Category Archives: Design Techniques

TOPSTITCHING

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Top-stitching is exactly as it sounds – a line of stitches, often decorative yet functional, that are visible on the face surface of your bag design. Technically you can use any stitch and thread to topstitch a bag exterior, but if you want professional results and a polished finish, it’s best to learn to topstitch like the pros. The addition of top-stitching to any bag will make it decorative while adding body to the bag structure and firm up the shape to the bag without adding any interfacing. Do keep in mind to keep the stitch-type and its length, consistent and uniform for a harmonious professional finished look.  A cluster of unrelated stitches will ruin the appearance of your bag design and denotes poor execution.

topstitch

You can embellish with topstitching and it can be machine-stitched with a polished topstitching thread or hand-sewn with waxed linen thread.  If I do decide on hand-stitching, I often pre-punch holes whenever I use leathers or plastics by ¨walking¨ an unthreaded needle in my sewing machine by hand, using the flywheel instead of the foot-pedal to keep control, along the edge that will receive the top-stitching. Then, I just follow the guided path with my hand-needle. This gives me a smooth, even appearance and makes it easy to sew. You can also use the same method to create a laced-edge effect on your design. Your stitch line should be slightly longer in length than a construction stitch when you are topstitching. After all, if you’re going to put in all that extra labour and time, you want everyone to notice it.

quilting

Design-wise, you can use top-stitching to create in part the style of the bag, such as in quilting or trapunto. This type of embellishment uses a padded backing or interlining that can add extra body to the structure of the bag. Also, be aware that, the more  machine-stitching you apply to the fabric’s surface, the stiffer the fabric will become. In other words, you don’t even need interfacing to make your bag’s exterior more rigid while at the same time keeping the bag light in weight.

Think like a designer and be creative with the thread colour pathway and use a fun contrasting colour. This can bring a pop of style and pizzazz to your finished product.  Add piping or cording for extra impact.

saddlestitch

Lastly, I like to do topstitching by way of the saddle-stitch on hard-to-sew cut edge styles and for simple leather bag handles. This simple hand-stitch denotes high-quality workmanship on any bag design and is a very professional-looking embellishment and finish.

Here are some professional tips when topstitching:

  • Top stitching thread is heavier gauge (weight) than conventional sewing machine thread; you use this thread in the top load of your machine and use regular sewing thread in the bobbin.
  • 90/14 is a special needle sized for top stitching; it has a larger eye to accommodate the thicker thread gauge.
  • Sometimes your project might work better with a different thread & needle for topstitching; make certain you choose your needle wisely.
  • Take your time and test on a piece of scrap fabric first. Make sure you use the same number of layers in your test swatch as you’ll have in the finished project, and test out a few different threads, needles, and stitch types/lengths before you decide on the real deal. Taking the time to do this step is the difference between homemade and handmade.
  • Top-stitch spacing from the edge is extremely important when applying. Consider using a seam guide tool for consistency. Speaking of consistency, to be harmonious in your overall design, your top-stitching should not be a hodgepodge of different stitches nor stitch lengths. Choose one style of top-stitching and use it throughout your design.
  • Depending on the thickness of fabric layers, the tension may need adjusting. This is especially important with thicker materials such as canvas/leather. Again, it’s always important to do a test piece first. 
  • If you are using topstitching thread in the bobbin as well, you might want to get a second bobbincase dedicated solely to the heavier gauge thread. Your sewing machine dealer can help you with that and set the bobbin tension for you.
  • If you’re using a thicker fabric or a lot of layers, position some scrap fabric under the back of your presser foot before you begin to sew. This allows the presser foot to remain straight, horizontally, so that it doesn’t have to “climb uphill” to begin sewing the bag.
  • Don’t backstitch – at least, not in the traditional way. Instead of stitching back and forth a few times to begin and end your topstitching, first shorten your stitch length to something very short; backstitch just once back and forth, then lengthen your stitches and sew as normal. This creates a more subtle way to anchor your stitches.
  • When you’re finished sewing, pull the top threads to the bottom or back of the work and tie them in a knot with the lower threads, then trim away loose ends.
  • Stabilize fabrics as needed. Use tear-away stabilizer under the material and then tear it off when you’re finished sewing. Another option is to add a layer of interfacing between the fabric layers.
  • Trim seam allowances before topstitching. This reduces the bulk of the fabric under the stitches, making it easier to get a smooth, even finish.
  • Lastly, throw away the rule book and experiment with your decorative stitches!
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CRAFTSY CLASSES ON DVD!

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Craftsy just sent me some exciting and exclusive news: DVDs are (finally!) coming to Craftsy.com!

They have carefully selected a set of classes for the first round of DVDs … 60 titles are available on Craftsy.com since May, and hope to add another 60 titles by the end of June. How wonderful!

Selling Craftsy class content in this format I think will provide a unique hands-on way to introduce the crafting community to Craftsy and its company of talented instructors through crafting publications & catalogs, libraries, other online retailers as well as brick & mortar retailers.

