Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing is definitely a pretty book and some of the projects are wonderfully inspiring – the summer blouse, the smocked sundress, the weekend away travel bag – but I have found that the actual patterns can be unreliable. Don’t skip these projects, though, if they appeal to you, just be sure to do a little research first. I recently had a disastrous experience with the pajama pants and feel consequently wary about the other clothing patterns. However, the summer blouse is calling me and enough people in the online sewing community have reviewed it that I think I could make it work.
I actually bought the book for the Everything Tote and made it two years ago for a trip to England. I use the original for day trips and to haul my workout stuff to the studio. The bag is still a favorite and I’ve always wanted to make it again to iron out the kinks. One problem is that it’s so big and floppy that stuff falls all over and gets lost in the bottom. This time, I wanted something a little smaller, so I photocopied the pattern at about 60% and shortened the handles.
To correct the floppiness, I used some mid weight craft interfacing to give the bag structure. I have to say, though, that it might have ended up just a hair more stiffness than I really wanted. Another idea might have been a layer of flannel in between a la Amy Karol’s bag sewing method for a softer shape. It will probably soften with use, though.
The straps are designed to open up where you carry them for a comfortable grip. They can also flash a bit of a fun lining. Essentially, they are a lined bias strip – two layers sewn together and turned like a strap, then folded like bias tape. The trouble is that where you attach this piece to the bag, you end up with 10 layers of fabric to sew through! This was really difficult and my topstitching on the original bag was really messy. This time, I cut the lining for the handles several inches shorter, so that it would only be lined where it’s designed to show. This way, I wouldn’t have to sew through those extra 4 layers when attaching the bias handles to the top of the tote. It worked perfectly and made assembly much easier.
The instructions call for lining the bias pieces that top the sides of the bag even though that lining would be completely enclosed. Again, you would end up with 10 layers to somehow neatly edge stitch. That didn’t make any sense to me so I skipped it.
Finally, I stitched the bias handles together in one continuous loop at before attaching them to the bag. I lined up the seams with the side seams of the bag and stitched them as you would for a garment facing. I ended up with a smooth neat seam rather than the bulky awkward overlap the instructions want you to hand sew closed.
I kept the pockets full size so I won’t loose my lip gloss or hand sanitizer or keys in the bottom. And I made one pocket just the right size for my crackberry. Because I really hate loosing that. This is for those summer days when you don’t want to carry everything. It’s big enough for a book or some small knitting or just one spare diaper, toys and snacks. But it doesn’t feel like you’re lugging around a huge diaper bag.
I’m taking a break from sewing this week, because this is what’s going on at my house right now:
We do pretty much everything ourselves around here as you can see. This is our second floor family room, our favorite space, so cross your fingers it gets done soon!