Friday, November 2, 2012

The Everything Bag: A Finish & A Review

Some months ago, I decided I wanted to make a bag with lots of pockets. The Talkin' Tuesdays crowd suggested Amy Butler's Everything Bag from her book, Little Stitches for Little Ones. It's intended to be a diaper bag, so it's got pockets aplenty.

This is by far the biggest and most complicated bag I've made, so I wanted to share the down and dirty details. I'll give you the good news first.

What I like about the finished bag: 
- It's big!
- Four awesome pleated and elasticized interior pockets.
- It stands on its own thanks to a sturdy double Peltex bottom.
- The double Peltex divider keeps papers flat and gives you the option of putting your computer or iPad on either side without it taking up the bag's whole interior.
- The two exterior pockets on the end panels are great for stashing your phone, kleenex pouches, keys, or small chargers and cables.

Cons about the whole experience:
- Interpreting the pattern was a serious challenge. I literally stared at one section for an hour trying to figure out what pieces I was supposed to be working with next. Unfortunately, this pattern refers to the same pieces of fabric by different names in different sections of the pattern. If they would have been consistent about naming and gone to the trouble of printing the extra words, it would have been much clearer. 
- There were only three illustrations to help explain the assembly, and they didn't do much to enhance the written instructions. It would have been helpful to have an illustration labeling all of the different parts of the bag so you could orient yourself during cutting and assembly.
- Lots of cutting.
- Lots of Pellon SF101 interfacing, Fusible Fleece, and some Peltex. Use your coupons, people. 

What got me through:
- Cutting: I threw my cut fabric up on the design wall as I was cutting it out and labeled all of the pieces. I wish I had cleared off my whole design wall and put all of the interfacing, fleece, and fabric sections together. Straps with straps, pockets with pockets, etc. There was no cutting diagram, so have extra of everything
- Fusing: I kept a spray bottle of water handy. My pressing cloth was an old t-shirt that Mr. Pins was going to toss. I just sprayed the t-shirt with water and parked my steamy iron on top to fuse everything. Having my watch helped so I could tell whether or not I'd waited the whole ten seconds for the glue to melt and bond. Giving it the whole ten seconds definitely helped the fleece fuse better. I'm glad I used the fusible fleece instead of substituting batting, though.
- Input from the web: Lots of bloggers mentioned it was impossible to make the final edge stitching around the top of the bag look nice, because the divider came up to the top of the bag. I boldly cut an inch off of my Peltex divider pieces and an inch off the top of the lining divider pieces. It didn't change the construction, so I figured it would be ok. I'm so glad I did this. Doing the final edge stitching was still hard, but I could go all the way around the bag. 

What I changed:
- Straps: I fused two pieces of SF101 interfacing to the back of the straps, and I made the straps 26" long instead of 18".
- Shortened the center divider by an inch. 
- The fabric I used on the exterior is from the Piccadilly Collection by Sparky & Marie for Quilting Treasures. Alas, it's not licensed for use in items made from it. The fabric is heavier than quilting cotton, but it's pretty light on the home dec scale that the pattern called for. Using a heavier fabric would make for a crazy sturdy bag.
- I used 14" of elastic for my pockets, and I'm glad I did.

Additional changes for the next time around:
- I might add two Peltex dividers sewn into the sides to make an exclusive loose paper section.
- I would cut the strap pieces 5" wide and possibly make them long enough to sew into the seam where the exterior bottom panel meets the exterior main panel so the straps would go all the way down the exterior main panels to the bottom of the bag. This would make the strap components 5"x47.5". You'd have to fold down the top of the exterior 1/2" before sewing the panels to the length of the bag. I thought about this while eyeing a Vera Bradley bag in the airport on the way to Sewing Summit. The great thing about this is that you could then put another pocket in between those two straps =D
- It could be fun to shrink the pattern down a smidge. A more everyday size with all of these pockets would be a dream.
- I think a laminate version would be awesome.
- I wouldn't try to make this bag in one day again. Definitely plan for two full days of work at the least. I wanted to finish it before Sewing Summit, and I stayed up too late. Then I was up late packing the next night. I paid for those shenanigans for days. 
- I'd like to try straight line quilting on the exterior panels to give it some texture.
- I think substituting Pellon 809 for the SF101 would give it more strength and structure without adding much weight.

