This is the little nature explorer bag I designed and made for all the kiddies who joined us at Tettegouche Camp last week. Yes, I made 5 of these in less than a week, then stocked them all with a bunch nature explorer goodies to keep the kiddos busy. And it worked.
The bags actually were a big, big hit and the kids carried them around all weekend and did things like captured worms and a sluggish wasp in the bug jars, sketched wildflowers in their field notebooks, gathered treasured rocks in their tins, chased each other in the dark with their flashlights, and blew their whistles CONSTANTLY (yes, think twice about including a whistle that can be worn around the neck and carried with you at all times--especially if you are trying to have a peaceful, bucolic wildife experience.)
You can see I made them each in differently colored cotton-linen blend fabrics, then lined them each in constrasting homespun plaids. Don't let all those sweet smiling faces fool you--they were all evil whistle-blowing wraiths. Also snack-demanding beasts who moved in packs. And don't even ask about the platypus game and the dangerous hijinks that involved....but at least the differently colored bags kept the spats about whose bag belonged to whom at bay.
I designed the bag with several handy pockets, inside and out. The inside pockets were sized to hold little notebooks, a magnifying glass, a small set of colored pencils or crayons and other handy nature stuff.
I made the flap pockets on the front with accordion folds so they could expand to hold their bug canisters when they have some precious cargo to tote around and didn't want to jostle their insect friends around in the bag with all the other junk. I also designed the bag to have that easy fold-over top so the kids would not have to fuss with opening and closing the bag and could have quick access to their bag contents--I think I maybe love this aspect of the bag more than anything--so laissez-faire, so unstructured in the best way. Maybe this is why I want to make one for myself--only with a wider, adjustable strap--and why a couple of other big people asked me to make one for them too. I may have to open my own nature explorer bag making sweat shop.
If you like the design as much as me and the kiddies, you can make your own too because I have a nice little downloadable tutorial for you. Right here:
Now, I have to warn you that making those accordion fold pockets can be a little confusing--I did put some detailed photos out in a Flickr set, here, and there is also a photo mosaic of all of the steps right here. While I love the accordion fold pockets and after making 6 of the bags now, could probably make them blindfolded with a full cosmopolitan in one hand, you should know there is always the option of just making flat, patch pockets and I will not think any less of you for it.
The tutorial, of course, has the usual detailed instructions with illustrations, but it also has links to all the places I bought my nature explorer supplies you see in the photo above, as well as copies of the labels I made to put on the tins and little notebooks if you want to customize some of your own.
Did I mention this is one of my all-time favorite designs and tutorials I have made? It is. I like it. I hope you will too.