I’m really excited about this opportunity, and today they are all on sale!

Bring your favourite Craftsy classes to the big screen. Craftsy is putting all of their DVDs on sale at $19.99USD each – today only.

All DVD Craftsy Classes at $19.99 USD each. Sale ends June 13, 2017 at 11:59PM MT.

 

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HANDY TOTE

cat6

A functional yet basic convertible bag design. A book bag, a market carry-all, the perfect everyday tote. Carry by hand when in use; then fold it into its zippered pouch and slip it in your coat pocket so that it is at the ready.

Dimensions: 18″ high / 16″ wide / 4″ deep, with an exterior zippered pouch pocket and nylon handles. [45.75 cm x 40.5 cm x 10 cm]

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag.  This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 100% nylon ripstop, 60″ wide

You will need:

  • 1.25 yds. [1.15 m] water-proof nylon ripstop, 60″ wide [152 cm]**
  • 2/3 yds. [61 cm] nylon webbing, 1″ wide [25mm] *
  • 1 reversible zipper, 10″ long [25.5  cm]
  • 1.25 yds. [1.15 m] double-fold bias tape, 1/4″ wide [6 mm] (optional)
  • 1 spool polyester thread

** NOTE: If your fabric choice has a directional printed design like mine, you will need to cut the body section in half. With wide goods, you’ll only need half the required yardage as the front and back sections can be cut side by side across the fabric’s width. No allowance made for matching the print.

* NOTE:  Bag handles can be made as shoulder straps by increasing the yardage of webbing, as shown below in diagram.

eco4_fotor

PATTERN

The pattern itself is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a long rectangle, of which the size depends on the desired depth of the style (in this example, 4″). So the overall bag dimensions are 18” high (length) by 16” wide (width) by 4” deep (depth). This will give a roomy bag cavity volume of 1,152 cubic inches which should carry a reasonable amount of items and weight.

The exterior pouch is a zippered pocket that can be used to carry keys, wallet, etc. When not in use, the totebag can be folded into the pouch for storage.

Seam allowance (1/2″) or [12 mm] is included in this pattern-draft.

draft-3_fotor

CUTTING

  • cut 1X body (see note above)
  • cut 2X pocket
  • cut 1X pocket side
  • cut 2 bag handles from webbing, 12″ long [30 cm] (see note above)

CONSTRUCTION

Make the pocket pouch. With right sides together (RST), fold the POCKET SIDE piece in half lengthwise, and wrap around the end of the reversible zipper. Stitch across the short end. Repeat this step with opposite end of zipper.

pocket-side_fotor

Turn fabric right-side-out and press seams flat. Top-stitch across ends of zipper.

Align the “open” side of the POCKET SIDE to the edge of one of the POCKET pieces. The seaming of the zipper should be in the middle of the shorter sides of the rectangle. Pin/baste the POCKET SIDE to the POCKET piece. There is no seam allowance value on the zipper tape itself so stitch along the edge of the zipper tape when joining the two sections. Sew around the perimeter of the POCKET SIDE and clip seam allowance in the corners if the fabric does not lie flat. Grade the excess material in the seam allowance.

pocket2_fotor

Place remaining POCKET piece on top of the pouch assembly, with RST and match in the corners. Flip the whole assembly over so that the previous line of stitching is visible. Pin/baste perimeter of rectangles together. Beginning slightly inside the lower corner, stitch following previous stitches, around the lower corner, up the side, across the top, down the side, and around the last corner, leaving an opening to turn out the fabric. Trim diagonally at each corner to reduce any bulk. Turn pocket out through the opening and slip-stitch opening close. Set aside.

Apply pouch to body. Position pocket with zipper facing toward top edge of bag. Place it in the center of the front bag section, 7.5″ [19 cm] from the top edge and 8″[20 cm] from either side seam. Pin/baste in place. Sew along the edge of the folded fabric and zipper tape to install.

Finish bag opening. If using, open bias tape flat and sew onto top edges of bag. Wrap raw edges with the bias tape and bind. Otherwise, sew a narrow 1/4-inch double-rolled hem to complete the bag opening.

Add bag handles. Position each webbing strip, 6″ [15 cm] from each corner of the bag, on the inside of the bag (wrong side of fabric) to form a loop for the bag handle on each section and X-stitch in place to secure.

Complete totebag. Fold the fabric with WST, and match at corners. Sew French seams on both sides of the bag, by stitching a 1/4-inch seam allowance, then trimming seam allowance close to stitching. Turn bag inside-out and sew another 1/4-inch seam allowance along sideseams; press seams flat.

