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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Too Cool for School Satchel

If there was a Sewing Top Trumps, this bad boy wins the tedious cutting out points hands down. I thought that last week's Granville shirt was annoying for the preparation, but it turns out a satchel is worse.


Moaning about preparation stages out of the way, I flipping loved the actual sewing. Like the shirt I made, this is another seemingly complex thing to make, that rewards you with a nice big fuzzy glow of `I made that!' satisfaction at the end. There was a distinct moment, as I was sewing the pocket, with its newly attached tabs and buckles, to the front of the satchel, when I thought, `Yes, I like this a lot.' I had intended to give it to someone as a gift, and now, well, you know. Maybe. Maybe not.


Cutting out and interfacing sorted, I did the bulk of the sewing in an evening (admittedly a long one). At the end of the evening, I hung the satchel up on the hall way hooks, and went to bed. Each daughter made very nice comments about it when they came down the stairs for breakfast the next day. The biggest girl said she would really like one, and, the middle girl wasted no time in telling her that it was her birthday first so she would just have to wait. Oh. The love between them. I shall either have to refuse to make any more, or, prepare myself to make four more.


The design comes from Lisa Lam's A Bag for all Seasons. I hadn't made a bag in ages - clothes have become more my sewing of choice. Lisa Lam's patterns first inspired me to get back into sewing as a grown up - I'm always recommending her books to newbies on my courses, because of how clearly she takes readers through each process, and so it was enjoyable to return to one of her designs.


I have chosen this as my next new course round my kitchen table - and so this particular version can act as my sample, until I decide whether to own it myself or give it away.

My fabric choice was really influenced by a desire to show off the satchel's design details - I went for small polka dots because the scale suited those little tabs. The finished satchel is on the small side, and so big prints would be lost here. Another thing to avoid is directional prints - the satchel has one big piece that forms the back and front flap, and so you would be forced to either have your design upside down on the back, or, to cut the piece in two and live with an extra join towards the top on the back of the bag. This is not something I want to compromise over, so I will continue to avoid directional prints in any future versions I decide to make.

I sometimes look at the list of additional materials needed for bags like this, and think it can seem a bit off-putting - the different technical bits and pieces involved can be expensive and sometimes hard to source. I switched Lisa's recommended double sided interfacing for single sided, which was easier to find and did the trick well enough when it came to giving an extra bit of stiffness to the satchel. I also rebelled and left out the optional rivets on the side tabs. I don't know about you, but anything involving rivets or metal poppers causes far too much swearing for my liking, and if I can avoid the need for them I will.

no rivets here
The tabs and flaps were pretty fiddly to turn out and required a certain amount of patience - a blunt large knitting needle was really handy for easing a nice pointy point without skewering through the fabric (and causing more swearing). Also essential, were super sharp little scissors, and pinking shears for clipping those seams nice and close, prior to turning. But, as already mentioned, the sight of those finished top stitched tabs pleased me such a lot, that all the fiddling about was worth it.


So, my take on satchel making is that it is a tricky customer, but worth the effort. It isn't the fast food of sewing, in terms of time or cost of making, but definitely lives up to the investment and love you put in as far as sense of achievement and the potential for gratifying `Yes, I really did make it' moments go. I have gone from irritation at the cutting and ironing on of interfacing, to joyful sewing, and toying with making one in every colour, just because I can.


Thanks to my friend, Rachael, for happily letting me use her lovely bookshop (Rogan's Books, Castle Road, Bedford) as the back drop for these photos. Isn't it lovely? 

12 comments:

  1. Looks lovely. Those little tabs really make it. Good luck with your class. Louise

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  2. This is awesome! No wonder all your girls want one!! X

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    1. Thank you. Yep - I will be busy... X

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  3. I can see why this is so popular in your household! It looks beautifully made, and a great choice of fabric and findings. The photos look like they were taken in someone's rather stylish sitting room!

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comments. Yes, Rogan's Books is a lovely setting - and increasingly popular with local kids and their parents.

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  4. This looks amazing! I think you are going to be busy - I don't think the girls will forget about that little beauty!!
    Have fun in London on Saturday - I would love to join you but I will be busy drilling huge holes in my bathroom wall for a super powerful extractor fan! ........Didn't you know that's how I relax after a hard week at work!?

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    1. Wow. I remain in awe of your DIY skills. No, the girls still haven't forgotten about the satchels. Argh. Will take ages to make!

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  5. This bag is so lovely - and it's sure to get a LOT of use... from personal experience, could I suggest an all-over spray of Scotchguard? Keeps a lovely thing, on which much time is spent, lovely for a good long time...!

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    1. Oooh, thanks for the tip - will definitely be trying that out. Would be a shame for all the work to go to waste with grubbiness.

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