Monday, January 23, 2012

Part 2: Let's Design ~ Totebag Tutorial and Giveaway!

Win a finished "To Market, To Market" Tote Bag or a complete kit.  Find out how to register to win by reading Friday's Post!

Question:   Our readers are just casually wondering, Summer, are you always late?
Answer:  Well, one of my life goals is to be a punctual and trustworthy woman.  Unfortunately, despite frequent commitment to getting projects completed in a timely manner and desperately desiring to be on time to appointments, I frequently fall so short of the goal as to make one weep.
Question:  So, Summer, what is your plan?
Answer:  That's puzzling...  I just find myself side tracked all the time, and it's not unusual for me to find myself in a room (after rushing there) with no idea why I'm there or what my mission there was.  All I can do is to continue to commit to do better, and plead for grace from those who are waiting for me!

Preparing to sew:  It's generally a good idea to begin a project with a new sewing machine needles.  Did you know that machine needles are only designed to last for about 8 hours of sewing?  It's true, and you'd be surprised that lots and lots of sewers don't know that.  When our customers had issues with stitch quality on their sewing machines one of the first things we did was to change the needle!  If you hear a punching sound when sewing you probably need a new needle.  Stock up on needles, especially size 10, 12 and 14 when you find them on sale.  Please don't use no name cheapo brand needles - Schmetz is what I normally use.  A size 12 to begin our project is good, and we may switch to a size 14 when we have to sew through the 6 layers of fabric!  

Buy a good quality thread ~ please.  Cheap thread is cheap thread.  It can produce lots of dust and lint which is B A D for your sewing machine.  It can split and break and make weak seams.  If you're on a budget, stock up on good quality thread when you find it on sale!  Wind several bobbins of your thread.  I hate having to stop in a project and wind more bobbins.  Thread can get old and brittle, so if you have breakage or other thread issues, try switching out the spool of thread.  There are occasionally just bad batches of thread and it can happen with any company.  We got one lot of thread from a high quality thread company that was simply terrible - balling up in the bobbin, tangling, breaking, etc.  We contacted the company and they swiftly replaced the bad thread with new thread which performed perfectly .  Our customers got a new spool of thread if they called or came in, but how often do you think that the sewing problems might just be that new spool of thread you just bought?  I felt so badly about the folks who were at home pulling out chunks of their cute hair because of crummy thread who never contacted us!
Sohere we go!  Get your fabric, rotary cutter, rotary ruler, trims and cotton belting out.  I'm going to publish as I write, so please excuse typos ~ I'll go back and edit later.  Press your fabrics!

Cutting Directions:  1/4 " seam allowances unless noted otherwise.
  • 1 - 2 yard piece of 1" wide cotton belting  (you will cut this in half later in the tutorial directions)
  • 1 - 2 yard piece (a correction from 4 yards!) of  1/4" to 5/8" wide ribbon to trim the cotton belting (I used velvet)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 yard piece of 1 1/2" wide ribbon to trim the top of the bag and both pockets. (This is exact, so you may want to purchase a bit more for oophs...not that I ever have any!)  Cut the ribbon as follows:  2 pieces @ 10 1/2" long ribbon to trim pockets, and remainder of ribbon for the top of the bag.
  • 2 complimentary fat quarters for the exterior fabrics.  Cut two pieces of fabric #1 into - 15" long x 10 1/4" wide pieces.  Cut two pieces of fabric #2 into - 15" long x 6 1/4" wide pieces.  You will sew these two pieces of fabric together on the 15" long sides to make a finished piece that is 15"L x 16"W.  Make two.  These are the front and back exteriors of the bag.  Do pay close attention to the placement of directional prints!       The front and back are referred to as "A" in the printed pattern.

  •  1/2 yard fabric for the lining.  Cut two pieces 18"L x 16" W.       The lining fabrics are referred to as "B" in the printed pattern.

  •  1/2 yard fusible fleece.  Cut two pieces 17 3/4" x 15 3/4".   Fuse the fleece to the back side of "B" fabrics, the lining according to manufacturer's directions.  The fusible fleece is not in the original printed pattern.  We are adding it to create more body.

