The theme for this round was “bag”. It just had to include either patchwork or quilting (joining three layers with stitches). (You can vote for Round 2 by clicking here.)
I made a shopping trolley bag. Yep, you read it right, I made a shopping trolley bag. And not just any shopping trolley bag. I made a shopping trolley bag that converts into a duffel bag. I’m calling it the “Granny-Mac-Daddy Bag”.
Oh yeah, not just content with having to make a bag I went all out and made my own bag. First time ever I’ve made something completely up from my own little brain. Sure, I could have taken the easy route and just made a replica of the standard shopping trolley bag, but why do that when I could boldly go where I’ve not gone before.
But before I get into the specifics lets have a look back at how I got in this predicament in the first place. You see I’d picked my bag pattern a few days after I’d finished my Naughty-cal Weekender. I was going to make a backpack, simple really. I was going to make a fabulous back pack in some equally fabulous Terra Australis.
I’d ordered all the fabric, I’d ordered and downloaded the pattern, I had my list of supplies to get and I was just killing time by fooling around on Instagram when I posed the questions “what bag pattern would you make for round 2 of Sewvivor?”.
I wasn’t looking for suggestions, I was just trying to make friendly conversation. That was until @TheFabricStudio piped in with the suggestion: “How about one of those old lady grocery carts on wheels!? ;)”
When I saw this suggestion it literally made me chortle and got me thinking… sure one of those would be a hoot to make, but I had a plan already. A good plan, a solid plan, a plan that came with a dang pattern!
Then I went shopping for the missing pieces of that damn fine backpack plan…
I walked into our local chain crafty supply store and right there in front of the quilting supplies was this… Shopping Trolleys. On sale Shopping Trolleys.
What’s a gnome to do?
Call her Dad of course. (Well I tried to call my Mum but she was off at school learning so I went with Plan D (D for Dad).) I talked him through my predicament – I have a damn fine backpack plan, but then there was this suggestion about making a shopping trolley bag that I found amusing and then when I came into buy supplies there’s shopping trolleys (which I’ve never seen for sale here before) on sale – and then asked him those 4 fatal words: “What should I do?”
Needless to say the advice I got was a little mixed but ultimately I ended up taking on the challenge of making a shopping trolley bag.
I wandered around that store for an hour trying to come up with a way to make this bag my own without it screaming “I love patchwork and I may have 100 cats at home.”
The minute I saw gold foil covered denim I had a plan.
I’ve been lusting after the black and gold flying geese tee from Patchwork Threads for ages (would buy one but alas my boobs and spare tire might not make it look so much like flying geese more like warped geese).
In my giddy excitement there’s a few things I failed to think about…
1. I’ve never worked with denim before, let-a-lone stretch denim.
2. I’ve never worked with gold foil stretch denim before.
3. Those awesome brass and black zippers that I’ve just fallen in love with are open ended – something I won’t realise until I’m well into the bag making process.
4. I have no freaking pattern!!! (I also don’t have the experience of sewing that most people do given that I’ve only been sewing for 3 years and I make quilts. Quilts! Things that (hopefully) lay flat and just involve squares and rectangles not zippers, interfacing and velcro.)
I headed home with my purchases and about 10 minutes after getting them all into my sewing room I freaked.the.truck.out.
What had I done???
But I sucked it up and decided I’d just follow the bag type that the shopping trolley came with and go with my gold geese plan.
Oh how naive I am..
Stretch denim is not a girls best friend. Ever!
I made the geese and I popped them on the bag and I stood back and looked at what I had created.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love these geese. (Despite the fact that I’d made them without stabilizing the denim and the seams on those suckers were bulkier than my shopping bag on the way out of a fabric store.) But these geese were not accurate and the more I played with it the more they just went askew.
So, I took a break. (Well, those that live in the house might describe it as “a massive hissy fit”.)
