Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Making of a Carpet Bag

After just admiring the fabric for a few days, I finally decided to make something that I could use nearly everyday that allowed me to appreciate the fabric. I could have made a costume.

My DH actually suggested as such, but I found the paisley pattern just a little too big (and I am rather petite), plus I wouldn't be able to enjoy it on a regular basis.

So, I decided to make myself a carpet bag, but not just any carpet bag. I wanted one that would fit all my daily gear AND any and all knitting that I wanted to carry -- including sweater size knitting.

Carpet bag plans
I had made a purse-like carpet bag before, and while it was useful, it had flaws. I looked through one of my bag-making books that I had used previously to make other bags, but nothing that really fit.

I decided to make my own pattern....and I'd make it on the fly. Of course, I know many that would stop and say, WTH? Really? This beautiful fabric and you're going to make this on the fly?

Sure why not? I've made bags before, and getting "fit" or "gauge" is not necessarily important here. I knew what I wanted and was expanding on things I had already created.

I had all of the necessary fabric (fashion & lining) and I could probably find other things that would match if I didn't.

For the pattern, I took an existing bag that I had (that was a bit smaller than what I wanted), and more or less copied the shaping. To make the bag sturdier, I added some buckram as a stiffer interface to the fashion fabric so that the sides wouldn't fall in on itself.

I made a small mistake in making the side panels (in that I had too much fabric at the top), so that it looked more duffle-like. However, some pleating easily took care of that mistake and made it look nicer.


For the lining, I bought some matching apple-green fabric from JoAnn's at the same time. It was about yard. I also took some of the leftover "cuttings" from the Carnivale fabric to make internal side pockets and sewed it to the lining.

These internal pockets (which I don't have photos for) are sized for all of the things I need on a somewhat fairly regular basis: my purse/wallet, phone, tablet, knitting kit (stitch markers, crochet hook, etc), pen, keys, etc.

And there's a huge internal compartment for my knitting.

Semi finished bag

I had nearly all of the hardware, but I did pick up "purse feet" for the bottom of the purse so that the fabric wouldn't be wholly sitting on the ground. They were very easy to install.

It just took a simple awl to make a non-invasive hole. An awl lets you make a hole without punching it out, but rather by "parting" the fabric. If you were to pull the awl out, the fabric would (more or less) come back together. Once I had my opening, I simply slid in the feet and opened up the prongs. My set had a nice solid backing in addition to the prongs.

However, as I neared completion, I realized I didn't have the correct sized buckles for it. I had been trying out different sized leather straps to see what was best proportionally -- 3/4" (too small), 1" (too small), 2" (too big).

I pretty much determined I needed 1.5" straps, but the only buckles that I had available were 3/4", 1", and 2". Bugger.

So, for now, my poor bag is in a holding phase until I can get to Tandy Leather on the weekend to purchase the correct size buckles. At that point, I can add the straps and buckles, then attach the lining, and finish the edges.

The finished size? 18" length x 10-12" high x 10-12" wide