Make, Sew
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Katran Fabric Market and the Evolution of the Tiger Express

Now with 200% more Tiger.

Over the past months, I became a bit obsessed with the idea of the perfect backpack.

Something that works in my day to day context of work, lunches, gym and clothes-for-Sameer’s house. But which also has enough space for a short getaway.

I want it:

  • Light and soft to collapse down
  • about 30 L expanded
  • with a roll top (all the better to expand with my dears)
  • with suitable pockets (drink bottle, zip, and front, plus laptop and internal)
  • able to open fully (clam or splay-zip)
  • with a comfortable harness

I’ve bought a few different packs now, but can’t manage to find the perfect thing.

I’ve also spent way too many hours staring at backpack reviews and videos showing their form and usage, to the point where Sameer has even expressed some kind of envy over my loving gazing.

Honestly I think I have to admit that it might be a situation where I need two backpacks. One for work and one for travel.

But what I really want, is to have someone make me the Perfect Thing.

I absolutely understand why there are so many backpack kick-starters out there.

Anyway. In lieu of any real crowdfunding, and in the grand spirit of ‘This Princess Can Rescue Herself’, I decided to try my hand at sewing my own.

Designed to have a square bottom to perfectly fit my clothes capsules…

.. a comfortable harness and padding (scalped from a 3 pounds backpack bought second hand that had a busted up main zipper).

(albeit currently missing chest and hip harness)

.. with internal (also scalped) laptop sleeve to fit two laptops. Plus some (very rough) zippy pockets inside and on the outside, and kangaroo pouch and water bottle compartments…

And most importantly, lots and lots and lots of room to expand.

Oh, and she fully splays open for peak access.

Anyway, I acknowledge that my backpack is not perfect, but I do quite enjoy it, and really liked the process of trying to make it.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever move from prototype into a full attempt, or if this try is far enough. For now, I’m pretty happy. I managed to take the current backpack on my recent travels, and could use it both as a hand luggage and (when fully packed out), as a smaller check in bag. To my delight, she made it through two hold luggage trips without bursting at the seams.

Anyway, when I showed it to Sameer, he immediately asked me what I was going to call it.

And I said: The Tiger Express.

To which he replied something about it not having anything to do with tigers, and I can’t just call everything ‘tiger’ as part of my grand scheme to pressure him into buying me an actual real life tiger.

I told him he was wrong.

And the Tiger and I went to India.

And there, thanks to Sameer’s incredible Mom, I visited the Katran Fabric Market.

(Passing on the way some also quite incredible balancing acts on motorbikes:)

It’s pretty hard to show how incredibly busy and FULL of all things fabric and clothing the market was. But it was incredible. And very very affordable. Many of the thin block-printed style cottons I wanted cost only 1 pound per metre- and my purchases were helped along by Sameer’s mama’s bargaining and insistence that cuts were made generously.

(There’s a whole story here about how we returned to the market later, this time with Sameer in tow, and he tried to force the vendors to give me exactly two metres of fabric, rather than the much prefereable-for-cheap-sewers-like-myself measure of ‘two plus a bit’)

Among the many many treasures I picked up, was a large patch of a small tiger, bathed in shining light.

I don’t believe in Destiny, but some things are hard to argue with:

And thus, the Tiger Express reached her Full and Final Form.

(Pictured, above, with another brave tiger).

As an aside, here’s a very small peek at some of the fabric I bought:

I’m looking forward to a lot of delightful sewing in the very near future!

November, December 2023

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Two Metres Top – Fish with Whiskey

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