Note: If using a directional printed fabric as in this tutorial, cut the body section in two and add a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Sew a French seam along the bottom edge of the bag before closing the sides. miter_fotor

Miter the gusset end by marking with a pin where the gusset end fold will come on front and back panels, (in this case, it is 2″ in and 2″ up from edges). Fold in the side turn at the pins, where the gusset fold will come; and, fold in the corner triangle to the pins. Press along the folds. Stitch across side seam from pin to pin to create each gusset for the totebag.

The tote bag when flattened, folds vertically into thirds towards the centre, then the layers fold horizontally two times from the bottom and two times from the top, both resting on top of the pocket pouch,  which is itself reversible and wraps around the stacked layers. To contain the tote bag, the pocket zips closed. The smaller unit can now fit easily into a coat pocket or purse, ready to be used when needed.

folding_fotor

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THE PATTERNED PURSE

purse-3If you plan to use a fabulous fabric with a printed design or textured motif, you will need to match the print when doing the seam construction in making up your bag.  First you must determine the height of the pattern repeat which is called a vertical repeat.  Simply measure from the top or base of the motif in one spot, down to the same spot in the design, when it appears again in the length of the yardage. That distance will be the vertical pattern repeat and is an integral part of the fabric design. For every cut-length of fabric required for your bag design, you will need to add 1 vertical repeat (amounts vary so measure the repeat) to the overall yardage. The distance of a repeat can often be indicated on the fabrics selvedge by dots or crosshairs. There are times when matching the repeat in a fabric pattern isn’t crucial such as a small print or a geometric one. Though you do cut into a pattern repeat, it is not “lost” when you sew two pieces together. You still get the tiny daisies or the polkadots. The same may be said of “abstract” styles. When cut pieces are sewn together, it still looks abstract in appearance and scale. However, when you follow your pattern-draft and cut through a sizeable motif or image printed on that fabric’s surface, say the large butterfly or cabbage rose, ideally as designers we want the other half of that butterfly or rose to align with its counterpart to regain the whole motif of the surface design to make the final product’s appearance, a harmonious one and pleasing to the eye. This tutorial takes a look at using a patterned fabric to create a soft-sided purse and how to go about using the fabric and its patterned surface to its best advantage to create unity and harmony in your design.

Featured fabric:

fab4

The fashion fabric used in this tutorial is a beautiful textured chenille upholstery fabric made up in a jacquard weave on a stylized twill background. In the dominant motif of the pattern, the chenille yarn is used to create a stylized lily set within a hexagon leaf border. The vertical pattern repeat is 9-inches [23 cm]. The over-all pattern arrangement is a half-drop repeat.

The Creative Dilemma:

pattern-repeat_fotorAs handbag designers, we love working with textile prints and textures. Upholstery fabrics are thick wide goods textiles that lend themselves well to fashion bag designing. In this particular selection, the fabric is wide (54” / 137 cm) and the pattern repeat is 9” / 23 cm in length. The bag dimensions are 13” H x 18” W x 4” D (33 cm x 46 cm x 10 cm). The stylized “lily” is about 6” x 6” (15 cm x 15 cm). Nine inches will fit within a area of 13 inches top to bottom and 18 inches side to side. Then, what is the dilemma?

If the bag styling required a front and back section cut in one-piece, there would be no need to match the surface pattern as the vertical pattern repeat could not be disrupted and being that the cloth is wide, each section could be cut side by side across the width of the fabric, therefore only requiring approximately half-yard of goods for front, back, and base of the purse.

However, there is more to the bag design. There is an exterior pocket on the front section. A patch pocket sized to make best use of the 6 x 6 flower would accommodate the motif yet would not appear very polished style-wise. So the exterior pocket is styled as a pouch pocket on a centre panel positioned between two mirrored side panels (see the Rule of Three). This pocket style is sleeker in appearance and sits flatter on the front plane. However, it cuts through the surface pattern and the motif is lost.

The Creative Solution:

After you have determined the vertical repeat, add that amount to your overall yardage required for your pattern-draft, even if you are able to get more than one section width from the fabric’s width as most upholstery textiles often are wider than most fashion fabrics. The larger the shape of the bag or the more intricate the pattern design is, the more waste there will be.

Begin by designing the exterior pouch pocket on the center front section of the bag. When cutting the fabric, you would not know where the motif or pattern repeat began nor ended on the pocket. The only thing you would know is that you want the motif or pattern to be centered on the pocket. Therefore you would cut the pocket first, then the remaining top portion of the center panel to size all the while aligning the missing part of the motif, plus an added extension for the pocket opening.

Then, cut the side panels a bit larger than the center panel section. This will allow you to travel upward or downward along the seamline to align the overall pattern. It is best to sew the panel widths together first and then trim the excess from the panels to your desired length and width in accordance with the pattern-draft. Remember to cut mirrored images. Most decorative fabrics are made so that the print matches at or just inside the selvage.  If you line up the print on each width of fabric at the selvages and stitch right along or just inside the selvage, the print should match (just like you may put up wallpaper). 

