PPC7- The Shell Game

(This post is part of a continuing series focusing on the development of a new handbag pattern from its initial conception to it’s release.)

So… in our last post in this series, we showed you the 1st draft pattern piece for this, our 28th handbag design.

And… if you’re a fan of our Purse Pattern Chronicles series, then you know that now its time to get down to business of sewing to begin making this bag a reality!
So let’s get this party started, shall we?

Here (above) is our original sketch come to life… well, at least the exterior shell of it.

The Bag Front– The prominent feature here of course is the concealed credit card section which you can unzip partially or completely as shown below (there’s room for eight cards)

We’ve included one of our wonderful invisible magnetic snaps at the top of this section. This provides additional security for your cards. (There’s no way any of ’em are falling out folks!)

The Verdict? I’m pretty happy with the way this bag front looks and functions, BUT, I feel the credit card section is a bit TOO wide. Next time I’ll cut the width just a tad.

The Bag Back– This is a deep-pocketed area which will ALSO be secured by an invisible magnetic snap at the top. I like to storing my phone on the outside of the bag so I can hear it better & for ease of access.
The Verdict?  The vertical stitching lines you can see were sewn in place because I just didn’t like the idea of a pocket THAT deep AND wide on the outside of this bag, but… now I’m not sure I like this look, so I’ll play around a little with for the next sample. 

The Concealed Core Lining– It’s the signature feature for this bag, and the idea here is that this interior storage is totally separate from the general bag interior. As you can see, there’s a zipper on each side, so that the contents can be accessed from either side..

The Verdict? I’m very happy with the design and function for this feature, BUT what really bothers me when I look at this picture can be summed up in one word… IMBALANCE! What? Here’s what I mean. I think the overall look of this bag would be ever so much more pleasing, if the top seam of this side zipper section was the same height as the top edge of the back pocket, AND if the bottom seam of this same section was the same height as the Phone Pocket bottom seam. (It would also make it easier to accomplish some pretty fabulous color-blocking schemes!) Make sense? Don’t worry if it doesn’t. I’ll show you next time!

The Interior–  Here’s peek at the inside of the bag and since it’s unlined, now is actually a good time to be checking this out. You can easily see now that the concealed core will be a pass-thru pocket… (once I figure out how to get the lining in place that is).

And now,  
I’d love to hear  
YOUR comments! 
Please feel free to post your comments in the area provided below and stay tuned for our next post in this series when we show you the first completely functional sample of this design!

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28 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. I’m wondering if it would be possible to put a small (shallow), flat pocket behind the credit card area, for a few coins or for tucking in receipts, that you can dip into quickly without disturbing the magnet or the zippers?

    I really like this bag and now I have a better feel for the concealed pocket and how it will work. I’m loving it!

  2. This needs to be a cross-body bag, in my opinion.

  3. I love Organizer Bags that have a place for everything you need in separate easily identifiable DIFFERENT looking pockets. This is starting to look like that! I love my PortaPockets pattern for that reason. Do you have any other patterns for Organizer Bags? I’m loving this and I agree with Diane’s suggestion!

  4. Concerned about the magnets near the credit cards and a cellphone. Dianna

    • Thanks for commenting Dianna
      I understand your concern, but I’ve carried a version of this bag for over 7 weeks now with not problem with my cards or my cellphone yet. 🙂

  5. I am LOVIN’ this bag. It is what my niece and I envisioned a few years ago and couldn’t quite figure it out. I like everything about it. And I think your suggestion of aligning the back pockets is a good one.

  6. I love the bag. Would piping on the back pocket make it look more finished with the zippers and every thing? I thought if you had dark blue piping or trim to match the zippers then it would look more cohesive. will there be two separate linings? One for the concealed pocket and one for the inside of the bag? I would love to try and make this if you are looking for testes when you are finished with the design.

    • Thanks for commenting Margaret. I love the look of piping too, but I’m afraid it might be a bit bulky with it. It something that could certainly be added to suit an individual’s taste though!

      And yes, there will indeed be two separate linings, because I sure wouldnt want anyone to reach into their main purse and pull out a weapon by accident!
      And finally, thanks for the kind offer of testing. I do have regular folks that I call upon to do pattern testing for me. Its an essential part of the process. You need to know though, that I have a “tester waiting list”. Every now and then I have need of a new tester, so if you are interested in getting on that list, please pursue that with us privately through the email. Thanks again!

  7. Kathy, thanks for inviting us share your process with you. You have a great thing going here! I did share a small concern about the magnets and credit cards.

    About your design, it is a little blah in the balance aspect. However, I do not think it is in the height of the sections, but the colors. The piping on the pocket just dies in respect to the dark blue zippers. It reads as having no more color than the top stitching. A print that reads as dark as the zippers would change things a lot – also a darker topstitching. Also, a wider piping would also help balance the color of the zippers!

    I think you are right that this will be a perfect bag to play with color blocking and that can help change the whole balance with the zippers. I guess what I am trying to say is that I think you have a color balance problem and not a proportion balance.

    Thanks again.
    Sonja Hansen

    • HI Sonja
      I actually am glad you didnt like the color of this sample, because I hate it too!
      If this is the first time you’ve been with us for Purse Pattern Chronicles, then maybe you were unaware that at this stage of pattern development, this is not a complete sample. This will never be a usual bag. It doesnt now, nor will it ever have a lining. It’s just a shell, so with that in mind, I generally use JUNK fabric at this stage. Great fabric is too expensive and too precious to waste at this stage of the game.

