Monday, August 23, 2021

Sew Together Bag SAL // Week 5: Finishing It Up! (last zipper + bindings)

Ok - Technically I should have waited a week for this, but I just couldn't help myself!  We need to get these cute Sew Together bags finished! 

Which is exactly what we're going to do today:  

- final zipper
- binding
- zipper tabs

Attaching the last zipper + bindings:

Final Step: Zipper Tabs!
One thing to mention: if you're using a Long Pull zipper like I am here (long pull zipper = wider), you will need to make your tabs a bit bigger.  Cut (2) 2"x6".

And just like that, you have a finished Sew Together Bag!  Please be sure to tag me when you post photos of your bags - seeing your progress (and your joy in the journey) is often the highlight of my day!

Sew Together Bag Sew-Along schedule:
(click on any previous date to be taken to that week's blog post)

July 26 - Intro (part 2): Ideas for Personalizing Your Outer Panel

Aug 2 - Week 1: Cutting + Interfacing

Aug 9 - Week 2: Outer Panel

Aug 16 - Week 3: Insides (zippers)

Aug 23 - Week 4: Attaching the Sides (and Binding!)

Aug 30 - Week 5: Finishing It Up! (final zipper + binding)

Sew Together Bag SAL // Week 4: Attaching the Sides (and Binding!)

It's week 4 of our Sew Together Bag SAL, and if you've made it this far, you made it through zippers!  What did you think?  Easier than you thought? (I'll try not to say I told you so!) And isn't it fun to learn something new?

This week we will be attaching the SIDES (and side bindings), which instantly transforms this into a 3-dimensional bag.  

I've broken the videos down into smaller chunks, so you can watch whatever steps you need help with. Through the videos I often mention helpful tips - things I've learned along the way to make this bag a bit easier - so I'd suggest giving the videos a watch before you get started (if you have the time), because you might pick up a few things that make it more effortless.

*One thing I would like to mention: If you're going to add a label to your bag, now would be the time!  (I forgot to add mine at this point, and as you can see in the photo above, and it's harder to add it later on.)

Prep the zipper pockets for the side panels
-clean up (trim) the sides of your zipper pockets
-stitch 1/8" along sides of zipper pockets (don't stitch past the 3.5" pocket line!)
-zig zag along edge (I skip this step, since I sew on a juki and it's only a straight stitch and I'm lazy!)

Sew your side panel pieces
Don't forget to:
- pivot at the corners

- increase your stitch length when you topstitch!
In my video, I share a simple way to mark your side panels.

Attach the side panels to the zipper pockets

Attach the inside of your bag to the outer panel, and adding side bindings.

And there you have it!  Have fun sewing!

If you want to reference previous posts, here's the links:

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sew Together Bag SAL // Week 3: Zippers + Topstitching

This week is probably the most highly anticipated week of our Sew Together Bag sew-along:  Zipper week!  This week we are adding zippers and making our pockets. 

If you don't have much previous experience sewing zippers, then I'm guessing you're either excited, nervous, or both.  But I can promise that once you've sewn one, you'll realize they aren't as hard as you thought.  And what a sense of accomplishment you'll have, as well.  

Just a quick note: Zipper feet are designed to glide along the SIDE of the zipper (rather than run over the top of the zipper teeth).  You will need to move your needle position to the right and left, depending on which size of the zipper you're sewing (but we cover all this in the video!).

I think being able to watch and see how it's done is very helpful, so this week's instruction is all on video. 

 In the video I cover:
- laying out your pocket pieces
- zipper feet (and how they work)
- getting everything pinned in place
- sewing your 9" zippers (and a few tips on this!)
- topstitching
- marking and sewing your pockets' dividing lines 

Our homework for Week 3 is everything I cover in the video:
- adding your (3) 9" zippers
- topstitching
- sewing your pockets' dividing lines

If you're learning something new, I'm excited for you to have fun this week doing it.  And for all you old pro's out there, be sure and give some encouragement/guidance to anyone who needs it!

