It’s no secret that I’ve had an extended love affair with the Helen’s Closet sewing blog – her recent journey back to sewing on a regular basis has been a real inspiration to me, and the quality and diversity of the sewables she’s been creating has blown me away. That’s why I was so excited to sew her first pattern: The Granger, which makes very beautiful and practical bookbags!
The first thing I want to talk about is the quality of the pattern and instructions – Helen has created an instruction booklet with diagrams and text instructions that are an absolute pleasure to read and work through, and which I found to be generally a little clearer than the patterns I’ve purchased so far. The instructions are aimed at the beginner sewist, though there were a couple of points where the techniques were slightly challenging for me, and I imagine they would be for most just starting out. In that way, the Granger Bookbag is a great skill builder. Helen has also created a sew-along for the project, making it easy to follow-along if you get turned around at any point.
The Granger comes as a PDF pattern that you can print and assemble at home. I’ve tackled a few PDF patterns at this point, and have often been frustrated trying to keep pages exactly aligned. This is unusually easy with Helen’s Granger for a number of reasons: the alignment circles on the page edges quickly alert you to even the smallest misalignment as disrupted circles are an affront to the senses, the text that spanned pages was similarly helpful – cutting through a glyph or the spacing between letters gives a natural cadence to the alignment that makes it hard to mess up.
Once assembled however, it was quite large – in retrospect, my life would have been easier if I had followed the cut-while-assembling technique advocated by Caroline at Sewaholic.
I mentioned that I was excited to tackle this project – in all honesty I was probably over excited, and started making four Granger Bookbags simultaneously – as gifts. I’m really good at underestimating things ;- )
The Granger pattern makes wonderfully versatile and practical bookbags, and can be made to suit just about anyone! I made two View A (no flap) Grangers, and two View B (flap) Grangers, and have a strong preference for the version with the flap – if a bag is going to be this sizable and sturdy, it should have a flap.
One of the great things I’ve encountered in some of my garment patterns is a place to document the details of your make for future reference – I made a medium in Jersey cotton on March 3rd and took in the waist an inch. This can make it much easier to duplicate or adjust the project in the future. Given how important fabric choices are to the character of the Granger you make, I printed out four copies of page three in the instructions and carved out some space to document my fabrics and adjustments for each bag here – I’d love it if future versions of the pattern included a space for these sorts of notes.
After sewing four of these lovely and practical bookbags I am hereby promoting myself to the rank of Granger Ranger!