I took extensive notes while trying to interpret the pattern. If you're trying to make this bag and you get lost, email me. I'd be happy to try to help if you're stuck. In the end, I'm so glad I made this bag. Jeni Baker was sweet to compliment me on it at Sewing Summit, and I had folks ask about it in the airport and at Quilt Market.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October 2012 Recap

This blog post is coming to you live from International Quilt Festival in Houston! I'm starting this month surrounded by everything quilting, and I absolutely love it. Seriously. I've died and gone to quilting heaven. November is going to be out of control, so let me shed a little light onto what happened in October.

New Logo

Holla! My amazing graphic designer sister, Paige, brought Sewing Over Pins to life with her crafty computer ways. She's got the gift of Illustrator and it shows. Feel free to hit her up at paigertyler (at) gmail (dot) com for all of your graphic design needs. I met with her casually twice about what I needed and envisioned, and she zeroed in on exactly what I was hoping for. Amazing! I am thrilled and thankful :-D

Accepted to Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market in Austin

On October 8th, I learned I was accepted to the Renegade Craft Fair Austin Holiday Market on Nov 24 & 45. Oh boy! I'm gonna be makin' it rain quilts around here ;-) I'm grateful for the support of my husband and my family going into this adventure. (We're having Thanksgiving in Austin instead of Louisiana to accommodate this undertaking.) I felt less intimidated after reading about Rachel's craft fair experience, so I'll be sure to share my experience as well. If you're in Austin that weekend, do come see me! The fair is on from 11am to 6pm both days.

Amy Butler Everything Bag

I've got a whole post written about my experience making this diaper bag for all my crafty nomad needs at Sewing Summit and beyond. Get pumped! I'll share the changes I made to the pattern and my suggestions for lots more tweaks ;-)

Sewing Summit

Do reference the long post from yesterday about the amazing crafty adventure that was Sewing Summit's second annual conference. It was such great time!

Fall Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival 2012

I drove the 2 hours and forty-five minutes from Austin on Saturday morning, unpacked in my Airbnb digs, and headed straight to my first Quilt Market. Whoa. This is fun. It was great to see so many fabric designers, trim & button vendors, pattern designers, notion distributors, machine and notion manufacturers, and quilters all in one place. Randomly running into fellow Austin Modern Quilt Guild members has been a riot. Seeing friends from the web like Christy, Charlotte, and Bianca, has been mind blowing fun. Mind blowing. The Echino booth was a candy shop of woven delight. Melody Miller's magical mid century booth and Ellen Luckett Baker's booth full of ginko leaf and ladybug prints from her new Stamped line filled me with radiant joy. I'm taking so many classes during Quilt Festival, it's like going to quilt college. It certainly felt that way during an accounting-heavy 8am session during Market on Monday ;-)


My Halloween treat was running the table at The Modern Quilt Guild quilt exhibit at International Quilt Festival last night. I was concerned it was going to be more of a trick than a treat since I was on duty from 5-10 pm after a day of two three-hour classes. I had originally signed up for a 7-10 pm slot, but when no one else could work from 5-7 pm, I agreed to go straight from the end of my class at 5 pm to the table after grabbing some quick food to hold me over. Once I got to the table, it was non-stop fun. I enjoyed having people ask me questions about modern quilting or how to get out of the giant exhibition hall. I tried to help folks find quilts, exhibits, and their missing friends. Christy Fincher from Purple Daisies stopped by to say "Hi." I got to meet two quilt angels, a gal and her 92 year-old mother-in-law who used to quilt. She talked to me about her grandmother making "britches quilts" by holding worn out pants up to the light and cutting squares from sections of fabric that wasn't yet threadbare. Yup, my idea of a good time is talking to a 92 year-old about her grandmother's quilting. I'm wild and crazy.

Let the holiday season begin!