Pattern Puzzle: how to fix this bag?

I’m in a pensive mood this morning, rehashing what I learned from last week’s production pattern making classes. I think my biggest lesson is what I think is obvious, may not be. Another lesson is, I need to assign pre-attendance homework. I was surprised that no one had actually tried the zipper tutorials. I need a major attitude adjustment. I figured people would be happy to try something that worked so easily and neatly but as it turns out, people will avoid attempting something that’s been so error ridden and stressful. The matter of the zipper tutorial was significant because our sample pattern had one and you can’t design a pattern for something you can’t sew. Or rather, you can’t design the pattern well.

Speaking of, one person asked me which I preferred, designers who sew or those who don’t. I can go either way for various reasons but it remains true that designers who sew are often limited in their design expression. They won’t design something they can’t sew personally. Designers who don’t sew don’t care. They don’t know how difficult or easy something is and pick out what they like. If you can only design what you know, you’ll have to grow beyond this somehow. Either practice the tutorials or learn to design beyond the range of your experience. And that was another thing that surprised me. Students didn’t know how to find things on the site. Expect a site orientation entry soon.

Today’s exercise is something I would consider obvious. In the course of the classes, students would ask how I knew to do something. Some things are a matter of mechanics. You learn them according to natural rules you learn by rote and or experience or you guesstimate. I suppose that’s where the art of drafting comes in. The bag pictured at top right is style 4217, the project I’d been working on before (more photos). As I mentioned in this entry, I decided during the sewing process to change the manner in which the straps were joined. I liked the look better but it caused some unanticipated gaping at the center front of the bag. Were you to repair this pattern, how would you decide to fix it? I think my students were surprised to learn there aren’t always hard and fast rules. Some of what we do is iteration. I’ll post my solution tomorrow.

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  1. dosfashionistas says:

    I would try rounding the lower part of the strap opening somewhat to make it cling more to the body. However, given that this is a bag and not a garment, there is a limit to how much you want to fit it to the dress form. As it sits there, you could do any number of things to take out the gap, but the next time you slung it over your shoulder or the next shoulder it went on would fit into it differently. Longer straps might help also.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Let’s assume I like the strap length (I do) and don’t want to change that. Let’s assume I don’t want to change the given area (total square inches) of the bag -I don’t. How could one re-allocate area to repair the gaping?

    PS. I’ve already settled on the method of repair. The only hint I’ll give you is that it requires recutting the thing in its entirety. ugh.

  3. Susan says:

    I know it gaps now but when it is filled as intended does it still gap. The solution I’m thinking has to do with closing darts…thus the bottom of the bag would be wider than the top.

  4. Eric H says:

    I had this really great teacher — Russ Jedlicka, who unfortunately passed away at a relatively young age recently — who told us in the course of working through a special type of math problem — a transcendental equation — that one possible method for solving the problem was … ? Anyone? I suggested guessing. He said that yes, that was technically correct, but it sounds better when explaining it to your boss if you said that you “solved by iteration”. I still use that phrase and that use of truth and humor was one of the reasons he was a great teacher. Sorry to threadjack.

  5. kathleen says:

    I know it gaps now but when it is filled as intended does it still gap. The solution I’m thinking has to do with closing darts…thus the bottom of the bag would be wider than the top.

    Hmm, does it gape when filled? Not really, maybe the only time it doesn’t but maybe the question should be reframed? I get what you’re going for but reframed, I’d say the bag ergonomics are off. Not something you would readily put your thumb on unless someone specifically pointed it out to you and then you’d say “oh yeah, huh”. Or at least I would. See the entry I linked to, near the end for more of an explanation. The pattern of it is also there.

  6. dosfashionistas says:

    I thought about the dart possibility, but it seemed as though the bag gaped on the back side but not next to the bust and I knew you would not fit the bag to the body like that. So that threw me. Looking at the pattern, I feel sure the solution has to do with placement of the spraps and tapering the seam that is sewed between the straps to form a dart. Can’t wait to see the solution.

  7. Dennis says:

    At first I thought this was a blouse with a terrible armscye, but a bag? Never knew a bag could be made from 2 pieces not counting the lining, if any. Next time I make a bag for a wheelchair or walker, I would try that design.

  8. victoria says:

    Two small darts on either side of center seam. Cut the darts out to reduce bulk. Gather lining instead of darting it.

    PS. I like your comment about designers who sew and those who do not. Look at Christian Dior.

  9. Amy says:

    I would add a center-sewn rectangular or fancy-shaped tab (perhaps like one of your flames) in the lighter turquoise color, and have it snap in the center front to pull the gap inward. Anyway, I think it would look attractive and, at the same time, suggest itself as being an extra security feature.

  10. Barb Taylorr says:

    Anytime the opening between the straps is wider than the widest part of the body that the straps will drape over, then there will be a gap. Gravity will adjust the size of the opening to be equal to the width of the shoulder (profile). If you want to keep the capacity the same you’ll have to set the straps in from the edge or make them wider to reduce the opening between them. I’ll e-mail a sketch Kathleen if you want to link to it.

  11. Betsy Johnson says:

    I would move the straps in toward the center and would curve them in to improve the fit/comfort at the top of the shoulder. I consider the top of the shoulder issue much more important. When I look at the current version, I can almost feel the pain of the edge of the strap cutting into my shoulder.

  12. Betsy Johnson says:

    I’ve thought a bit more about what happens when the straps are moved toward the center.

    Having the outside of the straps near the outside edges of the bag makes the bag curve around the body giving it a bit of an ergonomic look. If the straps are moved in without widening them, the bag will not curve around the body as much and be flatter, more like a briefcase. Depending on how it is loaded, the ends could sag.

    If the outside edge of the straps is kept the same, but they are widened, at their base, making the space between them less, the gapping will be diminished, but the bag will continue to curve around the body.

    Which is better seems to depend on taste and what will be carried in it.

  13. Vesta says:

    Holy moly. I am in awe of the brain power evaluating a BAG! I am infatuated with bags, and I love hearing y’all dissect the issues involved.

  14. LizPf says:

    As Barb said, the bag *wants* to form an oval within the handle area. I bet the problem is even worse with small, heavy items in the bag.

    My first thought was to use something to stiffen the upper part of the bag between the handles, perhaps a heavy interfacing. With a still enough canvas, this would work — but it would change the feel of the bag and make it harder to fold compactly.

    Another idea would be to re-shape the space within the handle “hole”. Perhaps widening the straps at their bases would do the trick.

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