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Holiday Sewing: Artist's Bag

Holiday Sewing: Artist’s Bag

Since I was out last week with the flu, I didn’t get a chance to do much of anything blog worthy. With that said it also dawned on me that I never got a chance to share some of the sewing projects I worked on as holiday gifts.

The Artist Z

Each year my family draws names for a gift exchange. This year I got my sister Zaynab’s name. Zaynab or Z as we lovely call her is an an aspiring artist. She does everything from water colors to oil paintings, to crafts to jewelry making.

Zaynab Taghavi's Artwork
Zaynab Taghavi’s Artwork

When asked what she wanted for Christmas she answered the same way she does every year, ” I’m cool with whatever, though art supplies would be nice.”

One thing she had mentioned specifically was that she wanted a portfolio/art case. Something she could carry both art supplies and drawings in, to take to art class.

McCall Pattern M5120

After hearing about the art case I decided to check out my pattern stash, recalling that I might have seen a pattern for such a case. Turns out I was right. In the three totes of patterns I received in October, there were several bags and organizer patterns that would work for this project. I ended up choosing McCall Pattern M5120.

Purple with colorful oval pattern fabric and MCall Pattern M5120
Purple with colorful oval pattern fabric and MCall Pattern M5120

The pattern was the right size and had a good amount of pockets to be used as storage. As for fabric the fabric choice, I had recently purchased a fun purple canvas material with a colorful oval pattern for a few dollars at one of my local antique stores. I knew instantly that I would use this fabric for the bag, after all Z’s favorite color is purple.

Constructing the bag

I had a limited amount of fabric at my disposal; so, I decided that I would follow the pattern for the basic bag construction. I would then piece together the left over fabric to come up with my own pocket layout.

Since I was starting this project only days before Christmas, I decided to be a bit lazy and choose to use a dollar store cloth pencil bag as the zipper pocket in the bag. Basically I cut a slit for were a zipper pocket would have gone. Then I trimmed the slit openings with bias tape. Lastly I pulled the pencils bag through the opening and sewed the sides to the slit. Worked great and I didn’t have to mess with adding a zipper myself.

Inside pockets of the artist's bag
Inside pockets of the artist’s bag

 I didn’t have enough fabric for the straps and asked Z if she wanted to accent purple what color would she use. She answered with pink, so I purchased a 1/4 yard or so of a metallic pink fabric that was somewhat a cross between corduroy and denim, yet very soft.

I loved the sparkles in the pink fabric, which doesn’t really show in the photos. I also liked it’s durability for use of the straps. The pink and purple also made a good pairing.

Pockets and zipper details
Pockets and zipper details

Difficulties with Foam Board

In my infinite wisdom I decided that if Z was to store drawings in this bag, she’d need support, so the drawings wouldn’t wrinkle.

My solution was to sew foam board into the bag pieces to stiffen it. While I thought this made prefect sense it was a sheer nightmare to sew. The board flattened out the bag meaning the to stand away from the sewing machine to sew the bag through. I also had to move the sewing machine to a location where there was lots of room behind it so that the bag could get to through to the end corner.

Front pieces of the artist's bag
Front pieces of the artist’s bag

All in all it was very fumblely and difficult to keep a nice straight stitch. After adding the zipper all the way around I was forced to use some bias tape and hot glue to make the edge seams look somewhat decent.

Completed Bag

At fist glance the bag looks pretty good and functional. However the outer seams are wonky and hot glued together and well just not professional looking.

Z said she really liked it and thought I did a good job, but I wasn’t so sure. I am glad she liked it though.

Completed artist's bag
Completed artist’s bag

While it may not be my best work, I did learn two things from this project. One don’t start a Christmas present two days before Christmas and two never sew with foam board again.

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Holiday Sewing: Artist's Bag

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Akram Taghavi-Burris

designer, writer, educator, tech nerd, crafter, baker, sewer and vintage collector, who Brings Creative & Crazy Ides to Life.

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