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Saturday, 16 November 2019

Make a 3 Pocket Zippered Pouch

SewingTimes' Twin Purse Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Meet the 5 pocket zippered pouch's 3 pocket cousin...
Back in March of 2018, I featured a "not your basic zippered pouch" here: a double zippered five pocket storage solution that was definitely beyond the normal and popular with many as it turned out. It was a project from a YouTube channel. On a recent visit, I found the pouch's close cousin: a 3 pocket zippered pouch.

This is like two zippered pouches attached together in the middle, creating a third open pocket.

The joined structure of the two projects is the same, so if you've previously made the 5 pocket pouch, this one should be a breeze. (Or, if you saw the first version and were frightened away by it, this is a good place to start and build the necessary skills.) The only real difference is that the panels of this pouch are "darted" to provide room at the bottom.

To make the project a bit more challenging, I decided to use ribbon as my fabric.

Self made ribbon "fabric"...

Shown above are five 21.5" lengths of ribbon (the dotted ones 2.5" wide and the solid 3" wide) zigzag stitched together. To the back of this, I attached four pieces of fusible fleece (per a template provided by the YouTube channel's author; see info at end of post) and then cut them out to be used as the four exterior panels.

Four corresponding (noninterfaced) lining pieces complete the main project; I used fabric from a duvet cover, last recycled into my ironing mat, I believe.

Side by side comparison with the 5 pocket pouch...

While I like how the use of ribbon turned out, it's not something that I would do again for a project like this. There is a lot of handling and turning right side out of the pieces that creates a mess, cut ribbon being notorious for fraying.

Also, sewing this thick (coated) polyester is similar to sewing vinyl. The presser foot sometimes gets stuck and your stitching may be wonky.

SewingTimes' Twin Purse Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Close up of the middle section of the bag...

At least I determined at the beginning that — to ensure not having to deal with frayed ribbon edges along the zipper tape — I used the actual edge of the ribbon as the top edge of the panels.

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This was one of those video projects for which I made myself a document based tutorial. I may want to make something similar in future with different starting dimensions and panel shape, with or without darts.

Speaking of darts, they allow the pouch to fold flat...

SewingTimes' Twin Purse Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Folds flat when not in use...

... they can also form a wide base for the pouch...

SewingTimes' Twin Purse Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Darts can create a wide base...

... or they can give a gentle curve to the bottom.

SewingTimes' Twin Purse Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
... or a nicely curved base...

I intend to use this (partly) as a makeup/toiletries bag for my carry-on when I fly. My normal toiletry tote contains stuff that's not permitted for carry on, but I keep certain bare necessities with me. We've had our luggage go missing for a day or two, so I am now always prepared for that bit of potential unpleasantness.

SewingTimes' Twin Purse Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Open wide...

With a finished size of about 5.5" high x 8.5" wide, it will hold quite a bit. (The original project was designed as a small purse or wristlet and includes instruction for making strap anchors and an adjustable strap.) I managed to stuff three folded dish cloths into each zippered pocket.

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With a rivet kit at my disposal, I made a tab out of the solid red ribbon and used a couple of rivets on the back to attach it.

SewingTimes' Twin Purse Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
View of side and back...

The creator of this tutorial is YouTube channel author SewingTimes. (She's an amazing sewer.) The video — she called it the DIY TWIN PURSE BAG — was uploaded October 3, 2019 if you want to search for it.

By the way, in keeping with a recent post about sharing our failures, let me say that I had a supremely dumb moment right at the end. The tutorial doesn't make a point of explicitly telling you to keep your zippers at least partially open, but I truly should have known better.

One of my zippers was in fact completely closed — the one that mattered, of course. Try as I might to move the head from the underside, I gave up and had to unpick enough of the bottom seam to reach inside and tug the zipper open.

Was it one of those "I'm almost finished" kind of mistakes? Maybe.

Do you find yourself rushing — just a wee bit — when you see a project coming to an end?

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Not So Mini Infinity in Chiffon

Not So Mini Infinity Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
A chiffon infinity scarf in my Floral Vines by Day fabric...
I never realized I had such a fondness for scarves until this sewing hobby took hold several years ago. Since then I've made enough scarf projects for me to add a new entry to my list of blog labels to facilitate finding them all.

Why are scarves so wonderful? Well, they can instantly jazz up a neutral or otherwise blah piece of clothing. If you're stuck with a reduced wardrobe while traveling, you can achieve greater versatility with limited selections just by draping a different scarf over your outfit.

In my case, whenever I want to "own" one of my fabric designs, I think, what better way to do so than to make a scarf?

Two years ago, I posted a quasi tutorial for how to make mini infinity scarf out of a fat quarter of Spoonflower's chiffon.

