Seven Seas Gym Bag

Warp & Weft Sewing Society
A Warp & Weft Sewing Society project

This year I did quite a bit of back-to-school sewing. With two kids in school there is just so much to buy, so it’s nice to be able to make something as well.

The Fabric

I started off with six fat quarters from the Seven Seas collection by Michéle Brummer Everett for Cloud9 Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles. The prints I chose are Laddies Poppets, Sea Critters, and The Fleet in Grey. These are just so darn cute! When my little boy saw them he was over the moon. These are really fun prints and the fabric is organic, which is always nice.

Laddies Poppets, Sea Critters, and The Fleet in Gray from the Seven Seas collection by Michéle Brummer Everett for Cloud9 Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
The Before shot: Laddies Poppets, Sea Critters, and The Fleet in Grey from the Seven Seas collection by Michéle Brummer Everett for Cloud9 Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.

The Pattern

I used the Jeni Gym Bag tutorial by Katy Jones of I’m A GingerMonkey.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I’m A GingerMonkey

This is a free online tutorial (with a super convenient PDF download). The directions are very clear and easy to follow.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
Looks a bit like a superhero cape when it’s empty.

The tutorial makes a lined drawstring bag that is kid-sized. It’s a little big on my 5-year-old but not so big it looks silly. Just big enough that it will last a while though.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
I used The Fleet in Grey to line the bag.

I used white cording for the drawstring, but you could also use ribbon, homemade bias binding stitched closed, etc.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
Easy for little hands to open.

There is plenty of room inside for sneakers and a change of clothes.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
Love how one of the little poppets appears to have already walked the plank!

The toughest part of the pattern was installing grommets (which really were not that hard to install). Much easier than eyelets, if you’ve ever had to use those, because the grommets are so much larger and more stable when you whack them with a hammer. You do need a special grommet tool though.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
Another shot of my awesome grommet.

My son really likes the sea creatures and the colours. It’s really hard to find fabric for boys that isn’t too babyish, or too serious, or too dark. These prints are bright and fun and and the bag was a big hit.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
Just one more grommet pic. Really though, check out that great grommet!

I’m really happy with this bag. It’s just so much cuter than anything I could buy in the store. And it was super quick to make. In case, ahem, you have to make one the day before school starts because your summer was just too crazy (just saying).

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I’m A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment

Summary

Pattern Review: Jeni Gym Bag tutorial by Katy Jones of I’m A GingerMonkey.

Fabric: Laddies Poppets, Sea Critters, and The Fleet in Grey from the Seven Seas collection by Michéle Brummer Everett for Cloud9 Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.

Sizes: One size fits most. The finished bag is 14″ x 17″.

Sewing Level: Beginner.

Modifications: None.

Results: Great.

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
Well now, what could this be?

Once the rightful owner was conveniently out of the way, there was some unauthorized testing. (And no, I do not normally allow my infant children to play with drawstring bags for obvious reasons).

The Jeni Gym Bag sewing pattern by I'm A GingerMonkey, sewn by The Finished Garment
“Mine!”

Princess Leia Goes Back to School

All my kids love Star Wars, but especially my daughter. One day she came home telling me that the boys at school let her play Star Wars with them, but they said she could “only be the princess”. Hmmmm. I was not impressed.

Of course I had to explain that Princess Leia is not “just” a princess. She is a leader in the rebellion (which means she gets to tell everyone else what to do), an important diplomat and politician, a spy, and a princess with magic powers. Most of the other characters don’t even have real jobs, unless you count smuggler and rebel as jobs. Princess Leia is pretty kickass, if you ask me.

So when I let my daughter pick her own fabric for a back-to-school pencil case, Star Wars it was!

Zip bag for back-to-school
Zip bag for back-to-school

Of course the problem with Star Wars isn’t just the kids at school, it’s also whichever marketing executive is in charge of licensing their merchandise, and who isn’t taking girls into consideration.

The Fabric

The fabric I used is Star Wars Character Names in Multi from the Star Wars II collection by Lucasfilm Ltd. and TM for Camelot Cottons. It’s official licensed fabric and has the names of eight characters on it. How many are women? Just one. (Though I suppose the ewok could go either way.) I picked this up at my local chain store, but you can get it online and there are a few different prints.

At least Princess Leia was on the fabric. This summer we visited the Star Wars Identities exhibit at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. It was lots of fun. If you get a chance you should definitely go. And of course there were tons of toys for sale, since Star Wars and merchandising go hand in hand – but no female characters. There was only a bobblehead Princess Leia, (which broke on the car ride home) but that was it. Playskool makes a cute set of figurines that were for sale and that are way more age appropriate, but they make no women Star Wars characters at all.

It’s definitely something my daughter notices. She likes Cars (the movie), Planes, Star Wars, but when we go to the toy store there’s nothing for her, despite the fact that all those movies have smart, interesting female characters. But then those characters aren’t made into toys, and if they are, they are extremely hard to find. I suppose some marketing exec would argue that the female characters don’t sell, but that is especially true when you don’t make any.

So I was pretty exited to be able to make my own gear for her that was clearly for girls, and had her favourite character on it.

Nice contrasty lining
Nice contrasty lining

I used bright green fabric for the lining and solid purple to match the print for the exterior. Kid No 1 helped choose the colours. I wanted it to be clearly made for a girl, but not too girly. You really shouldn’t have to choose between solid pink 24/7 and “no girls allowed”.

The Pattern

I used the Perfect Zip Bag pattern by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson! I’ve made this pattern before, but I haven’t blogged it. The pattern can be used to make three different styles of bag, all fully lined, in a variety of sizes and with different straps and zipper pulls. I made view A in the larger size with a wrist strap and inside pocket.

Interior pocket.
Interior pocket.

It’s a great pattern. It’s extremely well thought out and the instructions are exceptionally clear and well written. And it makes a really professional bag that looks finished on the inside and outside.

I know there  are lots of free tutorials for zip bags online, but this pattern is definitely worth buying.

There is also an online tutorial on how to make the zip bags using quilted patchwork panels. I’ve used that technique for a larger bag using the Perfect Quilted Totes pattern (also not blogged) and the results were really nice.

I used flannel for interlining. I used canvas last time, which makes a crisper, stiffer bag, but for a child I thought a softer bag would be better.

Check out that zipper!
Check out that zipper!

Summary

Pattern Review: Perfect Zip Bag pattern by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson!

Fabric:

  • Character Names in Multi from the Star Wars II collection by Lucasfilm Ltd. and TM for Camelot Cottons.
  • Kona solid (could this be Plum?) by Robert Kaufman.
  • Ovals in Lime from the Remix collection by Anne Kelle for Robert Kaufman.

Size: Large (View A)

Sewing Level: Beginner.

Modifications: None.

Results: Great. I would strongly recommend this pattern and would make it again.

Just to be clear: The Star Wars name is trademarked by Lucasfilm Ltd. and used by the fabric manufacturer under licence. The zip bag shown here is not an official licensed product and is not available for sale. But you can always buy some fabric and make your own!

Sewing Like Mad