Time for a more recent project. This one is the Sew Sweetness Tortoise Bag. I’ve been doing a bit more crocheting and knitting these days and wanted something to carry around my current project. The outer fabric is some Riley Blake that my mom gave me leftover from one of her projects and the lining fabric is a yellow paisley that I had bought 2 yards of and have been using as a blender and for a variety of things as it seems to match quite a bit.
I looked around at a couple different bag patterns. Sew Sweetness actually has a yarn bag (Yarn Minder) and while I like that one, I had some very specific requirements:
- Wide opening to put things in, ideally with a purse zipper that opens from both sides
- Big enough to hold the crochet hook/knitting needle case I was making (it’s not done yet)
- Shoulder strap
- Wide, rather than tall format
- Big enough to hold all the yarn for a decent sized project like a sweater or blanket and the project itself
The Tortoise Bag pattern fit all of those at a base level. Sew Sweetness patterns are consistently high quality. I have yet to make one that wasn’t well drafted and didn’t turn out looking fantastic. Plus, her patterns are super customizable. Once you’ve made a couple you get the idea of how she does pockets and such. In this case, the alterations I made were:
- Added pockets to the ends (as shown above)
- Increased strapping to 1.25” wide including the tab above
- Used #5 purse zipper instead of the recommended #3 zippers
- Didn’t put the handles (just the strap)
- Skipped the inner pocket
In order to widen the strapping attachments for 1.25” wide straps (I just generally prefer a wider strap but this was also the webbing I had already and I was trying to use stash), I enlarged the pattern piece for the tabs by 25% when I printed it. But I forgot to shorten it which is why they are a bit long. I don’t mind the look though and actually thought about making them closures for the pockets but have decided it’s not really necessary.
Also, the pockets were more style than function. I didn’t have enough fabric to do the whole end panel so by doing a pocket, I could still get quite a bit of coverage with the fabric I wanted. The pockets were a happy bonus and I have found I’ve been using them a fair bit.
For the zipper, I really wanted to be able to open the entire thing with one zipper but have it open either direction. Sew Sweetness shows a cool way to mimic this kind of zipper using #3 zippers in the pattern, but I really wanted to be able to push the zips to either side rather than have them meet in the middle. She also recommends the #3 zippers because they don’t stick out as much around the curve. Again, her patterns are super customizable and I learned a new way to use #3 zippers that I’m sure I’ll use on something else, but in this case the purse zipper met my needs better.
To compensate, I used a 3/8” seam allowance on the zipper instead of the 1/4” she normally has. As a note, I don’t recommend this alteration unless you’re experienced with zippers and her pattern style already and be aware that it will “pop” away from the bag a bit more as you can see in the photos.
There were a couple other alterations that I considered: inside pockets but I eventually ditched this because of the rounded bottom and a grommet for yarn but I ditched that as well because I like bing able to put everything, yarn and project, into the bag and zip it all up so inquiring furry creatures can’t get to it (apparently wool smells interesting).
Overall I’m pretty thrilled without how this turned out. It was a slow sewing project that took me far longer than it normally would have just because of other life stuff getting in the way, but it also let me focus on each step and enjoy the process more than I normally do. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now and every time I’m so amazed that it even exists because it’s *exactly* what I want out of a yarn bag. This is why I love sewing.