My Caravan Tote Plus What I Learned While Bag Making
I figured, though, it's good to branch out every once in a while and create something that's (almost) entirely new to you. It seemed like perfect timing that I needed a new bag to bring my lunch and knitting on my long subway commute to work.
After browsing some ready-made bags and sewing patterns, I decided to invest the time and money in creating a Caravan Tote by Noodlehead Patterns.
Let me just say that I LOVE this bag and pattern! It really is the perfect knitting bag with the added features such as the grommet yarn guides and the needle pocket, which, by the way, I customized to carry all of my Knit Picks interchangeable needles.
It's definitely a great size! It's big enough to fit my bulky lunch box, a notebook, and a knitting project with ease. It also looks so professional with the finishing touches like the set-in snaps and the matching pouch. Overall, I am super satisfied with the pattern and would highly recommend it!
However, I learned a couple of things while making this bag, such as:
Bag making is more expensive than you think!
Truth be told, I opted to create my own bag because a $100 alternative seemed a bit frivolous. Turns out, I had to stop adding up the costs of my bag after it reached over $100 (really). I didn't research some prices of fabrics and materials (ahem, interfacing), though, and if I had... perhaps I would have just purchased the ready-made bag. So, if you're looking to save money by making a bag, please price out everything first before committing!
Interfacing can make or break the project.
The Cooper Backpack I made previously was constructed from a waxed canvas and vinyl which meant that I could I skip the interfacing. However, having chosen metallic essex linen for the exterior of my bag, I knew it was very important. I bought the recommended interfacings (which cost more than what I'm used to at my local fabric stores) and was shocked at how they both significantly changed the linen. Decor Bond, specifically, worked wonders for me! I feel like Pellon SF101, however, can be replaced by any nice medium weight interfacing I'd use in any garment (say, a button up shirt).
Know when to pick your battles.
There are some parts of bag making that can be really challenging. For example, I was super scared of setting in snaps for the first time. Instead, I asked my old boss (perks of working at a sewing supply store) to install them. That was a fight I was not willing to take. Re-inserting my lining in the bag due to some puckers, however, was worth the extra effort, as was customizing the needle pocket to fit my needles.
Combining Fabrics is an Art
To be completely honest, sometimes you can really tell if a bag is handmade or not just based on fabric choices alone. Unfortunately, a lot of handmade bags using printed fabrics give off the home-ec vibe to me. I really tried to avoid that, though, by opting to choose two sophisticated and subtle metallic linens for my exterior and to base all my other fabric choices off of that combination. While I did use a total of three prints in my bag, I think they all really go together because they have a similar theme (geometric) and have similar and complementary colours. It was definitely worth spending the extra time at the fabric store to come up with the perfect combination.
While I don't think I will be making a lot more bags in the near future, I really enjoyed the process of constructing and customizing my Caravan Tote. I also appreciated the little lessons I've gotten from the experience. Have you ever made bags? What have you learned from them?