The Perfect Travel Bag...Again!

I rose on Sunday morning (and let me be clear....it was April 28!!!!!) to this winter fantasyland scene.  While I certainly can appreciate the lovely, sparkly, crispness....IT'S APRIL 28!!!!  The saving grace was knowing that it would be gone by dinner time.  I decided to avoid the whole thing by hiding out in my sewing room.  

My son visited from London a few weeks ago and brought with him a wonderful duffle bag made out of waxed cotton.  It had an ingenious zipper pocket that opened the full length of the duffle and folded down when closed to create a tidy sized backpack.  

Several of my family members and friends have not just noticed, but commented on my growing fascination with bags.  (some may even have gone as far as calling it an obsession!)  Whatever...

I studied the bag, thoroughly.  It was definitely too large for a purse/backpack, but the clever opening got me thinking....

I have a pile-o-scraps left from my waxed cotton adventures last December, so I started with a pocket idea and scraps.  

My increase in traveling over the last few years has helped me hone in on what it is I like about my travel bags.  There are several 'must have' options that I wanted to incorporate into my waxed cotton backpack...

-  Yes, I do like to have a backpack.  I find if I have a one shoulder bag to haul for any extended amount of time I get all twisted to one side.  Much better to have a balanced load on both shoulders.

- Pockets!!!  Plenty!!!  There are several pockets and pocket placements that have become non-negotiable for me.   I want a phone pocket that is on the back side of the pack and opens to the side.  This allows me to swing the pack around on my shoulder and retrieve the phone quickly.  Also, pockets on the back side are more secure than front pockets.

I want a pocket for my wallet, another for my sunglasses/reading glasses, one for all the small stuff that wanders around on the bottom of a bag and is never seen again, and a place for keys to attach.  If I get many more than that I just get too confused!

When I travel I want to take things in a carry-on that I don't necessarily want to carry all the time, i.e. knitting, snacks, a sweater,  a water bottle, maybe my laptop.  BUT, most carry-on bags are too big for wandering around London for the whole day...dilemma!

My plan was to create a backpack that would accommodate my travel needs AND not be too big for a daypack.  I love a challenge!

I spent some time working out the details and running up a couple of prototypes. My plan also had to take into consideration the waxed cotton.  I had to be careful not to gang up too many pockets, linings, stabilizers, straps etc, or I would go through too many machine needles!

My pattern included pockets made from light weight slippery lining to make retrieving things easier, a fully lined big 'cavity' pocket and four zippers of varying lengths.

Just figuring out what pieces to cut out of which fabrics was crazy making!

I worked in segments and then put everything together....here are several of the pocket segments ready to go...

When it finally came together I got pretty darned excited!  (Maybe obsession isn't that far off?!)  Let me give you a tour of my new travel backpack...

Two zipper pocket on the back side...

the top pocket has inside pockets for my wallet, glasses, and keys...

the bottom pocket, with requisite side zip, is just the perfect size for my cell phone.


There is another pocket in the front flap that can hold the little stuff, lip gloss, breath mints, nail file...

So that takes care of the 'walking-around-everyday' stuff.  Now for the extra 'what-I-want-on-the-plane' stuff.
Here's where my son's duffle bag comes into the picture...

Voila!  Under the front flap/pocket is the biggo cavity that flattens out when nothing is inside it, or can grow to accommodate lots of plane snacks or London shopping finds as needed!


To keep it tidy there is a buckle that can be cinched down depending on the load.

And you might think that so many wonderful features had to come in a monster size...but...It all fits in a neat, perfectly sized package!  AND, don't you think a waxed canvas backpack with black metal buckles is totally cool and hipster for an old lady?!  Please excuse my exuberance...I just get so carried away!

By dinnertime the snow was history and I had yet another 'perfect travel bag.'  I think I'll go buy a plane ticket!


  1. A truly fabulous backpack. How do you carry it when it is in carryall mode?

    1. The same way, as a backpack. It just gets a bit fatter.

  2. That does indeed look like a wonderful travel bag. It will be interesting to read your experiences with using it.

    1. That’s the test! I have been taking it around town and loving it. The plane ride is the next test! I’ll let you know.

  3. The backpack looks perfect. I have made so many bags that some call me the bag lady.

    1. I know, right? I just love the 'engineering' of pockets and zippers, totally geeky!

  4. Ingenious design - second career in bag designing? So smart and compact with fabulous pockets. Love the expansion idea. Interesting to see how it works for you in its fuller format, as well as how the fabric wears.

    1. Interesting thought...but I have decided not to have any more careers! Just avocations! I think I will get tired of it long before the fabric gives up! It's tough stuff!