A pouch

Being a person of roo-ish persuasion, I am always on the lookout for a quality pouch.  In San Francisco there were a number of women who made and sold beautiful funky hand-made bags at street fairs and I would always drool over them and make David wait around while I looked at all of them and finally conclude that they were out of my (grad student) price range.  So it’s kind of odd that in the year-and-a-half since I started sewing this is my first attempt at making one myself.

I used the Burdastyle Diana Bag pattern, modified as described in Johanna’s review by cutting an inch off the sides of the main pattern pieces, and replacing the darts at the bottom with a single long rectangular side-and-bottom piece.  In her review, Johanna mentions that it took her 10 year old daughter “a few hours” to make this bag.  At pregnant-lady speed, it took me a week and a half.

To be fair, a good portion of that time was spent fretting. After seeing Johanna’s charcoal gray linen version, I had my heart set on gray.  I even had the perfect color fabric— some cotton lycra I picked up last summer— but my fabric was fairly thin and stretchy and there was no way it would hold up as a bag exterior.  I thought about interfacing it but knew I didn’t have any interfacing sturdy enough for this bag.  Then, after a day or two I had an inspiration.  Hmmm…what do I have around the house that could be used to give structure to a messenger bag?

Can you believe there was a time that the only thing I bought at fabric stores was canvas?

I used wonder-under to fuse the gray cotton to some heavy-weight canvas I had lying around.  The result was perfect: the color and texture I wanted on the outside with enough substance to hold up under daily wear.  (Ok, I also fretted that maybe I used too heavy a weight of canvas.  I think somehow I wanted this not just to be a pouch, or my first pouch, but the perfect pouch.  That slowed me down considerably.)  I was worried that the heavy canvas would be difficult to sew but it was surprisingly easy.  It stayed exactly where I put it, pressed well with steam, and gave a nice shape to the bag.

Overall I enjoyed working on this project.  Working on a bag reminded me a lot of working on a jacket— my other favorite thing to sew.  There was the initial thrill of pairing outside and lining fabrics, the joy of seeing a 3-D shape emerge from the sewing machine, the fun (if nerve-wracking) details like interior pockets and topstitching, and the total nightmare of trying to get the lining to go in smoothly.


That’s where the other half of the time went.  I swear I put this lining in (and tore it out again) about five times.  You see, the lining I had my heart set on was also cotton-lycra and every time I started sewing it stretched, while the nicely fused exterior didn’t.  I also forgot that the lining sits inside the bag and so has to be smaller than the bag itself.  Finally in frustration I (1) took each of the corner seams in by 1/8″ (1/4″ off each corner for an inch total off the total circumference), (2) sewed a strip of non-stretch cotton to the edge of the lining before turning it under:

(3) hand basted (!) the lining in place:

And got it to go in reasonably ok:


Oddly, the upshot of all this has been a fierce craving to make more jackets.

Stay tuned for more unrealistic sewing plans.