Sew Paradise

Designing the Laura bag

Laura bagI’ve been working on these patterns forĀ  LONG time. Let me tell you, it seems easy to put out a pattern, but it is a lot more work than I anticipated. Even the marketing side (packaging, pricing, outbound marketing, website, blog, tweets & posts) is a ton of work. Not to mention designing the bags, crafting them (I use Adobe Illustrator to draft them) and then preparing them so others can sew them, writing and photographing instructions, photographing the finished product, designing the covers is a ton of work. I will have to sell a LOT of this pattern to ever recoup my costs! But mainly, this is a labor of love.

I love bags. I’ve carried a bag since I was knee high to a grasshopper, first carrying my essentials like my daughter carries: a book of poetry she nabbed from my pile of books next to the rocker, and a rubber ducky. Then, I moved on to lip balm and fake credit cards I drew myself. Then, Barbie clothes and a notepad and colored pencils. Moved on up to the 1980s-required heavy makeup, powder, combs and a curling iron (yes, for those quick touchups of big hair in the girl’s bathroom at lunch). I’m a bag lady – not in the bad sense of the word, but in the sense that I feel if I carry my essentials, there’s nothing that I cannot accomplish that day. The bag is my metaphor for success.

I’ve designed these because I use them – so right now, I’m carrying a mom bag full of new-baby essentials. When I designed this bag the first time I was not yet aware that I was pregnant with a second child, so I was carrying things like crayons, notepads, the occasional Thomas train and snacks for my 3 year old daughter. Now, I’ll be toting cloth diapers, diaper covers, a wet bag, three changes of clothes, a blanket, a tube of sunscreen (for myself), lipstick, an umbrella (for rain or shade) a wallet, a smartphone and a notepad with crayons, snacks and the occasional Thomas train. I need a large bag.

And I want it to be stylish. My big diaper bag is a black nylon backpack I got at a big bike ride (Livestrong Challenge) so it’s sturdy and efficient, but it lacks style, particularly with the Binkie bag and keys that are carabiner-clipped to the handle. I’m sure right there that’s a fashion faux-pas, the carabiner clip. I want a bag that I can carry with a suit and a baby in a sling to the office. And one I can carry wearing skinny jeans, a skinny modern swing sweater and tee and ballerina flats, too.

I concocted this design last fall, same time actually, sewing a bag for my La Leche League annual fundraiser walkathon. I sewed a matching ring sling to the bag and the leftovers became the bag (as in what do I do with a skinny piece of five yard x 20 inches wide fabric). It became this bag that got compliments. And it’s perfect for transforming a formal gown into a sturdy and stylish handbag. What else are you going to do with that dress? I have worn the bridesmaid dress exactly zero times since my friend Laura’s wedding. And I think she’ll be delighted to see I made a bag out of it.

By paradise

I'm Ann. I've been sewing since I was 9. My first project was a denim wrap skirt. Thrifting is a way of life for me - both eco-chic and financially savvy.

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