The last project I started at the ASG Retreat was Timber Lane Press's Pocket Tote. I made this bag some years ago and came across the pattern while choosing projects for the retreat. I remembered liking the bag the last time I made it, so added it to my project pile.
Cutting the pattern out and getting the first 75% done was no problem at all. But I didn't get to finish it at the retreat, so brought it home to finish it in the sewing room. Today I finally got the last of the thing done and I swear, I'm never making this bag again.
Don't get me wrong; it's a very nice pattern, but the last assembly steps are just murder on my machines!! I went through more needles than for just about any other project; I even broke a Jeans needle on the final stitching. During the final assembly, where you are attaching the binding to the outer seam, there are points where you are trying to plow through 11 layers of fabric and 4 layers of batting!! I could barely get my presser foot high enough to get the layers underneath. Much to my surprise, my industrial didn't have the oomph to get through the layers. I was able to complete the machine sewing on my Viking 1+; with every stitch the light dimmed and there were a few spots where my machine simply said "Nuh-uh, not doing a stitch there!" and I would have to advance it just a wee bit so it could take the stitch.
But it's done. The last bit of sewing is done by hand (stitching down the binding that covers the edges), and I finished it this evening.
Here's the front of the bag:
I did the embroidery for the front pocket on my Designer 1 before I left for the retreat, but that was the only prep work. All the pieces are machine-quilted, and I did free-motion quilting around the house and person in the logo. I actually do like how it looks on the pocket.
The back has the same pocket as the front, only without embroidery. You can see the white chalklines I used to keep the meander quilting reasonably straight; I used tailor's chalk which is waxy, and I hope the marks will eventually fade away!
The inside has a nice selection of pockets.
Yes, I used my standard drapery lining as the interior fabric.
The pattern instructions call for one zippered interior pocket, but I added a second one. Also, the instructions call for sewing it down along the top edge, but I like the option of having it serve as both an open pocket and a zippered pocket. There are also two elastic-topped pockets for water bottles and such on the inside.
The instructions for sewing the handles are strange: it calls for sewing a tube of fabric, then sewing a tube of batting, and threading the batting into the tube. I tried that and it totally didn't work; I couldn't get the padding to slide into the tube! I struggled for half an hour and finally gave up; I ended up cutting strips 4x the final strap width, placing padding in the center half, then folding the strip in half and then folding the raw ends to meet the center fold, and edgestitching to hold it all together. It worked fine.
I'm not sure how to make something like this easier to complete, unless it would be by using a thinner fabric. I used a bottomweight twill (the same one I used for the Professional Tote), because I like to have durable fabrics for my tote bags. The pattern calls for Warm & Natural batting between the layers, but I used my heavy western flannel drapery interlining because that's what I still have a bolt of. I'm not sure if it's that much heavier than W&N but I'd have to check.
Anyway, I'm going to find this pattern a new home so it doesn't rise to the surface again in six or seven years and tempt me to tackle it again. Any takers?