Monday, May 3, 2010

Pattern of the Month - May 2010

I love this bag! I made it for the Pattern of the Month and was going to put it on display at the shop, but it seems that I have kidnapped it and it's now my everyday bag. I can't tell you how much stuff I can cram in it - and that for me is a good bag. I even decided to make it into a kit to make it easier for everyone to get online (and we have them at the shop too)!

Like I said in the last POM post, sometimes you just can't tell how awesome something is in the fabric they choose for the pattern envelope. We are using Kwik Sew #3749 and you can see how amazing it is finished!

I picked out some lovely Echino linen / cotton - Flower Bed - and lined it with our gorgeous chambray with contrast thread for topstitching. I'd call this a second-or-third-project for beginners, and folks who have been sewing for a bit (or who have taken our Tote Bag class) should be able to breeze right through it. There are a few things I changed, and I'll tell you all about them...

First, the layout has the bands (piece 14) going with the grain of the fabric and I wanted mine to go cross grain so I could get those pretty birds. There's enough room to cut the 2 outer bands cross grain and the inner bands (that you won't see) with the grain:

Then, the interfacing is a little different than the layout in the pattern because you need four #14 pieces to interface the bands. So, lay out your interfacing piece flat then fold the top edge down creating two layers - just enough to cut two #12 pieces. It's helpful to measure the fold so it's straight!

After you cut out the #12 pieces, take the right hand edge of what's left and fold it over to meet the left hand edge to make two layers. Now you have enough to cut the four #14 pieces.

We'll do the same folding trick to cut the lining pieces - unfold your lining fabric and press the crease out of the middle. Fold the lower edge up enough to fit pieces #12 and #10 then pin & cut them out. Fold the remaining fabric from right to left to make two layers so you can cut two #13 pieces. The pattern only calls for one #10 piece (the pocket) but I'll show you how to do a double-layer pocket that's stronger, so cut two!

The seam allowances on this pattern are only 1/4", so it's best to mark your notches with chalk instead of snipping them. I marked everything on the outside of the fabric so I could see it easily - notches are key for lining this up correctly! On the interfacing, I marked the notches on the not-glue side with a pencil. Fusing the interfacing is the first step, then sewing the pleats. Fold the pleat marks together so they are "kissing", then fold the pleat in the direction shown on the pattern and pin securely. Sew 1/8" in from the edge to secure pleats.

Sew the side panel pieces together on the un-notched edges and press the seam open (step 3). Pinning the front and the back of the bag together is the tricky bit - I recommend pinning from the top edge down one side till it begins to curve, then from the center bottom over till it starts to curve. At this point, you can see how the curved bag will fit nicely into the straight side panel.

A million pins! You won't be sorry - and sew slowly at 1/4". I used a 1/4" foot on my machine to really get it accurate - sometimes this is called a piecing foot because it's used for quilting. Sew on the interfaced side panel side.

I followed the strap instructions but I did two rows of topstitching for the pretty! When finished topstitching, sew them to the bag 1/8" from the edge to hold them in place until we sew them permanently.

Okay, pocket. I like big strong ones! With butterfly patches! So the first thing I did was cut a square scrap of my outer fabric and sew it onto one of my two pocket pieces. I frayed the edges:

This is now the right side of the fabric. Place the other pocket piece over it so the right sides are together and pin all around. Mark a small opening at the bottom with chalk, 2 - 3". This will be left un-sewn so you can turn the pocket right side out.

Start at one chalk mark (backstitch) and sew all the way around the pocket, pivoting at the corners and backstitching when you get to the other chalk mark. Trim the extra fabric off the corners and then turn the pocket right side out. Use your point turner to get the corners nice and sharp! Press it flat, turning the un-sewn edges on the bottom in so they are even with the rest of the pocket. Sew across the top of the pocket 1/4" in from the edge, then pin the pocket to your bag lining with the hole on the bottom:

Start sewing at the top right corner, as close to the edge of the pocket as you can get - backstitch, then sew all the way around pivoting at the corners. You'll sew right over the hole on the bottom, closing it up!

The lining is sewn together the same way the outer bag is, except for you have to leave an opening for turning just like we did for the pocket. Leave the opening just where they show you in the instructions and make it about 5 - 6" long so you have enough room to fit the whole bag through it.

The magic part of any bag is the final assembly - put the right-side-out outer bag (including the straps) into the inside-out lining, match up the un-sewn band edges, pin and sew at 1/4".

The birth of the bag! Pull it all right side out through the opening in the lining...

...until it looks like this:

Tuck the lining into the bag, press that top edge, and topstitch to match your straps. Machine sew or hand sew the hole in the lining closed. Voila! Now you can cart around the kitchen sink, just like me. Happy May...


Melanie said...

I'm going to need to get signed up for more beginner classes, so I can tackle this project. That tote bag rocks! Will you keep kits for previous projects in the store, or do I need to get this now before you move on to the next Pattern of the Month?

Unknown said...

Hi Melanie - we'll probably keep this kit in stock for a few months at least, then switch it out for a different kit. Depends on how long the fabric lasts!

Melanie said...

Thanks, Shaerie!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great post! I finished my bag and I am very happy with it. It was very helpful to have these instructions.