February 2016’s Bag of the Month Club’s bag is the Window Shopper Bag Pattern from Mrs H. When I first spotted the bag, I wasn’t insanely excited about it. When I downloaded the 34 page pattern, I was overwhelmed and nearly unwilling to even try it. I mean seriously, SO MANY WORDS. After a few days settling in, I remembered the thing I hate more than anything else is when I buy a commercial pattern that attempts to put itself on a single piece of paper to save costs. It leads to tiny little fonts/pictures and tons of missing details. I thought it was possible that maybe the full pattern with all the information takes 34 pages and a zillion words and is actually something I’d prefer. After looking at the bag more, I thought it would make an awesome library bag. Once I thought about that, I knew I had to reuse some of my Harry Potter book spines from the Harry Potter quilt.
I was a little brave and started with the “text only” version of the instructions + the pattern pieces. It took about two steps for me to realize I wanted the pictures. If for nothing else but to break up all of the words and have a place for my eyes to easily land switching back and forth between working and pattern reading. The pattern is very through. The reason it is so long is that it takes nothing for granted and assumes you need hand holding for each step. As it turns out, I like hand holding! If the step was something I knew how to do, I could breeze through it for a refresher. If it was new to me, I could slow down and read it and not feel stupid for not just knowing how to do it.
I did find this project to be a little fussy. Some of that is because I made it way harder than it was with the pieced and embroidered pockets. Part of it because there are a lot of pieces! Pockets, zippers, gusset, more pockets, and all of the matching interfacings. I think that is probably just the way it is for bags, clothing, etc. My quilt-y background makes me a little impatient. I’m hoping to get better with experience though. In the end, I feel accomplished and really do love the bag. It is going to be useful for sure.
One thing I really liked about this bag is even though I added all the seams and even though I used a heavy weight fabric, there was never any difficult spots that were too thick to push through the machine. The gusset was a nice equalizer for the fronts and backs and I’m pretty sure this version would not have worked as well with a sew the front to the back style design.
My only frustration with it is really nit picky – my version didn’t print page numbers. I know, it isn’t hard to take a second find the number of the last step on a page and line it up with the first step on the next page, but my brain has been trained for years to use page numbers. I found myself looking for them several times especially since I printed duplex to save paper and was getting them out of order frequently. I will probably make this bag again and add page numbers to my print out.
Adding the Harry Potter books certainly added to the complexity of the bag and led me to some choices there were different than prescribed in the pattern. I wanted the books to go all the way around the bag. To that end, I skipped the smaller front pocket and did two full width pockets on the front and back. For the main body of the bag, I used medium weight black and gray duck canvas fabrics to give it a bit of extra heft and body. I knew I intended to leave the cut away stabilizer in the books all the way through the seam allowance. Given the weight of the canvas, the added seams with the pieced books, and the embroidery stabilizer, I decided not so use a foam or batted lining. On the canvas I used a heavy weight woven iron on stabilizer, Pellon 931TD, and for the lining pieces I stuck to Pellon SF101.It finishes with a nice weight and even stands up on its own. Sweet!
Each of the books I cut at 9.25” (finish at 8.75”) and I added the 3.5” (finish at 3”) black shelf line. To handle the piecing on the gusset, I used a less precise method and just laid out the pattern’s paper pieces and marked roughly where the books should go on either side connecting it with a black piece in the middle.
I tend to make size and layout decisions as I go in sketch books. Here are the rough drawing with general size estimates (and a little glimpse into my crazy processes!)
Towards the end, I was getting very brain tired and made a serious bone head calculation. I ended up just fussing it in there which knocked some things off center and pushed others into tight spots. Given I knew I wasn’t going to be embroidering another book, I figured I’d rather have the bag a little bit off than say a really loud cuss word and throw the whole thing in the trash! ha!
The Embroidery Files
All of these files are peppered through the Harry Potter Quilt posts, but here’s the ones I used for this bag in one place. Some of these were digitized in the very beginning of my learning curve and are a bit frustrating to use. They do eventually come together though! Since I have access to a larger hoop now, I’ve merged a few them beyond the 5 x 7 limitation. Both sets of files are in the .zip file.
That’s almost it for Harry Potter things! I have one more project in my queue coming up very very soon and it will on to new fandoms! Any suggestions?
Just so you know, I did try to take a picture of the other side the inside, but this is what happens when I get in the floor…..
Stupid dog. How I love thee.