My boyfriend and I leave for 2 weeks in Japan on Friday morning. On Monday, I was at my sewing machine, repairing the strap on my under-the-seat-in-front-of-me carry on bag. As I was stitching the strap, I got offended by how poor quality the bag was. I texted Jason and he said, “You have time, why don’t you make one?”. Well, it’s Wednesday, and look at this new bag!!
The first thing I did was make iced coffee. Next, I took out my roll of tracing paper and some rulers, and began to draft a pattern. Bags are actually pretty straightforward shapes, what makes them special are the details, materials, and construction. Because this is my first time ever making a bag, I kept it as simple as possible. My pattern is mostly rectangles, and it needs to be refined for the next version (yes, there will be more versions).
I “borrowed” a canvas painter’s drop cloth from Jason’s studio closet, and that evening, he asked me if I wanted to airbrush it. I actually wanted him to airbrush it, but it was good for my to DIY all aspects of the project. I didn’t really have any ideas for the fabric design, so I went with a quick & cute gumball machine polka dot. I originally airbrushed all of the pieces, but then realized it had better impact with some solid color contrast.
The bag has heavy duty cotton webbing for the handles, which are bar tacked in a few strategic places for strength, and a center open heavy duty RiRi zipper on top. Both of these trims are from Pacific Trimming in Midtown Manhattan. The bag bottom, exterior pocket, and the sheath that holds the bag to the handle of my rolling suitcase are all double layer of canvas. This canvas is firm enough that I didn’t think interfacing was required, but I’m going to look into my options on the next version.
This elasticated panel holds the bag in place while I roll my main suitcase. If you don’t have this feature, the bag flops all over the place and it is really annoying!
I am really happy with the contrast between vivid airbrushed colors and the heavy duty feel of this canvas. I kept the construction really minimal, but I couldn’t help but add a signature Buried Diamond handmade clown charm as the zipper pull. My usual travel style is much more subdued, but I think this came out pretty cute for a weekend travel bag.
I have gotten so many questions about bag making since I posted this. I am far from an expert - this is the first bag I have ever made. I’d love to refine my pattern more before sharing it with you, because it’s not tried & tested yet. But I’m about to take it on a 16 day international trip, so I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts after that. In terms of special tools used to make this, I recommend a jeans needle and Gutterman polyester thread. I occasionally needed a “hump jumper” and my trusty awl to help my machine over thick seams, and I pounded a few bulky spots with a mallet before sewing them (helps flatten them out). I bound all interior seams with pink bias binding (I’ll try to get a clear photo for you). I used less than 2 packages of store bought binding. The most specialized item here was my zipper, which was not cheap ($22!), but it is really nice to have it be metal and “center open”, which means there are 2 pull tabs for easy acess.
So that’s my first bag. Even just taking these photos, I was thinking of ways to improve the design. I had a really good time making this and I’m looking forward to more sewing after my trip. If you have any questions about this project, leave me a comment. I can’t wait to fill this bag with Japanese fabric and candies! XO