Ali Wilkinson

Wrestling a Bionic Gear Bag

I spent a lot of 2014 admiring the various Sew Together and Bionic Gear Bags I saw popping up on blogs around the world. So useful and offering great fabric matching opportunity, but terrifyingly daunting to make! Zips and I don’t play well together, and I have already shared my ineptitude with all things 3D, so although I bought the pattern a good 6 months ago I have been procrastinating on the actual making.

I can’t recall why I chose the Bionic Gear Bag over the Sew Together bag. I think I might have read somewhere that it was a bit bigger, and therefore I reasoned that it would be easier to man-handle during assembly. Yesterday was the once a month UFO day for my sewing group and I decided to make the most of being surrounded by experienced 3D object and bag makers to take the plunge.

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Choosing fabric was not so easy. There’s the exterior and then 5 pouches plus 4 zipped pockets, so plenty of scope to spend several hours just deliberating over fabric choices. In the six months since I bought the pattern I have selected 3 different sets of fabric to make this bag out of. Interestingly there’s not a big choice of colours when buying zips in NZ, so the zip purchases sort of dictated the colour selection. I started by picking the exterior and grabbed this out of print Cuzco by Kate Spain, which I have been admiring in my stash for the best part of a year without finding a project for it, nor realising it was from the Cuzco range, which I have coveted ever since stumbling across it online and then immediately learning it was rare as hen’s teeth. Double result!

Anyway, I am prattling… So having picked the Cuzco print I went off down a hot pink and orange route which saw me pick up some Tula Pink Foxfield and Saltwater and some unknown designs – that deep orange one that looks like paperclips and that Aztec-y pink print, which I think might be AMH or maybe another Tula Pink.

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I strongly recommend reading the entire pattern through to try to understand each step. The pattern is 50-odd pages long and Sally (the designer of the pattern) goes into a lot of detail in quite a witty way as she really spells out what you need to do. However! I still found something that I am pretty sure she didn’t mention, and that is that the side panel template needs to be flipped or the fabric cut double sided otherwise you will end up with one side opening one way and the other side opening the other way. Luckily I spotted that as I was about to cut…

As you can see on the above photo, Wonder Clips are your friend for this bag, and even more so when sewing the liner to the sides and bindings on the sides and zipper. (just a hint – Massdrop has at this very moment a special on Wonder Clips in case you are interested, and such WC specials are pretty much run every few weeks, so head over there for a bargain buy!)

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Of course being at the sewing group I was not entirely paying attention all the time, and despite being surrounded by bag making pros I still managed to sew the sides onto the liner upside down… When I re-read the pattern and looked at the template I saw where it was marked “Back bottom” and “front bottom”. Now had I seen that earlier and paid more attention the sheer amusement would have ensured that I did not make this error!

The above photo is the moment I realised my mistake. All I have to say is Clover’s seam ripper is TOPS, and at least I could use this to vent my irritation at the Black Caps (NZ cricket team) being beaten by the (arrogant and unsportsmanlike) Aussies.

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The above photo shows what it should really look like….

Another tip is that I found that my bag was bigger than the exterior – longer by about 1.5″. Luckily I had just enough of the Cuzco fat quarter left to replace the originally cut exterior.

Adding the exterior and the bindings required wrestling and corralling skills worthy of a cat herder and my prima donna Husqvarna snapped 2 needles and threw a bit of a wobbler a few times during the process. This has made me all the more determined to get a Juki. (Dear husband, if you are reading that, take it as a hint and remember my birthday is in June…)

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Here’s the end result. All that remains is to hand sew the zipper tabs to the base of the side binding and it will be good to go. I think I am going to use it as my toolkit/sew away from home bag, and also perhaps as my cutting table organiser instead of the dozen or so mugs with broken handles that I currently use. There’s certainly stacks of space in the bag to hold everything. I like that the zipped pockets have three at the same size and a slimmer one. I also like that the pouches between the zipper pockets are different sizes – a very skinny one, a slender one, and then big and bigger versions.

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In summary, my verdict on this pattern is that it is very well written and a great design. All up it took me 8 hours to make not including selecting fabric and the unpicking/resewing the side panels. It’s very economical with fabric and doesn’t require lots of hardware. No doubt I will make another, but with the time involved I don’t think I will be making one each for my 4 nieces as I had originally been planning!

This is a finish for Quarter 1 of the 2015 Finish Along

5 thoughts on “Wrestling a Bionic Gear Bag

  1. You have lovely fabric choices and your bag looks great! I made this bag a little over a month ago (in pink and orange as well) and liked it so well, I immediately made one for my mom. They really do go together quickly once you have worked through one!

  2. It turned out great! I have that pattern too, but reading the wordy directions was driving me a bit batty. I guess I just don’t have the attention span for them right now. So, I went and purchased the Sew Together Bag pattern as well. Maybe between the two I’ll be able to make at least one of these styles of bag. lol Oh, and my Husqvarna was a total prima donna as well. Luckily, my Janome that I replaced it with is less temperamental. Hope you get your Juki!

  3. Wonderful job on this bag. It looks very complicated and I always shy away from terribly complicated patterns cause I’m afraid I’ll loose my flow with them between sessions of sewing (rarely can we find 8 hours straight to sew!)

    Amazing job though and great feedback on that pattern. I’m glad to see someone trying a bag that’s a little different than the sew together bag; there are other patterns aside from the most popular couple and they deserve a chance too!

  4. Great job ~ I’m impressed that you were able to finish it in 8 hours! Do you know that there is a series of video tutorials on YouTube? I thought they were extremely helpful.
    The BGB also has its own Facebook page ~ lots of support and inspiration there.
    These bags are SO addicting! I think that now we’ve done one successfully the next one should go together more easily . . . . . We’ll see 😊

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