Monday, June 27, 2011

Make This: Nature Explorer Bag

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.

59 comments:

Sara said...

This looks fab! I can't wait to make one, thanks so much for the great download.

sweetkm said...

This is just all around awesome. We have been using the plastic mesh bag our seed potatoes came in to collect our treasures. Functional, but not half as cool.

Kendra said...

Holly! Ack! These are too cool for words! We are going on vacation in a month to the beach... So I'm going to make 3 of these for my kiddos, and give them a beach comber theme. I can't wait.

HelenS said...

You are a star - these are fabulous - thank you for your generous spirit in sharing them with all of us that are in awe of your general wonderfulness.

Tettegouche looks amazing - maybe one day I will get to the US for a holiday!

laylablue said...

wonderful!
really could be a casual purse!

Holly said...

Kendra--I love the idea of making one of these for the beach.

And thanks to everyone else for the kind comments about the bag. I am happy to share it with you.

Nicki said...

I love this. My daughter is a nature freak. :) Especially about birds.

On random question.. where did you get the laminated bird identifier? We are going to a bird sanctuary at the end of summer and I haven't found anything like this yet. I've checked book stores and online.

Nicki said...

duh never mind. Helps if I actually read the directions until the end. :)

Liz @ LivingMySweetLife said...

Love love love!! I am going to make these as christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews this year!!

CraftCrave said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [29 Jun 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

Lori ann said...

totally awesome, i LOVE these. thank you for the tutorial, i am so happy i found my way here.

Sew Useful Designs said...

WOWSERS! What a fab idea!!! My kids are always collecting and forreging, I love this idea - it's perfect! Can't wait to make the bag! Darling would you be happy for me to borrow a photo of this bag (crediting you of course) and link back to this post?

I'm SO excited!! Thank you SO much for the tutorial - it's so generous of you!

Hugs! Vikki :-)

Holly said...

Vikki, please feel free to use a photo for your blog--and let me know when you post, I would love to check out your creations.

Amy@Let's Explore said...

My soon-to-be 7 year old would adore this! Must make time at the sewing machine in the next week or two - thanks a bunch!

Yuri, Chris, and Aki said...

This is amazing. Thank you for posting it! Quick question, pages 7 and on in the google docs looks blurry and I'm having trouble reading it. Is there something I'm doing wrong?

Holly said...

Yuri, Chris and Aki--I went out and checked the document and page 7 looked normal to me--it might be all the text on the page is just not showing up crystal clear on your computer screen--did you try to print the document out?

chelsea said...

this is very cool!

mayaluna said...

I'm in love with them!

Yosefa said...

Those look great! I started making simple, personalized bags and backpacks as birthday gifts for my special needs daughter's school mates. It's easier than keeping up with who has the ability to play with what.

I finally posted pictures of the aprons I made. i'd love to hear what you think. And you can join the raffle. http://nonrecipe.blogspot.com/2011/07/apron-giveaway.html

Teri D. said...

I think this is a wonderful wonderful bag for kids. has all the pockets for tools and treasures! loooove it! teri

Holly said...

You are so generous to do these tutorials. I love the bags, and would definitely carry one myself! (I hate to bring up even a small quibble, but am I the only one who finds the font you use for your tutorials difficult to read? It is a very pretty font, but a whole page of it is a bit hard on the eyes!)

Margret said...

Wow! I am so impressed. Having 4 grandsons who love bugs and other creatures, I just have to make these for them. Thank you so much. And I will probably have to make one for me first you know, just so I can try it out, and kind of give it a test run...(*wink, wink*). Totally awesome!

sugabeats said...

I love it, thanks! I only wish we weren't going to the cabin in 3 days.

Holly said...

Suagbeats--3 days is enough. It only takes about 3 hours to make the bag once you have the supplies--and I bought all of my fabrics at Joann's, so nothing obscure or fancy there.

Kate said...

This is sooo lovely Holly...my boys always coming home with pockets stuffed full of acrons, pinecones, feathers, stones, sticks...you name it. I keep finding their little stashes all round the house and often in my washing machine at the end of the cycle! Definitely on my to-do list x

Kate (minieco)

Holly said...

Kate--I hope you will share photos of your completed bag once you get around to making it--it is bound to be lovely given your eye for color.

casserole said...

This is so awesome!! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-make-a-nature-explorer-bag/2011/07/06/
(link will go live later tonight)

--Anne

Florence (at Flossie Teacakes) said...

Wonderful! I can imagine that children would love these bags because they actually look quite grown-up. Thank you so much for the tutorial - I may well make one for my daughter.

ps. LoveTruck said...

stumbled upon your site and these bags look amazing. I'm in awe at your talent. ^^

ericaceae said...

Thanks for sharing this. I can't wait to give it a try!

Kendra said...

Holly! Everything is cut out and ironed- tonight I'll be sewing them together and I should have a post up by tomorrow. I better hurry we leave for the beach Saturday morning. 3 bags, coming up! (It'll be on kendramadeit.blogspot)

Holly said...

Godspeed Kendra! Three to sew in one night is no small undertaking...speaking from very personal and recent experience. But gogogo and I cannot wait to see your finished beach explorer bags!

The White's House/Garden Tenders said...

PERFECT! I am new to sewing but am going to attempt this for my daughter! thank you!

shantel said...

Love it! I am featuring on my blog
seemesew.blogspot.com

Else M Tennessen said...

Truly awesome. i am going to make one!

