I’m currently working four different collaborative pianist jobs, which means several binders full of music, plus my iPad and Bluetooth page-turn pedal, and a calendar on which I attempt to keep my life organized.
Since the first day of class, I have been trying to figure out the best way to keep track of all this music and transport it back and forth from home to performance space. When I made Swoon Patterns’ Alice for my grand-high-schooler to use as a bookbag, I started thinking maybe Alice was the bag I needed to schlep all my music.
I have a drawer full of music-themed fabrics that I’ve been collecting for fifteen years. And I had a beautiful piece of leather (pigskin, maybe?) that I picked up at Tandy leather about four months ago. The lovely caramel shade of the leather went beautifully with the Symphony line of fabrics produced by Makower UK. So after some tests with bits of the leather, I set out to make Alice with several modifications to allow her to meet my needs.
First up were the side panels for the exterior. I didn’t quite enough to make two full side panels, so I thought I’d supplement one side panel with a piece of the exterior fabric to make it long enough. But even with interfacing, the thickness of one piece of cotton fabric was not equal to the leather. So I thought I’d use two pieces, and create a pocket for pens and pencils. I sewed one side seam all the way up before I realized I couldn’t have both those pieces of fabric full size—I needed to have the outer of the two pieces avoid the top seam. I cut about an inch off the outer piece and bound it with another piece of the same fabric.
For the side panels on the lining, I wanted something a little heavier than the lining fabric, so I pulled some buttery tan twill out of my stash. This fabric was left over from a bedspread I made for my son and daughter-in-law’s house when they first moved to Tucson in 2000. I cut side panels out and interfaced them, then realized I didn’t love the shade of the twill. I took all the twill I had cut and lay it into a strong tea bath, ending up an hour later with a perfect shade to coordinate with the several Makower prints.
I did not use Alice’s pockets as designed by the brilliant Alicia Miller. Instead, I wanted a special pocket for my iPad and another for my page-turn pedal.
I thought the Patch Pocket would be fine for the pedal if it had a little volume to it. I didn’t want the pocket to sit flush with the side of the bag. So I placed the foldline of the pocket pattern piece a half inch from the fold, giving myself an extra inch in width, and cut two pieces. I fused interfacing to one piece and fusible fleece to the other. I stitched the two pieces, wrong sides together, along the top, pressed, turned, and topstitched about half-an-inch from the folded edge. Into this casing I inserted a piece of ¼” elastic, pulling it to take up the extra 1″ of fabric and have the size of the pocket approximate the original size of the pocket. Then I cut a bias strip of fabric 2.5″ wide and bound the raw edges of the pocket with about a ⅜” seam. Because of the challenges of turning the bias strip around the edges of the thickness of the twill and interfacing and fleece, I used Fabric-Tac glue to hold the binding in place while I topstitched the binding and stitched the pocket into place on the side. (The stitching on the pleat I had made was looking a little loose, so I stitched over it with two repetitions of a pointed oval that is included in my machine’s stitch library.)
For the next pocket, I used the Main Panel pattern piece, cutting two of the lining fabric, straight across the top, several inches shorter than the pattern piece. I interfaced, sewed across the top, topstitched the seam allowance to the wrong side, and basted into place on the remaining Main Panel lining piece, matching sides and bottom. Then I used a black elastic hair band and satin-stitched it into place on the Main Panel, about half-an-inch above the center of the pocket. I had a cool toggle button I loved in my stash, but the bone-y color on front didn’t look quite right with the tans in the fabric, so I just turned it over and used the black side.
The final step, edgestitching around the top of the bag, was a bear when I came to the four seams and to the one side panel that included leather. It’s the only thing on the bag that’s not perfectly to my liking. I think that’s a pretty good outcome!
I totally love this bag, and am flying high that I took a pattern and made this many changes to it—and figured out how to do them. I’m patting myself on the back!!
I’ll bet you want to know why I take both my softcopy music and my hardcopy music. It’s because I never want to leave the availability of the music to chance. I play from the iPad whenever possible, but heaven forbid that I sit down to play for a student’s performance and my iPad dies or the app freezes. I never want to put any of the students in that awkward position and jeopardize their grade. So I’m always prepared.
And now I’m prepared with a beautiful me-made bag!