Monday, January 17, 2011

Sewing Project: Reading List Tote #1-3

This project is from "The New Handmade" and I chose it because it was rated a "one flower" skill level project and, well, I like tote bags.  Look, I have two small kids and they have a lot of crap.  Now that it's not diapers and bottles, but tap shoes and Star Wars figures I'm not limited to things that can be easily wiped down or that are insulated to keep milk from spoiling and I've kind of gone crazy with the tote bags.

Anyway, back to the project.  Since this was my first sewing machine project I took the advice of a different author and used muslin the first time.  It's cheap, like $1/yard, and I'm glad I did.  I just wrote with ballpoint pen which pieces were which from the instructions since they were all the same color.

Biggest problem:  I can't cut straight!  I measured out the fabric and cut it on a cutting mat with a rotary cutter which I was led to believe would make it easier (it's not).  Not wanting to waste the whole $0.10 of muslin I was using (WTF is wrong with me? I should have just started over), I just subtracted 2 inches from the pattern directions after I jacked up the cutting a few times.  So instead of a bag that was supposed to be 11" X 15" , I got a tote that was 9" X 13" which is the perfect size for... a can of soda and a matchbook?  It is small. 

Notes on the project (#1):
-muslin is cheap, let's not be stingy

-um, remember to remove the paper from the interfacing or your tote will be crinkly sounding like your bag is really for potato chips. Not that I would ever do something so foolish and silly...

-the directions are very clear that you should be ironing.  Do it.  Just suck it up and do it.

-I added the strip of Target $1 ribbon across the front seam just to add some color before I gave it to my daughter, (she was super excited about this bag, btw).  I used a strip of heat 'n bond that I had on hand but had never used.  It isn't sewn on.  Way too thin. 

-seriously hard time with the handles.  My ability to sew straight at an 1/8" is not so hot.  If you're doing this project as a beginner just make the handles wider so that the fold under is easier to catch if you don't sew perfectly straight.

Verdict:  Pretty pleased with myself.  Took longer then I expected, but was psyched to start the "real" tote bag.

Notes on the project (#2): (no photos, for reason that will become obvious)
-not having time to poke around the fabric store I just asked where the canvas was and picked out the colors I wanted for the tote.  $19.99/yard folks!  Having no idea that was seriously expensive I paid it and went on my foolish way.

-feeling bad for not ironing the muslin, I ironed the canvas.  Or tried until it melted onto my iron.  Apparently it wasn't cotton canvas.  Luckily enough it just peeled off the next day in one big plastic piece.

-canvas sewn to canvas lined with canvas is THICK.  Thick enough that I somehow didn't notice that I sewed the bag closed.

Verdict:  TOTAL DISASTER.  To sum up this tote's lessons remember not to sew the bag closed, don't iron plastic and don't pay $20 a yard for fabric when you can't sew.

Notes on the project (#3):
-if you screw something up royally, take a break.  I took a day before I started over and had a fresh attitude.

-I made the handles wider to make it easier on myself.  It doesn't look too off and I saved myself the heartache.

-ditched the rotary cutter.  I used new expensive sewing shears and they were awesome. 

-ditched the interfacing because the fabric I was using was so stiff anyway.

-this thing is sturdy and I'm now using it everyday.  I stick my purse, my water bottle and my phone in there and there is still a bit of room for papers or whatnot.  I like it because it isn't so big that I can leave a bunch of crap in it, I have to empty it out regularly.

Verdict:  Success!  Great pattern, easy to follow directions (so long as you follow them) and a useful, attractive item.  I feel like I can sew anything!  You know, after I fail at it a few times.  Anything!

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