A series of not-quite-flops but certainly-not-triumphs have left my soul damp and robbed my hair of its vigor. I’m pivoting briefly to sewing gifts for others while I rebuild my powers!
This first is a knitting bag for my sister, who is unaware of this blog and hates surprises anyway. I was leaning towards the Noodlehead Crescent Tote pattern but feeling a bit blah about sourcing the notions when I remembered the Grainline Field bag. My vague sense of this bag: trendy, but something off about it. The off thing, I rediscovered, is the price. The PDF is $16 dingitty dang dollars! I spent a few minutes skipping around the video sewalong at 2.5x speed to discover what justified this price point and was aghast to realize it’s as simple as it looks. The whole pattern is three rectangles. And two of those are the same width!
That said: the technique of folding in the boxed corners at the base is lovely, and the sewalong is excellent. And I like how slim the notions list is. But whether I’m with a fox, or in a box, I will not spend an amount of money that nets you 32 pounds of sweet potatoes at Haymarket for the privilege of sewing a dead simple tote, so I just sort of went ahead and made one. Well, two. But first, one!
Mine is not an accurate, proper Field bag, obviously. I used the dry oilskin scraps leftover from my Sandhill sling and based the dimensions on that available fabric. This version was meant as proof-of-concept, so I only used stuff I could find around my house fo’ free. It’s got two grommets instead of the Field bag’s three; I harvested the leftover grommet from an old Kelly anorak kit, plus the extra grommet from an otherwise-unused Kelly anorak kit (it’s a good kit). The drawstrings are just grosgrain ribbon from my drawer of gift wrap supplies. I’ve got some odd lengths of natural cotton webbing kicking around; this one was 11” long. The finished base of this bag is about 5” x 8.5” inches.
Overall it works! A boxed-corner tote is a boxed-corner tote, etc. My least favorite part is that the stitching to attach the internal pocket is visible on the outside, and my bobbin stitching is almost never as pretty as my topstitching. Especially on this oilskin, where the bobbin stitches almost ‘float’ on top of the fabric and seem to scar the surface. I decided to choose something toothier for the final version in hopes that the stitching would sink in more.
To jump ahead, I *still* don’t like the look of it, even on this nice textured cotton/linen canvas. If I was doing this again I would cut an underlining layer, attach the pocket just to that, and then afterwards treat the underlining/outer bag as one. It’s too late now…unless I start over, which is tempting. On the one hand, it’s a gift and I want it to be nice. On the other hand, it’s a gift destined for Germany, so pretty soon I won’t have to look at it anymore. In the meantime I’m just quietly disliking it.
This final version is a slightly different size than the oilskin one, by the way, because this time I based the dimensions on ½ yard of 45” fabric. I was given a generous cut (19”, <3), but the base is a little wider than the first time (skinnier pocket = wider base + shorter sides), 5.5” x 8.5”.
This one has the three grommets, though I’m not at all clear what they’re for! Buying the grommets was an unexpected pain. Neither Gather Here nor Michael’s carries 6 mm grommets, which is the size I have the tool for. Gold Star Tool will sell me 100 6 mm grommets for about $11 including shipping, which I could then share, but without the tool, so the next user would have to have a 6 mm tool of their own. Wawak will sell me 25 grommets for about $9.00 including shipping, with the tool, which is a strictly worse deal but easier to share because I could give away the extra tool too. I could also buy a similar but different size of grommet and its corresponding tool locally, but then I’d be spending money and ending up with two tools, and I don’t want two tools! I already have one tool!
It’s a cursed economist’s word puzzle: if Lia can buy 100 grommets at 11¢ apiece, and 25 grommets at 36¢ apiece, why can’t she just have 3 grommets? Why?!! Just gimme! I eventually got 25 grommets for around $7.00 from this US-based etsy shop, feeling like Alice through the Looking Glass with her two hard-boiled eggs. They’re fine.
I used wide piping cord for the drawstrings, but I hadn’t anticipated how much it would fray. Luckily my on-the-fly fix seems to be holding – I had a handful of zipper stops purchased in haste and never used, and I clipped them onto the ends of each cord. While they don’t wrap around the whole cord, they seem to be pinching it together just fine.
I also made a little tag from the selvedge, just for fun. This Ruby Star canvas has a really wide selvedge on one side, but the pattern bleeds to the edge on the other, so it evens out.
The last minor change I made was to fold and sew the edge of the handles – I’m not really sure what that one dinky handle is for, but I thought this treatment gave it a little more polish. I went back and did the same thing to my practice bag, but upside-down, oops! Whoever gets this version from the Buy Nothing (if anyone wants it) can change it with my blessing.
And there we have it! Hopefully my sister will find this useful, but if not she can pass it on. I believe in the ‘it’s yours now’ school of giving – once a gift is given, the gift-ee can do whatever they want with it. Boil it, mash it, stick it in a stew.
Anything they like. No matter what, I’ll enjoy how few scraps remain!
Pattern: almost but not entirely unlike the Grainline Field bag
Pattern cost: NA
Size: finished base 5” x 8.5”/5.5” x 8.5”
Supplies: scraps of M&M dry oilskin in Navy, thread, hardware, webbing, string from stash; zipper stops, Gather Here, $1.00/1/2 yard of Noodles Dove on Canvas, Gather Here, $7.50; 2 yards of 1/8″ cotton piping cord, zipper stops, Gather Here; eyelets, etsy (WeiFashionDesign), $9.07
Total time: 1.75 hours/2 hours
Total cost: $1.00/$16.57