Traveling in Style…and Penguins

I’ve been thinking a lot about travel lately, and let me just say, my latest make has done nothing to quell my wanderlust. I can’t wait to pack up this travel set and hop on a plane!

The zipper on my overnight bag broke a few years ago, but I never replaced it. So, I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve been packing a bag that doesn’t properly close. When I saw this pattern during Grainline Studio’s Black Friday sale, I decided it was a time to replace old faithful. Also, why not pack my me-made garments in a me-made bag?

The pattern is the Portside Travel Set, and it is awesome! This is my first Grainline Studio pattern, and it is a 100% success. It’s well-drafted, with clear, detailed instructions. The set includes patterns for a duffel bag, a toiletry bag (or dopp kit, as it’s called on the pattern) and a pouch.

When selecting the fabrics, I wanted something durable (the pattern calls for heavyweight fabrics) and preferably black – at least for the bottom half. Since these bags were going to be packed into cars and overhead bins, I wanted bottoms that wouldn’t stain easily. So, I chose a heavy duty black nylon canvas for the bottom, or fabric A. I’m just going to say it – this fabric was a pill to work with – more on this in just a second.

To go with the black canvas, I selected this bright teal and penguin canvas for the top, or fabric B. I love this color; I love penguins; and I’d have a hard time misplacing this bag when traveling. Also, isn’t it just so fun?! Both fabrics are from This set uses surprisingly little fabric – only around a yard of each plus a lining, but you do need a fair amount of notions for the straps, buckles and zippers.

I would have had lovely outdoor photos of these bags, with a backdrop of freshly fallen snow, but someone, ahem…me, didn’t purchase enough zippers. I even read the pattern requirements…several times. Anyway, by the time I picked up a zipper two days later, the snow was melting, leaving in its place a bunch of mud.

As I mentioned, this pattern was very easy to follow, and everything fit together nicely. Before I get into the assembly, I want to talk for a minute about my monogram on the front…eek!!! I’m just a bit excited about this feature.

So, backing up here for a minute, I got a new sewing machine in November. I’m now the proud owner of a Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz 50. My old machine is also a Viking and 16 years old! It is a very basic machine, and while it served me well all these years, it was time for an upgrade. I’ll never be able to part with my first Viking, but this new machine is amazing…and it embroiders!

Okay, back to the assembly. I was probably poked to the point of bleeding more times in the making of this set than any other project I’ve ever made. While the assembly was easy, the nylon canvas was not. It is incredibly stiff, with zero give. When the pieces were all pinned together, the fabric had such little flexibility that the pins would stick out and right into my hands. This was especially true when sewing the bottoms on the duffle and toiletry bags. This fabric will be durable, but I don’t think I’d recommend it. I also couldn’t iron it without it burning, which I learned the hard way and almost ruined the embroidery piece! Luckily, I could fold it and press it with my fingers. It was so stiff it just stayed in place.

This pattern calls for a mix of 1.25” and 1.5″ straps. Since I couldn’t find matching straps in both sizes, I used 1.5” for both the handles and the long strap. To accommodate for the extra width, I also picked up 1.5” D-rings, instead of the recommended 1.25”. I was very nervous sewing the thick straps on my new machine, but they sewed up like a charm! I finished everything off with some zipper pulls made with faux leather from JoAnn.

For the lining, I used some matching teal cotton I had in my stash. I decided to use cotton, as opposed to a traditional lining fabric, to add some extra stability. Oh, and I should add that the monogram I used is from Designs by JuJu. It is the Open Vine Satin Monogram. This stitched perfectly. While I was shopping for monogram patterns, I also picked up a few other embroidery patterns – so basically everything I sew from now on will be covered in embroidery.

I’m so excited about this set, and it is my first successful make of 2019. I say first successful make, because the first two garments I made – a corduroy jumper and a black turtleneck – are not quite my style. Turns out a shapeless rust-colored jumper makes me feel more like the Mario Bros long lost sister and less like, well anything good. Also, turns out I’m not a fan of lightweight, flimsy turtlenecks. Guess I like them in chunky sweater form (so just wait for my next post!).

Until next time,

Happy Sewing!

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