Thursday, November 26, 2015

Working out kinks on the bag

I was dog-sitting today.  Hiccup sure misses the warmer days with that window open, but he still likes to hang out there and watch for cats, and stray dangerous people.

I've got three of the pockets complete.  I'm lining the largest, simplest in striped mattress ticking, and these two front ones used lining/bias binding in the bumble bee fabric that will line the inside of the bag.  Hard to see, but I did free motion around the embroidery in some metallic thread.  It worked well for the first half of the bag, and then it broke and broke.  I rethreaded, I played with tension.  Could the needle have gotten just a little more dull?  I don't know, I just slogged through it as it's a very subtle effect anyway.

With the zipper in the front flap pocket, I tried it out for size with the cannibalized zipper and found it just toooo big.  I put the original flap on top to compare size and there was quite a difference.  I left a little extra on the pattern for seam allowance, and then allowed more for shrinkage during embroidery/embellishment.  I didn't know how much I'd want to do back while I was cutting, and it's always easy to trim down.

After this step I forgot about the camera and just sewed, so I got quite a bit more done.  I sandwiched this zipper between lining and webbing so I didn't have to fold or finish the edge of the denim when I got there.  I did securely sew it 3 times on the raw edge before doing two lines of stitching through all the layers.  These zippers are NOT pulling out of this bag.  And if I do get a rip or a tear, the fabric is tough enough to take a mend.  My current nylon bag is disintegrating at an alarming rate.  If I don't finish my denim one this week I'll have to carry my stuff in a pillow case!

I am so grateful I've got that 15-91.  It didn't slip through the thickest parts "like butter", but I didn't break a single needle.  I had to slow down, but it went through.  I was trying to hand stitch down some binding tonight and after the third hole in a finger tip I quit and ripped it out.  That's wrangler jean's weight denim, Alice Cooper "they're hard, and feeling mean" jean stuff.  I was considering waxing at least the bottom, but I think it's fine without.

I wish this were my design.  I copied it and then figured out how I could best put it together. I'm enjoying sewing this bag and want to sew some other styles.  I think with a little practice I could start designing my own.  What fun that would be!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

two at a time

well, maybe three projects, if you count the rarely worked on afghan that I carry to work with me every night.  Since that is mostly UFO status I'm only counting the two I am actively working on, the periwinkle quilt and now a new work bag:

The job gives us one bag on hire and I usually ask for and receive another each year (though they will let you "buy" them with your special "bucks" you earn for picking up extra shifts).  The bag is designed rather nicely for what we need it for, but the fabrics are cheap and mine starts falling apart in the first 3 months.  By 9 months or so, it's usually pretty shot.

My current one isn't quite this bad yet, but getting there.  I had saved the last 2 previous, thinking I'd use one for a pattern, and that I should get the zippers off the other.  There are quite a few zippers and most of them are in very good condition yet.  I ripped one bag down to be able to trace a pattern most easily from the sections and take any hardware I wanted along the way.  Having the second still together was a bonus for looking at after I had cut out my pieces. It helped me figure out the best sequence to put the new one together.  I also needed one more zipper than just one bag could provide. 

I'm using my new-to-me singer 15-91 and free motioned the embroidery.  So it's not perfect, but obviously personally made, I'm pleased enough with it.  I was tempted to go with more and a little more, but there's a lot more to do with the bag and this is just a prototype.  If it goes well enough I may do another and let myself play more.  Or, before this gets attached to the backside of the pocket it might fall under the darning foot again. The yellow peeping out by the zipper is some home made bias from the same fabric I'm using for lining, some cute bees.  Top stitching is done with some cranberry jeans topstitching thread I got from Taylor Taylor  a while back, and a size 18 needle.

FLASH photography because that's what you use at 2 am.  I was happy to revisit one of my favorite marking tools, soap.  I haven't used it for a while so there wasn't a little sliver in the top sewing drawer and I had to use an unopened hotel bar. Usually the lines are not so thick.  Still, so easy to remove, and much easier to see on this fabric than anything else I have, including the frixion pens.  The ball point pins up in the corner were just waiting to go into a drawer for a knit sewing day, I have only sharp pins in the pin cushion.

