Pattern Review: The Lola Bea Diaper Bag

I am not a seamstress. I can sew, don’t get me wrong, but I would never presume to call myself an expert. Nor, in truth, would I consider myself terribly intermediate, either. I do best with straight lines and simple patterns and easy to follow instructions, and I am far too impatient to iron every seam between steps or pick out stitches that aren’t quite right.

Except, it turns out, when I decide that no matter what, this project just has to be absolutely perfectly perfect in every way.

Enter the Lola Bea Diaper Bag pattern.


I came across this pattern while looking for a simple tote bag pattern to make swimming bags for the kids for their swimming lessons. The pictures caught my eye and my heart and I thought to myself Oh, I wish I could sew things like that!

I clicked the “Favourite” button on Etsy and tried to put it out of my mind. I am not a very talented seamstress, you see. I do much, much better with hand sewing, and this bag definitely wouldn’t be well suited for hand sewing.

A month later, the bag was still floating around in the back of my mind and, with M so pregnant she looked ready to pop any day, I took the plunge and bought the pattern in hopes of actually being able to make her a diaper bag that wouldn’t embarrass her when out in public.  I figured that if it should prove too complicated, I would simply chalk it up as yet another failed sewing attempt and that would be that, with M none the wiser. Handmade with love was what I was hoping for. If it came out looking more homemade, I could always just keep it for myself. And if it came out (as I rather expected it would) looking like something a 2 year old cobbled together with the help of some string, spit, and glue… well, I could always cut it apart again and use the scraps for crazy quilting.

When I opened up the pattern and started to read, I started to panic.

The bag is fully lined with elasticized pockets, which I knew I could do as I have tried my hand at that before. But it also has an interior zippered pocket that is fully lined and perfectly centered in the middle, and a magnetic snap closure.

I was in over my head, and I knew it.

But then I realized something amazing: The Lola Bea Diaper Bag Pattern is a zillion pages long and the designer, Abby of Sew Much Ado, included detailed photographs of every single step. Every one.

Every step of this bag is explained in easy to understand language with accompanying photographs.

So clearly explained, in fact, that this was the result:

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It is slightly floppier than it should be since I couldn’t find heavyweight interfacing and had to settle for a medium weight, but I am so thrilled with how it turned out! There are exterior elasticized pockets:

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A lovely ruffle down the front with a magnetic snap closure (a first for me — I had never tried installing one before).

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A messenger-bag style flap that I lined to match the ruffle and has the other half of the magnetic snap sandwiched between the layers:

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The inside is fabulous, with lots of elastic pockets around the edges and a zippered pocket perfectly placed in the centre of the lining:

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Do you see that zippered pocket? Do you see it? I am so pleased with that pocket. I have never, ever, not since Grandma R first showed me how to put in a zipper when I was about B’s age, put in a zipper. I have no idea why, but zippers have always scared me — nevermind fully lined zippered pouches that have to fit perfectly across the centre of the bag.

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I ran out of the cute dog print fabric as it was a single fat quarter in the midst of a big bin, so I ad-libbed on the pattern a bit (don’t tell me you are surprised that I broke the rules again) and made the elastic pockets out of half print fabric and half lining fabric, and then did the same with the striped fabric on the other side so that it matched. Sort of. Since stripes and dogs don’t exactly match, but you know what I mean.

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I also added a handy-dandy hook loop to hold your keys. Ever since getting a purse that had such a hook, I have wished for such a hook in every purse or bag or backpack I have ever had. So I gave her one. And I gave her a loop on the other side for attaching a pacifier or a little toy.

All in all, I am thrilled with how the bag turned out. I couldn’t have done it without such a wonderfully clearly written and thoroughly photographed pattern that really is more tutorial than simple pattern and taught me a lot about bag construction.

My final verdict: This is a 10-star pattern in a 5-star world and I would happily by more patterns from Abby again.


8 thoughts on “Pattern Review: The Lola Bea Diaper Bag

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