Have you ever tried to draft and then sew your own pattern? Maybe you have walked around a craft fair and instead of purchasing a home sewn item, you said to yourself I could make that. Or you search the internet for ideas and think to yourself " I could totally make that " You can do it but it is a challenge. I made the bag above and wanted to show you my process because as I moved through it, there were several moments when I really wanted to put it away but I had a birthday deadline to meet. I also had a special request from my son and you know I was not going to let him down.
This bag was my original design. I drafted and sewed it several years ago. In fact I did a blog about embroidery machines and sewing the name on the front of it. You can check that out here. This bag came about from a Christmas gift my son received. We bought him a laptop that year and he needed something to carry it with. Both of my sons are computer geeks and their devices have always gone everywhere with them so I knew it would have to be sturdy.
My main design goals were a safe place to cradle his laptop and lots of pockets. There were so many different techniques in this bag. I had an exterior zippered pocket with lining. An interior quilted "hammock" for the device. Interior zippered pocket for smaller items. A heavy duty padded handle with D rings would need to be secure as he wore the bag on his shoulder
Here are a few views of the bag today. When I looked closely I saw some things that I wanted to change, but for the most part, it has done really well and he has used it every day. This bag helped him finish high school and it took him almost all the way through college.
The one area that I knew I had to improve was where the strap connected to the bag. I repaired these at least two times. The last repair brought the request from my son that he might need to commission a new bag from me. When I originally designed the pattern, you can see the strap connection is right at the top seam of the bag. It performed pretty well but needed to be further down into the gusset. I also wanted to add more interior pockets. So there were some changes that had to be drafted.
When I originally created my pattern, I used brown wrapping paper so I would have something to use in the future just in case. I am so glad I did that.
Then I found my original instructions. I wrote these down as I sewed the original bag. As I read them, I thought why didn't I re-write these and type everything up really neatly? It took me a day of looking over everything just to get my bearings on how this bag went together the first time. So I tried to organize it better. I got on my computer and drafted up some cutting layouts.
Then I made fabric lists and little tabs for cutting each piece out.
And it grew..... And grew...... Until........
My entire working table was covered with instructions, and layouts and templates and my first wave of defeat. I didn't know if I had everything in my fabric stash. I have a lot of fabric and my other challenge was to use some of it. Since I am home and social distancing, I am not going out to shop for anything new. I did look online to see if I could find fabric to order but that didn't last long as the shipping times would be after his birthday. So I had to use available materials. I didn't have one color for the entire bag so I had to make another list showing which colors I would use for each pattern piece.
Fast forward to all of my pieces being cut out, labeled and nicely waiting for me to begin sewing. All I can say is a lot of coffee made this possible.
Here is the quilt batting ready to sew for the device hammock.
The first thing on the bag was that name being embroidered and then the zipper being installed on the flap. I love messenger bags and I think not making use of that flap for a pocket really wastes material. It is an extra step but my son uses it all of the time.
The fabric I had in stock is Duck canvas. This created new challenges because it is very thick.
Another big issue for me was the interfacing I had in stock. The original bag used an iron on interfacing. I didn't have that in my stash but I did have Soft and Stable foam. It had to be sewn in so that added an extra task to each step.
Here are the finished views. The front pocket is fully lined.
That connection has been sewn farther down into the gusset of the bag. I also created the strap this time instead of using pre-made strapping. This one is also adjustable which the original was not..
The quilting is vertical on this bag and I added bias binding to the top instead of using the lining fabric to finish the hammock seam.
I added an elastic expandable pocket for the laptop cord to have it's own storage place.
Several smaller pockets for pencils and other loose items were added this time.
The zipper pocket is the same as the original bag. I noticed my son really used this one. It might be hard to see from these interior pictures but another change was my having to hand sew the lining into this version. My sewing machine did have a hard time when I sewed the straps to the bag. The duck fabric coupled with the soft and stable foam gave it a workout. I did some creative trimming on the foam but by the time I got to finishing the interior, I was tired of wrestling with the arm of my machine and the bulk of the bag.
Here is the back pocket and a view of that adjustable strap. So altogether from start to finish it took me six days to complete this bag. I would estimate I have over 30 hours total invested in putting it together. That includes all of the redesign, layout, cutting and sewing.
Did I go back and rewrite those pattern notes you ask? No I did not. I put them neatly away as I remembered why I didn't do it the first time. I was too exhausted. Proud that I completed the bag but brain dead and ready to move on to an easy project.
My process might look hard or too entailed to you but it is only one way that patterns can be drafted and sewn. You would probably have a different way to make your own and that is perfectly fine. If you have tried in the past and not had success, don't give up. There is no correct way to make this happen. That is why you may enjoy sewing with certain ready made patterns and not others. Reverse engineering is a great way to expand your sewing skills and all of this will follow you toward your next sewing adventure. So are you ready to challenge yourself and try your own pattern? You can do it. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
Social Distancing has become our new normal but we know it will come to an end. It is sometimes hard to know when we are living in a turning point in history. I don't think any of us would doubt that right now. As our lives get back to normal we will remember this time. I wanted to create a design that you could send to your friends and loved ones so they can look back and talk about. When I was growing up, we kept photo albums and I loved to sit with my parents and ask questions. It always sparked some great family discussions. This "Sewcial" Distancing Embroidery design just might do the same thing for you.
At the same time that we are sheltering in place and trying to stay well, there are "Essential Workers" who are on the front lines. I have a brother who is a nurse in Houston. Now he is always a hero to me because the medical facility where he works specifically helps patients on respirators. With the increase of patients and lack of some important PPE supplies, he is more than ever risking his own health every day. I wanted to create a second design in his honor and this Hero Social Distancing Embroidery design does just that.
