Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Stella Weekender


Here it is: the Stella Weekender from Swoon Sewing Patterns. I waited a bit to get some lovely fall background for the main pic. I  think it will make a nice gift for my nephew's wife and new baby girl. It was not hard at all and it's size and softness made it quite manageable under the presser foot.

Pattern:
This is my first Swoon pattern and it is a PDF. The Stella Weekender is available from Swoon Sewing Patterns. It has regular handles on top and a removable long strap for some more convenience. There are two different sized cargo pockets on the front and a large zipper pocket as well. The outside of the bag has slip pockets on the back side. The inside is lined and there are slip pockets inside, too, but you can do an optional zip pocket inside if you like. I didn't.  Piping is not mentioned in the pattern itself but many of the versions shown on the site and on the Swoon FB page are piped. You know I love piping and this was a great opportunity. The PDF comes with clear pattern layouts.At no place does it tell you to fold the main panel to make the pattern for the Open Pocket which did flummox me for a while. I eventually figured it out and it was really no big deal.



One thing I like about PDF bag patterns is that there may be many pieces but they almost all are small and fit on one page or even several to a page. Other pieces are cut from measurements and that is fine with me. Rotary cutters and mats make that easy. This bag has 37, yes, 37 pattern pieces to be cut out and 31 pieces of interfacing as well. The biggest chore with the pattern, as with most bags, is all the cutting and fusing. Once that is done the project flies. Another thing I like about the PDF directions is the size of the pages and the white space on each page. I've made copious notes in that space as I've gone along and that will be really helpful for the next time.

Fabric:
The exterior fabric and lining are quilting cottons from Joanns. The exterior fabric was one of their "premium" quilting cottons and the lining was off the shelf. For the piping I used a poly/cotton blend called Symphony.

All of the lining is fused with SF101 from Pellon, a fusible cotton woven. The exterior gets fusible fleece and some SF101 as well. The gusset has a piece of Peltex fused in at the very end before adding the lining. Peltex is that really hard fusible often used for bag bottoms. In the end this is a soft bag. I've worked out a personal preference  for a different interfacing configuration that I use for most of my bags. That method adds more structure. But this bag is really meant to be rather soft and I think it looks fine that way. I also always like to try the construction the way the pattern specifies before I do my own thing with it.


There is black hardware on this bags to go with the fabric and black zips. I used black D rings and swivel hooks that I got on Amazon. It's not easy finding the black in the size I needed from the bag purveyors but Amazon had it no problem.



Construction:
I followed the pattern sentence by sentence and checked off  each sentence with a pencil as I completed it's task. You do have to pay close attention but nothing is difficult and the directions are definitely clear. It is critical to read through all of the instructions before starting.

Things I'd change next time: In the straps I would use Decor Bond on one side and fusible fleece on the other. I think it will fill in the pieces better and still give stiffness. I also think it would eliminate some of the wrinkling, not much, that happens normally on the concave side of the strap. I also really like to triple zigzag my bag zippers instead of topstitching. I find that attractive and sturdy, just my signature thing.

When piping I got a little overly enthusiastic and piped all around the cargo pockets. DON'T DO THAT. It totally messes up the measuring and placement and took me a lot of unnecessary fiddling to get right. Just don't do it, trust me.

Make sure you move the inner pocket of the big exterior zipper pocket out of the way before sewing down those cargo pockets!  I didn't and  my seam ripper got a workout!

If I made this bag again, I would do the flaps and gusset out of a black faux leather. The bags I've seen on the site, after mine was cut out, that had contrasting flaps and gussets  out of a contrasting solid really looked polished.

I also would make my piping smaller. I am used to tiny piping for heirloom garments and I think a thinner piping would make a sharper, crisper look. But, again, that is sort of my signature thing.I just like tiny piping.  I don't know what size cord I used here but it was home dec cord, may 3/32.

In conclusion:

I recommend this pattern but just not as a first attempt. I suggest contrasting flaps, gussets and straps for a sharp look. Be prepared for some serious cutting and fusing, the norm for bag making. The actual construction, especially if you don't pipe, should move right along. This could be really nice in a heavier tapestry or home  dec fabric.

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My boy bags are complete except for the addition of the frames. I bought the wrong size, my fault.  You can see that reality hitting as I tried to put the too big frame in the casing. The right size is on order and as soon as the frames are in I'll show you those. Not sure what my next project will be. I am toying with the idea of a fur backpack. Love what I have seen of those.......Bunny





36 comments:

  1. Your bag is absolutely gorgeous! For some reason I find the sewing of bags of this complexity absolutely daunting. I am definitely inspired by your work - perhaps even inspired enough to give it a go.(?)

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    1. They are almost always a matter of sewing rectangles and putting in zippers. Start with a nice tote and some hardware to jazz it up and you won't look like a beginner. Emmaline has a free tote pattern on their site that has a nice shape. You can do it! Thanks for the compliment on the bag.

