Tag Archives: Joann Fabrics

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Standard
Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

It’s finally time to post this project.  Here is the big takeaway for me:  I love this bag.  I did not love making this bag.

I made the Portside Duffle from Grainline Studio to take on a weekend retreat, and it was perfect for that.  I finished with time to spare, and it was so much fun to have handmade luggage to take along with me.  I really love how it turned out. (I also learned that both “duffle” and “duffel” are correct ways to spell this word, so I’ll go with “duffle” for this post.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

l

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

l

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

l

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I was inspired in my color choices by this excellent bag on the Skirt As Top blog.  Mine is a little different, but the influence is pretty clear.  Her version is great!

The process of making it presented a number of challenges, however.

Materials

The first challenge for me was my inexperience with bag-making.  I decided to only make the duffle, as I was under a deadline, but because I’ve made so few bags, I was really stuck on how to choose things like interfacing and my zipper.  You know how it is when you are just starting out–you really need things spelled out.  I know how to shorten a zipper on a pair of pants or a skirt, but what if you can’t find the exact zipper length for a bag?  And do you need a separating or non-separating zipper?  Does it even matter?

As it turned out, the length specified (21 inches) is very hard to find.  What I did find out is that when you run into this situation, you can buy a longer zipper and shorten it, and a separating zipper is just fine (I’m pretty sure you can use separating or non-separating).  This may seem obvious, but it was something I didn’t know and had to learn.  Luckily I had a longer zipper in my stash, so I was able to use that.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The other area that confused me was the interfacing.  I looked around online for ideas, but it was all so overwhelming!  I had no idea there were so many kinds of interfacing (and stabilizer!) or so many things you could do with the interfacing.  You can even combine interfacings!  Here is what I ended up using:  for the bottom, I bought 2/3 of a yard of 20″ wide Pellon Peltex 71F Single-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer.  (The bottom pattern piece of this bag is 21 5/8″ x 12 3/8″.) For the sides/top of the bag I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond (Firm Iron-on Backing with Extra Crispness).  My bottom fabric (the gold) was heavier than my top fabric (the off-white), so I used one layer of interfacing on both, but also added a layer of quilting-weight fabric to the top portion, like the way you might underline a garment.  I did not interface the striped pocket on the outside or my lining fabric.  I bought all my interfacing and stabilizer at JoAnn Fabrics.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In case you also struggle with the interfacing/stabilizer question, I found some helpful information in this article on sew4home.com:  “Top Interfacing Solutions For Bags and Totes:  Fabric Depot“, as well as this one from Sew Sweetness: “All About Bag Interfacing“.  Sew Sweetness had a lot of good information for bag-makers of all experience levels.

Cost-Saving Strategies

The other area that I struggled with was the overall cost of this project.  I tend to have a pretty limited budget, so cost is always a factor.  When I started to realize how much the pattern, fabric, and hardware could cost, I decided to get creative and see where I could save money.  Here is what I did.

I decided to make my own straps all with a width of 1.5″, rather than some at 1.25″ and some at 1.5″.  This would also allow me to use the 1.5″ D-rings I had in my stash rather than buying 1.25″ D-rings which I didn’t have (and which were harder to find).  There were two books that I found really helpful as I dug into the details of this project.  The first was On-the-Go-Bags by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay, which helped me see that I actually could make my own straps (something I didn’t know as a newbie to bag-making).  The other book, which was the most helpful, was The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu, which was filled with all sorts of helpful information.  If you sewed through this book, you would come out the other side with a lot of bag-making knowledge and skills.

I also realized that since I had so many D-rings (I have no idea why I have so many!), I could use those instead of the swivel bolt snaps/hooks the pattern called for, and join them with a carabiner since we had a few little carabiners in the house.  I didn’t end up making the leather zipper pulls.  I was kind of hoping I would find something in the jewelry section of the craft store to go with my lining, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so I skipped it.

The next thing to consider was fabric.  In case you are wondering, Fabric A on the pattern is your lower fabric and Fabric B is your upper fabric.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The off-white and striped fabrics came from my stash, and I ordered the gold bottom fabric from Fabric Mart when it was on sale (love that store!).  I think that 2/3 of a yard of 54″ or 57″ fabric for the bottom (Fabric A) would have been enough, although if you use a print, you may want more so that you can position it just how you want it.  The pattern calls for 1.25 yards of 54″ wide fabric.  This amount of fabric turned out to be helpful in making my straps, so I’m glad I had extra for that (I probably ordered 1.5 yards).