Not So Mini Infinity Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
Two fat quarters makes for a sufficiently voluminous scarf...

Today, I'm revisiting the idea with two fat quarters... thus the name of "not so mini". The extra fabric allows for a comfortable double wrap with lots of volume and the sheer nature of the chiffon means that the print shows on both sides of the fabric.

The fabric you see here is my Floral Vines by Day design. I picked these up during Spoonflower's late July 50% off fat quarters sale. (They are also currently wrapping up another 50% off fat quarter sale this very weekend; see top ad on my sidebar at left.)

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As I said the first time I worked with the chiffon, it's unexpectedly easy to sew. No special needle required. (I didn't even change out the needle that was in the machine from my last project.) It holds a crease reasonably well if you press it — at an appropriate heat setting, of course.

The process for making this not so mini infinity scarf is the same as for the mini version, but with one addition seam and a longer sewing length on the finishing part.

Not So Mini Infinity Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
Join the two fat quarters (wrong sides together) with rolled hems at both ends...

Before sewing, I trimmed both fat quarters so that there was 1/4" of the white border showing along all sides. This border is eventually hidden under the first fold of the rolled hem that's used to finish the scarf.

Floral Vines by Night fabric by eSheep Designs
Closeup of how the chiffon fabric looks on both sides; top right corner shows the rolled hem...

The order of sewing is to stitch up the two rolled hems that join the two fat quarters together first, creating a tube. Then the two circular raw edges are also finished off with a rolled hem. (Refer back to my original mini infinity post if you want more detailed instructions.)

Not So Mini Infinity Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
Infinity scarf fully extended in one loop...

Spoonflower's chiffon comes in a fat quarter width of 27", so two of them make for a decent length of scarf, whether infinity or not.

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Speaking of not, I also purchased a couple of fat quarters of the Floral Vines by Night design, as you saw in one of the photos above. For that fabric, I decided to make a basic scarf with two loose ends.

Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
Simple chiffon scarf in my Floral Vines by Night fabric...

Therefore, it was just one join of the two fat quarters and then the finishing up of the remaining raw edges. (One could say that this design is more versatile, since it can be turned into an infinity version by knotting up a couple of corners.)

Those of you with access to specialized presser feet may have one that can assist in sewing a rolled hem. I don't have one myself and find that the pinning process works well enough for me. (And from what I've heard, the presser foot is not foolproof and requires practice to get right.)

Chiffon Scarf by eSheep Designs
For an idea of length...

Now that I've seen both of these fabric designs in person, I can confirm that I was right about the darker version; the vines are virtually hidden against the black background.

As I said above, Spoonflower is currently wrapping up their November 50% off fat quarter sale (ends tomorrow), if you're interested in trying this out.

Have you ever sewn with chiffon? Did you find it easier or harder than expected?

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Tips for Mastering Zippers

Mastering Zippers by eSheep Designs
Untangling the mystery of zippers...
When I got back into sewing seven years ago to make my first ever non-clothing project (apart from curtains in Home Ec), my mom complimented me on my zippers. Then she told me that she has never liked doing them. This from a woman who had sewn most of her own clothes back in the sixties and seventies and had to have installed a zipper in virtually every garment.

How did I feel approaching my first zipper in almost three decades? Sewing up the front zippered pocket of the Professional Tote was one of the first steps of the project. I don't recall it giving me any trouble and remember thinking, this feels like familiar territory.

Yes, sewing zippers is a lot like riding a bike. ;-)

Mastering Zippers by eSheep Designs
Zipper tape by the yard and zipper pull...
That said, until I had installed a few more of them, I was always making sure to read carefully, to ensure that the exterior and lining fabric pieces were oriented the right way.

A few years later, I made my first purchase of zipper tape by the yard and had to learn how to install zipper pulls. As a result of one of my earliest projects using said zipper tape, I also had to troubleshoot what to do when zipper teeth separate behind the zipper pull.

When I came across a tip that made the insertion of a zipper pull onto the tape so much easier a couple of weeks ago, I figured it was high time to write a post about mastering zippers. Hopefully if you're a little wary about zippers in general, the following info will raise your confidence level like it did mine.

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The ABCs of a Zipper Sandwich

Did you think that only quilters talked about "sandwiches"?

Several years ago, I struggled through a project with multiple zippered pockets. While the process of installing the zippers was definitely not new to me, it was painful how many times I had to check to see if I was laying out the fabrics correctly.

Do you remember when you made your first lined, zippered pouch? Do you recall how odd and backwards the steps seemed to be, even though they produced perfect results in the end?

No? Do you still need to have your hand held while making a basic lined zippered pouch? There's no shame in that. But if you take the time to understand a set of rules that you can apply, it clears up the process immensely.

