Tag Archives: accessories

Completed: The Freedom Backpack

12 Dec

I know.

I already made a travel backpack. And in all honesty – a pretty nice one at that. It has been my little tag-along for every adventure I’ve gone on since finishing it, and I get a lot of compliments on it from strangers (and a lot of boggled minds when I reply with, “Thanks, I made it!” GREAT feeling, btw! ;)).

I do love that backpack, but it’s definitely more suited to be a day backpack – it’s very small, so great for walking around and exploring a new city, not as great for a long plane ride. It’s also very light, so I’m a bit nervous to stuff it too full. Which honestly isn’t too much of a problem, since it’s too small to stuff really full in the first place πŸ˜›

So, I made another one. Two backpacks in one year! I am on a roll here, you guys.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

I actually had no intention of making another backpack. Like I said – I like the little rainbow travel one, and I’ll continue to use it. I have been planning for my trip to Egypt in January (OMG IT’S SO SOON OMG), and thinking about what I might use as my carry-on for the flight. I had been lurking around at the backpacks in the stores, but not actually planning on buying anything. About this time, I got an email from niizo, asking if I wanted to try and review something from the shop. My immediately first thought was, “Naw.” Until I actually looked at the stuff that was available. The patterns available are really nice – they looked a lot like the stuff I was seeing in stores. And the fact that they also had kits that included everything needed to make the pattern – pretty tempting (sourcing all those materials can be a PITA, especially if you have to order half the shit online). Further, Amy mentioned in her original email that her instructions were super user-friendly and the patterns were professionally designed. I thought about it for a couple of days and decided to go for it.

It was hard to decide which kit to receive (like I said, I had backpacks on the mind but duuuude I love that Sunny Day bag, too!), but eventually, practicality won out and I chose the Freedom Backpack Kit in the Iron Gray colorway. My finished backpack totally looks like the products photos, but, whatever, I like the grey haha.

Once I chose my kit, I received the package within about a week. I don’t know the specific day as I was in NYC while it was delivered, but it was definitely less than 10 days. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of the packaging, because it was all packaged together quite beautifully – but I eagerly ripped that shit open the second I laid eyes on it AS I AM WONT TO DO, so, sorry. The fabrics were all neatly folded and labeled, and all the accessories were split between a couple plastic bags. If you look at the listing, you can see what the kit includes – but it’s literally everything you need, except the thread & needles (and sewing machine, obviously). They even include waxed thread & large needles for sewing on the leather pieces. The zippers already have the big leather pulls attached (with the stoppers cut off – since you’re inserting the zippers into something, you don’t need the stoppers. They are tagged in place to the zipper tape, so you accidentally yank the pull off and ruin the zipper. A very thoughtful touch!) and all the little leather pieces have the edges finished and the stitch holes pre-cut. It’s a really nice kit – and pretty close in cost to what I paid for my other backpack, except that I didn’t have to source all these materials individually!

The pattern is a PDF that you print off and tape about half the pieces together (they are individual, so you don’t end up with a giant sheet of paper that you then have to cut down). There isn’t a test print measurement square, however, the dimensions of the piece are printed on every pattern piece, so you can double check to make sure you printed the correct size. I scaled at 100% and everything was perfect. I spent the first evening taping and cutting – put on some good music, spread my fabric out on a single layer, and traced around the pieces with a big piece of wax so I could make sure they all fit on the yardage provided. I followed the cutting layout in the pattern and ended up with very little waste, and a very satisfying pile of cut pieces.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Sewing this backpack was INCREDIBLY fun. I do not consider myself a bag maker – like, I’m not super skilled at it, and also I kind of hate sewing bags (which is why I carry a purse that I actually paid money for, instead of making one. Also my wallet. Also all my tote bags. Sewing bags is borrrrrring). But I honestly, truly enjoyed nearly every moment of putting this thing together (I am sorry in advance because this review is about to get super gushy hahaha). The instructions are really good – they include photographs (not drawings) and are very simple and direct. The pieces all fit together perfectly. I had no problem deciphering or following any of the steps, and I was quite impressed with how nice the bag turned out. I had so much fun sewing this thing, it ended up being the sort of project that kept me up way past my bedtime (and also skipping dinner) because I was enjoying myself too much to stop. Having sewn another backpack just a few months prior, the finishing of this pack is much much much more professional than the other pattern. Not that the other pattern is bad – this one just definitely has better instructions and a nicer finish.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

