so this was a bag of "firsts" for me: first zipper, first time using piping, first time really using vinyl. (I made this wallet: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=16740949.0 last weekusing the same vinyl, but didn't even turn it inside out, hence it doesn't truly count, as I discovered). I'll admit that it was a little ambitious, but I wouldn't have admitted that when I started it
I used Ainadaliel's tutorial here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=15938.0.
I began with the side panels, after drawing out several designs and choosing two I thought would look cool when the bag was empty and you held it up to the light -- I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. I decided to avoid lining it, since I figured that would be more trouble than it was worth. I wanted to add pockets, but decided against it.
After cutting out all the pieces, and sewing on the front and back images, I began the installation of the zipper, as per the tutorial. Actually it didn't go so badly -- my zipper foot is a pain in the ass (I've got to get a better one), but we managed. The topstitching was abysmal though, hence the black grosgrain ribbon, cleverly disguising my horrendous stitches.
Then I prepared the handles, piping, bag base and side panels, and sewed the gusset to the first side. The piping was a nightmare -- slippery vinyl and my craptastic zipper foot apparently don't get along well.
That was the easy part.
Thank god Ainadaliel took such care to mention that you must leave the zipper open before sewing on the second panel -- dodged a bullet there.
Sewing on the second panel to the gusset and base was AWFUL. It absolutely did not want to fit through my machine, but I pushed and pulled and forced it in there anyway. Sigh. The stitching is terribly messy (due to the entire thing slipping out from under the zipper foot) the thread got tangled inside the machine a few times, the multi-layered vinyl was too much for the old girl in places, and at one point the bobbin thread simply refused to cooperate. I invented about 6 new swears.
Eventually I got sick of trying to force in the corners, and hand sewed them -- ouch.
But I thought the worst was over. Nope: the stupid bag took a full half hour to turn out. Vinyl is truly amazing: it can be slippery as an eel coated in oil one moment, and then be as sticky as an eel coated in crazy glue the next. I managed to coax the bag inside out a millimetre at a time through the 7-inch zipper (it was all I had at the time, and naively I figured it would be fine). Getting the base through was so difficult it will haunt my dreams.
But it worked! And then I got to see how lopsided, uneven and messy my handiwork was...sigh. But anyway it was a hell of a learning experience and I will use this thing until it falls apart, even if it's just out of spite. Thanks for reading, if you've come this far, and I hope you like it.