This weeks Crafty Bloggers' Club post is from Becca. You can find more of her makes on Instagram @patternsandpages
When Crafty Sew and So invited me to pick a pattern to sew for a blog post, the Carry-All Bag just leaped out at me as something that would be an instantly useful make! Plus, as I’m currently pregnant, I would have had to make some serious adjustments to some of the garment patterns in order for them to fit me at the moment…. I was in need of a changing bag for when baby arrives (currently scheduled for sometime in June), and thought that the bag looked more than roomy enough to carry a change of clothes, nappies and changing pad (spoiler alert: it is!)
The pattern is available in pdf or printed format. I opted to go for the pdf and was really glad that I did as it’s really economical in terms of space, only needing 9 pages of A4 to be printed and stuck together. The great thing about this pattern is that most of the pieces are the same as each other, and then for the bottom reinforced panel all you need to do is fold over or cut the pattern piece to make it the right size. Everything is made up of straight lines and right angles, so super easy to cut out and line up.
I opted to use the Llamas Cotton Canvas fabric as an outer, with yellow polka dot cotton poplin as a lining, as suggested by Kim. I think that the yellow goes really well with the llama fabric, but there are so many different colours in the llamas that I think you could use a whole range of different fabrics to line it with as long as you pick up on one of the colours in the outer fabric. For the outer pockets and base I used a remnant of Lady McElroy heavy weight denim which was up on the website. There are quite often some good options in the remnants section so it’s worth checking out!
The fabric requirements for the pattern say that you need 1m of medium to heavy weight cotton for the main fabric if using a directional print, however I managed to get this pattern out of only 60cm of canvas so it’s definitely worth checking the size of the pattern piece against your fabric to see how much you’ll need. Because the cotton canvas fabric I used was really quite wide, two pattern pieces could fit snugly side by side.
Attaching the pockets
I finished the inside patch pocket with my overlocker for a professional finish, and added a ‘handmade’ label before attaching it onto the lining. I’d recommend doing this before you turn over and topstitch the top of the pocket so that you get the placement looking how you want it. I attached the pocket by topstitching at 1/8” rather than the 5mm that the instructions asked me to as I was really keen to get as close to the edge as I could to get a really neat finished look. I did this throughout the project wherever there was topstitching to be done.
I made a decision to line the outer patch pockets as I happened to have some of the cotton lining fabric left over. This was really easy to do, as I just cut out an extra pattern piece exactly the same as the pocket and then instead of turning twice and hemming at the top which the pattern instructs you to do, I just sewed the patch pocket to the lining piece right sides together. I used a 3cm seam allowance for this, to account for the fabric that would have been folded over when hemming, and then trimmed the excess and topstitched at 1cm as instructed. This isn’t a necessary step, but I really like having that extra pop of lining fabric on the inside of the pockets too!
Attaching the base panel
When hemming and attaching the reinforcing base panel, I would recommend using a hot hemmer or metal ruler to give a really nice straight line. For the first side, I pinned the base panel on as recommended, but on the second I wondered whether it might be easier and neater on such thick fabric (I was using denim and canvas) to use hemming tape before stitching, and personally I really preferred that technique. I also increased the stitch length slightly so that you can see the topstitching better as I used a contrasting colour of thread.
With the pockets, straps and base panels attached, the two outer panels were really starting to look like a bag at this stage!
Due to the chunky nature of the zipper I chose (the pattern does suggest a lighter zip), it turned out that the zipper tabs (which the pattern asks you to cut out by measuring two 3x18cm rectangles) should really have been a little wider to be able to fold in on themselves at the edges and still accommodate the zip. As it was my first time sewing this bag I didn’t realise this at the time of cutting out, and so my zipper tabs have been left in between the lining and the outer to prevent any raw edges from being on show. A little error on my part, but one that I won’t be making again!
Inserting the zip
The crux of this pattern is definitely putting in the zip, and there are good instructions in the pattern for how to do this properly. I must admit I did find this difficult as the zip I was using was, as I said, a chunky one and therefore a little too large for me to use my zipper foot in the normal way. You don't have to use a chunky zipper though - this was a design choice I made. The instructions tell you to pin really carefully and give you detailed instructions on how to do this, and my advice would be not to skip this step as I was tempted to! I think using pins as recommended at this stage will give a much neater finish than fabric clips.
The finished product
I’m really pleased with how this project turned out and I think it’s going to be really useful in the coming months. I think that the use of heavyweight denim for the bottom panel will mean that the bag has a long life ahead of it, and although the chunky zipper I chose did cause me a couple of issues, I think that overall it’s the right choice for the size of the bag. This thing can hold some serious baby gear, and I couldn’t stop myself from having a little photoshoot with some cute little baby things alongside and in it!
Would you like to make a bag like this for yourself? Click on this link to check out a kit containing everything you need (apart from the thread) at 10% off the price of buying the items separately! Carry All Bag Kit
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“Crafty Bloggers' Club Contributors are given products and materials to test from Crafty Sew & So. We hope you enjoy their honest and impartial reviews of the products. All opinions are their own.”