Once the front section is complete, use it as a guide to cut out the back section all-in-one. Clever planning will allow you to use the waste part of the the un-used fabric for facings, handles, and other similar details in your design.

Dimensions: approximately 13 high / 18 wide / 4″ deep with a 12” wide base; 24″ [51 cm] fixed strap handle and 16” zippered opening,

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag.  This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: chenille brocade upholstery fabric; percale lining fabric

You will need:

  • 1 yd. [0.90 m] patterned upholstery fabric, 54” wide [ 137 cm]
  • 1 yd. [0.90 m] high-thread count lining fabric, 54” wide [137 cm]
  • 1/2 yd. [46 cm] coordinating fabric (for contrast trim & handles)
  • 1/4 yd. [23 cm] ripstop nylon fabric, 54” wide [137 cm] (for exterior pocket lining)
  • 1 yd. [0.90 m] knit-fuse interfacing, 60” wide [152 cm]
  • 1/4 yd. [23 cm] heavy-duty Pellon interfacing, 45” wide [115 cm]
  • 3/4 yd. [ 69 cm] ban-roll buckram, 1” wide [25mm]
  • 1.5 yds. [140 cm] single-fold bias tape, 1/2″ wide [12 mm]
  • 1 closed-end pocket zipper, 16” long [41 cm] x 1” wide [25 mm]
  • 1 closed-end pocket zipper, 10” long [25cm] x 3/4” wide [20mm]
  • 1 spool all-purpose thread

PATTERN:

draft3_fotor

Scale = X = 2 inches [ 5 cm]; the prototype is 4″ deep [10 cm]

The draft and formation of this prototype is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the  desired depth of the style (2″ or greater).

** Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces.

The following is the proportionate pattern-draft. Enter any value for X you desire.

draft4_fotor

Front section of the purse including gussets

draft5_fotor

Base & Back section of the purse including gussets

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Lining pattern & patch pocket

CUTTING:

Fabric yardage will be dependant upon width of goods and number of vertical pattern repeats needed, the type of block pattern used, and the type of pattern match required. Remember to add seam allowances before cutting fabric.

  • Cut one piece of fashion fabric for each exterior pattern piece. Read pouch pocket instructions below before attempting fabric cutting.
  • Fuse interfacing to back of lining fabric following manufacturer’s directions. Cut two pieces of fashion lining fabric for the interior lining and one piece for the interior patch pocket.
  • Cut one rectangle of lining fabric: 12″ x 3″ [30 cm x 8 cm] for interior pocket facing.
  • Cut one square of lining fabric: 12″ x  12″ [30 cm x 30 cm] for pocket bag.
  • Cut two pieces of ripstop nylon fabric using the POCKET pattern piece.
  • Fuse interfacing to back of contrast trim fabric following manufacturer’s directions. Cut four pieces of contrast trim fabric: 19″ x 2″ [49 cm x 5 cm].
  • Cut two pieces of contrast trim fabric: 26″ x 2″ [66 cm x 5 cm] for purse handle.

ASSEMBLY

Exterior:

Making pouch pocket. When cutting the printed or patterned fashion fabric, you want to match the pattern yet you do not know where the pattern repeat lies on the exterior pocket. The only thing you do know is that you want the motif to be centered on the pocket. Therefore you would cut the pocket first, then the remaining top portion of the center panel to size. Note: You want to make up the front center panel first before cutting any other parts of the purse’s exterior.

Using the POCKET and TOP CENTER PANEL pattern pieces, overlap them 1″ [25 mm] at the top edge of the pocket opening and securing with paper clips. This is the entire front center panel. Lay the pattern on your fabric and align the pattern to the center of the motif. Do this in the middle of the fabric’s width; reserve the selvedge edges for the front side panels.  Using tailor’s chalk, mark the four corners of the POCKET pattern piece. Now remove the paper clips and align the POCKET pattern only to the chalk marks and add seam allowance all around. Set aside.

popocket_fotor

Next, cut two pieces of ripstop nylon using the POCKET pattern in the same manner as described above. With right sides together (RST), place 1 nylon piece with the pocket piece and sew across the top of the pocket. Press the seam open and grade the ripstop nylon’s seam allowance. On the right side of the ripstop nylon, under-stitch the nylon to the fashion fabric’s seam allowance. Fold the fabric along the pocket opening and press flat. (You may add top-stitching to the folded edge if you wish).

