Behind the Design Curtain: How Did I Design That Market Bag?comments (4) April 23rd, 2009
My first grocery bag prototype was modeled after my purse patterns, with a bottom attached to the bag body of two sides and two front and back pieces. It was cute, but it was a lot of work. Way too much topstitching and not nearly enough fabric embellishment to generate excitement. And it took too much material to boot. How could I expect kids at a summer sewing camp to make these?
I decided to simplify by modeling it after the lunch bags I had designed out of oilcloth material. These were simple to make, so I knew a kid could master it. Plus, I could do the whole tamale out of 1/2 yard of canvas, which costs about four bucks. And 3-1/4-yard cuts of three fabrics. Or even better, three fat quarters. Did I grab your attention, quilters? You already know how cool it is to decorate your bag with your favorite fabrics.
Once I decided on the pattern, I integrated some design elements that I thought would turn this into a great bag. If you use 10-ounce canvas, the bag will stand up on its own, as if it has legs. Select your fabric faves, and use 3-inch to 5-inch strips of fabric sewn together to create your embellishment panel and you are in business. If you topstitch the seams, it starts to look really professional. Don’t forget about thread: A variegated spool is so pretty on a natural canvas background.
I originally called this the “Be Green Grocery Bag.” It didn’t take too long for a bag monster to sprout; let’s just say that grocery-bag mania is alive and kicking, and I discovered that my bag design was very appealing. It quickly became exhausting to tell another person that I didn’t have a pattern available for someone to make her or his own. Then I started teaching adult classes on how to make the grocery bag, and the popularity of this class has grown by leaps and bounds. Canvas is regularly selling out.
So, as anticipation for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, WA, was mounting, I put my designing into overdrive to finally debut the “Be Green Market Bag” pattern. During the expo, I did mass demos on the bag. People watched as I sewed and broke needles (it is 10-ounce canvas, after all). They humored me while I made nervous jokes, as I quickly changed those needles. I was working so quickly, I broke through my personal best and made one bag in 65 minutes!
Finally, I decided to change the name of the bag to “Be Green Market Bag” because, well, “market” sounds so darn worldly. After repeated requests, I added a shoulder strap (a measly additional 1/8 yard of canvas). It also gave me a reason to visit one of my favorite places for findings: the hardware store. I could spend hours looking at all the nuts, bolts, rings, and swivel hooks that I can repurpose for my designs!
It took a while for the design and pattern to evolve, but it was also a great way to keep refining it to accommodate the function by listening to the needs and desires of my students. The "Be Green Market Bag" pattern is perfect for beginners because they will learn great sewing tips and techniques. It won’t take forever, and it is kind of hard to mess up. This is also a great pattern if you’re looking to make low-cost presents for that superstar fabulous look. And did I mention the guy who is mad at me because his wife has made 11 bags? Someone’s feeling neglected… Visit my website Paradiso Designs for any of my bag patterns or ask for them at your local fabric store. Sew Rama!
Crafty by Nature
Inspiration for crafting with natural resources.