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Here’s a question for you:  am I the only one who paces and talks to herself when she’s thinking through a problem?

I am?  Um . . . okay.

‘Cause this project has involved a LOT of that.  I’ve never designed anything remotely as complex as this before, and it has meant solving one knotty problem after another.  Considering that some of the pieces have pockets or handles on both sides, what order do you sew them in so that you don’t mess up any of the attachments?  How do you make the bag sturdy without including anything like webbing?  How do you quilt a bag handle made of two layers of flannel and four of batting without a walking foot?  If you want your lining to enclose all your seams, but you also want to quilt the bag pieces to give them more structure, how do you manage that?

So I’ve been solving problems, but I’m happy to report that it’s been a mostly stimulating, not frustrating, process.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

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It’s a carry-on size (14″ x 21″ x 9″) rectangular bag that completely unzips along the side so that it can lay flat, has zippered pockets on the inside and outside, and backpack straps that can be removed and put inside the bag if I need to check it.

I’ve been working on the front piece with the pockets (upper left in the drawing), and here’s what I have so far:

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(That’s the outside with the two zippered pockets.)

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(Inside view.  You can see the crosshatching quilting I’ve done on the right side of the picture.)

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(Different view of the inside with a different photobombing cat.)

And here’s the simple continuous-line quilting I did on one of the side pieces:

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That’s the side piece that will be sewn to the front.  The other side piece will have more crosshatching.  I went with that because it’s easy and because much of the quilting will be covered with pockets and things (and also because the thought of trying to match up the lines on the two side pieces–in addition to lining up the zippers and handles and everything else–gives me a headache).  Normally, I would just draw pencil or chalk lines on the fabric, but I used freezer paper for the quilting on these, as the lining fabric is a little bit loosely-woven and I couldn’t get nice, parallel lines on it.

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The way I solved the problem of quilting the pieces, while still having the lining enclose the seams, was to sew a line of basting along the seam line on all the pieces to be quilted, then leaving the seam allowances unquilted.  The plan is to sew the flannel edges together, then fold down the seam allowance on the lining and hand sew it over the seam.  I’m a little worried about hand-stitching being strong enough, so I might try to hand-baste it, then use the machine to sew it down.  Actually assembling the bag will be the last thing, after all the attachments are done and sewn on, so I’ll worry about that when I get there.  😉

I hope everybody’s got interesting projects to work on and that January isn’t bumming you out too badly.  Here are some pictures to cheer you up just in case (I was trying to take pics of the flowers my honey got me and Pooh was determined to be in every shot.)

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STH

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