Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ultimate Cinch Sack

What's the "proper" name for these bags?  I've seen cinch sacks, drawstring backpacks, and I think a few other terms. 

After making my bag, and then my daughter's bag, I felt confident to get started on my niece's birthday bag.  I had gone to Wal-Mart and found they had fabric that came with two co-ordinating pieces that were quite large.  I first looked at one with wild animals that was a bit more childish, but then picked out this one because she's turning 10, so not a "child" but not a teen.  And, let's face often do the parents end up being the one that carries the child's things?  I decided for this one, I was going to use one fabric on one side, and one on the other side, and a different one inside.  This way, although it's not inside-out reversible, it could be back-to-front reversible and a little more mature fabric could be shown.  As well as this awesomeness, I was going to enlarge the backpack by adding a 3" (or so) wide strip between the two sides.  Like a gusset.  I figured I would just cut one long strip and sew each side to it. 

But then I thought, how does it go around the corners?  So I cut out a piece for each side and the bottom, and sewed them together.  But they were too long somehow.  After staring at it for a bit of time, I got out my Singer "Sewing for the Home" book and looked up pillows.  Indeed, they used one long strip, cut a snip at what would be the corners, and "bent" it at the corners.  Since I had sewn seams, this wouldn't be easy, but since the strip was actually too long, I shifted it a bit.

On top of all that drama, I wanted a water bottle pocket on one side piece.  I wasn't going to do it like I did for the purse, which was based on the car seat organizer.  I was going to do it similar to what's on our "real" backpacks, except I didn't have stretchy mesh so I used a pleat.  Then I thought, much of this needs to be taken up to become the "bottom" of the holder, so it needs to be taller.  The scrap piece of fabric that I thought was perfect was suddenly too short.  No problem, I would use the brown of the gusset, and it would be more durable.  That also meant thicker though.

I went to sew it on.  Realized that if I put it up on the side, it would need to have the bottom edge folded up inside and top stitched on--a little thick (I realized after a slightly different way I could have done it).  Ideally, it should be sewn into that seam at the bottom corner.  Then I realized, as I was about to do this, that I needed the straps to come through that brown strip, in the middle, just above the bottom edge.  On the other cinch sacks, there is a seam running between the front and back and the hole for the strap is in the seam.  There was no vertical seam here.  I could use the vertical seam of either the front of back piece, but then would it still be reversible or would it feel funny?  So, I raised the pocket up again.

Then, it really hit me.  Just HOW was I gong to insert the straps into that strip?  I had done so much thinking about this bag before even starting, I thought I had figured out everything.  I can't believe I overlooked this detail!  I was tempted to take the strip off, cut it in half so each the front and back now had a narrow brown strip, and then sew them together again, creating a vertical seam mid-strip.  I realized I needed to go to bed before I started cutting!! 

I came up with the idea of a  button hole.  How to fasten the straps inside though?  I couldn't stitch the button hole slit closed like with the original bag when you sew over the straps along the seam line, on the inside. I could fold each end over to the side (inside), and stitch down, but then you would see that stitching on the outside.  I made buttonholes, and kept pondering if there was something better. 
After much thinking, I looked at my kids' cheapy cinch sacks, and some of them used loops sewn into the side seams, and the cords come through the loop and knotted below.  I've had to replace a few of these loops. Again, I had no seam to sew the ends of the loop through, and if I placed the loop on the outside with each side spread and sewn down (picture the breast cancer ribbon, put fold each leg out flat to the side), you'd see the ends of the loop and how to make that look finished?  I could put the loop through the buttonhole, and stitch down the ends...again, the stitching would show but maybe I could do it really close to the buttonhole.

I had to lengthen the buttonhole slits.  One side went fine, but on the other side, I couldn't get the buttonhole attachment to work properly because of the thickness of the water bottle pocket!!  If I had done the buttonholes before stitching the bag together, it would have worked fine.  Or if I had the pocket up just a bit higher.  At least I hadn't sewn both layers of the bag together yet!

I had found two scraps of the brown twill and sewed it into a tube, turned right side out, pressed with the seam in the middle and top stitched with a contrasting colour.  Mainly because I knew I was getting low on the brown thread and also because I just didn't feel like changing the thread in the machine.  After inserting the liner and stitching together, I added the straps.  Before closing the opening in the liner (which I had forget to leave when I stitched the liner together), I stitched the loops right along the buttonhole, and then "stitched in the ditch" of the side seams--by shear luck the strips were long enough to reach the side seams.  I also stitched the loop right next to the straps so that hopefully the knot never pulls through.

The liner was not problem-free either.  The pocket went fine.  I was slightly more prepared for the water bottle pocket.  I thought "this time I won't put it along the strip so I won't have a problem with the straps".  Duh, the straps don't go through the liner.  I opted to put one side in the side seam, the bottom along the bottom seam, and the other side I could stitch it first with the pocket laid out, RS to RS, next to where it was going to end up, stitch the seam, then flip the pocket over the seam and do the side and bottom with those seams.  Otherwise, if I had centered it, I could do that with only one side of it, so you just top stitch pockets down. But wait a minute....looking at the pictures, the inside water bottle holder is also on the strip.  I think I changed my mind about doing it that way because I couldn't get it straight, or the bottom was funny, or maybe I am so sleep deprived I actually made something else recently and I'm confusing two projects...Oh yes!  I am working on another bag!  Please ignore my rambling.

 I also used some plain white fabric to line the liner because the zig zag side was a little see through.  I lined one side of the liner and one side of the outer.  Not sure why.  Maybe something to do with the inside zippered pocket, or the fussing with the pockets.  When I put the inner and outer layers together though, it hadn't worked out like I had planned.  Either the two water bottle pockets would be on the same side, or both pieces of lining were going to end up on the same side.  I can't tell from my pictures what the end result was.  If I do this again, I think I will center the inside water bottle pocket, regardless if there's one on the outside.  That way, it'll always be balanced.

In the end, I really like this bag.  It's roomy but not huge.  Functional.  Totally unique.  I like the fabrics I used, and I like how I turned the fabric sideways for the water bottle pockets.  I chose the fabrics for the hat in the last post to co-ordinate without being too matchy and I love how it all looks together.  I'm not sure I'd do it with the side pieces again.  The twill is heavier and more durable than the cotton, maybe I could do "patchwork" and use twill for the bottom 1/3 of front and back pieces.  Oh, just thought...what if I had sewn on strap end into each of the seams at the bottom side?  Still, adding the side piece did add to the work and I don't know if the cost would be worth it.  It does make a nice place for a water bottle though.  
Every once in a while something good running out of bobbin thread right at the end of a seam!

I wish I had a picture of the hat and the backpack together!  Maybe I can get one from my sister-in-law.

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