It is finished! The year-long diaper bag

My baby will turn the big 1 in two weeks. The day before (mere hours before) he was born, I started sewing a diaper bag. What possessed me to start a project like that then? ON my due date? I was using Murphy's Law to my advantage. Hmm... if I start a big project, the baby is sure to come so that I can never finish the project! And, hey, it worked for me -- the little man was born the next morning. :)

So... without further ado, here it is. The year-long diaper bag. If you decide to make one yourself, rest assured that it will NOT take you a year to make... unless you want it to. :)

I followed this Moda Bake Shop tutorial from Melissa Mortensen of The Polkadot Chair. The thing that caught my eye and made me say, "That! I want that!" was all of the pockets inside:
6 big pockets and two divided sections! Wooee! Plus a pocket on either end.
This bag is huge. Enormous, in my book. Finished dimensions (mine): 16" length x 8" width x 11" height. Before I put the divider in, my almost-1 Pudge could fit into the bag quite nicely. And it's larger than our road-trip cooler. And much bigger than my every-day diaper bag. I won't be carrying this every day, but it will be perfect for day trips or even Pudge's over-nighters to grandma's house.

I followed Melissa's instructions quite closely, however, you may see a couple of big differences between Melissa's bag and mine...

I loved the bag design (all those pockets!), but I have a serious thing for messenger bags. So, I improvised and created a flap and a longer handle that can be worn on your shoulder or across your body.  I love it!

Time spent: one year... :) probably actually about 2-3 days of work, from cutting my own fabric (instead of buying the Moda precuts) to sewing the last stitch.
Money spent: hmm... I started this so long ago I don't even remember! Probably around $35 total for all the fabric, plus the three types of interfacing used for the bag.

What I did differently
The messenger bag flap. For the flap/top/lid (whatever you want to call it!), I created a third front/back piece and lining. If I were to do it again, I would make the flap about 6" longer, since it doesn't really hang down in front of the bag as much as I would like.

My three bag front/back/flap pieces, labeled so I could keep them straight :)
As I sewed the bag together, I sewed the flap lining piece to the back lining piece before sewing that back lining to the side linings and the front linings to make the lining section of the bag. I did likewise with the flap piece, sewing it to the back piece before sewing the back piece to the side pieces and the front piece to make the outer section of the bag.

The bag outer section with the top flap sewed on.
Then, once I had both the lining section and the outer section of the bag and was ready to put those two pieces together, I *first* sewed the two flap sections together, right sides together along the three sides (all sides but the side attached to the back of the bag) with a diagonal stitch across the corners. Then I clipped the corners, turned the completed flap right side out, pressed it lightly, and topstitched around the three outer edges of the flap.
Sew two flap pieces *right sides together* with a diagonal across the two corners.
Clip the diagonal corners and turn the flap (just the flap) right side out.
Topstitch around the three edges of the flap that you just sewed.
With the edges of the flap finished, I just followed the rest of Melissa's tutorial to finish the bag, with juse a small variation for creating and attaching my special messenger bag handle.

The messenger bag handle. I made a pattern for my handle out of newspaper. It is just over 45" long (the width of the full newspaper spread) and tapers from 8" at either end to 2.5" at the center.

Using this pattern, I pieced together a pattern and a pattern handle from the scraps of the fabric I used for the bag. I applied heavy-weight interfacing to the handle lining (just like I did for all the other bag lining pieces) and two layers fusible fleece interfacing to just the 6 inches in the center of the handle for padding.
The wrong side of the handle piece, with the 6 inches of fusible fleece (white)

Then, instead of making the handles like Melissa did, I sewed the handle lining and the handle pieces right sides together along the two long sides only, turned the handle right sides out, pressed the handle, and topstitched along the two long sides. I attached the handle at the same point and in the same manner as in Melissa's tutorial, just at a different location on the bag. The 7"(ish) finished width of the handle ends fit perfectly along each side of the bag.

