Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Ideas of March......

Ok so yes I know Ides of March was 2 days ago. But, I have SO many ideas and have had SO little time. Therefore the Ideas of March.

Sick kid, injured husband, sick myself, working out, eating right, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, grocery shopping and everybody gets sick again. Loop all that and it is basically what this year has felt like so far. Right now I am sitting in my very messy house alone. It is so quiet. Too quiet. So I am putting on some music and writing this blog post and getting some other stuff done around here.

I really have no excuse for not writing except that I don't get paid to do it (yet) and therefore I let life get in the way.

I have been doing some sewing. Not a ton, but some. I have also been doing some fabric & supply buying and inheriting. All giving me lots of ideas.

Currently I am working on finishing up my commissioned jobs so I can get to our family Spring clothes. My favorite sewing time of the year.

I volunteer once a week at the Decatur Education Foundation aka DEF. They had a whole bunch of old banners laying around. And they asked me if I would turn their banners into tote bags.

Not only is it recycling, but now they have great incentives for their donors or volunteers. They are not sure what they are going to do with them yet.

All the banners were vinyl. The banner with the blue background was super stiff and hard to work with. All the other banners were a much softer, more playable vinyl.

It took me a few bags to get the construction and sewing right. It is a heavy material but no heavier then denim. So I used a denim needle and regular thread.  I have worked on these with both of my moody machines. (One is Italian and the other is about 50 years old, so they have their reasons for being moody).

After a few attempts, I discovered it is much easier to put any binding and handles on while it is still flat and then finish the construction of the bag. Which seems obvious in hindsight, but things always do.

You do not want to have to do a lot of turning it inside out and back because the lettering and color come off the more you handle it. So here are the steps of the best way to put it together.

1. sew the front and back together at the side seam

2. finish the top edge with bias binding, hem or zipper

In some ways the zipper top is easier, it's really just what you are up for. 
I put the zipper in on both sides of the bag and then top stitch it. A separating zipper is way easier for this but a purse zipper works well too. If you use a metal zipper make sure you rub the teeth with beeswax or soap to make it open and close more smoothly. 

Bias binding on the top edge of the bag. 
I use both store bought binding (b/c people give me all sorts of stuff) and binding that I make myself.  Making your own binding makes it so you can use any fabric. But store bought is easier, if you are the sort of person who takes the easy way to do things.

3. attach handles and any pockets

4. sew other side seam

5. sew bottom seam

6. square off corners (if desired)

Measuring the line where you plan to stitch across the bottom can really help get it right. 
Some bag patterns cut out the corners before you sew it, 
but I find folding and stitching the corners easier, just personal preference. 
When you get to the side seam, make sure you back tack over it. 
This helps to make the bottom stronger. 

back tack here at the side seam
Trimming the corners off after you sew them takes the bulk out of the inside of your bag.

7. turn bag right side out

Sometimes this is the hardest part, it feels weird and wrong. 
Depends on how stiff the vinyl is. On the really stiff ones I heated them before turning. 
But you have to be careful not to melt it or get it too hot. 
It starts to warp before it melts so you want to catch it when it is just soft. 
You can iron it with a pressing cloth or use a hair dryer. 

8. Enjoy your fancy new bag

Other tips for sewing on vinyl
- use a teflon sewing foot, helps move the vinyl through your machine more smoothly
- if you don't want to invest in a teflon foot, you can put tissue paper between your sewing foot and the vinyl and then tear it away after you sew. But I find this to be annoying and if you make a lot of things with vinyl the teflon foot is only about $6
- sew once! Vinyl is like leather in that it is unforgiving. Once you sew those holes are there. You do not get a second chance.
- test on a scrap, see above
- plan ahead, really think about how you are putting something together. Vinyl is not forgiving and a lot harder to shove around your sewing machine than most fabrics.

Today I finally feel that there is hope that spring is here for real. The sun is out! The sky is blue! I am on the right side of the ground. So I am going to enjoy a little inspiration and get some work done today!

I hope that spring is coming your way soon too! Be brave and try something new.

Peace Out - C

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