Sewing

A Summer of Bags

Upcoming projects

This summer I’ll be starting off with 3 bags in 2 patterns: a Blue Calla Speedwell Sling Bag at 110% of the original pattern size & two Swoon Sydney Crossbody Bags – 1 for my mom & the other probably for me.

110% self-created pattern pieces for the rectangular/square pieces for the Speedwell-

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Speedwell (pegasus for the front, bottom fabric for the rest of the exterior)-IMG_1791

Mom’s Sydney (left for the exterior, black for the exterior accent, speckles for lining)-IMG_1789

My Sydney (top right for the exterior, teal for the lining, textured fabric for the accent)- IMG_1790

Stay tuned!

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Sewing

Completed Doctor Who Duffle #2

Managed to finish the second Swoon Dallas duffle in just 2 days (everything was already cut & fused, so it was just sewing and pinning that I had left), so I got to take both bags on my latest trip.

I did not add additional pockets on the second duffle.

I also did not size down the lining, I just followed the instructions to use a larger seam allowance and trim the excess. This went much more smoothly than my first bag.

I reinforced all my webbing at the top with zig zag stitch and a scrap of Pellon Peltex 71F.

DSCN0073DSCN0072I also wanted to share some size info for the bag when it is full that I didn’t detail in my completed duffle #1 post.

Duffle #1 (red straps) – medium height, small length.

  • 17″ long
  • 10″ tall
  • 10″ deep

Fits 3 bath towels and 2 hand towels comfortably. Fits under airplane seat as personal item as long as it isn’t stuffed to total capacity with inflexible items (I usually keep it pretty full but I have a couple soft items in the bag).

Duffle #2 (black straps) – large height, medium length.

  • 21″ long
  • 12″ tall
  • 12″ deep

Fits 4 bath towels and 1 bath mat comfortably. This is the maximum linear inch size to qualify as carry on luggage. I find this a much easier bag to carry than my roller bag because the frame of the roller bag adds so much weight, and I always struggle getting that roller bag in and out of the overhead bins. I had absolutely no problem with lifting the duffle.

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Completed Doctor Who Duffle #1

Finished. Torn Straps. Revisions.

So, I finished my bag before my trip last fall, but I didn’t have time to write up a post. Then I traveled & the handles tore halfway off the bag on one side. I decided that I would wait to post until after I had fixed and reinforced the straps so that I could share with you all everything I did to modify the bag.

I had a tip to use a piece of Peltex and a zig zag stitch at the top of each handle:

Since I had to practically disassemble the entire bag to properly fix the handles, I also redid the zipper because I was having problems with it catching the fabric.

I followed the instructions for where to stitch and where to baste pre-zipper installation.

Then I pressed it open instead of pinning the zipper and took out the basting.

Then I pinned the zipper as shown below.

Please note: the “X” of pins at each end were temporary to keep everything from moving around until I was completely done pinning.

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As you can see it’s now an exposed zipper.

After stitching, I trimmed the ends of the zipper, making certain that my zipper pull was within the confines of the bag. I also did a zig zag stitch across the end to reinforce it. Don’t worry, the zig zag stitch ends up hidden once you sew your bag ends on.

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I sewed the ends back on then repeated the zipper pinning with my drop in lining. Because my machine is not super fancy, I have a hard time getting into tight spaces for sewing. I machine sewed the bulk of the top stitching, but I left long thread tails on each end and hand sewed up to each end of the bag where my machine wouldn’t reach.

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And voilà! A much sturdier bag than before.

I also want to give feedback in the tip I mentioned on my last post: “I saw a tip on the Swoon FB group to cut your lining pieces 2.5% smaller (about 1/4″ all the way around) so that the lining sits better inside the exterior.”

I’m not sure if I made some sort of error and shrank the body pieces a different amount than the ends, but I had massive trouble getting them to fit together after following this tip.

It all worked out in the end, but I would recommend just cutting according to instructions and sewing with a slightly larger seam allowance instead, if you are concerned with fit. The excess fabric can always be trimmed down after sewing.

Here’s the finished bag (stuffed with 3 large bath towels to give it shape, but could have fit another):

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Oh, also, I double folded the ends on the adjustable strap, so that it has a fold edge instead of a raw edge showing.

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All-in-all the pattern was great! Very clear instructions with enough diagrams and illustrations. The layout was well-ordered, and didn’t leave out any needed supplies. I think all the changes / tips I followed had more to do with personal taste than any deficiency in the pattern.

The only exception I would say is that the handles definitely need to be reinforced at the top if you are not using rivets or grommets (possibly not a problem with the heavier duty fabric / thread options). Swoon Dallas 4.75 stars!

