Feb. 15th, 2010 10:35 am
elizabeth_mn: (needlecraft)

My bag is finished!!

I really like it!

Lots more photos! )

I weighed it on my postal scale; it's just over 2 pounds.  Not bad, considering it's made of heavy canvas and tons of interfacings. I was worried it would be really heavy.

The pattern is Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag.  There are six pages of pattern updates for older printings of the pattern, although if you buy the pattern now, you probably won't need them.  I used Amy Butler fabrics from Treadle Yard Goods, and I found the template plastic at Jo-Ann. My awesome zipper is from Custom Zips.

I ended up trimming my bottom panels to about 18".  The pattern gives 20" for the bottom panel measurement, but when I cut them to 18", they fit. I don't know why.  I cut the Peltex for the bottom panel 16 3/4".  The false bottom now fits pretty snugly, but I think it makes sense that way.  Although if I had made the false bottom last, I might have made it just 1/2" shorter.

I really want to make this again at some point.  I am envisioning it in grey herringbone with bright orange piping.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I finished sewing the outside of the bag together! 

I had to chop a couple extra inches off the bottom panel, which seemed odd to me, but I measured several times and in the end it fit, so I have no idea why the pattern suggested that piece be so big.  At first I thought I might have cut the other pieces too small, but I was pretty careful, and when I went back to measure the pattern pieces, it seemed I had done it correctly.  Plus the extra amount seemed way too much to be explained by a slight cutting error; something like 2".

I also had to rip and re-stitch a few times to make sure I was stitching close enough to the piping all the way around.  But now it looks good and I am happy with it.

Now I need to sew the lining together (remembering to make the lining bottom panel smaller, too!) and insert it, and then it'll be done.


Feb. 7th, 2010 10:19 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I found what I think might be a couple errors in the weekender bag pattern.

First, the materials list specifies ONE sheet of 12" x 18" template plastic (which I had to make four stops to find; the two local quilting stores have both closed in the past couple years, and the first two Jo-Anns I visited were closing and everything was sold out, then I tried Blick, and finally just drove to a farther away Jo-Ann) but then direct you to cut TWO 7" x 16.5" pieces. Which doesn't add up!

However, I think this is corrected in the update from the website, because it says to cut just one piece from the template plastic.

I'm glad I bought two sheets though; it was such a pain to get that I figured I might want some in the future and didn't want to have to drive far away again to get it. Instead I jsut cut into both pieces to get two 7" x 16.5". Now my false bottom is almost done (just need to slipstitch the open end).

The second thing is the bottom panel. I was about to attach the top/side/bottom unit to the main panel, but I saw that there was about 1" extra in the bottom piece. It did seem odd to me that the bag bottom was so much bigger than the false bottom insert, but I figured there must be a reason. Now I think maybe the bag bottom is just a little too big. I re-checked my measurements about 6 times in both the original and the updated directions and my panel is the size directed.

I still have to sew it together, but I think I will leave a side/bottom seam open when I attach the main panel so I can trim off any excess if needed. I am glad the bottom panel is just a rectangle.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

Yesterday I sewed the zipper into the top/side bag panel.

The pattern directions have you baste a 1" seam, topstitch the zipper in, then rip the seam out, which leaves you with a nice tidy overlap of fabric on each side of the zipper.  At first I was worried this would interrupt the zipper or get caught in the teeth, but it it doesn't, it's very flat and smooth.

I sewed my zipper down in two passes so I could avoid having to stitch next to the pulls - even with a zipper foot, I always end up stitching crooked there.  I sewed it most of the way around, then ripped part of the basted seam, moved the zipper pulls, and finished stitching.

I also sewed the side/end pockets to the zipper panel.  Next is attaching the bag bottom to this and then attaching it to the main panels.


Feb. 2nd, 2010 08:56 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I got my zipper in the mail yesterday and I feel the need to re-post the link to the zipper company.

I got it from Custom Zips, which is almost the only place I could find a 30" zipper, and certainly the only place I could find so many styles and colors in that length.  Nobody in my area sells them retail, and I couldn't find any on the web, either.

The pattern doesn't specify zipper style, just length. I chose a heavyweight plastic one (this is a seriously durable-looking zipper!), 'luggage' style; it is closed at both ends and has two pulls. I sent them a fabric swatch and ended up with a color that, while not a perfect match, coordinates well.

They don't show the colors on thier website, and they don't accept internet orders. But even sending through the mail, with a check, it arrived pretty quickly. I mailed my order on a Friday afternoon, and the zipper arrived 10 days later, on a Monday. 

elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I was able to spend some time on my bag over the weekend.

I topstitched the Peltex to the main panels, added the handles, then added the large pockets and sewed the piping around the perimeter.  It took me about 20 minutes just to align the handles properly.  For some reason, they kept ending up crooked!  Even though I measured over and over.  I also assembled the side (end) pockets.  This is all I can do until my zipper arrives.

I used binder clips to secure the layers instead of pins.  The instructions direct you to do this later, but I thought it was bulky enough now to need them.

