In fall of 2015, Mom said she needed a bag to carry her serger in and she was going to make one. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I said I would make one with her and we planned to do it at the next retreat we were going to be at together in January.
We chose the Carry On Travel Bag from By Annie. I had never made a By Annie bag, but Mom knew people who had and said it was doable. I figured that if I could make The Weekender, then I could do this. We ordered the finishing kits and Soft and Stable from By Annie’s site. To be on the safe side, I measures our sergers and made sure they would fit in the bag. They wouldn’t. Oops! But all we had to do was increase the width by three inches. I went to work on the quilt math and figured out which pieces would need to be cut different and how much more yardage we would need. Once I had that figured out, we needed to buy fabric.
Mom bought her fabric from her local shop. I had fallen in love with the new Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis line. It was supposed to be available before January, so I ordered it. Then I waited for it to ship. I waited some more. I emailed the seller. I waited. I emailed again. Then it was December and I hadn’t had any communication, so I decided to deal with that later and buy other fabric. My friend and I were going to make a trip to Missouri Star before Christmas and I decided I would find fabric there. I ended up buying some Allison Glass fabric and I was super excited about it.
After reading all of the instructions, we were a little intimidated by the quilting that would need to be done with the Soft and Stable. We had never quilted Soft and Stable and it was just a lot of quilting. So we decided to have it long armed, which was the best decision ever. Mom had no problem getting it quilted quickly so I could pick it up while home for Christmas and cut it before the retreat in January. I got it cut the weekend before the retreat. Both of us were a little intimidated by the cutting because of the number of pieces and the fact that we had changed the dimensions of a lot. I double and triple checked everything.
Mom wasn’t able to attend the retreat because we had a sick family member. I wasn’t going to work on the bag without her, so I brought other projects and the bag had to sit until our next retreat at my place in April.
Everything worked out for the retreat in April. Mom was able to attend and we focused our entire weekend on that bag. It worked out really well. We ended up cutting everything correctly!!! Well, Mom had a few pieces that were too wide, but they could be cut down and would have been correct if our webbing had been wider. We also re-cut some stuff because we wanted to use a different fabric for the accent or binding than what the pattern called for. We both had plenty left over to allow that.
The instructions were pretty good. I would say they were better than The Weekender. A few things were frustrating and there were things we didn’t like and would do differently next time (As if there will be a next time. Ha!), but it all totally worked out. We both ended up with gorgeous bags. Mom followed the pattern and used binding to finish the edges. I’ve done a bag like that before and hated it, so I decided to line mine. It worked out great, too. Mom didn’t cover her straps because the webbing she ordered matched her fabric well, but I covered mine like the pattern calls for.
Our main suggestions of things to do differently would be around the lining and seam allowance. I would be nice if when you looked inside the bag, the fabric was consistent. The pattern is written so that it’s not and kind of looks like a jumbled mess. It’s still pretty, but not ideal. The seam allowance throughout the pattern is 1/4″. That’s not appropriate for a bag. It should be at least a half inch. I get that the 1/4″ works well with binding, but it would be better to sew the half inch and cut it down once the binding is attached. We ended up doing that and our bag was a bit smaller, but it would have been a pain to try to keep an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance with all of the bulk.
My suggestion is for the zippers. I HATED her zipper finishing method. My mom thought it was kind of cool because it creates a little ridge that is kind of like faux piping, but it’s really hard to make it work on the inside so the seam allowance is completely hidden. I want my bag to look 100% finished and that method did not do that. I did it for a couple of zippers and said screw it for the main zipper and I’m glad I did. It was just weird.
When you are making a serious bag, during the actual bag making, you’re like, “What did I do to myself? Is this worth it?” But once you have a finished product, you’re like, “This is the best thing ever. Totally worth it!” We both felt that way about this bag since it took ALL weekend. It was the only project we both finished, but worth it. And it was great to get to do it together.
Oh…my Blueberry Park fabric arrived in March, so I still could have used it for the bag, but I would have had to get it quilted and cut the pieces out. And then I would have had two sets and I don’t think I could bring myself to make another one any time in the near future.