So there are TWO FREE DESIGNS! Both of the postcards stitch out in one hooping and do require a 5x7 hoop. The back of the card can be customized with any fabric. My brother was in the Army so I used that for his postcard.
The materials needed besides your fabric are cardstock and a firm interfacing. I used Pellon with an adhesive because I had it in my stash, but plain interfacing would work also.
The design includes a PDF pattern that you use to cut out all of the pieces. An SVG cut file is included also if you have an automatic cutter. I would advise exact cutting because the design is very precise around the blanket stitch edges.
All of the details sew and then the fabric goes on the back so you hide the stitching.
Sewing card stock on your embroidery machine or sewing machine for that matter is not difficult. I used a Sharp 75/11 embroidery needle. A little embroidery tip is to pull just a length of extra thread after each trim and when each embroidery object begins to sew. These designs have been digitized so there is a color change after each trim. This will give you the opportunity to grab that thread while the first couple of stitches begin. It really does help resolve any thread shredding or tangling.
You can use a white bobbin or match your color to the blanket stitch around the edges.
My firm interfacing was adhesive on both sides so I did an extra step of pressing it once completed. This just strengthen all of the layers and should help as it travels through the postal system.
Mailing these postcards should not be a problem. I brought both of them to my local post office and cleared the designs with them so they should be deliverable. The USPS has some guidelines that need to be followed with postcards. At the time of this post, the size must be no larger than 4 1/4 inches x 6 inches and the thickness no larger than 1/16th of an inch. I weighed mine and they are 4 ounces so well within the limit of postcard postage but double check that when you mail yours. I will however be using Forever stamps so I hope there is enough postage. Once the Postal service receives and stamps the postage as being cancelled, your receiver will have a part of history they can save. Kind of like a newspaper clipping but special because it came from someone who cared about them.
Here is a picture of one of my postcards after it was received. You can see that the USPS did stamp it as Non Machinable and the Forever Stamp postage did have to be increased with an additional ounce stamp. You will need to verify the required postage with your local Post Office before mailing.
Are you ready to make these postcards? Visit my Free Designs Page and download them. Remember that a 5x7 hoop is required. There is a graphic that you can look at to see the design types and sizes to verify your machine can stitch these out. I also have a You Tube video below that you can watch the entire stitch out. There are full color instructions in the download also. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
My creative MOJO has been slightly diminished with the current social distancing and threat of the Covid-19 but I think it is coming back. Check out my blog about how I started to regain my focus and get a little bit happier and HOPEFUL here.
Now back to my most recent project. I have a back porch that I really love to utilize but I did not have a screen door until now. This time of year is perfect for letting those spring breezes freshen up my house. It also invites all of the flying critters in. So I decided to do something about it.
I had a few feet of fiberglass screening mesh in my stash believe it or not. I have sewn beach bags with this in the past and it works great if you haven't tried it. It will do fine on your sewing machine. I also had some outdoor fabric with a plastic coating on it. Kind of like that tablecloth material but thicker. It doesn't ravel on the edges either so great for this project.
A Teflon sewing foot helped me guide the fabric and mesh through without any problems.
I laid everything out and used clips to hold the pieces together as I sewed. It was large so I had to take my time.
Now my view from my house is a little different and I love it. The fabric on the bottom makes it look like a screen door. It is not permanent though. So I can remove it in bad weather or when the season ends.
Grommets and cup hooks helped me mount everything. I did have to add a small amount of length to the bottom because I mounted the cup hooks on top of the frame instead of in it. So I would advise you to cut your bottom panel a little longer than what you think you will need just in case you decide it would work better.
Here you see the bottom view and that addition. I used a piece of 1x2 lumber inside a casing to weight the bottom and keep the panel flat as it hangs. Also, it does a good job of making sure that screen doesn't fly into the doorway as the wind blows. Small magnets and hot glue secured the panel so it clicks into place. I had a very windy day to test it out and so far so good.
You can open it easily to step in or out of the door. My dogs have become accustomed to it and they tried it a couple of times but now will just stand there and wait for me to open it. I have used the cheaper screen covers and purchased one each season because they will tear at the bottom. I hope this fabric will increase the time this cover lasts.
Here are the final measurements for the fabric and the screen. You may need to alter these according to your frame and door size. I also did a You Tube Video that you can watch the whole sewing process below. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work!
What a time in our history. My son said something that really struck home for me. He said it feels weird to be in a state of normalcy and emergency at the same time. For me, I have been through all of the emotions that I know each of you are living with. At times, it really is surreal and I have gotten sad. To help me get motivated, I walked around my yard in the rain and watched my dogs. You know our furry friends are living this too. As we moved from place to place, I noticed they were just so happy.
Look at Rambo in the background. He is living right in the moment just like he always does. Patrolling the yard and chasing squirrels. Look at my flowers. They are beautiful
My garden is coming in nicely and the fig tree that I nurture all year waiting for juicy fruit to harvest is showing the beginning leaves.
I am already picking micro greens and will soon be enjoying fresh salads and herbs. Nature and my furry friends hold all the hope in the world. They are living and moving forward. Content and thriving.
If you are feeling down, maybe take a walk outside and just breathe. Look closely at all of the things that are constant around you. This really helped me. I have a short video showing you my walk in the rain. I send you hope and peace.
Lagniappe Peddler believes that the process of working with our hands can be one of the best forms of healing the hurts in our lives and welcomes all who visit this safe little corner of the world.
What is a Lagniappe Peddler?
ˌlanˈyap,ˈlanˌyap - something given as a bonus or extra gift
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