I interrupt the normal dressmaking theme of this blog to bring you: BAG MAKING! 👜
But first, lemme roll back a decade or so…
There’s only a handful of you dear readers who will know that throughout my teens (and in fact into my early twenties as well), I was overweight and HATED sports and pretty much any form of exercise.
Yep 😱 Eeeesh. That was on my 21st birthday, and is pretty much reflective of what I looked like throughout my teenage years.
Sports was my LEAST favourite subject at school, and I’d often fake the ‘Sarah has a bad ankle so please can she be excused’ sick note. I think in one yearly report my PE teacher said that I hadn’t attended enough lessons for her to give an opinion on my sporting ability 🤣 I don’t know what it was, but I just hated PE. I was one of the fat kids, which probably didn’t help matters, but I really, REALLY disliked the weekly session of exercise. It could also be because we were made to do team sports (like hockey, and netball, and usually in the freezing cold) and even to this day I still don’t like collaborative exercise – I prefer solitary running or training. I come out in sweats every time someone mentions the phrase ‘office rounders team’ followed by ‘is a player short for tonight’s match’.
It wasn’t until I hit my twenties that I sort of stumbled (probably quite literally – I’m pretty clumsy) into running.
It happened one day, when all of a sudden I said to the husband (who was the ‘fiancé-beast’ back then) “let’s go for a run”. Quite naturally, this statement was met with uncertainty and suspicion at this person that had clearly taken over my mind. I still don’t really know what made me say it. Like Forrest Gump, I just had an urge to run.
“Ok… where do you want to go?”
“Just to the pub and back.”
I wasn’t a good judge of distance back then (still aren’t, really), and that pub was actually a fair distance away – like over a mile – but the husbeast agreed to come with me. No mention of ‘erm, do you realise that you’re not gonna be able to *actually* run that’ or ‘do you think maybe we should walk it first?’, he was just going to humour me and run with me until I couldn’t run anymore.
As I was totally unfit, and overweight to boot, you won’t be surprised to hear that I did NOT make it to that pub running – but walked what I had to so that I went the distance. That day marked the start of my – pretty sporadic, if I’m honest – running.
I ran in dribs and drabs for a few years, and then in 2014 I decided it would be a good idea to enter a race. Simply Because I like a good challenge, and you got a medal for completing it. Ooh, shiny. Turns out, those medals are like crack – properly addictive after your first hit, and you just get anxious wanting to get more and more of the shinies and wondering when your next race/hit is gonna be.
Not one to pick something sensible like a Parkrun, or an official 5k, or even a 10k, I booked a half marathon. Thirteen miles. Thirteen point one, actually. Which – in the end – turned out to be the weekend before I moved to London for my first job in the City, so not really the best timing 🤷🏻♀️
We ran the Grand Union Canal half marathon, in 2 hours 9 min – I wanted to beat 2 hours, but hey, I wasn’t too hard on myself. I finished it – and that was something in itself, given my previous exercise history.
As I said, those medals are basically drugs and I’ve since ran the Milton Keynes half (finally beating the two-hour barrier – YAS – but nearly died) and the Edinburgh and Loch Ness marathons (why I insist on running marathons only in Scotland, I’m not sure 🤔😖)
Eight weeks before my first full marathon, I busted my knee on a works ‘fun day’ thing. It turned out to be Not Fun, in the end. I fell down onto a very hard, solid surface and my right knee hit it first, bearing all my weight. Not one to cause a fuss, I got up, saying ‘I’m finnnnnnne‘ and proceeded to limp around the rest of the ‘fun activities’. After that I hobbled to the pub where I sat down and passed out in the chair, and was taken to the nearest hospital in a cab. They told me I was extremely lucky not to have broken anything and that I was to do as little as possible on it – definitely no running, and most definitely not the marathon which was six weeks away. Welllll I had already paid for my entry, flights and accommodation so there was no way my inner finance nerd could let that slide 🤑
It took me one knee brace, six hours and a fair bit of walking but I damn well made it to that finish line and got my medal. I gave it a break for a little while – about a year and a half – then ran the Edinburgh marathon in May 2016 and shaved 40 mins off my time 🙌🏻 but it turned out that my knee STILL hadn’t healed. I’m hoping that by the time I run my next marathon (Edinburgh again in May 2019 – I was unsuccessful in the London ballot) that the knee will have healed some more and I can get an even better time 😁
After my head injury at the start of the year, I’m not ashamed to say that times were bad and I comfort ate – and put on weight at an alarming rate. I hadn’t run for a while at that point, but Forrest Gump kicked in again and all I could think about was running. Funny how when you can’t have something, you all of a sudden want it 🤷🏻 The healthcare people I was seeing at the time told me I was in no condition to be running, because of the damage I’d sustained to my neck and shoulder. But I wanted to run. I missed running, and needed to do SOMETHING to turn around the slippery slide of weight gain that I was on.
