Aug 4, 2015

Hand Made Back Pack Part 2

front view
My first back pack was a huge learning experience. I knew I needed more pockets and a more durable closure. I used a home-dec fabric (rather than duck cloth) which is much less durable. Hopefully I don't regret that but I think with the wax treatment it will increase the durability.

back, you can see the ergonomics I attempted to
sculpt in the foam stitching

I used denim for the backing, again its a softer denim. Again hopefully it will hold up. I used 1/2 inch foam for padding and tried to sew it ergonomically with pad cushions ( see back pic). Not sure if it helps but it looks fancy!
The bottom is a fabric vinyl.

On one side I put a large pocket for my travel cup. Its lined with thermo insulated fabric, that will help keep the hot (or cold) from reaching the inside. Its shiny silver material available in the utility fabric area. 

you can see the hidden pocket here that Ive opened up
I also added another hidden pocket. It quite small, I can barely fit my hand in it. But thats what I wanted. I plan on city use, and I'm always concerned about security. I always thought regular back packs are easily accessed by someone on a crowded bus without you being able to know. I planned by bags to be difficult to access without some effort. The small hand pocket is such that. A hand larger than mine ( small and female) wouldn't be able to reach into it, and the angle to reach is weird, so I feel ok my wallet or whatever in there.

On the other side is a zippered laptop sleeve. I padded it differently than my first backpack and its easy to tell because the opening is not as straight. This is partly also due to some shrinkage that occurred during the waxing process. 

zipper outer pocket organizer
flap open , the black elastic can
be seen in its sleeve
Again I lined the flap and front with water resistant fabric, as well as the entire laptop sleeve in between the outer and lining fabric. I added a huge outside pocket with pleats that expand when full. 

Inside the pocket has an organizer that I cut out of a store bought bag. I often use store bought bags for bits and pieces. I used an outdoor non-separating dual open zipper. Zippers are weird. There are lots of different options. 
Make sure you check out all the options before deciding which to use.

inside, shiny satin!
The inside is only 1 compartment, I didn't see a need for pockets or slots inside.
I used satin for lower lining because I had a remnant. Top lining is cotton.

The closure took a long time to figure out and multiple change ups before deciding. Ultimately I decided to use firm elastic with a loop. The bottom connection is a clip. I wanted a little bling and sparkle. The elastic stretches out to keep it closed when the bag is full. I don't like velcro or snaps. I often ride my bike with my bags and I wanted to make sure it stays on tight.

pre waxing, note how much
 lighter the fabric is

double boiler for
melting wax.
once melted I put the can
on mug warmer in my work area
The waxing process this time I used 80% beeswax and 20% parafin. I read that parafin can put off toxic fumes so I wanted to use less. The beeswax has a nice smell too. I used a sponge to apply it, which worked really good for large areas ( although not the most precise). While I was working I used a electric cup warmer which kept the wax melted. After applying I used a hairdryer to melt it into the fabric. Then I put the bag inside a pillowcase and put it in the dryer on high heat for like an hour. This is where I had some unexpected shrinkage. I don't mind since I was concerned the bag was too big. This time a had a nice hard outer covering of wax that I could tap on. I didn't have this shell like feel with the first bag. Its not stiff but firm. From what I have read the wax treatment needs to be redone every year.
Im not sure if its my imagination or not but the beeswax may have added a yellowing color to the fabric, I like to think it looks like honey, I don't mind but maybe I will do a  50% mixture if color is important in the future.
all laid out before sewing,
whew! thats a lot of fabric!

Hand Made Back Pack

I am a firm believer that "If its made out of fabric, then I can make it". Why not? I signed up for a class at a local art school and the first thing I do to prepare to accessorize! I was going to buy a backpack but couldn't find anything I loved for less than $100. Although I have no access to commercial fabrics- cordura or coated poly, or other heavy duty water proof fabrics, I knew my bag would be out of canvas. Those commercial fabrics are great because they are light weight and sew pretty easy. ( I am trying to get my hands on some for future projects). I used duck cloth ( a thick cotton - not as thick as canvas) for the upper. The lower is a (thin) poly decorative suede that I lined with duck cloth.

On one side is a zippered laptop sleeve ( bottom right). It turned out really well and it is heavily padded.

 On the other side is a sort of hidden pocket that I made for my hand to slip into. ( left side) The pocket is quite large on the inside. I like it but I can only put things in that are hand size.

I wanted a bag that opened on top rather than a zipper. This is so that I could fit larger things in, like pads of paper or rulers. I have gotten some comments about the way it opens on top, but I don't mind that it is not zippered. I thought I could remedy that by putting a draw string pull closure.

 My favorite part of the bag is the waxed treatment. The fabric is actually a light beige but with the wax it became a darker khaki. I waxed the poly suede and it became shiny and much more durable. This was my first time doing a wax treatment to add water proofing. I don't think I put enough on but, but I lined the outer fabric with water resistant lining material- available at Fields. I was stuck in one especially heavy down pour and nothing got wet inside. I used a tutorial online for the wax treatment. I used 100% parafin and a paint brush to do this. I have since done a second bag differently, see Handmade Backpack 2 for details.

Things I learned: Having one central strap caused gapping on the side and put a lot of stress on the strap. You can see the shredding of the belt I used for the strap, which may just be because that belt wasn't made for that type of stress.
Also I need more pockets. And a place for a travel cup or bottled water. I was constantly having to get into the bag for these and it was just clumsy.
However I do like steam lined, minimalistic look without a lot of clutter, so I guess there is some sacrifice.

Left my back pack out and became a hiding spot: