Hi everyone!

Sarah from Wanderstitch here again, this time on the Minerva Blog I’m bringing you not clothing... but luggage!

Sometimes I see fabrics that I love, but wouldn’t suit me as clothing. Making accessories with these prints is the perfect way to have them in your life - and that’s exactly what happened here!

I fell in love with this magenta Art Gallery poplin - but wasn’t really feeling it as clothing. Then I remembered that in a few months time, me and the husband had a weekend break booked... and the plan was born! I knew that Minerva had recently started stocking the By Annie patterns, which are big in the US. They produce really popular patterns for bags, storage solutions and accessories, and a range of hardware to help you create them - including zipsmesh, and stabilising materials.

The pattern I chose was the Round Trip Duffle Bag, along with some purple mesh and matching purple zips. The zips are super long at 30 inches, but they come with two sliders - so if you need two smaller zips, you can simply cut it in half! They are heavier duty than regular zips, with a wider zip tape - just perfect for bag making.

To go with my beautiful magenta fabric, I chose some of the other Art Gallery poplins. They are slightly lighter weight than quilting cotton, but they will work just fine for any project where quilting cotton is required. Almost all of the By Annie patterns use their ‘Soft & Stable’ stabiliser - this is a thick foam-like material (around 3mm thick) which provides the stability needed for bags and other free-standing projects. You can sew it with your regular sewing machine.

The By Annie patterns have excellent instructions - you can see why their patterns are so popular. They guide you step-by-step through what you need to do, and these steps are small, manageable things. Each step has a tick-box next to it so that you can check each one off as you go, making it super easy to see where you left off when you return to your project (I recommend ticking in pencil, so that when you come to make the next version of the project you can rub it out and start again with a clean slate!).

Another nice touch with the pattern is that a grid sheet is included with the pattern with a little cut-out label for each pattern piece - the size,  which fabric or interfacing you’re cutting it out of, and how many to cut. As you work through and cut each piece, you can clip the label to it so that you can see which piece is which when it comes to making the bag (with the duffle, there were a LOT of pieces - some of similar sizes - so I definitely recommend attaching the labels to avoid confusion!).

I really, really wanted to get sewing straight away on my beautiful bag, but you have to do some quilting first! Don’t worry if you’re not a quilter - I’m not either! I stitched diagonal lines one inch apart across the whole piece, and then went the other way and made them into diamonds. This takes time but really is worth it as it gives the bag a lot of stability.

Once you’ve done that, then you can start sewing the bag!

There are slip pockets on either end of the bag and a zipped pocket on the front of the bag. On the inside of the bag, one side has a full-cover mesh zipped pocket and the other side has three slip pockets. Lots of places to put things! There's also a padded carrying strap and a trolley sleeve on the back of the bag so that you can sit in on top of your suitcase and not worry about it falling off - I think that this was the feature I appreciated the most!

The hardware really gives the bag that extra special touch - you don’t need any specialist skills to be able to install it either! I chose bronze, but it’s also readily available in silver or gold so you can choose whatever coordinates best with your fabric.

Even though the bag is quite a big project, I’d say advanced beginners could tackle it. The most tricky aspects about the bag are the zips and the bias binding of the seams on the inside - if you’re feeling confident about those then I would say go for it! I will warn you though... bag making will quickly become addictive and you’ll want to make ALL the patterns!

I’m thinking about making the Catch-All Caddy next, to sit on the windowsill next to my sewing machine to help organise some of my tools and notions!

The bag performed wonderfully on its maiden voyage to Paris - it's really roomy on the inside and definitely brightened up the luggage rack! I'm so happy with it, and it was really enjoyable to use some different techniques on a project.

I hope that you're now feeling a little inspired to make your own bag ????

Thanks for reading, happy sewing and I'll see you again next month! In the meantime, you can keep up with my sewing adventures over on my blog or my Instagram.

Sarah // Wanderstitch