I also used a quilting cotton from my stash (with octopi!) for the lining, which saved me money.  I had been looking for just the right thing to use this fabric on and now I have both octopus pants and a bag with a surprise lining!  (This fabric, by Cotton + Steel, and my pattern came from Pintuck & Purl.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Construction

I’m going to share some technical details in this section, so feel free to skip it if that isn’t helpful to you.

***One important note:  I think there may be an error on pattern piece #4 (the side, bottom piece).  I would think that where it says “strap placement”, it would line up with the strap on the piece above it, but as printed, it looks like that text is on the bottom of the piece…where no strap is supposed to go.  I decided to ignore the strap placement marking and assumed that was the bottom of the piece (so that the words are right side up as printed).

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Also, you can skip the part in the directions about choosing your size.  This duffle only comes in one size.

In Steps 6 and 8, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ (double stick fusible tape) to hold things in place before sewing them down.  This wasn’t perfect because the bond was pretty light, but it was still helpful.

In Step 11, I used a zipper foot to sew the zipper in.

For Step 12, I found this blog post from Handmade By Carolyn very helpful.  She suggests leaving the last half-inch at the bottom of your sides and end panels unsewn to help with attaching the bottoms.  Press your seams toward the end panels after sewing.

In Step 13, sew the long sides first and then the short sides.

Before beginning Step 14, I think you should flip the bag so right sides are out (at least that is what I did).  The tip in the instructions about using your machine’s free arm is helpful here.  Even with that, though, this step is hard if you have heavy interfacing in the bag!  What worked for me was to sew a side, backstitch, cut the threads, and then move on to the next side.

For Step 16, as in Step 12, do not sew the bottom 1/2″ of each seam so it will be easier to attach to the bottom in the next step.

I did not do Step 18 as written.  Instead, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ to baste the lining to the zipper and used Wonder Clips to help hold it because the Steam-A-Seam isn’t very strong (something different would have been better, I think).  Then I basted outer fabric, zipper, and lining togewith my machine, with the lining up.  I just sort of tacked the ends because my machine didn’t love sewing over the zipper.  Then I sewed the long sides with a zipper foot and the bag’s outside facing up (in other words, I topstitched).  I tried to sew over the zipper ends, which was somewhat successful, so I also hand-tacked the lining to the zipper tape by the zipper ends.  Use a thimble for this!

In Step 19, I wasn’t able to fold the raw edges under, since the straps I had made were so thick.  I used Fray Check on both ends and then zigzagged over them before stitching them down as in the directions.  It’s not as professional as I would like, but it should work.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In Step 20, I think it should say “tops of the rings” rather than “top of the top ring” in the second sentence.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

l

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

At this point, I used more D-rings rather than swivel clips.  I attached the D-rings to each other with mini carabiners.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

After Step 20, I tried to tack the lining to the bag by sewing two parallel lines across the width of the bag on the bottom and by sewing for an inch or two on top of one of my stitching lines on each strap.  The lining doesn’t look smooth inside, but at least it won’t billow out now.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I didn’t do Step 21, even though I think the leather zipper pulls are a nice touch.

Random Issue

One thing that happened that was unrelated to the pattern was that when I used my yellow Chaco Liner on the off-white part of my bag, it didn’t wash off afterward (I ran it through the washer and dryer).  I saw this once before when I was at a jeans workshop and someone used yellow Chaco Liner on white denim, and it also didn’t brush off.  Normally I don’t have any problems with the yellow, and it doesn’t bother me too much in this case, but it’s something to be aware of.  (You can faintly see it in the picture below.  It’s faint, but it’s there.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

So, there you go!  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.  I know I spent a lot of time hunting down blog posts about this pattern and searching the web for information and materials.  Hopefully this will save someone some time should you decide to go for it and make this bag.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Recommendations

This week’s recommendations are all bag-related!

Do you have any favorite bag patterns?  I still enjoy sewing clothing the most, but I’m opening up to the idea of sewing a bag here and there.

Advertisements

The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

Standard
The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

It’s not often that a dress pattern comes along that is fascinating and mysterious.  That’s not to say that you see a line drawing of a pattern and automatically picture every step just because you know how to sew, but you often know the general process of putting a garment together as well as what the pattern pieces might look like once you have been sewing for awhile.  So when something puzzling comes along, it’s kind of fun.

