Hi all -
My trip to Kansas City got postponed for a couple of days for pet health issues. One of my cats got an abscess behind his ear and I need to give him a couple more days to heal before I can leave and one of my sister's dogs had surgery so she needs a couple of days to heal, too, before Lance gets there. So I spent the weekend making a new computer bag. I made my old computer bag probably about 10 years ago using the Professional Bag pattern and I love it, but the main zipper has started splitting so I need a new one.
I love the Professional Bag pattern and will probably make another one, but I decided to play with the Executive Carryall pattern from ByAnnie this time. Her patterns are all designed to use her Soft and Stable, a foam-based material, instead of batting for the main body of the bag. I love the feel of this material for some bags and thought it would be perfect to help pad a computer. And I've made several of Annie's bags and tend to like how they go together.
I knew up front that I would be making some changes to the pattern as I went along. I wanted to put a mesh pocket, which is an update that she made to her new version of this pattern. I just have the old version of this pattern, but I did pick up a new version of the pattern for one of her smaller sizes that had the instructions for the mesh pocket so I could see how she did it. I also wasn't sure I wanted to use the Soft and Stable for all of the pockets where she used it since she tends to go a bit overboard with this material and it can unnecessarily take up a bunch of space inside your bag. So I kept those thoughts in mind as I started working on the bag.
The first step was to make a but sandwich and do some quilting. This would later be cut into the pieces used to make the bag. I looked through my Soft and Stable and didn't have a piece big enough to use so I decided to try piecing it together. I really didn't think this would work because the Soft and Stable gets compressed by stitching, but felt it was worth a try. I butted two pieces together and used a wide zigzag stitch to sew them together. The area of the stitching was compressed, as expected, but you really can't see it in the quilted piece:
You can feel it if you know what you're looking for, but you can't see it very well so it's going to work fine for the bag.
I decided to use a quilting design that I've been wanting to try for years but haven't gotten around to it called 3's and E's. Here is a video showing how to do the quilting. I used this video to figure out the movement and then did the quilting:
I think the texture from this pattern is beautiful! Here's how it looks on the lining side:
And a close-up where you can see my imperfections:
But I still love it!
I decided to go ahead and make the outside pockets with the Soft and Stable so they would add more padding for the computer. The inside pocket that was supposed to be made with the Soft and Stable was replaced with a mesh pocket, so that saved some space and weight on the inside of the bag. The pattern has a strap on the back of the bag for attaching the bag to a rolling suitcase, but I don't think I'll need that so I didn't put that on. It also has a sleeve for a hard piece of something to put on the bottom of the bag for support, but I didn't think I would need that, either, so I skipped that, too. Otherwise, I just followed the pattern.
I also wanted to mention a little bit about zippers in this post. For my last couple of bags I've been using the zipper-by-the-yard zippers where you get a long length of zipper tape and a bunch of pulls. The ones I've been using are more heavy-duty than the general purpose zippers that I get at Joann's, so I only use them for bags that I think can support the heavier zipper. Anyway, I've found I love working with these zippers. You can cut the zipper tape to whatever size you need, so you aren't wasting the extra zipper tape. They are also a lot easier to use in the sewing. What I do is carry along the entire length of the tape when sewing a section. I'll sew my piece on the end of the zipper tape. I do all of the sewing without adding the zipper pulls. This gives me a length of zipper tape that is closed all along the length so it is easy to sew. Once everything is sewn and I get to the point where I have to cut the ends, I put on the zipper pulls, sew the sides to keep the pulls from coming off and cut the ends. At this point, both ends of the zipper tape that is attached to my piece are still closed until I slide the zipper pull over and back again to open things up, so sewing is still easy. And I can easily add the zipper pulls going whichever direction I want or can have two zipper pulls where appropriate. I didn't think to take pictures of this this time, but I'll try to remember with my next bag so you can see what I mean. If you make a lot of bags, I highly recommend the zipper-by-the yard. I've been getting mine from byannie.com, but I'm sure there are other suppliers out there, too.
Here's how my bag turned out:
I think it's going to work out well for me!