I’m Andrea from Addie Kakes Kreations. I fell in love with the Begonia pattern the moment I saw it and knew I would be making a bunch! I started off cutting 5 from some of my favorite fabrics in my stash. They went together quickly and easily. Another stellar pattern from Blue Calla!
Now I want to make more! I started digging through my fabric stash trying to select some prints. After many oohhs and aahhs I realized I was going to have a horrible time choosing fabrics. That’s when I decided to feature the Begonia backpack in my next bag sale and so began my Begonia mission!
Enough of my babbling, let’s get on with what you’re here for. Here’s what I changed: cording in place of fabric straps, replaced the drawstring connector with a grommet and I moved the front pockets up higher.
Let’s talk about cording. While there are other types you can also use, I personally have tested 3 types. I have tried Paracord (purple), braided utility rope (green), and craft/nylon braided utility rope (gray).
They all worked equally well, in my opinion, but have slightly different feels to them.
The braided utility rope was the softest, but seems to unravel quite easily if you do not treat the ends really well. It is also the more expensive of the three. Paracord and the craft rope have a similar feel to them as they are both made of nylon, but the utility rope has a little bit stiffer feel. The craft rope and the braided utility rope are both rot and mildew resistant, which is a plus.
These all come in different sizes and lengths. I prefer ¼ inch. I would not go smaller than this as it may be uncomfortable when worn. Cord usually can be purchased in lengths of 25’, 100’, 300’ or more. You might be saying oh my, I don’t need all that! But… you do! It takes about 13’ per bag, so you can blow though those lengths pretty quickly. Whatever size cord you decide on, your grommet must be twice this size. You will be passing both ends of the cord through this grommet to knot it. So, for a ¼” cord, you’ll need a ½” grommet. Trust me when I tell you a larger cord will NOT squeeze through and fit!
Now where do you get this? I’ve found it on Amazon, hardware stores, climbing stores, etc. There are even stores that sell nothing but paracord and such! Here are a couple of links to options to get you started; I have no affiliation with any of these shops.
Let’s get started!
First thing you’ll need is the Begonia pattern from Blue Calla. You can get that here.
INCREASING THE POCKET HEIGHT:
If you would like to move your font pockets up higher, the pattern pieces you will need to change are the Upper Zipper Panel, Lower Zipper Panel and the 2 Pocket Linings. If you are wondering why I did this, I wanted to be able to fit a larger phone in the pockets. You might also do this to accommodate a fabric panel.
Change the following dimensions:
1) add 2” in height to the lower zipper panel
2) decrease your upper zipper panel by 2”
3) add the 2” to the height of each pocket lining piece.
If you want to use grommets for the straps, assembly of the bag is exactly the same as the pattern calls for, through to step 15. After sewing the bottom panel to the exterior back panel, you need to add your holes for your grommets. I’ve done so many at this point that I can just eyeball it. If you would like to measure, place the centre point about 1” down from the seam of the bottom panel and 1 ¼” over from the outside edge of the bag.
Now you punch your holes. I use ½” leather hole punch. You can get a set with all kinds of shapes here. You’ll need to do this on both the left and right sides of the panel. Again, make sure you are using the BACK side of the bag! I find this to be the best route for grommet installation. I’ve had a couple linings end up like swiss cheese, so uh, trust me.
Skip steps 17,18 and 19 for the drawstring connector. Continue assembly of your bag as directed to step 29. You should have your completed bag ready for grommets and straps.
Make sure your lining is nice and smooth and pushed down into the corners and bottom of the bag. Now, though the hole you punched earlier in the bottom panel, mark a circle on the backside of the lining where the grommet will go. I like to keep one hand inside the bag while I mark it, making sure that lining stays down snug.
Now cut this out by hand. I like to use my double curved embroidery scissors for this. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, but be careful not to go past that line or you’ll have a gap around the grommet.
Next place your grommet inside the hole. I find hand tools work the best for the actual grommet installation. Pliers will not work as there is too much fabric to gather to get down to this corner. I don’t have the pleasure of owning a press so I can’t speak to that, but it might present the same problem. Place the setting die on the grommet (I still have my other hand inside the bag) and keeping pressure on both sides of the grommet, flip it down onto your work surface.
Now, still keeping pressure on that grommet and setting die, push the rest of the bag out of the way so you can see your hole/grommet. Work your lining around the neck of the grommet and then place the washer on. Remember you are still keeping pressure on the grommet and die so it doesn’t slip out of place. Get your setting tool in place and tap that in with a mallet. (Yes, I’m naughty and using a hammer.) Repeat for the other side.
Now your grommets are in and we are ready for the cord! So close to finishing!
TIP: Grommets scare you? Remember those squares you cut from the lining and bottom panel corners? They are exactly the same thickness you’ll be working with on the actual bag and are great to practice with! You've got 4 chances, take a lining and exterior piece and test it out! Practice, practice!
Now you’ll cut your cord. For an adult bag, I like to use (2) 76” lengths. It’s slightly longer than the pattern calls for to accommodate for the knot. You’ll want to burn the ends to prevent fraying. A lighter works, but if you have one, a torch is better. It’s not going anywhere with a sear from a torch!
Now follow the instructions to thread the cord through the casings. Pass both ends of one cord through the grommet. Pull it through so you can work with it. Tie a nice snug knot. Repeat for the other side and you’re all finished!