Completed: A birthday backpack

200128_backpack1My daughter turned 3 years old and I wanted to give her a backpack designed and made by me. It was ages ago since I made a proper bag and I loved (almost) every minute of making it.

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I designed a simple bag with a main compartment with an O-type zipper (this was really hard to find so I am happy I found one in a somewhat matching colour) and two outside pockets. One that closes with a zipper and one that is a bit more open that closes with a flap with a snap. I really had to restrain myself from adding more pockets and fancy features. The bag is not very large since the intended recipient is still less than 1 meter tall so there is not really a lot of room to add extra stuff. A 3 year old also doesn’t need all those bells and whistles and they would have added extra weight which is not ideal when you want your child to carry her own bag.

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Years ago I read a blog post in which cork fabric was used to make a bag and I have ever since wanted to try that stuff. It sounded like a strong and durable material which is great for anything made for a toddler. It is also available with silver stuff in it which is great when your toddler likes anything with glitter.

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Not too shabby pattern matching on the top. I love the O-type zipper with 2 zipper pulls.

I paired it with a green Art Gallery fabric with yellow and white flowers, yellow quilting fabric for some accents, a yellow zipper, green and yellow webbing for the straps and some adjustable sliders. The print fabric was also used for the lining. On the outside the print fabric was interfaced with fusible Decovil 1 light which gives it a bit of a leathery stiffness. The front and back cork fabric were interfaced with fusible vlieseline/vilene S320, but that may not have been absolutely necessary because the fabric itself is already quite firm. Anyway, I hoped the bag would stand up by itself and it does.

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back before assembly

I sewed the outer and inner pattern pieces at the same time and finished the seam allowances on the inside with bias binding. On the front and back this turned out to be much easier than I expected. On the bottom this was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever sewn. I was super glad that I now have a Janome Horizon MC9400 because I am not sure the 3160 would have been able to handle all the bulk in the corners. In the end I managed to get it done with a lot of patience and I am happy this binding is located in a place that nobody will ever take a closer look at. If I ever make another backpack I think I’ll have to create a different type of bottom to make the assembly a bit easier.

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Attaching the binding to the front piece and attaching the bottom to the main bag. I am not sure why I ever thought 10 wonder clips would be sufficient for this project…

My daughter loves her new backpack and I hope she will be able to use it for years to come.

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And now I really want to make another bag for myself…

Week 4/2020: What’s on my design wall?

Finally making progress on this quilt top. It’s grown a bit since I showed it last and I added some additional fabrics. I should be able to finish piecing it this week.

As I started assembling I thought it was interesting to visualize how a quilt shrinks with each quarter inch seam that is sewn. I know that you lose half an inch each time and take it into account when I design a top but somehow it still manages to surprise me. Perhaps because the design process often takes quite some time and I get used to the size that it had unpieced?

Completed: Sun cover for the Urban Arrow cargo bike

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I had a second daughter and with her impending arrival came the question of how to safely transport not one, but two of those cute little things. For many people this probably means getting a second car seat, but we no longer own a car and even if we did it would be pretty useless to me since I don’t have a driver’s license. I prefer to use a bike or public transport and on the rare occasion that we really do need a car to go somewhere, we rent one.

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For my oldest daughter I used a bike trailer, but the one we have only fits one child and a larger one that could accommodate two children doesn’t fit through our backyard gate or in our shed. With my growing belly I also started to struggle facing headwinds while cycling home from work.

The solution to both problems was to get the Urban Arrow electric cargo bike. The baby can sit in her maxi cosi car seat that fits in a specific adaptor for this bike and her sister can sit on the bench strapped in a seat belt. I now laugh at headwinds and am still amazed at how much quicker you get somewhere when you cycle 20-25 kph instead of 15.

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Yes, I did take pictures for a sun cover on a rainy day…

You can get a very nice rain cover for this bike, but with the great summer weather we had last summer I worried that my tiny baby would be a bit too much exposed to the sun in her maxi cosi. So, solving the first two problems created a new one. Not being easily deterred by such problems I quickly started brainstorming ways to create a sun cover.

The requirements

  1. Good protection from the sun
  2. Easy to install and remove, if it takes 10 minutes each time it won’t be used
  3. Easy to take the maxi cosi out of the bike as I will often have to take it with me when I reach my destination
  4. The cover should not make it more difficult to seat the toddler on the bench
  5. There should still be a clear view on the baby when I am cycling so I can keep an eye on her
  6. The baby should still get enough fresh air, I could just throw a big blanket over the entire maxi cosi to cover everything but children really need air to breath…

How it was made

I had a stretch fabric blanket with UPF 50 rating that seemed like a good starting point and from there I sort of made this cover up as I went along using stuff that we already had on hand.

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Sun cover attached to maxi cosi handles using velcro straps. Sun cover is folded to the back which is how I carry it without removing the cover.

I added some Velcro straps to attach one side of the blanket to the maxi cosi handle. While the maxi cosi was placed inside the bike I determined where to make two button holes in each of the corners on the opposite site to attach the blanket to the bars located inside the rain cover. To attach the blanket to the bars I used some linky toys. To create a bit more coverage on the sides I measured how much fabric I needed to add and attached a double layer of jersey. It being a sun cover I thought the ice cream print was very appropriate. I could have added a longer piece to get even more coverage, but the baby’s older sister does enjoy looking around while we are cycling and I didn’t want to limit her view too much.

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sun cover anatomy

So, does it work? Yes, I’ve been very pleased with how this turned out. The baby stayed mostly out of the sun while we were cycling. Only when the sun came from very specific angles it reached her, but her face was always in the shadow.

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Linky toy hooped through two buttonholes and around pole inside rain cover. Most creative use of this toy yet?

Now that it is winter the sun cover is not really necessary anymore but I am certainly going to use it again when spring arrives.

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