Annoying, minor thing that no one but me will ever notice: on most of the pieces, my layers shifted a bit, so instead of lying perfectly flat, there is this teeny little bagginess on one side or other, and on a couple pieces there is a little wrinkle or bump where two lines of stitching meet.  It is not nearly as bad as before I ripped and hand-basted, but it is enough so that I notice.

I am really trying not to let it bug me.  It is good enough.  Sometimes I wish I sewed more projects that were better than 'good enough.'  But I know that it's oftentimes a choice between a finished, good enough project and a perfect one that is never finished.

bag, again

Jan. 29th, 2010 07:30 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I had a "duh" moment.  I finished sewing the bag straps and I was thinking about the interfacing problem, when I realized I could just tear it out, remove the extraneous lightweight layer, and hand-baste the Peltex back in.

Simple and obvious!

Clearly, I do not do enough hand sewing, or this would have jumped into my mind sooner.  I suppose I forget that there are other ways to make modern things besides with the machine.  And I forget also that the machine is not best for every task.

I ripped the interfacings out yesteday, discarded the lightweight one, and began hand-basting.  When that's done, I'll trim away any more excess Peltex from the seam allowances.  I'll leave the basting in until I can topstitch it down permanently - I'll have to check the directions for assembly again, but I imagine maybe after the piping is put in?

Next time I am going back to my old way.  Still, it's nice to try a new technique, even if it doesn't work.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Well, the two-interfacings-method was not as clever in practice as I found it on paper.  No matter how meticulously I smoothed, pinned, fused, and/or glue-sticked the layers together, everything kept shifting and it ended up wonky anyway.  Probably it would actually have worked better with the fusible!  Grr!

This has nagged at me since I put it down last night.  Should I rip it and re-do?  Unfortunately, if I use the same method over again, I doubt the results will be any different.  If I want to bother ripping, I need to start over with more Peltex, since I already cut the seam allowances off my current pieces.

The way I have managed the Peltex in previous projects is this: Cut fabric and Peltex pattern pieces (same size); baste or topstitch together at about 5/8" or 3/4" (assuming a 1/2" seam allowance); cut away the 1/2" seam allowance of the Peltex; sew seams right next to cut edge of Peltex.  If I topstitched before, then I don't stitch again.  If I basted, then I pull it out and topstitch.

That method has worked for me, but to make it work this time, I would need to buy more materials, and I don't want to dump more money into this project.  It's already the most expensive bag I've ever made.

So far, I have only assembled the large pocket and basted the interfacing to the main panels.  Mostly my problems are wih shifting; the Peltex has now extended into the seam allowances.  That, and the fabric layer on top keeps puckering since the bottom layer is being pulled by the feed teeth and the interfacing has NO give, so the top layer is not being pulled with it as smoothly.

I think I will work on the handles, and then when that's done, I'll try to look critically at the pieces I've done and see if they actually look crappy or if I'm just being picky.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I cut out my Weekender Bag last week. That was kind of a process since there are a few pieces that only have measurements given, so I made paper templates for them to make cutting a little easier. Plus there are just a lot of pieces, for a bag. And two different interfacings. It was hard keeping track, but then again, I did cut it out while sitting and talking with baby.

Anyway, here's about where I'm at now:

The dots are the lining and piping; the little tree/flower things are the outer.

On Friday I was about to order my zipper. It calls for a 30" and the Treadle employees gave me an order form from They only do mail order, though, no internet orders, so I went to Amy Butler's website to see if they had a source listed for a 30" zipper. I didn't find one, but instead I found SIX PAGES of updates for the bag. Eek! I saved the file but didn't print it because F was sleeping.

Yesterday I covered all the piping cord with the bias strips, then I remembered the extra instructions. I printed them out and saw that the update called for a fusible interfacing, which I didn't have. I am generally wary of fusibles.

The point of the fusible is to attach the super-heavy Peltex to the bag fabric without having the bulk of the Peltex in the seams. You cut off the seam allowance from the Peltex entirely, then sandwich it between the bag fabric and a lightweight fusible (cut to full pattern size). That way, you are never sewing through the Peltex, except when you topstitch later. I had to read this a couple times before it made sense, but then I remembered reading a very similar technique in a Kennith King article about tailoring smooth lapels.

The update called for a woven fusible. I was worried about shrinkage. I went back to Treadle and none of my favorite knowledgable employees were there, so I talked with someone else; she wasn't really sure what I needed but was helpful anyway. I ended up with a lightweight non-woven fusible.

Or so I thought. I pre-washed it in a sink of warm water and let it drip dry (Power Sewing's directions). But as it dried, I kept checking it, and I couldn't see any fusible dots anywhere on it. I was so sure I bought fusible, and that lukewarm water could not have washed it all away! But I tested a scrap this morning, and it did not fuse at all. So either I grabbed the wrong bolt or it was mis-labeled.

But I think sew-in will work fine, in fact, I will probably prefer it. I'll just cut off the Peltex seam allowances as directed, then stitch it to the interfacing close to the cut edge, and treat them as a single piece of sew-in interfacing when I attach it to the bag fabric.

I'm excited to actually get sewing on this!

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