This project has been taking over most of my brain space for well over a month!
I’ve been doing a bit of roller skating since the pandemic and I’ve been on the hunt for a decent skate bag ever since – not that I need one but I love an excuse to accessorise!
Unfortunately skate bags are either boring and ugly or ridiculously expensive as they need to be imported so after finally giving up hope that I’d find one I like at a reasonable price, I put my designing hat on and decided to make one.
Now I’m sure lots of you would be wondering why that wasn’t my first port of call! And to be honest, I’ve just come to the realisation recently that I just don’t need to make absolutely everything anymore – it’s been a revelation!
After the difficulties, shall we say, I had with the last backpack I made (see my review of the Raspberry Rucksack here), I decided to just draft it myself so I’d have no one else to blame for any problems.
So what design elements did I want included in this bag?
It needed to be big enough to hold all my protective gear, though probably not my helmet, as well as space for tools, a sweater and snacks! I wanted a water bottle pocket, an easy access pocket for a phone or camera and a zipped pocket for any valuables. And then it was a decision on how to hold the roller skates in place. Most designs used either a big flap to hold them in place on either front or back of the bag or a cradle of webbing straps that tighten. I opted for the flap design as I thought it’ll be less fiddly.
I spent absolutely ages sketching out my designs and testing out what I thought would work, or not as the case may be. I ended up sticking with the Fjallraven Kanken bag style as the rectangular shape worked for the size of my skates. I planned to add padding to the front back and base of the bag for stability and add some extra tabs and buckles to secure everything in.
This was also the time to browse fabrics and findings to see what would be suitable. My initially idea was to use denim – it’s thick and sturdy and I could probably use stuff from the stash. My main concern was that it would be one spilt bottle or a rainy day away from just being a soggy heavy mess! (Thick cotton just absorbs water a little too well!). I then looked to different canvases, especially polyester canvas. Whilst using polyester may be frowned upon for many reasons, for something that’s never going to be washed and that needs to be pretty resilient, it’s ideal. It’s a bit of a specialist item though – definitely not something found in your average dress fabric shop! I ended buying two pieces from different online shops to compare the weights and hand.
I used my sketch as an opportunity to test out different the colours available to get an idea of what the final product would look like too!
Surprisingly, I ended up using the heavier of the two fabrics I ordered, a waterproof 600 denier coated canvas in emerald green. When I got the package, I thought it was going to be too thick for me to sew and turn out, but actually my Bernina got through it without trouble and it was easier to manipulate than expected (yay for my Bernina!). The upside of the thicker fabric was the stiffness of it. It held its own shape which meant I eliminated the need for the foam padding I has planned – one less step!
I already had a bunch of pink bag findings to use – webbing, sliders etc – so decided to stick with the colour theme and just buy the matching buckles. This was all off eBay and mostly from this one seller.
I made a very quick mock up of the bag in some scrap denim to assess the size before committing to my pattern. The overall bag size I tried out was 28cm x 38cm x 12cm which actually worked well. I tested my skates in the flap too to double check it would all fit.
I actually didn’t need to make any changes so I went straight into cutting my main fabric. At £5.95 per metre, I didn’t feel too bad if I made a mistake and had to order more!
Making it up was a bit of a head scratcher. I actually wrote down a plan before I started so I didn’t miss anything essential as I had to get quite a few of the straps, handles and hardware in at an early point. Once I got my head around it, it was actually really easy to make!
I had to add in a Sew and Roll label to this one! I’m planning to use my Cricut to add a design to the front panel to make it extra fun at some point too!
Overall, the materials used cost me less than £35 so a steal compared to the bag I was eyeing up which was over £125! This was mostly on the bag findings and also doesn’t include a few bits from the stash I used – the zips, thread – though. If I was making these bags in bulk it would be a lot less as a lot of the buckles and things would cost far less.
I’m super pleased with how it turned out and it was just so much fun to make. I’ve missed planning out projects from scratch like this even if it is ridiculously time consuming! 😂. I think it looks very, very similar to my original sketches which is a lovely feeling.
The only thing I might change if I made it again is the elastic straps I used down the side of the flap. I would probably use webbing and buckles here in future as I think the elastic is going to stretch out and become less effective in time. I am planning to not have to make this bag again though so that might never happen!