Bags Bags Bags, From the Woodshop, tierneycreates

Misadventures in Bag Making

My friend Dana* (@chambersdalix) is always inspiring me to stretch my sewing/crafting skills and try new things. These new things in the past have included such techniques as English Paper Piecing (see post From the Basket – English Paper Piecing), and using fabrics I would usually never select on my own (see post The Tale of Three Tulas, Part I).

*Note – Dana is one of those people who can merely look at an image of a handmade item on Pinterest and figure out how to make it from the image…and then make it perfectly!

So when she talked her daughter, me, and our mutual friend Kathy into working on an Instagram based “bag of the month” project to build our bag making skills I was excited. For February the bag was the Devon Pouch by s.o.t.a.k. handmade. You make the pouch and then post the image to Instagram.

If you go to the hashtag #devonpouch on on Instagram you will see some GORGEOUS versions of the pouch:

I was like: “Wow! I want to make this pouch!”. Sure I have not made very many things with zippers but I can follow a pattern; and the designer has a time lapsed YouTube video of her making the bag so you can see all the steps demonstrated in addition to have the pattern.

So I thought I was safe.

Plus Dana was so sweet and sent me cute fabric from her stash and some zippers to make 2 of the pouches. So what could go wrong….?

Excited to get started, this past Saturday I cut out the pattern pieces, applied the interfacing and prepared to make two pouches:

The elements of a wild Saturday night

I put on some yummy music (my favorite Denver radio station KUVO which is also a streamable Public Radio Station from, opened my laptop to the video of the designer making the pouch, sat down at my sewing machine and got to work.

Ready to sew!

In addition to materials to make the pouch, my friend Dana had also sent me scraps from when she made me a quilt (see post Mind Blowing Mail) and I incorporated some of these scraps into the front zipper pocket for my first pouch that I worked on.

Yummy scraps!

I was feeling very clever.

A couple hours later, I was not feeling so clever.

The written pattern stated to change to a “zipper foot” whenever you were working on the two zippers in the pouch. I found the zipper foot to my Bernina, which I’ve only used once before and I think that was in 2006 in a class when I first bough my Bernina sewing machine.

The pattern told me to switch between my regular foot and my zipper foot. Problem: I am very inexperienced using a zipper foot. Wait let’s just say it plainly: I did not know what the heck I was doing.

I will spare you the full saga, but my seams were off and once multiple seams are off in a pattern you know you are in the middle of a serious freaking sewing misadventure!

Here is my quite ugly version of the finished pouch:


Here’s an even better image that might make you suspect I was under the influence of mind altering drugs while sewing (Nope, the bottom of the pouch is NOT supposed to look like that):


Please look away if the image above is too grotesque. My version of the pouch does not appear to even be remotely related to the examples of the beautiful pouches on #devonpouch that I shared earlier in this post.

I did post the completed bag to Instagram and people were very kind but I was quite embarrassed over how lopsided and poorly constructed it was (the photo actually does not do justice to the sewing abomination!)

As a bonus, I accidentally stuck myself with pin (yay, that is always so pleasant) during final construction and bled on the back of the bag. I did not catch the spot of blood of course until I pressed/ironed in the blood (is this pouch doomed or what?):

A little of me permanently ironed into the pouch…

At first I decided to just keep the pouch and use it to store the fabric scraps Dana sent me:

Trying to create a purpose for the abomination made

But finally I decided to un-assemble it and salvage the nice zippers that Dana sent me; and reuse the zippers in my next attempt.

So when I feel up to it, I am going to start over again and make my first pouch again, before moving on to the second one. I am going to stay away from the zipper foot this time as I discovered towards the end I could sew the zipper just fine with a standard foot.


In more successful crafting news, Mr. Woodworker (my partner John) recently finished a remodel of one of our basement closets to become an entertaining supply storage closet with cabinet and coordinating shelves:

Much more successful crafting

This was the first real cabinetry he’s made. He also made a butcher block style counter top of the cabinet!

Oh and John is going to take the advice several of you left in the comment section of the post Handmade Spools, and make more wooden spools for me to sell on either my Etsy shop (if I ever get it reopened) or a craft fair or something.

