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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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