Now, position the sewn pocket piece onto the fashion fabric and find the missing part of the motif. Align the sewn edge of the pocket to match that of the motif. Chalk the upper corners of the pocket and remove the pocket piece. Using the TOP CENTER PANEL pattern, set the bottom corners of the pattern piece on the chalk marks and trace out the pattern and extend 1-inch below the pocket opening (bottom edge of pattern) to create an overlap. Add seam allowances all around. Before cutting out, recheck pattern match with POCKET section.  When ready, cut out FRONT TOP PANEL. With RST, place remaining nylon piece with the TOP CENTER PANEL piece and sew across the bottom of the panel. Press the seam open and grade the ripstop nylon’s seam allowance. On the right side of the ripstop nylon, under-stitch the nylon to the fashion fabric’s seam allowance.front-center-panel_fotor_fotor

Make the front center panel. To complete the center panel, layer the POCKET section on top of the TOP CENTER PANEL section and match up the print. Pin together and measure distance from top of panel to the pocket opening. Each side should be equally distanced. Baste within the seam allowance, from the pocket opening to the bottom of the panel to catch the layers of ripstop underneath. This will create the pouch cavity. Set aside.

                                           front center panel                                                                      

Adding the side panels. Most patterned fabrics are made so that the pattern matches at or just inside the selvage.  If you line up the print pattern on each width of fabric at the selvages and stitch right along or just inside the selvage, the print should match.

Using the left selvedge of the fashion fabric, fold under the fabric just inside of the selvedge and press flat. Match the pattern drop to the right side of the center panel. Pin the pressed edge of the cloth to the seam allowance of the center panel section. Mark and cut the fashion fabric slightly larger than the RIGHT FRONT PANEL pattern piece (about 1″ all around will do). This will allow you to slide the fabric up or down along the seam to match the print. Repeat this step for the LEFT FRONT PANEL section, using the right selvedge edge of the cloth to mirror the image along the left side of the center panel section. It is best to slip-baste the seam lines carefully together with the face side up to match up the pattern motif and sew the panels together first with right sides together. Press the seam allowance toward the side panels and grade the bulk from the seams.

front_fotor

Then, chalk out the RIGHT SIDE and LEFT SIDE PANEL pieces onto the fabric, adding seam allowance. Trim the excess from the side panels to your desired length and width in accordance with the pattern-draft. Top-stitch along both vertical seams to create the pouch pocket. Set aside.

Make the back panel. Using the completed FRONT section, lay it on your fashion fabric and duplicate the look of the matched surface pattern. Using tailor’s chalk, mark the four corners of the FRONT section. Now remove the FRONT section and align the BACK PANEL pattern piece to the chalk marks and add seam allowance all around. Cut out the BACK section and set aside.

Make the base. By now you have a lot of fabric waste. Find a cloth piece large enough to mark out the BASE pattern piece and add seam allowance. Cut out the base section and set aside.

INTERIOR

Prepare the lining fabric to receive the pocket detailing by ironing Fusi-Knit® fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric following manufacturer’s directions. This will stabilize and the reinforce the lining for inserting pocket compartments and protect it from wear.

There will be two interior pockets: 1) a zippered inset pocket on the back section of the lining for security; and 2) a self-lined patch pocket on the front section of the lining that can be divided into smaller compartments for organization.

With RST, fold the lining fabric with selvedges matching and lay the BACK pattern on the cloth on straight-grain. Mark out its shape and add seam allowance. Cut 2X lining. Set aside.

Make the patch pocket. Mark out the patch pocket pattern onto the lining fabric and add seam allowance. Cut out the pocket. With RST, fold the pocket in half and match the corners. Stitch each side of the pocket from the fold to the bottom edge, leaving the bottom open for turning out. Grade the seam allowance. Turn pocket right-side-out and press pocket flat. Top-stitch along the fold of this self-lined pocket.

With the pocket held upside-down, align the open edge of the pocket to the placement line indicated on the lining pattern and pin into place.  Stitch across the open edge to close the pocket. Trim the seam allowance close to the stitching line. Next, fold the pocket up towards the top of the lining and press flat. Top-stitch close to the edges of the patch pocket to attach it to the lining. This is a large pocket compartment that will get a lot of wear and tear when in use, so add narrow bartacks to the top corners with your zig-zag setting. This pocket may be divided into smaller compartments as desired by sewing vertical rows of stitching on the pocket face (I did a narrow column along one side to hold my pen).

Make inset pocket. Cut a rectangle of lining fabric: 12″ x 3″ [30 cm x 8 cm] for interior pocket facing. Mark the outline of the pocket opening on this piece based upon the zipper chain length (I used a 10″ closed zipper).

With RST, place the facing piece on the remaining lining piece and align the outline to the placement line indicated on the lining pattern and pin into place. Sew around the outline.

Cut down the center of the outline stopping 1/2-inch (13 mm) from each end, then cutting a diagonal angle into each corner of the rectangle, as shown. You will be cutting through both the facing and lining pieces. Pull the pocket facing piece though the opening and press flat.

With the lining facing up, place the zipper behind the opening, centering it then pin/baste in place. Top-stitch around all edges of the opening close to the turned edge of the opening.

Cut a square of lining fabric: 12″ x  12″ [30 cm x 30 cm] for pocket bag. Pin the back pocket bag section to the pocket facing section (1), folding the right side of the back to the wrong side of the front portion to create a pocket bag (2). Keeping the pocket bag free, stitch around all sides of the pocket bag (3).

pocketbag_fotor

Stay-stitch the inside corners of each of the lining sections. Fold and align the edges of each bottom corners on the lining sections and sew together.  Set aside.

