Impending travel= Home made bags!

As some of you may know, at the start of this month I was all set up to move to Norway to begin my training in the ways of the tattoo!
I was packed, ready to rock and roll and then…. Ill health.
I was advised not to travel by the doctors and for a little while things fell through, my plans, hopes and even my happiness (a bit!).
Nil desperandum, as they say- I have a pretty clean bill of health now, more tickets booked, and I’m much more prepared this time than I was the last time I was set to leave, both mentally and physically, and I decided to show you some of the things I’ve made to make my journey next week that little bit smoother, because hey, nobody is thrilled about the prospect of hanging about in an airport!

I am one of those who likes to know that I have my boredom safety nets with me and my hands have to be occupied at all times (Or else!), my hand luggage is like a life boat whenever I go anywhere, filed with goodies, snacks and little projects to keep me occupied, but I’ve noticed that none of my usual handbags are quite big enough for the kitchen sink…
With my sewing spurt and dress making coming into its own these past months, I decided to treat myself to some entirely unique bags to drag about with me.
These were the first venture….

home made make-up zipped

The smaller bag is especially for all of my combs, nail files and make-up brushes- the other for my lipsticks, balms, moisturisers, lip liners, powder cases…….

Apologies for the messy room- I had converted our spare room from a hovel full of bin-bags and boxes into a room that I could pile high with my craft and art supplies. Unfortunately, the pink colour that it had been before I attempted to tame it with white was so angry and violent, there was only enough to cover half of the room after the three layers near my desk, and it just happens to be the area behind my ironing board that is shown on the photograph!

(Above is the poor little room that I filed with all of my crafting lovelies!)

It is only in my most recent years that I have grown a fondness for all things feminine and the way I dress/ clothes I wear. Like many girls, I took my Great Grandmother’s advice to heart-
”Look your best in case you get hit by a bus.”
(Yes Nanna, I’ll most certainly try!)
I was a tom-boy up until the age of around 15, clad only in wellies, t-shirts and dungarees, so now with the revelation of make-up and dresses, bags and shoes, my things mean a lot to me and I like to take pains to keep them safe, looking nice and well cared for, and these little pouches had to be enough to contain the things that almost every girl won’t leave the house without! These two smaller pouches were made using some quite simple you-tube videos as a guide, and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a quick but rewarding tutorial.

Melanie Ham does some beautiful but simple videos, helping us all to produce crafts that look almost ‘store bought’, and quite beautifully professional. I will add that although I used her extremely helpful videos as a guide, I also skipped her fuse-able fleece sections and instead chose to machine quilt mine, giving the bags extra support, padding and protection. I prefer this greatly, and know that my things absolutely won’t break on the journey now!
(Machine quilt the outside fabric before commencing with the making of the bag,  treat this and the wadding as a single piece!)
The whole project only really took me one afternoon, and I was so proud of the little bags I made. I had been dipping my toe into the word of make-up bags, and any that were Gothic, or looked as thought they’d suit me were quite high in price, especially the dancing skeleton ones that had emerged from my beloved Spooky box, so it was good to have some that I know are entirely unique.

home made make-up bag

Lilac lining, for the pastel Goth in me!

The material that I used was one that I had been eyeing up for some time in my local fabric shop. It was part of a bundle of expensive imported fabric and for a long time I had avoided it despite its beauty because I couldn’t justify bringing it home without knowing what I was to make out of it would be entirely worth it, or at least worth the £12 per meter I would have to spend!
I frequent this shop more than I would like to admit, but was set on getting some material that I would love and use- I asked a little more about the printed ones and was told that they were the work of a designer called Michael Miller- the two I was tied between were ”Bonehead grey” (Left) and ”Freak Out Black” (right), both beautiful and skully!

Links to each, should you want them, are below! The do ship worldwide.

http://www.textileexpressfabrics.co.uk/epages/BT3246.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/BT3246/Products/%22Michael%20Miller%20Bonehead%20Grey%20CX4425%22

http://www.textileexpressfabrics.co.uk/epages/BT3246.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/BT3246/Products/%22Michael%20Miller%20Freak%20Out%20Black%22

