A New Bag and A Sack (Dress)

**Sorry guys and gals: I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft” the other day, so you may have gotten an alert about a new post and then not been able to get to it. Apologies for the confusion or irritation–I’ll try to read my buttons for comprehension (as opposed to color-coding!) from now on, LOL!**

Hi again! It has been a damp few days here in Ohio, and your intrepid blogger has managed to forget her rain boots and then step headlong into many, many puddles wearing suede flats. There was much swearing and lamentation. But it’s also warm enough not to need a coat, so I’m trying to keep it all in perspective! 😀

Today I have actual THINGS to share–hooray! (Well, one finished thing and one started thing.) I’ve been busy sewing (and fabric and pattern shopping…oops) and have really been pushing myself to crank things out while I have the inspiration fresh in my mind. I have a few other ideas swimming around in my skull right now, and I’m hoping to get to them right away; it helps that I am officially done with weeknight shifts at the shop and have those few hours each evening to toil in my sewing room.

First up, the finished thing: a Cooper bag for MEEEEEE! Tom got one for xmas, and I’ve wanted one for myself ever since. I was able to construct the entire shell out of leftover fabric from other projects (those of you who have been reading my nonsense for a little while will likely recognize them) and only had to buy the nylon lining and hardware.

Cooper pieces

Cooper pieces, minus straps

Proudly holding up the bag

Proudly holding up the finished bag (and check out that toothy smile, yay!)

Ripstop lining!

Ripstop lining!

Front

Front, with bonus cat hair and stray thread…

Back

Back

A terrible photo of the bag, but we need a Mulder cameo!

A terrible photo of the bag, but we need a Mulder cameo here!

Apart from working out how to cut the ikat accent pieces, this was a very straightforward project for me. Even the ripstop sewed up without a fuss! I had only purchased 2 yards of the ikat originally (at $17/yard, I felt bad even buying that much!), and since I cut out my Scout tee without thinking about leftovers, I had to pick my battles for these accents. The flap is my biggest disappointment in terms of print placement–I just did not have the right piece of fabric left over to center that motif on the pattern piece, but I am glad I was able to get all the colors in there and kind of echo the flap pattern on the bottom front pocket piece. I was lucky to be able to use the stripe on the flap and the bottom pieces for some design continuity as well, and I was also able to match the stripe going around the bottom of the bag from front to back. The black glazed linen (of vintage Simplicity 1281 fame) was used for the main body pieces, the faux straps, the bottom gusset, and the underside of the flap (not enough ikat for both flap pieces), and I used some leftover orange canvas from Tom’s Cooper for the strap tabs and front body pocket.

I omitted the rivets on my Cooper, just because I am a lazy-ass. The webbing on my bag is nylon–as opposed to the cotton I used on Tom’s version–and it was very easy to deal with, although I stuck to finger pressing the folds instead of ironing, just to be safe. If I were to make another version of this bag (and I very well might some day!), I will stick to the cotton webbing. I do not doubt the durability of my nylon webbing, but the cotton stuff I used for Tom’s bag was so much sturdier and heavier and less slippery to the touch, which I (apparently) prefer. That being said, the nylon webbing was much easier for my machine to handle than the cotton version, which was a welcome relief!

I decided that it might be a good idea (mostly for Future Mads, but maybe for a few of you, too) to do a quick list of supplies for each completed project I post going forward, so here is the Cooper list:

  • Cooper bag pattern from Colette
  • Just under 1 yard genuine ikat from Michael Levine (this colorway is sold out, but they carry lots of others)
  • Not quite 1 yard Italian bottomweight glazed linen from Gorgeous Fabrics (long gone, but GF always has great stuff!)
  • Scraps of orange canvas, originally from Fabric.com
  • Almost 3 yards 1 1/2″ nylon webbing from Strapworks
  • 4 x 1 1/2″ nickel sliders from HardwareElf (I used Item # R-005)
  • 2 x nickel magnetic snaps, size 18mm, from Fabric.com
  • Roughly 1-1.5 yards ripstop nylon from Joann Fabrics
  • 1 Microtex needle, size 70/10 (for ripstop)
  • 1 denim needle, size 100/16 (for everything else)
  • Black polyester all-purpose Guttermann thread
  • Orange polyester all-purpose Guttermann thread (for orange canvas pieces only)

As if the bag weren’t enough, I have also started work on a dress!

