Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The bags won't stop!

Finally THE BAG was finished - phew! My daughter has spent the last few weeks asking "when are you going to finish your bag mum?" (with increasing emphasis on the "when" or the "are" depending on levels of frustration and disbelief).

So, with the giant black and white construction sorted out I could give my daughter a bit of time and attention and help her out with her bag. She decided on a whim to go out with her dad and buy some fabric a few weeks ago. The choice was suitably glam - leopard skin and a glorious gold shimmer. The latter is being saved for another project.

We sat down and planned out something fairly simple, lots of straight lines, so that my daughter could - with assistance - operate the sewing machine. And here it is in all it's glory. My daughter loves it and is very proud of the amount she was able to do. Hm, seems to have taken a shine to my sewing machine.

I learnt a lot too. The bag is given its strength by a base of felt throughout. It is lined with black fabric. Most of it worked out fine. There is one little bit I'd do differently next time. 1. I knew I had to make the inner lining slightly smaller but then the top where it joins the outer bag needs to be more or less the same size, otherwise you get a few little wrinkles. Next time I'll adjust it properly as the lining on this bag is a little too small at the top but my daughter seems unbothered by the small pleats. 2. I should have attached the inner lining and the top differently - I confess I was trying to take a short cut to get it done, but I should have turned it all inside out, sewn together leaving a gap, turned and then finished off. That would have looked a little neater. But all in all it still looks pretty good, my daughter loves it and it is a useful bag for her. Job done.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Curse you laws of physics! And how I threw away my gusset then rediscovered my big bottom...

THE BAG ... is complete! Ta-da! But not without much weeping and wailing, many trials and tribulations and problems to be solved at every EVERY turn.

Now, let's see, last time I was choosing fabric and how nice to look back at such an innocent moment. The final fabrics chosen were not all my favourites or the ones I thought had worked out best as fabrics. They weren't all the ones I thought I'd use. But I chose the ones that would work best for this bag. One thing I found out throughout the process of making selections is that you discard much more than you choose, and the bits you reject are as important as the things you decide to include. But you all knew that already, so I was just playing catch up.

Every stage of constructing this bag became a puzzle to find a solution to, and then a physical challenge to carry it out. I won't go into the full gory details but just give a few little snapshots so you get the flavour of it. The front, back and sides/bottom had to be constructed out of three layers of already thick felt. My Pfaff felt the pain of trying to stitch the layers together, and I encountered the problem of manouvering a large piece of not very bendy material with limited space between the needle and the main body of the machine. Then the edges had to be sealed together with bonding powder, which sounds simple enough but it took literally hours with a hot iron to get it all sealed successfully. For one thing, thick felt takes a lot longer to bond. Then the edges weren't very smooth or well finished so I then spent some considerable time giving it all a short back and sides with a razor. The rest of it, involving a leather needle and some pliers is too fresh in my mind to relive. Let's just say there was pain and there was blood.

"And then we came to the end " (a book I enjoyed by the way, very funny) and then I came to what I thought was the end, only fate had one more funny little joker to throw onto the table. And this is where the laws of physics (curse you laws of physics!) came in like grouchy aunt Gladys to spoil everyone's fun. The thick piece of felt that was supposed to form the sides and bottom would bend in one direction or the other but not both at once - it needed to bend around the bag but also to curve so that the edges would lie flat to the edges of the front and back to enable it to be sewn together. It refused point blank to do both.

So I did what any girl would do in this sort of situation and got rid of the pesky gusset all together and sewed both front and back directly together, stuck my tongue out at the bag and decided it made a rather lovely and voluptuous seed pod of a bag. Not overly practical but there was something delicious about it all the same.

Well, we all rethink such drastic action and I decided to give it one more go so with my heart in my throat I cut the stitches open and made a new bottom with three layers of thinner felt. And there it is finally, all done and finished, and my husband telling me I'm at a loose end now. It's a bag, it has a big bottom and more history than a bag needs. You could stuff a lot into and probably use it as an item of self defence.

I'm done. Module 3 here I come!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

50th post - luckily and unfortunately

No, not THE BAG yet, although I can report that it is coming on nicely even though it is the most work intensive thing I've ever made. Totally non-commercial, so it will have to fight it's corner under the label of art.

Well, 50 posts that seems worth celebrating with some whimsey. There are many blogs I enjoy reading, and one is "From down the well". Helen posted this a couple of days ago about one of those Google distractions that can be such delicious fun. She had found it on another blog, and so the string goes on through the ether, so I have no idea who thought it up in the first place. It's a thing that can be called "unfortunately ... luckily".

What you do is google the phrase "unfortunately {insert your first name}" and/or "luckily {insert your first name}". You get a strange melange of phrases. I came up with the following:

"Unfortunately Kathryn, the medication you need to treat your seahorse's affliction is a prescription drug

Luckily Kathryn proved adept at improvising with a spoon

Unfortunately, Kathryn was unaware or unbothered by the fact that the Queen is a public figure

Luckily, Kathryn using her 'telepathic powers' summons a school of fish!

Unfortunately, Kathryn was expecting the usual abilities: flying, energy blasts, super-strength and super toughness, possibly enhanced senses"

I thought that was, well, amusing. I'm sure there is someone out there who writes short stories who could make something out of that random selection. Or maybe it is a good basis for a variant on consequences, or one of those barking mad games they play on "I'm sorry I haven't a clue".

So gripping my spoon, ignoring the Queen and hoping that super strength is on form, it's back to the bag then ...

P.S. - the poor seahorse was suffering from bubbles on its tail which sounds ... I was going to say awful, but I'll admit I'm really thinking funny.