Bionic Gear Bag 3310

Isn’t it bionic, don’tcha think?

You guys know that every now and then I like to mix up the garment sewing with a bit of bag-slash-pouch making. It helps keep the mind fresh with all that will-I-won’t-I-succeed fear of new techniques and materials. A bit like the roulette I play with the hills on my cycle home towards the end of the week when I’m tired – will I make it up them or will my legs stop with exhaustion and it’ll be Skin Meets Road? This dangerous game is also played by the husbeast with Domino’s Pizza – will this cheese fire up his lactose intolerance so much that he loses four pounds over the next four days? ??

We like to live on the edge in our household, ya know

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And this edge-of-your-seat-ness continues with this week’s blog post – because apparently, this pattern caused quite a stir in the sewing world. It was released before I’d really got into my sewing – so I missed the initial drama over it – which seems to consist of bashing of the pattern instructions but also of the designer’s (Sally Thompson / Ripstitcher) rude and unprofessional behaviour towards customers.

When I was researching the pattern, I came across many – MANY – opinions about those instructions – most of them negative. ‘Waffley’, ‘too long’ and ‘excessive’ seemed to be the recurring terms, and while I thought it should be a good thing to have thorough instructions, people seemed to feel really strongly about these so I thought that they MUST be bad for people to slate them that much ??

It’s actually quite hard to find where to purchase the pattern for the Bionic Gear Bag – from what I gather, it was Craftsy’s ‘Pattern of the Year’ a few years back (I’m assuming that this was before all the uproar) but I couldn’t seem to find it for sale on there. Or on any website. I bought mine on Etsy in the end, from Ripstitcher’s shop – which is now empty, so the bag pattern must have been removed… which means that I don’t even know where you would buy the pattern from anymore ??‍♀️

But I had my copy. Next, came the fabric choices.

It took me bloody AGES ages to choose the fabrics for my bag. There’s a lot of pieces – you need a lot of different fabrics. I hauled out the box of quilting cottons that I keep for projects such as these, and started to put together some combinations.

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I was heading for a galaxy/space theme, with gold accents. Nothing really made me go ‘YAS’ but eventually I settled on this lot:

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I originally settled on some burgundy cotton that I had laying around for the pocket interiors, but I wasn’t quite feeling it so, in the end, I treated myself to the black and grey spotty print that I thought coordinated a little better.

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I ordered a mixed bag of thirty colourful zips for this project, thinking that I’d browse through them all once they arrived, and choose my colours. They were coming from overseas (China, I’m ashamed to say), so my cut pieces of fabric had to sit for a bit while I waited for delivery of the zips. After they’d arrived, and I’d chosen the zip colours and excitedly gathered all my pieces to start sewing, I realised that something was very wrong. Either I’d cut all my pieces too large, or the zips were too small. Yep, the zips were too small. I’d been sent eight-inch zips, not nine-inch. FFS. So frustrating. I’d waited so bloody long for them to be (what felt like) hand-delivered by panda, and after all that, they’d gone and sent the wrong size. I mean like, they had ONE JOB ?

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So instead I muttered and cursed and rummaged through my supplies and managed to find some nine-inch zips that would do, but they weren’t quite the colours I wanted. I couldn’t be bothered to wait any longer for another delivery of zips so these would have to do.

Upon piecing the pockets together, I realised that somehow my pieces weren’t quite all the same width. They were meant to be. The purple one, in particular, was a lot narrower than the rest, which meant the metal zipper stops were much closer to the edge (and probably in the stitching line). I dunno what happened, but I wasn’t gonna cut the pieces again so I just went with it. Seriously, this project was CURSED. Cursed, I tell you.

Making the pockets was simple enough, once you kind of got your head around how everything went together. Basically, you end up with one long row of zips on one side, and a whole load of flappy lining pieces on the other side. I realise that sentence probably doesn’t make a lot of sense ? A word of warning – don’t catch those lining pieces in any of the other seams, like I did ??‍♀️

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Luckily my fabrics are kind of multi-directional, so it didn’t matter if I got one up the ‘wrong’ way, but when there are so many pieces going on it’s a bit of a mission to try and get everything in the right order and the right way up ?

