Saturday, June 21, 2008

And now for a little fun...

With my main machine in the shop, I've had to put several projects on hold. That's the bad news. The good news is that it frees me up to work on a fun no stress project. It started with the squares above - a fabric my friend LeAnn brought along to the retreat and generously shared. They read, "In my head my thighs are thin, my stomach is flat, and my chest is tan. I live a good fantasy life." and "Your butt's not big. The rest of you is just too small." Yes, yes - they resonate!

I really had no idea what I might do with these until I thought they'd make good pockets on the outside of a totebag. Aha! I was sure I could find fabric in my stash to go along and maybe create a summer beach theme. Here you see me sewing the squares to lining fabric - I stitched about 1/8" away from the printed edge of the square so that a small amount of the blue would show once they were turned inside out.

Here's the finished pocket with the rest of the fabric. I'm using a pattern from the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Fons & Porter Love of Quilting. And of course, don't have exactly what it calls for, like double faced pre-quilted fabric. Who needs pre-quilted fabric? I can make my own, right? That's two coordinating fabrics from a line of Jennifer Sampou fabric that is easily 8 years old. I know what I intended to do with it, but I'm no longer interested in carrying it out, so I was excited to use it here. Except that I didn't have as much as the pattern called for, so the other blue fabric near the top will be my "lining." The purple is the lining of the pocket and even older than the Jennifer Sampou fabric.

But wait! The directions call for rolling the top edge of the bag to the outside to form a double hem, and that lining fabric is not going to look right. So I spliced on a strip of the anemone fabric that is also for the straps. Careful measuring required. And then I layered the body of the bag and the strap fabric with their linings and fusible fleece. I'm not sure why I had such a big chunk of the fleece since it's not something I generally use. I seem to remember using it in a placemat class I taught...Oh yeah, I probably thought I would make a set of placemats for myself one day, and that day has yet to come. Too bad - the fleece was sacrificed to the totebag, and gladly! It's density and fusibility made the quilting process go smoothly and gives the bag good stability. Since my old machine does not do the freemotion work well, if at all, I just picked a decorative wavelike stitch and sewed horizontal lines of it across the units.

Here I'm top stitching the double hem in place. To the right you can see how part of it continues on the inside - the look of binding without applying a separate binding.

So far my machine was performing beyond expectations. At best, it is prone to skip stitches, especially if the fabric is a tight weave; I wasn't sure how well it would do with the added layer of fleece. It forged ahead without a hitch. However, next up was the strap, where the outside edges are folded to the middle, then the folded edges are brought together and top stitching done along both edges to hold everything in place. Ahem, that's 8 layers of fabric and 4 layers of fleece. I held my breath and took it slow, but as I neared the end of the stitching, the machine was starting to balk.

The next step was positioning the pockets (I deviated from the pattern by placing pockets on the outside instead of the inside) and the strap. I thought making the strap a continuous loop to be sewn on while the bag was still flat a very clever idea. I also suspected my machine would never make a stitch complete through it with the additional layer of the bag. I was so right. Although it sewed the pockets on without much complaining, it totally refused to perform on all that bulk of the strap, even with a larger topstitch needle, and adjusting tensions.

So this is where I had to stop - so close to finishing - until my newer machine returns from the shop. I called today to find out what the delay was (it's been 2 weeks). The only thing worse than having a sick machine is having a sick repairman. He's been home sick for the last week but hopefully will be back Tuesday, ready to whip through the 5 machines in line ahead of me.

In the meantime, I'm SOOOO tempted to get out the fabric glue to attach those straps! Then my tired old machine could handle the last step, I'm sure, of sewing french seams along the sides.


Exuberant Color said...

I usually put in a sz. 80 or 90 topstitching needle if my machine is skipping stitches. With the sharp point and large eye it works every time. Neat bag! I have a couple of those old fabrics too.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Wanda, trust me, it's the limitation of the machine. At one point in its service to me I hit a pin while pulling it out and it jammed at a slant. I think I may have bent the main shaft (or whatever they call the thing that goes up and down). It's never been the same since, the beginning of the skipping problem, and although I've had several repairmen try to fix it, none have been able to solve the problem completely.

I was doing pretty well with 80 & 90's until I got to this extra heavy section. I switched to a 100 topstitch needle to no avail. I'm sure my newer machine, if I ever see it again, will sew right through it.

And I AM anxious to get this finished because it IS a neat bag! Why am I not surprised that you too have some of that fabric? VBG