Disclosure: I love Craftsy classes. When I see the list of classes I've taken, I know where my budget overages have been going!

One of my favourites is this one:

As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make this bag. I liked everything about it: the decorative corners, the pocket, the two types of carrying straps...

And I knew I had found the perfect pattern for this Mexican serape fabric that I had been saving for years -- since December 1995 in fact, when I bought a weaver's six last wool and cotton serapes during a trip to Patzcuaro. (Nowadays, serapes are mostly made of garish synthetic fibers, and oh yes, I know it was December because I had gone there to celebrate my birthday.)

I signed up without delay. (Hint: if you go to the instructor's own blog or website, you will probably find that if you use their link you will get a nice discount - up to 50%, I've found.)

However, after watching all the videos, I realized that Ms. White's method of sewing the lining at the same time as the bag's exterior involved some very intricate manoeuvering that I knew would not work with this thick, loosely woven wool material.

I had to find a way of constructing the exterior and the lining separately, and joining them at the very end, as what is commonly referred to as "drop in lining".

So I made what is known as a "muslin" in the trade. That's just a fancy word for a sample or a test bag or draft garment or mock-up. Here is a nice explanation of the process.

The following is not a full description of that process; I only took photos of crucial moments so that I would remember when the time came to make the final bag.

For instance, this shows the huge number of clips I had to use in order to ensure that the curve would come out perfect.

It became obvious that I would have to baste that part before attempting to sew it.

Another section that would require basting was the bottom of the bag. Those separate bottoms always require much care in order to get the corners right.

Before attaching the lining, I tested it by clipping with wonder clips to ensure that it would fit perfectly. At that point, it's always possible to adjust the lining, but not the exterior.

The fit was perfect, so I attached it first by basting it all around.

What I discovered when I tried sewing it on the machine is that it's impossible to reach the corners with the sewing machine foot, and those had to be sewn by hand.

I had lined up the edge of the lining with the edge of the facing by feel, so that the seam would not end up in a weird place. The facing was black, so I used a black thread in the bobbin.

I am very happy with the result of my experiment!

The nice thing about making a muslin is that you don't have to bother with making certain details like straps and stuff, unless that's what you want to change.

For my muslin, I had used some thick twill fabric from an old pair of drapes. Of course no one in their right minds would make a white duffel bag (unless it was leather or vinyl, I suppose) but I really liked this colour combination and found it very pleasant to work with.

Also, when constructing a sample, I feel it's important to use fabrics of different colours if the pattern calls for that, to avoid confusion.

Hard to believe, but the expensive fabrics I used: heavy white twill for the exterior, linen for the lining and denim for the the accent -- were cheaper than actual muslin fabric because I had bought them on sale or inherited, as in the case of the white twill.

I liked the result so much that even before attacking the serape version, I decided to make another one, using this fabric combination:

I will document that in a future post.

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