I've been consciously thinking about two main criteria driving my work lately: Proportion and Technique. I find myself pursuing each with a kind of doggedness. Every bag I make is a journey through how I make the bag, and then, when its done, noticing my impression; is it good? Why? Is something off? What is it? What's the weakest element? Process, design, execution, technique all funnel into the creation of each bag and bringing them together is my job.
On the technique side I am always asking questions: Is a given step reliable and repeatable and does it deliver predictably high quality results? Sometimes the issue is a question of having, making or buying the right tool, sometimes it is a matter of sewing skill. I find myself constantly examining myself working. Am I uncertain about the next step? Is it a challenging move? Is there a way to take the concern out of the sequence? This is important, but it is also fun. I love process; and I love efficiency, and I love quality. I will be doing this forever.
At the same time, I critique every bag I make once it is done. How did it come out? What are it's strengths? What are its weak points? What mistakes did I make? What is the overall impression? For a good while I think that my attention has sided a little more towards technique and have only made small adjustments to the design. Proportions are subtle, but they matter immensely. They are the difference between utility and beauty. And they can be hard to pin down.
Luckily I have the bags of the big producers, my own bags, and the bags of other small makers to look at and compare to. I've recently spent time charting the various sizes of bag that I have or am familiar with and tried to distill what I think would be a good large, but not too big, handlebar bag. Its hard to know until the bag is complete and sitting in front of me, but thats okay, I know I'm in the ballpark and each bag is a refinement. I have sometimes made simplified versions just to check the overall sizes before I commit to a fully detailed execution.
with this recent analysis of size and proportion, I've updated my pattern to be a more useful tool in the making process. The location of each pocket, each fold, each seam, etc.. is drafted on the mylar template. My aim is to avoid having to measure an existing bag to determine the location or placement of a given part. Crucial junctions have small holes punched in the plan which will allow me to chalk the points onto the fabric it's self, which should introduce repeatable accuracy, and save time re-locating the assembly again and again.