15 January 2012

217. Simplicity 2350 Almost-Perfect Travel Tote

I travel a bit for work, and since most of my trips are 3-4 days long, I do a pretty good job packing EVERYTHING in my 18" rollerbag and a shoulder bag (i.e. I almost never check luggage).  My shoulder bag in recent years, which counts as a "personal item" per U.S. airline regulations, was a conference bag made of ballistic nylon.  It was pretty basic/ ugly, and the polyester straps were so uncomfortable, but the size and functionality were pretty solid.  The zipper broke about a year ago, and instead of making a copy, I sewed a replacement bag from Simplicity 2350 / Cynthia Rowley.

I'm pretty sure this pattern was not meant to make a critical piece of luggage for a frequent flyer, but that didn't stop me from wishing!  Unfortunately, it started looking kind of sloppy after just a couple of trips.  I used 1/2 yard 100% cotton canvas from IKEA (gifted from my good pal Stephanie) with some quilting fabric for lining and 100% cotton webbing for straps.  I've been travelling with the bag for several months, making notes for the (hopefully) final travel bag in its next form.

The quilting fabric lining is completely interfaced with a heavy interfacing, but it's still not very stiff.  Maybe I will line with canvas next time, weight be darned.  I also insisted on a top zipper, for when the bag tips over on the plane so my gum and impressive collection of pens doesn't spill all over the floor.  The heavy metal zipper does pull the top of the bag inward, though, adding to its semi-disheveled appearance.  Maybe a nylon zip next time?

I spent a ton of time completely customizing the bag with a series of little pockets that make travel easier, each of which has a purposeful function and location.  In the photos below, there's an outside pocket stitched from scraps on the front side, for my phone and earbuds; a wide outside pocket for the quart-sized bag of toiletries, easy to grab and throw in the plastic bin at security, which is underneath the custom strap that holds this tote more securely atop the rollerbag; and the metal zip top:

The inside pockets are, as my nephew would say, *BOMBEST*.  The two pockets on the wide sides of the bag were included in the pattern (a flat pocket and a pleated triple pocket).  On the skinny sides of the bag, I added one flat pocket for the ID & boarding pass during those critical seconds after you're waved through security and suddenly you're throwing your life into the plastic bin and praying you don't get radiation poisoning from the x-ray machine, and one zippered pocket for my house keys, which always seem to go missing from the time I leave home until I arrive back at my doorstep:

The perfect bag will probably include the perfect pockets from this bag and the shape and dimensions of the conference bag that wasn't so bad.  I've got to get serious about sewing a jacket, though.  Finally found a tweedy wool for that Chanel-style jacket I'd hoped to sew a long, long time ago.  Yeah, that Chanel jacket.......


  1. I love the custom pockets and the little strap to keep your bag on your carry-on!

  2. Love the idea...I need one of these! Of course I dont travel often, but its so hard to find cute AND functional travel bags.

  3. You found the fabric for your Chanel jacket??? Where??? what does it look like??
    I remember you giving me a tour of your bag on the bus ride to NYC. Good times!!

  4. I haven't tried it yet, but I once read a tip to use the plastic canvas/grid stuff to make a bag stand up tall (or for a bottom on a bag that you'll want to wash.)

  5. It's a hard road finding the perfect tote bag. They're either too big or too small or don't have enough pockets or too expensive.

  6. Welcome back. It's a clever bag clever girl! Did you buy the pull along or recycle it?

  7. Nice customizations! I always have trouble finding the right bag for travel or for everyday use - designers don't seem to think about function... I'll have to try this on my bag!



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