Do you Swoon? I don't mean that feeling you would get when and if George Clooney ever walks by and winks at you. And I don't mean that hysterical frenzy thousands of Elvis and Beatles fans experienced either. Damn, those girls were out and out passing out! What I am referring to are "Swoon Bags".
I discovered this bag pattern purveyor while link jumping one afternoon. I was really impressed with their patterns. They had a fair degree of challenging elements and style. Swoon is not afraid of real bags as opposed to the ubiquitous totes many bag pattern designers are marketing. I don't think I am far off in thinking that PDF basic tote bag pattern designers are multiplying like PDF garment pattern designers. However what we also have in bagland are some really talented bag designers that are not afraid of design risk, not afraid of "difficulty", are highly skilled, put out a well tested product, publish errata and are able to offer their customers excellent tutorials and service. They know what they are doing. . I have found the FB pages, "groups" and websites encouraging and really wanting the buyer of their patterns to succeed. The fans are VERY helpful. They share their tweaks in FB files all can access, do videos on youtube and really support and help each other. It's fun to see what everyone is making on the pages and how they overcame challenges or changed up the designs.
Lucy backpack courtesy swoonpatterns.com. Love the zipper and sturdy padded look.
Back to "Swooning", a verb describing those in the process of making a Swoon bag, which I am at the moment. My choice was the Stella Weekender that you see above. You can see lots more amazing examples of the Stella on the Swoon site here. The Stella Weekender is also the one Rhonda Buss has featured on the Sew News website in her latest sew-along. I will leave you in Rhonda's excellent hands to get the construction details on this bag.
I have to throw this out there. Alicia Miller, besides being the gifted bag designer of Swoon Patterns, you are a marketing genius! Don't we all wish we could think up a great names for a business like this one? That one word name "Swoon" is a stroke of brilliance but I bet Alicia has heard that before!
Here are some of my pieces cut, fused and sorted. They each have labels as there are so many pieces and it's really important to keep track. One of the lovelies in the Swoon Pattern FB group ( not the official Swoon page, but where makers share their results, tips and issues) did an excel spread with all the parts, how many to cut of each in the various interfacings, exterior fabric,lining, etc.You print it off, cut the little squares out, pin to the parts and save your sanity. I like that type of thoughtfulness and sharing. One generous act saved me numerous swear words! Besides, all those rectangles can look the same after a brief bit of cutting. At this point all I have to do is finish the lining and drop it in and that should be soon. I'll do a full review when I am done. I am having fun with this and again, enjoying the challenge and the generous help that exists should I have a question.
There are some other really good pattern designers out there besides Janelle McKay of Emmaline and Alicia Miller of Swoon and I hope to try a few. Blue Calla is one that has impressed me as well. You can search them out on FB and check out their group vibe there. Their patterns include camera bags and convertible backpacks with unique styling and detail. More to come from Blue Calla and I will try to keep you posted on other purveyors as I come across them.
To me there is difference in the Big Four patterns and the Indie baggers, just as in garment patterns. Frankly, some of the Big Four patterns now look a bit home ec-y to me, certainly not all, but many. Maybe it's the lack of bling, the sometimes dated quilting cottons or just the way they are marketed. I do like the Vogue designers, like Koos, Kathryn Brenne and Marcy Tilton but find that most ( not all ) of the Big Four designs are various iterations of the basic tote, simple sewn in straps and slip pockets. The Indies I've found don't hesitate to use serious hardware on their bags, unexpected layering and interesting combos of vinyls and fabrics. They are loaded with zippers installed in all sorts of ways with all sorts of zips. Multiple interfacings are used, often three different kinds, to get the appropriate finish. The Big Four don't get as specific with their interfacings requirements. I do take issue with Vogue's interfacing requirements which are often hair canvas. I've tried it and I just frankly don't care for the final structure of a bag made with only hair canvas as the iinterfacing. Readers, this is where fusible interfacings shine.
In closing, I'm so impressed with the numerous sewists who have just taken up sewing and made a bag from one of these three designers as there first project. They started with bags and showed great success on their first attempts. What a wonderful introduction to all sewing! When you don't have to deal with fit issues and honest body measurements, isn't it far more pleasant for a beginner? They achieve success and all in good time will lose the intimidation of making clothing. Or maybe they'll just keep making the sweetest bags ever.............................Bunny