The question is, what exactly needs to be done to install a zipper between two fabrics — i.e., to create a "zipper sandwich" — regardless of any other specifics? Turns out there are three criteria that you can use as a checklist for success.

Zipper Sandwich by eSheep Designs
Making a "zipper sandwich"...

In the pictures above and below, the lining fabric is the paisley print; the exterior fabric is the purple print. (The photos are from a freebie project of mine, the mini retro reticule.)

A. The right sides of both fabrics must face each other

In figures 1 and 2 above, you see a zipper pinned between two fabrics. Figure 1 shows the lining fabric with right side up and the zipper on top of it; figure 2 shows the second piece of fabric right side down on top of that assembly.

Therefore, the right sides of both fabrics are facing each other, with the zipper in between.

B. The right side of the zipper faces the exterior fabric

In figure 1, you can see that the zipper is right side up on top of the lining fabric. Once the exterior fabric is placed right side down on top of this assembly, the right side of the zipper will be facing the exterior fabric, as shown in figure 2.

C. All three raw edges stack up evenly along one side

This third point ensures that you don't sew the fabrics to the wrong side of the zipper tape. As shown in figure 2, all three edges — of the lining fabric, the exterior fabric, and the zipper tape — line up; i.e., if half of the zipper tape is sticking out past the edges of the two fabrics, you've got it wrong.

The photos below show how these three criteria continue to apply to "the other side" of whatever the zipper is joining, whether it be the other half of a coat or a pouch.

Zipper Sandwich by eSheep Designs
Continuing the "zipper sandwich"...

Figure 3 shows the results of sewing the seam from figure 2 above. After sewing, the fabrics are flipped to their right sides and usually, there is some pressing and top-stitching done alongside the zipper.

Figure 4 shows the continuation of the process. The zipper — even though it is now attached to a couple of pieces of fabric — is again placed on top of the right side of the lining fabric, with the zipper right side up.

Zipper Sandwich by eSheep Designs
Completing the "zipper sandwich"...

When the final exterior fabric piece is placed on top of this assembly (as shown above), it will meet the criteria of A) being right sides together with the lining, B) facing the right side of the zipper, and C) having all raw edges stacked up evenly on one side.

So there you have it: the ABCs of making a zipper sandwich!

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Foolproof Zipper Head/Pull Installation

Let's put it this way: this is as foolproof as it gets. (If you're like me and have attached fewer than ten zipper pulls in your lifetime, then actual practice is really what's needed.) I don't want to guarantee anything, but doing it this way will surely improve your chances of success.

This works regardless of whether the zipper tape is currently in two pieces (i.e., completely separated into two halves) or whether it is still joined.

Mastering Zippers by eSheep Designs

Installing a zipper pull onto a joined zipper tape..

Step 1: Cut a "v" shape into the top of the zipper tape where you will be "loading" the zipper head. (If you want, apply some Fray Check or glue to stiffen the ends.)
Mastering Zippers by eSheep Designs
Installing onto
separated zipper

Step 2: Separate the zipper teeth slightly if still joined and ease one side of the zipper tape into the zipper pull. (Make sure you're feeding the zipper tape into the curved end of the zipper pull.) You should feel as though the teeth are "catching" inside. Then ease the other half of the zipper tape into the other side of the zipper pull.

Step 3: Here is where it gets easier. Grasp the two ends of the "v" shape with the fingers of one hand while you pull on the zipper head with your other hand. It should slide on with no problem.

Whether this works for you on the first try or the fifth, you may wind up with some frazzled zipper tape. Hopefully, you have enough length to allow you to cut off the damaged part without adversely affecting your sewing project.

BONUS TIP #1: Always, always start off with more zipper tape than you need if you're going to be fiddling around with zipper pulls.

BONUS TIP #2: If you find yourself just slightly short on usable zipper length, add fabric "tabs" at each end to make up the difference. (They will actually make it easier to sew up the side seams later.)

Troubleshooting a Common Zipper Problem

Zippers are generally self-repairing, right? So if the teeth come apart behind the zipper head, all you have to do is pull it back and it should fix itself.

Or not.

Most of the time, you'll likely resolve the issue by pulling it back and forth, but on the odd occasion, the separation may persist.

Mastering Zippers by eSheep Designs
Is your zipper separating behind the slider?

The good news is that there's a fix for that. Grab a pair of small needle nose pliers and you'll have the problem solved in no time. Clamp down very gently on both sides of the zipper head as shown.

Mastering Zippers by eSheep Designs
Tackle it with a pair of pliers...

The problem is likely that the zipper head is not tight enough to join the zipper teeth as it slides over them.

