Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Fun in the sun and Sewing Chaos.........Bag Camp 2016

As the saying goes.......that was the weekend that was!

The first SEW BRIT Bag Camp has been and gone........and what fun we had.
My last blog was vague, I had no idea what to expect, so I couldn't really be very clear about what Bag Camp was really like, I have never done a retreat like this before.
So lets start at the top........


Set in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, Somersal Cottages was a beautiful place to spend our weekend. The Village itself is tiny, no more than a handful of cottages and a farm or two. Sat Nav instructions will get you to the village but not to the cottages. But that had been covered by the organisers and we had detailed instructions of how to find the cottages. The venue was perfect, two cottages next door to each other. well equipped with tables and comfortable for lounging in the evenings if you didn't want to sew.
I had a bedroom on my own with a rather unusual bath in the room set up, but since I wasn't sharing that was fine...lol.

Samantha from http://handmadebymrsh.blogspot.co.uk/.......... a little bundle of fun.......and maybe a few nerves.......when you have planned and planned and its finally happening I think that's normal. Samantha made every effort to make sure we where all happy with out rooms, and with what was happening, she also did her share of the catering. Of course I've seen her photo on Facebook, so I knew what she looked like.........all I can add to that is...........tiny............shes tiny......lol........

Liz from http://liz-moments.blogspot.co.uk , as a tester for Liz I've spent a lot of time chatting on Facebook with her, so I thought I knew what to expect........but I hadn't expected the boundless energy, of the wonderful gravelly voice......

Katy from http://www.the-littlest-thistle.com.......katy was a little more of an enigma, as her picture on Facebook is a teddy bear.......so I didn't recognise her when I met her.......since she isn't blue and red and fluffy at all........although red hair helped.......and her Scottish accent and peppering of the word 'wee' in every comment gave her away. Katy designed the pattern we used for our camp bag


Mainstream and advanced classes, we where split almost evenly......mainstream class did a slightly less complicated version of the same bag.
So.........the pattern...........what does camp bag look like?
A huge bag, designed as a carry on for travelling.........when I say huge I mean huge.......hard to get a feel for the size in any of the photos I've seen of completed bags.......but these are the airport dimensions, and turned on its side the bag just fits........HUGE!
the advanced pattern had a shorted main body for the bag, but an added zippered pouch at the bottom to hold perhaps shoes or toiletries.

Oh yeah baby..........we had a shop too, in fact several.........Hardwear to make you go weak at the knees from
Fabrics from Lisa at http://www.simplysolids.co.uk/about.html.......I tried so hard to resist......I waited until Sunday to buy.........impressed???


Meeting the other campers..........we where welcomed by Samantha and Liz and shown to our rooms......all rooms had been given a little bunch of Daffodils.........lovely touch! Camp treat bags, filled with some lush bits and bobs where handed out, Camp had some very generous sponsors, so we each left with some expensive threads, fabrics and hard wear as well as discount codes for fabric suppliers!
Then as more campers arrived, we spent a few hours unpacking cars and getting to know each other. Really nice to put faces to names and chat in person rather than via Facebook. Also wonderful to meet people who have come to camp but who are NOT on Facebook......I know, imagine that??? I thought the whole world was on FB!

Dinner was a fairly casual affair, no tiaras and long dresses, cottage pie and veg, tasty, warm and welcome. Then back to our cottages for free sewing time, wine and more chat. Several ladies spent the evening making a little faux leather needle pouch, an ideal introduction to faux leather for the newer sewers..... At about 1am the final bell tolled and those of us who where too excited to sleep finally went to bed.


