Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week 8 - Finishing the Bag

 Finally we are here at the close of the sew-along! The completed bag is so close I bet you can hardly stand it - so let's get cracking and get these bags done!

By now you will have an inner bag and an outer bag, and the last phase of the bag is to join them essentially.  Firstly, turn both bags with their right sides facing inward.  Then you will have to match up the bases, starting at the corners and moving along the sides.  Pin or clip them together.  

Once you have done this, I held my exterior up, with the interior hanging upside down, to make sure that the sides match up all the way round.  You can see this in the odd looking photo at right.

Sew around this the bases, taking care at the corners for the way that the extra seams fold.  We are starting to get really bulky now, so I am finding that holding everything together is starting to get difficult.  Sewing the base together is a bit awkward, but will be well worth it when you don't have to worry about the lining moving around!

Turn the exterior of the bag around to now encompass in the inner lining. Pull the inner lining up to match the top of the exterior.

You will have a facing piece for the top of the bag.  Attach the interfacing and iron in the seam on one side, after sewing the facing into a single loop.

The next step involves pinning together three or four pieces simultaneously so you might want to consider breaking it down.  Firstly, pin the lining to the exterior, and baste around the top at around 1/4" from the edge. 

Take your short straps, and match them up exactly with the location of the long straps and again baste place.  The pattern allows for some overhang for the short straps.  Begin then to pin the facing around the top outside of the bag. 

The picture at right, shows the overhang of the short strap.  I pinned very regularly along this seam to ensure that the facing, exterior and lining were all the same size.  If you find that the sizes are slightly out, you might want to "fudge" a little to make things fit well.

Here is where things start to get awkward.  At left you can see my attempt at sewing the facing on.  I essentially shrouded my machine in the bag.  I started to find by this stage that the weight of the bag was definitely pulling at the machine and holding the bag up to sew started to get heavy.

At right, you can see it final seam sewn in place, with the strap overhang.  For reinforcement you might want to double stitch over the straps.  This is a big bag which will be carrying a lot of weight!

Turn the facing to the inside of the bag and press down.  Then begin to top stitch the facing in place.

 I changed to my walking foot to help with the weight of the bag, but as mentioned before, I found this stage of the bag the physically hardest.  It is a long way round the bag, and holding it up was tiring and hard on the machine.  I recommend regular stops with needle down, and constant readjustment to ensure that there is no hanging weight of the bag!

 Once you have sewn two rows of topstitch in place, you will have an enormous and amazing bag!  I posed mine with Elizabeth's book and cutting mat, just like in her photo... with the addition of cat.

Just how big is this bag? Big enough for one cute pussycat and a pile of quilting accoutrements!

Good luck with your finish and don't forget to upload your photos to the Flickr page!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week 7 - Finishing the Lining of the Bag

We are getting so close to a finished bag now!  This is a relatively simple week, and in a lot of ways, is just like the week we put together the exterior of the bag. Most of the pieces are ready to go, just a bit of basic assembly is required.

You will have a number of pieces ready, namely, the base, the sides, and a front (or back).  The pieces for the back (or front...) are the two pieces you completed last week with the zippered and gathered pocket in place.  You will need the three interlining and internal strip pieces, and pin one set  to one side of the zippered/gathered pocket combination (as shown at right).

Sew in place with the 1/2" seam, followed by pinning the other gathered/zipper pocket combination to this set, and then again sewing in place. This set of lining and interlining, forms the central panel between these two pocket sets.

A bit of neat top stitching on the central panel, at 1/8" from the seam will strengthen and neaten this up.

You will then repeat this step for the other strip sets, to provide panels to either side of the pocket combinations.  I would recommend lots of pinning to make sure that you get the gathered pockets straight along your panel pieces.  When the side panels are sewn in place, you will have one large piece as shown below, with two pocket combination panels, separated with a centre panel and two side pieces, which will match up to be same size as the opposing front/back piece.