      But stay with us, this process has just begun and there’s plenty enough time yet to come to get fancy and have fun with fabric and embellishments!

  8. OK! On the credit card pocket, what about putting a flap on it and
    expandable sides instead of the zippers. It could be quit a bit
    smaller, but still hold plenty of cards.
    on the cell phone pocket, I think a side pocket that’s short enough for easy access and another like it on the other side for sunglassses.
    Then the secure gun pocket; I don’t own a gun (thank God) but wouldn’t it be better to use matching zippers to camoflage the openings a little?
    Just my thoughts and wondering how you thought those through.

    • Thanks for commenting Arlene!
      Those are interesting suggestions. I’m not sure the one about the credit card section would be aesthetically pleasing (at least to me) on the front of the bag.

      The back definitely could be sectioned into to parts as you suggest and some folks might like that. I think I’ll include that as an option they can do under their own steam (ie; without illustration and directions!)

      As for the matching zippers, I agree that if I were “carrying”, I would want it to look as un-obvious as possible, BUT, in terms of my marketing, the customer needs to SEE the spedific features we’re talking about, and that is easier to accomplish without camouflaging them. 🙂 Again, this can always be included as a suggestion and it sounds like a good one, so thank for voicing it!

      I really appreciate it!

    • I wondered too if velcro would be secure enough for a gun.

    • We’ll be testing this out thoroughly so stay tuned for that! 🙂

    • Hi Arlene, As I read your post, it occurred to me that you could try the Bagalista pattern. I’m still carrying the one I made a year and a half ago most of the time for just the features you mentioned. It has the pockets on each side for phone and sunglasses and the zipper pocket on the front or a Porta-Pockets insert with the credit card carrier on the inside might suit your needs very well without the possible worry of a magnet (although I’ve used magnets close to credit cards many times without a problem). Just a thought.

  9. Hi Kathy,
    First, I love receiving your “Work in Progress…” etc newsletters.
    Regarding the newest design….
    besides accommodating items for self-defense, do you think this bag can be designed so that the outside pocket will hold a full size iPad and still close and not distort?
    Thanks! Holly M

  10. Hey Kat..
    I love the premise of this bag! I never have enough room for all those darn cards every business in the world hands out and expects one ot keep on their person at all times.

    I have another idea for the knitters and crocheters of the world is to make the front section divided into vertical long spaces for knitting needles and crochet hooks to be neatly stored…not rolling around on their own trying to escape as they often do from my tote bags.

    Looks like another good one!
    Kathie B

  11. Hi there…when I first heard about the “concealed” purse, I envisioned a 3 piece purse. The purse that you now have as shown, BUT with the concealed portion a separate portion and the three portions sewn together, with the “concealed” sandwiched in the middle. This would make a bulkier purse, but would solve the problems of lining. The two outside portions could be thinner and still accomplish your purpose. Give it a thought.


  12. Hi Kat,
    Looking good; I agree with the things that you said – I, too, think the phone pocket should not be so large, and think it would be better for the inner zipper areas to line up better with the pocket. I like the credit card area; if it were to stay so wide, maybe a pen pocket could go there? Just thinking along with you. I love all your work.
    Barbara L.

  13. Hi Kathy,
    Another exciting series! I always wonder what happens to the models made in “junk” fabric, and the interim ones before the pattern is finalized. I would think it would be hard to throw them away but a storage problem if you keep them. What do you do?

    • Thanks a really great question Carol and one I’ve never been asked before!
      It would be very tempting to throw away my “junk” samples because after 28 patterns there’s a LOT of them, BUT, I save them all along with all my sketches, notes and the draft instructions we write as the bag is being developed in the event that someone challenges us saying we copied their design.
      If I can prove that the design was my own independent idea (even if it turns out that it looks somewhat like their design), then it’s unlikely that I could be charged with a copyright violation. Having the bag in its various stages of development would really help to prove my case.
      Of course at this point its an extremely remote possibility that I could be challenged on my early designs (since they were released 8 years ago) so maybe I need to clean house a bit, no?
      The useable samples that are not “show-quality” usually end up being mine because I like to give a design a rigourous test (and believe me, I’m a “Samsonite Gorilla”).
      And we even have to sell some of the “show-quality” bags occasionally because you can imagine how many samples I would have in this studio (about 6-9 bags per design times 29), if I didnt let a few go now and then! So we usually throw a handbag sale around Christmas time to get our stock down to manageable quantity!
      So thanks for the great question Carol and I hope this answers your question, if not just holler back!

  14. Re: concealed carry purse design. The panels of the purse body that will be the concealed portion need to have stiff interfacing or quilting so that the sidearm does not ‘print’ (show through) on the outside of the bag. Perhaps there’s a way to make those two outside panels lined and faced independently, prior to the rest of the bag’s construction, so that lining that portion would be easier to install. Keeping the zippers inconspicuous as possible would also help keep the concealment issue under wraps. For comfort, an adjustable strap for wearing over the shoulder or cross-body and a small pocket on one end or the other would be helpful for a cell phone or an additional magazine. (ammo clip)

  15. in the credit card area, it would really be nice to have a bill pocket and a coin pocket so a wallet wouldn’t be needed.