LaurieStar said...

Hi - just found your blog and I love reading your posts! I think this bag totally rocks and I can't believe you made 5 of them! I couldn't even make it through one! Bravo to you!

SawoKecik said...

like it very much .... !!!

Craftscout said...

I just wanted to thank you for posting this tutorial. I just finished one (with some modifications), and it is amazing. I made it for myself, and might make some for my kids. :D It ends up being the perfect size to hold notebooks, plus all the stuff you end up needing to carry around. I also found the tutorial well written and easy to follow. Thanks again!

Holly said...

TO ALL OF YOU LEAVING COMMENTS TELLING ME YOU HAVE MADE OR ARE MAKING THE EXPLORER BAG: I really, really, really hope you will share photos of your completed bags in my Beeper Bebe Projects Made by You Flickr group--find the link in the side bar. I just love to see what you do, how you do it, what you do differently...so, please share.

Amanda said...

these are SOOOO fun! makes me wish I was a kid again!

I run Fun Family Crafts, a site similar in nature to Craftgawker and Spotlight, but different in that it's a library of craft tutorials geared only at kids. I would love it if you'd stop by and submit this to be featured! (I link to you, I don't post your tutorial on the site) Feel free to submit as many kid friendly craft tutorials as you like! http://funfamilycrafts.com/

Mamima said...

My kids loved this explorer bag... I will try to make one for them. Thank you!
www.amamima.com

Steph said...

Love these bags!! I'm adding your link to http://SewingTutorialsLibrary.com today. Thank you for such a great tute!

Nicola said...

Hi, thanks so much for the tutorial. Just a little question, is there any purpose to the D ring? is it used to keep the bag closed ie is there a strap on the bottom near the pockets? or is the weight of it enough? apologies, i have read through the instructions but couldn't see anything.
I love these bags and I'm kicking myself that I didn't discover you yesterday, before i went to the haberdashery shop!

Holly said...

Nicola--I thought I had put it in the instructions, but maybe not...anyway, the purpose of the D ring is just to add some weight to the top so it helps to pull down on it just a bit and keep it folded over. I think it also just adds a little something. Of course, you could add a strap to close it, if you would prefer. I would love to see your bag once you get around to making one...I am hoping to get around to making a big-person version yet this fall...

DPM said...

Awesome!

krzymnky said...

wondering if i'm a complete idiot?!?!
i started cutting the material today and i don't know if i did something wrong but there is NO WAY that i can get all of the cut pieces out of the 1/2 yard that you spec'd. what am i doing wrong? do you have a cutting diagram that goes along with this? help?!?!

Holly said...

I do not have a cutting diagram, unfortunately--but I wonder if your fabric is not wide enough? Some fabrics are wider than others--mine was the standard 45" width. I do know that with half of a yard all the pieces just fit for the most part--there were very few scraps left. The other thing you may want to consider is whether your fabric shrunk significantly if you prewashed it...depending on the fiber content, it could have shrunk.

krzymnky said...

the fabric i used was 44" and i did not prewash it (i usually only prewash if i'm making clothing). i wasn't able to fit all of my pieces on the outer fabric so i had to put my pocket flaps on my 1/2" for the inner fabric. so it all worked out and it just has a little more contrast. needless to say, i had less trouble with the accordion fold than i did the cutting... lol! on the bright side, i did get the back finished and it turned out SUPER cute, i will post a photo to the flickr group. i am gonna go get some more fabric and do a couple for my kids for christmas. thanks!

Jill said...

I made two of these this Christmas. One for my eight year old son and one for my ten year old daughter. What a hit! For my daughter's I used a contrasting fabric for the gusset (ran out of the other color!) and it looks adorable! I also made the strap adjustable. Thank you for your generosity in sharing this tutorial!

Holly said...

Jill--I would love tosee photos of your completed bags--if you have some, I hope you will share them in my Beeper Bebe Projects Flickr group (find the link in the sidebar of my blog)--I am also very curious about your adjustable strap--that sounds like a great addition to my design.

Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue said...

Awesome!!!! they would make gorgeous gifts too

Maria said...

Hello Holly, a few days back I used your tutorial and made a bag for my art supplies. You can see pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paperboatcaptain/6927989703/in/photostream

It was a lot of fun and your tutorial is very good. I also used your flickr set to understand the more difficult steps.

Thank you!
Maria.

Unknown said...

I wanted to make these for my daughter's camping birthday party. Some of the kids are smaller than 5. Any ideas on a good adjustment size for the smaller half?

Anonymous said...

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
SUCH A GREAT IDEA
I AM GOING TO MAKE ONE FOR MY FRIEND

Anonymous said...

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
SUCH A GREAT IDEA
I AM GOING TO MAKE ONE FOR MY FRIEND

Holly said...

It takes about 2 hours to make one. If you are making it for an adult you will want it make a much longer strap since this one is quite short...good luck!

Melody said...

Thanks so much, this looks amazing. What fun, I'll even include the whistles, just tell them to only bolw them when lost ha ha.

Denise Higgins said...

I love this bag but please could you change the font? My eyes aren't what they used to be! I know I sound like I'm 100 but actually I'm only 38 :-D Thanks for the tutorial.

Sandra :) said...

I just spotted this on Pinterest - what a great project to make for the (great) niece and nephews - thanks for the funny post (snack-demanding beasts who moved in packs, LOL!!!) and the tutorial! Consider yourself ... rePINNED :D