I’ve seldom been as excited for a new sewing book release as I was for this one: Lisa Lam’s A Bag for all Reasons. I mentioned not too long ago that I only recently began to execute her actual patterns; however, her technique tutorials have been useful to me for a long while. The vast majority of the twelve projects in this new book appeal to me. Actually, every single one has something I love or a technique I want to learn. This bag, The Access-All-Areas Pouch, was my first undertaking from this publication — I just made it this past weekend.
I chose this project first because I was interested in the recessed top zipper, which employed a technique that was new to me. I’ve about decided that working my way through Lisa’s books Julie-and-Julia-style would be akin to a master class on bag construction. I may do that. I’m not planning to construct every single project, but then again, I just might. Anyway, this one won’t be my last. ;)
Back to the pouch. The author notes that this bag, with its clear vinyl pocket on the outside, allows you to have your exhibition pass handy and visible for quilt shows. With that intent, I love that she addressed the issue with a full zippered pocket, rather than just a clear card slot or something that wouldn’t be as useful for other purposes. If you don’t spend much time at trade shows, the pocket is also a great place to display pictures, or fabric swatches, or a favorite poem, or a piece of embroidery, or a shopping list… hmmm, the more I write, the more I like this bag! Not the ideal place to store your social security card or your Benjamins, but other options abound.
Here are my construction notes…
- The materials list calls for double-sided fusible extra-stiff interfacing. I only had single-sided (Peltex 71F), and it worked fine. Actually I prefer it here, since it really only needs fusing on one side. By the time you have the option of fusing the other side (much later in the pattern), it gets attached via stitching anyway. Also, you don’t need as much of the interfacing as the pattern says — you’ll only need a 2″x11½” piece, to be divided into two strips.
- I absolutely, positively love that she specifies “portrait” or “landscape” rectangles in the rotary cutting instructions. So many pattern authors don’t convey whether they’re giving you the WxH or HxW dimensions, and obviously it matters for directional fabrics — putting it in these terms makes it SO much easier.
- I wanted the bag to fall right at my hip when wearing it cross-body, so I lengthened the strap. I cut the pieces 32″ long and it ended up perfect when finished (and knots tied).
- She says to trim the zipper to the width of the pocket before attaching it, but I find it’s much better to trim afterwards. You’re attaching a zipper to slippery vinyl and the seam allowance is smallish (3/8″), so why add that level of necessary perfection to the mix?
- Step 4 calls for a non-stick foot, which is definitely preferred when working with vinyl. But the problem is, in this step you still really need your zipper foot. So… I just taped the bottom of my zipper foot, a trick I picked up somewhere years ago. A lot of people use masking tape for this, but I find that Scotch Magic Tape, with its satiny matte finish, works even better. I attached a piece of the tape then used an exacto-knife to trim around the foot’s curves:
However, in the later steps (when I wasn’t stitching around a zipper), I did use my nonstick presser foot.
- Step 7: When stitching the pocket divider lines (of which I added one more than prescribed), I used a triple/stretch stitch. I love this stitch for this purpose — much more secure than standard topstitching.
- While it may appear that there’s photo evidence to the contrary, this bag is fully lined. I decided to use the same fabric throughout, but I reversed it for the lining. The effect looks like a whisper of the original print.
- Just as in her other book, this one has lots of specific photo-tutorials of techniques, so you have to flip back and forth to that chapter for the full directions. This pattern referred to the other chapter twice — once for the strap, and again for the top zipper insertion. At least this is all made easier by the fact that the book is lay-flat-spiral-bound. Love.
For another project, the wallet, she recommends a fusible interfacing that I’ve never encountered: Decovil. Have you heard of it? Apparently, it gives fabric a leather-like quality(?!?) — I’m intrigued. I’d love to get my hands on some. I was unable to find it for sale on a US-based site, so I’m considering ordering a bit from Lisa’s store. Suckered in, set up, pushed around. (Name that movie.) I’d love to know if anyone’s tried this stuff!
Thanks, Lisa, for another brilliant work that’s going to continue giving me invaluable knowledge and bag-making inspiration!