Make the bag handle. Begin by cutting 2 fabric strips from contrast cloth that have been fused with interfacing. The cutting dimensions for the purse handle are 26″ x 2″ [66 cm x 5 cm]. Set aside.

Place a strip of basting taping down the center of a 1-inch wide [25 mm] strip of ban-roll buckram; remove the protective backing from the basting tape and center the buckram strip onto the back of one of the contrast fabric strips and flatten down. There should be a half-inch of fabric visible of either side of the ban-roll. 

handles_fotor

bag handle layout

Place another strip of basting tape down the center of the ban-roll strip. Fold the edges of the contrast fabric over the edges of the ban-roll strip and press flat. Remove the protective backing from the basting tape and adhere folded edges to the ban-roll strip. Press flat.

With the wrong side of the handle facing up, place a strip of basting tape along both long edges of the handle, while avoiding the every edge where you will be stitching. Adhere single-fold bias tape as a decorative trim along the long edges of the handle. Have the bias tape slightly visible beyond the folded edge. Set aside.

Take the remaining contrast fabric strip and turn under long edges so that the raw edges meet at center. Press flat.

Place another strip of basting tape down the center of the back of the handle. Remove the protective backing from the basting tape and with WST, adhere the second contrast strip to the handle. Be certain to match up one strip directly upon the other. then, press flat. Top-stitch along either long edge of the handle piece to complete. Trim away the excess material at the short ends.

For a 6.5″ drop [17mm] on this bag style, cut the handle length to equal 24″ long [61 cm]. Note: The drop measurement may be lengthen or shorten depending upon how the purse is worn.

Completion of the Purse Exterior. Being that a contrasting fabric was used to make up the bag handle, the designer should incorporate the contrasting element at least two more times within the bag design to create a unified and harmonious appearance, as outlined in the Rule of Thirds.

Cut four pieces of interfaced contrast trim fabric: 19″ x 2″ [49 cm x 5 cm]. Two strips will be used as a top-stitched 1-inch wide [25 mm] appliqué along the bottom edge of the front and back bag sections, while the remaining two strips will be used along the top edges as a Hong Kong finish to the zippered bag opening.

With right sides of the lining to wrong side of the zipper, sew the top of each lining section to the back of the zipper tape. Press the seams away from the zipper and under-stitch lining to zipper tape.

repeat

With right sides of contrast trim to right side of zipper, sew the top of each exterior section to the zipper tape. Press the seams away from the zipper and stitch-in-the-ditch along the contrast trim to create the Hong Kong finish detail.

Clip diagonally (45 degrees) into the stay-stitched top corners of the exterior sections and sew short ends of the handle (face up) onto the ends of the zipper tape.

With RST, fold the exterior sections together and match up the contrast trim at the bottom of the bag, along the side seams. Sew up side sides and press open. Perpendicular to the side seam, fold the side of the bag on top of the zipper ends to enclose the bag handle in between. Sew across each end to miter each corner. Set aside.

Note: Before attaching the bag’s bottom section, open the zipper.

Baste a stiff piece of heavy-duty interfacing, cut to size, to the back of the base section. Pin/baste the base section to the bottom edges of the exterior sections. Do this by starting in the middle of each piece and working outward to the sides; allow for the seam allowance at each end. Sew base section in place. Trim away excess interfacing in seam allowances. Clip diagonally (45 degrees) into the seam allowance up to the end of the stitching at each bottom corner at the base section.

Perpendicular to the side seam, fold the side of the bag on top of short ends of the base section to create wide gussets . Sew across each end to miter each corner. Trim any excess interfacing from seam allowance.

Completion of Bag Interior. With RST, align and match up lining sides and bottom together. Sew up side seam and pivot at bottom corner and continue sewing up to 1 inch beyond the corner on each side.

Turn bag right-side-out through the zipper opening and through opening in lining. With WST, match up lining bottom at opening and edge-stitch closed. Drop lining into the cavity of the purse.

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FABRIC PATTERN REPEATS

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As handbag designers, we love working with textile prints and patterns… and, surface prints for use in fashion and home decor fabrics offer glorious opportunity for expanding your styling creativity and establishing a marketable skill-set.

Fashion bag designers can utilize the same methods used by textile designers to produce dynamic patterns and textures for their bag designs that will eventually turn into a beloved tangible item of beauty. To get ideas flowing let’s use the possibilities of fabric patterns and prints that focuses on some of the popular pattern repeats and how to match them to create unity and harmony in your designs.

Types of Fabric Patterns:

Here are three basic pattern repeats that textile designers use. With these basic repeating pathways, many hybrids of pattern design are created by combining two or more in unique ways.

