First I decided to make a carry-on bag to replace my old one. The old one was a very similar pattern that I drafted myself, and while I adore it, the fabrics I used have a pretty loose/rough weave and they have begun to fray a bit around the edges. So when I found myself with some Soft and Stable stabilizer and some cotton fabric that I had no particular plans for, I knew what needed to be done.
Instead of using my old pattern, I decided to give the Vivian Traveller bag pattern a try and see how a 'proper' pattern (with instructions and everything!) handled it. The Soft and Stable worked really nicely for this bag... a lot of tutorials or patterns will instruct you to use interfacing, but I've never been happy with the results of using iron-in interfacing in bags, especially the heavier ones. The Soft and Stable gave it a nice shape while remaining light and flexible, plus it was super easy to work with.
I won't lie and say that the pattern came together easily, it put up a bit of a fight when I got to attaching the lining and the outside. I *love* the look that piping gives to bags like this one, but when you are working with a thicker fabric, or fabric with a thick stabilizer like this one, it becomes a heck of a lot more difficult to get nice tight seams. But, after a lot of wrangling and seam ripping, it eventually came together and I'm quite happy with the end result.
Then I realized I needed a new toiletry bag as well, and since my love of zippered bags continues unabated, I picked the Zippered Pencil Case tutorial I've had bookmarked for ages to use up the leftovers from the carry-on bag. It is a simple enough pattern, but because it also makes use of piping, it wasn't simple to put together. Why is getting linings and outer shells right the first time so hard for me to do when there is piping?!? Argh!!! I printed out, cut up and started to assemble it once, but it seemed a bit too small for what I had in mind, and after the umpteenth time of seam ripping the lining apart from the outer shell, I was fed up. So I scrapped that one and reprinted the pattern a bit larger (30% increase) to try again. The larger version seemed much better for a toiletry bag and while the piping wasn't any easier to work with, I beat it into submission with only a little bit of cursing. ;)