Finally. After several years of hording it, I have used my Michael Miller Nevermore goth bug and writing print fabrics. It was hard to start cutting into it and accept that it was going to be gone without the promise of waiting around for me to *need* it; however, now that it is used, I’m happy to have a finished thing and some space for MORE FABRIC!
I decided to make this bag after seeing Terry’s (@tooheycohen) version of it on Instagram. This Backgammon Bag is Bag of the Month’s January 2016 pattern designed by Betz White. I’ve wanted to try some more structured bags with fancy hardware, zippers, pockets, and other bag makers tricks so I thought the “mystery” of the club would be a good way to introduce myself to various styles of patterns, sewing techniques, and bags in general. I knew instantly that this particular bag had good potential to be go with fabrics already in my stash. Given I had plenty of stabilizer, batting, and few pieces of hardware lying around, I really only needed to invest about $5 in the project beyond joining the club. So I did and the Nevermore bag was born.
The most important question – do I like the finish?? I, of course, have the most wishy washy answer – yes and no. I love the design of the bag. Its shape is lovely, it holds exactly the right amount of things and I really like the graphic and bold nature of the Backgammon inspired spikes. Overall, I think it is a fun to look at handbag going in the exact right direction for size and shape.
I think my biggest issue is that I’ve never used a handbag that was made of quilting cottons and light stabilizers and my first impression is just OK. I usually buy leather bags that are quite a bit more substantial in the both the bag and the strap. With the cottons, the weight of the hardware really drags on it when it is put down making it look a bit like a floppy mess. I’m not so concerned about the look as much as things sliding out. Additionally, the cotton strap tends to “stick” to my mostly cotton wardrobe. I’m determined to carry the bag for a full week to see if it is something I grow to love (or tolerate). I don’t think my machine is commercial enough to make this bag in leather, but it sure would be awesome if it could!
It took me about 10 hours to make this bag. I’ll tell you, I dallied around quite a bit. I was never in a hurry to finish and just kind of floated through the steps sprinkled with indecision about where to use various prints and colors. I think if I had been more focused and intent, I could have easily taken off an hour plus. Now that I know how to do things like pocket zippers and fully understand how it goes together, I would say I could get it done in 6 hours.
This pattern is well written with enough information to understand what I needed to do. I’m an inexperienced bag maker so some of the steps slowed me down just a bit or I had to read them more than once. After I understood the directions, they made perfect sense exactly as they were written even if they were a little mind boggling to start with.
Here’s a few tidbits I learned trying to use the pattern
Early in the pattern, it calls for a top stitch on the outside pockets. I just happily started top stitching and the foot I was using caught on the installed snap just below the top stitch line. It was an easy enough fix for the other pocket – I just switched to my super skinny zipper foot. I wish I had thought of it before I ended up with this mess using such high contrast thread!
I’m a tall girl, and while 44” is a nice WOF for the strap, it isn’t quite long enough for a cross body for me. I needed to add about 8”. In the end, I ended up cutting off the cross body length and making it a shoulder bag. Girls with big brestesses just aren’t meant for cross body bags that have any weight to them.
Since I was pulling from my stash, I didn’t have enough yardage of anything so I had to make do. It seems to have worked out ok since I used all “white based” fabrics for the lining and kept the green as accent colors on the outside.
I didn’t have a 7” zipper. It didn’t seem to be an issue to cut down a 14”
This may be a fact of bag making (remember, I’m not so experienced), but I found some of the joins to be incredibly dense with seams. The outside has three fabric layers, a fleece layer, and two stabilizers on one side. Stack that with the other side and the seam allowances and it gets dense quick. My machine did accomplish the task without crying too much, but it took a few extra seams. I also found those dense areas difficult to clip curves and my pinking shears wouldn’t even consider it. All that leads me to believe that trying it with other materials or even laminated materials would be very risky.
I made the lining seam allowance start at the width called for where it had to match with the outside, then I eased in an extra ¼”. When the outside of the bag and the lining are exactly the same size, the lining seems to flop around in there rather than fit nicely.
I added to slide pockets on the naked side of the lining. Most of my bags have had that I just felt like I wasn’t ready to give them up.
Betz includes a handy coloring sheet to try out some of your layout ideas. I shunned it when I first saw it, but as it turns out, it really is a nice tool. I highly recommend using it. Despite the coloring sheet, I still couldn’t decide what to do about my green/black spikes. Taking these pictures and looking at them side by side super small helped. If I were starting over again knowing what I know now, I might switch the black and green. Then again – I might not!
So, 1000 words later – what’s the bottom line?
Buy the pattern! Take a look at all the ways this bag has been interpreted. I love love love the NYC one. The bag has tons of potential with just about any fabric you may have in your stash and is fun to make. I see potential for a fun Christmas themed bag with little Christmas trees along the bottom spikes. Now you see it too right?