10 April 2016

Polyester and pressing...

... do not mix.  At all.  I'm working on Simplicity 2153 and having a helluva of a time trying to press this shiny polyester quilted fabric.  This stuff is THE DEVIL.  Let me tell you.  I press and clap and press and steam and press.  The fabric just bounces back out of submission.

Pure.  Evil.

Pressing is a necessary step that I follow religiously when sewing.  This jacket is really testing my patience - so much so that I am considering abandoning it all together.  I don't have time to be foolin' with some unruly fabric!

I had such high hopes for this too.  I bought the fabric in NYC last summer with the sole intention of making this pattern.  I bought all of the hardware, matching zipper, and everything.  Bah! 

Working with difficult fabric is a sure-fire way to send my sewjo packing.  This coat is happening, but in cotton denim instead.  

How do you handle difficult fabric?  Would you keep going?




03 April 2016

Messenger Bag Knockoff

Taking a small break from sewing clothes and channeling my inner bag guru, Kyle, I decided to make a messenger bag.  I have a reason for making/needing it now, but I'll talk about that another time.

I have a Simplicity messenger bag pattern, but I didn't feel like making it.  Oddly, cutting out a bunch of squares and rectangles from a pattern did not appeal to me.  So I searched the internets for "free messenger bag tutorials" and came upon this one:  Moop Knockoff by Corvidarium.

(photo credits:  Wendy at Corvidarium)
Until visiting the Corvidarium blog, I had never heard of Moop bags.  The canvas bags are all handmade in Pittsburgh, PA and prices are in the mid to high 100s.  The knockoff above is based on Moop's Letter Clutch...
 ...except that Wendy made it larger and added a cross-body strap.

For the most part, her tutorial is pretty good.  She breaks the construction into five separate blog posts with pictures and instructions.  Although, there were a few head-scratching moments that left me unpicking stitches more than once.  If you want to make this bag, here are some extra tips/thoughts that may help:

This is the intro post that gives the dimensions of all of the pieces to cut (shell, lining, and contrast lining) as well as all of the hardware needed.  

Tip:  Check the comments section for a better description of the strip sizes.  It's easy to figure out in the body of the post, but Wendy gives more exact information in the very last comment.

Tip:  If you're using a directional print for the lining, make sure that the image runs from top to bottom of your strip.  

Tip:  Don't cut a 1" x 12" strip.  Instead, cut this strip 2" x 12".  This piece is used at the top of the back zipper and with 3/8" seam allowances, I found it impossible to turn the remainder over, press, and topstitch again.  

Tip:  She's right that using a longer zipper is better since the extra can be cut off.  Judging by the picture, she used a nylon zipper.  If you use a longer metal zipper (like I did), just be careful and sew slowly.  There are multiple passes of the needle in this area and the risk of hitting the zipper coils and damaging your machine increases.  

messenger bag tutorial (part 2)

When it is time to assemble the pocket unit, Wendy writes:

"With right sides together, place the 5"x12" rectangle on the bottom (non-zipper) edge of the back pocket. Stitch the seam, and press the raw edges away from the pocket.
Stitch the other side of the base piece to the front pocket, leaving a 2" gap in the center of the seam, and again pressing the seam allowances away from the pocket."

After reading this a fifth time, it now makes sense what she meant.  The seam that joins the non-zippered pocket to the 5" x 12" rectangle has a 2" gap.  I did it the other way around the first time.  The picture is clear, but for some reason it didn't click at first.

messenger bag tutorial (part 3)

In part 3, the interior lining is sewn.  To box the corners, she writes:

"...match up the seam line with the fold line, starting at the bottom corner of the lining, and mark a 3.5" line perpendicular to the side seam. Stitch along the marked line."

But the picture that follows this instruction shows a line that is roughly 2" from the corner.

I boxed my corners with the 3.5" line and find that the bottom of the lining isn't nearly wide enough to match the interior of the bag.

In writing this post, it just occurred to me what is supposed to measure 3.5 inches.  Enlarging this photo shows a horizontal line from edge to edge measuring 3.5 inches.  I thought she measured from the corner up 3.5".

Having now completed the bag, I find that the lining is WAY too big.  You're supposed to cut a 22" by 17" rectangle for the lining.  Doing so results in this:

If I make this bag again, I'll have to think about resizing this piece.  It takes up too much space in the body of the bag and acts as unnecessary filler.

messenger bag tutorial (part 4)  

This part is pretty straightforward.  The only problem I was with sewing the side pleat and attaching the ring/strap combo to this area.  Since my fabric is quite thick, this area is very bulky and my machine was not happy sewing it.

