Field bag build…
We’ve made the Merchant and Mills Field Bag kit… it’s great fun to make and the end result, we think, looks cracking. But let’s be honest and upfront here – if you’re looking for a ‘field bag’ that’ll carry a serious amount of kit in it, you probably ought to look elsewhere! Any self-respecting trekker, botanist, naturalist or photographer wouldn’t fit any of the kit they’d need in this thing. Think of it more as a belt purse. In fact, if there are any old-school brownies out there (of which I am one) it has a faint whiff of those brownie belts you used to get (remember them?!) We really like the look of the end result – and it’s eminently wearable. It fits a phone, wallet and keys – so it’s eminently useful too.
Our resident sewing pro, Liz, put the Field Bag kit to the test. As you’d expect from Merchant and Mills, it’s great quality. It contains everything that you need to make the bag – fabric (the outer fabric which is a dry oilskin, and the lining fabric which is a half panama cotton), pattern and instructions, all the fixings (which are nickel) and the strap/belt which is leather (cowhide). All you need is the thread and a sewing machine (you could hand sew it if you really want). Importantly though – you absolutely need to have, or to have access to, a leather punch and a hammer – otherwise you can’t construct the bag.
We chose this kit because it’s a different type of bag to what you normally see, and because it’s billed as a ‘beginner’ pattern - so we thought it would make a good starter set, a ‘back to sewing’ project, or a gift that is accessible to make and then looks good for a long time afterwards too (that whole ‘gift that keeps giving’ thing). However, Liz really felt that most beginners don’t have a leather punch in their sewing kit – so perhaps it would be better billed as being a good kit for an intermediate+ sewer.
Also – there are no instructions on how to actually use rivets – which, again, may make it tricky for an absolute beginner. Be absolutely transparent too, Liz didn’t have access to a rivet setter (a gadget to hammer them on) so she ended up using some other rivets she had that didn’t require this tool. So – when you’re buying the kit –please just do keep these things in mind… we’d hate for you to be disappointed and not be able to make it.
Finally – you do need to punch the holes into the leather – if you don’t have a leather punch (which Liz did have) you can use an electric drill to drill the holes (this is what Edd does when he makes the axe sheaths). So – overall we’d call it a sewing plus project as you have the rivets and leather work to accomplish too.
All that said – Liz really enjoyed making it – so it would be a cracking kit (or gift) for someone who’s got some sewing time already under their belts (see what we did there?!)
The whole thing took a couple of hours to make (she’s a real sewing pro though, having sewn all her life, worked at Hampton Court Palace and is someone that has the ability to run up a new skirt in the time it takes me to decide which skirt to wear). So perhaps it may take you a bit longer depending on your skill level.
Looking at the finished bag, we really rate it and it’ll definitely come in use. In terms of usability – the Costermonger Bag is definitely more of a ‘go-to’ bag that’ll get a lot more use (from us) – as it’s larger and a great ‘every day shopper’. If you haven’t already – read our review of that one too.
Enjoy making it – Louise!