13 March 2009

Make your own gear: satchel bag

Last Saturday I went to a local furnishing fabric wholesaler's special "direct to the public" sale. The wholesaler does really high quality fabrics, many of which were absolutely gorgeous.

I picked up an offcut of some animal print suede. Its normally about $70/m but I got my offcut for just $5. There was enough there for me to make a bag. So I set about designing a bag to use it with. I wanted to experiment with lots of pockets to see which ones ended up being useful.

Following are the pictures of the resulting bag (numbered 1-5, left to right, top to bottom). Its a satchel/messenger style bag (1), with a top flap, that has a sort-of hidden zip pocket (2). It has another zip pocket in the bag body underneath the flap (3). Then there is the main section of the bag (3), and on the back is a magazine pocket (4). The straps attach on the sides (5).

I used a plain black polycotton poplin for the lining. The strap is made of black strap webbing.

I was really happy the result, and have used it a couple of times already. I wear it across my body, rather than just on one shoulder. Its comfortable, and very workable.

I like the back magazine pocket - as well as for books and magazines, its also just the right size for one of my books in its mailing envelope - really useful for ducking up to the shops to post them! (I sell the books that I have written via mail order, as well as them being available through craft shops). The front hidden pocket is good for a notebook and pen. The zip pocket under the flap is good for a lightweight cardigan or jacket and my keys. In the main section I can easily fit my 600ml drink bottle, my wallet, an umbrella, and various other bits, with lots of room to spare for if I need to pack more stuff into it.

What would I change? Well, I haven't yet figured out how to secure the top flap. I'd like some way to have it a bit more secure, rather than just having it flapping freely up and down. I wondered about a magnetic clasp or a plastic clip where you press the sides in for buckle release (if you know the sort I mean).

I'd also like to put a slider into the strap so that the length is adjustable, but I didn't have one when I was making it. Its ok the length it is, for ME, but if anyone else wanted to use the bag, it might not be just right for them.

I would also make the zip of front hidden pocket finish a little higher. At the moment it goes right to the bottom of the flap. If it finished even just 2cm higher, it would make things a little less likely to fall out - they don't fall out easily as it stands, but I think it could be an improvement - and it would mean that I could take some of the bulk from the zipper out of the seam at the bottom of the flap.

Of course, apart from the flap securing part, these are only minor things that can easily be fixed. I really think that I need some way to secure down the front flap for the sake of travelling. I just think that its a little too tempting for pickpockets the way it is. Its ok for my normal everyday life of taking the kids to school, and going up to the local shops.

And all of this is just practising and finding out how bag making and bag design works in preparation for designing and making my own luggage for travelling light. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I'd like to lose the wheels from my luggage because it will be lighter. I am used to carrying a backpack on my shoulders, so wouldn't have a problem with loading them up.

I think that a dedicated travel luggage backpack would be really suitable for travel with kids, because it will mean that I can hold hands and attend to them without worrying about holding onto my bag. And anything that makes my life easier when travelling is going to help me with enjoying travel with kids!

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