mama’s got a brand new bag

Diaper bag
I’ll admit, this wasn’t the most fun sewing project for me. It started and ended with some issues that really put a damper on my enthusiasm. But I just couldn’t bring myself to buy or register for a diaper bag when I knew I had the perfect fabric for one at home already! I’ve had this leaf-print suedecloth in my stash for a few years now. It was one of the pieces that I got as a Christmas present from my mom parents, and while I like the graphics, the colors in the fabric really didn’t go with much of anything in my wardrobe. So I was completely stumped about what to do with it until this pregnancy happened. I guess it was just waiting to be a bag all along! So I’ve been plotting this one for a couple of months, even before I knew Hobbit is a boy, because the colors made me think it’s gender-neutral enough to work either way.

side pocket
The pattern is the Professional Tote by The Creative Thimble. I’d asked my mom, who makes bags on a much more regular basis than I do, if she had any suggestions, and this was the one she came up with. I like that it’s loaded with pockets! There’s the zippered one plus a slide-in one shown on the first picture, a big magnetically snapped one on the opposite side, and two elastic ones on either smaller side that will be great for holding bottles and such.

Inside, there’s also a velcroed pleated pocket with a slide-in pocket on each side (the flap with the outside fabric covers the velcro one), a zippered divider pocket, and a big one that covers almost an  entire side of the lining. This lining part was where I really got stumped on the directions–the patch/pleated pockets were fine, I had no trouble figuring out the bottom of the bag, but I think I did something seriously wrong with the zipper pocket. Based on the measurements the pattern gave later, it looks like it was supposed to be something like 5″ taller! But I could not make any sense of that particular part, went with what actually worked, and ended up with a divider that’s maybe 4″ tall, tops. By this point of the bag, I’d already spent something like an hour on this one pocket, and I was really starting to get antsy to finish so I can make some clothes again, so I didn’t bother redoing it.

(Seriously–I’m kind of worried about the clothes. My belly has outgrown the first refashioned pair of pants to the point where it hurts to wear them, my other two pairs of refashioned pants are corduroy, and I only have one skirt that’s appropriate to wear for teaching–the other is denim and too short for me to comfortably wear without leggings underneath. So I’m literally running out of things to wear for work! But it’s hard to justify shopping, or even too much sewing, when I only have a little over one trimester to go.)

Aside from that pocket, as I said, I did have some issues. Though they weren’t all the bag’s fault. The first day I started sewing on this, my machine was having some weird issue where the stitches weren’t staying in the fabric to just one side of the zipper foot–and of course that outside zipper pocket was the first thing to be sewn! Thankfully, that resolved itself after I turned the machine off and started again another day, and Bernadette has been working fine ever since. I also had a lot of trouble keeping track of what fabric was supposed to be for what piece, ended up having to re-cut a couple of things in the solid brown, and have some random rectangles left over as a result. I’m blaming pregnancy brain for that one. Getting the interfacing to stay stuck to the suedecloth in particular was also a pain, as was actually navigating sewing several stiff layers of fabric that just did not want to go around my machine. I suspect that probably would have worked better if I’d used all quilt cotton, since the suedecloth is a little thicker/more slippery than that. I finished up last night with the top zippered part, and ended up having to rip out and redo so much of it–I started by having the zipper pull face the lining instead by accident, and then the zipper somehow got twisted, so I had to rip out and redo the other side as well! But it’s done, and I’m happy with the results overall, so I can move on without much disappointment.

Stashbusting totals: I used about 2 1/4 yards of fabric from my own stash (1 1/2 of the suedecloth, and about 3/4 yard of the solid brown–which I either forgot to put in my stash list or I wrote down the wrong yardage initially, because it was listed as 1/2 yard to begin with!), plus my mom donated the quilt cotton from her stash for the lining, because it went so well. She also let me use her heavy-duty bag interfacing. I did have to buy the webbing for the straps and the two light tan zippers, but I was able to pull the third zipper (a dark brown, on the inside) from my stash as well. 

I do have about half a yard of the suedecloth left, as well as some plain PUL that I had to buy last-minute to reinforce the closure sections of some of the diapers that I’m still working on. So I’m going to use the bulk of it up to make some kind of roll-up or fold-up changing mat that I can keep in the bag, since the suedecloth is nice and washable. But I think I can afford to take the time to make something a little more wearable first, right?


4 thoughts on “mama’s got a brand new bag

  1. This looks so professional and fancy! I'm really not into making bags, but this does look like exactly what you need and how awesome that you were able to do it almost entirely with stashed goods!


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