the orange slice bag

Recently, Dixie and I started a local sewing book club. Since I have a few  a lot  a metric ton of crafting books, I’m excited to have this great motivator to use them and to compare experiences with the group.

During our first meeting, we reviewed Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders. I made a few projects from this book, including The Day Out Bag (p. 111). Here’s the version that was photographed for the book:

The Day Out Bag in yummy Echino fabric

I made the exterior in a home dec weight fabric in Amy Butler’s August Fields collection, which has been lingering in my stash for a while. A friend dubbed it my “Orange Slice Bag,” and I loved that name so it stuck…

orange slice handbag

The verdict… I really liked this pattern! I was surprised to find a bit more intermediate-level bag making techniques in a book like this, where for no reason other than my own assumptions, I thought the patterns would all be super-simple. Not that it was difficult, but primarily due to the zipper panel / 3D type of construction, I wouldn’t recommend it as someone’s very first bag to sew. My more detailed notes:

  • The pattern calls for the entire bag, including the lining, to be made from home dec weight fabric. I lined it with a quilting cotton. If you do this, I recommend interfacing the lining for more structure. (The pattern already calls for the exterior to be interfaced.)
  • I skipped the pocket. I have little use for patch-type pockets in handbags. Next time, I would add an interior flush zipper pocket, which I prefer. However, a woman in our book club also made this bag and she put the patch pocket on the outside, which was cute.
  • I’m sure there’s a convention that calls for putting a loop/tab at only one end of the zipper, as it is on this bag, but I’m calling bollocks on that. I’ve followed that tradition for the last time! You need a tab to hold whether opening the zipper or closing it, so I’m putting one on both ends from now on.
  • The basic construction of the bag calls for joining the sides of (what is essentially) a circle to the straight edges of the zipper panel. This is always a crapshoot, and in my mind, it’s where the rubber really meets the road as far as the pattern goes. I found it perfect — the seams on each of the pieces were exactly the right length — and the other woman who made it agreed. A+!
  • I was worried, due to the bag’s shape and width, that it wouldn’t “hang” right, for lack of a better word. That the corners would fold or sag as it was being carried. That doesn’t happen at all. The design was just right — I’m sure that the handle alignment was the key here. Next time, however, I’d lengthen those suckers a few inches so I could carry it over my shoulder more easily… just a personal preference.
  • Speaking of straps, this is where I departed from a technique perspective. The pattern stipulated that the straps be assembled in way that is very common, in my experience: press seam allowance of long edges to the wrong side, fold in half lengthwise and press, edgestitch long edges. The problem I have with this technique is that, if your finished straps are wider than the seam allowances (and they usually are — in this case, almost 4x wider), you end up with one edge bulkier than the rest of the strap. Hopefully that makes sense! So, I assembled them differently. I started to give an explanation of it here, but it’s too hard to follow as just text, so I’ll put together a photo tutorial and post it soon.

When I first completed this bag, I wasn’t sure if I’d like carrying it. The shape is much different from the bags I tend to choose, but I decided to keep an open mind and try it. I love it. There’s no such thing as stuff falling to the bottom of this bag — when the zipper is fully open, you can see every single thing in it. Regarding the shape, the only downside that I’ve found is that you really do need to keep it zipped up all the time, or it’s too easy for things to fall out. That was a bit of a learning curve for me, since I tend to treat handbag fasteners as optional unless I’m riding a roller coaster. On the whole, I give it the thumbs-up, and I want to experiment more with bag profiles like this.

P.S. Dixie’s review of this book is here!

Comments 1

  • Oh My Gosh I love the idea of a sewing book club. I think that is so cool. I would love to do that with some of my crafty friends. Oh and the bag looks great. I am hoping to try your basic tote soon. Your instructions are so clear and love all the photos really helps us beginners. thank you! just discovered your blog from pinterest and am loving it so far.

    Thanks Kathy! I hope you like the tote tutorial and let me know if you have any questions! ~Susan

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