What I was told about these materials was quite promising- they were printed in another country ( New Zealand, If I remember rightly… but I probably don’t.) and because of the colours and vibrancy of the print they are expensive to make. It ended up more expensive for people to buy them in the country that they were made in, than it would be to pay the £12 pm for them from Textile Express in my little town, even with the postage on top! I was happy to buy something so lovely, and settled with Bonehead Grey, thinking it’d make a more light hearted dress/ bag in the long run, something that matched ME a little more. ”Freak Out Black” I will save for a skirt another time..
After the success of my make up bags, I felt a little better about the prospect of moving my life to Norway in a suitcase- more like I had a little life all packed up, but it still didn’t resolve my hand luggage issue.
I was happy to find that you CAN take umbrellas through airport customs, so I’ll have my stylish one for the constant torrential weather that is typically Norwegian, but it didn’t fit in the suitcase that was to go in the hold. It wouldn’t fit in my handbag either, but  neither would my crochet wool, crochet needles, books, diary, sketch books, paper, camera, phone, emergency pillow and everything else I need while on the move. Time to make another bag!
Luckily I had quite a bit of ”Bonehead” left over…

Simplicity patterns have been my friend for all of this year- they’re easy to understand, helpful and… Simple! I’d looked for days for a bag tutorial on the internet that I could follow easily, but sometimes it’s faster and less hassle to just bite the bullet and buy a pattern instead of measuring out every piece by hand, inch by inch! *Yawn*!

simplicity bag pattern

Simplicity, 2274

I read some of the reviews on Simplicity 2274 before I committed to buying it, a pattern that included a clutch bag, a luggage tag and most importantly, a simple but roomy looking travel bag!
The reviews I found were quite mixed,  a lot of people saying that this was a pattern that was just TOO simple, to the extent where it didn’t even include a proper lining. They were right! There were hundreds of beautiful images of this bag where people had made it at home, but just as many where the lining on the inside just looked a little ragged, even after it had been hemmed or zig-zag stitched, which was a shame because overall, it was a spacious and sturdy bag, only let down by this one feature.

simplicity bag4.jpg

The infamous untidy lining!

I stumbled across the adorable ”Knotty Gnome” and her craft blog, where she has hundreds of stunning sewing  and DIY projects- Goodness knows where she gets her beautiful material and concentration.

http://blog.knottygnome.com/2012/07/not-so-simple-simplicity-2274.html

She too said that this pattern was greatly let down by the fact that there was no proper lining on the inside, and that she thought it might affect the strength of the bag overall, so when she created this piece she made a lining especially, and worked it into the pattern. Her review was a little scathing, as she quite obviously spent a LONG mind-numbing time on her bag. Every piece is quilted and made up of squares of beloved leftover fabric, and the lining allegedly drove her a little mad too.. she swears that she’ll never make another (or at least not one so complicated!).

Well…. I’d made my make-up bags without much of a hitch- surely I could tackle this too..?

home made bag end tassel

Home-made tassels, just to finish the gargantuan effort.

home made bag large side

End pockets with zips, side pockets, inside pockets, hidden pockets…..

After all that- I’m joining Knotty Gnome on this one.
It was AGONY. I will probably never make another of these as long as I live!
Again, I quilted each piece as I had with my make-up pouches, not as the pattern advised which was loose and hard to machine! The quilting took almost as long as it did to make the rest of the bag, much longer than with my make-up bags (already stuffed with face creams) after all this, I finally began to put the bag together along with the lining that I was determined to include, and have TIDY.
I added extra pockets to the inside of the bag, to hold phones, books and pens, and also modified the zips on the end outside pockets so that they were a little more hidden than the original design. I didn’t like the sewn handles either, thinking them a waste of material and not too strong looking, so bought lengths of strap especially for the project. They hold the weight of the bag so much better, and don’t detract from the lovely sugar skulls!
The lining was as much of a nightmare as I had been warned. It was hard to include because I had to fit it in around a pattern that didn’t include it, and ensure that when I attached it, the damn pockets were the right way around!
I was left to attach the pull tabs through a hole in the lining in the inside bottom of the bag, snapping three needles in the process, as well as losing my mind!
In the end, I gave up trying to reinforce it as much as I’d have liked. I was running out of needles to lose..

I tested it on a long weekend away to my partner’s sister’s house and to be quite fair, it was AMAZING.
It was padded enough to not hurt my leg when carrying it (I attached a shoulder strap to the two end D-links) and just like the reviews said, it was much bigger than it looked on the pattern. I could fit enough clothes in here for a week even though it’s called a ”weekend bag”!
It’s the right size to take on the plane with me, and I even doubt I’ll fill it up all the way, so it’ll make a good pillow, with all the padding it has! It carries a lot of weight, and it makes me proud to carry it with me. I’ll attach my umbrella to the handles when I fly next week, but I feel more prepared already!

home made bag large

My Hand luggage bag, made from a simplicity pattern that I managed to make much more complicated!

What do you think? Was it worth the hassle, or would you rather buy one instead? Are you the same as me when it comes to luggage, and you need to be stocked up with things to save your sanity?
What was your most frustrating D.I.Y. project? What happened!?
Love and respect,
Kitty x

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