For my demonstration, let’s use the motif of the fleur-de-lis (sometimes spelled “fleur-de-lys”), a stylized lily (in French, fleur means “flower”, and lis means “lily”) that is used as a decorative design or symbol, at one and the same time, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic”, especially in French heraldry.

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The Block Repeat

The block repeat is the simplest style of repeat. It is simply formed by stacking the original repeat in a basic grid:

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The block repeat can have an amateurish look if used in the wrong situation yet it can look great with simpler, more geometric motifs.

Brick/Half-Brick Repeat

Next up, we have the brick/half-brick repeat. You’ll notice that the motifs are arranged like bricks on a house – they are in a horizontal row, and then the next row is offset to create a staggered look. The terms half-brick and brick can be used interchangeably unless the offset of the later rows is not exactly half of the preceding row’s motifs. In that case, you would just use the term, brick.

Here’s a simple example of a half-brick repeat:

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Brick/half-brick repeats are used very often in fabric design. The motifs can be exclusive of each other (as shown above) or have some overlap when they are organized.

Drop/Half-Drop Repeat

The drop or half-drop repeat is very similar to the brick/half-brick, but the motifs are offset vertically instead of horizontally, like so:

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As with the brick/half-brick, the terms drop and half-drop can be used interchangeably unless the offset isn’t 50% of the original motif. You will most often see 50% offsets, but smaller or  larger ones certainly aren’t unheard of.

Drop/half-drop repeats are another very common type of repeat in fabric and surface design.

MATCHING REPEATING PATTERNS ON FABRICS

Figuring the Vertical Repeat:

If you plan to use a fabric with a printed design, you will need to match the design when you join two or more widths together.  First you must determine the height of the pattern repeat which is called a vertical repeat.  Simply measure from the top or base of the motif in one spot, down to the same spot in the design, when it appears again in the length of the yardage. That distance will be the vertical pattern repeat and is an integral part of the fabric design. For every cut-length of fabric required for your bag design, you will need to add 1 vertical repeat (amounts vary so measure the repeat) to the overall yardage. The distance of a repeat can often be indicated on the fabrics selvedge by dots or crosshairs.

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Keep in mind that the overall pattern on all bag designs should match on front, back and on gussets. 

Cutting the Panel Widths:

After you have figured your vertical repeat, you need to determine the cut-length of all of your section widths. Luckily if you are using upholstery-weight fabrics to create your bag design, often you are able to get more than one section width from the fabric’s width as most are on average about 54-inches wide. The larger the shape of the bag or the more intricate the pattern design is, the more waste there will be. Clever planning will allow you to use the un-used fabric portions for facings, handles, and other similar details in your design.

When matching most pattern repeats, your cut-length per section will be larger than you actually need.  This will allow you to travel upward or downward along the seamline to align the overall pattern. Once the seams are sewn, you can trim the excess fabric away. However, it is best to sew the widths together first and then trim the panels to your desired length. For instance, say you want to design an exterior pouch pocket on the center front section of the bag. When cutting the fabric, you would not know where the motif or pattern repeat began nor ended on the pocket. The only thing you would know is that you want the motif or pattern to be centered on the pocket. Therefore you would cut the pocket first, then the remaining top portion of the center panel to size.

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The diagram shows the pouch pocket and the top panel section with an extension along its bottom edge

Then, cut the side front panels a bit larger to match with the center panel. Remember to cut mirrored images. Sew your widths together, making sure you align and match the vertical pattern repeat.  Most decorative fabrics are made so that the pattern matches at or just inside the selvage.  If you line up the pattern on each width of fabric at the selvages (right sides together) and stitch right along or just inside the selvage, the pattern should match.

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The diagrams shows the pocket in the center panel with the left selvedge on the right, and the right selvedge on the left.

You may trim the excess from the bottom or the top of the panels or cut to size and shape required. The actual matching of the pattern motif can be aligned in a variety of ways. In the examples below the solid line represents the seam join.

Random Match

A random match is one in which the pattern matches no matter how adjoining panels are positioned. This means you can cut and stitch each panel of fabric without having to match it up horizontally across the cloth.

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Straight Match

A straight match is one in which the design elements match on adjoining panels. Every cut panel will start and end at the same point within the pattern repeat.

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Drop Match

A drop match is one in which there is a vertical drop between the matching design elements. The number of panels cut before a panel is repeated is dependent on the type of drop match. or crosses.

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So there you have it…. fabric patterns and basic ways of matching the repeating surface design. There are times when matching the repeat in a fabric pattern isn’t crucial such a small print or a geometric one. Though you DO cut into a pattern repeat, it is not “lost” when you sew two pieces together. You still get the tiny daisies or the polkadots. The same may be said of “abstract” styles. When cut pieces are sewn together, it still looks abstract in appearance and scale. However, when you follow your pattern-draft and cut through a sizable motif or image printed on that fabric’s surface, say the large butterfly or cabbage rose, ideally as designers we want the other half of that butterfly or rose to align with its counterpart to regain the whole motif of the surface design to make the final product’s appearance, a harmonious one and pleasing to the eye. Use these design pointers for matching surface patterns of your favourite fashion fabrics and expanding your styling creativity to create truly beautiful handbags.

