I've never made a travel bag before (or many bags at all, actually), but I had this brilliant concept in my head and started work on one to take to France with me. The clever part of the concept didn't actually work out, I had wanted it to be lighter and smaller, zip up on the sides to be able to use as a weekender, carry-on, and purse. It was just too bulky in the end for the purse part. Mostly, I wanted a carry-on size bag that was able to fit my camera and my computer. So....success, for that, I guess! I was seriously running out of time towards the end of making this bag, so some of the last minute things weren't thought through as carefully as they could have been and I didn't have time to change some things I had wanted to...
Details :: There is a zipper pocket on the outside, easy access for me to get to my passport, another pocket on the outside for...whatever. The zipper pocket on the inside happened to fit my Kindle perfectly, and there is a tiny normal pocket on the other side of the inside to put my phone in. There are also two straps on the inside to secure my computer so it doesn't slide around. The zipper on the top is a seperating zipper, to make it easier to get in and out of the bag (another element that wasn't though through enough!). And the straps are detachable and adjustable, to use two on the outsides of the bag, or one that attaches on the ends, on the shoulder or across the body. Versatility :)
This bag seems like it cost a small fortune to make. I had to order everything, the fabric, the vinyl, the straps, the zippers (some of which weren't used), and the HARDWARE. The clips, strap adjusters, d-rings, all that jazz cost well over $50. They are pretty awesome quality, but damn. So, I may redo parts of this bag because there is no way I'm letting all that go to waste!
I like the way it looks. So, look-wise, I think it turned out great. I underlined the outside fabric with a thin muslin because it was a loose weave and I was worried it would stretch. That, with the regular lining, made it a bit bulky. You can't really tell by looking, but I know it. But I love the outside design, the fabric, the vinyl, the straps.
One of the straps started fraying on my trip, so I was only able to use one of them, that was my fault though, and I can sew it back together pretty easily.
The bag is too big. I took it to Barcelona for a few days though, and with my camera (and without my computer) and my clothes and toilettries, I can't imagine everything would have fit if it had been smaller. But it was HUGE and a pain to carry. Literally. It hurt to carry it.
Fix: It was awkward to carry, but I don't want to make it too much smaller. Fix? Buy a smaller computer, lol. Then the bag can be smaller! I also came up with the thought of making it less square and have it get narrower towards the top. I think that might help it lay on the body better when I am walking around with it. This was part of the original design, using the side zippers that I didn't end up using to change the shape, but I might just cut down the sides and make it a permenant part of the bag.
It is too heavy. Like I said, it literally hurt to carry it. It was packed full at the time, and one of the straps was unusable, so you couldn't really distribute the weight as well, but even empty you can tell it is a bit heavy. I don't know what I can do about it.
Fix: Well, the decorative brown straps on the outside are made of a very heavy quality/weight strapping, so getting thinner and lighter ones might help a bit. I'll have to take the entire bag apart to change that, but they are mostly decorative, so they won't diminsh the structure of the bag or anything, so it might be a good idea. I don't know how much that would really cut down on the weight though....
Conclusion:: I might make a backpack next, lol. That would solve some of the carrying issues....And invest in a smaller computer.....that would help as well. But I love the way this one looks, and with a few tweaks (and more judicious packing), I think it can be better! So, a little bit of ripping and sewing and I'll be ready to head off again!
The ugly bow (fabric tie) is from China. I never travel without it :)