The All Well Bucket Bag pattern release is just around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited! Tester versions are pouring in (you can browse on Instagram at the #allwellbucketbag hashtag, and I’ll be posting a tester roundup on the blog later this week!), and they are so beautiful!
As the release looms, I’ve been reflecting on the pattern development process, amazed at how something that felt like a small idea at first has become something real that other people can make! I thought I’d share some of the road-to-the-bucket-bag with you, a little bit of my design process and personal background. Then, later in the post, I’ll share some inspiration for future All Well Bucket Bags!
Origins: Bag-making started for me with an interesting stitching job I had when I lived in Chicago. I worked for a few months for a design firm that made small batches of custom bags as promotional material for big brands. I can’t give many details about what we made, but I can share that I learned A TON about the principles of bag design and construction — what makes a good bag, what materials work best, how to cut, what sorts of pieces each kind of bag needs and how they get sewn together. I began to learn that it’s all just simple shapes combined in endless permutations. I learned about straps, about grommets, stitched a million zippers, learned some industry tricks, got to use a beautiful industrial sewing machine daily. It was a hard job too (imagine sewing the same bag over and over, eight hours a day, for a week straight to try to finish a big order!), but looking back now I’m realizing that the knowledge and comfort with bag-making I was absorbing through my work was incredible. I got good at bags! We made bags of all shapes and sizes — duffle bags, tiny pouches, totes, backpacks, all manner of zipper, and it was at that job that I stitched my first bucket bag — or rather my first fifty bucket bags. The one we made there had a totally different design finish, different straps, different pockets, different proportions, but I learned what makes a bucket bag a bucket bag, and it was one of my favorite things we ever made. I especially liked sewing the circular base, feeling satisfied every time I finished one without a single pucker. (Also seam-ripping a lot!). I knew then that I wanted to make my own bucket bag design someday for my own personal use.
And then I promptly forgot about it.
A year later, I was living in the Northwoods of Wisconsin knitting my second-ever sweater and I realized I needed a project bag. I had spent all my money on the big pile of wool yarn I was staring at so I couldn’t buy the Fringe Field Bag that everyone was posting about. I looked at the product photos thinking about how to hack it to make something like it for myself and I realized that what I really wanted to make was a little short and squat bucket bag! The old design idea rushed back to my mind! I started with a circle base and went from there, ending up with a sweet little bucket bag project bag with a drawstring top, bias tape bound seams, a couple of grommets, a cotton webbing wrist strap, and two interior pockets for holding stitch-markers and things. It was exactly what I needed. Photos below of my first project bag prototype (PS I’m planning to make a tutorial for how to hack your All Well Bucket Bag pattern into a project bag like this one! Stay tuned if you have some yarn or other needlework to wrangle!)