Thanks for sewing along with me!

Sew Together Bag Sew-Along schedule:
(click on any previous date to be taken to that week's blog post)

July 26 - Intro (part 2): Ideas for Personalizing Your Outer Panel

Aug 2 - Week 1: Cutting + Interfacing

Aug 9 - Week 2: Outer Panel

Aug 16 - Week 3: Insides (zippers)

Aug 23 - Week 4: Attaching the Sides

Aug 30 - Week 5: Finishing It Up!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Sew Together Bag SAL // Week 2: Outer Panel - piecing, applique + quilting

Good morning and hello Week 2 of our Sew Together Bag SAL.  This week is exciting for 2 reasons: we start sewing (!), and I will be doing a givewaway for completed homework! (winner chosen next Monday morning) 

To enter the giveaway all you need to do is post a picture of your completed outer panel on IG, along with the #sewtogetherbagSAL hashtag.  And if you're wondering what the giveaway is, be sure to check IG on Wednesday - where I'll be sharing that info.  

But for today we will be going over Outer Panel - piecing, applique + quilting.  And since we have A LOT to cover,  I'm gonna get right to it.  

At this point I think most of you should be fairly self-sufficient in this regard, but if you want help with cutting dimensions, look back at THIS POST for help there!  

The ONE THING I did want to metion is this:  I usually make my Exterior Panel just a bit larger than the pattern calls for, if I'm going to be quilting it.  Sometimes quilting (sewing) through those layers can make it "shrink" just a tad, so I prefer to quilt it first, then trim it to the exact dimensions needed.  
(So for example, when I make my patchwork panel, I don't stress that it'll turn out 10.5" wide x 14.5" long.)

At long last, the moment so many of you have been waiting for!   

[Note: I have both a typed tutorial, for those of you who like to read and skim.  And a video tutorial for you, if you learn better by watching!  Scroll down to the end for the video.]

Applique is simply the process of cutting out a shape of fabric and stitching it to the face of another fabric.  

Often people use a zig-zag stitch or a blanket stitch to secure their shape, and I've done both.  These stitches will be more secure for items that might have heavy use (or washed frequently).  

However, for these bags I have been enjoying the look of the free-hand method I learned from the book Sew Illustrated.


Step 1 - Find an image, letter or shape.
- Google it!  Especially works well for applique. (I often use the key words, "___________ sihlouette". ) 
- Save the image to your compter (or screen shot the image).
- Adjust the size by changing the "scale" percentage on your "print screen"
(as a general rule of thumb, for Sew Together Bags I try to have my image about 3.5" tall)
- Make a note on your image what size (percent) you ended up printing it at!  

Step 2 - Trace your shape onto the paper side of some HeatNBond Lite.  
However, remember that your image will be reversed in the end!  So you need to trace it opposite to the desired direction! (Your image will have to flip over when you iron onto your fabric, which reverses it's direction.)
Hannah is always by my side and wanting to help me, if I'm sewing or doing something creative.

- Use a Pencil to trace.  Don't use an erasable pen, such as a Frixion pen.  Your tracing lines will disappear when you iron it! (Ask me how I know!)
- Tape your image behind your HeatNBond Lite, and then to a door or window.  This makes it easier to see your tracing lines.
- Do not cut your shape on the traced lines yet!  Wait till you've ironed it onto your fabric.

Step 3 -  Iron your HeatNBond Lite shape (glue/bumpy side down) onto the WRONG SIDE of your fabric.

Step 4 - Now that your shape is fused to your fabric, use your sharpest pair of scissors (preferably with sharp, pointy tips) cut out your shape (through both the paper and fabric).  

Step 5 - Pell off the paper backing, and place on the RIGHT SIDE of your fabric panel.  Press.

(Note: for Sew Together Bags I line the BOTTOM of my shape about 4" from the TOP of my fabric panel.)

In this video, I also talk through how to iron your shape onto your fabric.

If I'm in my sewing room, Ellie will be too. 
She volunteered to quilt this panel.

