I try not to start my blog posts with “I’m so excited to share” – but today I can’t help it – I’m really so excited about my new bag! It’s the Chobe from Elle Puls – same pattern designer that brought us the amazing Bethioua top. When Elke emailed me a few months ago, I was so happy to accept her invite to try the new pattern. My previous everyday bag’s zipper had just broken and this pattern was a perfect replacement – right down to the exact size and style! I took my Chobe on vacation in July and I’ve been using it every day since.

So I made it in gold! I really had to think hard about this… I’ve never carried around a gold bag – but I wanted to use my stash as much as possible. Maybe if we call it beige or champagne it would be ok?! I really don’t mind the colour now that I’ve made it. It helps that it matches everything – which is great because I’m a very non-fussy bag carrier and don’t switch them according to what I’m wearing. The thin stretchy hole-filled vinyl adds a bit of a sporty look. And I happened to have exactly the right Kona cotton to use as a lining. And exactly enough leather in the right shade to match for the base and shoulder strap!

I really like patterns that allow me to learn new sewing techniques, and the Chobe is great for that. The illustrated instructions are really easy to follow and allow for a super-professional finish.

Here are a few new things I learned:

  • Rivets! I got to use them for the first time and I LOVE them! They made this bag look super professional and I was really excited to learn that they are really easy to install. One of them loosened two weeks into my vacation, but that was easily fixed when I got home. And now I own the rivet tools I want to use them everywhere – yay!
  • Hardware. Ok, so I’ve used bag hardware before – but I love how ready-made these Snap Hooks look. And the matchy rivets and rectangular rings  – have I mentioned how much I love rivets yet?!
  • Recessed Zipper. I have a confession to make, the Cat-Eye Zipper pouch was supposed to have a recessed zip – but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work! I was so grateful for Elke’s straightforward instructions. It comes together so well and I’m so proud of how it looks!

Here are a few things I changed when I made my Chobe:

  • Cross-body strap. I used the snap hooks to connect a simple cross-body strap. I copied my well-loved Coach everyday bag and snapped them onto the same rings that connect the shoulder strap. This lets you remove the long strap for a cleaner look.
  • Flat Front. The fabric I chose didn’t really allow the pieced front to be made easily – since it has holes (and stretch), I needed to line each place I used it. Again, I copied my everyday bag and created a 2 piece front instead. The top-stitching makes it look a bit more ready-made.
  • Interfaced Lining. My bag was pretty un-structured because I used thin vinyl instead of the recommended denim. To compensate a bit I added a layer of interfacing to the lining and it’s worked really well.
  • Strap Attachment. Because I was so short on matching leather I had to shorten the shoulder strap and attach it creatively. I love how the straps are sewn on the outside of the original bag. But since my fabric was short I sewed them into the top seam instead.

Here are a few things I would do next time:

  • Up Cycling. With the Canadian Tuxedo back in style (denim on denim on denim!), I figure we could add a bag to the mix? The original Chobe is made from a recycled pair of old jeans. Down to adding the pocket and label. The casual style would be fun to pull off.
  • Outer Exposed Zipper. One day I will learn! For an outer zip to look professional the lining should match the outer, so the fabric doesn’t show on the outside of the bag. Argh. I did this the wrong way on my Makers Tote as well.
  • Height. I might make the bag slightly shorter – by about 2 inches or so – since my kids are older now and I don’t need as large of a bag to stash things!

Have you ever attempted to make a bag? How did it go?

In the end my on-loan Janome Skyline S7 sewed through layers and layers of leather with no issues what so ever. The hardest part was getting used to sewing the vinyl outer. I did find that since the pattern was in centimeters I needed to do a bit of conversion before I started. But Elke includes a printable ruler, and I typed all of the measurements into Google and let it convert them for me – easy peasy!

I am so proud of this bag! And am loving the interior fabric a ton. It was stashed to eventually become a skirt, but this seems way better, since I get to see it everyday! All of the professional tips and tricks, the instructions on how to make your own leather handle, the recessed zip. So good!

I highly recommend the Chobe bag pattern. Elke has done a wonderful job on it, and she’s included tons of creative ideas to make it your own – along with great inspiration photos as well. Hats off to her! This bag is going to be my go-to pattern for a long, long time.