Mastering Zippers by eSheep Designs
Problem fixed!

When this happens with old zippers, the simple explanation is that over time, zipper heads just wear out. (Depending on how old, the slider may actually break if you try to fix it this way.) If you're dealing with new zipper tape and heads — as was the case with me — it's probably that they're just slightly mismatched in size.

Anyway, those were my tips for mastering zippers. If even one of them is of assistance to you in future, my job here is done!

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Customizing a Convertible Backpack/Sling Bag

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
My first real backpack project...
Last week I posted about how to create a written tutorial out of a YouTube video, using a project from JSDaily's sewing channel as an example. (One other tip to pass along about the process, in case you weren't aware: if you find it difficult to pause a video at the right spot to capture an image, slow it down — you can select as low as quarter speed — by going into settings and selecting playback speed.)

Today I'll share with you some photos of the backpack that I ultimately made with that tutorial, with a few customizations.

I mentioned that I made one change based on fabric. I only had one fat quarter of this "linen" from Dollarama, meaning that while it was wide enough, after splitting it into two, it wasn't long enough for the main portion. Therefore I had to use more of the bottom contrast fabric (which was the curtain fabric last seen on my Oriole Bag).

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
Here is the reason for my taking on this project... the split zippered strap

The other significant change that I made was to the exterior pockets. While I like the look of the angled zippered pockets, I've made them a few times before and these ones seemed too small. So I opted for a large horizontal pocket instead.

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
Bag arranged with front edge folded up, revealing the exterior pocket.

Having not made the diagonal pockets, I will say that the advantage of them would be that they are accessible with the bag folded down, whereas my horizontal pocket is entirely hidden. (Although I suppose whether that might actually be preferable depends on need for security.)

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The bag made during the tutorial featured some unusual hardware fasteners. They were nothing that I had ever encountered in my trips to the sewing aisle of Walmart, so I made do with what I had, which was hook and loop tape, a lobster clasp, a couple of D rings with fabric anchors, and rivets.

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
My straps anchored to the bottom of the bag in a more traditional way...

Luckily I did have some continuous black (#5) zipper tape and some zippy zipper pulls to add bling. (Do you like installing zipper pulls? Me, not so much. I haven't done enough of them to be confident about achieving success without doing damage to the zipper teeth, but I did learn a new trick to make it totally easier next time.)

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
Inside of the front zippered pocket...

While the linen fabric has a directional print, it's not obviously apparent. I would suggest that you choose something without a directional print, considering how the bag is contorted into its final shape and can be used with a corner of it folded up or down.

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The inside lining features a zippered pocket as well, but when all was said and done, I would have preferred it to be located a couple of inches lower. It's currently positioned near the top "pointy" area that makes it harder to access.

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
View of the interior...

A lobster clasp attached to a "mini strap" made out of fabric sits at the top of the bag. When the zipper is closed, the clasp can be hooked to the zipper head to hold the triangular ends of the bag together (i.e., the "front edge folded up" look).

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
Hook clasps on to top of zipper pull...

Because I had more of the solid contrast fabric at the bottom than called for in the original pattern, I wanted to add something to that area to jazz it up. With my scraps of linen, I made a hot air balloon shaped applique and glued it on.

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
My "hot air balloon" applique has a hook and loop tape "basket"...

Then — realizing that I needed to have a solution for the how to keep the "flap" secured when in the down position — I cut some square pieces of hook and loop tape and had one of them act as the hot air balloon "basket".

My last bit of modification comes in the form of adding some buttons to the front zipper area. (I had recently taken out my button collection for another purpose and saw that I had several in this colour.)

So as I come to the picture that shows the scale of this bag, am I alone in thinking that it is rather large??

JSDaily Convertible Backpack crafted by eSheep Designs
For an idea of scale...

At its widest point, it's fifteen inches (38cm). It's more or less also that "tall", so it's a squarish sort of bag. Not my preferred look, but on the other hand, I don't have this type of bigger bag that can be used to tote a light sweater or jacket, and this one meets that criteria completely.

In any case, the inside lining has still not been sewn up. If I want to make even more changes, I still can. ;-)

5 Minute Lip Balm Holder by eSheep Designs
A matching lip balm holder made out of the linen scraps...

A few days later, I went back to the scraps of linen and interfacing and found enough to make one of my 5 minute lip balm carriers. The linen frays terribly but I interfaced it with some SF101 and then zigzagged the raw edges.

Scrapbooking brads...

The little Paris Eiffel Tower embellishment is actually a scrapbooking brad from a package that I picked up last month at a discount store for $1.25. They reminded me of Tim Holtz's Eclectic Elements fabric, so I had to have them, even with not knowing what they might ultimately be used for... any ideas?