Step 1 - Once your panel is pieced, you will need to baste your interfacing/batting to the back of it, in preparation for quilting.

(My preferred method is to use Pellon SF101 (fusible interfacing) WITH cotton batting, so that's what I will refer to here.)
- iron your SF101 to the back of your panel.  
- spray (or pin) baste a scrap of cotton quilt batting to the wrong side of your panel

Step 2 - If desired, mark your quilting lines using a fabric pen, chalk pencil, or Frixion pen.

Step 3 - Using quilting thread (thicker weight), quilt as desired.  
2 tips for you:
- If you're doing straight line quilting, you will want to increase your stitch length (3-3.5).  It makes your stitching sit "on top" of your fabric a bit more, and gives a more professional, finished look! 
- If you're straight-line quilting AROUND an appliqued shape, I decrease my stitch to .7 (for about 5-7 stitches) right before I get to the shape.  Then I simply clip my threads.  No need for knots!

Step 4 - Trim your Exterior Panel to the specified size on your pattern.

That's it - you're done for this week!

Weekly Homework
- finish your Exterior Panel (piecing through the final trim-to-size)
- post a photo of your completed panel, and include #SewTogetherBagSAL and be sure to tag me @RedRainbootsHandmade... (this will enter you in the giveaway.  Just remember your account needs to be public)
- make sure you've got your zipper foot and zippers ready for next week, cause ready or not, here we come!

Sew Together Bag SAL // Week 1: Cutting + Interfacing

Today is the day!  After 2 weeks of planning and preparing, we are going to dig in and get started on our Sew Together Bags.  

Today's post will cover:
- cutting out your bag pieces
- an easy way to use and cut up scraps from your scrap bins
- how to apply your interfacing.

Three things before we get started: 

1) Reading the pattern. 
I find the cutting instructions a bit confusing if I don't mark it up and make it easier to read.  So if you're like me, get out a highlighter and a pencil, and make yourself quick notes, so that all it requires is a glance between pattern and cutting table (and not a 3 minute read each time).

2) Printing your pattern.
If you have the PDF pattern, be sure that when you go to print your pattern, your printer doesn't have the setting "scale to fit" checked!!  Because if it is, your side panel template might be the incorrect size. 

3) Outer panel size adjustment
I prefer to make my outer panel a bit larger than the pattern says.  I aim for 14"x10" (or bigger if you're using a thick interfacing/stabilizer). That way if it shrinks a little during the quilting process, you can trim it to the exact size specified when you're done.

That being said, let's get started!

Once you start cutting, the pattern begins to make more sense... but sometimes seeing the pieces all laid out (like the photo below) helps too! 

(Also: remember to make sure your printer printed the correct size for your side panel template, and it didn't have the "shrink to fit" option selected!)

I find the easiest way to cut out the side panels is to cut 4" x WOF strips using my rotary cutter & ruler (of the fabric and interfacing)...
fold the fabric/interfacing in half and line the template on the fold...
and then use the template only to cut the diagonal line.
See... I like to make reminder notes on my pattern pieces!

If you're wanting to cut scraps into patchwork pieces for your Exterior Panel,  I thought I'd show you the way I've found quickest to get them cut up into usable pieces. Sometimes when digging through scrap bins, they can seem time-consuming to cut up, since they're all shapes and sizes.  I know there are many ways to tackle cutting up scraps - this is just the way I do it. 
(And please ignore my gray hair that needs re-touching!)

I recommend fusing your interfacing to the fabric pieces as soon as everything is cut out.  Then it's all ready to go.
Side Panel piece + interfacing = place wrong sides together.

This video will show you how to iron fusible interfacing... (and how I like to prep my Outside Panel for quilting, but we will cover that more next week.)

