I’m very excited to get this Planetary Sewalong up and running! I know it’s prime holiday time now as we enter August and engagement might not be high. Nonetheless I hope a few of you enjoy either sewing along with me as I go through the making of this Planetary Backpack, or at least get a bit of insight into my sewing process and perhaps a little inspiration?
I finished this snuggly backpack yesterday and over the next two weeks will walk through the work stages with a comprehensive blog post here every 3 or 4 days, and lots of associated posts over at In Complete Stitches Sew & Share Facebook group on each of those days.
Why not sign up for blog alerts (depending on your device, scroll to the bottom or look on the side here for the link) so that you get a friendly prompt to keep working on your bag and don’t miss an update!
If you have yet to get the pattern it is still available with a 15% discount over in the Etsy Store using the code PLANETARYSEWALONG.
LET’S GET THIS SEWALONG STARTED!
Today I will go through the fabric and interfacing selections I made, along with the notions used and the few hacks employed! Have a read through the tutorial, this sewalong post and then make your own plan for making your Planetary Back, with any hack adjustments or wonderful extra embellishments you might come up with!!
For those of you joining in, if you haven’t already got your supplies ready, now is the time to do so!! You can download the Prep & Colouring Sheet here or over in the Files section of the Facebook group. Do share your plans with us over in the Facbook group too!!
You can either send your A0 file off to be printed in a copyshop or use the instructions on Page 11 of the tutorial to print your pattern at home using the Letter/A4 file. There is also a Projector file for those of you living in the space age!!
As the Planetary Backpack has a relaxed style with a drawstring closure you have a lot of flexibility in the choice of fabric. The tutorial calls up the following options “Outer Fabric: Oilskin/waxed canvas, mid-heavy weight canvas, a stable mid/heavy weight linen, corduroy, twill, denim. Lining: Medium-lightweight cotton, quilting cotton, linen.” Certainly you can experiment well outside of these categories!
This bag has been in my head for a while with a few particular fabrics in mind. I’ve had the See You At Six “Dusan Brown” jumbo corduroy in my stash since I bought it upon release back in November 2020. I’ve had the Ruby Star Society canvas (in my head it’s called “peaches and cream” but it definitely has another name) for even longer.
Neither the corduroy nor the canvas are particularly heavy, and in fact the corduroy doesn’t have huge stability either, but both are perfect for this pattern with the use of interfacing to add an extra bit of strength and stability.
For the lining I chose to use a simple recycled canvas from Fabric Romance. I love using a lighter weight canvas for bag lining. It adds a feeling of quality to the final product without being too heavy.
There are a myriad of interfacing options out there in the bagmaking world. I’m fairly conservative and have a few reliable go to options that I use 90% of the time and try to keep in my stash. You’ll see them noted on the image below and I used all except the cotton batting in this project. I keep the cotton batting on hand for Quilt As You Go projects and where you want to add a quilted back/front to your Planetary Backpack, without adding to much bulk or stiffness.
Because the outer fabrics I used for this bag are on the lighter side, I chose to reinforce them with a layer of Pellon SF101 – Shape Flex. This really is my favourite woven interfacing for bagmaking. It retains its flexibility and adheres really well to the fabric. I find it puts up with a lot of pulling and dragging while staying stuck to the fabric. Another great option is Vilene G700; very similar weight, slightly lighter I feel.
Also, to add to the squishy, snuggly feel, I added a layer of Vilene H630, a fusible lofted interfacing, to the main front and back lining fabrics. I would probably have used H640, which has about twice as much loft, but I didn’t have any in the stash and H630 did the job just fine.
Adding the lofted interfacing to the lining is a great option to consider in bag making. It adds some extra gentle padding and structure without adding the bulk to the outer, heavier fabric. This makes the bag that bit easier to sew up by not adding the extra bulk to those already tougher to sew outer seams. It also makes the inside of your bag feel that little bit more luxurious.
EXTRA PADDING NEEDED!
My plans changed a little halfway through this bag making process. Embrace the change!
As you’ll read below I decided to add piping to the Front Flap and the Front Mountain Panel. And I love it. But… it changed the aesthetic of the bag somewhat and all of a sudden it didn’t feel like a bag I would like to wear everyday. It feels much more appropriate as a child’s bag. Or simply for someone a little more flamboyant or playful in their personal style? Perhaps it was the combination of the piping with the corduroy? Or the thickness of the piping? But it wasn’t turning out as the bag I had in my mind’s eye. So, with a bit of sneaky manipulation I have convince my daughter that this is exactly the bag she needs for starting “big school” in September. And I have a plan to add an special little extra friend to her bag… more on that later.
