Monday, 11 January 2016

Bag of the month 2016 'The Backgammon bag' by Betz White

Last year I joined the Bag of the month Club but I was too scared to actually try any of the bags, I watched as the beautiful bags appeared on the BOM Facebook page and I will admit I was totally intimidated by the beautiful confidence deserted me and I remained a voyeur.......
This year I decided I wouldn't be a wall flower, I would join in the fun and make at least one of the bags. Everyone follows the process differently, some ladies get all the hardware and fabrics before they see the pattern, for me that's just not an option, I need to see the pattern to get a feel for the colours I want to use. Its fair to say some patterns just don't appeal to me shape wise so may never get made.
January came and the first of six patterns was released...........The backgammon bag...........a simple shaped bag with an unusual patchwork pocket arrangement..........I like the shape, but the patchwork is something I'm not overly confident with. Should I give it a go? Hell yes..........
Stash hunting is one of my favourite things, I don't have a very organised system, something I should really address when I get a few spare weeks, but I decide what fabrics I want to use and commence the search for them. Melton wool is my choice, black , red and grey............after some frantic pulling out of cupboards and shelf rearranging I find what I want and without any further ado the process begins.
I've got into the habit of printing the pattern pieces and rather than printing of pages of instructions (which we all know I'm not really going to read much of) I'll use my I pad  to display the instructions.
The pattern pieces are few, three panels for the main bag all taped together, that also double up for the pocket template,  the flap panel and the triangle piece for the patchwork pieces.........part of me is convinced that must be wrong, three pattern pieces seems too few but I commence with the cutting........Anyone who tells you cutting fabrics out is fun is a liar........all the prep work is a chore to be endured so you can get to the fun bit. Once cut there is the demon interfacing to be done. Interfacing I hear you cry??? what's that all about??? so let me explain,.......unlike the nice leather bag you buy in marks and spencer most hand crafted bags are made from fabric, be that cotton, wool or anything else...........that fabric alone isn't gutsy enough to create a bag, it wouldn't wear well or hold its shape, so we add interfacing, and lots of it. Its a sort of second fabric skin glued (ironed) onto the rear of pretty much every fabric piece in a bag. It takes ages to do, although not as long as it takes to clean the gunky glue stuff off your iron when your finished! I don't have room for an ironing board in my sewing room so I have to transport all my fabric pieces to the kitchen to get this part done. In this bag design we also have stabiliser.......oh lord, another layer of stuff to be ironed. Stabilisers are what give the bag its structure, helps it hold its shape, stops it from falling flat when you let go of the handles. This pattern requires fusible fleece so another frantic hunt takes place to find that. Once its all done I'm ready to start sewing.
Once I start sewing I'm 'in the zone' I wont stop until its finished, I just need a regular coffee supply to keep me going.
We start with the pocket piecing, this should be easy , I've laid all the pieces out so I can see what comes next , yet still I manage to sew the second panel upside down..........enter  left stage 'the seam ripper'   Something anyone who sews will be familiar with, a simple little gizmo that rips through stitching like butter when you get it wrong. probably one of the most used bits of sewing equipment I own.
Slow down girl, you CAN do takes a while but I finally get it all together. I'm planning on making a bag that looks like a backgammon board.......inspired by the name of the pattern I'm going to try and literally make a 'Backgammon Bag'
 I planned on using buttons to represent the markers on a backgammon board but decided they would be annoying and probably fall off so went for grommets instead........I love grommets, only problem is its hard to know when you've done enough. There is something very therapeutic about using a huge mallet to whack those suckers into place, I have a press but still like to do grommets with a
Once that pocket is complete the rest of the bag goes together remarkably quickly.I've decided not to use the flap so added a magnetic fastening to the inside, I'm also using a premade strap so no need to make one of those either. The only other little detail that I added was a little embroidered dice motif, in keeping with the backgammon theme.
I'm happy with the way my bag has turned out. I've learned a few things I didn't know........Melton wool is not the way forwards when your doing a pieced pocket...........fingers and mallets don't mix!

  So that's my finished bag........let's take a moment to talk about the pattern shall we? This was my first Betz White pattern, but it wont be my last. Well written and easy to follow. Clear pictures and diagrams. I think the only thing that I found confusing was the printing instructions, the pattern has to be printed landscape.........that's unusual.........and although it is in the instructions I suspect a lot of people will miss it as its not the 'norm'
This pattern is only available as part of the bag of the month subscription at the moment but may well be available as a stand alone pattern once the BOM is finished. Why not join up and get all six patterns?


  1. Christine, Delightful blog! Love your version of this bag!

  2. thank you Judith, im going to keep going and do a little write up about other patterns ive may or may not help other people to decide that they want to do the patterns, but it gives me an outlet to give my opinion......

  3. Great writing on the "joys " of the sewing process !! Totally enjoyed it and I LOVE your bag !!!