I had to break on the periwinkle quilt a little as I ran out of  the pool green background fabric.  I ordered more and it's been washed and is ready for iron and starch.  I've just bought a June Taylor "special shapes" ruler and I'm looking forward to seeing if it makes cutting strips as painless as they made it look.  No picture of that, if you wonder what I'm talking about there you can google it (or you tube, they have a lovely video that was probably the hook that got me) or come back here in a week or so to see if I wrote an exciting review on THAT.

No sewing of Christmas Jammies this year.  Let them learn to sew if they want them! I would be happy to give lessons.  Actually, I'd love to teach beginner sewing.  One day, maybe.

What's on my audio books this week? The Filter Bubble, Eli Pariser- good non fiction about the personalization of your news (and pretty much everything) feed by Google and Facebook, I'm sure you tube is on the list or should be.  And, Spring Chicken, Bill Gifford- another non fiction about anti aging I think.  I haven't delved into it yet.  Not as good as Rick Bragg's stories of the south that I just finished, but some interesting fodder.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Return to the periwinkle

I don't know what makes me keep slogging away at this one.  Probably because I have the ruler and 10 lbs (ok, exaggerating here) of the papers. 

Doing this block the Missouri Star Quilt Company way left my points all cockeyed, but trying to do it the traditional paper-pieced way was if-y, as that middle diamond is cut precisely to size.  I worked it out so I can get results I can live with.

I do use the tool to mark the diamond center of the block.  The inside lines are the seam lines, I can't draw those without drawing the outside lines.  If I could, I'd probably skip those outside lines.  No, I will not make a second template.

I start all the blocks at the right side, marked side of paper toward me, fabric RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.  See what I mean about that outside line?  On this part, the seam allowance is extending to the other side, the inside, of the seam line. A scant 1/4 inch.  That diamond, once sewn, should fold back perfectly into the diamond space with the RIGHT SIDE proudly up on the non-drawn side of the paper.
That little shave of paper visible from the back is about all I would tolerate.  Any more, I'd rip stitches and resew.  I did on more than a few blocks.
These can be chain pieced even though you are stopping at that apex of the v.  I just stop after one, pull the thread enough to be able to pull the fabric to the v, drop my needle down and then put the feet back down.  I only pull the thread the minimal distance needed and don't cut.  You can't keep sewing from one to the next without sewing in that seam allowance you want free of stitching, so in the strictest sense it isn't chaining.  But it saves you snip, snip, snip and stopping to throw away your threads, so it is, too! 
After you've pressed open and satisfied yourself with your diamonds, flip it back over to put on the other background piece.  This time I'm holding it upside down so my work area is still to the right, because my brain just works like that. It is still RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER but this time the seam allowance will be in the extra drawn space. This is because we aren't pressing towards the dark, but all to the left, or counter-clock wise. 

Again with the kinda sorta chain piece technique. And stay out of those seam allowances. And no, this thousand pound machine has never crashed through this top.  It only appears to be that precarious.
Press it open.  It looks like this.
Trim fabric even with the paper.  See how little of the diamond fabric is wasted?  See HOW MUCH of that solid is?   I'm saving the bigger wedges, but I don't know if I'll ever use them.  I do hate to throw them away though.  See that little cutting square of board?  It was cut from a warped/burned/damaged somehow board, at least as long ago as the 90's.  I like it for little piecework  even better than the yellow turning one I have below it.  The turning one has to be in the right spot so nothing stops it's square shape from spinning, but my loose one gets picked up and moved with everything staying just so on it's surface.
The seam allowances should nest divinely.  Keep the paper on them to help manage those bias edges and chain or pseudo chain, whatever.
If you get this, there are some that will say you did something wrong.  I won't judge you.  You may choose to unpick one unit and sew different edges together, so the colors/patterns touching on the inside alternate.  Or keep it this way if you want. 
 You can avoid this scenario by keeping your units the same as you feed them through.  Either red or black on top, but not both.  Feed in the same direction through the machine.
 If you do have stitches in your seam allowances, you can unpick just those couple stitches to be able to do the spin thing, reducing bulk.  One or two or three stitches are easy enough to unpick, and I love how well bulk is distributed with the spin. 
 The back.
The front. 
I'm making a baby quilt.  Which means before I even get what I'll consider consistently adequate, I'll be done.  That's ok, cause that's when I get to quilt, which is the happy part of quilt making for me.