And with a school bag in mind, half way through I decided to use the PLANETARYsewalong Back Padding Hack to make it even more comfy for her to wear. You can download the hack pdf here. With the layer of SF101 already adhered to the back I simply cut the Padded Back piece out of some Style-Vil foam and adhered it to the back, on top of the interfacing, with Bondaweb.
Vilene Style-Vil is a sew-in foam interfacing but it also comes in an iron-on form as Style-Vil Fix. Bondaweb (also known as Vliesofix, HeatnBond, Wonderunder and other brands) can be used to stick Style-Vil to fabric.
I chose not to add the “Planet” elements to this bag, as there was enough going on with the fabric textures and patterns already. Small amounts of Bondaweb, a web of adhesive on backing paper, is perfect for securing the circular appliquéd “Planets” to the Main Front and Back and also help prevent fraying.
As listed on page 7 of the tutorial you will need a few other bits ‘n’ pieces to make your Planetary Backpack:
- webbing for the straps – about 3 metres
- D-rings – x3
- adjustable sliders – x3
- Swivel Hook – x1
NOTE: For the front opening flap closure, in place of a Swivel Hook, 1x D-Ring and 1x Adjustable Slider you could also use a Side Release buckle. In the absence of the specific items listed don’t be afraid to improvise with what you can get your hands on!
- Draw String – about 120cm of your choice of drawstring. Long shoe laces or heavy ribbon can be used or drawstring purchased by the metre!
- Eyelet Grommets – 15mm eyelet grommets – x2 (or eliminate them and use the hack discussed later!)
- Snap Fixing – 12mm anorak snap – x1
- Denim needle/needle suitable for your fabric choice – Bear in mind that you will at times be sewing through multiple layers of fabric and webbing.
- Sewing machine
- Standard sewing machine presser foot (if adding piping you will need a piping or zipper foot)
- Water soluble disappearing marker and a pin, or another way of transferring notches/guidemarks onto your fabric.
- Rotary Cutter &/ Fabric Scissors – If you have yet to join the world of the rotary cutting you should give it a try. You won’t regret it. With a little care it is faster and more accurate than a good scissors. If using a rotary cutter you will need a self-repairing cutting mat too.
- Iron & Ironing board
I included an “Alternative Details & Mini Hack Ideas” page in the tutorial because, depending on what materials you have available to you, your budget, or your impatience to get started, you may wish to use some alternative supplies and alternative little details in making your Planetary Backpack.
I would love to see any hacks you decide to make to customise and personalize your Planetary Backpack!
I used quite a few hacks in making this version along with eliminating a few steps. With the corduroy running horizontally I felt additional quilting of the back would be to fussy, and as mentioned before, for similar reasons I did not add the planets to the main front or back. Below I list some of the hacks I used what I will elaborate on a bit more during the sewalong!
1. PADDED BACK
As discussed above I use the PLANETARYsewalong Back Padding Hack to add some extra comfort to the back panel so that my daughter’s lunch box and water bottle don’t stick into her back on our walk to and from school.
Yep, I couldn’t resist it! Again there is a hack tutorial all ready to show you how to add piping to your own, or your sweetheart’s, Planetary Backpack. You’ll find it in the Files section of the Facebook group, but you can download it here too if you like!
3. SIMPLIFIED DRAWSTRING
Check out the previous blog post for a mini-hack tutorial, showing you how to adjust the Drawstring Casing to allow you to eliminate the need for eyelets!
4. EXTRA D-RING
I told you I have a little extra “friend” planned to keep my littlest company on her first day of school right? So for now I’ve added an extra D-ring tab in the side seam so that her friend can hang on to the outside of the bag. More about the snuggle buddy another day…
I added a few rivets in place of bartacks to reinforce the corners of the front pocket opening, and also inside at the top of the line of stitching dividing the internal pocket in two. I added extra spots of interfacing to the fabrics at each of these locations too.
In addition to adding the spots of interfacing to fabric through which you will make a hole I have a useful tip to keep the strength in these locations. Instead of punching a hole through the fabric, which cuts through a number of individual fibres, where possible I use an awl to make this hole. It forms the hole by pushing the fibres aside instead pf cutting them, reducing the chances of fraying in the future. Shown below at the snap fixing location, but the same applies to rivet locations too.
On Wednesday next, 4th August, I’ll go through cutting out the fabric, applying the interfacing (yuck, my least favourite sewing job) and have a look at strap options along with the Quilting and Planet steps!
Do join us over at In Complete Stitches Sew & Share and don’t forget you Planetary Backpack pattern!
I’ve set up a 15% discount code PLANETARYSEWALONG valid until 1st September to get yourself the pattern at an even better price than usual!! Click here to bring you straight to the Esty shop where the discount code will automatically be applied at the checkout.