Adam Savage designed an EDC, or Every Day Carry bag along with Mafia bags. He sells these bags in partnership with Mafia, but also made the patterns for his bags available as a digital download and a physical paper copy. I purchased the pattern on paper and have now made two finished bags.
This instructable will be somewhat non-traditional, as I will not be providing dimensions or the pattern itself. I am carefully chosing what I share as to not infringe on Adams work, and to encourage you to purchase the patterns from Adam himself at adamsavage.com.
What you should expect to see in this instructable are recommendations for materials, clarification of names for hardware and parts, suggestions on where to obtain some of these harder to find parts and materials, correcting errors and clarifying instructions in the original pattern, and some slight modifications to the design of the bag which I've made to adapt to my own needs. With both the pattern and this instructable, my goal is for you to have all the information you need to successfully and confidently make your own EDC One.
Step 1: Materials and Hardware
Adams bag that you can purchase is made with recycled sailcloth material. I originally went on the hunt looking for retired/worn sailcloth and found that used sails that were still in good enough shape to use for my bag were far too expensive to make this economical. It turns out new sailcloth is much more affordable in my findings.
I made my first bag with 7.4oz dacron "supercruise" sailcloth from sailrite. I found it exceptionally difficult to work with even on my Janome HD1000 heavy duty machine with leatherworking needles. If you plan on attempting this bag with Dacron sailcloth, I suggest trying a lighter weight variant. 4oz may be a better choice.
I eventually settled on 1000D Cordura nylon from RockyWoods for my second bag. It sews like denim and I found it much easier than Dacron to work with. It has less structure, but this tradeoff makes it more pliable and easier to maneuver around and through the sewing machine.1.5oz ripstop nylon from sailrite was used for the bag liner.
I attempted using 2 different zippers - a #10 molded zipper and a #10 coil zipper. The coil zipper moves much easier around the bend.
Other hardware and miscellaneous items:
- Heavy polyester upholstery thread. I used V-92 thread from sailrite. This does push the limits of a home sewing machine. 16/100 denim needles for Cordura, 16/100 leather needles for dacron.
- If buying 200yd spools at a craft store, pick up 3 of them. You don't want to run out.
- Prep 4 bobbins of this. You will use almost all of it.
- Steel rod from a home improvement store can work, but will not retain its shape if bent at all.
Step 2: The Pattern.
Like most sewing projects, prep starts with getting our cloth cut out.
I purchased the patterns on paper. In the US, the paper patterns are a better value than purchasing the PDF and trying to get it printed yourself at a big box office supply/print center store.
Back the paper patterns with something heavier. I used brown craft paper and super 77 spray adhesive. This will allow you to use the pattern over and over again.
There's a few notes and issues with the pattern:
- The pattern says to cut 1 strap loop. You need two.
- You can skip the 5/8" webbing and use a bandage clip, triangle clip or D ring instead. I found this to be preferable and used a bandage clip.
- The pattern calls the attachment for the handles a "D ring" but it's more of a rectangular ring. for continuity I actually used the same tri-glide I used on the strap in place of a "D ring"
- There's conflicting information on the pattern for the bottom panel. You only need one outer panel, and one inside panel. The "bucket" around the main bag is really a false piece that's there for aesthetics and add some structure to the bag. You do not need to cut and sew a 3rd fabric bottom.Just the two the pattern itself shows on the component (one with your outer fabric, and one with your inner fabric). The hard bottom can slip out of place in rare circumstances. I haven't managed to make that happen yet.
- The order of operations on the pattern is not clear. A functional order of operations will be detailed in a later step.
Step 3: Part Prep and Exterior Order of Operations.
Start by marking and cutting all the components out as the pattern as suggested, taking into account my notes on pattern errors/discrepancies. Be sure to also mark placement for hardware and cloth details like rings, zippers, the secondary panels and more.
On my first attempt I used a supposedly "water soluble" marking pencil, and could not get it to wash out of the dacron or ripstop completely. On the second attempt, I purchased an inexpensive chalk wheel - and while the marks were a little harder to see it brushes out easily and worked very well.
Assembling this bag is unintuitive to most people with little sewing experience. Start with details first while focusing on completing panels individually. Remember with ALL sewing operations to run forward and reverse for a couple stitches to keep things locked in. If you don't, the bag will eventually unravel.
- The handles
- Prep your dowels/magnets and insert them into your sewn handles.
- Sew the handles together. Rolling over the edges and doing a top stitch looks best in my opinion.
- Insert the dowels.
- Sew your D rings/tri glides to the ends of the handles. Make sure everything will be symmetrical when putting it on the bag.
- Clip or pin the cloth retainers for the handle d rings together and sew to the bag where designated.
A zipper foot may give you a little extra room to sew close to the hardware.
- Clip or pin the cloth retainers for the bandage clips together, with the clips in them.
- Sew them to the bag.
- Sew any hook and loop or patches you want on the bag exterior on the main and secondary panels.
- Remember to keep in mind the side of the cloth will be the exterior on the secondary panels.
- I believe it looks best folded over with a top stitch.
- Attach the sides together into a "tube"
- It is most important that the secondary panels line up, as it forms a visible constant line around the entire bag.
- Sew the bottom panel around the bottom perimeter of the "tube".
Step 4: Interior Order of Operations
Building the interior is very similar to the exterior in process. Details first, then structure.In my particular bag I've chosen to add an additional pocket, along with a full width sleeve for a laptop in a padded case or other flat goods. This is YOUR bag - no harm in deviating from the pattern to make it yours!
- Clip and prep the pencil holder, and sew it onto the pocket.
- Fold over and top stitch the open side of the pocket.
- If installing hook & loop in the bag bottom, do that at this stage. (I have no found a personal use for this feature yet). Prep an extra bobbin and swap to it just for this.