Coming soon: the Inari Tee Dress!

Coming soon: the Inari Tee Dress!

MOAR IKAT!!!!!

MOAR IKAT!!!!!

Inari pieces (taken before I finished my binding)

Inari pieces (taken before I finished my binding)

This post is all ikat, all the time, huh? 🙂 I bought both cuts together, and was originally planning a Scout tee with both versions. And then I decided that I really wanted a sack dress (seriously), and planned to turn my Scout pattern into that sack dress. And then I saw the Inari pattern and liked the vaguely-cocoon-shaped silhouette better than the kind-of-A-line lengthened Scout. I’ll be honest: when Named’s newest collection, Ticket, came out, I was kind of underwhelmed. Nothing really jumped out at me as I scrolled through the page, mostly due to the styling. But once I opened each pattern individually and looked at line drawings and extra photos, I had to have Inari. I instantly knew that I would use this ikat for it, and set out to start working on it straight away. I did encounter a little trouble with the PDF assembly, though:

Wait...something seems "off," doesn't it? =)

Wait…something seems “off,” doesn’t it? =)

Above is Saoirse’s idea of “helping.” Her definition is slightly different from mine! She stayed there until I gave up and walked away to brush my teeth for work, at which time she decided that if I wasn’t trying to work on it, she wasn’t interested in playing with it. Cats, amirite??

Once again, I am not completely thrilled with my fabric layout on this one. I had 2 yards to work with, but 2.5 would have been ideal to wastefully center the vertical motif on the pattern pieces. My layout ended up being rather wasteful anyway, but it was the closest I could get to centered while getting the main design on both front and back. The sleeves and folded hem bands were sort of haphazard, though I tried to make both sides identical. After tracing my pattern from the PDF tiles, I took out my Scout pieces and copied the shoulder width onto my Inari pieces. The Scout is a truly amazing fit in my shoulders right out of the envelope and I didn’t feel like muslining a sack, so this seemed like the best (read: easiest) course of action. After cutting out, my next step was to sew seam binding to every. single. raw. edge. I could have used the overlock on my machine, but this just seemed like a nicer, better-looking option. It was painfully slow work, but will be worth it when my dress seams DON’T fray down to the stitching and fall apart on me. 🙂 I am hoping to have this dress finished by next week so I can wear it–it’s officially Spring here now, and my legs would like to take a break from pants for a while! And of course I will share photos and junk here, so check back!

And remember that little sidebar about pattern and fabric shopping? >=D

Beautiful ombre silk crepe!

Beautiful ombre silk crepe!

Three loud jerseys and one ginger-y scuba knit

Three loud jerseys and one ginger-y scuba knit

3 new vintage top patterns!

3 new vintage top patterns!

It’s not my fault, guys. (Spoiler alert: it never is!) Gorgeous Fabrics had a sale and I succumbed to my fiber lust. Specifically regarding that ombre silk crepe: I’ve had my greedy little eyeballs on it for MONTHS and finally got up the nerve to buy some. It’s 60″ wide and runs from red at both selvedges into coral, and then to orange in the center. I feel like it NEEDS to become a long, split-to-there dress of some sort–what do you think?? I also got my first-ever cut of scuba knit (with another on the way!), along with some really bold-but-awesome jerseys for tops. The patterns came from the ebay shop Vintage4me2, which I highly recommend. Again, not my fault, there was a sale, yadda yadda yadda. The late 50’s V-neck top isn’t something I ever thought I’d gravitate toward, but it’s super wearable and could work with knits or wovens; it also gave me a vaguely 1920’s vibe, and you know I’m all about that!

I’ll stop here for today, but hopefully I’ll have a finished cocoon/sack/dress-like item to show you very soon. What are you all up to these days? Splashed about in any good puddles lately?

Holiday Surprise Cooper – Complete!

Good evening out there!

After lots of waiting around for materials and trying to find uninterrupted time to sew, I finished Tom’s surprise gift this morning! Today happens to be our wedding anniversary (#6 of marriage, and also the 8th anniversary of our first date!) and while we were out to dinner, I casually asked him when he wanted to do our gift exchange. Usually we don’t do it on Christmas, since we have family to visit that day; he suggested Christmas Eve, which I said was fine. I told him I had one thing for him that was here and that he could open, but that I needed him to leave me alone when we got home so I could wrap it. At that point he decided he’d rather open presents tonight, so we did! I am very pleased to say that he was thrilled with his new bag, and that he honestly couldn’t believe I’d made it! (Trust me, that’s a compliment.) Wanna see?????

