I finished my Weekender bag! (well the outside at least) It was tough going at a couple spots but my little machine made it through. I made some modifications to the original pattern and wanted to share them here. I still have to put the lining together, but that is the easy part compared to putting the exterior together.
1) I of course quilted my bag just like Elizabeth did HERE except I didn't QAYG. I sewed my patchwork panels and did it just like a quilt but with canvas backing and the batting cut half an inch all the all around and then trimmed my top instead of my backing.
2) I made my handles longer and wider. I made them 10 inches longer than called for and cut the pieces twice as wide and instead of interfacing used a strip of batting to make them more comfortable. I wanted to be able to wear it over my shoulder. I also sewed them to the front and back panels a little more securely. I wanted to make sure I didn't break a handle off it the bag got heavy. I also spaced them a little farther apart on the bag. After I got it marked and pinned on it looked awkward to me, maybe because my handles were wider than the pattern called for, so I moved them further apart.
3) I shortened my outside zipper by four inches. I bought a 30 inch zipper from my local Joann Fabrics, but I had been toying with the idea of shortening it after reading several blog posts saying that if it wasn't it would go down into the side pockets. I'm glad I shortened it. I think that it ended up being the perfect length.
4) While making the piping I started using steam a seam tape like someone had suggested (I can't remember where I saw that!) but after burning my fingers too many times and the seam tape breaking I gave up and sewing my piping. It worked fine. I always have trouble cutting bias strips, even using the continuous bias tutorial, my strips are always too narrow. I think next time I will just cut them like I do regular binding and sew them together instead of trying to do continuous and see how that works for me.
5) DON'T use straight pins to try and hold this thing together. I used wooden clothes pins because I forgot to get binder clips like everyone suggested and even some of them got destroyed while maneuvering this bag around. If you try to use pins you are going to probably get poked a lot while turning this thing around and around and end up with a lot of bent and broken pins.
6) I used my walking foot to attach everything together. I started out trying to do it with my zipper foot to get close enough to the piping but it honestly just made it a lot harder than it needed to be. When I switched to my walking foot it was SO much easier.
(Sorry in advance for the bad iPhone pictures, it seems like I am too lazy to use my real camera!)
Here are my finished outside panels and my lining pieces cut.
Here is the outside pocket with the piping attached ready to be sewn onto the main panel
You can see my lining on the inside of my pocket panel before being attached to the front panel
My quilted straps.
After sewing on the strap to the main panel
The finished exterior!!!! (I have lots more pictures of it finished because I CAN'T stop myself.
I want to say this to anyone who wants to make a Weekender bag. I read about it A LOT before deciding to jump in. I have only really been sewing and quilting for just over a year. I didn't even have a sewing machine until this past summer! I was absolutely terrified to start putting this bag together because I had never made anything like it before, the only things I have sewn are quilts, a Halloween trick or treat bag, and some dolls.m I'd never followed a pattern before, not even for a quilt really. (I normally make or adapt my own patterns, its one of my favorite parts of quilting!) But seriously ANYONE can make this bag. Go slow, don't try to tackle it all in one day. I have been spacing it out over several weeks. It is a lot of cutting and sewing in different stages. Read through the pattern several times to make sure you understand what you need to do at each step. If you've never put in a zipper before it really isn't as hard as you think, I had only done a few prior to this and only had one hiccup while putting this one in.
I plan on making several adjustments to the inside of my Weekender bag, and should have it finished this weekend to do my final post on it.
If any of you make a Weekender bag, please join us over on the Flickr group The Long Weekend