Monday, January 30, 2012

Strap for the Messenger Bag

This is the strap I made for this last bag/purse I finished - love the accent along the sides.  One other bag I made a while ago I used the same technique and the strap is comfortable and has worn well too.  This strap measures about 1 1/2” wide not counting the cording on the outside edges.
I constructed the strap in two long pieces.  For the first side I stitched the cording to an interfaced strip of one of the black fabrics and then I pressed the seams to the inside.
I cut a piece of Soft and Stable the length of the strap then seamed a piece of the black fabric around it.  I centered the seam on the backside and pressed the seam open.  I did make sure I had seamed this fabric tight around the Soft and Stable.  I folded the Soft and Stable while stitching the seam on the fabric that worked pretty well.  I could have used a more traditional method and turned it inside out and seamed it then threaded the Soft and Stable through but that just sounded like too much work and I think the knit fabrics on the outside might not have slid too well anyway.
The last step was to lay the padded black strip over the corded strip and stitched the two together close to the edge of the black strip.  I then stitched twice more down the strip to hold it all together. 
The last step was to stitch the strap to the bag.  I stitched the padded side to the inside so it would be more cushion for when I carry my camera in the bag or when I carry more weighty items.

On the night I gave the program a fellow quilt guild member asked about and we discussed keeping bag straps from falling off or sliding off your shoulder.  We discussed that problem and around and wondered if stitching a small strip of the fabric made for slipper bottoms to the top of the strap would be the solution.  What do you think?  Do you have any other ideas?

Happy Stitching!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bag Pockets

I love to customize the bag pockets to fit my needs.  This black/white/lime bag has several zippered pockets, the most secure way to carry things in pockets.  This bag has three zippered pockets.IMG_6395This is one of the two zippered pockets in the lining of the bag.  I stitched a long zipper in both sides of the bag.  To make the inside of the bag easier to see I turned the bag inside out for these next photos.  Both sides have a long zippered pocket.
On one end of the lining I stitched in a straight pocket divided in half with stitching.  This pocket will hold two pens.IMG_6408
OK, will turn it right side out again to show you the rest of the pockets.  This is a pocket on one end of the bag that is made especially for my cell phone.  It has Velcro strips on the flap to keep my phone from falling out too.IMG_6411Under the flap is a straight pocket with no snaps, zippers or Velcro closers.  The backside has a long zippered pocket and I even found a lime green zipper in my zipper stash!  I put the white card in the pocket so you could see exactly where they are.
I will have to be diligent and not fill the pockets too full or I will defeat my purpose of making my bags fairly light to carry.

Until Later,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bag Bottom

Almost every bag/purse I make I put something in the bottom to make it stiffer so the bag will not sag and to give the items I carry some support.  Most of the time I make the bottoms the same way, using the same materials.

I like to use plastic needle point canvas and cut it the width of the purse/bag bottom and the length of the bottom of the bag.  This messenger bag I just made has a curved bottom so just cut the  plastic canvas to the length just as the curve started upward.  I also always cut off the 4 corners of the plastic at an angle so the corners of the plastic will not wear out the corners of the bag – that will happen over time if there are sharp corners.  I probably cut a couple of the mesh off, about 1/4" from each side of the corner.  If you feel you need more strength and more stiffness just stack up two layers and zig zag them together.  This plastic canvas is very easy to sew through with a sewing machine.

I like to tack the canvas to the bottom of the bag before I add the lining.  Since I am not fond of doing it by hand I do it with the machine.  For this bag I zig zagged one inch strips to the sides of the canvas placing most of the strip off the edge of the canvas.IMG_6389
I pinned the fabric strip to the bottom seams of the bag and stitched the two together.  The bag bottom will now stay in place and the bottom of the bag will be stiff enough to hold what I want to hold.  I want this bag to hold my camera at times when I don’t want to carry my Canon 2ti DSLR camera in the camera bag.IMG_6390
I have heard of using special bag bottoms you can purchase made of solid plastic or a Masonite type wooden product.  I don’t like the idea of these as they will add weight to the bags and I want to keep my bags/purses as light as possible.  They come only in standard sizes so you are limited to those sizes for the bags you make.  I also can purchase the plastic needle point canvas and cut it to what ever size I need – can keep it on hand so it is available when ever I need it for a new bag.  It has worked well for me so will not change unless of course something better comes along.