I’ve been sewing long enough now (and taking in massive amounts of sewing information through the magic of the interwebs) that a lot of patterns look similar to others that I’ve seen.  It takes a lot more for a pattern to surprise me, but that is just what happened when I saw Heather Lewenza’s Hannah dress from Victory Patterns.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Link to the pattern here.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Heather made her dress from crisp cotton so you could really see the interesting back crossover that wraps around the sides of the dress to end in the pockets.  I had never seen a dress like that.

As I researched it online to see what other sewers thought of the pattern, I read over and over again that the pattern pieces were different from any they had ever seen, and that it was fun and intriguing to sew.  I tried to resist the aura of coolness that this pattern exuded, and for awhile I was successful.  It only came in PDF, which is usually enough to make me pass on a pattern, but in the end, I bought it.  I had to try this for myself.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

I deliberated over fabric choice for awhile, but finally decided to go with rayon challis for its fluid drape.  Another plus was that I had two coordinating rayons already in my stash–a black one from Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI, and a grayscale watercolor rayon from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH.  I had been saving that last one for just the right project, and I had finally found it.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Once I was ready to get started, I decided to make a straight size 12, which meant sizing up on the bust.  A number of reviews I read said that the bust ran a bit small, so I sized up, which also meant I didn’t drive myself crazy trying to figure out how to grade between sizes.  This isn’t a pattern you want to try to blend sizes on or adjust beyond lengthening or shortening.  The pattern pieces are just too different.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

As soon as I began, I questioned my fabric choice.  You do a lot of stay-stitching initially, and mine puckered my fabric.  I immediately switched to a microtex needle and my walking foot, and hoped for the best.  The directions are so precise, which is great, but because of my inexperience working with rayon challis, I found that I was often stressed out, worrying that the dress wouldn’t turn out.  In the end, it did turn out just fine, but it has a lot of puckers that it shouldn’t have.  So, the rayon was good and bad.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

My overall takeaways are that (pro) I now have more experience working with rayon challis and the black hides most of the puckers, but (con) the dress isn’t as well-made as I would have liked.  I think if I made this again, I would make it in something more stable, which would admittedly make the silhouette more A-line, but would also be more enjoyable to sew.  The other thing that I am beginning to think after sewing four garments from rayon this year (not all blogged) is that with the exception of the Cotton + Steel rayon, it doesn’t feel durable.  It’s comfortable and presses well, but something about it makes me think it won’t last as long as garments I’ve made from other fabrics.  We’ll see if that proves to be true or not.  So far I think I like silk crepe de chine better.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

But, despite my learning curve with rayon, this dress did get finished and has been worn.  And I love it.  It’s so cool!  I would certainly make it again and would recommend it to intermediate sewers.  I’m so glad I took the plunge and bought the pattern.  I’m also hugely impressed that someone’s brain could come up with this.  I wish I had taken pictures of the unique pattern pieces as I sewed, but I didn’t.  😦

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

So that’s one more down on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.  The autumnal equinox is today, but I managed to get my last summer garment finished on Wednesday.  It might take a little while for everything to show up on the blog, but it’s all done and now I’m setting my sights on sewing some fun things for autumn.  What about you?  Do you have any autumnal projects planned (or spring for those of you in the southern hemisphere)?  I love planning projects.  Other than completing projects, planning them is my favorite part.  🙂

Recommendations

  • If you are local to the Seacoast of NH, there’s going to be a storewide sale at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH on Saturday (the 23rd of Sept.).  It should be a good time!  9 am – 4 pm.
  • Here’s another one for you if you are local to the Seacoast of NH.  If you, like me, use Big 4 patterns (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue as well as Burda Style, New Look, and Kwik Sew), the Seabrook, NH Joann’s Fabric is the place you should go.  It’s in a sad, empty strip mall, and the store isn’t big, but it’s calm and extremely well-organized.  They are rarely missing a pattern, and every drawer is so nice and neat.
  • For those of us near eastern Massachusetts, north of Boston, Marie’s Sewing Center in Woburn, MA is having a machine sale Sept. 29-Oct. 1.  “Purchase a new sewing machine or serger in stock at MSRP & get a sewing machine or serger of equal or lesser value for ONE CENT!”  This would be a good event to partner with a friend on, so you can both get what you want for less!
  • This video by Candide Thovex is like watching skiing parkour.  As it goes along, it gets less and less believable, but it’s fun to watch!

