Pattern Puzzle: how to fix this bag? pt.2

fix_bag_pony_clamp Continuing from part one, I never imagined we’d have such a range of responses. I included the link to the pattern so you could see the shaping -basically a square with straps on one end. The bag is gusseted similar to the average plastic throw away bag you get at the store and upon which this design was based. I was looking for a down and dirty solution, nothing complex. My point in the entry was that sometimes you don’t need a lot of complexity, rough guesstimates can be good enough.

For example, comments notwithstanding, my solution was to hang the bag and grasp the excess gaping with my ever favorite pony clamp as shown in the photo. The measure of excess fullness (approximately four inches) was the only figure I needed to shift the area appropriately. In the series of sketches below, I’ll show how I did that. Again, remember this bag is gusseted at the bottom corners, the fullness being shifted from the front is only going where it wants to go anyway.

At left in the illustration below is the original pattern. It’s too big in the center. Some of that needs to be taken out and placed at the sides, bringing the straps closer together. The illustration on the right shows the cut lines. Parts labeled A will be joined at center front. Part B will be split and placed off to either side of each part A.


In the sketch below on the left, parts B have been placed at the sides and parts A have been shifted toward the center. The only thing that remains to be done, is the trimming away of the tops of parts B so they match Part A in vertical length. And on the right below is the final pattern all put back together.


Now, how do I know this will work? Well, even though I haven’t sewn a sample yet in real life, all I’ve really done is shift back what used to be there before, back when this style was known as 4212/4213 (illustration at the pattern link). Back when this was still style 4213, the straps were twice as wide but they folded. This was unwieldy. It might work in a throwaway plastic bag but it doesn’t in leather. I’m constantly fighting the folded straps of the blue leather bag. By the way, you can see the gusseting nicely there.

Regarding comments, both Barb and Betsy were on the right track by suggesting the straps needed to be moved more towards the center of the bag. A few caveats though, this is a shopping bag, not a lady’s handbag so while their points should be seriously considered for other oversized bags, they don’t really apply to this one.

els_bag_solution Also, the straps are not rigid, not in the slightest. The leather (two layers of suede) are soft, almost padded so there won’t be any painful cutting into the shoulder. Regardless of softness, I would agree this could be a problem if the straps were any narrower but these are nice and wide -about 2″ or so.

Els submitted an interesting sketch (above right), she says:

I agree with Barb Taylorr’s comment but also noticed that the front side shoulder strap is gaping due to the natural slope of the shoulder.

This is one reason I never buy a bag with 2 shoulder straps. There is always one strap falling of my shoulder if the straps are long.

You can prevent this gaping by cutting and sewing the front shoulder strap at an angle so it will rest on the shoulder without having an empty space there. See the photo (your picture which I used paint to alter the strap).

It’s interesting that Els brings this up. I had thought the strap ends could be contoured in part as she illustrated but then thought it might be overkill (I’d be guilty of over engineering). I don’t think I’d vary each side as she has because I’d have to remember which side goes out and then also not confuse the facing sides (straps ends attach to facing) and I’m doing well enough to remember my keys. The edge of the strap that faces out, sticks up a little bit when it’s slung over your shoulder (yet another reason it’s not digging into the shoulder altho I certainly agree with Betsy/Barb that it looks like it would be). In the end, it’s a shopping bag albeit an expensive one. The individual maker could decide the course best for them.

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  1. Els says:

    That is probably the right solution for your bag design, to make it smaller. Another more simple solution which could help is to add a piece of boning around the bag opening all around
    (between the facing and bag)

    Good luck.

  2. Theresa in Tucson says:

    Like the fix. It occured to me your pattern looks like a tank top and had images of a thrift store tank top converted into a shopping bag. Depending on the fabric that could be fun. Speaking of patterns, we had two guest speakers last night at our local community college, Helen Joseph Armstrong and Lisa Shanley from Wild Ginger Software. Terrific evening, now I’m wanting to take the computer pattern class!

  3. Kathleen says:

    It occured to me your pattern looks like a tank top and had images of a thrift store tank top converted into a shopping bag.

    It’s been done. Two years ago, we had a sustainable bag contest. The very first entry was a bag made from a used tank top. It was so obviously perfect that no one else bothered to enter the contest so she won.

    Later, I was a bit annoyed to discover someone using our winner’s idea for profit. In her disclaimer she says that no part may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission. Hmm. Does that mean I am supposed to remove the earlier bag contest entry now that she’s generating a profit from it?

  4. Marie-Christine says:

    Beware of too much angling this or that if it’ not strictly necessary. I like to grab a bag and toss it on any way it comes up, not have to make sure this or that side is outside on this or that shoulder.. Normally one only puts on a shirt only one way :-), so fitting to the shoulder slope is fine. But it’s not the same for a bag, especially one that’s meant to be so practical.

    And I’ve seen the tank top bag idea probably a dozen times, every single time presented as the writer’s original idea. Not surprising, as that seems to be the default mode on the net. It probably was always that way, it’s just that now with the net we find out..

  5. Elaine says:

    The solution I use for the outer strap slipping down is to make sure it is crossed over the top of the inner strap when it’s on my shoulder. With a flexible bag like this one, it should stay in place easily.

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