Dec 052014

I got to test Sew Sweetness’s new Holland bag pattern (I believe it’s going to be released next year), and it makes such a cute little bag!
holland bag

I haven’t gotten around to buying thicker topstitching thread, so my straight stitching on the Essex linen straps was looking wobbly (even though I swear I was sewing straight). I ripped that out for the strap extenders on the bag body and experimented with the decorative stitches on my Juki F600… I may have gone a little crazy with the cutesy-folksy look, but I like it with the matryoshka print!
holland bag -- lookit the straps :D

Since the pattern is going to be aimed at beginners (I think), it includes instructions for patch pockets on both sides of the lining, but I replaced one with my usual interior zipped pocket.
holland bag interior zip

The bottom lining is an Aneela Hoey fabric — this is going to be my niece’s Christmas present, so hopefully she’ll get a kick out of the girl reading a book.
holland bag bottom

The tester version of the pattern has pretty long straps (30″ strips), but I like smaller bags like these to be right under my arm, so I cut mine down to 23″. Here’s a five year-old for scale!
Cosmo and the Holland bag

I sewed this on both my Juki TL-2000qi and F600. I started out on the F600 because of the decorative stitching on the straps and continued until I was sewing the exterior pieces (canvas and Soft & Stable) together. Then I noticed that when I tugged the exterior pieces apart at the seams, the stitching would become exposed, which looks awful. I switched to my TL-2000qi, and that sews things together much tighter so that individual stitches are never exposed when the seams are stressed.

Now I’m curious: do you think that if I needed to, I would be able to adjust my F600’s settings so that thick seams are more secure, or is this just the natural difference between a computerized/decorative stitch machine and a straight-stitch-only machine? Either way, I’m glad I have both! hehehe.
holland bag -- lookit the straps :D

Aug 202013

Sara recently asked for testers for her new lunch bag pattern, so I once again shoved aside my plans for my poor sister-in-law’s new pillow case (the old one I made her has her ex-boyfriend’s name on it, and it’s been half a year since they broke up and I still haven’t replaced it!) and glommed onto the shiny new project. I even treated myself to a kid-less hour in Fabric Mart since I didn’t have any laminated cotton.
pair of lunch bags

That ended up being a bit of a tactical error — I got really excited about finding some surprisingly cute flannel-backed vinyl (and it was only $6 a yard), so I made my lunch bags out of vinyl, InsulBright, and laminated cotton (only $7 a yard!). They certainly held their shape, but it was murder trying to top stitch the handles. On my first bag (the top zip one), I tried using actual top stitch thread, and it took me a jillion tries to get reasonably decent results. There are a lot of needle holes under those stitches.
top zip lunch bag, handle

I tried again with the top stitching thread on the round bag’s handle, but that was an utter failure, so I went back to (Aurifil) 50 wt, which was muuuuch easier. I had a bit of a problem with skipped stitches when I attached the handles to the bags because of all the thick layers, but I just went back and forth a lot and called it good enough.
round lunch bag, top

When Sara showed us a picture of her lunch bags, I volunteered because I wanted to make the round one. But once I got the instructions, I felt like I ought to be more helpful and make the top zip bag since it was supposed to be more difficult. I knew ahead of time, though, that I would be very grouchy making it because I’m terrible at finishing exterior edges with bias tape (I think that’s why I’m so bad at making pot holders), and I hate doing things I’m bad at. And you know what happens when someone who hates bias tape finishes makes a bag with bias tape finishes? It looks like it was made by someone who hates bias tape finishes! Look at this horror:
top zip lunch bag, bias tape

I also missed the instruction that tells you to tuck the zipper ends into the bias tape to enclose them. Poo. Oh wait, was I supposed to sew the bottom zipper to the outside of the bag? Oops!
top zip lunch bag, inside

My pretty round lunch bag consoles me… but my mom pointed out (and is right, dagnabbit) that the top zip one is more useful. Argh. Since I gave the samples to my mom, I might have to try again with the top zip bag for Cosmo. I should always strive to improve my skills…?
lunch bags

Mar 122013

Sara released her Petrillo Bag pattern yesterday, and I was lucky enough to be one of her testers for it. I was excited to make it because the teardrop sides make for an interesting shape.
petrillo bag