What I learned
Interfacing is your bag-sewing friend... I had made several bags before and been disappointed with their floppiness. The interfacing makes the world of difference for this bag. In particular, fusible fleece and I have become besties. I plan on using as much fusible fleece as possible in future bag-making endeavors.

as long as you are smart enough to apply it properly. It doesn't take a whole lot of smarts (textured or shiny side is the adhesive-when-heated side) but somehow I managed to iron not one but two sections of interfacing incorrectly (with the bonding side up toward the iron instead of down toward the fabric). The only thing that saved me was the fact that I was fortunate enough to

Use a pressing cloth! It's nothing fancy, just a square of natural fabric (like cotton) that you dampen and put over whatever you're ironing. My interfacing instructions suggested it "for a stronger bond" and I will never use interfacing again without a pressing cloth. It not only made it easier, it saved my iron from being caked with interfacing due to my idiocy.

If I were to make the bag again
Hmm... I honestly won't make this bag again. Really, who needs TWO bags like this? This bag will hold all the other bags in my house! If I did decide that I needed another bag this size, I would seriously consider just buying one. Even hitting the sales and using 40% off coupons, it got expensive, at least to my bargain-loving self. The interfacing was probably the biggest expense since you need three different types of interfacing. (And yes, you actually need all three. None are optional, in my opinion. But remember, fusible fleece and I are besties now and I'm not one to leave friends out.)

Since I won't probably be making another, I'll just offer my advice to you who decide to sew the bag:

Before you dive in, I will warn you: this tutorial isn't the best for a brand-new beginning sewist. I'm just barely beyond beginner myself, but I've sewed together enough bags that I could understand the construction a little bit better. Melissa's tutorial includes lots of great pictures, but some of the explanations still confused me a little until after I was done with that step. And my lining section ended up being over an inch taller than the exterior of the bag, so I had to improvise on my finishing, probably due to seam allowances and cutting my own fabric. In short: be prepared to improvise a bit. :)

Make the bag flap a little bit longer (6 inches or so) and attach a buckle closure or ribbon tie. The flap doesn't come quite far enough around the front of the bag for my tastes and I'd love to have a way to secure it closed.

Work quickly (at least more than I) and label your pieces. This bag has a lot of sewing to get to the basic pieces, and once they are sewn, there are a lot of pieces to keep straight. Since I had an extreme amount of time between cutting and sewing and sewing some more, my labels were the only thing that kept all the pieces straight for me. Each time I picked the project up, I had to re-remember how everything was supposed to be going, so it was extra confusing.

Since this project has literally been sitting in my stash for a year, this is one major Stashbusting September victory! Now, onto the fun projects... the ones that haven't been nagging at me for a whole year. :)

Happy Monday!


elizabeth @ twelvecrafts said...

Love it . . . especially your own unique adjustments because I too have a love for messenger-style bags for all purposes! I don't even want to go into how many half-started projects I have sitting in a pile, so congrats to you for finishing one!

Debra Hawkins said...

I love it! I am copying the way your write tutorials in a couple of ways, just so you know. :)

Jenn said...

Ack! The "I" word!!! I have a terrible track record with interfacing...I need to get some for a project I'm working on but it's like something deep inside of me just refuses to allow it to happen. Procrastination? Maybe. But more likely I am just coming up with every excuse to put it off so that I don't ruin another iron with MY idiocy! :)

Carly said...

i love it! it takes me years to finish my projects, too. and i thought it was so funny when diane told me you are neighbors! it definitely is a small world.

Robin Ange said...

Love it! Talk about busting some stash. I am so proud you finally finished this project.

Megan Harmeyer said...

Look at all those pockets!! That would probably take me a whole year - I'm notorious for starting projects that become UFOs. I love the colors you chose!

Lee Ann said...

Ooh I love it!!! Well done! I found you through stashbusting September, your blog is so sweet x

Brandy@YDK said...

it's very pretty! i love what you did different to make it yours.

Tricia said...

It turned out great Lu. I love the adjustments that you made. I've found SS to be the perfect opportunity to finish up projects in progress.

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

I loooooooooooove that!!! And I would say you should go into business making them, but it may take you 30 years just to get an inventory going. :) SO talented you are!

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