- Sew the pocket onto one of the main interior panels.
- If doing any custom sleeve or pockets, sew them onto the main panel(s) at this time.
- If a sleeve is the full width of the bag interior, treat it like doubling up on the main panel and make sure the sleeve is inside.
- Swap bobbins. This is another step where running out of thread would really suck.
- Just like the exterior, sew the 4 panels together into a "tube". Make sure any pockets are inside!
- Sew the bottom onto your "tube around the full perimeter.
Step 5: Final Assembly of the Bag.
Now for the tricky part. Assembling the completed components of the bag. You will be sewing through many layers of fabric at the same time, and even with basic cotton fabrics, some entry level machines will struggle with this. A heavy duty sewing machine or an older mechanical one such as the Singer 4411/23 etc or Janome HD1000 is recommended for this project. If your machine is also an embroidery machine, I would definitely avoid using it for these steps - embroidery machines can be very delicate and you don't want to throw off the timing or damage anything.
- Install the hard plastic bottom in the bottom inside of the outer bag - it sits in there loose.
- Place the internal bag inside the external bag.
- Clip around the perimeter of the entire bag.
- Use the corners/seams as reference. The seams of both parts of the bag should meet exactly.
- Seperate the zipper. Alignment is not important at this time. Just make sure you have about 4" of zipper hanging off of either end.
- Add the zipper, upside down and backwards to the outer opening of the bag. This may seem unintuitive, but it will be flipped around so the zipper will be correct in an upcoming step.
- Be sure to pay very close attention to the zipper stop points on the pattern. If you sew the zipper on past there it will be difficult or impossible to open and close the bag.
- Add the long strip as shown in the photos to the bag over top of the zipper. It will leave an opening on one side of the bag near a zipper opening. I've tried to show this in my photos.
- We're getting into some heavy duty stuff here, so please be mindful of your tension - you'll want it pretty high. This would be a good time to get out a new needle as well. Put on a full bobbin even if it isn't empty. You don't want to go back and fix things at this stage.
- Now, you'll need to maneuver the entire bag onto your sewing machine, either side can be down depending on what is easier for you to work with.
- Starting and stopping at each zipper stop point, do a single top stitch binding the liner, outer bag, zipper, and frame sleeve together. A zipper foot may help you stitch it close to the zipper coils, but a zig zag foot right at the edge of the coils will do fine. This stitch will only be visible along the zipper.
- Check at multiple points to make sure you're capturing all 4 layers.
- Between the start and stop points for each zipper sew the inner and outer bag and frame sleeve together, being careful not to stitch the zipper at all.
- Now you'll need to fold over the edge of the frame sleeve (like a hem), flip the zipper around so it looks normal on the bag, and stitch the frame sleeve around its full length.Some clips will help hold the hem/fold in place. This will result in a visible top stitch around the whole bag. If your tension is okay, it will appear like a top stitch no matter which side you sew from. I preferred to do this with the frame sleeve up so I could keep an eye on where I was stitching.
Step 6: Finishing Touches and the Frame.
This is the part where we need to pay attention to zipper alignment. Try and align the seams at the corners of the bag as best as possible, and zip one zipper pull on from each end. Trim the zipper on each end so the two sides are even. Only trim it if you're 100% happy with the alignment, otherwise go back and fix it. You should still have around 3+ inches hanging loose.
Zipper ends now need to be sewn on. Be careful when sewing over the coils. It's recommended to run your machine by hand over the coils so you can get a feel for the needle. Running it with the foot pedal risks breaking a needle.
For the frame you'll need to cut and bend your spring steel. It comes with quite a bit of oil/carbon on it from the hardening process. Clean that off thoroughly with mineral spirits and a rag - you don't want to get this on a bright white bag. I believe I cut two pieces at 23 1/2" with an angle grinder, but a hack saw will do. I did the bends about 3 3/4" in from each side. The bend radius will make up for extra little bit of length on the main part of the bag. put on some heat resistant gloves or an old oven mitt. Heat the rod at the mid point of where you want the bend, and when it's red hot start your bend. Try and concentrate the flame in that one spot. Mapp-pro gas is recommended to heat it quickly. Heating too much of the rod will cause parts of it to lose its spring properties. Let it cool, do not quench. It's not a bad idea to file the ends smooth.
When you insert the frame into the sleeve on each side, just make sure the pointy end is always moving straight. If it digs into fabric it may cause a rip or pull a seam out.
The strap is pretty straightforward. Just two clips and a tri-glide. For seat-belt webbing a leather needle is recommended. For standard nylon and polyester webbing a standard point needle is fine, or you can use the same denim needle.
Step 7: Load Up!
You can now start filling your bag and using it. The handles even fit over most rolling luggage handles which is nice. The main benefits of this bag I found is how much it can hold for its size, how well it fits under an airline seat without sacrificing legroom. and not hunting through endless zippers and pockets to get what you need. Being white means it's easy to see everything inside it too.
Thanks for referencing this guide! I would love to see how yours turned out!
Here's what I keep in mine:
Now as for my EDC in the bag:
- Thinkpad x260 + cheapo padded sleeve
- iPad Air 2
- Nintendo 2DSXL
- Graph ruled notebook
- International Driving Permit
- Small Instructables notebook
- Tyvek wallet with things I don't carry in my regular wallet
- Working Hands lotion
- IsoTunes pro ANSI rated Bluetooth headphones
- Fisher Bullet Space Pen
- Milwaukee Inkzall Marker
- Sharpie Pen
- Mechanical Pencil
- Anker battery pack
- First Aid Kit
- Custom pouch I made for laptop AC adapter and Mouse
- Custom pouch and cable organizer I made for charging/data cables and USB charger.
What do you use yours for?