimmed some of the fabric part underneath the side panel tabs to get this to fit properly. Then I worked from one end of the zipper to the other, pinning it, getting to the end and realizing I still had too much slack or too little.

The reason it was not matching up correctly is because I was going about it the wrong way. Instead of working from one end of the zipper to the other, pin the top of the bag first (the part above the leaf, for reference), then pin the opposite side. If these two sides are even, the rest of it will come out fairly matched up.

I actually finished most of this project last weekend, but was so annoyed trying to finish the last part after having pinned and re-pinned several times, I decided I needed a short sabbatical.

So, let’s try this again.

Pin attempt 2

Turned out much better the second time. I sewed this with the zipper open, as it's easier to turn. Then flip it right side out through the zipper opening.

Finished

Here it is, all full of my bathroom junk. Maybe with more room I can keep debris off of our bathroom counter.

Finished

I haven't decided yet if I will slipstitch the side panels closed, or leave them open. They kind of make a nice almost pocket on the inside.

Bag

It's not the best embroidery ever, but it was my first try. I think I may have stitched too tightly, it pulls the fabric a little bit.

Bag

I chose to put the side panels on "backwards" so that some of the print could be on the outside, because I really like it and the brightness gives it a little more pizzazz.

Overall, this project came out alright. I’m not sure if I will use the pattern again or try something else that’s similar.

If I do make this again, I would change how I did the pockets, and take the time (and patience) to figure out the elastic threading, so things don’t fall out. Putting all the pieces together wasn’t particularly difficult. For me, the hardest part was joining the zipper panel and body cleanly. I’m not sure how I feel about the seaming on the inside, so I may look for a pattern that eliminates that (or modify this one somehow). I think I would also try adding a small strap of some kind, maybe on the side- it would be pretty easy to add one inside the side panel, and then sew it closed.

The book I used, Weekend Sewing, has other cute patterns, but be warned that while the drawings are helpful, the written instructions are somewhat lacking.  It does have  a pair of gardening gloves that I might try to make, in the right fabric maybe they would help protect my fingers when doing wire projects.

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