Until later,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flap on the New Bag

This is the piece of black Soft and Stable I cut for the bag flap.  The center fabric was laid down and the lime green piping I made was laid down on the seam lines before the outside fabrics were stitched through all the layers.  According to the package directions no quilting is required but I did do some wavy lines on the center black fabric area as it was looking a little bubbly.  The Soft and Stable was very easy to stitch through.
I had cut the curve of the center piece before layering and stitching and cut the outside curve after the seams were stitched.  I lined the flap then turned it right side out and topstitched around the edge.  By this time I was feeling just pretty good….can you guess what I discovered next?  Here is the bag body and the flap ready, still love the lime green accents!
Enough teasing….Look carefully at the bag flap closed over the bag, notice anything?  Yes it is a camouflage flap!  I was astonished that I had not figured out that the bag front and the outsides of the flap were the same black and white print.  So much for making that great curved bottom on the flap as it all blended together with the bag body.IMG_6380What to do, what to do….I had to have a good think session as I just couldn’t live with it this way.  I figured that I had only a couple of choices; deal with it the way it was and add some lime green on the bottom and the outside of the flap or take the time to rip the top stitching then the seam and insert some cording covered with lime green fabric.  I didn’t relish doing all that ripping and didn’t think the cording would be enough of the color to visually separate the flap from the body of the bag so opted to add to the finished flap.  I covered the edge with 1/2” finished width binding and here is the new flap on the purse body.IMG_6382Now doesn’t that look better?  You can see the flap and the great curve now.  There is a downsize though – the binding added more bulk to the flap so added to my distress when stitching through all those layers when I got the top seam stitched with lining, cording, bag front and flap but did get it sewn, albeit slowly and one stitch at a time.  Will try to watch contrast on the next bag I make, hopefully before I get it stitched together but for now I do love this one.
Until later,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Step by Step to Stitch A Purse

With this bag I tried something new for the interfacing.  I used Soft and Stable for the first time.  This product is a thin foam (about 1/8” thick) with a lightweight fabric adhered to both sides.IMG_6350
This product doesn’t have to be quilted and it will keep the purse or bag from sagging.  It is easy to cut and easy to sew through, most of the time.  The only problem I found was when I had many layers to sew through – it was rather thick and hard to get my feed dogs to feed it through and also my titanium 90 sharp needle wouldn't go through at times.  I am thinking that pattern should be simple with not too many layers stitched together at the same time to avoid this problem.IMG_6366
I made corded trim to add to several different places on this bag.  Cording is easy to make with the zipper foot.  I have a cording foot but it works better with larger cord so opted to use the zipper foot and it worked just fine.  I always cut my fabric wider than I need then trim my strip after stitching.  I did cut the fabric on the bias as I didn’t know if I would be using the cording on curves and bias will go around curves better than straight fabric.
Here are the flap, front and back partly done.  As you can see I am using the lime green as an accent but the bag is mostly black and white.  I inserted some of that cording covered with the lime green fabric between the two black fabrics on the flap.  I really like the way it just pops.

The back has a strip of lime fabric on the center of the zippered pocket and the front piece that is finished is going to be a pocket with no closure but will be hidden under the flap of the bag.  This bag has taken me a while to make as I just have not had much time to sew lately.

What a two weeks – last Thursday night I drove to a town 1 1/4 hours away and gave a program to the quilt guild there on my doll beds and miniature quilts.  It was great and so much fun to share my quilts with other quilters.  This guild has lots of new members, I was surprised at how many members had only joined with in the last couple of years.  It seemed like there were a lot of younger women too which is so great to see.  We need all ages but it is important to attract younger people to the art of quilting to keep it going.

