it’s kid’s clothes week right now, and i normally love sewing for KCW. in fact, i’m pretty sure i’ve sewn in every KCW since 2011! the community is so inspiring and it usually makes me feel so good to sew a pile of clothes that my kids will wear throughout the next season. however, i’m skipping this one because this week i have deemed “baby prep week.” my kids are pretty good on clothes, but i do not yet feel ready for baby. so this week i am focusing on changing that, because it seems to have snuck up on me that he’ll be here VERY SOON (like probably in just a couple/few weeks).
DAY 1 of baby prep week: organize, wash, donate, lend out old baby clothes and gear. spent all evening on that, and now i have clothes for him to wear that aren’t tucked away in bins in our basement.
DAY 2 of baby prep week: sew a hospital bag.
this is one of those projects that made me feel simultaneously so happy and also a little silly/crazy. i absolutely did not need to make this bag (i have a perfectly good weekend bag) but i also NEEDED to make it (in the way that certain gals NEED to sew tiny Beat it Jackets with 20+ zippers).
I JUST HAD TO.
(click to keep reading)
a new, custom, just-for-me bag seemed like a really fun thing to sew and something that would be super special to bring to the hospital with me on the big day. when i sew for someone, i spend a lot of time thinking about that person – how and when they’ll use it, tweaking things to meet their preferences and needs – i really try to personalize my creations and i sort of meditate on that the whole time.
as i sewed this hospital bag, with myself as the final recipient, i thought a lot about my new labor story and what it might be. my first two were quite different – my labor with E was 23 hours, painfully natural at first and ending in epidural/stalled labor/pitocin/far too many interventions, a long pushing phase, and a narrowly avoided c-section. after she was born, i was so exhausted i could barely think or move.
my labor with O was 5 hours total, starting very suddenly and progressing quickly – intentionally natural and my contractions were far less painful due to me being in the right mental state and accepting labor rather than fighting it. unmedicated birth was wonderful, and i loved it. it was so much easier on my body (even though he was almost 9 lbs, a pound bigger than E was) and i felt an incredible euphoria afterward. it made me feel like a superhero – and i fully intend to give birth naturally again (in a hospital with a midwife). it just works for me.
so anyway, with those thoughts running through my head and my baby kicking away in my belly as i sewed, this duffle came to life.
the fabric is from Lizzy House’s beautiful new Catnap Line (i got it at Bolt, you can get it here), and i paired it with Essex Yarn Dyed in Leather and the chambray from this shirt. my lining is gray tonal polka dot cotton from JoAnn.
the pattern is the FREE Cargo Duffle Pattern by Noodlehead for Robert Kaufman. ever since Anna debuted the pattern, i’ve wanted to make it. i love the quiltiness and the solid boxy structure of it, and the opportunity to play with different fabric combos. the pattern is more on the intermediate side, i’d say – if you’ve made bags with gussets before or done quilt as you go, you’ll have an easier time than a newbie. i’d recommend Anna’s Divided Basket or her new Road Trip Case as good learning patterns before you tackle this one if you need to build some confidence.
i also recommend you take her advice and use binding clips (affiliate link). i poked my fingers a million times because i used pins and the layers are so thick.
i loved sewing it though – it was a project that i had to put down a lot due to everyday life stuff and it’d taunt me from my sewing room, begging me to come finish it!
the pattern guides you to make an unlined bag with bound seam allowances, but i wanted to line mine and add an inner zippered welt pocket. it was easy to do, too! here’s the quick tutorial:
- when you’re cutting everything out, cut an extra front, back, 2 zipper gussets, and bottom gusset out of your lining fabric with the same dimensions as the pattern states
- add a pocket to the back piece (i drafted my own zippered welt pocket using a 9” zipper and what i learned from making the Envelope Clutch; Delia Creates has a great free tutorial if you’d like – or just add a patch pocket!)
- press one long side of each zipper gusset to the wrong side by about 1/4”, then line up the unpressed outer edges with the bottom gusset outer edges to form the loop as you did with the outer (with an open rectangle in the top middle to accommodate the zipper). press the side seam allowances toward the bottom of the bag.
- assemble lining as you did the main bag, shove it into the bag, and pin it in from the zipper’s right side. make sure you’re matching the folded lining edge to the canvas edge on the inside.
- machine or hand stitch the lining (i topstitched mine in by machine). you’ll probably need to hand sew the short ends of the lining where the zipper terminates – it gets pretty tough/impossible to maneuver there.
- hand tack the lining to the bag at the top corners and the top edge above the pocket to keep the lining from falling down into the bag.
- add a pretty zipper pull (i like using foldover elastic) and you’re done!
to me it feels a bit more finished this way; the canvas duck i used on the inside wasn’t the prettiest. oh and i’m excited to someday use this as a airplane carry on bag too! the outer pockets are the perfect size to hold my phone on one side and wallet/boarding pass on the other for easy access, but the snaps keep them secure. the duffle size is perfect for snacks, a couple magazines, a sweater, etc.
and for now, it’s perfect as an overnight hospital bag!
okay longest post ever.
time to PACK this thing!! 😀