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