It’s a little difficult to see in the product photos, but there are a lot of nice touches that really elevate this project. The plaid lining (which is waterproof cotton – all the fabric in this bag, including the lining, is waterproof) is under the hood flap and also at the underside of the straps. There are two zippered compartments under the hood flap – the back compartment is the size of the bag, with one large pocket (sized for a laptop) and two smaller pockets. The front compartment is as wide as the backpack, but only about half as deep, with some smaller pockets inside.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The bottom half of the front compartment is also a pocket, with a little sneaky side zipper. I imagine this would be a great place to hold stuff like a change of clothes (for international flights) so you they are handy but also out of the way when you’re digging through the rest of your shit.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The straps are padded with some plastic-y foam stuff (I dunno what it is, but it’s way more comfy than quilt batting haha), and then the nylon webbing is sewn directly on top.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The straps are then attached to the bottom of the backpack with this little triangle tab thing, which is a nice feature.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The back is padded with the same foam stuff, and topstitched in place. You can also see the piece that covers where the straps attach at the top.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Niizo Freedom Backpack

I love the little leather details. I sewed them on with the included thread & needles, using a double needle stitch – which the pattern includes a link to video instructions that you can follow along.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Finally, there are two side pockets that can hold your water bottle.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

This is the inside of the back compartment – one side of pockets.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Here is the other side of the same compartment. Not sure if my backpack is drunk or just leering in this photo.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

What’s awesome about this backpack is there is NO INTERFACING involved! It gets its shape from the heft of the outer fabric (which is a waterproof cotton canvas) and that back padding. I didn’t put anything in this backpack for these photos – it’s empty and standing up on it’s own just fine. The downside to this is that it was quite difficult to manipulate under the sewing machine once I got to those very final steps of putting it all together – it’s just really bulky, and hard to push down flat. I managed, just by going slow and being careful. Don’t try to rush that part! It was also a big beast to turn the thing right side out once I was finished (the bottom lining is left open and slip-stitched shut), but obviously I was able to get that eventually… it just took a bit of patience.

If you’re interested in trying this backpack – or anything similar to this – here are my tips:
– An 80/12 needle works fine, although a heavier one might be more ideal (I only had 80/12’s on hand). I only broke one needle during the making of this, and it was at the very end.
– Some of the layers get too bulky to pin together, so I bought a pack of Wonder Clips and that was immensely helpful. They’re not as flat as pins, so you’ll have to pull them off earlier than usual to get it under the machine, but it’s worth it to be able to at least hold the layers together temporarily.
– The cotton fabrics press, but that waterproof nylon lining does not. For the tops of the pockets, I marked a 3/8″ line with chalk as a guide for my first fold, and then just doubled it for the second fold.
– The pattern includes measurements in both centimeters and inches – I found it waaaay easier to just follow the cm measurements.
– The seam allowances are included in the pattern, and they are quite small. Depending on what part you’re sewing, they range from 3/8″ to a little under 1/4″. For those teensy seam allowances – especially when I got to putting the entire thing together, in all of it’s bulky glory – the 1/4″ foot on my sewing machine was a LIFESAVER. I just moved the needle closer to the edge blade, to make the seam allowance less than 1/4″.
– Some of the backpack instructions might seem kind of weird… just blindly follow them, it’ll all make sense eventually.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Overall, I have nothing but positive things to say about the backpack – both the experience putting it together, and the finished product. I was going through a little bit of a sewing slump, and this definitely revived my mojo! It was really entertaining to sew something that wasn’t garment related. I can’t wait to take this thing out and use it for my upcoming trip! It certainly feels much sturdier than my mini travel backpack, and I think it looks really professional.

As I mentioned, I did receive this backpack kit from niizo in exchange for a review post. I know this review is pretttty gushy, but I am honestly that excited about it (don’t worry, I’ve gushed about it to everyone I know irl as well haha). 10/10, would absolutely make another pattern from this shop again.
One last thing – niizo is running a winter sale through next Monday, here are the details on that:

Grateful Winter Sale on niizo Etsy shop
12/12 – 12/18 Each day we’ll release a surprise coupon code at 0:00(GMT-5)
++++ How to Get the Coupon ++++
Follow @niizocraft on instagram.
Watch the short clip to find the out the coupon code in the video!!
Each coupon code lasts for only 24hrs.
If you miss it, it’s okay, tomorrow is a new day.

