My first Sew My Style project this year and it’s a goodie! Even better, you get two for the price of one, as my husband nearly blew my socks off my saying he would be up for trying to sew one as well! He had fancied trying a crossbody bag for a while and when I saw the Summit Pack was one of the choices for the February pattern, I showed him the pic, thinking he’d have forgotten all about his desire. To my surprise, he seemed keen and so his first sewing project was game on.
Now, I have to be honest – this is not necessarily an ideal first project. It’s quite a complex bag, as bags go, with lots of zippers, pockets and other details that make it a fantastic pattern, but a lengthy effort for a beginner. It’s actually rated as Intermediate or Higher, but, nevertheless, we decided that with me here to help and demonstrate, we’d give it a go anyway.
Of course, my husband made life even more complicated for himself by being ultra-keen on using outdoor nylon-type fabric – the sort you normally find on hiking backpacks. We’re lucky we have a great outdoors fabric place a short drive away – Seattle Fabrics, always populated by bearded outdoorsy-looking men – but, boy, it’s a bugger to sew. There’s no give and it’s a little slippery (although not as much as I was fearing), but with the confidence of someone who has no idea what they’re letting themselves in for, my husband declared it to be perfect for the job at hand.
And I have to tell you – I am SO PROUD of him. He got stuck in, did his utmost to not get frustrated (I would have been much more unbearable) and he did a damned good job!
Climbing to the Summit
The Summit Pack by Cloudsplitter Bags is a really lovely and very practical little crossbody bag. It’s described on the website thus:
“Summit has two zippered compartments for convenience. The front zipper has card slots and a pocket within. The central compartment has a padded gadget pocket and a zipper pocket. The back of the bag has an additional zippered pocket through which the bag is turned in the final step! This bag is designed in a unique piecing way that means no binding and no saggy linings!!”
The design offers up lots of opportunities for individual style, with lots of colour blocking and mix and match pieces available for different fabrics and styles. As you can see, I went for a more uniform approach on the outside because of my busy pattern, while the hubby decided on a contrasting style with his manly solids.
Millions of pieces – pieces for me
Yes, bags have millions of pieces and this one is no exception. When you’re making a bag, the prep is literally half the project and I think if you know that going in, it makes it much more bearable. In this case, you also have a whole heap of interfacing to cut out (we used just under 9 yards for 2 bags!!), as some pieces are interfaced twice (if you’re using cotton) and there are a couple of pieces of foam too.
I was sewing with cotton canvas (the soft Cotton And Steel Canvas though – so I still interfaced twice) and quilting cotton. Tom’s fabric was much stiffer, even if thin, so we interfaced everything once only.
One lovely inclusion in the instructions is a comprehensive checklist of everything you need to cut and it comes in very handy, so make sure to print that sucker out. As with any bag, mark your pieces, because they all look the same after a while. One other tip is to check the pattern piece closely – some pieces are cut RSU, some RSD and some flipped halfway. I may have had to recut a couple!
Sewing up a Storm
The instructions for the Summit Pack are really very good. They are extremely thorough with good pictures and I really didn’t have any issues understanding what was required of me. As mentioned above, the lining is stitched to the outer layers as you go, so you don’t have to wrestle with the lining at the end of construction. It does mean a ton of basting, but with all those tricky curvy parts to fit together, that’s no bad thing.
And that is the tricky part of this bag, in my opinion. I didn’t have much problem with the construction, but I definitely had to help out a couple of times with easing curves together for my husband. He did amazingly well for a first project ( he’s a natural and sewed 99% of it himself!), but that’s the sort of thing you need experience for, so it could be a little frustrating for a beginner on their own.
Another couple of notes that might be useful:
For Tom’s bag we used a Microtex needle for the main construction and then a denim needle for the topstitching, tough parts. For mine, a regular needle was sufficient for most of the sewing, but I also used a denim needle for topstitching towards the end, when the layers stack up.
We also found that his fabric was a little stiff as a full strap to go through some of the hardware, so we used webbing for the bottom half of the strap. I think it looks really good and totally in line with the sporty feel of his bag, too.
Also: don’t forget to leave the back zipper open at the end as that’s where you turn your bag through!
We added a couple of little pieces to the finished bag. We both added hook tabs to the top of your bags. I put mine on the back and Tom put a little contrast one behind his strap – fancy!
Tom also added a key fob inside his back pocket. He’s really practical like that and I probably should have as well! Another time I might add some sort of bottle holder with mesh or similar.
Overall, I am extremely happy with the finished product and dead proud of the husband for sticking at it. I think he did a great job! Now he’s talking about trying a t-shirt next. Have I unleashed a monster??? Watch this space!