Homework for this week...
- cut out ALL of your bag pieces
- iron your interfacing pieces onto your fabric pieces (If you are piecing your Outside Panel and haven't made it yet, skip interfacing that piece till it's done, obviously)
-post a picture of your progress!!  We love cheering you on and being inspired by everyone sewing together.  (Use the hashtag #sewtogetherbagSAL, and tag me too! @RedRainbootsHandmade)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

INTRO (Part 2): Ideas for Personalizing Your Outer Panel // Sew Together Bag sew-along

Welcome to the 2nd week of our Sew Together Bag Sew Along.  It's the final day of our INTRO portion, and then we will actually begin!  But for today, we will be talking about ideas for personalizing your bag's outer panel design, while people wait for their zippers to arrive in the mail. =)

It seems to me that for most of us, the two most intimidating parts of the Sew Together Bag are either the zippers OR deciding on the design and colors for the bag.  There are so many cute and creative ideas out there, it can almost paralyze those of us who are indecisive (me!), and make it hard to start.

Bag by Amanda (read her post about this bag HERE)

Before I jump into a few specifics on a few designs, my number one suggestion would be to search the hashtag #sewtogetherbag on Instagram.  There are scads of variations and you're bound to find one that resonates with you!

Bag by Chrissy @SewLux (visit her website HERE)

Screen shot bags you like (or save them to one of your "folders" on IG) and then go back and look at the ones you liked.  Are you seeing a re-ocurring theme, whether it's colors... styles?  It's ok to find inspiration from other creative sewing friends!

As I was browsing the hashtag last week, I found so many cute ideas!  You will too!

But for today, here are a few of my go-to designs, and the cutting dimensions I use.


This design is very simple to do AND easy to customize.  I love throwing in a Tiny 2" Patchwork Star...

 adding an initial (we will cover applique more on week 4)

or just highlighting some of my favorite scraps.

To make the Patchwork Strip, I use: 
(5) 2.5" squares
(1)  2"x10" background fabric
(1) 10"x10" background fabric
Sew together, add interfacing, quilt, and then trim to size.

This is probably one of my current favoites.  It looks cute on it's own, or you can add applique for extra personalization!

To do this, you will need:
(35) 2.5" squares, sewn together in a 5 across x 7 down pattern.
Sew your rows together, press, interface, quilt and then trim to size.


This simple design certainly showcases whatever image you want to applique.  I know I keep saying this, but I promise I'll cover applique in Week 2.  It's not something I've done very much of - or would say I'm necessarily proficient at - but I've found the freehand method from the book Sew Illustrated to be quite fun, even for a beginner like me.  And besides that, when you add applique to an item, it makes a very special, personalized bag/gift.  


And these were just three (of the many) I saw this week that drew me in...

Chrissy is making this one right now, to go with our sew along.  Aren't those diamonds something else?
 photo by Chrissy @sewlux

If you haven't ever tried making tiny dresden blocks, Amanda's bag might convice you to change that! (read her blog post HERE)

This paper pieced bag is by Tori, and was my oldest daughter Ellie's inspiration for the bag she's going to make.

 But we pieced hers with simple patchwork, since all her letters had straight sides.)

So your homework for the week is this:
1) Decide on the design for your bag, 
2) gather up your fabric, zippers, and other supplies
3) Post a picture of your supplies and use the hashtag #sewtogetherbagSAL so we can see what each other is doig! (and be sure to tag me too! @RedRainbootsHandmade)

And next week.... we begin CUTTING AND INTERFACING!!!

Can't wait to see what colors and design you decide on!

As a reminder, here's the schedule for our Sew-Along:
(click on any previous date to be taken to that week's blog post)

July 26 - Intro (part 2): Ideas for Personalizing Your Outer Panel

Aug 2 - Week 1: Cutting + Interfacing

Aug 9 - Week 2: Outer Panel

Aug 16 - Week 3: Insides (zippers)

Aug 23 - Week 4: Attaching the Sides

Aug 30 - Week 5: Finishing It Up!

Sew Together Bag SAL // Week 5: Finishing It Up! (last zipper + bindings)

Ok - Technically I should have waited a week for this, but I just couldn't help myself!  We need to get these cute Sew Together bags fin...