That was Friday. (Oh and did I mention this way the day that our son fell, cracked his head on our coffee table and saw the three of us spend a couple of hours at the local ER? Seems to be catching as Nicole (from Snips Snippets – who’s son has the same name as our son) has also just spent time in the ER with a head injury with her same named son.)
On Saturday I had the whole day out volunteering at the Canberra Quilters Annual Member’s Exhibition judging day. While I couldn’t afford the time not sewing it was great to give me some distance from the challenge and help me regroup and think about what it was I was doing (it was also great because I got to see so many amazing quilts).
One of the quilts that was involved with the exhibition was Gemma (from Pretty Bobbins) Primary Plus quilt. It’s a really bold quilt made of bright colours, complimented with black and white prints, in a plus sign formation.
I’ve been long admiring plus quilts on Instagram, Pinterest and blogs so I thought this might be a bit of fun to make one as the fabric for my shopping trolley. I cut a version that used bright modern prints and while I loved it I just couldn’t shake the black and gold geese.
So on a whim I cut some black and white prints to see what it looked like. I loved it. (I am a sucker for black and white.) I cut some of the gold foil denim to add a pop and bam! I had my fabric.
While I’d been making the fabric I’d been thinking about the bag and how I would use it if I was the shopping trolley kind of girl and I struck on an idea to make a bag that could be used both as a shopping trolley and a duffel.
This would make the bag more versatile and mean that I could use it for more than just the groceries. Brilliant.
One problem – no pattern available on the internet for the bag I’d just thought up.
So I took a break (although those in the house might describe it as “massive teary melt down”).
I did some research on how to make a duffel bag. I spoke to my support crew. And then I took a cement pill, hardened up and went back into my sewing room.
I knew what I wanted to do:
1. Usable, funky, shopping trolley.
2. Usable, funky, duffel bag.
3. Strong patchwork element that was quilted to add texture.
4. Duffel bag could be supported by handles or a cross-body strap.
5. Fully collapsible so that it could store flat and compact while in the boot of the car.
Simple. Totally do-able for a gnome that’s not a very competent sewer. Totally….
To add to the complexity I really loved the patchwork fabric I’d made so I wanted to make sure that when the bag was on the trolley the mechanism for securing it to the trolley didn’t cover up the patchwork and quilting.
In the end it was Hubby that came up with the suggestion on how to make this happen. I cut two slots (reinforced the seams around the slots so that they wouldn’t fray or tear in use) and then stitched a false lining over the inside of the patch work so that the handle could be slid into the bottom of the bag and there would be minimal disruption to the patchwork quilted pattern.
I even used the same fabric to match the velcro flap that helps secure the bag to the trolly so it looks like it’s one continuous plus block.
I offset the flap so that if the person using it wanted to they could clip the shoulder strap to the frame and then use it like a Beauty Queen Pageant sash and put it across their body as a security feature. (Stop anyone running off with your awesome shopping trolley!)
Given that the straps on the bag would be on the front of the bag I knew I had to add a feature to help secure the straps and minimize them being a tripping or catching hazard. So I made a wrap that can be secured around the handles via Velcro when the bag is being used as a trolley and when it’s a duffel it can be used to secure the handles together and add cushioning for your hand.
I made the shoulder strap out of quilted patchwork to match the fabrics used in the bag. I put swivel clasps on them so you don’t have to think about which way is up when clipping it to the bag – it also means that you can have either the patchwork or the plain side on display when using it depending on your mood.
I used gold looking hardware to add to that little bit of bling and pop. I didn’t run the patchwork all the way up to the zipper, instead I set it into black so that it is a feature and not swamped with the patchwork pattern. I love how the gold ring sits nicely with the zipper. (I think it might be one of my favourite details with this bag.)
The primary job of this bag was to be the shopping trolley bag so I knew I had to come up with a way to offer access to the bag when it was on the trolley (so you could easily add your french bread loaf into the bag without having to break it in half!).
