Walden cooper in waxed canvas

Hello there! I hope you’re having a good weekend.

Mine so far has been dominated by almost killing my sewing machine and getting a strange waxy slimy feeling on my hands… But it was all for a good cause!



I made a new bag! This is the Walden Cooper by Colette. Apparently I have almost no imagination, and I like fairly plain things, so I completely copied their version, with two shades of oilskin. I got my oilskin (or rather waxed canvas – or is that just the same thing?) from this ebay seller. They do a sample card with a decent sized swatch of each colour for not very much, so I was able to see what possible combinations were open to me. The canvas is lovely, it’s soft but feels strong and hard-wearing. When I squirted water off it all beaded and ran off.


I went for chestnut (the darker one) and sand. I really like the slight reddishness of the chestnut, and I think they go well together, so I’m pleased. Oilskin seems to have the same sort of look as leather, but a lot cheaper. (and probably easier to sew) It’s still an ‘authentic’ sort of fabric though, which I like. It was quite tough to sew, since the texture is quite strange (I had to keep washing my hands). There are quite a few places with the bag where you’re sewing through a lot of layers, and my poor Jerome (a Janome XL601) expressed a little bit of discomfort. But he prevailed. Ironically, as soon as I got to the lovely soft predictable linen-cotton lining, I immediately thrust the needle into the metal end of a zip and it snapped. Duh.

The insides are a little more exciting, with some lemon yellow linen-cotton mix and a scrap of echino cotton linen.


So there is some brightness, it’s just hidden! I love this echino fabric – it’s a border print, I think called ‘wish’, that went out of print a few years ago. I made a lovely dress from it (a Vogue 8723) which I sadly no longer fit into, for bump reasons. It’s seen its fair share of weddings etc. though in the last year or so, and hopefully it’ll be able to make a re-appearance before too long. Anyway, I digress! I’m glad there’s now a little bit of this fabric that I get to see lots 🙂 Have you become attached like this to any fabric in particular? And can you think of any other non-size-related ways to be able to use it in something everyday?

I made a couple of changes to the pattern, only little ones. The first is the zip pocket on the inside, that you can see above. I feel a great need for a zip pocket in a bag, for tickets and keys and the like. I used the same pattern pieces, and just fudged the zip at the top, but I think it’s OK. I didn’t sew down the middle on that one, so I have reduced the number of pockets from 8 to 7. I think I’ll cope. I also added a clip-thing to the front:


This I also fudged, by making little straps and then sewing them on at what seemed like the appropriate moment. Some of the coopers I’ve looked at in my preliminary research have sort of gaped open in the middle (especially the rucksack version), because the magnetic clasps are quite far apart. On a little road-test this afternoon in Newcastle I was really glad of this, because it’s easy to see and open and close, rather than fiddling around trying to join the magnets (the bag is quite floppy), so it was good when I was quickly dipping in and out to get purse/water/tissues etc.


Colette describe this as  a ‘beginner’ pattern, and say that it’s quick. In some ways that’s true – there’s no fitting required, or dithering about which size to cut, and it’s mostly straight sewing. However, there are a lot of pieces, and some of the sewing is quite tricksy – topstitching and sewing through thick layers of fabric. So I think a beginner could do it, but they would probably have to learn a lot on the way – mostly about what their machine can cope with and things like that. There are some really helpful posts about topstitching, like this one and this one that I’ve found really helpful.

The one thing I’m not that happy about is the blue strap. This was the strap from my previous (worn out) bag, and added a bit of pressure on this bag to work out! I tried very hard to find brown/tan webbing but it’s all too narrow – everything seems to be 1″. Hmmmm. I also considered making straps from the waxed canvas, but I was worried it might rub wax onto my shoulders as I wore it, since that bit would be pressing down quite hard. I might try to dye this strap dark brown (so it’s at least not blue any more), we’ll see.

But in conclusion, I’m really pleased to have made something that I needed, will use every day, and prefer to all the version I saw in shops!


My husband who was taking the photos, (definitely an unsung hero) told me to OPEN YOUR EYES! So I’ll leave you with me doing just that. Intense!


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6 thoughts on “Walden cooper in waxed canvas

  1. That bag looks great Rachel!!! I’ve never tried anything like this but my hubby would love a bag like this for work…. Might have to give it a go!

    1. Thanks Lori! Yep it does 🙂 in fact when I put my shoes on yesterday I realised they’re the exact same two shades of brown!

  2. Oh that clip changes everything. I had written off the Cooper because of all the gaping I see online, but what a smart fix. Well done.

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