Now that I have the fabric and the card woven strap made for my file bag, I can start the sewing-it-together step. I decided to keep the pattern I had rather than making another strap (laziness).
I found a really good tutorial for making a messenger bag on YouTube which I am going to (loosely) follow.
First I cut out a single piece for the two sides of my bag and a piece for the flap. I also cut corresponding pieces of lining material and some cotton batting I was lucky enough to find. I sewed the batting to the lining pieces to make them easier to handle.
Then I sewed the side seams of the bag up and made those cute little corners (like I did for the tote bag). I did the same for the lining pieces. I also sewed the flap pieces together, right sides facing but leaving the top edge open so I could turn it inside out and top stitch.
Then I fiddled around with the best way to put all the pieces together so I could sew up the around-the-mouth seam of the bag. That one seam attached the handle, the flap and the inner and outer pieces together, but only if they were in the correct order.
Eventually I figured out the sequence (and then didn’t photograph it, but it’s the same sequence as in the tutorial video) and sewed the whole thing together. I turned it all right side out through a small hole I had left in the seam for the purpose.
After the small hole was sewn shut, I had my bag.
I have really enjoyed this little project and it has come together much faster than I would expect. No, it’s not perfect; the seams are wonky and some of the weaving is a bit dodgy, but I made it, I had fun doing it and I have something useful at the end of it. What more can I ask from life?
The waffle weave fabric is finished, I’m pleased with the result. It is a really spongy feeling fabric with a lot of character (rather like myself). Now to make some straps for the bag…
I decided to card weave some straps for handles because I haven’t used my inkle loom for a while and I’m on an if-you-don’t-use-it-throw-it-out kick (yes…I know that’s not the way to use the strategy, but it made sense to me). First I went looking for cotton yarn to match my fabric…
Then I played around with a pattern…
Card weaving patterns are easy to read; the numbers represent cards and the letters represent holes in the cards. In theory, if you thread your cards right you will get the pattern on the grid. Well… there is one thing I forgot to do; the empty squares under the numbers are to indicate whether the cards are threaded from back to front or front to back. It has been a while since I used this method, so I forgot that bit and it does make a difference.
The direction the cards are threaded makes a big difference to the outcome. Apparently it twists the yarn in the opposite direction making the pattern look completely different. I should have threaded card 1 from the back, card 2 from the front, card 3 from the back…and so on. I will finish this band and see how I feel about the new pattern. Maybe I will make another one, but the new pattern may grow on me (or I may be too lazy to do another one).
Next post will be about me sewing the bag together.
I need a new bag for dragging my paperwork, iPad and sometimes computer to work and back (sometimes the work stays in the bag for the night, meaning I took it all for a nice drive). I decided to make the project another of those long term, slow projects by making it from scratch. My first step is to plan the project (which usually tells me what I won’t be doing).
I want a bag big enough to carry a fair number of paper folders and that will hold it’s shape. I have a bag that I use at the moment; it is the right size but a little on the ordinary side when it comes to colour. This bag will be my sizing guide.
I am thinking I will make my new bag a similar size but will add a flap at the top in a messenger bag style. Maybe a pocket at the front (under the flap) will give the iPad a place to call home, if I can manage to figure out how to make it.
The fabric will be hand woven from yarn I have in my stash. I have been wanting to try the waffle weave pattern on my rigid heddle loom…I guess now is the time.
It is a free course and so easy to follow. After a quick whizz through the course, I went looking in my stash for some yarn for the job.
I found some balls of red 8 ply acrylic and a ball or two of grey 8 ply acrylic. These yarns are really just hanging around waiting for an experiment to come along.
I warped the rigid heddle loom at a width of 50 cm to allow for shrinkage and pull in of the weaving and 1.3 metres long to allow enough fabric to make two sides, a front flap, two end pieces, a base and maybe a front pocket.
After I have enough fabric for the project I will move on to card weaving some straps and find some scrap fabric for lining and making binding for the edges. What fun this is.
I am busily using up scrap yarn from my overflowing stash. As part of that I wove a piece of fabric that is frankly…um…mixed up; I used all sorts of fancy yarns in the weft, eyelash yarn, boucle yarn and a little bit of ladder yarn. All that in no particular order, colour or pattern, just throwing in a little bit here and there.
What to do with this fabric? I decided to make a tote bag.
First I cut it off the loom and overlocked the edges.
Next I cut a lining the same size and some handle material.
Then it was time to sew up both the bag and the lining into basic bag shapes. Leaving a small hole in the bottom of the lining to turn the whole thing inside out.
Sewing across the bottom corners gives the bag a nice square bottom. I didn’t forget to measure the same distance down the corner seam on each piece. I sewed the lining corners the same way.
The corners were folded so that the bottom seam and the side seam lay on top of each other; the seam you can see in the photo below is the side seam, it is laying on top of the bottom seam. This makes a sort of cross seam at the base of the bag.
Finally I sewed the top of the outer bag to the inner lining. The handles can be pinned between these layers. I went over the handle joins more than once when sewing this part; handle joins are subject to a lot of strain. The handles need to be looped downwards with the ends facing up towards the top of the bag, when sewing the top seam (I learned that the hard way).
I turned it all inside out (or right side out) then sewed up the hole.
There’s the bag done. Not too bad for a scrap yarn project.
Well…not quite. I still have the matter of a ten week intern-ship to complete (trying not to stress too much), but the academic part of the degree is finished. It has been a long four years of study, most of it enjoyable, some of it torturous (maths units spring to mind) but all of it educational.
By the end of 2016 I will be a fully qualified, card carrying Primary School Teacher.
The last four years have been spent largely either working or studying, with little snippets of craft or building squeezed in around them. Now I plan to spend some time….
Building the garden;
Building a new cover over the trailer bed and replanting.
Refurnishing the Hugelkultur beds and planting.
Crafting with fibre;
Making fulled bags
Spinning cotton and wool
And more knitting
Dyeing homespun yarn
A lot of homespun yarn
Building my business;
Trying to attract more customers
Adding new products…both hand made and….
Learning new skills
Increasing my stock
Building a house;
Well…maybe I’m dreaming.
Spending time with my animals (and family and friends);
Also…enjoying the finer things in life;
Like unravelling old jumpers by the fire…with wine
And watching sunsets…with wine.
It has been a long, life changing journey so far, I wonder what will happen next?
I have been making knitted and fulled bags to sell at the markets. They are so much fun to make and each one is unique. I thought I would share one of the patterns I use.
This is the first fulled bag I made.
I knit on the bus on the way to and from work and at lunch time, and I spin in the evening when I sit down, but I don’t seem to be able to spin fast enough to keep up with my knitting. Instead I buy pure (and non-super washed) wool from second hand shops whenever I see it and use it to knit these bags.
Don’t be scared off by the fulling process, it’s just doing on purpose what I have done by accident for years; machine washing pure wool until it becomes felt. Simply throw the finished bag into the washing machine with hot water for about fifteen minutes and then check, if the bag isn’t felted enough just do it again. I love making these bags, they are easy to knit and full, they are very tough and fully washable. They stretch out a bit with use, but snap right back to their smaller size when washed (I wish I could say the same).
I really enjoy knitting; it keeps my hands busy so my mind can wander. Making something useful is always a pleasure too. I am setting my goal at about six fulled bags by December, so I can take them to a market somewhere and make enough to buy more wool.