PE Bag


Girl Lacer needed a PE bag for her new school, it had to be plain dark blue or black with no branding. I could have probably have found her one (although finding her school bag was tough enough, that had to be plain dark blue or black, strong, waterproof and no branding) but she wanted me to make her one, awwww. Now I had been thinking of making myself a duffel bag for a while (for all those hospital visits) but hadn’t got round to it, although I had been looking at some quite complex looking patterns. So I thought making a simpler duffel bag for Girl Lacer first would be good practice. And as it happened the issue before last of Mollie Makes (issue 56) had just such a simple pattern, the ‘easy sew retro duffel bag’.


So, leaving it last minute (of course), I set about making it. Finding plain dark blue or black medium weight material was quite hard, the only choice really was denim, so I used a dark blue denim (14oz if I remember correctly) and black webbing for the handles (finding the right colour webbing was also hard). The pattern calls for piping / welting, to edge the top of the pockets and around the outside of the two end panels but I couldn’t find piping for the life of me, other than that horrible twisted stuff that used to go round cushions in the 1980s. I did find plain white piping in the end but that obviously wouldn’t work with the prescribed colour scheme. So in the end I didn’t use any and edged the pockets with thin black binding which I think looks quite nice.

The lining is some V&A fabric I have had metres of in my stash for a very long time, I fell in love with it back during the V&A festival of quilts and had planned on making a dress for myself with it but at first I couldn’t find ‘the perfect’ dress pattern for it and then I began to think that actually, much as I love the fabric, that turquoise all over on a dress wouldn’t suit me. So it goes to show that sometimes when you fall in fabric love it pays to actually cut into it promptly because you can just as easily fall out of fabric love. Anyway, so I finally cut into my V&A fabric for this, it only used about a metre, so I’ve still got plenty and actually I think it could still look good on clothing for me, as long as I use it as an accent, not all over. I’m also thinking of making some pillow cases with it. But back to the bag, I think it looks great as a lining for this, it’s blue but it’s not dark blue and *shock horror* it’s got a pattern on it, so I like how it makes the bag look quite grown up yet at the same time a bit naughty (me and Mr. Lacer are not the sort of parents who subscribe fully to their kids schools dress codes).

I am quite pleased with the finished product, which was so last minute I was still hand sewing the lining to the zip, naked in bed, on the morning Girl Lacer needed to take her PE kit to school, Girl Lacer’s friend knocked for her slightly earlier than expected, so I was yelling quick shut the bedroom door (so Girl Lacer’s friend doesn’t have the misfortune of seeing me naked) whilst I quickly whipped out the rest of the pins and just half tacked the rest of the lining on, so it made it to school on time, that was the morning of operation number two, I’m back home now and could just about manage hand sewing the rest of the lining on today. I think Girl Lacer is at an age where she still likes and appreciates me making her stuff (otherwise she wouldn’t have asked) but I think she also probably likes the stuff I make for her to not look obviously, at first glance handmade. The restrictions on the colour scheme I think worked out really well, it’s made the bag look quite classic and I’ll be interested to see how it wears over time, considering it’s denim. I have to admit I had some fairly romantic ideas whilst making this, of Girl Lacer using it to pack stuff to go to university in (sigh, she’s only just started secondary school, get a grip me).

I would argue though that the description of the bag as ‘easy’ wasn’t quite right. I found putting in the end panels incredibly hard and it is pucker central on both those side seams, however thankfully with the dark fabric, I don’t think it looks too bad even with the puckers. So, I was debating whilst making this, would I use the same pattern for a duffel bag for me? Actually I’d quite like to pinch Girl Lacer’s bag itself but no, as I can’t have that, I think I’ll still be looking at the slightly fancier duffel bag patterns I was looking at earlier.


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