Bag It!

It's official...I like making bags!  More specifically...I enjoy engineering bags!

It usually starts out as a really simple concept and then I need a pocket for this, and the front could also work for that, and if I added this thingy over here I could use it for this....and then I really get excited!!!!  I love figuring out the proportions, the ideal number of pockets, what hardware makes sense, how to do the construction....in fact I think the construction order is my favorite part.  I know, pretty geeky.  So when I realized that I would need something to cart groceries in during my stay in Key West next month, that got me going.  I will be sans auto and traveling around by bicycle so decided I would need a backpack type bag for hauling stuff.

The simple idea was a grocery sized bag with a strap that could be over the shoulder or converted to backpack straps for biking.  It would definitely need a zipper pocket for phone and wallet.  Hey....what about a sleeve-type thingy that could carry a yoga mat????  Wait a minute, if I'm going to get groceries it will certainly involve a wine bottle or two.....probably need a pocket for that! 

And then of course there is the hardware and the fabric choices to figure out.   It should be light weight but have some body to maintain the structure.  Definitely cleanable!  Plastic zippers or metal ones?  Gold or silver "D" rings? ...Isn't this GREAT?!!  The process always involves several hours in the fabric store wandering and pondering.  By the time I collect all the bits and bobs I probably could have bought 3 bags and called it good!!  Where's the fun in that?

My trial balloon was looking really good....nice pockets, good fabrics, even had a zipper in the stash that was perfect...but...the proportions were way off.  I wanted to make a 'paper bag' bottom on the bag to give it more dimension and when I got the corners sewn in it looked more like a backpack for a sausage.  Way too tall and skinny!  But I learned a lot! 

The trip to the fabric store produced two fabric combinations...I just couldn't make up my mind so I got both.  Definitely a bird theme going on... I finally decided to go full Key West and use the flamingo print, which was also a Sunbrella fabric so it would be easy to wipe off and have a bit of water resistance.

I measured my trial balloon, drew several more pictures, calculated strappage, assessed print size and placement...and slept on it.  When I turned the lights on in my studio the next morning this is what greeted me....(wine bottle strictly for measuring purposes!😏 )

I don't know exactly how long I worked on it, but it was one of those days where time was just suspended.  I love it when I get totally swept away in a project.  And all the 'engineering' paid off!  I love my new Key West backpack/grocery bag.

Front with zipper pocket and yoga mat straps.  Back with adjustable straps that convert from over the shoulder to backpack style.  The straps feed through "D" rings on the front to cinch the bag closed.

There are some pretty sweet details if I do say so myself...

Over the shoulder style.  The original idea was to have a single strap coming from the back, but the fabric is pretty soft and with just the one strap the bag collapses when it gets carried over the shoulder.  The addition of a 'fixed' strap solved that dilemna.
Backpack style.  The straps pull through keeping the bag closed when it is worn as a backpack.  Obligatory zipper pocket.  Nifty loose straps for carrying a yoga mat! (or a beach towel!)
Wine (or water) bottle pocket on the inside keeps the bottle upright and centered to make it more comfortable to carry.  The pocket is made from sport mesh with an elastic cord to cinch it closed around the bottle.  I added clips on the sides to tuck in some of the fullness .

You can see here the 'sausage' shaped trial balloon and the better proportions of the final product.  Much more useful.

My new backpack has been added to the pile of Key West bound stuff...

I can't believe it's just a week away...I am so ready for some sun and sand between my toes!


  1. Your bag is beautifully tropical with fabulous engineering. Key West infers some kind of romance and a magical time. Lucky you.

  2. That bag is too cute! Your choice of fabrics and engineering are impressive. One observation: one bottle of wine rests directly on your spine. You might want to make two mesh holders to hold two bottles of wine, which would rest on either side of your spine.

    1. Excellent observation!!! TWO bottles of wine is a much better idea...and should do wonders to loosen up my spine ;)

  3. I can't wait to hear how many people ask where you bought it. Have a great time.

    1. They will just have to deal with the disappointment that it is one of a kind!