Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lady Sews the Blues

I finally completed my no-pattern, self-drafted denim bag in between other projects.  So, now you'll see some of the steps, visually of where I started and ended.  This is the first time I have created something (worthwhile, anyway) sewing-wise without any pattern or directions of any kind.  It was really fun to unleash my artistic tendencies in the sewing arena.  I love to sketch and think outside the box on how to do something different.  That is where true creation is born.

Below are pics I took in the order of how the bag was constructed.  I started with some old jeans that belonged to my daughter.  I wanted to make a unique denim bag that wasn't sloppy but kinda a cool to tote around.  I chose a basic size of the whole bag, based on what I learned from making the messenger bag for my daughter.

pieces before sewing

From that basic size, I cut strips of denim in the various shades of denim, as you can see.  I cut off all of her back pockets and ripped out most of the stitching so I could re-stitch in the same area,  but not be as bulky.

A lesson I learned from cutting and sewing the strips together is to make sure you cut all the pieces in the same grain.  Otherwise, you'll have some wonky pieces that really want to stretch out.

The pic you see here shows the stiff (but, not stiff enough) fusible interfacing I used to give more structure to the bag.  I would choose a heavier weight next time.

I really recommend using basting stitches through the middle of the pockets and near the sides a little before sewing the pockets in place.  It definitely keeps them from shifting.
all sides sewn together
bag lining and pocket
At the last minute, I added an inside slotted pocket and backed it with the same stiff interfacing.  Even though I like bags with pockets, I end up ignoring them for some reason when I actually use/wear the bags.  I know, it makes no sense. 
the button pins worked great for this

Now, one of the lessons I learned while sewing this bag was when trying to attach the top trim piece (sewn in one piece).  After you handle denim pieces over and over that have spandex in them--they tend to stretch--go figure!  So, my bag circumference was larger than the actual trim you see here.  I decided to then go back on each side and add a small pleat near each side end to kind of 'gather' that material to "make it work", as Tim Gunn would say!

Also, I must say that it was difficult to sew (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd....time around) using denim thread up top and denim thread in the bobbin (which I found out from my local dealer that I wasn't supposed to do)---it's not calibrated for that kind of thread).  So, they told me to use regular construction thread up top, but use a triple stitch with a longer stitch length--and construction thread in the bobbin, as well.

The next pic shows the metal feet I added to the bottom.  I wanted to add a classy touch to the bag, like the expensive bags in department stores.

metal feet
handles were bought from Jo-Ann's
Close-up of the tortoise handles that were added using belt loops from the jeans.  It just seemed a 'given' or an expected idea  to use the belt loops as loops for the handles.

The completed bag showing the end of the bag--I added small pockets--big enough for a pen or pencil--on each end piece.  You can also see the ready-made grommet pockets--another great find from old jeans.  Most all of the denim came from the old jeans.  I did buy some extra fabric from Jo-Ann's for correcting some mistakes and to use for the trim around the top and end pieces.

One side of the bag has the pockets you see above right and the other as you see it left.

And of course, what would a denim bag be without some added bling--Swarovski crystals!!

If I did this over again:  I would have added a magnetic snap closure or zipper because the bag naturally wants to open wide when I set it down anywhere.  I don't usually use the zippers, etc. that come with bags I buy--again, makes no sense, but I think adding something wouldn't make it 'hang' open so much.

In all, I am pleased with the outcome and now know things I would do differently when making bags in the future.  I would have definitely added stiffer interfacing to make the bag stand on its own.  All in all it was a good learning experience.