Batala/Harlequin backpack

What’ll it be, then?

Which of these two webbings will I use for the Batala/Harlequin backpack?  My personal preference is for the colourful geometric one at the bottom but I’m inviting opinions in case someone has cogent reasons for preferring the other one.

So, progress: I’ve got the front and back panels done, the flap done, the D-ring hanger done, and the dark blue sides attached to the colourful front and back. There’s also a zippered pocket on the back panel you can’t see. Still to do: the phone pocket, second zippered pocket, the straps and the lining. That last bit will be fun, since the whole thing is attached to the outside, and then the whole bag has to be turned back out through a 3 inch slit in the bottom of the small zippered pocket on the back. Which will be fun. Not.

So far, I’m impressed with this pattern. If anyone is planning to make it, I strongly recommend mounting the pattern pieces onto card and then cutting them out. This is partly because you have to draw around things several times. Not only is it harder to draw round just paper, but the card will stand up much better to this treatment long term.

Making the bag is easier than I feared. The piping is the hardest part, and even that isn’t hard so long as you have a zipper or piping foot for your sewing machine, and you handle the bias strip gently.

I think I’m probably over halfway through, and it’s going to be fab!

Quick, easy, comfy, pretty

It’s McCall’s M7969. And I really love it.

A while ago, I scored $70+ worth of fabric for the princely sum of $15, a combination of gift card, sale, loyalty card and remnant bin-diving. Among the fabrics was a very pretty lawn. Aqua background, printed with bunches of roses in pink and coral, light and soft. Enough for a dress. I don’t own many dresses, being more a pretty top and cropped pants type of person, but sometimes, a dress is called for. What I needed next was a pattern. M7969 has featured quite a lot on blogs and IG recently, and I can see why. It’s loose, pulls over your head, drapes nicely (if you use the right kind of fabric) and has gorgeous sleeves. It’s also very forgiving of less than perfect figures, and doesn’t require the wearer to have a waist. Just as well, in my case.

Possibly the least flattering photo of me taken in recent years, but at least you can see the dress…

It’s also surprisingly easy to make, apart from all the gathering. You do need quite a lot of fabric, but not quite as much as they suggest. The pattern calls for 3.8m for the dress length I wanted (View D), but I also wanted the wider View A sleeve so even more was needed, probably nearer 4.2m than the 3.5m I did have.

I’m short, so I could shorten the skirt pattern a bit. I also cut the bias neck binding in several pieces instead of just one, saving a bunch of fabric there. I cut the sleeve bindings on the straight grain instead of bias, and I cut the sleeves on the cross grain (the design on the fabric’s forgiving enough that you don’t notice the roses are sideways!). And I still have some very nice large scraps!

I have only one issue with the instructions. The raglan sleeves need gathering at the sleeve head, but they don’t tell you what the gathered measurement should be. You have to actually measure between the seam marker dots on the binding pattern piece to work out that the sleeve head needs to gather down to 7 inches on the larger size pattern, but they don’t tell you that. It’s the same measurement on all sizes, so I can’t see a problem with telling you a finished size. It seems a strange omission, especially as you have to gather and then stay stitch the entire neckline opening before you apply the binding, so you can’t fix it afterwards if you haven’t gathered it quite the right amount. Oh, and there are no instructions about when to finish the seam edges. Sometimes it matters whether you overlock/serge first or afterwards.

I like this pattern on me. It’s not for everyone – the bodice has no shaping, for example – but I find it very comfortable, and while the neckline is fairly low it’s not too revealing. If I find after a few wears that it gapes too much, I shall just put a small button and loop to hold it closed. For taller people, the variants with sleeve or hemline flounces would also look lovely in something soft and drapey.

I think this may become a bit of a favourite, to be made again.