Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Poppins Bag with My Changes

In November my friend wanted to make a Poppins Bag by Aunties Two, so I said we should make it together. But after reading over the instructions and seeing the bag in person at a local quilt shop, I knew there were changes I wanted to make in my Poppins Bag and my friend liked those changes I suggested as well. I made my bag first and then helped her to make hers, because I knew by making changes, I could encounter some difficulties or a better way to do some of the things. I will note the things I changed under each photo.

First of all as a Poppins bag, I wanted to add Mary Poppins to my bag, so I found some clip-art silhouette and enlarged it to add to the pocket on one side. The pattern called for using a single piece of fabric for the pocket. The pocket wasn't lined or even interfaced at all and seeing it in person the pocket looked rather limp and would only end up looking more limp with use, so that I had to change right away and not only add lining to the pocket, but also added some foam stabilizer and quilted the pocket too. Note the handles I changed here as compared to the photo below.

Photo of this Poppins bag is from Amazon to show the bag and compare it to the changes that I made. The handles for this huge bag is sewn onto the bag in a "U". The top back of the handle is left open to insert tubing into the handle to make the handle stand up as you see in the photo here. Right away I knew for such a large bag that those handles wouldn't hold up to putting anything heavy inside and over time I could imagine the stitching coming out of the handles and possibly making some holes from the weight and strain of this bag. Even without a thing inside this bag it is somewhat heavy to carry. By sewing the handles to the top of the bag as in this photo, it puts a lot of stress on the bag there.

So I decided to sew long strap tabs with rings to the sides of the pockets and then sew a handle to the rings. I folded the center of the handle in half and sewed it to make it smaller and nicer to grab a hold of. I added rivets to the strap tabs (this was something I wished I hadn't done only because of the super thickness which made it too hard to get the rivets through, let alone make a hole through it all). I added rivets to the straps too and those were easy to do. The handle doesn't stand up at attention like the pattern instructions handles do with the tubing, but I know my handles will hold any amount of weight I place inside this bag and not be stressed at all.

The side view of the bag with the zipper all opened. There is an internal frame to keep the bag open wide, but I think this bag would be just as nice without the metal frame too. I also used a single zipper pull, rather than the double zipper slide called for because you still have to unzip this bag all the way in order for the frame to open up and it's easier for me to unzip one zipper pull in one motion than to unzip half of it and then  unzip the other half with the other zipper pull. Plus double zipper pull zippers do cost more too.

The side view closed.

Here with the handles on the hook you can see how it would look being carried. I love sunflowers, so I used this pretty sunflower fabric for the outside.

I made the pocket on the other side the same as the front, but I added Bert the chimney sweep on this side.

Closer look at Bert.

Closer look at Mary.

This is a deep bag and large. There are also 2 inside pockets that also called for only using a single piece of cotton. Again, I added foam stabilizer and a lining to the pockets inside too so they looked better and would wear better too.

The bottom of this bag has 2 layers of Peltex or similar heavy interfacing and is sewn on by hand, which was awkward to do. The bag itself uses 2 layers of foam stabilizer and is sewn in such a weird way to me that it was difficult and awkward to do. Making this bag was a challenge for my friend. It was a challenge for me too mainly because of the large size and awkwardness of getting this under the machine. If you have a small machine or not a powerful enough machine, I doubt you could sew through the layers successfully. My friend broke some needles and even something in her machine broke too!

There are some free videos to help you through some of the steps in making this bag, but if I make another one of these bags I would make even more changes than I made on this one. For instance, I would not add the oval bottom, I would box the corners instead, which could be sewn by machine, not hand. I would not use double the foam thickness as this was too thick, and unneeded since the foam stands up fine without being double thick; plus it adds a lot more to the cost of making this bag as well. I would do the straps and pockets with the changes I made on this bag again. I wouldn't sew the bag in sections as the pattern instructions tell you to do. I would cut one front and one back and box the corners to make this easier to make. I would add extra foam to the bottom of the bag only and add some purse feet to the bottom as well. Since the internal frame goes in last, I wouldn't add a frame unless I felt it needed it, which it really doesn't, but a frame does make the sides come down and without a frame the sides would be straight across the top. I like it both ways. Either way this bag would open up nice and wide.

Well that's my review and changes I made on the Poppins Bag. It's a costly pattern to buy, but a set of frames does come with it. The local shop who sells this pattern won't even teach a class on how to make it because I think they know how much people would struggle to sew it with their machine. Plus, this bugger is expensive enough to make with the cost of all the materials needed and then if you add the cost of a class to the material costs, you could buy a nicer bag from any bag maker out there instead of going through the headache of making one of these yourself!!! Even I wouldn't make this bag again according to the instructions. I would make it my own way as I mentioned above, making my own changes. Which would essentially just be an over-sized tote bag then.

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  1. Wow...blogger knows me today!! I must hurry and comment before it forgets me again...What a terrific bag, Daryl! Your changes are all common sense and durability. I would follow your changes if I were to make this bag. I don’t use tote bags much though. Now if only it worked exactly Mary’s did! Oh, wouldn’t that be so fun.

  2. Very cute, Daryl. Love your version!

  3. The bag you made is very nice, I love Mary and Bert! So sorry about your friend's sewing machine. I hope it isn't too serious.

  4. Sounds like a struggle to make, but I love that Mary Poppins bag!

  5. Great review on a challenging bag. I made the bag as a store sample and have been asked by three different stores to teach it. I am one of those that refuses to teach because of the challenges you have listed. I think there are many techniques that would make this design so much better. Well done!!

  6. This sort of reminds me of my first bag project (The Professional Tote) in that it seems like such an expensive thing to make. I get the idea of making changes to a pattern to get it just right for yourself, but in a case like this, something else might have been the better solution. Love your silhouettes, though; nice touch!

  7. hi Daryl i'm glad you posted about the herculean effort it took to make this bag. i am the person whose sewing machine broke, i hope to finally pick it up next week. It was a nightmare to sew through all those layers. i found it very odd that they pockets were left so floppy i'm glad Daryl had us use interfacing. For me the oddest thing about this pattern is that its a HUGE bag and yet the bottom of the bag is attached by hand sewing. This is not a very secure way to support such a large bag. i also spent a small fortune on the pattern and all the hardware i had to buy let alone the cost of the fabric and all the time it took to put together. i was so fortunate to have Daryl hold my hand through the process because i would have given up without her help. thank you Daryl and despite all of my complaints i think Daryl's bag is beautiful thanks to her great choice of fabric, playful applique and changes to the pattern.
    Tara C

  8. I agree about the pockets needing lining and interfacing, but my copy of the pattern does say they are all lined (I am adding interfacing). The handles as designed are linked to tabs that are sewn onto double-bosal interfacing, and I suspect that makes them stronger than one might think, though the addition of leather and reinforcements aren't a bad thing. The bottom is sewn on using a very heavy-duty (#12) thread, so between that and the fact that the bindings are well sewn both onto the bottom double heavy interfacing and the double Bosal interfacing leads me to believe that there is no concern there. I have seen many Poppins bags made through my LQS and they are all gorgeous. I haven't heard of anyone having problems with their machines or needles breaking there, and the demand for the class is still high. I thought I would share my perspective in case somebody was reading your post and thinking the bag isn't worth it. I'm enjoying every second of making it the first time, and have the materials to make a second one-- they will be great for carrying bobbin lace pillows and supplies back and forth to meetings. These pillows are stuffed with sawdust and relatively heavy, but I do believe the bag will stand up to the task. I will probably put some bag feet on the bottom, though, if I remember...


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