Told you all about the party we were having at our house on Saturday.  John did help me clean house and it took us most of a day to get finished.   I really don’t think he realized how long it takes to get everything ready for a group of people to visit.  It sure was nice to not have to do everything to get ready for this party.  We had a fun time and the food was excellent!

Monday night I had to give a program to a group of ladies and it was on the author Barbara Kingsolver.  I love reading her work and it was nice to be able to share my enthusiasm with others. I think I have read all of her works of fiction or at least most of them.  I have read "The Poisonwood Bible", "The Bean Trees", "Pigs in Heaven", "Animal Dreams", and her last novel "The Lacuna" and I loved them all!

Tomorrow night I will be giving the program for my quilt guild on Tips and Tricks for Bag/Purse Making.  I have 15 fabric bags to show – no I did not make them all myself.  My sister made 2 and friends made 3 but I have been busy trying to make bags with different zippers, different straps, etc. since last fall.  I have made step out samples and have a hand out typed up so think I am ready for this program.  I do love giving programs as it forces me to find out more about a subject so usually volunteer to do a program on something I enjoy but want to know more about.

I don’t ever remember when I have had to give 3 different programs in a week’s time.  It sure made me prioritize but think I will try not to do that again for a while.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fabric and Pattern Choices

Here are the fabric selections for the next bag/purse I will make.  Don’t you just love it?  I will use the green as an accent so most of the bag will be made with the black fabrics.IMG_0123I am going to use this messenger bag pattern for the basis of the bag.  I also used this same pattern to make the bag I posted about on September 18, 2008.  For that bag I followed the pattern but did change the front flap, seaming several fabrics together and embellishing them with couched yarn and pin tucks.

I have been sketching ideas for changing the bag flap for this bag in my sketch book.  I do know I will make the bag 1” narrower and 1” shorter to make a smaller bag as well as changing the flap.  As you see I had several ideas for the flap but have settled on the sketch on bottom left corner.   I drew and sketched out several different possibilities for the flap bottom edge but settled on the top one with the more gentle curves.IMG_6368
Now that the pattern has been planned and drafted it is time to get started.  Hope I have enough time to get this bag stitched this week but I have several other commitments that demand my time too.

I will be doing a program for the Grand Island quilt guild on Thursday night on my doll bed quilts and other miniature quilts.  Will need to spend some time tomorrow to get the program all organized and quilts collected and packed in my rolling tote.  That is one good thing about making miniature quilts  - they don’t bulk up much so I can travel with many small quilts and the doll beds in one large tote that I strap to a rolling luggage cart so it is easy transport.

We are entertaining the saddle club on Saturday night so we definitely need to clean house and get ready for 20-30 people coming to dinner.  I don’t have to make all the food – it is going to be a pot luck dinner.  For those that don’t know, a pot luck dinner is one in which everyone that comes brings one or two dishes to share and pot luck dinners usually turn out with a big variety of foods. 

John has said he will help me get the house ready for Saturday night.  That is much appreciated as it takes a lot of work to get the house clean, tables set up, and ready for company.  Most times I end up doing most of the cleaning myself so will welcome any help. 

You might wonder what is a saddle club?  Well the saddle club we belong to is a group of people and their families that enjoy riding horses.  This club sponsors and puts on a trail ride each fall and has monthly meetings.  We have our meetings at the local restaurant/bar and mostly just eat and plan rides and activities for the members and their families.  Of course you may not know it but I do NOT ride horses but do enjoy the group and in fact am the secretary for this year. Not a big job since we don’t have much business but I do send out a newsletter each month to remind members of the up coming meetings and activities. I am not the only non-rider in the group so don't feel left out when the group is doing a riding event.

Well enough about my schedule this week.  I do know the sewing room/office will be the last area to be cleaned so I can work on the bag when ever I can sneak in and have a few minutes to stitch. 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Down Come the Christmas Lights

Today we had such beautiful weather for a January day in Nebraska.  The temperatures were up to the mid 40s and we had no wind, nary a breeze.  If you live in other parts of the world you might not think this is so unusual but here in Nebraska we hardly ever have days without wind and a lots of days of very windy weather.

