Sunday, April 3, 2016

10 Things I Learned Sewing the Marrakesh Overnighter Bag

Southwest Summer Tote, 17" x 14" x 7.5"

 Marrakesh Overnighter, found in The Better Maker, by Nicole Mallalieu

I began making the Marrakesh Overnighter, having had some experience making zip-pouches, bags, & such. I was looking to step-up my skills and get comfortable using hardware (for that PRO finish!).
Now I can say I have successfully installed metal feet, hidden magnet closures, handles with rings and tabs, an adjustable shoulder strap, and a large zippered pocket inside! New skills gained.
 And ten things learned:

1. One step at a time. For me, bag-making is step, by step, by step, and on. When I enter my sewing room to work on it, I select one step and tackle it.

2. Purchase a pattern or a book? Books, in general, tend to offer more patterns, inspiration, and instruction than individual patterns. Better Bagmaker has all of the above! As a beginner, I found I had to pour over each of the technical aspects, of each step, which had me jumping all over the book.  How nice to gain enough experience to complete one of the patterns from it's instructions, without having to see three different pages at the same time. That kind of experience would also provide the confidence for the third thing I learned while making the Marrakesh Overnighter...
3. Beef it up! Have the confidence to make changes you know you want. There were things I wanted to alter but did not: wider straps, larger rings, beefier magnets, or rather, a gusseted zipper enclosing the top! Another advantage to the book is to have instructions for features like this so that your bag really can be your own.
4. 1/4" fusible tape! Following advice in the book, (and because I just happened to have a roll), I used 1/4" iron-on adhesive tape to install the pocket assembly to the zipper. Iron the paper-backed adhesive to the finished facing unit, peel the paper off, and press it onto the zipper before top-stitching. This method was a dandy, and left me feeling quite justified in stashing things.
Things like 1/4" adhesive tape.

5. Use glue if it helps. There was no mention of this in the book, but I used a glue-stick a few times as well. A dab will hold a seam allowance open before seams are joined. It would probably work well for the zipper facing too, if you happen to have run out of 1/4" adhesive tape...

6. Those dots you mark from the pattern sheet may not line up the way they used to, even if they are still in the center of that panel. Next time, I may try to figure out the best snap location by hanging the bag, to see how the sides come together. Mine works well enough, but it is slightly off - 1/4" or so and it would feel more natural.
7. What I learned when I had to un-install my magnets:
Make sure to buy them BEEFY, haha!
It was disappointing to pick the bag up by the handles, after installing the first set of magnets, and watch the bag just open right up! I had purchased the correct diameter, but a thin model.
Well, they were easy enough to remove.
Which led me to thinking..
8. Upcycle! Watch for used hardware that is re-usable! As affordable as Bagmaker Supply really is, free cant be beat! Maybe you can rescue a magnet from a worn purse! I found three purses with pink price tags at my local thrift last week, .99 cents each! I salvaged rings, swivel hooks, and..
Magnets! Straight away, I checked the prong size to the slits previously cut, and they fit!

9. Interfacing know-how. Non-woven interface stretches much more in one direction than it does in the other. It occurs to me now that that may be odd, the fact that I just learned this while making the bag. Perhaps this is common knowledge? I am aware the width of quilting fabric has more give than the length, and I consider it when cutting borders, and interface is certainly not a new product to me, I just never pulled on it.

Ignorance is bliss, and my sewing space is a happy one, haha!
In the future, I will reach for woven interface to create strong tabs and things that should not stretch.
10. About that base. I will probably cover a removable base for this tote. My book suggested template plastic because it can be stitched, yet still be manipulated, and even washed. I cant give a fair review of this method since the template plastic I had on hand had been rolled for year's. Combined with stiff interfacing, quilted batting, and lining with interfacing, it is quite stable. Still, it is a large bag and I think I will like the structure inside with a nice, flat bottom.

It is not too late to hop over and join Jan at Sew and Sow Farm!

Sew and Sow Farm


  1. This bag is great! I luv to shop thrift store for bag handles...never thought about other bag staples! I also use heavy cardboard ...sometimes two pieces cut to fit the bottom of the bag and cover it with fabric...make a little skip cover...slide it in and stitch up the end by hand. I also like to add a key fob cause I can never find my keys! Bags are just too much fun!

  2. Congrats! It's beautiful. Great job finishing.

  3. I love making bags. I use heavy plastic canvas for my bottoms. That is the stuff that is used to make crafts.

  4. WOW! That is a really beautiful bag! You should be proud of yourself for challenging yourself. It turned out beautiful and I love all the tips! I am definitely coming back to this post when I get brave enough to tackle a real bag like this one. And I am glad you mentioned recycling hardware off of old bags. I have several that i need to salvage. Thank you so much for sharing and linking up! xoxoxoxox Jan

  5. Very impressive bag! I've only made one bag and am in need of a new one. I've also been stashing hardware pieces from old bags and checking out the bags at my local thrift store for parts. Thank you for sharing your tips!

  6. Thanks for sharing your learning experience while making this bag.

  7. great post! Appreciate your sharing your learning so we can all benefit. Really love the bag!

  8. Killer post! I, for one, appreciate all the tips, especially the encouragement to upcycled hardware! Brilliant! XO

  9. Well done for finishing your bag! Looking good!

  10. Thanks for sharing. Another source of cheap hardware are dollar store dog collars - you can sometimes get two or three on one collar for a very good price.

  11. I use corrugated plastic for bottom inserts. It is lightweight, easy to cut, and sturdy. Campaign signs are a good source and this year they are plentiful. (Wait until the particular election is over, though -- don't swipe a sign for a candidate in a current contest.)

  12. Great looking bag and you did such a wonderful job making it! Really appreciate the tips. Now I have a new reason to check out purses at thrift stores. Great tip!

  13. Great tips Heidi! You are probably the most skilled bagmaker I know. Your Marrakesh overnighter turned out so beautiful! I have been known to pull hardware off of not very nice 99 cent bags too. And I use plastic placemats in the bottom to stabilize them. Oh my gosh - that made me burst out laughing - "Ignorance is bliss, and my sewing space is a happy one, haha! " Love it!

  14. I love this bag. I am the same way...step by step by step! Thank you for participating and sharing in the FAL, on behalf of the 2016 global hosts!

  15. Glad I read the post with the finish. Wow, you did an awesome job, and I really appreciate your 10 things I learned list. Valuable information Heidi.

  16. Thanks for all the tips. It's always nice to learn from someone else's experience.

  17. I love the outside of your bag - very pretty.
    I am the queen of upcycle - just found two bags at a garage sale today with plenty of cool metal hardware.
    To make the bottom stiffer on a large bag like this, I insert a panel of plastic canvas if I have it. More often, I cut a priority box to size (bottom of bag)and insert it between the lining and the outside. Usually, it stays in place without sewing it down.


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