A while back in college I made a lovely patchwork bag using a Japanese folding technique.
My best friend Tracy loved it and subtly hinted (ok maybe not so subtle!) that I could make her one for her birthday. She asked for the same style as mine (with the flap over the top like a messenger bag rather than the open top of the original pattern), slightly smaller, with a shorter strap and in two fabrics. When we went to the quilt festival in Malvern I watched carefully what fabrics she fancied so I could make certain I chose fabrics she liked. I noticed she was drawn to batik fabrics and liked deep colours. At first I thought batik fabric was out of my price range as they are usually very pricey but I reasoned that as they were only going to be used for the centres of the blocks and the base and sides of the bag it wouldn't actually need that much of it. I then used a plain polycotton fabric in a complementary colour which made the colours of the batik pop and balanced out the costs as polycotton is cheaper than 100% cotton.
I made a few alterations to Tracy's bag from when I made mine.
1. I stitched the units by machine rather than by hand. Not only am I not a big fan of hand sewing but my hand sewing tends to come apart (my bag needs restitching in places) and I wanted this bag to be strong and long lasting. I stitched around each section with a matching thread on a straight stitch and then went over it again with a narrow zig zag stitch in a gold metallic thread which adds a lovely effect to the bag. It also makes the inside of the bag look pretty too.
2. I quilted the side panels to make them stand up straighter rather than folding like the ones on my bag do as well as making them narrower to make the bag smaller as per her request.
3. I used velcro as a closure on mine but the white velcro on the colours of the bag didn't look right so I decided to use a loop and button closure. As Tracy suffers with arthritis in her hands I chose to use a large feature button with an elastic loop to make it easy for her to open and close.
4. Mine had a long strap so that it could be worn cross body but Tracy said she would prefer for hers to be a shorter strap to wear as a shoulder bag. To give her the most versatility and to get the strap just the right length for her I decided to make and adjustable strap. I had bought a lovely adjustable strap kit quite some time ago but it had remained in a drawer as I wasn't really sure how to use it. Luckily for me my friend Samantha is a fantastic bag maker and wrote this wonderful tutorial on how to make an adjustable strap which was really easy to follow.
So I now have a very happy friend who was thrilled to open her birthday present and I am happy to finally have one more thing crossed off my list for the 1st quarter of the 2013 finish a long.
Fancy making your own? I did a 6 part tutorial a while back on how to make one. Part one can be found here.