I got there in the end, and topstitched each zip with gold metallic thread – this turned out to be a good idea in theory, not so much in practice. The metallic thread kept breaking, usually towards the end of the seam so that I had to go back and unpick the entire length – which everyone enjoys amirite? ?

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Once all the pockets are constructed, you need to start folding the side pieces into little pleats, as per the markings on the pattern template. Once you’ve folded, the zip pockets get wedged into those folds and then stitched. You’re then expected to wrangle this lot through the machine and somehow attach the sides to the base. Garment sewing is SO much easier, guys. I’d rather make the most complicated coat in the world than sew another one of these ?

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It was a bit of a fail, the first time around – the instructions told you to put the flaps going one way and the pockets the other, and the whole thing screws with your head a bit. I unpicked it and re-stitched – mildly better, but still a bit of a shambles.

One thing that confused me was attaching the outer fabric to the whole thing – mine was WAY shorter than it should have been, which left me wondering if I’d:

– cut the piece the wrong size

– gone seriously wrong somewhere

– forgotten which piece was which and used the wrong bit

All equally possible. You can see how much longer the inside (black) layer is than the front ? , In the end, I just trimmed the inside to be the same as the outside ??‍♀️?

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There’s a LOT of hand sewing binding going on with this bag. Basically, you gotta go around alllll the edges, and then some. If you want to practise your binding skillz – now’s your chance!

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I made it to the end and sewed on the outside zipper. I couldn’t fathom out any way to attach the bottom of the zipper using the machine (as instructed), so I did it by hand instead. My zip ends did NOT fit into the little squares at the end, not even close, so I don’t know what I did wrong there… but only at one end ?

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You were meant to fold the edges of the bottom bit to the inside, and then nestle the two ends of the zip tape in between the folded edges… not gonna happen.

I finished the bag, despite all the dramas – and I’m slightly underwhelmed.

The outside of the bag is a bit wrinkly, especially at the bound edges. Those accordion-side-panels are a bit naff.

The zip pockets lean forward a bit… don’t know whether I’m expected to press the whole thing into oblivion or what, but I was a bit unimpressed with how the whole thing looked. The husbeast’s OCD was a bit twitchy over the whole things as well, he didn’t like that the front pocket was shorter than the rest, and that the spacing between the zip pockets wasn’t even, and that the accordion-style folds at the edge didn’t really sit nicely within the edging.

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The instructions though, I thought were okay – despite the hatred for them from the sewing community.

There’s just one pattern template in the entire instructions (which doesn’t actually fit together perfectly, and it looks like it’s hand-drawn ?) – the rest of the 36 pages is written directions. I mean sure, this sounds like a lot of pages, and I guess it kind of is, but I’d much prefer to have too much information than too little. Even despite the level of depth, there were still a couple of things that I thought were missing though. For example, when you press the pleats on the sides of the bag, do you press them outwards or inwards? If you read further on and look at the pictures that appear later in the instructions, you can figure it out, but it’s not immediately obvious. And I thought this woman was out to be Captain Obvious, but there you go.

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I must admit I’m not totes in love with my fabric choices either  – the outside looks okay, and most of the inside is okay, but it’s harder to coordinate fabrics for bags than it is for clothing. With garments, there’s maybe like one or two different fabrics – three, max – but with this bag, you’ve got like twenty different fabrics to think about (okay, slight exaggeration, but almost ten. Probably). What I perhaps should have done was chosen fabrics from the same designer or from the same collection, or at least the same colour palette or something (like, all monochrome designs with a bit of hot pink – you get the idea). Instead, I raided my quilting cotton box to come up with a cohesive set of fabrics, which I’ve kind of missed the mark on. It’s just a bit meh.

