Monday, July 30, 2012

Purse Palooza - Mabel Bag

I share this review of the Mabel Bag last month for Sara's Purse Palooza over at Sew Sweetness & thought I'd post it here too in case you missed it.  Enjoy!


I'm so excited to be sharing the Mabel Messenger from Jenna Lou Designs with you today!  I'd say this is probably one of my favorite bag patterns.


Fabric & Interfacing - The pattern calls for medium to heavy weight fabric, medium weight fusible interfacing (the pattern recommends Pellon Decor Bond), & heavy interfacing (the pattern recommends Pellon Peltex).  All three times I've made this bag I've used quilting weight cotton & have been happy with the weight of the bag, but using a decor weight for the exterior would definitely add some extra weight to the bag.  I used a medium weight fusible interfacing, although it was lighter & more flexible than Decor Bond, and Pellon Peltex.  I always like to add interfacing to my lining pieces, even though it's not called for in the pattern.  I like the extra weight it adds, and keeps the turning hole from getting stretched out during turning.  

In addition to fabric & interfacing, you'll also need strap hardware, a zipper, and a magnetic snap.  

Pattern pieces - The pattern includes only three pattern pieces, two of which are taped together for the main body piece.  All other pieces (zip pocket & strap) are cut by dimensions straight from the fabric.  

When I made my version with the straight top (more on that later), I just traced the body piece onto freezer paper.

Illustrations/instructions - The instructions for this bag are fairly short (only 4 pages, including photos & cutting instructions), but thorough.  There are a lot of great color pictures for each step.  

The only part I had difficulties with the first time I made this was the zipper pocket.  It was my first time attempting a zipper pocket, and I just couldn't wrap my head around it.  I ended up not adding the pocket since I was pinched for time & didn't have enough fabric to re-cut my lining if I messed up.  The next time I made the bag, I ended up using this tutorial for the zipper pocket (also found in The Bag Making Bible) & it's my go-to method now.  Reading back over the instructions now, they make more sense, but I think I still like the other method a little better.

I also prefer the double-fold bias tape method of making the strap (although not cut on the bias) rather than the method in the pattern (folding the edges in 1/2", then folding in half).  I like the added strength of having the strap 4 layers thick through the full width.

Modifications - This bag is great as it's written, but it's also perfect for tweaking to fit your needs.  Each time I've made it, I've done things a little differently.  I just love the versatility!

The first time I made it, I followed the pattern pretty exactly, other than skipping the interior zipper pocket.  This was one of the earlier bags I made, and I had a tough time sewing the curve at the top of the bag because the stiffness of the Peltex interfacing.  

Mabel bag

I wasn't able to topstitch the top of the bag once I had it together (the pattern skips this step), something I always try to do to finish a bag.  You can see here how the lining doesn't sit very nice at the top because of this.


I also added a key clip for keys or a little pouch I made to go along with it. 

Because of the troubles I had with the curve the first time, I skipped the curve & made the top straight across on the second bag I made.  I also added the interior zippered pocket on this one.  I really like how it turned out, but it's definitely missing something with the straight top.  The curved top is definitely one of the things I love most about this bag. 

Modified Mabel bag

The most recent bag I finished up, I decided to tackle the curve again, hoping it might be a little easier now that I'm a bit more experienced.  I was right, the curve was definitely easier this time, although still difficult to maneuver due to the stiffness of the Peltex.  I was able to topstitch at the end this time, which I think really finishes the bag.  Just make sure you really take your time if you're going to try.  I also skipped the flap this time; I was going to put the magnetic snap on the inside, but decided to skip it altogether.  I wish now that I had added the snap, but I'll live without it.  



Instead of the interior zipper pocket in the lining, I added an interior zippered divider.  


I also added this fun circle pocket on the outside.  


Conclusion - I would say this is an intermediate pattern, mostly because of the difficulty the Peltex adds, plus the zippered pocket & adjustable strap.  Overall, it's a fairly quick bag to sew up, and after making it twice before, I didn't even need to get out the instructions this last time I made the bag.  I've made three now, and definitely plan on making more!

Big thanks to Sara for letting me share with you today!

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