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I’ve got two projects to finish that are WAY overdue, so what do I do?  I start a new one!

I’m feeling stuck on both projects–partner’s vest and the dress pattern I’m testing–so no sewing was happening at all.  I decided to get unstuck by making myself some new shopping bags, something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.  The tutorial I used is here, and it’s a good one–well-written with helpful pictures.  (This would be a great project for a new sewer, BTW.)

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I bought the vegetable fabric years ago with the intention of making a dress with it, but it’s a little bit wild for that.  I love it, though, and now I get to carry it with me!

This was also a great stashbusting project, as I made four bags.  The linings are a blue pique, a very stiff green cotton, and some cream pinwale cord.  The bases of the bags are a caramel-colored vinyl, which is handy because it enables the bags to stand up on their own, a major pet peeve of mine.

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This was my first time sewing vinyl, so I went to my copy of “Fabric Savvy” by Sandra Betzina for advice.  It was a bit vague, though, because the recommended sewing techniques differ depending on whether your vinyl is lightweight or heavier.  My problem was deciding which I was working with; I’m not familiar with vinyl, so how do I know if the stuff I have is considered “lightweight”?

In the end, I just went with what seemed to work.

—  The book recommended a long stitch and I did find that to be necessary; I used a 3 or 3.5 stitch for the seams (two layers of vinyl needed a longer stitch), 4 for topstitching, and that wound up producing a very short stitch, which leads me to my second suggestion . . .

— A Teflon foot would probably be helpful for the topstitching, a walking foot for the seams.

— The book was adamant that PIN HOLES ARE FOREVER on vinyl.  But I found pinning to be absolutely necessary on this bag.  As you can see above, the base is sewn face-down on the front and back panels, then pressed down and topstitched.  When I sewed on the vinyl, though, this is what I got:

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The vinyl needs to fold at the seam in order to be topstitched down.  I experimented with carefully pressing it, which had no effect.  The only way to get it to fold and stay down was to mash it down from the wrong side and pin it, crossing my fingers that there wouldn’t be TOO many obvious pin holes.  Luckily, the holes did seem to “heal” pretty well on this vinyl, maybe because it was sort of spongy?

— The biggest problem I had–one that the book doesn’t mention–was that MANY pins were sacrificed for this project.  A good portion of the time, when I tried to pull a pin out, off came the head of the pin, and the shank had to be pulled out with pliers.  I eventually figured out that I needed to push the pin up and grab it by the shank to pull it out, but many valiant pins had already been lost by that point.  😦

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I am loving my new bags, though, and looking forward to using them.  I feel so . . . COORDINATED.

And hopefully this success will help me push through those other two projects . . . .

STH

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