The whole thing looks like a bit of a state. It’s like the bag equivalent of a totally rat-arsed girl sitting on the pavement at 3am, vomiting after a heavy night out, with a broken shoe heel and tomato sauce down her skirt. It ain’t pretty.

I haven’t’ figured out what to store in the bag yet, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it. Eventually. I’m thinking that I’ll try the Sew Together bag from Sew Demented – quite similar to the Bionic bag, but with better instructions (apparently). It seems to be more popular, too. I’ll add it to the project list, but that list is pretty damn long so I’m not sure when I’ll actually get round to making it ?

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Let’s see. I’ve got wallets and purses and backpacks and fanny packs (bum bags, to us lot outside of the US ??) and all sorts to make before I get round to making another one of these. And the husbeast keeps nagging me to make him T-shirts, and summer shirts, and to finish off the trial run of a bomber jacket for him because he wants to embroider the back of the next one ?

He’s such a diva ??‍♂️

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I dunno whether it’s the time of year, or the weather, but we’re getting some seriously annoying little moth type things in the house ? I’m paranoid the little bastards are gonna get at my silk and wool fabrics so I’ve bought a ton of those cedar wood stick things which are supposed to repel them, and I’ve decorated my fabric pile like a Christmas tree. Plus me and the husbeast are killing any that we can, ninja-style with a clap of our hands, but only after I’ve had a good laugh at two dogs and a cat trying to get them first ?

Fry, the German-slash-Belgian-shepherd-maybe-chow-too, has ZERO eye/mouth coordination (throw a treat at him to catch it his mouth and it’ll hit him on the head and he will look at you like ‘WTF?’) and totally misses when he tries to chomp them out of the air. I legit wonder if that dog can actually see. He trips over his own feet sometimes.

Leela – the terrier-on-steroids – is probably the best out of the three. She’s fast, with pretty good kill rate, but unfortunately, that also goes for things she’s not supposed to eat, like bees (hello puffed up face and even more inflated vet’s bills).

The funniest one to watch is the cat though. Kovu. He’s fifteen, so a proper senior, and can no longer make actual real cat sounds. He’s broken. He tries to catch these moths with his bare hands, and of course they fly out EVERY TIME HE LIFTS HIS PAW TO SEE IF HE’S GOT IT ??‍♀️??‍♀️??‍♀️ And that’s if he manages to get it, because usually, he’s just being a bit extra flailing his arms about all over the show while the dogs stare at him like ‘dude, be cool’ ?

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Anyway I’m relying on these animals to guard my fabrics in return for their food and lodging – I’ll report back next week on how that’s going.

So next week’s post is going to be my second quarter review ? That means we are halfway through the year ALREADYYYYY ??? Guess I better start planning out my winter coat making plans! (Don’t hate me, lolz) Winter sewing is da best though, right? ?

Lemme hear ya say YAS! ??

Or not, whatevs ?

Have you made either (or both of) the Bionic Gear Bag or the Sew Together Bag? Were they as bad as you anticipated? ? Tell me about your sewing adventures!

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49 thoughts on “Isn’t it bionic, don’tcha think?

  1. I love this hold it all bag, the fabric choices for me are the best. I had a first , too this week , a pair of trousers. Pattern from Style Ark. Fabric also from them , in a bundle. It was Bengaline, cotton and silk mix,? Not sure I like it, it’s a bit man made for me, but fab drape and Stretch. The fit was very good straight from pattern apart from 9 inches off the leg length, yes I’m just under 5 ft tall..these were crop pants. The Luna trousers if you want to take a look. Instructions were very basic, but far good enough , even for me as a first timer on trousers. So very happy, now today , going to make a top , The Sunny Knit Top, in with the bundle, a nice loose summer top in the same fabric, but a nice deep pink color to go with the black pants. I’ve made 5 Style Ark patterns and each has been a good fit and finish, for me a very novice sewer…


    1. Oh wow – well done you Cindy! That’s a fab achievement ?? I’ve heard good things about Style Arc patterns but not yet used any of them myself. That’s great that you get the pattern and fabric in a bundle, saves you looking around for suitable cloth to use. Did you make the top already? How did it go? ?