  • 1 fat quarter for the pockets.  Cut two pockets 16" x 9 1/2".  The pocket is referred to as "C" in the printed pattern.  The size and placement are different from the printed pattern.  Follow the tutorial directions.

  • 1 fat eighth for the pocket top border.  Cut two borders 4 1/2" x 9 1/2".  This is not in the printed pattern, follow the tutorial.

Handles:  Get your 2 yard piece of cotton belting and 2 yard piece of ribbon to trim the belting.

It's not a bad idea to pre-wash the cotton belting in HOT water with a bit of soap (did you know soap makes water wetter?) to preshrink the belting.  Cotton belting can shrink quite a bit, and since we are applying ribbon which is probably made of synthetic threads - which doesn't shrink much (in my experience), the first time you launder your totebag, the handles can get a bit puckered.  I have had some success with stretching the belting and then pressing it from the backside.  Don't use a hot iron on that ribbon! Use a press cloth or you may have melted ribbon on your iron!  If you just want to get sewing, it won't be the end of the world if you choose not to pre-wash the belting.  (I'm lazy and usually don't.)
Sew the ribbon you've selected to the cotton belting.  I don't cut the belting in half until I sew on the ribbon.  I eyeball the placement unless I'm working with slippery trim.  Just sew slowly and stay as close to the edge of ribbon you're attaching as possible for a nice neat look.
I finish both ends of the belting with a narrow zig-zag stitch.  Then mark the center of the 2 yd piece of belting, sew a narrow zig-zag stitch on each side of the center mark, and then cut the belting into 2 one yard pieces.  Your handles are prepared!

Pockets:  You need a fat quarter for the pocket body and a fat eighth for the top border.

I mean, really, how clever of me was it to get out my little spiral notebook and write down measurements!  So if your eyesight is anything like mine, here's the big print!  For the main body of the pocket, cut two pieces of fabric 16" x 9 1/2" from the fat quarter.  There will be a pocket for the front and the back of the tote.  Cut two pieces of contrasting fabric from the fat eighth.  They measure 4 1/2" x 9 1/2".  Ta-Dah!

Put the top contrast border and the pocket body right sides together, aligning at top edge (9 1/2" width) and sew a 1/4" seam.
 Now, align the other two 9 1/2" raw edges of the border and pocked and sew another 1/4" seam as pictured below.  You'll be making a fabric tube.
With right sides still together, fold the "tube" in half, with the seams matching each other as in the photo below.  I do turn the seam allowances in opposite directions to reduce bulk.
Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the pocket, carefully trim the corners with a small diagonal cut to reduce bulk.  This will help create a sharp corner when the pocket is reversed.  Leave an approximately 2" opening on one side of the pocket to allow for reversing.  Back stitch a few stitches at the beginning and end of each seam to lock the stitches.
Turn the pocket right side out through the opening.
Press flat.  Don't be concerned about the opening.  It will be stitched closed when we sew the pocket onto the bag body.
Prepare the second in the same manner.  Cut 2 pieces of the wider ribbon about 11".  Pin it to the top of the pocket with the top edge of the ribbon just covering the seam.  You'll take the pins out just prior to sewing over them.  Never, ever, sew over a pin ~ if your sewing machine needle hits a pin and pushes broken parts of needle and pin down into your sewing machine it can damage your machine and cost $$$$$ to repair!
Wrap the excess ribbon (it's 11" long so you'll have about 1" excess on each side) to the back of the pocket.  Notice the vertical straight pin in the above photo - it's holding the ribbon that is folded to the back.
GRRR.... computer issues.  Well, we're going to push on.  The photo below should be rotated clockwise, but despite saving it 4 different times this is what we get.  So, you're going to sew the ribbon to the pocket just along the edge of the ribbon.  I changed my top thread to match the ribbon color. 

Sew the length of the ribbon, stop, drop the needle, turn, sew along the end of the ribbon, stop, drop needle, turn, sew the length of the ribbon, stop, drop needle, turn, sew the end and back stitch.

Okay kids.... more later.  I've got to figure this non-compliant save issue out.  Boo-Hiss
To be continued.  Don't give up on me.  I think I've almost got my computer issues solved.


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