Deploying That Fabric

Friends, I've been busy making things for babies recently.  After the success of the doll, I felt ready to tackle a diaper bag and changing pad for another friend who is pregnant.

Because my friend's husband is in the military, it only seemed logical to make things from this book:

She is a total rock star and sent me all the uniform pieces I would need, as well as batting and cotton fabrics to complete the projects with flair.  I decided to tackle the changing pad first because the book said it was a beginner's project.  No sweat, I thought.


So here's where I tell you that I went through about six denim needles making these items because the seams on fatigues are RIDICULOUS.  I wore a pair of free sunglasses while making these because I was worried I was going to lose an eye from a projectile needle.  

The changing pad should have been easy, but the outside leg seam runs down the center of the main cargo pocket.  The main cargo pocket is about four inches from the hip pocket and about four inches from the mini cargo calf pocket.  I could tell this was going to be problematic.  The diagram in the book outlines that the main cargo pocket should be near the top of the changing pad and the whole piece should be 17" long.  With the other pockets positioned as they are, and wanting to avoid sewing over as many seams as possible, I placed the main cargo pocket in the center of the changing pad.

The main cargo pocket, mocking me with its centeredness.

So the pocket ends up in the middle of the changing pad, which makes it difficult if my friend wants to put something in and then roll it up.  Difficult, but not impossible, so it's still functional.  I had issues quilting along side the pocket and attaching the handles, but eventually, it was finished.

The handles are only attached for three inches on each side, so they can fold up as well.  They are quilted around a slender piece of backing.

It's one big sandwich of cotton fabric, two layers of incredibly soft batting (because babies need cushions), and then the fatigues.  

The cotton fabric is adorable, though, and I think the quilting makes it a bit stronger.  I pre-washed everything so it should last through many washings!

Let's talk about the "Military Monster Tote" now.

First off, it's larger than my sewing machine once completed.

It has military belts made out of webbing for the handles.  This was surprisingly easy to sew through, though the stitches are a bit crooked in places (mostly due to wearing sunglasses while making it and not being able to see everything clearly, but still wanting to see when it was finished, youknowwhatI'msayin?)

The bag has eleven pockets of various sizes.  I managed to include two of the breast pockets on the outside panels.  Now she'll have two pockets with closures to go with the larger padded pockets in the centers of each panel.

A close up of the webbed belts (from an Army Surplus store here in Chicago) and awesome Hawaiian fabric she sent me.  You can see the large center pocket here.

Peeking inside.  I loved combining the heavy black cotton with the tan/pink/black linen - I thought they looked marvelous together.

I had to make a hard bottom insert for the bag, so I used some plastic canvas and covered it in the black cotton.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

It snuggles right in that open spot between all the pockets.  Seven pockets on the inside, including a shallow zipper pocket in the lining.  BOOM!  Storage queen!

Besides learning how to put zippered pockets in linings, I also learned how to do bag shaping darts.  These turned out exceptionally well, considering the bulk of the fabric plus the batting between the fatigues and lining.

It's an incredibly sturdy bag, but wow, did my machine hate sewing it.  The thickness of all the layers, plus the zippers and seams ... I didn't know if it was going to happen.   I hope she likes it - I think the design is really lovely with all of the colors, and if for some reason she wants to go out without the camouflage  or have an accessory to match the diaper bag:

I made her a wristlet with some delicious peacock fabric for the lining.

Total time for all three items: 13 hours.  Eight hours spent on the diaper bag alone.  

I was glad for the experience of learning how to sew with fatigues, as well as learning zipper pockets in linings and bag shaping darts, but would I make this again?  No.  I don't think my machine could handle it.  I oiled her and talked sweet to her but I think she is FURIOUS with me now.  This project also gave me great perspective on sewing with denim ...

and that I should possibly invest in clear goggles instead of sunglasses.

Friends, have you ever made a diaper bag?  Or do you have another gift that you love making for friends and family who are expecting?