As for the external pieces, you will be making cross markings at the base of the pieces to indicate the end of the stitching.  Keeping to these marked crosses ensures that the base will fit in correctly!

Start attaching the internal pieces together by attaching a side piece to either side of the front, and then finally, the back, to form a ring of the internal pieces.

At left, shows the front attached to the two side pieces, awaiting the final back piece in place.  Remember to not sew past the marked crosses!

As for the exterior of the bag, carefully pin the base in place, along the front interior bag piece.  Sew from mark to mark.  Repeat pinning and sewing for the back interior piece and finally the sides.  All seams should fit "inside" the marks made.

You should then have a lovely interior sewn together!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Week 6 - Making the Gathered Pockets

After the great zipper install of last week, the gathered pockets will seem like a no brainer.  This is a nice simple technique that will give you a neatly finished lined gathered pocket.  Elizabeth has designed the pocket so that there is a lovely amount of gather, making the pocket very useful, but also it sews neatly into place at the base without the need for gathers or pintucks there.

This is a very simple technique to give you a neat lined and gathered pocket. You will take your two pieces of fabric and lie them wrong sides together, meeting three of the edges.  The top edge will look something like the picture at right.

You then need to fold over the excess fabric.  Firstly fold it along and over the top of the other fabric, and iron. Then unfold, and fold the top of the excess (or lining) in to meet the first fold. Iron again, and you might want to pin in place.  It should then look as it does at right, with the lining, folded neatly over the outer, concealing all raw edges.

You will then need to top-stitch this in place.  Stitch as close as possible as you can to the folded edge, on the side closest to the main part of the pocket.  This will ensure that the gusset you have made is as large as possible!  Following Elizabeth's intructions, measure in about an inch from each side at the base of the pocket, and cut off an angle of fabric from the base to the top.  This will help give a lovely gathered effect to the pocket, but keeps the base the same size as the backing piece.

You then need to feed through your piece of elastic. This is usually done by using a safety pin through the end of the elastic and guiding it through first.  The picture at right shows it coming out of the gusset after being fed through.  Note, you can also see here my top stitching at about 1/16".

I secured my elastic in place at each end with a few stitches 1/4" from the pocket gusset end.

The next phase is simply fitting the base of the pocket, to the underlay - which will be either the zipper pockets made in the previous week, or the inner lining sides.  Pin carefully along the base and sides, and sew in place, with a 1/4" (or less) seam.  This is not the final stitching on these pockets, but serves to keep them in place.

Look at me the goose who forgot to rotate her photos before she imported them into Blogger.... but below you can see a lovely set of gathered pockets on the zipper pockets, and below that, a set of gathered pockets on the lining of the sides.

A positively easy and short week this week.  It is so close to being a real bag!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Week 5 - Making the Zip Pockets

I know there are a lot of people who have never put in zips before, and are quite anxious about this week of the sew-along.  But I am here to tell you that there is no need to panic.  The technique that Elizabeth recommends for the zipper install, is NOTHING like putting a zip in clothes.  It is very easy to do, and once you have read through and got the idea of it, you will be amazed how quickly they are to do.  Have a look over her instructions and close up photos of the zip in place, and you will see that she has put "tabs" at the each end of the zipper, this is probably the most fiddly part of the whole process.

 The photo at left shows folding the tab piece in half, then unfolding, and then folding each side to meet in the middle. (Just like the straps for those remembering four long weeks ago). This piece is then cut in half, to give you two tabs to put in place at the each end of the zippers.

If you have ever made bags with Nicole Mallalieu, you will know that she is a BIG fan of Vliesofix Tape.  If you are a newbie, please let me tell you how wonderful Vliesofix tape is for applications just like this.  It is an iron on, double sided tape.  In the picture at right, you might be able to see some white translucent tape pieces over the tab.  You peel off one side of the tape, iron it down on to the surface you want to stick.  Then peel of the other side, and press and iron the fabric together, enclosing the zipper in between.

