Thursday, September 14, 2017

David's Bag

I had a good sized piece of faux fur left over from my backpack project of last year.


And....I heard a very loud "I want one!" from this guy.



This is my great friend David, the ultimate lumbersexual (if that's still a thing!). He lives in New York and he's always willing to tromp the garment district with me for hours on end, and then turn around and build a deck or shingle a dilapidated backyard shed. Trust me, there aren't many guys like that. I'm keeping him around!


In his day to day life he works for the company that provides services for the hearing impaired on Broadway. It's a very stressful job, and he looks forward to Monday nights when most of the shows "are dark". (Look, I'm learning some theatre lingo!) Every other day usually finds him frantically running from theatre to theatre, putting out fires just before the curtain goes up. Employees don't show up, equipment fails, bus loads of senior citizens arrive and overwhelm the service, Snarky patrons are out of control and need to be placated. Things rarely go smoothly. A warning to tourists in Times Square....don't get in his way, he'll run you over! This man needs a bag that can multitask as much as he does.


Plan. A messenger bag to hold his laptop, which can also become a large tote bag to schlep the various headsets and hand held devices between theatres.


David loves buffalo plaid anything, so I set out looking for some wool fabric that would play nicely with the gray faux fur. My online search eventually lead to Etsy and a piece of ombré Harris Tweed. I like to think of it as buffalo plaid with a twist.



I think any bag maker will tell you that an arsenal of different interfacings makes for better bags. There are so many available, from stiff plastic-y ones, to ones that are thick and cushioned.



This is my new favorite! Medium weight Pro-Weft Supreme from Fashion Sewing Supply. It's a soft brushed knit interfacing with some slight stretch in one direction. I used it to back all the Harris Tweed parts of David's bag. It's a dream to work with, and fuses at a lower setting than the interfacings I would use for a shirt. I save every little scrap of this stuff. It's that good! Since making this bag I've used it to interface welt pockets, bound buttonholes and pocket flaps.




I don't have very many progress pics of this bag. This is the recessed zipper opening for the top of the bag in process. It's a nice feature to have, especially when the stuff you're toting needs to be protected. I highly recommend this video Like so many things in sewing, what looks complicated really isn't. What I love about this video is that everything ends up finished in the end. No ragged edges anywhere. Your bag will be as beautiful inside, as out.



I lined the bag with quilting cottons from JoAnn's. There's a padded divider to hold David's laptop along the back of the bag. It has a zippererd pocket on the front side. Kyle, (my bag guru!) from Vacuuming the Lawn, shared a great tutorial on how do do this. So I'm passing it along. Again, what looks complicated really isn't.


There are three small pockets along the front of the bag. I used some rivets as reinforcement along the top edge, mostly because I just love setting them!



Here's the finished bag in "tote bag mode".



And here in "messenger bag mode".




The antique brass hardware for this project was from Buckle Guy and Emmaline Bags. Both, excellent sources.



We're all smiles with our fur bags! Have YOU made one yet?


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Not dead -- yet!

My brother called a couple of weeks ago, worried that I might be dead. Apparently my niece mentioned that I hadn't posted anything in ages, and she was a little concerned.


Contrary to opinion, I am alive!

What's been going on???

I've been sewing like a madman, and blogging about it has fallen to the bottom of my "to do" list. I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and will share my exploits soon.


In the meantime, here's a sample of what's gone down in my world.





Because the world needs more fur bags.



And speaking of fur....This arrived from Scotland.




To be augmented with some kilt bling.



Pewter buttons arrived from a small business in Ohio.




I plowed through some "quasi couture" construction. Mon dieu!




I've done lots of pad stitching and basting.




Even more pad stitching and basting!




Weeks of tailoring and fittings via FaceTime. Seriously!



Topped off by kilt #2.


Oh, and Agnes has come home to live in my driveway, refusing to get her feet wet!






I'm a little burned out and at the same time greatful for a life that years ago I never would have imagined. More about all these projects will be forthcoming at some point. Until then be well, and happy sewing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kilt Update (long overdue)

I'm afraid this blog has really fallen by the wayside. The boat project has really taken over just about everything for the past few months. Because I don't have a barn or garage, I've been splitting the rent on an industrial space with an ex-coworker for over 4 years now. So there's a real economic incentive to be wrapping things up. Plus, my co-tenant is sending some subtle hints that he may want to emigrate and live an ex-pat life in Mexico! I'm trying not to panic, but it's feeling like crunch time. To speed things up I've turned a tiny bedroom in "this old house" into a painting and varnishing workshop. So, evenings when I would usually be working on a sewing project, I'm working on the boat instead. Trust me, this does not make me a happy camper.


So where did I leave off?


