Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Very Old Bag

While spring cleaning this past week, I found a very old bag that I'd made almost two decades ago. I'm not a very old person (except when the kids' overwhelming energy makes me feel like I am) but twenty years sounds like I was a child when I sewed this. Or maybe it's just that I've been making bags for that long? Oh, look - now I've made myself feel like I've done nothing with my life but make bags. That's incredibly sad. 

I thought I'd take some photos and share them here because it's always fun to see crafts from our past. I quite enjoyed turning this bag inside out and scrutinizing my workmanship and wondering why I made certain parts this way rather than that. But also because this bag is typical of the kinds I made in the past - with heavy-duty water-resistant nylon and loads of zippers and buckles and adjustable everythings and customized whatsits and -gasp!- no piping. If I ever used actual cloth fabric, it was only for accent purposes. Quite different from the bland 100% fabric bags I make now. 

So, this bag - such an odd shape, no?

It was for my Camelbak water pack for when I went inline skating at the beach in Singapore. The current Camelbak pack designs are infinitely cooler and less boxy but back then I thought this was sooooo cool. I'll give you the tour because it has some features that you probably won't find on your typical canvas tote.

There's a thin gusseted main compartment and a fat cargo-style pocket in front.

The back is featureless - it just has two straps

one of which has loops.

The straps are adjustable. I love that I didn't use metal loops, which are more handbag-pursey and therefore completely wrong for this sporty backpack. Well done, Younger Self!

The main compartment unzips to hold the hydration pack, which is snapped in place through the top holes so it doesn't fall to the bottom of the bag, fold up and restrict water flow. The drinking hose thing threads through those loops on the strap to support the mouthpiece over the wearer's shoulder.
Man, that hydration pack has seen better years. The hose was definitely not barf-yellow when I first bought it. Ick. 

There are a couple of webbing loops spanning the gusset, for carabiners and suchlike.

The cargo pocket is a zippered gusseted thing that's edged and top-stitched onto the main bag. 

And there's binding all over the bag - I think it must have been my rugged-outdoor equivalent of piping way back then. I sewed all my bags on my old treadle machine but I was surprised to see that I'd attempted to use some really thick thread on this one. So ambitious. And yet I clearly hadn't realized one could buy topstitching needles because my thread tension on this bag wasn't great at all. 

So there- a self-indulgent walk down sewing memory lane! So much fun to reminisce, though I wish I'd saved more of my past handmade bags. You'd have especially liked to see my first attempt at a reversible messenger bag (at age 17) - it was beyond horrible. I also remember trying to avoid making regular bags and gravitating towards the more unusual customized projects just because they stretched my creativity and sewing technique so much. I used to rate the difficulty level of my projects by the number of broken needles rather than the time it took to complete them. Topstitching the double-fold binding over the multiple layers of packcloth on an ancient sewing machine was almost a rite of passage into sewing adulthood. Even now, when Mum and I discuss our sewing projects, we always talk about fit and drape and darts and collars and gentle stuff like that. On the other hand, Dad (who hasn't made the jump to quilting cotton and homedec like I have) and I still like to compare the toughness of our nylon bag fabrics and open-cell foam stabilizers and how we almost died sewing 8 layers in our most recent bag and which grommet-setting tools are most superior. Ah, the joys of a diverse sewing family. 

Back to our regularly scheduled program on Monday - Make A (Albeit Not Quite As Edgy Fabric) Bag!   


  1. Wow, that's quite an impressive old bag!

  2. I love your writing style and thank you for your Make a Bag series. I'm learning a lot from them. I too made bags as a teenager, although I stopped for many years, I'm back at the machine. You are inspiring me to play!

  3. oh my, are so so talented and brave

  4. The pattern fabric looks like guatemalan or mexican textiles... You've been making great bags for a long time!


Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.