I used to run in my lunch breaks at work, and loved it. Depending on where I was working at the time, my routes took me along the Thames Path, through the quaint-looking Wapping and St Katharines Dock, over Tower Bridge or through Regent’s Park. Every week at my physio appointments I’d ask if I could run yet. Can I run yet? Can I run yet? CAN I RUN YET? I must have been worse than a whingey child on a long journey. I’m sure they got sick of me pretty quickly, but running was all I could focus on. Eventually, they said YES, you can run. Maybe just to shut me up, I’m not sure – but a yes is a yes. Running was BACK ON.
I was told to start with the Couch to 5k program – which aims to get someone with no previous running experience off the couch and running a 5k within 9 weeks. That’s about three miles. You start off with a combo of running and walking (literally like 1 minute running followed by two minutes walking, on repeat) which was pretty frustrating for me given that I used to be able to run double-digit miles at the weekend. But, I stuck with it, and did as it instructed – getting the runs in during my lunch breaks at work, just like I used to do. It helped my mental health, as well as my physical health.
So that lonnnnng story of fat-kid-turned-slightly-less-fat-kid-who-now-runs brings us back around to SEWING.
Once I completed the Couch To 5K program, I decided to sew myself a new kit bag as a little reward. I was currently lugging my running stuff to work in a very tatty (and a bit embarassing) barrel bag:
I know, grimy right?
I started scouring the internet for suitable bag patterns, but just couldn’t find the right one that ticked all of the boxes. It had to be pretty much the same size as the current bag I had, as it was the right size and shape for what I wanted to use it for. My rolled shower towel fitted just perfectly, although a tad longer would be a bonus. The new bag had to be round, and it had to be lined. And I didn’t want handles that wrapped around the whole bag if I could help it. Demanding? Nah. Particular.
So the rejects looked like this…
(yep, even the largest size)
Too much like hand luggage:
Not sure if it’s lined:
This one *almost* made the cut, despite the handles:
(and I might still make it one day, just to see how it turns out)
Honestly the list of rejections went on, and on, and on. I scoured eBay, Etsy, and many pages of Google search results. I wanted something of similar dimensions to what I was using – it was just about the right size, but possibly a tad small for the winter when I need to pack more layers. Something that was a smidge bigger would be perfect, but not *too* big because I gotta take this on packed London commuter trains and nobody wants to be THAT person that tries to get on the rush hour train with massive luggage/a double buggy/three huge dogs.
Then I found it. The one. The perfect bag.
It’s the Daily Duffle bag by Sassafras Lane Patterns. This pattern company is new to me, but then that’s probably no surprise given that I don’t sew bags.
The size is right (just a tad longer than my current bag, like I wanted), isn’t too fussy and doesn’t require a list of hardware that’s as long as my arm. And it ticks all of the boxes.
With the pattern found, I then had the dilemma of choosing the fabric. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of having it look like a ‘quilters bag’. Know what I mean? Some bags just have that *look* about them. That… *homemade* look I guess you’d call it. I started looking at home decor fabrics, but didn’t find too much within my price range that didn’t look like curtain fabric. I moved on to quilting fabrics, but again a lot of them looked like – well, quilting fabrics.
I eventually came back to my ol’ faithful, Alexander Henry. I did consider using the Las Elegantes print – as I have a spare yard(ish) of that kicking about – but I wanted to take this opportunity to use a print that I liked but wouldn’t necessarily *wear* (and plus that would avoid that awkward scenario when your outfit and bag are matchy-matchy).
I had a bit of a mooch about t’internet, and kept on coming back to one particular print – ‘All Fired Up’ – which fitted the bill of being something that made me happy to look at, but probably wouldn’t get used as clothing. Decision made. Fabric and supplies bought.
I had to wait more than a month (😱) for some ripstop fabric for the lining to arrive from China (it’s not just ANY old ripstop, it’s purple leopard print ripstop – PURPLE LEOPARD PRINT I TELL YOU) but eventually I had all my supplies to bring my vision to life.
I’ve had to buy some weird bits like fusible fleece, fat 5mm piping cord and some realllly long BRIGHT ORANGE zips – stuff I’ve never used before – but I’m actually really looking forward to trying something new. Who knows… maybe bag making could be my next new hobby that I don’t need or have time for 🤣 Or perhaps I could move on to bags when I literally can’t fit another garment into my wardrobe 🤔
Do any of you guys sew bags? Are there any amazing pattern companies out there that I might have missed? Any pro tips you can pass on?
Stay tuned for the finished bag!
Regular readers among you will know that we’ve just been to NYC – I’m pleased to report that we are now safe and sound back in London 🇬🇧 The new additions to the fabric stash haven’t been unpacked yet but DON’T PANIC – there will be a ‘fabric haul’ blog post reeeeeal sooooon 😍🤤
Oh hai, home 👋
So it seems that I buggered up the publish time of last week’s post (well, rather WordPress didn’t make things clear) and it got posted at 8am New York time rather than London time 🙄 So apologies to those of you that like to read it over your Sunday morning breakfast! If you missed it, you can head on over to the post here to catch up – it was a good one, the husbeast was back for his second guest spot! Go show the boy some love 😘
Next week on the Wanderstitch blog… the first of my NYC series – the round-up! What we did, who we met, where we went🗽 Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!👇🏻