Proudly modeling his new bag!

Proudly modeling his new bag!

Cooper bag, just chillin' on the couch

Cooper bag, just chillin’ on the couch

Peek at the snaps and pockets

Peek at the snaps and pockets

Lining and cavernous insides!

Lining and cavernous insides!

Back! (Sorry about the color--forgot the flash.)

Back! (Sorry about the color–forgot the flash.)

Pretty nice, if I do say so myself! I used gray and orange for this bag; the shade of the latter can only be described as “Construction Vest Orange” or perhaps “Screaming Bitch Orange,” but Tom likes it. Orange is sort of his thing! My canvas arrived on Tuesday Dec. 16th, so I washed it that night so I could sew on Wednesday. When I stopped for the night on Wednesday (at the hanging loop installation step), I had a flat front and back piece, and my two straps. The front piece had the snaps attached, too. I was feeling pretty good about being able to finish it in one more workday, and planned to get back to it this weekend. I got up at 6AM today (ugh I know) and started up again, and was done by 10. I would definitely say that this pattern is suitable for an ambitious beginner, because I was able to execute the entire thing without any real trouble.

The hardest part for me was sewing through all those layers, especially at the bottom gusset piece when squaring the sides of the bag. At that point, you have installed the straps on the bag, and are working with about 5-6 layers of material at that spot. In my case, I opted to interface the bottom gusset; that was a decision I made on a whim, and I nearly paid for it in the worst way. As I started sewing my new seam at the bottom to square off the bag, my machine suddenly shuddered and made the beeping noise that it makes when there is an error. I was afraid I’d broken my Janome!! Fortunately, the worst of it was that the machine just couldn’t force the needle through all the layers, not even when I turned the handwheel manually. Having no other options, I skipped a couple of stitches here and there on that section and went back to the foot pedal once the worst of it was over. The handwheel saved my ass. I am wondering whether it would have been easier with a larger denim needle (I used a 14), but I’m glad things worked out!

This was the first thing I’d ever lined, and holy hell was that easy!! The instructions and sewalong made this process very easy to understand, and I am pleased to say that I didn’t have to redo any part of that section. The only possible issue with this bag in the future is that the rivets I got are just a liiiiiiiiiiiittle bit too short for the thickness of my fabric; I struggled to get the second half of the rivet to really mold over the first part and had to do quite a bit of extra tapping with my mallet. I warned Tom that those may not hold up well, but that I could get longer ones if that happens.

So there you have it! My first total surprise project was a rousing success, and Tom LOVES it. He wants to wear it on his motorcycle, which wasn’t my intention (the opening of the bag doesn’t have a closure, and I didn’t modify the pattern to add one; it relies solely on the magnetic snaps on the flap). I am going to order a bar of Otter Wax and test it on scraps, because he is intrigued by the idea of waxing the bag. I nearly did that on my own, but wanted to see what he thought first. 🙂 I’m so excited that this worked out, and that I was able to make something for someone I love that will get a lot of use!

Happy Holidays to all of you–may your season be merry, your travels safe, and your hearts and minds at peace in the days and weeks ahead. ❤

Holiday Surprise Progress

Hi!

I’m pleased to say that I’ve made a little progress on Tom’s Cooper backpack. Not much, but I’m trying to do what I can with what I’ve got!

My shell fabrics and magnetic snaps will arrive this Tuesday, so I’ll be able to really get to work later this week. Nothing like cutting it close, eh?? My webbing and hardware arrived this past week, so I went ahead and worked on the straps today. I expected the straps to be much more complex than they turned out to be, but hooray for surprises!

Lining and straps!

Lining and straps!

The webbing was very easy to work with; I even finger-pressed the required folds rather than mess with my iron, and it was all that was needed. I got my webbing from AGraffSupplies on Etsy; it’s cotton and feels very sturdy, and this shop offers various yardages of it in a very wide array of colors. I definitely recommend looking there if webbing is something you need for a project! (I also got webbing from another source after my post office said that this first package was returned to the sender. Imagine my surprise when this package showed up later that day, LOL! I had a good customer service experience with the other vendor–Strapworks–as well, but haven’t used their webbing yet.)