Now, who’s got a hankering to make a backpack? πŸ˜‰

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Completed: Travel Gear (aka I am a weirdo)

24 Oct

Hey everyone! This post is a little different from what I normally blog about… instead of showing y’all some (probably awesome)piece of clothing I made, today is all about the non-clothes crafty stuff! Yay!

And, before you start side-eyeing me – this isn’t in partnership or sponsorship or anything like that with anyone. I’m honestly just really excited about my upcoming trip and I wanted new ~travel accessories~ (especially since all I own is basically my old suitcase!). Except, once I started looking at the goods on Etsy (and, if we’re being honest – Amazon. And Target. Haha!), I found myself poo-pooing everything because it wasn’t cute/wasn’t exactly what I wanted/ugh I can make that myself. Rather than start doing idiot shit like buy a new suitcase (my suitcase, while definitely old – there are receipts in the pocket from when we visited Disney World as a family. In 1994, I might add. – it still perfectly functioning and absolutely does not need to be replaced unless I just suddenly run of out ways to spend my money), I figured I’d channel my energy into making these little accessories. And you know what? This kind of sewing is pretty fun – especially when there’s no fitting involved πŸ™‚

I do want to add a small disclaimer before we dive in, though – a couple of these projects include the use of scrap leather. I know the use of leather can be a subject of hot debate, and I don’t want any of y’all to look at something you don’t want to. With that being said – none of us need to be “schooled” on the evils of leather, at least not in this post. I’ve done my research, I’m ok with leather and leather scraps (I mean, I wear leather shoes and belts), and I do not want to turn the comments here to turn into a leather debate. All right! Moving on…

Travel Sewing

The first thing I made up was this little make up case. Isn’t she ADORABLE? Way cuter than anything I could buy, at least as far as my budget is concerned.

I used a Butterick 6072 to make the make up case. I actually got this pattern for free when I visited the McCall Pattern Company – I know, I know, I just told y’all this isn’t a collaborative post. It’s not! The pattern was in a bag of goodies that they handed to me when I walked in the door. I’m pretty sure no one is expecting me to write a review – I’m also pretty sure I looked at the pattern and thought, “Huh. Definitely never gonna make this shit.” hahaha. (I should also point out that, if I had bought this myself, I wouldn’t have paid more than $1 for it, thanks to Joann’s sales. So there’s that). At any rate, once I realized I was gonna have to make my own damn make-up bag, out came the pattern to be looked over with a set of fresh eyes. If you can get past the somewhat dowdy styling and fabrics on the pattern envelope, this is actually pretty cute. I almost made the matching jewelry case & make-up holder, until I realized that I totally don’t need or use those things. So, just this one bag! (but I still might make that jewelry case. Watch me.)

Travel Sewing

Anyway, this was REALLY easy to put together! I used a piece of beloved plaid wool blend fabric from my stash – I was a little hesitant to cut into it, because it’s sooo pretty (isn’t it?), but I ultimately decided to go for it because 1. It’s a wool blend, which I prefer to wear 100% wool; 2. It was a small yardage (maybe 1/2 yard); 3. That unbalanced plaid meant I probably couldn’t eek anything remote successful and matching out of it. Anyway, now I can enjoy it all the time πŸ™‚ This fabric came from the flea market, by the way. I have no idea it’s origins, but it feels like a thick suiting.

The pattern is interfaced with fusible fleece (there was also some of this in my McCall bag – but honestly, it kind of sucked. I don’t remember the brand, but only about half the glue dots worked. Meh.) and then lined with some navy wool blend broadcloth from my stash (if I recall, my friend Trisha’s mom gave me that, which I believe she found at a yard sale). The zipper is from my stash.

Travel Sewing

I decided to fancy things up and use a piece of leather for the handle. Ooh la la! This leather came from my last trip to Chicago – I bought a small piece at Textile Discount Outlet, having no idea what the hell I was gonna do with it. I like it as a strap, though! I sewed the two pieces wrong sides together (eliminating the seam allowances) and then topstitched onto the bag itself. The thread is just denim thread, and I used a denim needle (alas, no leather needles currently in my arsenal). I can’t speak for *every* sewing machine, but mine was ok with the leather since it’s relatively thin. I used normal thread in my bobbin and adjusted the tension until everything looked good on both sides.

