My initial idea was to basically make a sling bag. I have always been a fan of bags that allowed me to display parts of my interests so I wanted to make a version that was more sleek, rather than cutesy. The closest I could find to something less cutesy was this black bag:
It’s called an itabag, which basically means pain bag, because everyone puts things that are relevant to their interest that some people might not particularly like.
I basically wanted a sling bag version of that.
I looked into vertical messengers, crossbody bags and barrel messengers for reference, often looking at those that were made of leather.
I then began looking into types of bags I could make.
I had several requirements when making my bag: I wanted it to fit my A5 notebook, and have some pens that were easily reached. I also wanted to display my plushies and stuff, basically create a vinyl segment that represented me as a person (or basically because I love cute things).
And the general aesthetic of a leather bag was what I wanted to go for, something more structured and sleek that could contrast with the cute.
I planned out the various parts I needed, just like a leather bag. and tried to make the base. This was based on my knowledge of watching video after video of leather bag making.
My first attempt was then done using thick-ish yellow paper, double sided tape and UHU stick glue. The vinyl bag was done with book protector plastic.
I referenced a box pouch for the initial vinyl pouch, but realised it was very hard to flip it over with just double sided tape holding its sides (it had to be sewn). It also looked really awkward since it was a compartment that stuck out.
I also made the base way too big, and when placed along my hip, looked really funny.
The inside looked like this, to fit the notebook.
I realised it was a pretty tight fit, and tried to adjust it accordingly in later attempts.
Failed box pouch is failed box pouch.
My second attempt: I used a harder artcard for my material, which were leftovers from the previous semester. I stapled the sides, to represent the sewing done on a leather bag.
It ended up really boxy, but it was holding together and becoming what I wanted it to look like.
Next up was my 3rd attempt with soft black felt (1.5mm), which I sewed together using a sewing machine. Using the same methods with staplers, I used a cross-stitch and created this effect.
It looked alright, but it could not hold its form. I tried using cardboard at the bottom and was given the suggestion to glue cardboard at the back. I wanted to use foam along the sides as a decorative and safety measure so that the whole gusset would not lose its shape and stretch out too much.
I also realised that the black inside pockets could not be seen at all. I then learnt that lining was important, so that you could properly put your things into the pockets, and easily find them to take them out.
And thus, my final attempt. I used black felt again, but managed to find moulding/craft felt that was 3mm thick. I also used cardboard for the back of the bag for sturdier support, which is sandwiched between white felt that was my lining. This allowed people to easily see where the pockets were.
I sewed this piece together using the sewing machine, but also used superglue and fabric latex glue.
As the felt was sturdy enough, I was able to create a structured flap and added magnets instead of clasps like I originally wanted to. This made it oddly convenient as you only had to pull the flap in order to easily access to your notebook.
The strap was catered to a specific measurement – where on my body it as most convenient to reach for my pens and books. If it were made into a real bag, it would probably have the adjustable strap.
The white felt helped a lot: I could now see my pockets. And look my A5 notebook fits well!
The vinyl pocket was something I regretted doing last, as it was hard to sew it on on a sewing machine when the bag was so structured and hard (it did not allow space for me to bend and manipulate to fit the small area that the sewing machine had). To combine the vinyl pocket, I ended up hand-sewing the plastic on.
I also changed it into a simple shape that fit nicely against the bag, as the box pouch was too awkward.
Since the form was way sturdier than before, I decided not to add the foam since nothing stretched as much. The felt could handle the weight and maintain its own form as it is.