10 August 2014

Choir Tote

Although I always seem to have more bags than I know what to do with, I didn't have a suitable bag for choir. I wanted a dedicated bag, so I wouldn't be chasing up music and pencils and so on every week. I had a bit of a cursory look online for patterns but found nothing that really appealed to me, or met all my criteria:
  • big enough for my current folder of music, with potential for more to come
  • holder for my water bottle
  • pocket for my choir scarf
  • pockets for tea, pencils, erasers, and odd bits and bobs
The holder for my water bottle was pretty important; I'm always worried I'll forget to close it properly and it'll spill all through my music. We break for morning about 11am, which is far too late for me to be drinking caffeine, so I always carry my own decaf bags.

Our choir is called Jacaranda Jam (we're on Youtube at a school function, where we were 'invited guest performers' - Song 1Song 2, Song 3). Our 'uniform' is black and purple with the choir scarf, which is a swirl of blues, greens, and purples. I wanted my bag to reflect that colour scheme.

My plan became to make a simple tote - a rectangular bag, with a quilted outer, lining, pockets and shoulder straps. No fasteners or fancy bits. Just simplicity. I did not take photos as I went but the basic steps I took were:

1. Piece the squares together into a 6 x 10 'mini quilt top'. The bag is just this one piece.
2. Quilt the top and iron-on pellon with a fancy stitch over all the seams. I ummed and ahhed about whether to use bag wadding, which is stiff, but decided I didn't really need the bag to stand up on its own.
Quilting detail
3. Cut the lining fabric the same size as my finished 'top'.
4. Sew the pockets. All the pockets are double layers; no hems.
5. Sew the pockets to the lining fabric. The bottle holder has no base, and on a side seam. I used my actual water bottle to determine where to attach the sides of the holder. If the holder is sewn flat against the lining, it will pull.
6. Sew the lining into a tube, and partially sew the bottom seam in from both corners (about 4 or 5 inches).
7. Sew the outer into a  bag.
8. Sew the base corners (this site has great instructions for box corners) in the outer and lining.
9. Sew the handles.
10. Pin the handles, outer and lining together and sew around the top opening. Refill bobbin.
This little gap of about 4 stitches is where my bobbin ran out while sewing the outer and lining together.

11. Reinforce the handles. Because they come out from between the outer and lining, I folded them down the outer about an inch and then back up. Over that double layer I stitched a box with x through it.
Handle top-stitching for reinforcement
 12. When I made my box corners, I didn't cut off the extra bit. To firm up the base, I cut a piece of stiff bag wadding, and attached the ends of it to the box corner flaps.
13. Sew up the hole in the base of the lining.
14. Fill with stuff.


ozjane (Glenice) said...

Looks great and choir sounds good. I have loved being in choirs over the years.
I use a lot of fusible fleece in bags like that one. I had one that I used for my Worship team music...not it is all on prompts so do not need to take bag.
I think it is sometimes easier to make something up rather than follow a pattern. Well it is for me. Love the use of fancy stitches, I think we under use them.

SueBK said...

The idea of the fancy stitches came from Patchwork Promises (http://www.patchworkpromises.com.au/). Lynda sent me a lovely patchwork handbag as a thank you gift, and it features fancy stitching on the seams. I really, really like the effect.

Helen from Hobart said...

Good bag Sue - we all need customised pockets for our 'extras' - but we seldom make them.
You are a real get up and go kind of person. I am a think and think and mull it over first kind of person. Sometimes I get a good design out of it, but sometimes Life intervenes and it doesn't get done. I'd rather be you.

Rita@thissortaoldlife said...

I'm wanting to make some bags for groceries, and this is getting me inspired. I think I'm understanding the basic design. Not sure about the bottom, though....

SueBK said...

Rita, the boxed bottom seems a little "what the hey" when you read the instructions, but once you've done one, you realise how simple it is. The site I linked had good photos.
The basic steps are: decide how wide you want the base and sides (they have to be the same). On both the front and back of your bag, mark up from the bottom seam and in from the side HALF that distance (ie if you want 3 inches, mark at 1.5 inches). Fold the bag so the side seam and the bottom lie on top of each other, and you can see the front and back marks (they'll be right on edge of folds). Sew a straight line from one mark to the other. You'll have a little triangle of bag, which can be cut off, but which I often leave as reinforcement (and I've seen some where it's done on the outside and used as a feature). Repeat on the other side of the bag.
Helen, the bag has been on my to-do-list for about a year. My 'design on the fly' has often not worked out, but if I over plan I get tangled in knots. I think I'm beginning to find a nice balance of planning and flying by the seat of my pants. For this project, I read a number of different freebie patterns that weren't quite what I wanted; decided what I wanted (based largely on what I didn't want); and got the steps straight in my head before I started out. There were still some, "Oh, dear" moments. Like when I realised that my handles were attached by a mere 1/4 seam at the top, hence the folding and reinforcing.