Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Christmas sewing - linen messenger bag or 'Africa Adventure Bag'!

I can't tell you how delighted I was when mum asked me to make her a bag for Christmas.  Mum does not do ostentation and she only has a small handful of bags, each of which has been with her for many years - every one has it's own purpose and she wouldn't just buy a bag on the spur of the moment, only ever if she actually needed it.

So, to be trusted with making one to replace her 'Africa Adventure Bag' was quite an honour (and also a little scary)!  Once I'd said yes to the challenge, mum sent me the dimensions and layout of her current, but falling apart, bag and some specifics about what she was looking for (this was all done in a very scientific and methodical way......that's my mum, she reminds me so much of my grandad, her dad, who was an engineer - and very engineer-like when it came to details).

The specifics included mention of 'room for binoculars, passport, tissues, suncream, sunhat and lipsalve'.  And the following fabric request 'tough material and dirt resistant colours! Present bag tough cotton lined in black'.  Travelling in rural parts of Africa is a grubby business!

All went ahead pretty much as mum requested.  I tried to persuade her to have an adjustable strap or inner zip pocket but they weren't needed.  But I did manage to get an internal key fob and zip for the main compartment added to the spec - yay!

I used linen for the main and lining fabric (full details below) - suitably tough and dirt resistant I hope.  I based the bag on this tutorial but made a lot of adjustments.  I added a zip for the main compartment (to keep those binoculars safe), under the flap there's a patch pocket and a big lined zip pocket (for passport and other documents).  The pattern suggests attaching the flap part way down the back of the bag but I thought it would be neater, and stronger, if attached at the top between the main and lining fabric.  The flap is closed with a loop of black elastic and a vintage horn button which I have been saving for something special.

And there you have it - mum's new 'Africa Adventure Bag'.  She seems very pleased with it and, as we speak, it is off on it's first African adventure.  Having been home (from South Africa) for three weeks over Christmas, mum and dad set off yesterday for Uganda.  After a couple of weeks there - including trekking to see mountain gorillas and chimpanzees - they will be back in South Africa until early April.  That's the life, eh?!

I'd love to know if you and your mum are bag people, or essentials only like mine........I have to confess to having a little bit of a thing for bags (and I battle with my conscience if I see something that I like but don't need - if we ever have more spare money I think I could build up a little collection)

Pattern - the basis of this bag was mmmcrafts basic messenger bag, I changed the dimensions slightly and attached the flap differently.  I referred to Lisa Lam's The Bag Making Bible for the concealed top edge zip and lined zip pocket.  I also added a patch pocket, key fob and piping
Fabric - Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Black and Ellen Luckett Baker Triangles in Grey
Notions - black hair band for elastic and large vintage horn button for closure
Comments - I loved sewing this bag - and feel pretty proud of it.  In some ways having quite specific requirements made it harder, but at the same time it was much more satisfying to make something just right.

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Louise said...

I think I am a bag person, but not so much for the sake of it - it's because I've never found the perfect bag - I buy perhaps 2 or 3 a year as I find one that I think will be 'the one' and then a few days or a week or so of use and I find all the faults with it! It's because I'm so particular, and can't cope with disorder, and bag generally lead to disorder as the pockets and zips don't work with what I want to carry and the linings are always loose and untidy! Anyway, I'm rambling! This is a lovely bag and I can see it would be great for the intended purpose and contents. I always admire the bags you make as they look like properly made, quality items!

haggiz said...

That's a great bag Julie. I always feel intimidated when given such exacting instructions for a make, but you did your mum proud! I used to have loads of bags, but have gradually pared down as I'm too lazy to transfer stuff from one bag to another. Julie x

Down by the sea said...

Your bag looks wonderful. Your mum must have been so pleased with it. The material is lovely too.
Sarah x

Jen Walshaw said...

What a beautiful bag. Every stitch sewn with love

Nessa said...

What a great idea for a gift! That bag is going to see so many wonderful things!
I am not a bag person, like your Mum I do have a few bags but they are all fit for a particular purpose.

Fiona @ Poppy Makes said...

Love your Mum's bag Julie! I bet she's thrilled with it. I love bags and have loads but I'm really lazy and always use the same one.

Fiona @ Poppy Makes said...

Love your Mum's bag Julie! I bet she's thrilled with it. I love bags and have loads but I'm really lazy and always use the same one.

saffa said...

You must feel proud Julie, this bag is gorgeous :) I love the colours of the fabric and vintage button, and it looks durable, your mum is a lucky lady! So lovely to make Christmas presents for the ones you love. My mum is definatly a bag sort of person, has specific taste about the ones she buys and she is into her clothes too! I am not into clothes or bags though sadly, but both my sisters make up for that, they love them! Safxxx

Katy Cameron said...

Love the fabrics you used! I think my mum and yours are related, mine is very much on the minimal side of bag numbers, but my dad on the other hand... ;o)

I only use bags for big things, like travelling, otherwise everything goes in my pockets!

Cheryl said...

Hats off to you. You made a terrific job of the bag. So much detail. I'm sure it will stand up to its intended purpose.

I'm a pockets girl. If I can get away with no bag, then I do. Maybe I've just not found the right one yet!

Happy new year!

Beth of The Linen Cat said...

What a brilliant gift and clearly so well thought out and made. Fab fabric choices. Your parents sound to be leading a rather exciting life! I hope they have a wonderful time and your Mum's bag delvers on all fronts (which I'm sure it will). Bethx

greenthumb said...

What a lovely gift for your mum I bet she will use it fors years to come.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I'm one of those 'one useful bag at a time' types. The current one needs replacing - a friends cat gave it a 'makeover' a few weeks back - but I just can't seem to find the time to get around to it. This bag you've made for your Mum is wonderful.