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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Detour week continued, wallet edition

I am spending this week in Cape Breton with my husband who has a project out of Cheticamp . He has been doing this project for two summers now, although he is home and on the weekends, is getting a little road weary.

So I decided to come up and stay in the RV to keep him company in the evenings, and of course to walk my some cute petit chien and sew.

Since this was a last minute decision I packed only basic supplies, odd fabric, my Bernina Minamatic 807, which sews through everything, and a few bag patterns that I had bought and never used.

I felt isolation would force me to do something new. I am a garment sewer, or sewist as I am supposed to say.

Whenever I attempt something out of garments it does not go well. 

There was the time I was a smocking school drop-out and the time my expert quilter sister and I attempted to jointly make a quilt for our parents - and she sent my half of the squares back.

I am pretty used to fronts and backs, and facings, sleeves and darts. I recognize these things and have been working with them since I was eight.

However there are such as thing as ruts and even when they are comfortable they can still be ruts and that's not something you want to self-identify as is it? Yourself as a rut stuck person?

So I got this idea in my head that I should try making bags since I am noticing some amazingly professional bags out there being made by home sewers - a far cry from the tote bag patterns that were all that was around for say the last 60 years.

I started with a wallet.

My husband lost his over the weekend despite both he and I supposed to be paying attention. He needed a new one. I volunteered on the spur of the moment to make one, and here is how that went.

First I used this pattern from Mrs. H in the UK. I downloaded the pattern a while ago and have noticed that there is also now a free add-on for a zipper pocket addition that I think would be very much worth doing.

I dug around in my scrap box and cut apart some packaging I found in the RV for an identity card window (not ideal but all I could figure out) and used some random heavy duty interfacing that I picked up in a bargain bin in Winnipeg.

What I am getting at here is that this was prototype more than a perfect product.

I learned a few things making this wallet as a garment maker:

  • this was a lot of fun. I am so used to garment patterns I always know what is coming next and why. I had no sense of that here and as such was pretty pleased with myself when something actually turned into something it was supposed to. Quite a satisfying project and did jiggle around the brain cells which has to do you some good.
  • this is more complicated than it looks, this bag business. I think I remember 40+ steps in the instructions and this unit is only palm sized.
  • Some stuff is weird. I added some seam finishing and I struggled a bit with bulk. The instructions call for heavy weight interfacing for the outer piece and I get that but you then have to do some topstitching through it all, many layers. I used a denim needle and the old Bernina is more or less the sewing equivalent of a snow plow, but I am not sure most machines could do it. Particularily for the final part at least when you have essentially two turned wallets that you stitch together at the bottom through all layers.
  • there is a good reason why so many bags seem to start from quilting cottons- bulk is such an issue that too heavy a fabric, I used a light weight denim,  after all the interfacing would be too hard to stitch. I would go into the next project thinking ahead more about reducing fabric layers.

Finally I enjoyed making something right outside my comfort zone. In fact have cut out a little bag for myself today, took most of the day to cut and fuse, but I am excited to see how it goes tomorrow. This one even has a turn lock.

Long way from facings.

Now tell me what new things have you tried and how did you find that experience?


badmomgoodmom said...

The new wallet looks pretty nice. Hope he didn't lose anything irreplaceable in his old wallet.

I'm glad that you are learning new things. I've been too swamped by work and current events in the US to learn new things for my hobbies. I'm keeping the sewing and knitting simple and soothing these days.

At work, I've been learning how to use and manipulate data in MySQL tables using Perl and Python. I think of myself as old school in the computer world, but I really do prefer new-fangled Python to Perl.

OTOH, I do use a computerized sewing machine.

wendy said...

Bags are a good fun project for me when my sewing mojo is low and because they are so small I can play around with fabric. My recent favourites are a coated linen from which I made myself a backpack and an oiled cotton that became a duffel bag for my husband. My walking foot is a good tool as is my 'bump walker'.

MakeitAnyWear said...

I've starting working on bras. That's certainly new and differently.

Anonymous said...

I'm always learning and trying new things when I sew but it's all strictly garment sewing. My wardrobe isn't big enough to sew other things yet. A few years ago I did sew a bag but it was a fail because ii didn't use a heavy enough interfacing.
For the last year or two I've been drafting my own garment patterns which satisfies one side of my brain. I also try to use a new technique for each garment. For example I just learn how to bag a lining on my last jacket. There is always more to learn!

M-C said...

Don't give in to this stupid trend of uding sewist instead og garment sewer. Mercifully it's pretty much passe anyway 😀. But yes, making something different can be fun. Note that a wallet is more difficult than a bag because of all the fussy little pieces. As to your sister, she is more expert in quilting than in relationships, isn't she? You could try to make a smaller project with your own squares, like a lap quilt or a pillow. If the blocks reflect your own taste at all. Or better yet use them as the basis for a bag.

Tracy King said...

I must admit, more and more over the last two years, I have detoured away from sewing and into crocheting. I have such a hard time getting fabric where I live (Southern Sask.) but yarn is readily available. Plus, it seem like all the patterns I love are with knit fabric which ends up costing more than buying the clothing in the first place. I am sure I will wander back to sewing when my kids are grown and I have grand-babies (I hope that is an experience I am allowed in this life). Right now they are teens and not interested in mommy made clothing but still accept the occasional crocheted item. Such is life, always a changing journey. I am happy for you that you joined your hubby!!! We only have so much time to enjoy the ones we love so taking the time to do that is essential :) Have a super week and thanks for sharing your journey with us.

AlaskaBerninaGirl said...

I've made my last two purses and love them. In fact, getting ready to make another. The last one I tried using a medium weight linen and it did not hold up as well as I anticipated. I LOVE the pattern and the process though, it has you print a set of labels that are adhered to each piece and makes construction a (semi) breeze! This pattern is from the same company that brings you the Professional Tote and the Mini Pro Tote which are awesome.

Enjoy the time with your hubs, I always like tagging along but I think in a motor home with my sewing machine would be heaven!

overflowingstash said...

A timely post as I'm about to embark on a wallet making journey too! But the pattern link doesn't seem to work :-( Could really use the guidance...