Sewing Frustrations 2: The monster bag

Readers, I give you the monster bag. The monster bag was my attempt to make myself a bag similar to the one I made my sister (see the post here), but sadly turned out nothing like it. I started by maybe being overly ambitious, and continued by massively overthinking everything, so instead of creating a nice bag, I made a sad, wrinkly mess.

wrinkly bag

The wrinkly bag…

swimbag wrinkles

Wrinkliness, weird pulling and lopsidedness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted the bag for swimming, and therefore wanted one dry and one ‘wet’ compartment, so my clothes won’t get wet, with a few extra things thrown in like easy organisation for my swim kit. So, I measured said swimkit excessively, then made a very complicated plan.

The original pattern is still the weekend-get away duffle from Gingercake. My fabric is a lavender-blue heavy cotton twill, the same weight as my Minoru; for the bottom, I picked a waterproof bag fabric, since it hangs out poolside. My plan was to sew two separate bags minus the dividing wall which they would share, and then sew it into both bag parts, and close up the small gap that would inevitably form (sorry if this makes no sense. It no longer makes sense to me, either!), but the inside looked like this:

Massive internal wall mess

Internal Wall of Mess

Alas, it did not work so well, as you can see above. To start with, the waterproof fabric was a nightmare to sew into curves. This already broke two needles, and my patience, so it is not terribly evenly sewn on, and there were some wrinkles in both part bags. Then I attempted to sew them together, but this plan also did not work very well.  First of all, my two bags were not exactly the same, and this now showed, especially in the contrast colours. Also, I should have sewn the internal dividing wall on the other way round. Now there was fusible interfacing facing the outside of the bag, and it was glaring and white, and I was not happy. So I sewed it shut, which was another nightmare, and just didn’t really look very nice (just, you know, all the pictures).

And lastly, going around round corners in a massive bag with stiff fabric and lots of layers and awkwardness to fit underneath equals wrinkly, uneven sewing together where all the previous unevenness shows. You can see the wrinkles quite clearly above. And the top of the bag is not stiff enough – I should have used a different interlining to make it crisper.

Since I’ve done this, almost a month ago, I haven’t really touched it. The wrinkles made me unhappy, and for the lining, I would have had to sew awful corners four more times; I just haven’t had the energy. I was wondering whether starting again would be acceptable, but couldn’t be bothered to do that either.You know, sometimes you mismatch the pattern and the fabric, but I think in this case, I was just clearly overly ambitious and wanted the pattern and fabric to do something they really couldn’t. And yes, I could have probably lived with the wrinkles and everything, but every time I would have looked at the bag, it would’ve made me unhappy.I know that’s perfectionistic, but I guess that’s me.

So now that I know what I can do with it, what’s going to happen? Well, there’s parts of it I really like – I think the outside bag has come out well; and the fabric choice is good in terms of colour. I also really like how the straps have come out:

Nice straps, weee!

The small bits I like about the bag…

The second good part is that I went to a sewing meet-up organised by the lovely and highly efficient Claire, which was amazing and lovely and inspirational and all that, and I bought some more bag fabric, determined to tackle the monster bag. I then came home inspired, ripped the bag apart and figured out what to do with it. I’ll probably keep the outsides, the straps and the wider bag top with the zip already in, and swap out the bottom for just one bag compartment.  So, with a bit of patience, it’ll be ok, and I can share some more updates soon. Since I’ve taken it apart again, I can also share some more construction pointers if you’re keen.

I promise that despite my silence, I have not been hung up about the bag all this time –  it has been summer here, so cue lots of being outside, and apart from rescuing the bag, I also do have lots of other sewing to share, as well as exciting sewing plans, and new fabrics. And I’ve actually almost finished the silk dress, so hopefully within the next week, I’ll share good sewing news (or very bad ones, if I accidentally now cut a hole into it ’cause I’ve jinxed it. Cross your fingers?).

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Sewing Frustrations: Burda: 2, Thea:0, or Burda and the redefinition of ‘quick fix’.

Readers, thanks for the helpful feedback on the last post! I’ll take the plunge and take the dress apart. Hopefully, it’ll be ready for a wedding I’m going to in (late, phew!) August – I’ll keep you updated, and will try to take pictures of work in progress.

