Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Tron Bag: A Journey

This project has a LONG history behind it. Let's go back about two years, to the Sewing Expo at Puyallup in 2010. That's where I spotted something called "Dazzle Wire" at Tammy O'Connell's Peacock Patterns booth. I bought a 5-foot piece, not knowing what I was going to do with it, but knowing that it had to be a part of something pretty cool.
So it came home, and sat in my workroom, waiting for a project.

And waited.

Finally, I showed it to my son, and he said, "Wow, that would be great on the front of a messenger bag." His favorite messenger bag (a "Bag of Holding" from ThinkGeek) wasn't holding up as well as he would like, and wasn't quite the right size for his needs, so he asked me to make him a new bag, but using the Dazzle Wire to give it a "Tron" feel.

What could I say? I seldom get the chance to sew anything for my son. All I had to go on was two pictures:

From these two pictures, I could figure out approximately how the bag had to come together. One of the requirements for Ian was that his laptop had to fit into the bag. So, with his measurements in hand, I knew the bag had to measure 17" wide by 12" high.

Time for some deep thought.

It looked like the bag had two main compartments, one of which was intended to hold a laptop. It also looked like the laptop compartment was not covered by the front flap. Hmm. There was a zippered compartment in the flap, as well as two smaller compartments attached to the front of the bag. And, although the original bag didn't have them, I figured side pockets would be a good thing.

So I got to work.

The first element was how to do the Dazzle Wire. I thought about couching it, using thick thread covering to fill in the gaps, but finally realized that the only logical way to approach it was to thread it in and out of the front via eyelets. So, I mapped out an abstract path for the wire, and made eyelets for each "in" and "out" point. Once they were all sewn, I threaded the wire through the eyelets and glued the exposed portions to the fabric. I also made openings in the flap so the end of the wire could hook up to the power supply, nestled in its own little pocket in the bag.

I wish I could say I knew what I was doing, but really I was just winging it the whole way through. I cut and sewed pockets and flaps that looked right, and put everything together so it matched what I thought it should look like. And, lo and behold, it all worked out in the end, because Ian absolutely loves his new bag.

So, here are some pictures.

Ian admiring his new Tron-inspired messenger bag.

With the flap open, the inner compartments are revealed.

There's a zippered pocket in the front.

Also, a Velcro-fastened pocket.

You can also see the short pieces with the snaps on them; these allow the top flap to be closed in two different positions, depending upon how full the bag is.

A nice, big main compartment. You can see the wire on the left, coming out of the flap.

This little pocket holds the battery pack that powers the Dazzle Wire.

And a second large compartment, not covered by the flap, is a padded laptop pocket.

There are also two side pockets with Velcro-closure flaps; perfect for a cell phone.

The Dazzle Wire lights up when the battery pack is turned on; here's a picture of what the effect is like in a darkened room.

Ian is absolutely thrilled with his bag; he's already trying to figure out whether he should use it as his carry-on luggage when he goes back to Arizona on Sunday. How does one explain to a TSA agent that one's carry-on bag has wires and a battery pack? I think I'll encourage him to simply put it in his suitcase instead.


  1. nicely done! and there is nothing better than sewing successfully for our kids (our toughest critics)

  2. This is excellent work, very clean, nice stitching; a lot of integrity in this piece.

  3. Great bag! I'm interested in what fabric you used .. .did you use interfacing or did the fabric not need it?

    Do you knit? Next thing you know your son will want a hat knit with that glow in the dark yarn!

  4. You, my dear, are a sewing genius. I'm constantly amazed by your creations - sometimes with a pattern, sometimes from a sketch. You have a wonderful gift and thank-you so much for sharing it with all of us. Hugs.

  5. Most Awesome! You did a fabulous job.

  6. That is fantastic! I am always impressed with how you take your kids' ideas and turn them into reality. The super cool thing is that they're grown and they still want you to sew them stuff! Brava! BTW, I also really enjoy your Smithsonian gowns. Great job as always! :)


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