My Adventures in Quilting
This cargo duffle bag was designed by Noodlehead and published by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I bought the kit for it because I loved Emmie K’s Geo Pop design. It is rated for a level of sewer at “Experienced Intermediate” which they define as “I know the ropes and would like to test my skills!” I said to myself, “self, that is exactly where you are at. This would be a perfect project for you”. Well, maybe. If you are working on this pattern yourself, please pay special attention to the text in maroon. It will save you some time.
Before I begin, let me just say that I do have a cute mini duffle bag that finished nicely. It will get all sorts of acclaim from my friends and I am excited about carrying my materials for a class I am taking on Saturday. Perhaps I was expecting a better written pattern, but I was able to finish the project. It just took me longer than I think it should have. I am using this post to vent a little about what frustrated me about it and also to give you a heads up if you are planning on making this yourself. There is no reason we should all solve the same problems.
The fabrics included in the kit were fabulous. They are absolutely gorgeous and they sewed very nicely. There was no distortion of the designs or fraying of the canvas. It quilted up nicely as well.
I’ve never purchased a kit before, but what struck me as odd was that, when the kit arrived, there were no instructions. I went back to my confirmation email and found out that I had to print them out myself. This was not a big deal, but it seems to me that it’s not so much a kit then as it is a stack of fabric. I understand not including the snaps and maybe the zipper, but come on. Throw in a printout of the pattern. If anyone reading this has purchased kits before, please make a comment as to whether or not they came with a printout of the instructions. Since this was my first, I do not know if this is the norm.
Things started out pretty strong. I went through the cutting instructions meticulously cutting each and every piece and setting it aside. I later found out that although the pattern only requires 1 strip for the bottom gusset, the cutting instructions tell you to cut 2. Again, not a big deal, but seems like a typo that should have easily been caught in pattern testing. Also, for the interior binding, it says to cut strips but neglects to instruct as to how many. Once more, not a big deal, but I was trying to cut all of my fabric at once so I wouldn’t have to go back and cut more. The magic quantity is 4.
Moving on to the actual assembly instructions. I made it through step 1 (the pockets) relatively unscathed and a little excited. However, step 2 is where the scathing began. First of all, the pictures in the steps are shown in some colorway that was not one of the ones offered in the kits and therefore not usable for reference. (now for my favorite phrase this post) Not a big deal, but they change the terminology referring to something as “quilting cotton” which is not one of the fabrics either in the kit or mentioned in prior steps. I would use the pictures as a reference for determining what they meant, but like I said, it was a different colorway. I could see a quilting cotton in the pictures, but I couldn’t tell if the instructions were referring to the lining, exterior, or the accent piece. If you are making this project, substitute the words “exterior main” for “quilting cotton” and you will be time ahead of me.
Secondly, for assembling the exterior, there are 3 pictures. THREE PICTURES. That’s it. Three, tres, trois, III. It had 3 for the pocket flap alone, which was almost excessive, but definitely not enough for the exterior. This kind of was a big deal. The instructions were confusing and unclear and I did not have pictures I could use as reference to straighten them out. I guess this is where the “experienced” part of the skill level needs to come in. I sort of made something up and moved on. The next few parts were written better and at this point I have figured out the language.
Until the “make handles” step. This step was all sorts of confusing and I ended up with a handle that was much wider (and subsequently flimsier) than I was supposed to. I still do know if the mistake was in the cut size, folding, or what. It is here that I will point out another mistake in the cutting step. The colors for the handle are reversed from the pictures. (Here we go again) Not a big deal, but I preferred the colors I had seen in the picture of the finished bag. The colors that made me purchase the kit in the first place. I didn’t realize the error until I had the bag all finished and turned. If you are working on this project, simply reverse the fabrics for the handle main and the handle accent. Unless you want them this way, in which case, continue on.
For the final assembly step, and this part boggles my mind, there are no pictures. Zero, zip, zilch, nada… There is an illustration that I have yet to figure out its purpose. I would say that this is likely the part that requires the most pictures and it has none. It was almost as if they were running out of space and didn’t want to add another page. I don’t know why not since they weren’t the ones absorbing the printing cost.
In the end, I do have a cute duffle bag that will be getting a lot of use. If you are still thinking about purchasing this pattern or kit, at least you are doing it now with you’re eyes open to the expectation. I guess I was expecting something a little different from the instructions, but it is what it is. I just don’t feel that labeling a pattern for and experienced sewer is an excuse for poor communication.
There was enough fabric leftover to easily make a coordinating tote bag or something. I probably wont, but I could if I wanted to. I guess that is some sort of consolation. I do want to say that this was quite the learning experience for me. Do get a size 16 needle for this project as some of the seams get very thick. I doubt I will be purchasing another kit any time soon after this experience. But it was eye opening and just one more adventure in quilting.