Breakfast was planned for 8-9am but we all got up at different times from 6 so it became more of a 'serve yourself' grab a bowl of cereal and a banana when you want it affair. There was bacon and egg available to those who wanted it.  I think for me that was better than being told I had to wait until 8 to eat. I was up at 6 and sewing by 6:30........
Lesson 1 (advanced group)........flaps and straps........I know, that sounds rude, have a chuckle now!
so we made the long adjustable strap for our bags and the flap. I changed the design of my flap from the one on the pattern a little but it went together easily. Liz came to our cottage and gave a talk about leather straps and how best to make them, by golly that woman knows a lot of stuff
Lunch..........lush soup..........of non specific title........sort of veg and minestrone with tomato......with fresh bread rolls
LESSON 2 Onto the bottom of the bag for the afternoon session.
This was my most feared part of the pattern. I had spent three weeks trying to work out how that would come together, but with a little guidance from Katy it all became clear in the end.
Dinner was a pasta bake and salad,.......again warm and tasty!

Again a free for all breakfast, which suited me fine then onto our bag........
LESSON 3 .this time working on the main bag lining panels.....
baked potato's with beans and cheese for lunch then onto the final push for the completed bag Samantha gave a talk about hard wear, rivets, Chicago
screws and all sorts of fancy things..........and made applying them look easy.........
LESSON 4 The afternoon session was completing the bag.........probably the quickest part of the process......so much prep work that isn't seen in the finished bag, but that takes a lot of time before the event.
Our final meal was a really tasty risotto.......something I wouldn't normally like, but I thought was the best meal I had there....personal preference.....

I sew quickly, and I managed to get my bag completed, its not without issues, I puckered my zipper putting it in, but other than that I'm please with the result. I learned some new skills.
I added some go faster strips to mine and changed the flap shape so it didn't have a point as the pattern did, but other than that she is as she should be!

I might add that we also had special guest appearances by a couple of  'BAG CELEB'S'    Ellen and Janelle........ladies who live in Canada and Australia who would have loved to have come but distance was an issue, if you make bags you will know who they are..............so we had them with us in spirit

So.....pro and cons.....

Pros.......I met some amazing people, and got to spend a weekend doing something I love.
I got to learn new skills and pick up tips from other ladies who where more than generous with ideas to make things easier.....I will be adding plastic clothes pegs to my equipment in my sewing room as soon as I can.......
I could sew until the wee small hours without anyone telling me not too.
I didn't have to cook or wash up and no snoring to wake me up.

Cons.......hard to pick anything really........for me it was a long trip but I live in Suffolk so everywhere is a long trip........the need for a larger car to carry more stuff? Birds nesting outside my bedroom window chirping at 5am?  (a personal con) I struggled with the pattern pieces a little, that's possibly because I chose to do a bag above my skill level, and maybe because I'm not familiar with the way Katy writes her patterns as this was my first bag from her.........but although I got a bit flustered by it.......it got done.......so it was worth the occasional swear word!

As a 'first time' bag camp I think it went well, we didn't stick entirely to the time table.......but nobody was really bothered, putting machines away so we could eat, a little irritating but actually possibly a good thing or some of us may not have not actually stopped to eat at all.


Get someone else to cater...........everyone ran round ragged getting us fed..........
design a smaller bag......after all that work we have a bag that wont be used often......and that seems a shame!

For the organisers I'm sure there are things they will tweek, but nothing that was a disaster
I for one will be signing up for the next one.........

What this doesn't tell you, is how much I've laughed, and for me that was worth every mile to travel, every penny I've spent and every hour pondering over the fabrics and pattern pieces. My sides hurt from laughing as I packed my car to leave on Monday, laughing is the best tonic for a stressful life. We did swaps, shared silly stories and generally had an amazing time..........the rule we all agreed to to was 'what happens at camp stays at camp' and I'm not giving anything away...........
want to find out??? Come to BAG CAMP 2 when its organised, you wont regret it at all!


  1. What a great time you must have had. Reading your blog made me smile! I am so glad you got to go, what an experience. Laughing is always a good thing!

  2. It really was a great weekend. As a first time bag maker I learnt SO much in lovely surroundings with a fantastic bunch of people. Everyone brought something to the party and I too will sign up for Bag Camp 2 whenever and wherever it happens.

  3. Great read, lovely review and I'm so p,eased to gave met you and shared some of those laughs 😉