I’ve been thinking of making a pretty backpack for a while, mainly to use for work as I end up taking two bags when really one well planned one would work. Having looked around I rather liked the look of the fold down tops, so I started searching for a pattern on Etsy.
The one I chose looked reasonably straight forward, it’s by a German company called Dozing Hound Crafts. It has two side pockets, a central clip fastener and a hidden outside pocket, which pretty much ticked all the boxes of what I wanted.
I chose some furnishing fabric I had in my stash, with hindsight I don’t think it will stay smart for very long as it’s like a woven jacquard, I think it may snag easily. However it’s pretty, a fairly practical colour and I’ve used a sturdier brown fabric as an accent fabric which includes areas like the base and the back.
I know from experience that bags take an awful lot of pieces and this one is no exception, 40 pieces in all took me quite a few hours to cut out! There’s the main fabric, accent fabric, lining, interfacing, fleece… The pattern is all in centimetres, all my quilting rulers are in inches, I was just about to get all complicated with a tape measure when I remembered the reverse side of my cutting mat is metric! I only fussy cut the main fabric, getting a nice big flower in the middle of the front and then trying to pattern match it for the lid – in the end I cut the lid longer than I needed so I could work out the overlap once the backpack was half made up.
The actual pattern went together fine, but the instructions were not good, more of that later! All the different sections are stitched before the whole bag is put together, so there’s the side pockets, the straps, handle, hardware, zip pockets. Here’s a photo of the front, back and sides before the final construction…
The back is quilted with some batting, it was meant to be firm fleece, so I added some interfacing and it does give the back some strength and body. I’m just waiting for some webbing to arrive to connect the shoulder straps to the tabs in the corners. I did order some dark brown but when it arrived it was more of a tan, so this time I’ve ordered natural and ruby, fingers crossed one of them will do!
I don’t think I’ve made a full gussetted bag before, I’ve just made a bottom by squashing the corners, I know the issue is lining up both sides so you don’t get a twist in the side piece. With this pattern the sides and base strip is in two halves so at least you don’t have to worry about lining up the second accent seam after going round two corners. I was a little concerned though about the strength of the corners as the strip had to be snipped almost to the seam – I put copious amounts of fraycheck on each corner!
Once the outer bag was stitched the lining was pretty straight forward. The pattern adds volume fleece to soften the bag, I bought the recommended vilene and it certainly softens it, it takes away the crispness of the finish though, especially on the flap. I’d be tempted next time to either miss out the fleece or just have it on the inside, not the flap.
Now, the pattern…
The pattern is from a German company and the instructions have not been translated at all well, Google translate comes to mind! When it comes to sewing the opposite of right sides together is wrong sides together, not left sides! Seams were sometimes fixated, sometimes it seemed to mean with pins, other times stitching. I did have to rack my brain back an awful long way when it talked about halving the hypotenuse! I had to really concentrate and read the instructions several times to work out what I was meant to do, when it came to the stitching of the top closing strap I did my own thing in the end as I couldn’t understand how it was going to work otherwise….and I’m sorry but a pattern that had been properly proof read in English would not have a piece called Front Bottom!
Having said all that, it’s finished and I’m pleased with it. The actual pattern went together well, I think the only design change I made was to line the pockets…and I put a little key tab inside the front pocket. I’m pleased with how the top flap pattern matches-ish with the front, though I thought the flap would sit a bit neater, it maybe that once there’s stuff in the bag and it’s had a few weeks wear, it will settle down. I’m entering it in Otley Show next week, then it will be my work bag. At the moment it seems like a good-size roomy bag, though with the flap opening it’s a long way down to the bottom – I hadn’t thought of that aspect when I chose the design! If the concept of a work backpack works out, then I have my eye on another length in my stash for another one.
That’s very cool, love the fabric
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Thanks Helen, it’s very pretty fabric.
Wow 40 pieces that’s a bag jigsaw puzzle! Love the material and I think it’s a winner for the show
I looked at this bag on Etsy when I was searching for my backpack pattern, and thought I’d find it annoying to roll or fold the top over every time I wanted to close the bag (I know, very lazy!). Having read your review, I’m so glad I didn’t buy it! You’ve made a lovely job of it, and I really like the fabric choices. I think one of the things that annoys me most about bag-making is that I can always find fabrics I like, but the hardware choices in the shops are pretty limited and I don’t always want to wait for an online order.
you made a lovely job of it even if instructions weren’t always clear.
Well done you! So admire your tenacity with this make, Margaret. You’ve got a lovely bag that I hope you will enjoy for years!
Great work and translation. You should be very proud, I have been thinking of making a bag like yours for a little while, so thank you for your review. I may look for an English pattern though!
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That really turned out well!