Travel Sewing

I am ridiculously pleased with how good the topstitching looks πŸ™‚

Travel Sewing

I cut the top & bottom of the case on the bias, so I wouldn’t have to deal with matching the plaid any more than necessary (I also cut the back panel on the bias, but apparently did not take a photo of that angle. Sorry!) The pattern calls for a piece of cardboard at the bottom, to give the bag some structure. I also included some heavyweight interfacing (like… it’s so stiff, it practically feels like cardboard) on the top piece, because it felt really flimsy without it. I know they make lightweight plastic specifically for this purpose, but I really just wanted to destash so I went with what I had on hand!

Travel Sewing

Finally, here’s the inside! There are tiny pockets all around the perimeter and it’s fucking adorable.

I love this thing. It’s tiny, it’s cute, and I am pretty sure I can fit all my make-up/personal care shit in it. Yes! Win for me!

Travel Sewing

The next thing I made was this little wallet/passport case. I knew I needed something to carry my passport around it, and I also wanted it to include space for cards, cash, as well as a zippered pouch for change. I spent FOREVER looking for something on Etsy – and again, everything was just a *little* bit off from what I wanted (mostly lack of a zippered change pouch, interestingly enough. Excuse me, I need that change in case I have to pay for a toilet!). Argh!

Some more perusing of Etsy turned up this pattern – Passport Wallet from Teethy McGee Digitals. It’s a downloadable PDF with options for including card pockets and a change pouch, an elastic closure, and the whole thing costs $4.50. Perfect!

Travel Sewing

I made the option with a card holder on one side, and the change pouch on the opposite. Like I said, it is perfect! You can see my passport barely peeking out on the left side (side with my sneaky fingers). The opposite side, under the zippered pouch, can hold my cash. I know there are only 2 card holders – and I totally agonized over whether to add more, but in the end decided that I really only need 2 cards while I’m overseas – my debit card and my driver’s license (yeah, I know, the passport is ID King over there, but I feel weird without my DL!). I won’t be carrying my credit card on my person (it’s literally just for emergencies – like, actual emergencies, not “Ooh girl, are those shoes on sale?” emergencies), my health insurance card is useless over there, and…. actually, those are all the cards I have. Ha!

Travel Sewing

Here it is without the passport because, I dunno. Why not?

Travel Sewing

This was SO FUN to put together – even with matching the plaid! The instructions, while brief, were fairly straightforward. I decided to interface both large pieces of the plaid – the outer & the inner – so it would have some structure. Which brings me to my confession: I couldn’t find a decent medium-weight interfacing in my stash – everything I have is lightweight – so I ended up using my mega expensive Pro Weft Shirt Crisp Fusible Interfacing because, well, it was on hand and I haven’t even cut into it yet. And hey, it seemed to work all right! Ok, go ahead and stone me now πŸ˜›

Anyway, the whole thing is sewn by machine – no hand sewing required – and I added a rectangle of leather to the outside for a more ~masculine~ look. I also made a little leather pull for the zipper – just sliced off a thin piece and fed it though. The elastic is actually lingerie elastic – from when I made my second Soma Swimsuit. Again, it matched! What do you expect from me!?

Travel Sewing

I love that it closes with elastic, so I don’t have to worry about my passport falling out. I love that there is a zippered pouch, so no paid toilets will be out of my reach (yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about toilets, and I’m not sorry about that. When you gotta go, you gotta go!). And, obviously, I love that it matches my make-up bag! Yesss!

I would have loved to show y’all a shot of this with all my cards & such tucked in, but the pockets are shallow enough that you can really get an eyeful of the numbers on them. Sooo, yeah, you get a matchbook. Sorry.

And now, prepare for a let-down because the last thing I made is admittedly pretty boring-

Travel Sewing
Travel Sewing

A MATCHING SLEEP MASK, HEY-O!

Seriously easy. I used this free pattern from Instructables (thank you, random Google) and the same fabrics/lingerie elastic with self-made bias tape. I don’t think this one needs much explaining. It’ll be nice for my flights, though- especially that red-eye I take arriving in.

Anyway, that’s it! Super rando post, but these are some pieces I felt I needed, and I’m so happy I didn’t have to buy them (and SO delighted that they match! Yay! It’s the little things, ha πŸ™‚ ). I am dying to make the Portside Travel Set next, but it’ll have to wait until post-London, because I don’t think I’ll have time! Someday, though!

What about y’all? Anyone else here love whooping it up with some random hobby crafts? Don’t be shy, we won’t judge you! πŸ™‚