Oh, yeah.....A heavy weight hair canvas arrived from B. Black and Sons. Strips were sewn to the top portion of the kilt using a heavy carpet / buttonhole thread. A tailor's or diagonal stitch is used, the trick being to catch only a single layer of the tartan underneath so that none of the stitches show through on the right side of the kilt. It's surprising how one can develop a "feel" for it, especially this far into the whole process. I found using a very short needle worked the best for me.



Pleats are formed in the canvas covering the pleated section of the kilt. This preserves the slight flair at the back. Nothing is really measured, it just intuitively happens as one is stitching along.



So here is the completed canvas all sewn into place. What looks very tedious was actually very soothing and relaxing to do. It went remarkably fast. It also helps that I enjoy handsewing.



The fringe at the edge of the upper apron is actually double thickness. I undid just a bit for this picture to show how a narrow fringed strip (maybe 1.5 inches wide) is sandwiched into the side seam. Offsetting the layers slightly gives a more full appearance.




The only machine stitching on the kilt is the attachment of the narrow waistband (and even this can be handsewn if one wishes). The waistband will only match on the front apron of the kilt, and a walking foot would be a big help. I'm definitely going to look into getting one for my Magnolia. Even with basting, my matching isn't as perfect as it should be. Have I mentioned how obsessive this kiltmaking biz is???



The buckles and leather straps are easily found online. These leather straps came all pre-punched, so sewing them on was a breeze. Making the tartan tabs for the buckles is a bit trickier, the goal being to make them as inconspicuous as possible. In the end the buckle tab gets covered by the leather strap, so go figure! Just more obsessive kiltmaking behavior.



The home stretch! A cotton broadcloth lining is basted and then handsewn over the canvas. Once again small pleats are worked into the back to preserve the shaping of the kilt.


Time to give it a good pressing and remove what seems like miles of white cotton basting thread. I'll try to model the completed kilt soon. Be well....and be sewing more than me!



Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Couture Jacket for Men -- Oui ou Non?

I bet you love Peter's "Yay or Nay" posts as much as I do. (Example for the uninitiated)


Sheer shirts for men?, knickers?, dip dyed clothes? It's always fun to read all the responses his posts elicit from the sewing community. So..... while I wait for some kilt supplies to arrive from the west coast....


The French Couture Jacket.....should men wear it? More importantly, should I?



As you know my son is getting married this Fall. As the groom's parent, I'll be hosting a rehearsal dinner the evening before the wedding. "Save the date" announcements have already gone out, and the couple is requesting "casual dapper" dress for the dinner. So, the old man needs to get his dapper on! Which, of course, leads to....what to make. Which leads me to this....



I have a little over 5 yards of a cranberry wool tweed, handwoven by my mom. I'm not really sure why she wove it. All I know is that she was petrified to cut it, so it just sat in a plastic bin for years. When she downsized to a nursing home, I was the only person interested in having it. So I brought it home and it's been on mothballs ever since. I'd love to make something special with it....and what's more "tweedy" than Chanel?







So I've been collecting some of the bits to make a jacket over the past year. Ribbon, trim and buttons from M&J Trimming in NYC. The mohair trim with a multicolored ribbon woven through it appears to have been made for my mom's fabric. I think the only thing I need is some silk charmeuse for the lining. The fabric is quite heavy, so I need to keep things as light and unstructured as possible.



This pattern was an Etsy find. I do like the collared version. Very Tyrolean. I've never even opened the envelope, but looking at the photos it strikes me as boxy and a little oversized. Fitting it will no doubt be a chore. But what else is new!!?



So... The men's Couture Jacket....


Classic or Clownish?



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Kilt update -- I'm steeking!

The next step is cutting out the excess fabric from behind the pleats. The book I'm using emphasizes that this is no place to screw up. One slip of the scissors is all it takes to make an unfixable mess. For me that means the most expensive wadder ever!




Based on the way the pleats are formed, just a single layer of fabric is removed at a time. I used my trusty bandage scissors.





I ended up with a nice little stack of scraps. Some of these will be used as beltloops and buckle straps. The rest might end up as elbow patches some day. :).


The tops of the pleats are secured in a process called steeking. Using a heavy carpet thread, a line of stitching is worked across the top of the pleats from the back of the kilt. This stabilizes the pleats and helps prevent the stitching from ripping out.



It's hard to see the steeking because my thread is black. The trick here is to sew through as many layers as possible without going through the front of the kilt. Even if a single thread is caught on the outer layer of fabric a dimple will form. I ended up with 2 dimples, had to go back, rip out a few stitches and restitch.



Next, a waist stay is sewn in over the pleats. This is a selvedge strip of cotton broadcloth. Like the steeking, all the stitches are worked from the wrong side of the kilt. "X's" are worked in at every third pleat. Because it's at the edge of the kilt, it's much easier to keep flipping the work over to check for dimples or stitches that show.


That's as far as I can go right now. The next step requires a heavy hair canvas which I can't find locally. B Black and Sons to the rescue! Once my order arrives I'll be back in business. In the meantime there's always a boat to build.