Abakhan kindly provided me with £15 worth of materials (which rather confusingly ended up being a bit more - my fault, I confuse easily!) and I made this bag. To be fair, I added some plain calico from my own stash to make the fabrics go further, a great ploy when you're on a budget. The buttons were all from my own button box too. I chose some lovely fabrics from Abakan - the leaf and stripe are actually heavy cotton curtain fabric - perfect for bag making! As per usual, they arrived promptly.
Because everything was 100% cotton and I wanted this bag to be machine washable, everything had a whizz in the washing machine before I started. It softened the cotton up beautifully.
I wanted a bag that would safely house my laptop but into which I could stuff lots of other things too - a travel bag or weekend bag, if you like, although it may well end up being called the Agnes bag (more about that here) after my Mum.
I wanted to make this bag as a tutorial or pattern, but I'm not yet fully happy with the way the central pocket joins up to the rest of the bag - it works, but it's a bit on the fiddly side and I think there's got to be an easier way to do this!
I've also decided the laptop pocket needs a closure: buttons and loops or Velcro are options, but I might go back to my original plan of a simple zip. I abandoned the zip idea because of the over-complicated central pocket join. So, this bag, while I'm going to really enjoy using it, is really the practice-run/learning curve for another, super-improved bag. I shall need a break and some thinking space before I tackle version two though!
Despite a few niggles, there are some things I really love about this bag:
- The soft, natural scrunchiness. The fact its main outer part is made from two layers of heavy but soft cotton makes it feel just lovely: very soft and quite squishy.
- The cosiness. The internal pockets are padded (the idea of those is to help protect the laptop in the middle pocket) which makes the bag even softer and squishier with quite a luxurious feel.
- The colours. I love pale duck-egg blue with red and white and it's nodding at the patriotic too in this Jubilee/Olympics year.
- The pockets - there are so many of them! The Kindle pocket is (sensibly, I think) next to my glasses pocket (yay, an actual pocket for my glasses - I'm always losing them!), the zip pocket will fit my pencils, pens and even a 12" ruler. Oh joy (I'm easily pleased!). Pockets either side of the laptop pocket will fit an A4 sketchpad and an even bigger pad, too.
- It can be used even when I don't want to take my laptop along - the bag works as a travel bag or weekend bag and doesn't look at all like a laptop bag, which I like. In a darkish corner of my mind, I imagine that travelling with what obviously looks like a laptop bag might just make you a target for muggers, if there just happens to be any hanging about looking for their next victim. I'd guess the muggers wouldn't look twice at my squishy fabric concoction! Maybe this is just me, and is a legacy of many years working in prison education. However, I feel quite safe sharing the information that this bag might house my laptop when I'm travelling, because muggers surely don't read craft blogs.
- The buttons on the front. When I design something, I don't always have it all mapped out at the start. In fact, I'm quite bad at that, and usually make things up as I go along - it's the same when I'm painting. This button heart was a last-minute addition and I love it!
So, if you're inpired to make a bag using these fabrics, you'll find the Leaf pattern (Covent Garden) and the stripe (Metro Stripe) on the curtain fabrics pages at Abakhan and the dotty fabric I used is on the cotton prints pages. They all come in other colourways too. Usefully, Abakhan also sells wadding, zips and buttons so you may get everything you need in one place and delivery is quick (well, it certainly always has been for me).
There are loads of bag patterns on Craftsy, so you may find one you like (or can adapt) on there. Meanwhile, I will at some point polish this design up a bit before I offer it you as a pattern or tutorial!
As modelled by my lovely daughter and granddaughter...
- what would you like to see in a laptop/travel bag?
- what bits do you like/not like about this bag?
- what would you need to house in a bag like this?