Thursday, July 30, 2015

Stash and Dash Bag Sew Along (Days 1-5)

When I heard that Annie, the creative genius behind Patterns by Annie and Soft & Stable was working on a new free downloadable pattern for the 2015 Summer Challenge, It's from Annie, so of course I jumped at the chance to make it.

The Stash and Dash Fold-Over Organizer is a wonderful bag.  It features 3 mesh zippered pockets, a vinyl pocket on the back, and an adjustable closure.

In the detailed Sew Along posts on Annie's Blog, the first 5 steps are done.  So, I'm going to link each section back to her original post, and I will give you my running commentary on this page.  Please remember that my comments are MINE. You've probably seen the disclaimer on TV saying views expressed on this show may not reflect the views of the producers or whatever blah blah blah. The same thing applies here. If I do something differently, that's fine. It is what works for me, and your mileage may vary too. :)

Gather the Necessary Supplies

(Go here for Annie's post)

Ok, you've downloaded the free pattern, and you are ready to start pulling everything together. Fantastic!  Here's some things to think about when you are choosing your supplies:

Is your fabric directional?  Annie recommends not using directional fabric for this project. Why? There are 2 reasons. The first is with the wrap around style of the Stash and Dash bag, part of it will be upside down. Now, if this isn't a big deal to you, then you can go with whichever fabric you like the most. The second reason is because of how the fabric is cut. To make the pattern, you need a fat quarter, and to be able to cut a 10" x 20" piece, you will be cutting across the fabric. So, if you want to use a directional print, you will want to make sure your piece of fabric is at least 20" long. 

Mesh. This will cover up most of the interior fabric, so I usually try to pick my mesh color so that it will be the least distracting choice. For example, I would be more inclined to use white mesh on a fabric that has a lot of white background.

The white mesh doesn't totally obstruct the view of the lining fabric.

Zippers.  You can have a lot of fun with zippers. I normally select a color that is less of a contrast than most people while keeping in mind which fabrics the zippers will touch. 

Tools You Will Need for this Project 

(Go here for Annie's post)

So, here are some of my thoughts on the recommended tools for making the Stash and Dash bag.  My disclaimer is that I am a bit of a freak for notions/tools. I just love them. Not all of these items are essential, but I use them on a regular basis for making bags.

Rulers.  I don't use as many rulers as Annie lists, and I wouldn't recommend that you run out and buy a bunch of them just for this project. If you have a bunch of different sizes on hand, I'd use them. They can make things easier. I primarily stick to a 6.5" x 24" ruler and a 4.5" x 8.5" for smaller tasks.  My favorite rulers are by Creative Grids.  

Marking implements: I've used chalk, Frixion pens, water erasable pens, air erasing pens, and a Hera marker throughout various projects. The best recommendation that I can make is to pick the method that works for your fabric and be sure to consider how long you expect the marking to last. For example, you probably don't want to use an air erasable pen on a project where you need the mark to last more than a day or two. Also, most importantly, test your specific fabric with the marking pen you want to use. Do not skip this step because you may seriously regret it. For example, I've seen Frixion pens leave a faint white line on fabric after ironing. It doesn't do it on every fabric, but it's not worth the risk to me to not test it. Same thing with some of the chalk colors, especially blue and yellow in my opinion. 

If you look closely, you should be able to see the lines that I marked using a pink Frixion pen.  I also opted to quilt from the lining side on the off chance that the marker did not remove completely (even though I did test it).

505 Temporary Adhesive Spray: I'm not huge on the idea of spray basting large pieces, but I think it's a great way to prepare your fabrics for quilting to the Soft and Stable (more on this later) section.  I use 505 by Odif.  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

The Clover Bias Tape Maker: I tend to be one of those people seems to be determined to steam burn myself on a regular basis, so the Clover Bias Tape Maker helps a lot.  The yellow one (size #12 - 1/2")  is the size you will need for this project.  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

The Fasturn Set: This is not a tool that I use on a daily or even weekly basis, but I love my Fasturn brass tubes.  I'm always glad that I bought it when I use it (more on this to come in a later post).  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

Dritz Cover Button Templates:  I bought this set of 7 templates from Dritz for fussy cutting fabric buttons last year for a project that needed a fabric covered button.  I didn't like that I couldn't see through the cardboard template, so I picked up this set at a local shop.  With several sizes to choose from, I use it for rounding the corners on my bags (more on this later).  This isn't essential to make your project, but it's something that I really like.

Fray Check / Fray Block:  I keep both of these on hand for keeping the edges of cut fabric from fraying and keeping the ends of serger thread together (more on this later). For this project, I used Fray Block. 

The Binding Tool:  I use this handy tool every time that I bind (more to come later). It's made by TQM Products, and it comes in 2 sizes.

 Cutting Instructions

(Go here for Annie's post)

I don't think that I have much to add in this section other than the recommendation to either print/copy the page with the labels for your fabric or to write out/use sticky notes to label your pieces. It's easier to tell these pieces apart than on some other projects, but it's a wonderful habit to establish. 

Quilt the Fabric and Soft and Stable

(Go here for Annie's post)

505 Basting Spray:  Start out by laying fabric on one side of the Soft and Stable, and I spray the 505 in sections. So, for this small item, I spray half of it at a time. After the fabric is smoothed out on the Soft and Stable, I lift one half of the fabric and spray the 505 directly on the S&S. From there, gently smooth the fabric onto the Soft and Stable working from the center outward. You can do some repositioning of the fabric if necessary, but you want to be careful not to tug on the fabric and stretch it.  Repeat this for the other half of the piece and then on the other side of the Soft & Stable with the fabric for the opposing side. As with all items, please read the manufacturer's instructions. You will want to make sure you are using this in a well ventilated area. I'm asthmatic, so I also wear a mask. I work with some people that do a lot of spray basting, and they aren't bothered by the smell or fumes, so your mileage may vary.  Depending on the size of the piece, I may still use some pins near the edges, but I didn't for this project. 

The actual quilting part:  I have 2 sewing machines that I switch between on a fairly regular basis. One of them, my Juki TL-2010Q, does not have one of those funky shaped guide bars that are so helpful for sewing parallel lines. So, I have to mark each line on my fabric.  For my first Stash and Dash bag, I used a pink Frixion pen (after testing it) and drew 3-4 lines at a time. I would mark the lines, sew the lines, press to remove the previous marks, and draw a few more lines. Rinse and repeat the process until you are satisfied with the quilting. Quilting can be more than lines as Annie mentioned. I like the look of straight lines or a grid, so that's a go to design for me. I have also done wavy lines, long arm quilting, and stippling on my home machine. It's really what you want for your bag. 

Trim the Quilted Fabric and Seal the Edges

(Go here for Annie's post)

Cutting accurately is very important, so take your time!  Sealing the edges is super important for a couple of reasons. Not only does the fabric stay in place at the edges (this can be critical to a nice, finished look), it also keeps the lines of stitching that you so patiently quilted from coming apart at the ends. Cut ends of threads (the ones that happened when you trimmed the fabric) don't necessarily like to stay nicely together once they've been sliced up.

So, that's it for me on part one of my recap (days 1-5 of the Sew Along).  If you haven't done it already, head over to Annie's blog and snag a copy of the free pattern (before October 1).  While you're there, check out the official Sew Along posts.  I'll be back in a few days with more!

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