4.75-Stars

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Tutorial: Using tiny scraps for zipper tabs

Here’s my method for using tiny scraps for zipper tabs (without needing a piece big enough to fold over. Shown via a zip pouch project.

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  2. SewDSCN0010
  3. Trimdscn0014.jpgDSCN0017dscn0016.jpgDSCN0017
  4. Pressdscn0018.jpg
  5. Top-stitch (whoops! forgot this step). It should now look like this (plus top-stitching at ends of zipper tabs):DSCN0019
  6. Pin right sides of lining together & right sides of exterior together.DSCN0020
  7. This is how the zipper tabs should be folded when pinning.  DSCN0021
  8. And sew, starting at one of the orange pins, working your way all the way around. Leaving bottom open as usual. Don’t forget your tab with your swivel clip if you want to include one:DSCN0023
  9. Then I just trim and sew corners, turn right side out, sew up the bottom of the bag lining.DSCN0026DSCN0025
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Doctor Who Duffle #1 Progress

So, an update on my Swoon Dallas bags.

I cut out all the pieces for both bags. Fused all the interfacing and fusible fleece. Basically, got everything prepped.

Then I was crazy busy for a few weeks. I sat down this week and tried to get through as much as possible. I’m traveling to visit my parents next week, and I know I’ll never finish both bags in time. I’m trying to at least finish the smaller one.

Lots of new techniques in this pattern.

This is my first time ever sewing this style of zipper pocket.

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This tutorial was very helpful: http://swoonpatterns.com/tutorial-vertical-zippered-pocket/

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Also my first time sewing with either piping or webbing, which seems to be going really smoothly so far.

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I saw a tip about putting clear nail polish on the cut ends of the webbing to stop them from fraying, so I may try that if it gives me any trouble. Most of the webbing ends will be covered by sewing – I’m thinking of the adjustable strap here.

Modifications:

I decided I really wanted the height of the medium bag but the length of the small for my smaller bag. I was trying to get similar dimensions to that of a travel bag I already own. Basically, I’m following all the Medium instructions other than to cut the widths for the Small size.

I saw a tip on the Swoon FB group to cut your lining pieces 2.5% smaller (about 1/4″ all the way around) so that the lining sits better inside the exterior.

I also decided to modify the pattern by adding an end pocket on one end of the smaller bag. Again, I found some help in the FB group.

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Anyway, I’m really pleased so far with both the instructions and how everything is working up!

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Sewing

Fabric Bin Tutorial Reviews

I’ve been on a fabric bin kick lately, and I’ve tried out two free tutorials. I thought I’d post my critiques & modifications here. Discworld books are mass market paperback and added to show scale.

1 Hour Basket

I made 2 of these with slight differences. The main one being that I was trying to use up leftover pieces of needle-punched batting, so I didn’t order the fusible fleece for these. Instead I pre-quilted 2 pieces with the batting. I also added different amounts of Pellon SF101 to each bin.

Bin #1

The pine tree & owl bin.

I switched the fleece to the lining. I lightly quilted it to the owl fabric. The pine trees got fused to SF101. The bin stands up very well when full, but it’s slightly floppy when empty. The handles are soft and floppy.

Bin #2

The woodland creature bin.

I used SF101 on all four body pieces and the handles. Then I lightly quilted the batting to the exterior pieces. As you can see from the pictures, this bin stands up very well even when empty. The handles also stick up which is great for grabbing them easily – not so great if you want to slide the bin into a cubby that is the height of the basket.

Summary:

Overall, I like the size of this basket for storing books, lotions, cords, or other medium sized items. It works up easily and I would make it again. I found it to be a bit soft as written, and I definitely prefer with the added interfacing, but alternatively you could make it in a fabric that is heavier than quilting cotton.

Sturdy Fabric Basket

Bin #1

Groovy circles

The outer fabric on this one is a heavy quilting  weight organic cotton. The lining is a very thin quilting cotton (it was a Joann Fabrics fat quarter). I had trouble getting the fold-over border to stay straight while I was sewing it.

Bin #2

Star of David

This one I added a pocket to before sewing the interior and exterior together. Both of the fabrics were a standard weight quilting cotton, and I had a much easier time with the border.

Summary:

Overall, I like the size of this basket for a catch all bin – we use one of these in the hall for keys, coupons, scissors, pen, and tape (for opening packages and packaging things up for mailing). It works up very quickly, and I would make it again. It’s nicely stiff.

The trickiest thing about it is the finishing on the fold-over border. They key here is to not use a thinner quilting cotton, but a nice mid-weight or heavy quilting cotton.

I also recommend NOT using an oven mitt to protect your hand while pressing. You can get bad steam burns doing this. The method I used was to stuff the bin with folded hand towels until packed firmly, then drape a pressing cloth over the area I was working on before ironing.