 

Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

Standard
Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

This summer we attended two weddings, which seemed like a great reason to challenge myself to sew a few dresses.  I’ve never been much of a dress-wearer, but I’d like to find a style or two that I like for summer, and wear dresses more.  My original plans involved making a fit-and-flare dress for the first wedding and Butterick 3731 for the second, but creative plans often change.  I don’t know what it is, but so far, after trying two different patterns, the fit-and-flare, darted-bodice dress style eludes me.  There must be some fitting knowledge that I’m missing.  So, after a hearty (but failed) attempt, I put that style aside and got to work on Butterick 3731.

Vintage Butterick 3731

l

Vintage Butterick 3731

l

Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern is probably only my second vintage pattern that I’ve worked from.  On one of my trips to the Brimfield Antique Show I found this pattern, which was in my bust size…but was missing instructions.  The antique dealer gave it to me for free since it only had the pattern pieces.  I posted about it online, and crossed my fingers hoping that someone in the sewing community would have it and could send me directions.  And a wonderful lady named Sara did.  Isn’t the sewing community great that way?  Thanks again, Sara!

Vintage Butterick 3731

My original intention was to make the maxi dress.  I graded the waist and hips out to fit my measurements and made a muslin (which was a good idea, because I found a few little problems I needed to fix).  Then I bought some rayon challis from Joann Fabrics at a great price.  The fabric is one designed by Gretchen Hirsch for Joann’s, which I was excited to try.  I laid it all out, only to realize that in grading the waist and hips up, I hadn’t considered the sweep of the skirt.  It was too wide and I didn’t have quite enough fabric.  I could have made the skirt more narrow, but even so, I was somehow still short on fabric, so I decided that this dress would have to be the shorter version.

Vintage Butterick 3731

l

Vintage Butterick 3731

l

Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern was so easy to make and fit!  It was great to have a project that wasn’t overly hard to fit!  That being said, however, there were little parts where notches didn’t align or seams needed to be finished beyond what the directions instructed.  I made sure to use French seams or clean-finished seams so the insides would look relatively nice.  My goal wasn’t perfection, just a dress that was well-made and that I felt comfortable in.  And I do feel comfortable in this dress.  I’ll admit that the picture of how I look in my head isn’t exactly how I look in real life, but I still love the dress.

Vintage Butterick 3731

The flowy fabric turned out to be a good choice as well.  It’s soft, yet cool. I will say, however, that having used both the rayon challis from Cotton + Steel on a shirt for my mom as well as this rayon challis from Joann’s, there is a marked difference.  I don’t have full confidence that the fabric in this dress will stand up to wear and tear, whereas the Cotton + Steel rayon feels really durable.  Cotton + Steel rayon is also far, far more expensive, so you have to weigh your priorities.  This was the right fabric for this dress at the right price point.  I’d still really love to make the maxi version, but that will also have to wait for the right fabric at the right price point…that maxi will take a lot of fabric!

Vintage Butterick 3731

If anyone is thinking of trying this pattern (and it seems like there are a number of copies out there on Etsy and other sites), I would recommend it.  It’s comfortable, easy to fit, and great in a drapey fabric.  Despite a few little oddities in the directions (a few notches that didn’t match up and a facing that ran a little short), the directions and pattern pieces are good overall.  It also feels current as the ’70’s return yet again.  😉  I’d love to try this in a soft linen.

Vintage Butterick 3731

Recommendations

  • Siobhan of the blog Just Keep Sewing made one of my favorite versions of the Victory Patterns Hannah dress, which is on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.
  • If you love 1970’s fashion, you might want to check out the #70sfashioncult hashtag on Instagram.  It’s full of patterns and ’70’s clothes.  You could even add your own retro creations or ’70’s patterns!
  • Do you live in the Midwest of the USA?  If you do, and you have a Meijer near you (which is like a Midwestern Target), try their Michigan Cherry coffee.  It’s one of my favorites!  Several of my friends in New England have also grown to love it since I have wonderful in-laws and parents who are willing to ship it to me.  😉
  • Since knowledge is power, let me help you with your bowling game.  After watching this, I want to ask my local bowling alley if they oil their lanes with ‘The Badger’ or ‘The Cheetah’ or a house pattern.  They’ll probably think I’m super cool if I do that.  Right? 😉  Check it out:  The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes.