Sometimes, I just can't think of good titles for these posts. So I thought I'd go with the captain obvious option this morning. I know I talked back in February about doing yoga, which I've been practicing on and off for about 6 years. I have to say, I've never had a yoga mat bag. It was one of those accessories that I always deemed frivolous and unnecessary. When I lived in Vermont, my yoga class was in a neighboring town that was about a twenty to thirty minute drive away. So I would always just throw my mat in the car and head over. Back then, I really didn't need a bag. Now that my class is just a quick ten minute bike ride away, I kind of do need something functional to carry it in. I usually come home from work before my class, so generally, I'm not really bringing anything else with me besides myself and my mat. So I needed a bag that would have a pocket where I could keep my wallet, phone and keys since I won't be carrying any other bag. I also needed something that would be comfortable to wear while biking.
Naturally, I turned to Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing. I bought this book over a year ago, and the yoga mat bag was one of the projects that I immediately marked to try out. It's been on my to do list for about six months (probably more), but I finally got a new mat a few weeks ago, so I used this as incentive to make a new bag. I'm actually really glad that I waited for the mat, since it's a bit thicker than my old one (that was falling apart and shedding little bits of purple foam every time I used it) and it might not have fit into a bag that I might have made before.
The pattern is super simple and definitely appropriate for a beginning sewer. I made a couple of modifications that I would suggest. I lengthened the pocket so that instead of measuring 6"x6.5", it measures 6"x9". I also added a snap so that my phone won't fly out while I'm biking. For the strap, I widened it about an inch to make it more comfy while biking (I think I might have shortened it by a couple of inches, but I don't remember. Darn my non-notetaking!). My mat is a bit heavy, and I hate when bag straps get all scrunchy and end up digging into your shoulder. Finally, I made the entire bag bigger around. I would highly recommend measuring the circumference of your mat (when it's all rolled up). This bag is supposed to be about 16" around. Well, my mat measures 14" around and I'll tell you that it was pretty annoying to try to get it in and out of the bag. Definitely not convenient (who wants to be that person stuck there after class trying to get their mat in their bag because it just fits? Not me!). So I ended up adding another piece of fabric to make the bag measure about 20" around. Now, it probably doesn't need that much extra room. But I'll say that it makes it super easy to get the mat in and out of the bag. And it also means that there's room for my water bottle and maybe an extra shirt in the bag, which is really nice.
I used echino heavyweight cotton (from the stash!) and I think it's the perfect fabric for this project (it's this one, but in a different colorway that they don't appear to have at Superbuzzy). For the strap, I just used some lightweight navy blue cotton. It probably would have been good to use something stronger for the strap, but I only had just enough of the echino and I liked the contrast of the blue. We'll see how long the strap lasts, I think it'll be fine.
Also, about my new mat. It's amazing. It's this one, from Manduka and is made from natural rubber and is completely non-toxic. It's also biodegradable. I could off on a whole other tangent right now about consumer purchasing power and how every purchase we make matters and that we do (as consumers) have the power to encourage good business and manufacturing practices, but I won't. I will say this, briefly, that every time I buy something that is sustainably produced, handmade, made in a fair-trade or union working environment, or locally produced, I feel good. Because we can made a difference, one purchase at a time. I'm not saying we should all jump on the bandwagon of the latest and greatest
eco-friendly craze (whatever that might be), but that we should think before we buy and buy according to what's important to us. We have choices, and even though this isn't the cheapest yoga mat out there, it's worth the investment for a product that will last longer, was produced sustainably, is non-toxic for me, and will biodegrade back into the earth. So there, I made a yoga mat bag.