I found a USMint bag at a yard sale about ten years ago. It was small, and not as sturdy as I would expect a bag full of cold hard cash to be.
My plan from the start was to cut it up and back it with more canvas to make some kind of larger, more sturdy backpack, but I never got around to the harder work of figuring out what this backpack should actually look like, or all the engineering, hardware, interfacing, closures, straps, internal pockets, and all that bag stuff that is not a part of my usual dressmaking type sewing projects.
What finally got the bag going was this post, from Charity Shop Chic, which inspired me in several ways, including 1) forcing me to think through the finish on the shoulder strap padding before getting there, and 2) being generally low stress about the bag making process in general.
Thank you to Charity Shop Chic for being inspirational and low stress.
Below is a progress shot, the snaps are magnetic purse closures which I had for no good reason, glad to put those to use. The webbing, also, had it in house for no good reason, glad to be putting to use. The extra canvas is from old laundry bags, and the black canvas at the bottom and back is left over from a bunch of other stuff, used most recently for those cute overalls.
This is the pattern, below, which I built out of heavy paper and tape, and then pinned ribbons onto for the straps, and then stuffed with more paper and walked around backwards looking into mirrors to get the shape and size right. On the left is a cutting list and at the lower right is a drawing I did to help map out the order of construction. I wouldn’t usually do either, but this was so far outside my usual sewing that I felt like it was too much to keep in my head. It helped too, I only sewed the straps in the wrong way once.
His advice was that I make the back section as flat as possible, plus interface the back and give it seams to the side pieces instead of having the body cut in one continuous piece, so that when the bag is full it will sit flat on my back instead of rounding away, which will be more comfortable when carrying anything heavy, and will look nicer, less sack-like, more backpack-ish.
Zipper inside the fold top so my stuff can’t fall out even if the bag goes upside down, and a zippered interior pocket.
The words across the top are, “please do not cut bag when opening, return to” (US Mint). Please, friends, do not cut this bag when opening and never return it to the US Mint from here on out, thanks.
The original bag had QUARTERS printed twice, so, small pocket on the side. I would not put quarters in there though. Too shallow, they’d fall out.
The nice thing about a fold top bag, is, when you return from your trip with more stuff than when you left, the bag still works. Just stuff upward and don’t roll. It’ll still fit under the airplane seat in front of you, too.
The most difficult part of this project was attaching the base to the body. The base is two layers of black canvas with heavy purse/craft interfacing fused inside, the body is reinforced with black canvas along the bottom, so it’s two layers as well. It actually hurt, holding and moving this through the sewing machine and then turning it right side out. There’s probably a better order to construct a bag, so one isn’t left with this last awful seam and hand pain.
The other difficult part was that I had to undo the bottom half of the magnetic snaps and reset them higher up, so they would align, after I had the bag finished. It wasn’t exactly hard to do, but it was super annoying. If there is a next time I’ll wait and set the closures last.
Sew It or Throw It:
Well, I’d intended for this to be a no-pattern one-off, but now I have a pattern, so, guess I’ll keep it. But I’ll probably never make another. But the pattern takes up like no space and I’ve done all the figuring out work. So yeah, Sew It.
Ha, I just noticed the bag kind of looks like a badger when it’s not folded. Hahaha.