John decided this would be a good day to remove the lights from the windmill that we put up the first part of December.  You remember this photo of the lights taken at night, I posted about it on Dec. 16.

It is a good thing John can climb the windmill to put them up and take them down as I don’t like heights.  So far it doesn’t bother him to climb up and down and when that time comes when he can no longer do it maybe we will have a volunteer.

The star is the last of the lights to come down.  You get an idea how tall the windmill is when you see John standing near the top.  Oh, by the way the blades have been removed from this windmill years ago but John and I would like to get it restored at some point as all the parts are here stored away.

View album

The star is an outline made out of metal and the string of orange lights is taped to the metal.  It is all held up with bungee cords and electrical tape.  I really have a hard even watching John do this job but he calmly goes about the business of dismantling the lights and storing them away in the Quonset for another year.

I hope you all don’t think I have forgotten you since I have posted  for a while – I just have not had anything to write about.  I have not done any sewing but have been reading another joy in my life.  I do love books in any form - the written word and audio books so cherish time that I get to read and .

Do stop in again as I have another purse/bag stewing in my head and I have been pulling fabric from my boxes trying to decide what fabrics and what design/pattern I want to use.  Remember I am giving a program on the tips and tricks of purses/bags for my quilt guild in a couple of weeks so have quite a few bags to show but would like a couple more with different techniques.  I have some samples for the program made already but need to do a few more plus make an outline of the items I want to talk about in my program in the next two weeks too.

So until later...and I hope it won’t be too much later until the next post.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Start For 2012

Hope all readers of this blog have a great 2012!  The first day of the new year makes me reflect on what I did or didn’t do on my mental list.  I never write down resolutions as they just don’t get completed and writing them down makes me feel guilty if I don’t do them so just reflect and make a mental list.  Maybe this year I will make a general list to refer to and see how that goes.

New Years Day here was sunny with moderate temperatures around 40.  We packed up our food and gifts to travel to our last Christmas gathering of John’s family and before we crossed the river we noticed 3 large birds just soaring overhead.  Since I had my camera with me I had John stop and I changed to my 55-250 zoom lens and shot a few photos.  After I got zoomed in I could see they were not adult Bald Eagles as they did not have white heads and tails but we both concluded they were juvenile Bald Eagles as they were way too large to be hawks, wrong kind of head to be vultures and we don’t have Golden Eagles here.IMG_6300I had zoomed up as far as I could and then when I edited this photo I cropped it to get the eagles the size you could see them.  I was lucky to get two in one photo as they were not that close together most of the time.

We continued on and stopped on the bridge over the river as there were two adults sitting in a tree just north of the bridge where the river rounds a bend.  As you can see this is a small river.IMG_6303If you look closely at the above photo you can see the two specks that are the adult Bald Eagles.  This photo was not zoomed clear to the max so took more zoomed up and then cropped to make them easy to see.  It is always so exciting to spot one of these magnificent birds and to see more than one is super exciting.  IMG_6305I wanted a photo of the adults flying so as we were parked on the bridge (no traffic on our highway by the way – think one pickup came by the whole time we sat there.)  John beeped the car horn and they didn’t move so he got out and flapped his arms – wish I would have gotten a video of that but instead I concentrated my camera on the eagles.  The one on the right flew in a big circle then back to the same branch but I did manage to get a shot of it a ways away.  Again I was zoomed to the max then cropped the photo to get it to the size you can see.  It is not perfectly in focus but you can see some of the markings and it’s eye.IMG_6308Here is the original photo of this one so you can see how much I cropped it.  I am guessing it was between 1/8 to 1/4 of a mile away.IMG_6308-orgAfter leaving the bridge we saw another adult flying then as we crossed the next intersecting highway bridge over the same river we spotted another adult sitting in a tree.  That is the most we have seen this season.  We have seen one Bald Eagle at a time occasionally but not every time we cross the river and once in a while one flies close to our house.  Four adults and 3 juveniles is wonderful!  No matter how many times we see them we are always in awe and try to stop and watch them for a while. 

What a great way to start our new year!

Until Later,


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