I had a fabric happy and a fabric sad when I made this — my fabric happy was that I had a perfect shade of orange-ish solid to go with the orangey diamond fabric on the flap. That was pretty amazing because I only have about three kinds of orange solid in my stash! My fabric sad was that when I laid out the grey flower print on my cutting mat, I found out that the yard of fabric was actually only about 32″! I don’t think I bought a remnant, I don’t remember which fabric shop I bought it from so I can’t check my receipt, and I definitely didn’t get any short cut notifications or mini refunds recently… boo! And harrumph. When online fabric stores run out and send what they have, they usually give a small refund, yesno?

Anyhoo, I had a crazy time getting those sides on — look at this porcupine!
petrillo bag, pinned side

I totally dig the teardrop shape of this bag, but I kept wanting it to be a messenger bag or backpack. The bag has a big padded pocket for a tablet; unfortunately, I have no tablet. I must be secretly grouchy about that, because I took a picture of the zippered pocket instead of the tablet pocket. 😀
petrillo bag, inside

The first time I finished making this bag, I found out that I’d put the magnet that’s inside the top flap an inch too high, so the bag didn’t close correctly inside of the straps. Gahhhh! After some pouty time, I ripped things out and put it back together properly. I keep having to relearn that the time I spend being mad and anticipating the hassle of ripping things out and fixing them is longer than the time I actually spend ripping things out and fixing them. heh.
petrillo bag, lounging against a tree

Feb 232013

Sara at Sew Sweetness released her Locked and Loaded bag pattern, which means I can show the bag I made to help test the pattern. This bag is nice and roomy, and I really like the shape!
Locked and Loaded bag

I tried to be a good tester and follow the instructions exactly, but I couldn’t keep myself from adding a patch pocket that’s not in the pattern.
Locked and Loaded, patch pocket

As you can see, I had to get creative with my lining fabric, since I didn’t have enough of that pinkish stripey print (that matched the Echino really nicely, boohoo). And then I got annoyed at myself because I put my lining in backwards from what I prefer, since I like to have interior zipper pockets on the back side of the bag. Once I flipped my bag right-side-out, I had to keep telling myself that my sister (who said she’d take the bag) wouldn’t care. >_< Locked and Loaded, zipper pocket

One of the fancy features of the bag is the twist lock, and it’s the first time I’d ever installed one. I think it looks nifty! My cheapskate side tells me that twist locks probably won’t become a regular feature of the bags I make, though.
Locked and Loaded, twist lock

I think this is a super cute tote that’s the perfect size for the kind of mom who probably ought to still carry around one or two diapers and a couple of toys along with her normal stuff, but doesn’t need the entire gigantic diaper bag all the time. In other words, me. Hah! 😀

Feb 012013

Yesterday, Sara at Sew Sweetness released her new bag pattern, the Dot Dot Dash Bag. Earlier in the year, she’d asked if anyone would be interested in helping her test patterns, and I was all, ooh ooh me! I often read about people getting to test patterns and felt jaaaalous, so was super excited that this time that I could be a tester, myself.

This is the bag I made!
dot dot dash bag

The pattern’s marked as intermediate/advanced, and I guess that’s at the very tippy edge of my current bag-making ability, because that dang inset zipper took me two hours to finally get in. I ripped things out many, many times, and when I finally got it in, the bag looked like this:
dot dot dash bag, after attaching zipper panel step 10 - full

It was totally worth it, though, because now I (theoretically) know how to add inset zippers to other bags! I already have another bag in mind for that treatment… but anyhoo, it came out pretty nicely on this bag, if I do say so myself, despite how awful it looks on the inside.
dot dot dash bag, interior zip pocket

Oh yeah, the pattern doesn’t call for it, but I added interior zip and patch pockets. You know, because the bag didn’t have enough compartments. ;> I ended up giving this bag to my niece — it’s so padded that I thought it would make a good bag for her laptop. Also, I really wanted to use that funny musubi print when I saw it in the store, and she was the only person I could think of who wouldn’t give me a look for it. hehehe.

Congratulations to Sara for releasing her pattern! I’m so impressed by people who have the kinds of brains that want to design things!