Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week 2 - Straps and Bag Base

And now we get into the real part of the bag - and some actual sewing.
Essentially making the straps is just like making super wide binding.  Join the strips together using a 45 degree seam, and then trim off the excess down to a nice 1/4". In contrast to normal quilting and piecing, the seams here are to be sewn OPEN.  This is for no reason other than to reduce bulk in the straps.  You don't want a big lumpy bit along your gorgeous coordinated strap now do you?
A bagged out strap is the most tedious thing in the world to sew, and thankfully Elizabeth has avoided it here.  I can't thank her enough for that.  Our straps are left with raw edges and sewn into the seams of the bag.  
Now, for these straps, you will have to use interfacing.  There are many of you who many not have used interfacing much prior to this bag.  And interfacing is an art unto itself.  I highly recommend you read some resources like Nicole's Tutorial and Beginner's Guide to Interfacing.
The most imporant thing with interfacing, other than finding the right product, is its application.  Iron in interfacing can be all parts wonderful and frustrating.  People often have their preferred technique, eg using a Rajah cloth, or some other cloth over the top of the interfacing.  The first thing to remember is to put the shiny side of the interfacing onto the WRONG side of your fabric.  I will say that again and let you double check - Interfacing has the shiny side applied to the WRONG side of your fabric.
Ironing directly on the interfacing is fraught with difficulty; it moves around, the steam of your iron might make it shrink, and so on.  Using a cloth over the top helps both of these problems. If the piece of interfacing is cut right, ie not bigger than your fabric, I like to apply mine a little bit backwards.  I put the shiny side of my interfacing lying UP on the ironing board, and then lay the wrong side of my fabric carefully over the top.  Then I simply iron my fabric like normal.  Find your best method and apply it carefully and smoothly!

Once you have applied your interfacing, fold your strap in half lengthways, and iron, and this will give you a centre fold line mark. Unfold, and then fold in each side of the strap to meet at the centre fold line.  This is shown above.  Insert the webbing/strapping down one side of the centre line, and then fold both sides in over the strapping and top stitch as shown below.

Do this for the four lengths of strapping, so that you will have two beautiful long straps, and two delightful short straps. For my straps, I chose to do a generous 1/8" top stitch on either side. Mostly because, that is what I like, and because my foot (as shown above), actually has it marked.

Gaze and caress your beautiful straps. Now, onto the base.

The base might prove to be the undoing for some people, but don't despair. It is much easier than it first appears.  The hardest part of this process is juggling many layers of fabric and the very stiff interfacing.  

Pictured below is my interlining fabric, with the lines marked, and the layers of interfacing on top.  I have then sewn these down, as recommended by Elizabeth.  At this point, you will be able to determine how well your machine handles this many layers of material.  If you didn't have a denim needle in before you definitely NEED IT NOW!  I didn't use a walking foot for my machine, but you might find that helpful for helping the fabric through.  Experiment on a bit of cut off scraps and you  might be surprised. I experimented and was pleasantly surprised that my machine handled the thickness no problem.  This is also the time to establish what needle is best for your machine and fabric combination.  For me, DENIM was the only needle that handled it all well. I used a 10-12 size Denim Needle, but the size is also up to you.

 If your machine really doesn't handle three layers well, plus the interlining and fabric, quilt the base with one layer of interfacing, and then fuse them together carefully to provide the support that the base will need. If you are contemplating adding purse feet, this also might be the option to try. Quilt, then insert the feet as recommended, and then put over the final interfacing layers to cover the internal feet hardware neatly.

With all those layers of stuff floating around, I found it helpful to spray baste the fabric on, since pinning through everything is going to be impossible.  The next step is to mark out your desired quilting pattern.  Mark your pattern out, and then quilt away!  My machine has a very narrow throat, so I had to carefully decide which way I was sewing to avoid having bulk of the base under the machine.  As it is quite stiff, it is not easy to manoeuvre.  Keep a calm head and be prepared to swap direction constantly!

When it is all done, admire your wonderful work.  If you used a crayon based pencil like I have, shown above (you can see a pale green line where the stitching is), you will need to erase it. Take a rest and get ready for next week.  The above steps took me around 5 hours of calm sewing to complete!  Good Luck.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Lovely work, Miss Cath. I really love how my straps have come out.