    1. Yeah… it weren’t fun lol ? That’s just how I felt about my bag… looked good from a distance but a bit of a state close up ???? x


  2. I am really impressed by the result, after all the trouble you went through! I probably would have stopped and burnt the whole thing at the metallic topstitching step ?
    That is the kind of projects I drool on, but feel totally unable to tackle (I mean, all the fabric choosing/notion buying/fabric cutting etc… ? I guess I will carry on making clothes forever ?)
    As always, the colour/fabric combination you went for is gorgeous ?


    1. Thanks Lise! ? Ahh that metallic topstitching was such a good idea in my head, but not so much in reality ????‍♀️ It really did take a LONG time choosing all the supplies – I feel like maybe this is the kind of thing that takes *practice*, perhaps ?
      Like you I might just carry on making clothes forever instead (she says, at the same time as eyeing up a new sewing pouch pattern ???)


  3. I think you’re being far too hard on yourself! I love this bag and I particularly like the fabric choices, they go together really well. Very cosmic/ space themed. I’d buy this bag!


    1. Ahh thank you ?? Yay, I’m glad you like the fabric choices – I was heading for a galaxy theme, I think I nailed it on the outside but not so much on the inside! ???‍♀️


  4. Looks to me like you’ve made a fab job of this tricky bag. I’ve made a few, but don’t plan on making another. I await your verdict on the Sew Together bag. I remember there being a terrific hooha over it, with Ripstitcher accusing the Sew Together’s creator of ripping off her pattern, although I don’t really know which of them came first. Ripstitcher stopped dealing with Craftsy when it changed to Bluprint and was mightily upset about it. I joined her new group for a while, but soon got fed up with the way she carries on. I’m surprised about her Etsy shop being empty. Happy stitchin’


    1. Thanks Bren! Ah, I missed the whole drama, but based on online forums, the debate still lives on. I mean, the bags are prettttty similar, so I can see why one designer would be annoyed at the other, but ??‍♀️
      I’ll give the Sew Together one a try, just to see how it compares to the Bionic (and whether the instructions make the construction any easier!!)


  5. Bags are SO MUCH effort! I love this one’s dark history too though! Adds a whole other level!
    I only sewed with metallic thread once… and never again! I take my hat off to you though, it looks great – pop it in a drawer for a week or two and when you take it out again you’ll be much more forgiving of it, I’m sure ??


    1. Haha, you’re SO right ? For such a small thing, there was a hell of a lot of drama! It’s still sitting there empty, though… ?


  6. I love the fabrics and colours – youve got a good eye for putting them together. Dunno HOW you even considered making the bag though – it looks terrifying.

    Off to investigate online sew-fights now


    1. Haha, did you unearth the debate?! Even though the bags were released some time ago, it seems that the fight still continues.
      Thanks for your comments on the fabric choices ? I’m still not sure what actually possessed me to think it would be a good idea to make it ??‍♀️?


    1. Yes! You’re right – it was a whole lot of drama for such a small thing ?? Simpler bags from now on maybe… Ooh yes I’ve been following your Oz journey! Looking good ????


  7. I think it looks neat and useful, ultimately, but my head was exploding just trying to imagine all those fiddly bits of binding and zip ends. It’s enough to make you rush out & buy something ready-made! People who don’t ever sew their own stuff would probably wonder “Why bother?” But come global meltdown they’ll all be coming to you for their locally – made useful items! Well done.


    1. Thanks Fiona! ? I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to make such a beast ? I’ll take a break from bag making for a while I think… ?


  8. I love this bag and have made several but I discovered early on to label all my pieces with the direction of the width marked on as it is soooooooooo easy to get them the wrong way up! I have contemplated the Sew Together Bag too so I will be interested to see what you think. I think your bag looks great and it is amazing how much it will hold!


