Monday 5 February 2024

Corduroy Remnants Backpack

Here's a recent project that has already put to daily use: my new backpack! I became a backpack convert when my kids were tiny. When my son came along, it became very useful to have both hands free. Plus backpacks aren't likely to swing round and hit a small child in the face! However, my kids are no longer tiny, so when my last backpack died (after years of service), I thought I'd make a crossbody shoulder bag next. It was fine, and I used it for quite a while, but I started to develop the suspicion that it's not great for my posture. Time for another backpack...


The feeling that I should make a backpack switched from being a feeling to an actual plan when I found the above photo on Pinterest. There weren't any links attached to the image, but my pal Julia did a reverse image search for me and discovered it's by Zara. Corduroy is, of course, usually used for making garments. And seeing it used for a style of bag that you'd usually see made from canvas or something synthetic really appealed to me. I also loved the mix of colours, and I'm always drawn to styles that could be recreated using scraps, leftovers and remnants of fabric. 


I had a rummage around and unearthed my collection of corduroy scraps. A couple of them are leftover from previous projects, the rest came from the scrap bin at work. Very spookily, the colours of my selection are incredibly similar to the colours of the Zara bag! I decided to put the leopard print cord aside for now, and work with the solid coloured pieces. They are all different colour ways of the Fabric Godmother 5 wale cord: super soft but also pretty robust. 

I also used some quilting-weight cotton from my stash for the lining (the same fabric that I used to line my previous version, actually). Plus the gold bias binding that I got in the Fabric Godmother advent calendar was put to use to finish the inside raw edges. These days I struggle to find the motivation to make my own matching binding. The interfacing required to give the bag some body was frankensteined-together random pieces from my stash. I'm trying to move away from synthetic interfacing where possible, but this bag won't get washed much, so won't release microplastics into the waterways too often. Therefore, I felt this was a good opportunity to use up a lot of what I still own.


I wasn't desperate to recreate the exact shape of the Zara bag, it was more the combining of the corduroys that was inspiring me. Therefore, my main criteria when selecting a pattern was that it could be cut from different pieces of fabric easily enough. In the end, I used the Sarah Kirsten Raspberry Rucksack pattern that I made previously three years ago. It worked because all the pattern pieces could be cut from the different fabrics, and I already owned it! Which was another plus because I'm still challenging myself as part of Last Sewist Standing, so wouldn't have to wait to get this project underway until I could buy a pattern. In this vein, I realised that I could also harvest the zips and hardware from my now-dead previous version. I'm glad I hadn't got round to chucking it out yet!

Using the pattern, fabric and zips already in my possession meant I could get cracking straight away. However, for a while I was thinking that I would have to wait until my self-imposed buying ban came to an end to buy some webbing for the straps to be able to finish it off. But then I realised that I never actually liked the webbing straps that the pattern specifies. Amy from Craft and Thrift came to the same conclusion when making her versions. So I had a play around and realised I could cut the straps from the corduroy as well, as long as I made them slightly shorter. Pushing the corduroy straps through the sliders was NOT easy, and I'm not sure how these straps will hold up over time, but they feel good at the moment. 


I gave this bag a finishing touch with the Handmade label by Little Rosy Cheeks, also from my Fabric Godmother advent calendar. You have no idea how satisfying it was to put this project together using only stuff I already owned. And I've been really enjoying using it every day since. It's a great size for my day-to-day requirements, and feels really comfy to wear. 

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