PPC21: The Gorilla Sample


in our last post in this, our 21st cycle of Purse Pattern Chronicles we showed you the 1st and 2nd prototype of what will eventually be our new pattern for Sping 2020. And if you’ve been with us for any of our other 20 cycles of Purse Pattern Chronicles then you know that what generally comes next is our “Gorilla sample”, but it occurs to me that some of our newer customers may not be familiar with that term and what it means.

So here’s the deal…

I like to carry the first sample that I make of any new design for a week or two because if there are “issues” with any of the bag features or functionality I like to know about it as soon as possible. If the bag opening needs to be wider, or if the silhouette needs to be taller, or if it needs more pockets or if it’s hard to open, or if it sags in the middle when I’m carrying it, I want to resolve those issues right away! Around here, we refer to this as the “Samsonite Gorilla Test“and yes I realize I’m dating myself with that phrase so if you’re under 50 just click that link, and it just might start your day off with a smile!

So… with all the preliminaries out in the open, let’s talk about this, the “gorilla sample” for our new design which as of yet is unnamed.

I made some integral changes to this design in this round in preparation for actually carrying this bag for testing!

First off— I remade all of the pattern pieces for the pockets so I could get the sizes just right and at the same time solve the problem of the center zipper being too close to that bottom corner.

I definitely like the pocket proportions better now, and just so you know, this bag is loaded in this picture, with everything I normally carry (except for my phone of course). That would include my wallet, key fob, a couple of lipsticks, pens, and a few medications, and as you can see, it’s NOT overloaded. There’s room for more stuff as I need!

There’s two zippered pockets on the front side of the Bag. These are generously sized pockets so I think you’ll be pleased with what you can carry in this bag!

And there’s one more zippered pocket located at the back side seam and this pocket is a full-width, full-height pocket!

And here’s a closeup of the phone pocket area. I’ve tried & tested every phone I can find in this pocket and so far every one of them have fit in there just fine! I really enjoy having my phone so easy to hear AND easy to reach!

And here’s a good shot of our mannequin wearing this sample under her coat. Lucky for me the wind was cooperating in just the “right way” this day as it was gently blowing her coat open to reveal the hidden bag. I’ve gotta say, I have really enjoyed carrying this bag. It’s so lightweight and it fits so easily into my side that I tend to actually forget that I’m wearing it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come back into the house thinking I’d forgotten something only to realize that “empty-handed” feeling did NOT mean that I had forgotten my handbag.

BUT— After carrying this sample for a while I quickly realized that there were two changes that STILL need to be made!
1) I had originally thought that fusible fleece would be the foundation material of choice for this bag, thinking it would allow the bag to conform to my side comfortably which it does, but I don’t like the way it sags in the middle under the weight of the contents. So… I’ll be switching over to my old stand-by on the next sample, Soft & Stable! and…
2) Within the first few hours of carrying this sample I realized there was a fatal design flaw in both front pockets! And that would be that the zippers are allowed to open all they way to the bottom of the bag. I honestly thought this would be good, but what I didn’t anticipate was that in so doing, it would easily allow the pocket contents to “escape”. (Unfortunately I lost a brand new lipstick due to this flaw, but then this is the primary reason that I carry a sample for a while before finalizing the design, so I’m glad I found out about this problem now rather than later!)

So… with these two changes in mind, I’m ready now to start creating a few show samples and in so doing, draw the step illustrations, finalize the text and then get started on combining everything into what will be the sewing instructions for this new pattern! So do stay tuned for our next post in this series which will feature a new sample in some yummy new fabric! (Spoiler Alert– I have some wonderful fabrics in store for the show samples this time and my plans are to actually try making at least one sample in cork!)

And now… it’s YOUR turn!

I’d love to know what you think of this design so far! Do you think this design would work for YOUR lifestyle? And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.

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  1. Karen Mead on March 24, 2020 at 7:38 am

    It will be such a great bag! My question, can the bag be made reversed? I prefer to have my bag hang on my left side (I am right handed) which would put the outside zippers into my body.

    • Kat on March 24, 2020 at 8:33 am

      Good question Karen and yes, I made this bag for the right hip since thats the way I carry my bags, but after posting a poll on this page a couple of weeks ago, I realized that the overwhelming number of women carry on the left hip. With this in mind, we will be including pattern templates within every pattern that could be used for right as well as left hip carrying. 🙂

  2. Becky Hardy on March 24, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Wondering if you liked the look of the front zippers going all the way to the bottom? If you did, could a zipper stop be placed a little further up, so your contents didn’t escape when fully opened?? Love the music themed fabric!!

