Wednesday, 10 December 2014

More gift sewing: Creeper backpacks

My nephew and niece (aged 9 and 6) are OBSESSED with Minecraft. They are in the UK on holiday for the festive season and I decided back in about October that I wanted to make them something Minecraft related for their gifts. Honestly, if I'd known I was going to have a major illness relapse in November and feel horrible as a result this last month, I probably would have opted to buy them something instead. However, since I'd already acquired all the bits I needed it seemed a shame not to at least try to make the things I had planned in whatever time I felt well. Luckily, I've had a run of partial good days lately and I'm pretty efficient at making bags, so I managed to get them done!

Creeper backpack (front closed, side showing side pocket, and front open to show eyelets)
I make no claim to substantial knowledge about Minecraft. Creepers, however, are little green and black bad guys that roam around the Minecraft universe and explode upon the unwary. They are quite an iconic little symbol and the colours -- vivid green and black -- are nice and graphic (if hard to photograph). There's a surprising dearth of nice Minecraft merchandise, especially patches, but I happened across Barefoot Sewing, which stocks all kind of superhero and tv-show-related patches, including a Creeper patch. The prices and shipping were pretty reasonable, even shipping to the UK. (I am not affiliated, just a one-time customer.) For the main body of the bag I used 1m of an inexpensive plain black heavyweight polycotton twill per bag. I pulled the zips and other hardware from my stash. There's no difference at all between the two bags except that I made the straps shorter for the younger of the two children and they have the first letters of their name embroidered on them to identify them.

Burda 08-2014-153
The pattern is actually a first for me in that I took it from Burda. More specifically, it's Burda 08-2014-153, which is shown in the magazine in a rather nice blue and white striped version. This is the first time I've used a Burda bag or craft pattern -- frankly, it's the first time a non-garment pattern from the magazine has stayed in my memory long enough for me to even think of it. I usually skim past all the crafty/non-garment pages without much interest. I'll be paying more attention in future to the bags at least, since I quite enjoyed making this pattern up and I'm very pleased with the results. It is a simple unlined bag with one big main pocket, two side pockets with flaps, and a front pocket with a zip. It's closed at the top under the top flap with eyelets and a cord.

You have to draw a few of the pieces (the main flap and side pocket flaps, and the front pocket piece) using a little diagram in the pattern instructions text. This was very straightforward since the shapes are all quite easy. Other than that, the bag, fairly typically, is just made up of a number of different rectangles that you cut according to a text description. The construction method is also explained in Burda-typical text only, but I actually found it well explained and easy enough to follow. The only bit that I thought was a bit tricky is the corners of the front pocket -- not helped by the fact that my zips are rather substantial chunky metal things that were quite heavy and difficult to manoeuvre -- but that is more a sewing issue than an instruction issue.

I did make a couple of tiny changes: I added some magnetic snap fasteners to the side and front flaps as I thought they were necessary and left off the hanging loop. I also used the main bag fabric rather than using twill tape wherever indicated for straps etc. -- I've made a LOT of bag straps over the years so this was kind of a no-brainer for me. Only one skill was new to me with this pattern, and that was the installation of the eyelets, which were of a type I have not used before. I always like the way bags look when I use this kind of hardware but ugh, the little tools you get in the packages of those eyelets are basically useless. You're much better off with a seam ripper, a pair of very sharp pointy scissors and a little hammer.

If I have a complaint about the pattern, it's that I don't love the strap arrangement. I don't really hate it either, though. Probably if I were making the bag for myself I'd do something with different, probably adjustable straps as I tend to prefer them on backpacks. However, I ran out of time to buy additional hardware for adjustable straps and so the kids got the unaltered version. To be frank, the kids will get many, much more interesting presents on Christmas day. I very much doubt these bags will get more than a glance or two, but hopefully they'll find them useful a few times once they get home, at least.

In conclusion: Creepers! :D And that's my gift sewing done for the year, well ahead of schedule and despite my concerns that illness would result in me handing out IOUs rather than gifts this Christmas.

Next up on my sewing table... actually next up is a profoundly tedious alteration project I am doing for my mum, which I won't be posting about, but after that, I have a whole pile of different things that are competing for my time and attention: a vintage blouse pattern, another knit trouser pattern, and some more bags and stuff. I'm hoping to get quite a bit of sewing done over the holidays. Meanwhile, I have a STACK of posts in draft about wardrobe planning and reviewing the things I've made this year, etc, which I am looking forward to finishing up writing.

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