Bohemian Carpet Bag

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I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been thinking about making a duffel bag for myself but when I was listening to a not particularly good audiobook and one of the main characters stepped off a train with a carpet bag, I knew then and there that it was a carpet bag I wanted to make. I found the Bohemian Carpet Bag pattern by Sew Liberated and got stitching (well, actually I bought all the stuff and then left it right to the last minute as I was busy with other stuff).

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And I am pleased with the result (I love the red and grey) but the pattern was really hard going for my poor sewing machine and I have a good quality Janome. It was the handle that was the particularly tricky part, I was using a home decor weight red corduroy, not particularly thick and you had to line it (and most of the other parts) with a fusible fleece and then press the handle so that it and the fleece was folded into four layers. This was an absolute nightmare to get through my poor machine. I managed just about (with a few heart stopping stalls) but when it came to the seam where the left hand handle had to be joined to the right hand handle (although the bag has two handles, the fabric for the handles is initially cut in four strips), that meant even more layers of fabric and there was no way on earth I was going to get my sewing machine needle through that, so I had to leave those two parts un-topstitched. And then, even worse, at the bottom of the bag, where the two joined together handles joined together again at the bottom, you had to sew a seam through two handle ends at a time, which was just impossible. Unfortunately not being able to sew the handles together at the bottom left two gaping holes in the bottom seam (not ideal in a bag), so I’ve had to clumsily hand stitch the seam closed where the handles join, it doesn’t exactly look neat. There was also no way could I fold over the layers of fabric at the top of the bag to stitch the channel for the bag frame, so I had to hand stitch that too.

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(I love the lining, also home dec fabric bought from John Lewis).

The pattern includes a key fob but I couldn’t find the hardware for it, so I skipped that bit. I did think about sewing an interior pocket too (which isn’t in the pattern) but I was running out of time (and I swear my sewing machine was beginning to hate me).

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The bag is not actually finished, which seems to be a tradition lately with bags I make, as I always seem to make bags right up to the last minute. In this case I wanted it to take it with me on my latest hospital trip. There’s a foam board base to the bag (which you can just about see in photo 3) and the cover for that is still held together by pins at the base. Still, it did the job I needed it for and I much preferred it to the Cath Kidston rucksack I normally squeeze all my stuff in for an overnight bag. However it really does only hold enough stuff for one, maybe two nights, but that probably has a lot to do with me, as when I pack to go away somewhere I’m a bit nervous about, I have to also pack reading material, homemade cake (which I didn’t actually eat, Mr. Lacer ate a slice though) and a craft project or two (in this case it was two, I actually didn’t even touch the second project, I was knitting whilst waiting for my operation though!). When packed with as much stuff as you can see in the photo, the bag does close but there’s a smallish gap at the top where you can see your stuff peeking out, which didn’t feel that secure. If I were to make this bag again, I would use a thinner material for the accent fabric, instead of the four corner accents I would have two panels at the bottom half of each side of the bag and I would use these panels to hide the ends of the handles, so that I wouldn’t have to try and hide the bottom of the handles in the seam, also I would attach some kind of closure at the top of the bag and I probably would have an interior pocket.

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