Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Trouble With Drawstring Bags

Drunk with my success I decided I would make a few more drawstring bags. They turned out to be lessons in bag making. I’m going to call all my mistakes Humbling Bags. I shall build a palace to house them. Okay, maybe just throw them in a box. I shall look at them from time to time to remind me of my mistakes. Okay, maybe bury them in an unreachable place in the storeroom.

Humbling Bag No. 1

When I made Humbling Bag No. 1, I decided I would just do it without any pattern or even measurement. Just cut and sew. Oh, the arrogance.

This one I did with bits of an old bed sheet. The tragedy is in the lining. Because I did not measure, the lining was either too long or too big. I trimmed and squeezed and screamed and ripped and sewed and re-sewed and finally got the whole thing done. The process was not pretty. The bag started out much, much bigger.

Humbling Bag No. 2

This next bag was a disaster right from the start. First of all, I had this bit of green fabric and I just went and sewed satin stich of a rose outline on it without thinking about where the casing would be and ta da! The rose was too close to the casing. I like how the red cut-out turned out. Actually you can’t really see it but I made 2 holes in the red fabric. Butter fingers. (It’s very hard!) Another thing. I left the seams exposed. Exposed seams are very, very ugly. I cannot emphasise this enough.

Humbling Bag No. 3

I was staring at my Humbling Bag No. 2 and thought it would be such a good idea to use buttonholes instead of a casing for the drawstrings. And so began the longest journey of my sewing machine life. I had never sewn a buttonhole ever. It took many trials before I figured out how to use the buttonhole foot. Finally, I learnt how to sew an actual buttonhole. I already had the bag all sewn up. This time, I stupidly left the top seams exposed. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn bias binding. Ha ha ha ha. Somebody throw ice water at me, please! Anyway, back to the darned buttonholes. I thought the hard part was over. I was wrong. I sewed 12 buttonholes below the top seam. I sewed and I sewed. 10 decades later, I was finally done. The buttonholes were sewn in a straight row, evenly spaced. Or so I thought. To my horror, I had sewn 5 buttonholes on one side and 7 buttonholes on the other. And they were all over the place. Man! I can’t sew straight and I can’t count.

I remembered it was 2am and I needed to get bias binding instruction fast. I followed littlelizzie tutorial(no longer available online) and it was pretty easy to understand. Getting the same result was something else. I used a bias tape maker which I had bought but never used. It worked out. It really did. But I had to discard the first 50cm because it was all scrunched up. Also I burned my finger really good. Hot tip: The tip of an iron is just as hot as the rest of the iron.

I followed littlelizzie tutorial to a T. Except at the end I realized I had forgotten to leave enough binding unsewn at the beginning so I couldn’t do the right angle trick to achieve a neat finish. It was almost 3am. I could see little insects creeping about on the floor. It was time I did my usual squeeze and trim and I finished the darn thing. Not pretty at all. I hate this bag so much I want to cry. The bias binding is all wrong from the inside. It’s so much thicker than the outside.

I’ll definitely try another bias binding bag using littlelizzie but this time I’ll do it during the day.


Lizzie said...

Hey Jane! What size of Bias tape maker were you using? Did you sew onto the wrong side of the fabric first? When you line up the bias tape against the edge of your fabric, then you can sew right in the pressed crease so it should fold over nicely.

I can't tell from the picture what went wrong but definitely try it again. I'd love to help!

jane p said...

Thanks for your advice. I used a 3/4" bias tape maker with my bag seam allowance at 1/4". I'll definitely ask for your help when I tackle my next bias binding project. C ya.

shirl said...

hey Jane, i tot the bags look great! i could never make a bag like that. i salute u , my friend. one suggestion - why not make smaller ones like those for earrings , u know. maybe those wld be easier to make n er, less mistakes?? but then, what do i know about making bags? ;-) i still think the bags look great in the pictures. keep it up.shirl

jane p said...

Hey Shirl, thnks for your thumbs up. You've made my day!

I'll definitely look into making an itsy bitsy drawstring bag for earrings n stuff. You'll get the first prototype. Tiny bags are harder to make, I think. I feel clumsy just thinking abt it. It'll be a challenge.

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