Hey guys! It’s been a while. I apologize, but there wasn’t much that I could do. Jay’s work schedule was crazy and he didn’t have a lot of time in the workshop. Then mid-November my coworker quit, so my boss and I put in a lot of extra hours and increased our stress levels to complete some year-end work that had to be done by Dec 8th. On top of all this Jay and I managed to get Covid (luckily a mild version) around Thanksgiving, but I still worked from home. Then it was onto the Christmas gift-making rush.
I did manage to finish 20 of the 24 lunch bags that I had been making for my small faith group to give as gifts to men in a local faith-based program that helps guys suffering from alcohol/drug addiction, incarceration, gambling, homelessness, and/or mental issues. It’s a great program and the guys are wonderful (many of them attend our church). If you remember, I decided to make them lunch bags using iThinksew’s Dillan Lunch Bag pattern.
These were the first 12 that I finished in October. I was on a good roll until November hit and everything came to a screeching halt.
I did manage to finish 8 of the remaining 12. The last ones had a camel-colored interior.
Here is a really bad picture of all 20 sitting on my couch.
It was the only place I had to store them until I took them to my group’s meeting to stuff them.
Our plan was to fill them with snacks and goodies. Who doesn’t like to get a bag of fun things to eat??
Everybody brought different things. There was a good variety. We lined them up on the table and started filling them.
I hope these guys were happy with the variety of things we included. There were chips, cookies, granola bars, crackers, and candy.
At the bottom was a can of Mountain Dew and a bag of peanuts in the shell. Don’t worry! I had contacted a member of the program’s administration and asked if there were any food allergies or dietary restrictions we needed to know about. Luckily there were none.
Final Review of the Pattern
Overall, I really liked this pattern. I ended up leaving off the front pocket because it was tricky and I didn’t really have the time to mess with 24 front pockets. I knew the guys would be happy with the bags without them. Also, I HIGHLY recommend watching the YouTube video where Jess from OklaRoots makes this bag. The instructions with the pattern are great, and I kept them at my side as I sewed these bags, but sometimes you just need to see another person making it so that you can understand what the directions and pictures are telling you. Jess made some modifications to how she sewed the bags, versus what the directions told you to do, and those were helpful as well.
A lot of the difficulties that I experienced were due to changes that I had made to the materials used in the bags. The big change that I made was using the closed-cell foam as my insulating material. The pattern called for an open-celled foam that would be squishier and easier to manage when sewing.
Another modification that I made to the bags was I sewed the top handle to just the waterproof canvas exterior piece. In order to beef it up a bit so that the handle could support the weight of the bag without tearing I used a piece of stiff interfacing on each end of the handle. I used this same stiff interfacing on the bottom of the bag to help it not bottom out when full (Jess mentions this tip in her tutorial).
I spent a lot of time looking around for lunch bag patterns and I’m really glad that I found this one. It seems a little intimidating, but you just have to take it one step at a time. And don’t quit! Maybe take a break and put the bag in time-out, but don’t give up. The Mona Lisa wasn’t the first painting that Davinici ever painted. You can only get better by practicing. I made three practice lunch bags before I started on these and each one taught me something different. I ended up giving those bags away, but the people who took them were happy. In fact, it’s a bit odd when the best compliment you can receive is that the person thought you bought the bag at the store. My small faith group was blown away by the bags, and honestly I thought I could have done better if I’d had more time.
So, what do we do next year? Well, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have to jump into another challenge, right? I want to make something that is useful and utilitarian for these guys. Next year I think we are going to give them backpacks. Yep… I’m crazy. I’m going with another iThinksew pattern. I found three possibilities and had Jay pick out which one he thought was best. The winner was the Byron School Backpack pattern. Unfortunately, Jess doesn’t have a tutorial for this one, but that’s okay. It uses a lot of the same techniques as the lunch bag so I should be able to figure this out. Wish me luck!
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