Thursday, 8 September 2016

Packed full of potential

Once upon a time, when I was less confident in my dress-making skills, and less frustrated by ineffective clothes shopping trips, I used to make myself bags. Drawstring bags as gifts for friends; zipped washbags for hens on a hend do; project bags for me and the knitters around me; lavender bags for older relatives; the odd hand-bag for myself... nothing very complicated, and nothing very ambitious or accomplished.

And since I'd been making these for ages, when I wanted a new bag to carry my laptop and A4 folders on occasional trips out to make progress in environments safe from distractions, I rummaged through my old Burda World of Fashion issues and found this baby-kit bag.

Pockets seemed a good idea - a zipper top and flap similarly so. A couple of adjustments were needed to be sure my laptop would actually fit, and I added a layer of wadding to the internal divider in the hope that it would provide a little extra protection against knocks.

Fabric choice was straightforward and out of stash - I think I originally planned some cord trousers from this, but decided that the wale was too wide, and combined it with a length of cotton from the quilting stash for linings and details.

I'd definitely recommend this sort of sewing to anyone learning to sew, wanting to improve their finishing skills, or simply building on their techniques and understanding - it gives you the opportunity to focus on those skills in combination with straight seams, and without the added complications of fit.

The final result is big.Bigger than I had anticipated from the two-dimensional measurements I had been looking at. The depth of this bag makes a lot of difference, and while I do use it regularly, it doesn't quite play the role I had hoped. Rather than allowing me to take my laptop into work with me if I need to complete something at lunchtime or afterwards, and fit my lunch and wallet and knitting, this is the 'overnight with projects' carryall.

For example, if I'm off to work one day, I can pack my lunch, glasses, wallet and site pass alongside my washbag, pyjamas, change of clothes, notebooks, reference book, project folder, novel, Kindle, brolly, knitting and spare knitting, chargers, and laptop. And then it takes me from work, through a train journey to an evening with a good friend to the next day, which I can spend out and about working solidly, before heading to the theatre and back on that same train home and to bed. It's big but it's presentable, and if I'm a little careful about the balance (I really must cut back the number of notebooks I carry), isn't too heavy.

What I still need to find is the perfect bag for my original need - I'd like to be able to carry my laptop and charger in a bag with my keys, phone, wallet, lunch and sock project. I've recently started following Emmaline Bags on Instagram, and certainly feel there's more of this sort of making in my future.

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