For fiddly small things like zipper tabs, where pins are going to distort everything, this tape is a dream to use. Iron it together, and then you can take it to your machine to sew in place without pins everywhere.

Note that the zippers have been trimmed to give the right pocket size.

From here you start putting the sides of the pockets in place.  For Elizabeth's technique, you fold down the end of the pocket (where it will attach to the zip), by the required amount and iron.  This folded down edge is then pinned close to the zipper on the right side of the zipper foot. As shown below, the pocket top (white with red text) is in place on the zipper, with the inside of the pocket underneath (the red fabric).

This is then sewn in place, using a zipper foot, as close the edge as you feel comfortable. I used about 1/8" or less.  You will then have a pocket top and inside, fold both fabrics to the same side, as shown below.

You are then essentially repeating this process for the other side of the inner pocket, attaching to the other side of the zipper.  Read and follow Elizabeth's instructions carefully, for the correct fabric placement.

The picture at left shows the previously sewn seam, and now matching up with the other side of the inner pocket.

Pin in place carefully, and once again sew closely to the folded edge.  At right, you can see the left sewn seam, the right seam about to be sewn, and the tab in between the fabric (at the top of the picture right beside the needle).

The final part of the pocket, is to sew the base of the pocket together.  You might also have to neaten up some edges to give a neat finish.  I then stay-stitched at 1/4" down the side of the pocket, to hold all the fabric pieces in place.  

It is a fairly simple and elegant technique for putting a zipper in, and just requires a bit of ironing and folding back and forth.  I am sure you can all handle that!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Week 4 - Making the Bag Exterior

The bag will now start taking shape, and you can get a really great feel for what you have started to create!  This week isn't too big, but does require a bit of finesse.

The first task is to centre the front and back pockets over the exterior pieces.  Once centred, you will then need to mark the limit of the sewing for the long straps.  Pin the straps in place, being careful to centre them over the pocket pieces.

You will then be sewing DIRECTLY OVER the top of the current top stitching on the straps.  Take your time with this step so that you don't have obvious double lines.  For extra reinforcement, you might want to sew an "X" at the top of the strap (remembering to keep to the limits marked).

For the end pockets, you might want to stay stitch them in place, sewing a basting stitch within 1/4" of the edge.

The next step is to start sewing the outside of the bag together.  Sew one side to the front, and then the other side, finally, sew on the back.  As you sew, remember to only sew to 1/2" from the bottom, as previously marked.

Also, iron the seam open to avoid bulk.  When finished, you will have a tube of a bag - hopefully you remembered to sew things together the right way up!

Gratuitous cat shot..... Isabella modelling the completed bag exterior with the base about to be sewn in.

Take the wrong side of your base, and make marks 1/2" from the side and bottom.  Adding the base into the exterior sides is a little bit tricky, by mostly from a weight point of view.

The picture at right shows how the base should line up with the exterior. Your base should extend past the seam by 1/2", which will fit in nicely having only sewn down to the marks on the bag sides.

I found that sheer weight of the interlining and fabric made things slip off the table, so really had to be conscious to hold everything up so that my sewing did not get distorted.

I also found using a zipper foot to be an advantage, as I was able to sew right up to the side of the thick interfacing base.  Using a normal foot, meant that the foot was teetering on a gradient of the Peltex and then just fabric and kept slipping around.  The photo at right shows how nicely the zipper foot abutts the Peltex base.

Sew from along the length of the front of the bag to the base, keeping to the marks.  Then sew the back to the base, and finally the sides.  By the time you get to the sides, you will be ensuring that the seams you have ironed open, stay that way and are sewn in place, to give the best possible fit and sit for the bag base.

Careful marking and stitching should mean that everything lines up perfectly.  I found that the weight of the bag was the only problem with this step, once I started using the zipper foot.  Of course, the zipper foot is not as good for moving such thick fabric through the machine, but careful handling and gentle feeding got around this problem beautifully.

You will now have something that most definitely is beginning to look like an amazing bag.  How impressed are you with yourself now?