Now this is where I panicked a little. Not only did I have to come up with a way to do this the way that I was leaning towards required me to put in a straight zipper around 2 corners. Easy!
I’ll admit I had the bag pretty much done and I stopped, went and watched a movie, and then came back to work on it because I so didn’t want to have to do this step. But I did it, and it worked. (Cue manic dancing and fist pumping!)
I even managed to set the zipper in between 2 lots of piping and add stability to the zipper by having a small strip of quilted patchwork along it. The zipper works and it’s such a great pop of colour and detail.
I quilted the entire bag by using fusible fleece. I stitched in the ditch on the gold foil denim just to minimise it’s stretch and keep it in place (plus the denim really didn’t like being quilted so I opted to keep it shiny as much as possible). It’s quilted using a random straight line pattern in black cotton.
I did the end of the bag in the Robert Kaufman Remix by Anne Kelle Crosses in black and white because I adore it, it worked with the patchwork quilting pattern and the standard ends make a really nice contrast to the body of the bag. Both ends of the bag are quilted with random straight lines using black cotton (just like the main body of the bag).
The colour palette means it’s gender neutral and even the Hubby is happy to be seen with it. Which is handy because he does most of our shopping!
The bag I’ve made is a little taller than the bag that came with the trolley but I wanted to add a bit more height to help me cram all of my roller derby gear into it. It also means that my sewing machine and class supplies fits into it which makes it perfect for when I sew outside the house.
The zipper on the main body of the quilt opens from the bottom when the bag is on the trolley. This means that if you pop something into the trolley bag and you need to access it and it’s all the way on the bottom you don’t have to empty the entire bag to get to it.
It’s a really decent sized bag, but even so it’s not cumbersome when carried as a duffel bag. I made the length of the shoulder strap long enough to work as a cross body strap. I made this strap to fit my body, but I think if I was to ever make these to sell (never!) I’d do them as adjustable straps.
The handles on the bag are made out of seat belt, which I think is a cool little detail. (Just hope Hubby doesn’t notice the missing middle seat belt in our car….)
I lined the bag in a cotton drill that is covered with mustaches (it’s a generic drill from our local large chain store so I don’t have details, sorry). I figured it was a nice little nod to the hipster wanna be in me.
Because there’s no seam line in the corners of the bag this bag will flat pack for storage, which is handy if you want to just keep it as an emergency bag in the back of your car. It also means that it will take up minimal storage in your house in between uses.
It’s also really handy that the softness of the bag allows it to stretch and mold to whatever you’re trying to carry (like a sewing machine, cutting mat and rulers or skates, pads and helmet).
As much as this challenge kicked my butt (I came very close to not submitting anything this challenge) I’m really stoked with how it turned out.
It took me on such a learning curve and really made me stop and think about how to construct something which I don’t normally do. I’m really proud of the fact that I made this without a pattern and it’s fully functional and doesn’t look too bad either (not to mention I did it in a week).
Voting is now open for Round 2 of Sewvivor. The Top 10 entries have been revealed and now the public gets to vote on their favourites (the public vote counts for 50% of the results – the tribal council (judges) the other 50%). Only 5 of the 10 contestants will go through to the next round. You can vote for your TOP FIVE in this round (which is handy as they’re all so amazing choosing just one would be torture!) You can vote via this link – CLICK HERE TO VOTE! Voting is open until Wednesday 27 August at Midnight EST (which is 2pm AEST Thursday 28 August for us Aussies).
I’d really like to just encourage you to go and vote, even if it’s not for my entry. All of us have had a really big week of life commitments mixed with trying to get this challenge to work. For some of us, it’s only the first or second time we’ve had a crack at making a bag and so it was a huge learning curve. I’m really proud of the fact that through the whole process we’ve all kept a sense of humour, supported each other and managed to make something we’re all proud of. So please, go check out the entries and vote for the one(s) that you think embrace the challenge and make you smile.
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