A while back in my "Simple Toe Guards" post, I ended with a teaser about my skate bag... and then never posted about it. A commenter kindly asked, so here's a quickie for you...
I was looking for a skate bag on eBay right when I started derby, because the two tote bags I was using were a little unwieldy for the 1/4 mile walk to practice. I saw this amazing bag, a Schwinn Stingray messenger bag, that looked perfect. Even better, it had a cool "S" on it, which is my first initial, the initial of my first blush derby name (Sarah Shreddington), and the initial for my team, the Sitka Sound Slayers. And best of all, it was red sparkle vinyl. Unfortunately, that one went for more money than I was willing to pay, but I still had red sparkle vinyl on my mind. So, I decided to sew one up for myself.
I'm not sure how I decided to make the Amy Butler Weekender Bag. I think I saw someone else's red sparkle vinyl version of it. There are pattern reviews all over the Internet about this bag, and the overall sentiment is that it's a total pain in the neck, but also worth it. I'm a pretty competent seamstress, so I decided to go for it. And it was a total pain in the neck. I had to make some modifications to compensate for the thickness of the vinyl (fewer layers of interfacing), I used premade piping, and I lengthened the straps to ensure I could carry it over my shoulder. I broke a zillion needles, heavy duty and leather varieties. I sewed much of it with heavy duty thread, which was a mistake because my machine hated it. One of the strap attachments came off right away as a result. It worked much better when I switched to regular thread. I used a sturdy cotton twill for the lining, but somehow despite following all instructions the lining was too big for the bag. I need to remove it and fix it, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I did add some interior pockets to the lining, which is good for tools/mouthguard but bad for catching skate wheels. You can see a little in the picture below how the poorly attached/too big lining is pulling on the top of the bag.
If I were to make it again, I'd use regular thread, be more careful in making sure the lining fit before I stitched it in, and do that part more carefully. I'd also sew the straps up and down in the strap topstitching instead of just having the horizontal attachment points, which just don't seem like they will last all that long. I intended to make the false bottom and add metal feet, but never got around to it.
I had saved my eBay search for the Schwinn stingray messenger bag, and shortly after I finished making my bag, another Schwinn bag came up for auction. I used Gixen to snipe bid on it (the only way I have ever succeeded in getting anything on eBay, by the way) and got it- for close to half what the first one went for! So now I have TWO red sparkle vinyl skate bags! I used the Schwinn bag for a while but switched back to the Weekender despite the lining issues. The Schwinn bag holds everything, including my helmet, so that's cool, but the messenger bag style hurts my back to carry it for any length of time. My Weekender bag holds my skates and pads and little things, and then I clip my helmet to the straps. For a while I put everything but my skates in the bag and used a skate leash, but it was awkward to walk with the skates on the leash.
I've been using it for about 6 months now, and it's working really well and holding up great, even with the one failed strap attachment. Unfortunately, since I made the bag our team voted on orange and blue for our colors! I love the colors- orange for the sunset since we're the westernmost town in Southeast Alaska, and slate blue for the water and the constant rainy sky. I liked red and black for the Tlingit connection, but it's true that they are a little overdone in derby. The good news though, is that I think the Schwinn bag comes in orange... so I have another eBay search saved!
Oh yeah- I almost forgot to tell you that vinyl is the worst possible material I could have selected for a skate bag, because it doesn't breathe. Right after I finished it, we had a skate clinic and the woman leading it talked about how people's bearings sometimes rust just from being left in a bag with sweaty gear (and I'm guessing that's not in a rainforest or even necessarily a vinyl bag). So I am diligent about removing my gear from the bag and letting it sir dry after every practice. It keeps the stink down, too.
So there's my quick post. I have a couple more not quite ready to go... full toe covers and lift & separate shorts from scratch. So if you want to hear about those, shoot me a comment and maybe I'll get off my duff and do them.
Also, do you think I should have stuck with Sarah Shreddington? (my given name is Sarah)