In the meantime, I owe a confession: I have been posting far less than I have been sewing. But, a lot of the things I’ve been sewing have been complete misses. We could also call it a very steep learning curve. Time to share! Today, we start with Thea vs. Burda: Matches 1 and 2. You can also already look forward to some idiocy-induced Alma fails, as well as the monster bag. Anyway, here we go, me vs. Burda. These two matches are demonstrations of the classical adage of picking both your fabric and your patterns carefully. I failed with one in each category.

They are also the re-definition of the ‘quick fix’: I meant them to be a quick fix in being a quick project, fast to make, no fuss. They ended up taking a lot more time then they should have.

Number 1: The wrong pattern choice.

Well, this is a bit of a no-brainer. As paunnet, and many many others, have pointed out, Burda has a tendency to publish rectangles sewn together. Unfortunately, I fell for it, in Burda No. 5, with 05/2013/104A. It’s supposed to look like this:

104a_0513_b_large

Source: www. burdastyle.com

But for me, looks nothing like it:

What I don't feel about this top

What I don’t feel about this top

How I really feel about the top

I made it up in the smallest size, but there was much too much fabric. So I took out a wooping 20 cms in total, but it still looked weird, so I thought to insert a piece of elastic at the waist to aid the gathers. It did not aid the gathers, nor did it aid my patience or liking of the top. The shoulders are too lose, and it just does not look good on me I think. Either way, here’s my version. Needless to say, I don’t think it will get worn (I actually had to hunt very very hard to find it for the pics. Woops). Burda: 1, Thea: 0. Time it should have taken: dunno, 2 hours_ Time it did take: 5? Plus some extra time for headscratching. Verdict: wrong pattern. What was I thinking? This is going in the scrap bin. Also, apologies for the overlighted pictures – the fabric doesn’t photograph very well (for me at least, and my resident photographer was still at work). It was a silver-blueish striped polyester from, yes, you guessed it, Goldhawk Road (how did you know?).

So, if this was wrong pattern, we now move on to wrong fabric, number 2. Again, Burda won, I guess, or at least I failed. It was supposed to be this lovely drapey cozy top, 11/2012/136A.  But, and here I take the blame, I picked the wrong fabric. It’s meant for a drapey fabric, and I have to say I’m still not particularly good at identifying fabrics with the right amount of drape. So instead of my top looking like nice and drapey and so:

I looked like an American footballer in sugar-pink, with very sticky-out shoulders. Sadly for you, I hacked the excess shoulders off faster than you could say ‘camera’, so no pics of that. Mind you, I hacked the shoulders off straight (hi, I’m quite new to this), so I couldn’t move very well in the top, until I used my Renfrew top to re-draft the armholes. Here, I then forgot to substract the shoulder seams, so the armscye now comes down very low, and I haven’t actually finished the shoulders beyond a zig-zag. Hey, I bet you can almost feel my enthusiam from that description, right? It’s not too bad now, I promise – here’s proof. It just has nothing in common with the original 😉

 

spot the loose armscye on the right (it's a bit pulled out of shape)

Spot the loose armscye on the right (it’s a bit pulled out of shape)

You can just spot the very low armscye on this one...

You can just make out the very low armscye on this one…

 

 

 

Time it should have taken: 2 hours, maximum. Time it did take: 2 hours, plus one hour, plus another hour, each for hacking of and amending the sleeves. In total, this has been sitting around for a record 3 months now, since I started it as a quick fix project after my Minoru. Woops.

Lessons learnt from this? Fabrics usually have less drape than I think (it’s not the first time this has happened to me, sadly). Burda and me are not meant to be unless I’m more experiened, either*.

So, what was your least successful pattern so far? The one that looks nothing like the draft and ended up in the scraps pile? Do they ever stop happening, or are they part of the fun of sewing for you?

* If this has given you the impression that Burda is impossible to sew, sorry! It’s just me. I can’t figure it out. But others are more successful – check out Oh Sew Cultured’s lovely dress, or the amazing jeans and shorts that Yes I Like That made from Burda patterns. And both the Slapdash Sewist and Miss Celie’s Pants are highly successful with Burda patterns. And I’m sure there’s many more…