    • Kat on March 24, 2020 at 8:35 am

      Thanks for commenting Becky and once we realized this was going to be a problem we immediately started working on a fix. Please stay tuned for the next installment in this series where we’ll show you how we resolved this issue. 🙂

    • Kay M. on March 24, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      I love the bag silhouette. Not quite feeling the zippers on this fabric choice. I think this would be fantastic in leather (or faux leather) , also ethnic woven fabric.
      PS: I do love the metallic zippers.

  3. Mary Harrop on March 24, 2020 at 9:01 am

    This bag may fit all my needs for travel. I’m a lefty so sometimes cross body doesn’t work well for me. Looking forward to future iterations of this pattern.

    • Kat on March 24, 2020 at 9:45 am

      We plan on including options for both righties AND lefties! 🙂

  4. Dianne Gates-Anderson on March 24, 2020 at 10:29 am

    I really like the concept of the bag. I have three comments:
    1)Although I like the fact that there is a phone pocket on the outside, it looks a little small to me. I think a lot of bag makers size their “big” phone pockets for naked phones. I and I assume many others always put my phone in a protective case which adds to the phones dimensions. So I have an i-phone 6plus in a simple case that in total measures 6.5 inches tall, 3.5 inches wide, and 0.5 inches thick. Would that fit in the phone pocket? Since I really do like the pattern and concept, I will try to modify the pattern and move the phone pocket to the left of the leftmost zipper.

    2) have you considered adding an interior gusset to the front zipper pockets to stop stuff from falling out?

    3) card slots inside the larger front pocket would be nice

    I really like your patterns and look forward to the release of this one.

    • Kat on March 24, 2020 at 1:26 pm

      My sister inlaw has an iphone 8 and it fits in there just fine.

  5. Dottie Caldwell on March 24, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Oh joy! This looks just perfect for traveling! I can just see this going to craft fairs and street festivals!

    • Kat on March 25, 2020 at 5:18 am

      Thanks Dottie! I’m so glad you like it! 🙂

  6. Diane Cockman on March 24, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    I love the way it fits under a jacket. Thank you for making it for us lefties too.
    I think time you figure the zippers out, it will be perfect. Can’t wait.

    • Kat on March 25, 2020 at 5:24 am

      Thanks for commenting Diane and here’s the thing. I have never realized that I carry my bag as a leftie, even though I am right-handed. So yes, making this pattern be flexible enough to be carried on either side of the body was an unforeseen complication but absolutely necessary. 🙂

  7. Melody W on March 25, 2020 at 7:56 am

    I really like the size of this bag but would really like to see card slots added if possible. I like quick access to my debit/credit/rewards cards without having to pull out a wallet at my favorite stores..

  8. Brigid Johnson on March 25, 2020 at 8:16 am

    I think this looks great. I actually might love it as much as I love my Everyday Attache!

    • Kat on March 25, 2020 at 10:16 am

      That’s music to my ears Brigid! 🙂

  9. Holly on March 25, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    I think you have a winner with this one!
    Just wondering about what shape the front pockets turn out to be (on inside). And assuming you have designed for access to pockets etc while bag is being worn, have you considered an accommodation for a left-handed person?
    Always love your purse chronicles!

    • Kat on March 25, 2020 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks for commenting Holly. There will be pattern pieces included for either right or left-side carrying! 🙂

  10. Lori on March 25, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    Love the design….and the phone pocket…Will be waiting for the next version….

  11. Lois Moran on March 26, 2020 at 11:52 am

    After reading the above comments I too realized that I carry cross-body bags on my right hip, and shoulder bags on my left shoulder and I am right handed! Never really thought about that before!

  12. Kay Marsh on April 5, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Anxious to see this bag in different fabrics. Love the phone pocket on front of bag and the side entry for back pocket. Will there be a “V” shaped gusset to deter stuff falling out? I don’t really know if I am using right terminology.

  13. Marlene Davison on April 8, 2020 at 10:27 am

    I love the body hugging style and shape of this bag… everything combines to make it appear to be an easy carry. However, vertical zippers are a waste to me…makes for unusable space. I’d have to get rid of one, and alter the other to make it slant diagonally.

    • Kat on April 8, 2020 at 11:30 am

      Thanks for commenting Marlene and you of course are welcomed to make this change if you so desire. However, please keep in mind that this alteration will add a good deal of complication to the zipper installation on the bag of the bag. 🙂