Jun 042008

I already felt a little weird, I got my new sewing machine last summer, bought a lot of fabric, and vowed to finally make some of the projects I had planned to make for months and months. There never was time, every week I said to myself, “But next weekend…”. Then my purse broke. One of the handles has come off due to constant overload, and so, finally last weekend I started making my new purse. It’s the “A Day in the Park Backpack Tote“, a pattern by Liesl Gibson. I had bought the pattern back in July, and then ordered the fabric and notions from u-handbag. And then it all sat there for ages.

Since I now have a nice little roto-cutter and mat and have practiced using it the cutting out was going far better than I had feared. After a mere two hours or so I was done. (When I told my sister that I had a new cutter she said, “You’ll love it once you get used to it.” And I, of course, thought “What’s there to get used to it?” Well, let’s just say this time I only cut off slivers of paper from the patterns, my straight lines were actually straight. Ahem.) It’s a good thing that I spent another afternoon before that tracing the pattern pieces and cutting them all out.

The pattern, while great, has about a gazillion pieces and everything needs to be cut out something like four times. And then you’d theoretically transfer all the markings to the fabric pieces. Hahaha. On Monday evening I started actually sewing the bag, and wished for a walking foot right away. No matter what I do, the pieces a) never are of the same size, and b) never line up properly. The only thing that could change that is either a walking foot or hand-basting which is totally out of the question.

I won’t bother you with the whole saga of my sewing process, but I learned that it takes me only about six minutes to transfer my nice kitchen into this:

And about the same amount of time to take everything back. That took me by surprise I would have thought it took longer to fetch the sewing machine, chair, ironing board, sewing box, iron, extension cord, fabric and pattern from different parts of the house.

Yesterday I really threw myself into it. Apart from the little things I have to attend to like drink water, teach, do errands, and look after my son, I sew and sew. I’m always amazed at how little of sewing is actually sewing. It’s more like ironing, pinning, and trying to figure out what to do next with tiny sewing intermezzos. And in my case the sewing goes quite slowly. But then I figured out that while I started sewing about 30 years ago in all this time I did only two skirts, two pairs of pants, two shirts, about four curtains and about three bags. So I’m more of a long-time beginner.

Back to the bag. I spent about 40 minutes trying to pin the front panel to the side panel. The instructions are very clear. They say that you should make sure that the tops are lining up. That’s a very good thought, only I couldn’t make them line up. Just. Couldn’t. In the end they looked like this:

So I did what every sane person would do – I chopped the fabric that didn’t match on the front and back panels off. It was about half an inch front and back. That of course could have posed a problem with the lining. You see, it’s not that pretty when the lining is actually bigger than the outside bag. In the end it all turned out well because I had the exact same problem with the exact same amount of extra fabric when I sew together the lining. Off it came. If only I knew what I did wrong. I didn’t trace the pattern pieces wrong, and I didn’t forget to add seam allowances somewhere because they were already included in the pieces.

When my husband came to tell me he was going to bed I responded with, “Only two more seams.” but then I just went on and finished everything up. I hammered the rivets in at 11.30 at night. Thank God for a soundproof annex. Oh, and if you think of making one of these bags for yourself, go ahead, I highly recommend it though at times the thought of that many pattern pieces drove me slightly crazy, but I also recommend getting the hardware with the pattern. Really. The rivets I have were no fun to put in and they might fall out anytime soon. Other than that I love this bag.

And thanks to Joleo (because she wrote something about inserting zippers which I can’t seem to find anymore) I hand-basted the zipper into the lining and was rewarded with a nice zippered pocket for once.

I can’t tell you how happy I am about my new bag. Of course it’s raining now, not the best weather for a fabric bag but then – there will be summer days and when I wore it today to kindergarten I found it very, very comfortable to wear and I break out into a smile every time I see the fabric.

(Speaking of smiles, please remember that you have until the 7th to send me your posts or posts that you read for our monthly just post roundtables. (It’s creativemother AT web DOT de.) If you don’t know what the just posts are about you can click on any of the purple birds in the right sidebar.)

  12 Responses to “I have been sewing again”

  1. that bag looks amazing. I have no idea what is going wrong with your fabric cutting (not my strongest area either) but if the end result looks as amazing as that who cares. ps i will post photos of the ball and bag etc but things have been a tad rough recently so posting has taken a back seat. But hopefully by the weekend…………..

  2. you are the sewing goddess. i’d love to sit in your kitchen nook and watch you, drinking hot milky tea.

  3. That fabric makes me smile too. I like sewing but cutting out the pieces always drives me batty!

  4. What a pretty bag! I can see you have good taste in fabric and the best part is that not everyone has the same purse.. it us utterly unique.

    Good job and I am glad I know people like you who are so multi talented.

  5. wow, it’s beautiful.

    I was all excited to tell you that I have decided to make a wall hanging for my stairwell, but then I remembered that last fall I was determined to make a bag and never did, so…

    one of these days.

  6. Die Tasche ist toll! Total professionell. Sowas will ich auch haben! ^^
    Sind die Träger variabel einstellbar?

  7. Thank you for your nice comments on my bag.

    Joanna, I don’t think something went wrong with the cutting but rather with the pinning and sewing. Much like the problem Joanne had with her Sofia bag. The pattern said to clip the seam allowances before pinning and I should have pinned the curves near the actual seam and not at the edge. I think. Next time I do something that thick and layered with curved gussets I’ll hand-baste those parts.

    Jen, You’re welcome any time. I’ll even buy milk for your tea.

    H.E., I thought I was the only one cutting out the pieces but then I found out that nobody likes it.

    Sophia, the talent is not the problem, the pity is you have to actually practice everything to become good at it.

    De, the bag you see in the post was meant to be made last August, so …

    Deike said that she likes the bag and wants one too. Also she asks if the straps are adjustable which they aren’t.

  8. that is cool. and yes, i know that thing about how sewing isn’t really so much sewing. and i hate ironing, which it why i’m a lousy seamstress!!

  9. hi there-
    i just made this bag yesterday and had the exact same problem with the sides as you did! even the 1/2 inch part. i think next time i might add length the the side pieces before i cut them out just to be safe .i cut some of the top off of mine too.i also pinned mine ‘near the edge’ and not the curves …i’ll try that too…anyway your bag looks great!

  10. I’m making this bag right now, and what I did when I pinned the sides to the panels was pin the tops first so they would match up. I then filled in everywhere else with pins.

  11. […] backpack tote Image by creative mother "a day in the park"-backpack/tote designed by Liesl Gibson I wrote about making this bag on my blog creative.mother.thinking […]

  12. […] backpack tote Image by creative mother "a day in the park"-backpack/tote designed by Liesl Gibson I wrote about making this bag on my blog creative.mother.thinking […]

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