The Best of Both Worlds
We spend a lot of time on this blog focusing on garment sewing and quilting, but a third, equally thrilling topic that deserves some love is bag-making! An art in and of itself, bag-making is often a culmination of all the best things about garment sewing and quilting.
Coming in all shapes and sizes, bags are endlessly customizable. When making a bag you can incorporate a plethora of fabrics in a variety of colors and patterns, much like in quilting. At the same time, you can tailor a bag to your specific fashion sense and style (as you would with a garment), without having to negotiate pesky things like fit. This is all to say that there is a certain freedom to bag-making. Within this playful branch of the sewing arts, it is possible to incorporate all of one’s favorite sewing elements – color, design, technique, and style – into a single bag, while often spending less time and money to boot!
Two In One
As you can see from the photo above, Bonnie recently tried her hand at the Klum House ‘Maywood’ Tote and the results speak for themselves. Wider at the top than the bottom by about five inches, but big enough to carry a 15″ laptop, this tote has an easy-access outer pocket and a roomy interior pocket. Built to swiftly convert from a backpack to a shoulder tote – thanks to Klum House’s designing genius – this 2-in-1 bag is the perfect solution to the ‘which bag should I use today’ conundrum!
To make this specific bag, we ordered Klum House’s Maywood Leather + Hardware Kit which includes all the necessary hardware and leather, as well as a tubular rivet peening tool needed for this project. Bonnie opted not to use the metal 14″ zipper included in the kit, and instead used one of our Navy, plastic separating zippers that – with the help of a metal bottom stopper – she closed herself.
For the outside of the bag, she chose two heavy-weight canvases – Big Sur Canvas in Blue Green and Stone Path Canvas in Navy – built to withstand everyday wear-and tear. For the bag’s interior, however, she decided on Art Gallery’s lighter-weight Sleep Tight Quilting Cotton in Nightfall. A similar color-story to the aforementioned canvases, this fabric’s Scandinavian inspired pattern provides an element of mischievous merriment!
A Mixed Bag
Klum House’s Bag Patterns are notoriously thorough and clear, and the Maywood is no exception. This being said, however, Bonnie (a master sewer) encountered a fair amount of difficulty during the construction of this bag, due, primarily, to the hardware component. Inserting the tubular rivets with the included peening tool took an extensive – almost excessive – amount of hammering with a rubber mallet. Additionally, the leather included in the kit is stiff and unwieldy, and this made inserting the rivets that much more difficult. To cap it all off, the heavy-weight canvas we selected – best sewn by means of an industrial sewing machine – put Kate’s well-worn Husqvarna Viking to the test.
Big Sky Solutions
Despite these many hurdles, Bonnie came out the other side (mostly) unscathed, and with a really adorable tote! However, witnessing the difficult process got the rest of us thinking. Just looking at the finished bag is enough to convince you that you need one for yourself. But, is the difficult construction worth it? To answer this question, we turned to Bonnie for feedback. Her feeling is that the Maywood, “is a project for someone very patient and experienced” in bag-making. However, she ceded that if you substituted Klum House’s leather with a softer, lighter leather (or even with a webbing) the project’s overall laboriousness and complexity would be considerably reduced. With these wise words in mind, the women of The Confident Stitch set about creating our own Maywood Hardware Kit.
The Task At Hand
First we purchased hides from Montana Leather Company, and cut our own straps which are considerably more supple and infinitely easier to work with. (One thing to note is that Klum House’s stiffer leather does serve a purpose. Tough as it is, it’s less susceptible to stretching and can support a heavier weight. Therefore, our soft leather, while user-friendly, can stretch over-time, so don’t use it to carry your bowling balls!)
Next, rather than using tubular rivets, we decided instead to include Merchant and Mills Double Headed Rivets in our kits. We’ve found that, with the correct tool from Tandy Leather Factory (either the Deluxe Snap-All Rivet Setter (Item # 8105-00) or the Craftool Rivet Setter (Item # 8100-00) and accompanying Craftool Dot/Rivet Anvil (Item # 8056-00)) inserting them is a snap! Er, we mean a rivet…?
The Final Product
Our finished TCS Montana Leather and Hardware Maywood Kits include:
- Pre-punched, Montana leather
- (28) Double-Headed Rivets,
- (1) 18mm Magnetic Snap
- (2) 3/4″ Center Bar Buckles
- (1) 14″ Zipper
- (4) 1″ D-Rings
- Maywood Tote Pack pattern.
In short, almost everything you need (minus the fabric) to successfully make the Maywood Tote! You can choose between nickle or brass hardware, and there are five different zipper options! Our leather has squared rather than rounded corners. However, it’s light-weight enough that, with a sharp pair of scissors, you can shape it to your taste. Plus our kits are a titch less expensive, which is a nice bonus!
Papa's Got A Brand New Bag
As mentioned at the start, bag-making is an infinitely creative area of sewing that draws on the art’s very best components. By its very nature, the Maywood Tote Pattern inspires duality. Two bags in one, creative yet structured, fashionable yet exceedingly useful. It was with this notion of duality in mind that we created our kits. Where Klum House was stiff we tried to be supple. Where they were heavy-duty we strove to be accessible, and so on.
With that said, we (ironically) leave you with a singular request. Make this bag! You’re sure to love it.