To explore how you might use a patterned fabric to its best advantage, see this tutorial here.

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BAG STRAP MAKING

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Bag straps are the backbone of any fashion handbag. They are often the first element you think about when you begin to design. Ask yourself if you will carry the bag over your shoulder, across your chest, in the crook of your arm, or in your hand.
Do consider how sturdy and resilient the handles need to be, whether there will be one or two straps, if they will be made from the same fabric as the bag, whether they will be structured or soft, and if they will incorporate a chain or other hardware.
Your design decisions will influence how and where the straps attach to the bag. Strap styles vary greatly. They can be part of the bag body, as in a hobo style, or made separately out of self-fabric, leather, Lucite®, bangles, beaded strands, simple utilitarian nylon webbing, or basic chains in everything from ordinary metals to more ornate and precious ones. Strap lengths can vary widely, and they can be adjustable. They can attach side to side, as in an east-west formation, or you can have double straps with one attached to the front and one to the back. Be sure to consider comfort when deciding on a strap style. For example, a metal chain can be a beautiful choice, but it’s neither comfortable nor practical to use on a bag that will hang from your shoulder all day. Try to create options in how the strapping is configured to your bag design to further enhance its versatility. Design at least two strap choices for every handbag so that you have the option of carrying the bag in several ways, such as integrating the first strap into the overall design concept and make the second one, inconspicuous and perhaps detachable.

HOW TO MAKE A BASIC LEATHER BAG STRAP
Cut two strips of thin leather in 2-inch and 1-inch widths to the desired length. Set aside the 1-inch strip, which will become the facing (the brown piece shown in the photo). Working on the wrong side of the 2-inch strip, lightly brush with leather rubber cement. Wait a few minutes, until the cement becomes tacky to the touch. Fold both long edges so they meet at the center. Press firmly. Place the strap on a hard surface (granite works best) and roll flat using a seam brayer. Next, add the facing to the strap. Spread the cement on the backs of the facing strip and strap. After it becomes cloudy and tacky, align the long edges and press the strips together. Roll the strapping flat with a seam brayer. Let the glue settle and dry, then topstitch the strap with parallel rows of stitching. To hide the thread ends, use a hand needle to draw the loose ends into the layers and trim. Use a leather hole punch to pierce holes for connecting bag hardware.

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Fuse the narrower strip to the wider turned edged strip for a clean finish and topstitch

Using the correct needle size makes all the difference. When sewing heavy canvas-type fabrics use a size 16 or 18 needle. Use a denim needle when sewing denim and a wedge leather needle for leathers. To allow for the extra thickness of fabric, you should also lengthen your stitch length to between 3 and 4. You need a longer stitch to accommodate the thicker fabric; using a smaller-sized needle and a shorter stitch may cause your machine to jam or the needle to break.

When shopping for glue to attach the back facing to the strapping, check the label on the bottle or tube to make certain that the product you purchase works well on a variety of handbag materials including fabric, metal, and plastics.

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A NEW FEATURE

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Photo: Courtesy of Craftsy

Let me present my new STORE feature.
While my sole purpose of BAG’N-TELLE is to be a creative educational design blog, I am introducing this unique page to offer many of my followers more insight and instruction to the world of design-it-yourself. It will offer an array of DIY subjects that will foster my idea of creativity and life-long learning.

My association with Craftsy, the online crafting people this past year, has been an enjoyable and rewarding one as it has provided me with another way to reach all my followers. Along the way I have meet and worked along with some great people. Colleagues like Kenneth King and Susan Khalje, fellow fashion designers, as well as other noted personalities you may know, like Richard Reinhart, baker extraordinaire and wedding photographer, Neil van Niekirk. The abundance of global talent and expertise on the Craftsy website is remarkable and so within reach through their unique teaching platform. They really get it and understand the delicate art of instruction. Best of all, you’ll learn from the pros and learn their tricks of the trade to achieving professional results, and share a love of crafting and a deep appreciation for the creative process.

Once you have enrolled, you may watch each class as many times as you want, whenever you want, your access never expires, with a 100% money-back guarantee.

So with that thought in mind, I will be offering links to many noted designers/instructors so you can experience the kind of creativity that we are passionate about and love to do so much. Consider trying Cake Decorating, Jewelry Making, Crocheting, Knitting, Paper Crafts, Quilting, Home & Gardening, Spinning, Weaving, Fine Art, Photography, Embroidery, Food & Cooking, and of course, my favourite, Sewing.
Keep watching as I add new course launches and flash sales on your favourite topics and enjoy the fun!

https://bagntell.wordpress.com/my-online-handbag-class-2/

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