Sewing Frustrations 2: The monster bag

Readers, I give you the monster bag. The monster bag was my attempt to make myself a bag similar to the one I made my sister (see the post here), but sadly turned out nothing like it. I started by maybe being overly ambitious, and continued by massively overthinking everything, so instead of creating a nice bag, I made a sad, wrinkly mess.

wrinkly bag

The wrinkly bag…

swimbag wrinkles

Wrinkliness, weird pulling and lopsidedness








I wanted the bag for swimming, and therefore wanted one dry and one ‘wet’ compartment, so my clothes won’t get wet, with a few extra things thrown in like easy organisation for my swim kit. So, I measured said swimkit excessively, then made a very complicated plan.

The original pattern is still the weekend-get away duffle from Gingercake. My fabric is a lavender-blue heavy cotton twill, the same weight as my Minoru; for the bottom, I picked a waterproof bag fabric, since it hangs out poolside. My plan was to sew two separate bags minus the dividing wall which they would share, and then sew it into both bag parts, and close up the small gap that would inevitably form (sorry if this makes no sense. It no longer makes sense to me, either!), but the inside looked like this:

Massive internal wall mess

Internal Wall of Mess

Alas, it did not work so well, as you can see above. To start with, the waterproof fabric was a nightmare to sew into curves. This already broke two needles, and my patience, so it is not terribly evenly sewn on, and there were some wrinkles in both part bags. Then I attempted to sew them together, but this plan also did not work very well.  First of all, my two bags were not exactly the same, and this now showed, especially in the contrast colours. Also, I should have sewn the internal dividing wall on the other way round. Now there was fusible interfacing facing the outside of the bag, and it was glaring and white, and I was not happy. So I sewed it shut, which was another nightmare, and just didn’t really look very nice (just, you know, all the pictures).

And lastly, going around round corners in a massive bag with stiff fabric and lots of layers and awkwardness to fit underneath equals wrinkly, uneven sewing together where all the previous unevenness shows. You can see the wrinkles quite clearly above. And the top of the bag is not stiff enough – I should have used a different interlining to make it crisper.

Since I’ve done this, almost a month ago, I haven’t really touched it. The wrinkles made me unhappy, and for the lining, I would have had to sew awful corners four more times; I just haven’t had the energy. I was wondering whether starting again would be acceptable, but couldn’t be bothered to do that either.You know, sometimes you mismatch the pattern and the fabric, but I think in this case, I was just clearly overly ambitious and wanted the pattern and fabric to do something they really couldn’t. And yes, I could have probably lived with the wrinkles and everything, but every time I would have looked at the bag, it would’ve made me unhappy.I know that’s perfectionistic, but I guess that’s me.

So now that I know what I can do with it, what’s going to happen? Well, there’s parts of it I really like – I think the outside bag has come out well; and the fabric choice is good in terms of colour. I also really like how the straps have come out:

Nice straps, weee!

The small bits I like about the bag…

The second good part is that I went to a sewing meet-up organised by the lovely and highly efficient Claire, which was amazing and lovely and inspirational and all that, and I bought some more bag fabric, determined to tackle the monster bag. I then came home inspired, ripped the bag apart and figured out what to do with it. I’ll probably keep the outsides, the straps and the wider bag top with the zip already in, and swap out the bottom for just one bag compartment.  So, with a bit of patience, it’ll be ok, and I can share some more updates soon. Since I’ve taken it apart again, I can also share some more construction pointers if you’re keen.

I promise that despite my silence, I have not been hung up about the bag all this time –  it has been summer here, so cue lots of being outside, and apart from rescuing the bag, I also do have lots of other sewing to share, as well as exciting sewing plans, and new fabrics. And I’ve actually almost finished the silk dress, so hopefully within the next week, I’ll share good sewing news (or very bad ones, if I accidentally now cut a hole into it ’cause I’ve jinxed it. Cross your fingers?).