    1. Thanks Angela! ? Omg YES – I wish I’d have labelled mine! Such a drama ? I’ll give the Sew Together a try, but after the pain of this one has faded!!


  9. For the mothettes: in the US we can get hormone baited sticky traps which are very effective. And I also use camphor squares – being careful to get real gum camphor rather then synthetic. (Also works to keep tools from oxidizing).


    1. Ooh, thank you for the tips! Not sure whether these are available here but I will definitely do some research ? That’s cool that they work on tools too – mind blown ?


  10. I think it looks great Sarah, despite your reservations, I think when you’re working with something close up, you see its every flaw, I agree with others to leave it a bit & then come back to it, especially with all the battles fought & won & all that binding. Loved the drunken girl analogy, been there – done that!


    1. Thanks Sam! ? Well it’s sat on the table for a couple of weeks now and it’s still empty… I’m thinking that I might use it for toiletries or hair elastics or something, rather than sewing stuff, but let’s see!
      Glad you enjoyed the blog post ?


  11. I haven’t made the bags you were talking about but I make NCW’s. They’re pretty similar and have tonnes of room for all sorts in there. The one you made looked like a nightmare to put together! But it turned out lovely and I like it. Pmsl at the drunken girl description!! x


    1. Ooh, what are NCW’s? ? My one was a bloody nightmare to make ?? I dunno what made me think it would be easy!! Making coats feels like a walk in the park compared to this! ??‍♀️ Glad you enjoyed the blog post ?


  12. Wow, what a journey! I think the exterior fabrics play together really nicely, but I can see what you mean about the inside – there’s not really a star of the show, more of an ensemble cast?

    Also, YOU MIGHT HAVE GRAIN MOTHS. THEY ARE THE FLIPPING PITS. If they’re about a centimeter long and brown/grey, you should check your flour/grains/pasta – anything like that in your cupboard for maggots. YEP. They lay maggots in your cereal. Also they eat the glue off labels. THEY ARE GROSS AND MY ENEMY (but you can get rid of them by bagging everything in plastic and suffocating them to death) (ideally BEFORE you discover cooked maggots in your lunch) (don’t ask me how I know).


    1. Yeah, the inside just feels a bit… meh. Individually the fabrics are all okay, but put together? Not so much ?
      Ewww grain moths sound SAVAGE. And gross. They are mostly in the lounge so I never actually thought to check the kitchen – but I’M GONNA ?
      Soz for the lunch drama… I hope you’ve been able to heal your memory and move on from that! ?


  13. I’ve made the sew together bag a few times and from what I remember, the instructions were not all that clear in places. I got so stuck but managed to find a blog that showed how they had put it together. It’s a nice enough bag but I won’t be making anymore. I used it for travelling until I found that anything smallish, not in a zipped pocket, will fall out.
    I think if you were to take out the shorter pockets from your pattern, you’d have the sew together pattern. They’re so similar I don’t think you’d gain anything by purchasing both.

    Having said all that, you’re bag looks awesome. I especially love the gold, black and turquoise together.


    1. Thanks Sarah! ?
      I’m just a bit… underwhelmed with the bag. I didn’t mind the super-thorough instructions to be honest, though I probably should have watched a video or something to help with some parts of the construction.
      Ah, yes. I guess the small things would fall out of the sides – that makes the design a bit crap really doesn’t it?! Guess I won’t be buying the Sew Together Bag – you’re right they probably are SO similar. And I don’t think I can face making another one any time soon anyway ????


  14. Ok, I am about a year late to the conversation, but I started with the sew together bag & pretty much love the bag – not my fabric choices.

    So i decided to do the bionic bag in different fabrics. I still prefer the construction of the sew together bag to the bionic bag, but I like the bionic bag fabrics, so…

    Sew together feels more sturdy & I never was a fan of the short pocket. (I need to look at them side by side to see about the other OCD triggers.)


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