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  2. How lovely! What a great gift this will be.

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  3. Bunny, it looks beyond great. All this focus on bags has really elevated the final results which was a surprise b/c your other bag projects have always looked great. Your study of interfacings and how to maximize their benefits is illuminating b/c the results tell a tale of pro results. Bad news: you are making a powerful case for an Elna or Singer press. Every detail is thought out. The black hardware is a small detail with a big impact. Love.

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    1. Thanks so much. I can't believe how I did without the press for so long. There are reams written about which iron to get and these presses just never seem to get mentioned in any conversations. I think every sewing room could use one.

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  4. Your attention to detail is what makes this bag--perfect topstitching, piping, symmetry .
    Tell us about the metal(?) tag on the bag.

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    1. It says "Handmade in the USA" and can be purchased on the Emmaline Bags website, reasonably priced. There are various styles and some say "Handmade in Canada" or have maple leaves on them.

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    2. Just want to add that the nameplate is not all scratched up as it appears in the photo. Just something about the light that does this to the nices pieces of hardware. Just checked and it actually says, "Handcrafted in the USA"

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  5. A beautiful bag, Bunny! Your tips about the different interfacings are very helpful and I will apply those to my next bag project.

    Also, I will give the triple zigzag along the zipper a go instead of the usual parallel lines of top stitching.

    Your projects are always very inspiring! :)

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  6. Gorgeous bag, Bunny. The recipient will be thrilled. Thanks for all the tips & hints. Glad to see you back blogging.
    Janet

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  7. What a beautiful gift! They will love it and get so much use out of it; really professional work, Bunny. I bought "On the Go Bags" last night - I'll enjoy reading it and using it as a reference even if I never use the patterns.
    "Just don't do it, trust me." LOL, ok. I trust you! ;)
    PS - do you buy your interfacing by the bolt, from Amazon?

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    1. I usually buy it from Joanns with a sixty off coupon or a fifty and then a twenty off the total purchase. I've definitely started buying by the bolt.

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  8. It makes a fantastic diaper bag and is just gorgeous and PERFECT!! I love the piping and how it pops!

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  9. This is absolutely terrific, such detail and great fabrics, I love it. I *desperately* need a travel bag for my toiletries and I would much rather make a custom one than be at the mercy of whatever retail thing I can find. I like this pattern a great deal but need more interior organization; do you have any other pattern recommendations or do you think I should just adapt the interior of this one? Thank you for your blog, I always learn something :-)

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    1. You can get patterns for interior organizers that can move from bag to bag. I like that idea. I think one of the Big Four has them but I know Studio Kat Designs definitely has them. You could also design it yourself, which could be pretty easy, IMO.

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  10. I am over the moon for your gorgeous incredible bag!!! I'm going to get this pattern like, now! Just fantastic.

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    1. I have no affiliation with Swoon but I think once you see their designs you will be impressed. I am looking at their Lucy backpack right now.

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  11. What an absolutely gorgeous bag! I had misgivings about the print when I first saw the pieces lined up for fusing, but now I love it all put together. The piping really adds a lot, maybe you could adjust the pattern to accommodate it? The black hardware is one of those little touches that make it really special and unusual, not like a ready made bag. And thanks for all the information about the different interfacings, it is really helpful.

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  12. Very lovely bag Bunny - could have used it on my trip. I'm in the Southern Tier, down near the Pennsylvania border in Elmira (between Corning and Binghamton).

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    1. That's way far from here, unfortunately. I'm up on the Canadian border closer to Vermont. Glad you like the bag, thanks.

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  13. A very impressive bag - as is only to be expected from such a talented person! My bag-making goes no further than zipped and drawstring pouches of different sizes, and basic shopping bags.

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    1. Whatever works! I do still enjoy shopping and occasionally buy a retail bag. I could never say no to a Michael Kors bag.

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    2. Haha! No, not shopping FOR bags - shopping bags - bags into which you put things you buy. Two natbns, common language and all that! - and I wouldn't know a Michael Kors bag if one jumped out at me from the hedgerow!

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  14. The colors, the details, the hardware...OMG..it is stunning and such a super gift! My friends make bags and I know how much work goes into them to turn out right and yours shows that your thought and love was certainly in abundance, Bunny!

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  15. Looks gorgeous! By the way, the pattern is going to be updated so that the cargo pockets are like the Swoon Sydney.

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    1. That's great news. The cargo pockets were definitely the most fiddly part. I have admired the Sydney and can see that working nicely.

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  16. Your bag is beautiful. Can you please show inside shots before turning it over to the new mom?

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    1. I'll try and get a shot today. It's very simple with a slip pocket.

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  17. That's a fabulous bag and beautifully executed! Love the fabric!

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  18. Love this bag! I love the print and happy colors. That piping truly makes it special.

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