In our house Santa brings the gifts in the stocking and my husband and I give the ones under the tree. At least one of those gifts is always handmade (ok, so my son is only 3, we're not talking about a long standing tradition here!). I start planning much, much earlier in the summer, usually buy the supplies in early fall, pat myself on the back on how ahead of schedule I am going to be this year and then the last week before Christmas scramble to get it done. Naturally, that's exactly how it went this year.
When I first saw the Aeroplane Bag pattern by Sew Sweetness I knew that was what I wanted to use. It's not overly complicated (there's only so many pockets a 3 and 1 year old need), it's super cute and I could customize it-- because of course, I can't ever let any pattern just "be", I always need to make some sort of tweak.
Let's face it, "Here's your new duffel!" isn't going to elicit the same excited response as "Here's your new Lego set!" so I needed to add something that was going to jump out at the kids. That's where paper piecing came in to play.
Last year I purchased Playful Little Paper Pieced Projects during a paper piecing kick I was going through. I love every pattern in this book and have a millions plans made up in my head, but there was no doubt that the lantern was going to end up on something for M, my 3 year old son. M loves to "go camping" in our attic with his toy camping set and the sleeping bag I made him for Christmas last year. The lantern was a must for his bag.
A was a little tougher: at 20 months she doesn't have too many defined interests besides following after her big brother and an obsession with babies (I thought that might make a creepy bag). I was struggling with this and then the other day M randomly says "She sure does love bunnies." and A nodded her head in agreement. So there you go, done and done.
The nice thing about sewing for kids is that you can sew right in front of them and they usually don't pick up that it's for them. As long as I hid the lantern piece from M and told him that it was a "work project" he didn't give it a second thought. However, he walked past me as I was holding up the bunny bag for final inspection and said "Oh A is going to love that bag." I mumbled something about it not being for her and he said "It should be. You know how she LOVES bunnies." and kept on walking. Clearly I missed some important conversation about bunnies recently!
Obviously the paper pieced center isn't part of the original pattern. I found that the space between the straps in the "long" version of the bag was roughly 12" so I sized the paper pieced pattern accordingly. The lantern wasn't square, so in order to have it fill the space between the straps as completely as possible, I added 4" to the length of the upper body. Good thing 3 year olds have lots of "stuff" because it's a substantial bag now!
I eliminated the interior pockets from both because I know they will never use them. It's terrible to say, but at this point I was looking for changes that would save me time and removing 4 zipper pockets was definitely one of them!
Lastly, I didn't use as much interfacing on the bunny bag and you can tell. I thought I could get away with only interfacing the zipper side of the lining, but that bag is so much more slouchy than the lantern bag. Nex time, interfacing all the way (and there will be a next time)!
Bag Pattern: Aeroplane Bag by Sew Sweetness
Fabric on Latern Bag: Lower Bag- Hello, Bear Summit Twilight Fabric by Bonnie Christine, Upper Bag- Timberland Dew by Bonnie Christine, Straps- Cloud 9 Amber Cirrus, Lantern- Carolyn Friedlander Botanics, Allison Glass Sun Print Grove, Cloud 9 Wildwood
Bunny Pattern: Bubble Stitch on Etsy
Fabric on Bunny Bag: Lower Bag- Curiosities Splendiferous Chill by Jeni Baker, Upper Bag- Curiosities Firefly Jar by Jeni Baker, Straps- Kona (exact color unknown), Bunny- Cherie Les Points Dust, rest unknown
Want to try it on your own?
This pattern is really straightforward for an advanced beginner. The designer suggests that if you have made a zipper pouch then you can take on this project. I'd say that you'd want to have several zipper pouches under your belt since the curves and interfacing can make it a little tricky to manipulate.
If you still need that zipper experience try out our Zipper Pouch Class on February 3rd! It's advanced beginner class so you'll need our Machine 101class (next one is January 23rd) or equivalent experience!