After I cut the two long pieces of webbing, I realized that I really ought to get a heftier needle in my machine before I started with the sewing. I had planned to do that once I got to the shell, but it was absolutely necessary for handing this webbing. I opted for a size 14 denim needle, and it had no issues punching through the straps. My machine did struggle a bit with three layers of this material (at one point, you sew through a folded section and the main strap section to secure that end of the strap), and my presser foot couldn’t really lower due to the thickness. As a result, the rectangle of stitching on one of the straps is a little, uh, off. 🙂 Fortunately, this appears to be the heftiest section of the sewing for this project in terms of bulk under the presser foot. From cutting to finishing, including the futzing around with changing the needle and thread and bobbin on my machine (and the digging for the correct thread color!) and walking to the living room to check the sewalong posts, I was finished in under 30 minutes. Not bad for a bag-making n00b, huh?

Unfortunately, this is all the progress I can make until my shell canvas and snaps arrive and get washed, etc. But I’m really excited for this project, and hopefully the end result is something that makes Tom very happy. I’m determined to finish this before xmas, since everything else I ordered for him is going to arrive after the new year; the company didn’t bother telling me that half of my order was out of stock until I contacted them this week to ask about shipping (which I paid to have expedited when I ordered at the end of November). Needless to say, I’m not happy about that, since that was everything I’d planned for Tom for the holiday. 😦 I’ve never been happier to execute an impulsive sewing project, LOL!

Hopefully I will be back with updates next weekend–wish me luck, and no broken needles!!

Another Holiday, Another Surprise

Hello there!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season. Here in the US we’ve had one holiday already–Thanksgiving, aka “EAT ALL THE THINGS” Day–and shopping for xmas is in full swing as December advances. For the most part, we “Mads” house residents tend to buy our gifts for everyone rather than make things. I even bought most of the things I’m giving to Tom rather than go to the trouble (and stress, and time) of making something. Well, earlier this week I got a bright (read: fucking stupid) idea: I should make Tom a thing!

What “thing” have I decided upon for my husband? The Cooper bag from Colette Patterns! I have never made a bag before, but this one seems simple enough for a newbie like me with the instructions and sew-along. I ordered 2 colors of cotton canvas–orange and gray–for the body, magnetic snaps, strap sliders, webbing, and rivets, and now I’m just waiting. But rather than just sit on my ass and think about this bag (and agonize over whether or not to order Otter Wax and wax it), I decided to go ahead and make the lining. I figured it would be good practice for the real thing and save me some work as the holiday approaches and I run out of time. Here it is:

Lining!!! With pockets!!!!!!

Lining!!! With pockets!!!!!!

So I opted to make the lining out of muslin. The pattern recommends ripstop of some sort, or general waterproof fabric. I’m not really worried about this being waterproof particularly, though I am considering getting Scotchguard or something and spraying the lining down if I opt to wax the outside. The idea behind this bag is that it will be something Tom can take with him when he and Mulder (dog) go for their nature-y walks, or if he takes a trip to the store for something small and portable. It’s not like I expect him to take this on outdoor camping trips or anything! I just didn’t see the need to go out and get ripstop when I had this suitable (for my purposes) material at home. Plus I can press and manipulate this stuff without trouble; I can’t feel as confident about ripstop!

The lining is turned inside-out for this photo (which I took before I pressed anything, in typical Mads fashion), as the pockets will need to be inside the bag rather than sewn up against the inside of the shell. I admit to having a moment of panic once I finished squaring the bottom of the lining–a point of no return, since you cut stuff–and doing what I usually do, which is to turn the seam allowances to the side that isn’t facing me to have a look at my results. I had to wrap my head around this whole bag thing and remember that the ugly side of my lining would be up against the ugly side of my shell, and the pockets would end up where they should be: facing into the cavernous interior of the finished bag. A big sigh of relief was heaved, let me tell you!! The actual shell is more involved, what with the straps and hardware, but I feel prepared for it now that the lining is done and looks good. The squaring of the bottom was the scariest part, and I was able to accomplish that successfully. Attaching the bottom gusset was confusing at first, but I took my time and figured it out. Bring on the shell (as soon as all my shit arrives)!!

Are you making any gifts for xmas?