 (photo credits:  Wendy at Corvidarium)

To keep the pleats nice and even, I stitched them down from the inside first. 

Again, there were no hangups with this part of the tutorial.  I had to sew the strap differently because my fabric was too thick to follow her suggestions.  In the tutorial, she says this:

"So, to start with, fold your strap fabric in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Open it up, then fold each raw edge in to the middle, and press again."

 (photo credit:  Wendy at Corvidarium)

I tried this but found the strap to be bulky and difficult to feed through the sliders.  Instead, I recut the rectangle for the strap to measure 4" by 57".  Then I folded the strap right sides together and stitched around the entire piece, save for a space to turn the strap right sides out.  Since my sliders measure 1.5" across, I sewed a seam allowance deep enough to make the finished width of the strap 1.5". 

I am very happy with my bag.  It was a chore to sew because of the mistakes I made, but in the end I think it turned out quite well.

It's roomy, comfortable to wear, and I think will work nicely for its purpose.  The only thing I don't like is the closure.  It's awkward and makes it annoying to get inside the bag quickly.

The flap strap is looped through the slider from below and snapped to the flap...from below...or something.  It's hard to describe in words, but trust me it's weird.  Next time I'll make this piece shorter and just snap it at the bottom.

I enjoyed making this bag.  It was nice to not worry about fitting and princess seams. =)  I can see making more bags in the future - maybe even another version of this one.  We shall see!


I finished the Simplicity 2284 jacket and the New Look 6274 skirt.  I think I'll retire the jacket pattern for now.  This is my third version and I really don't need another one.  I really should try other jacket patterns.

 Until next time, peace!


05 March 2016

How I Catalogued the Stash

I started sewing in 2004 and since then, I've amassed an insane amount of fabric.  Kyle and Anne can bear witness to the stash running over.  In November 2014, I began the task of sorting, measuring, and recording the details of every piece.  Doing this was daunting and brought up a lot of emotions, but I'm glad I did it.  I now have an accurate record of everything I own and am not so quick to buy fabric - last fabric purchase notwithstanding.  Hah!


All of the fabric is stored in 18-gallon plastic bins and separated by category:  

  • skirt wools
  • coat wools
  • pant/dress wools
  • jacket wools
  • bouclés
  • bottomweights
  • stretch suitings
  • non-stretch suitings
  • lightweight and stretch cottons
  • linen
  • silk
  • denim
  • striped shirtings
  • solid shirtings
  • printed shirtings
  • ITY (less than 2 yards)
  • ITY (more than 2 yards)
  • colored ponte
  • black/white/grey ponte
  • printed ponte
  • double knits
  • cotton knits
  • solid rayon jersey
  • printed rayon jersey
  • activewear knits
Linings:  (rayon, silk, polyester, Kasha):
  • light colors
  • dark colors 
There are also three bins marked "miscellaneous" which contain a mixture of fabrics.  Since I've run out of room in the other bins, I had to combine fabrics until I (a) buy more bins or (b) sew more clothes.
My system is très old-school.  Aside from the single "here's the fabric I bought" photo, I have no other digital records of my fabric.  Instead, I have index cards with fabric swatches.  Essentially, I have the sewer's version of a card catalogue.  
Two plastic shoeboxes are used to hold the index cards on which the measurement (length and width) and a small swatch of each fabric is recorded.

Each of the above categories is grouped on a separate ring with the approximate total yardage recorded on the front.  I try to keep this total updated, but I often forget.

If I remember when/where the fabric was purchased or if the fabric has been prewashed, I include that information as well. 

(skirt wool)
Using the Catalogue
When I'm ready to sew a fabric, I take the index card from the ring, record the intended pattern to use, and the date I started sewing.

(jacket wool; in progress)

Once the garment is completed, I record the finished date as well. 


I also record any information related to sizing, fitting, construction, and mishaps on the back. 

I put all of the completed projects on a separate ring and store them in a metal box.

At the end of the year, I have an account of all of the garments I made (successes and failures) and the fabrics used. 

So that's it!  There's my stash in all of its glory.  Hah!


How do you catalogue your stash? Do you have a digital or paper system?  



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