New School Bag

I realized pretty soon after the first few weeks of school that my largest purse wasn’t sufficient for lugging all my stuff to and from my practicum. I wanted something bigger but still easy to pull things in and out of (not like my backpack). A little bit of searching and I found this free pattern for a diaper bag. I thought it was pretty and didn’t think that most people would know what the original design had been for once I made my own. It’s taken me this long to get around to making it because I needed to find three coordinating fabrics that I liked at the thrift store and have a free weekend to sew the bag. After I finished it I took it outside for a little photo shoot so I could share how lovely it looks.

The pattern is pretty simple (once I figured out how to get it to print properly) and I didn’t make any major changes to it. I did change what fabrics were used where because the pattern on my lining fabric didn’t go with the patterned fabric I’d chosen for the pockets and I didn’t have enough lining fabric to do the pockets anyways. So, if you look at the photos on the webpage compared to my page you’ll see that the pockets are patterned on mine and solid on the sample there.

It took about an hour to cut the pieces for the bag and about three hours to sew it all together. It isn’t difficult, it just needs lots of pinning. I did use an extra layer of thin interfacing at the bottom and sides of the bag to add some strength and shape to it. I just sewed the interfacing to the base when I made the lining and sewed it to the sides when I sewed outside pockets on.

I chose to put in a couple of zippered inner pockets, using the tutorial here. I’d never sewed a zippered pocket but they worked out quite well. I put one 9″ x 11″ pocket and one 7″ by 11″ pocket in using 7″ zippers.

I didn’t put on the magnetic snap closure tab, because I wanted to be able to rummage around in the bag easily. If I was to make the bag again, I would probably change the front pocket a little (maybe follow the suggestion to divide it into more pockets) because I feel right now that stuff in that pocket won’t be too secure. I think I will hand stitch in two little velcro closures to fix the problem.

I kept the back pocket the same and put in a strip of velcro to hold it together. I found putting the velcro in the right spot the hardest part of the whole thing but I think doing some measurements in advance would have helped out.

It took a little thinking to get the lining in the bag the right way so that everything was right side out when I finished.  I was unsure, so I pinned it and then tried turning it. I was happy I’d done the trial before committing to sewing it in because I had it inside out. It’s important to remember that inside out lining means the right side is on the outside!

The one change I did make to the pattern was to the length of the straps on the bag. When I cut them from the pattern they seemed like they would be too short, so I lengthened them to fit the width of my fabric. Now that the bag is finished I think they might be a little bit too long, but will work great when I wear it over the shoulder of my big puffy winter jacket.

I am very happy with the finished product. The final bag is about 20″ by 12″ and will hopefully be big enough for my water bottle, school notes, day planner, wallet and other misc. items I like to have with me on a daily basis. I got a set of these reuseable grocery bags from a friend and I always carry one or two in my purse for when I need a little extra space.


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