52 thoughts on “Misadventures in Bag Making”

  1. tierney tierney tierney! zippers aren’t that hard, and a zipper foot really is useful. go on and search for the tutorial “zippers are easy”…and check out her patterns while you are there!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awww, for a first zipper attempt this doesn’t look so bad. Now that you’ve made all the mistakes and figured out how to sew zippers with your machine I am sure your next bag will look great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for sharing the mis- adventure with a zipper foot- it sounds so like me with scary new sewing machine(now 8 years old and still terrifying!). I’m sure the next one will be just perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I’ve installed one or two zippers in my life, none within the last 35 years or more! And the only bags I’ve made are unlined tote bags. SO to ME, your pouch looks great! And in fact, YOU MADE THE DANG THING, whereas I probably would have given up, if I’d even started. So I think you should be pleased with your efforts. 🙂 And awesome closet set-up there. Good job, Mr. Woodworker!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I second Susan By Annie has some amazing videos on zippers. She also tells you that you don’t need a zipper foot with most handbag zippers. The tape is typically wide enough out regular foot will do. She has some great free patterns to down load. She also allows you to sell stuff made with her patterns. Missouri Star also came out with some decorative zippers you can sew on top of your bags. My first zippers were scary, but made easier by using a binding method to attach them instead of the inset method. My teacher said that was the next class. Experience is hardest teacher because first comes the test then the lesson. You always make such beautiful things. I truly enjoy your thrifty side. You have inspired me to be more thrifty.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh gosh, this was a great laugh and brought back many a fine memory of my own crafting fails. I’ve lost track of how many times I just knew, right off the bat, that a project was going to go south but did that stop me? No way – I was determined to finish that sucker. Eventually, when the project was done teaching me humility, I found a hidden gem or two of ‘technique do’s and don’ts’. Thanks for sharing the alternate universe of crafting – oddly enough the part where we all get just a little bit better at our craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Consider that blood spotted pouch your DNA marker for when people in power need to identify you…(dumb attempt to make light of an angsty thing like leaving a blood trail on one’s sewing projects)
    Seriously: Soooo happy to hear of Mr. Woodworker and yourself venturing into the realm of Spool Selling.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your pouch wasn’t so bad – but we all know if we think we’ve failed then we aren’t ever going to like/use the thing we ‘failed’ on. You are brave to show and tell here. I tend to bury my disasters in an ever growing pile of rubbish projects!! Look forward to seeing a future attempt here from you one day. Nice cabinet too. You have a talented partner. I am a crafter but my husband hasn’t a creative bone in his body. I envy partnerships that can craft side by side – as long as it’s in harmony, of course! What springs to mind is a friend who is a sewist and her husband, a potter/ceramicist. So talented!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kudos to you for persevering on the little pouch. It looks way better than you are describing. I just knew what your horror story on the zipper foot was going to be–but I was wrong. When learning to sew, the hardest thing about using the zipper foot was breaking needles if I had moved the needle position and forgot.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I get how we as the maker, see with more critical eyes (and your eyes are keen), but I think that bag is adorable. I totally love florals and stripes together. John is wicked talented.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I put in quite a few zippers back in my clothing sewing days and I always approached it with trepidation. Usually it worked out. Practice helped. I think your pouch is good looking. But I get it. You’ll always see its flaws. So I think your idea of a second attempt is a good route to go. Great fabrics.


  12. I have to say I think that bag looks lovely! However, I know how it is when you’re not happy with how something has turned out. Your next one will be perfect – just wait and see 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The pouch looks fine to me, SOTAK patterns are very good, I also made one of my bags using one of her patterns. I also never use a zipper foot, I just use the normal foot. My first pouch is also a bit of a mess, I still use it as my makeup pouch, 🙂 The remodeled closet is really brilliant, wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think this pouch is quite cute!! But I understand the dis-assembling to get the fabric and to try again. I think I have done the same on knitting/crochet things. I’m glad that you can do fine without the zipper foot! (never quite learned to use mine, zippers scare me on the whole… Wishing you joy on the next go at it!).

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love keeping my bloopers around – they show me that “once I didn’t do it right” – but I can understand why you’ve taken it apart. If I had gotten blood on something – I would either highlight it or cover it up with an “on purpose badge/patch” – even my labels from a long time ago…And I would have kept something in it – like you sampled with the scraps. At least you have photos – maybe start a bloopers board!

    Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.