There is a lot of motivation to get sewing this summer, and I'm working on a project for the Summer Sewing Contest at Ellison Lane Quilts, as well as Sew Sweetness' Purse Palooza. I've tried my hand at bag construction twice before with mixed results. My first attempt two years ago failed tragically in the early stages, while my second attempt ended in a usable but slightly lopsided book bag with black and white dragons.
This time, I was hoping to improve the odds of success by simplifying my design. The entire bag is made from one quilted panel of fabric. I used a very bold print, and free motion stitched along each line of the design to give it more depth.
Once everything was quilted, I folded up the fabric up managed to sew it into a basic boxy shape with a flap. I left all of the exposed seams on the outside of the bag, thinking they'd be easier to deal with that way. This is the basic structure I've got at the moment:
I'm very happy with the quilting, it looks interesting and has given the bag some structure. Leaving the open seams on the outside, however, turned out to be a bad idea. I don't recommend trying to construct a bag this way. I put together about ten feet of pink double fold binding to cover up the exposed seams, but realized soon afterwards that the machine won't be able to reach most of them. There's going to be a lot of hand sewing involved to finish up this project. I think this will end up being my most successful experiment thus far, but not a method I would use again.
I've come to realize that this is the kind of thing for which you really should use a pattern. I'm giving up (for now) on the idea that I can just wing it when it comes to a project that has to function in three dimensions. In the past few days, I've taken out four of the most popular books on sewing bags from the local library (and one on aprons, just to balance things out). I look forward to working my way up to a more complex pattern once I've finished this cute boxy bag. Wish me luck!