Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A WIP and Curveball

What's that saying about the "best laid plans?"  I LOVE having a plan and a timeline for constructing my 241 Tote, thanks to the sew along that I'm doing with Bernie at Needle and Foot.  It's really motivating to be doing this with someone, and setting goals helps me to break the work up into manageable portions.

HOWEVER, life has thrown a slight curveball.  My 10 year old daughter has been hospitalized at Children's Hosiptal for a week now.  So, instead of sewing away, I'm spending my days keeping her busy and happy.  She has cystic fibrosis, and hospital stays like this are one of the ways we keep her healthy and able to enjoy her busy life!  This is the 7th stay in her ten years, which is a pretty good track record for someone with CF.  She feels OK, but at her clinic visit a couple weeks ago, her lung funtion was a bit low.  So, we are here, getting frequent respiratory treatments and heavy duty IV antibiotics to treat the bacterias and fungus that we know grow in her lungs.  I knew this was coming, but had hoped to put this visit off until summer vaction starts in a month.  Those decisons, however, are not always ours to make.

With that out of the way... back to the 241 Sew Along!  Before we (I say we, because even though she's the one doing the tough stuff, I'm here with her all the way) were admitted, I managed to get my 241 pattern prepped, and my pieces cut and interfaced.  I knew I'd be coming home for at least part of the weekend while my husband took a turn at the hospital, and I wanted to be ready to sew given the opportunity.

It was fantastic to be able to sleep in my own bed on Friday night, wake up, and take my morning coffee to the sewing room where my stack of pieces was waiting for me!

I've made pretty good progress, I think, since I've only had a few hours to spend.  It helps that the pattern (from Anna at Noodlehead) is so clear and easy to follow.  I get a sense that the pattern is written exactly as Anna would give directions to a friend if they were in the same room, sewing together.  No overly technical language, and lots of friendly reminders like "be sure not to catch the pocket lining in the seam as you sew."  That turned out to be really good advice, by the way.

The first step in assembling the bag's exterior is making the darts at the bottom.  This is probably common knowledge, but I learned a neat little tip for sewing darts from my daughter's 4-H sewing leader.

The first step is to place a pin through the point of the dart.  Then, place a second pin through both of the "legs" of the dart at the fabric's edge and a third pin midway between the first two pins, going through both legs, again.

Pull the fabric up to a point, making sure that the two pins closest to the edge lie flat.  This makes sure that the legs match up, and that your dart will be the correct size.

Take the middle pin out and place it through both layers of fabric. 

Now, stitch on the leg from the edge of the fabric to the point.  It's really simple, but a quick and effective way to make sure the darts are done well.

Anna includes a really neat way to make a very smart looking pocket in the exterior of the bag.  I was nervous about doing it, and I admit I had to read through these steps a few times.  Cutting through the exterior fabric was a bit scary.  Luckily, my teenage daughter was working on a project in the sewing room, too and was able to give me the advice I've so often given her..."It's only fabric.  It can be redone if something goes wrong."  Wow, was it worth it!  I love the way this pocket went together and the way it looks on the finished bag.  My topstitching around it could be better, but in the overall appearance of the bag, I think it will be just fine.

The finished pocket is just the right size for my phone, and I LOVE the pop that the dot lining fabric gives.

In the places that I want double top stitching, I've been taking advantage of the moveable needle position on my machine.  I stitch one line using the edge of the presser foot as my guide, then, I pop the needle over to it's left position, and run the line of stitching though the toes of the presser foot.  It works like  charm and gives a nice finish!

I used fusible fleece on the lining of the pockets, and I really like the weight and look.  I am using the same for all the lining pieces, and I'm excited to see how this works for the main body.

The final assembly step for the exterior took a bit of time.  Sewing the pocket/side panels to the center pieces seemed daunting, given the curve, and just the volume of fabric.  But one of the tutorials I'd read in preperation for making my own bag suggested "going hedgehog" with the pins at this point.  So, that's what I did, and it all worked out just fine.

Working on my 241 bag was just what I needed on my reprieve from the hospital.  It was challenging enough to hold my attention and serve as a nice distraction, but not so complex that I got frustrated.  It was a nice little boost to see it come together so nicely!  Sewing is such perfect therapy!

Probably the best part of the time spent in my sewing room was getting to look over as see this:

My oldest was busy sewing away at one of her 4-H projects!  She has enough expertise now that  I am only needed for occasional quick answers.  We can sew side by side and BOTH get something done.  We take turns picking music (her pick this time was the Hamilton soundtrack) , and we sing and chat as we sew. After spending most of the week apart, sewing together gave us a perfect chance to reconnect.  Plus, she got to see me using my seam ripper on more than one occassion (remember Anna's advice about the pocket lining not getting in the way of the seam?  Follow it!).  I think it's good that she sees it's OK to make a mistake.  It's only farbric, and all that.

We have at least 4 more days to go here at the hospital.  So, I won't have a finish to post this week.  But, I'm all set to finish the lining and assemble the bag this weekend.  I can't wait to share it with you then!

Be sure to check in with Bernie to see how her 241 bag is coming together.  Aren't her fabrics just lovely?

I am linking up this week to:

Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts
Lorna's Let's Bee Social
The WIP Link Up at Silly Mama Quilts


  1. I love the tips you shared about the darts. I traced them and then sort of went for it - not as accurately as they could have been! The polka dots inside the pocket are so sweet.

    Hoping your daughter gets to come home soon and your family can get back on a normal schedule. My sister always says "A mama is only as happy as her least happy child." Things just get so out of sorts when one person in the family is having a rough go of it.
    Looking forward to stitching all of these parts together next week!

    1. Thanks Bernie! I'm itching to get to the next step! It's fun sewing along with you!

  2. Yes, I've been looking at this pattern for a while. I will have to save this post so I can come back to it when I start sewing.

    Hope your little one returns home soon!

    1. You will enjoy the pattern. It's a keeper!

  3. thanks so much for including your post in my linky party!

    so sorry to hear about your little one - wishes for a quick mend!


  4. I enjoyed this post - how you find time to sew, how you have met fun sewing bloggy friends. I find this bloggy community so helpful and encouraging. I hope your daughter responds well to her latest treatment. I'll add my prayers.

  5. Thanks, Brooke! I enjoy your linky party!

  6. Love your blog. Sorry to hear about your daughter. Isn't it fun to sew with our daughters. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    1. Kathy,

      Thank you! Prayers are much appreciated! We are home now and settling back into a routine. I LOVE having my daughter sewing along. Most of the time, I even like her choice of music! LOL Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Kathy,

      Thank you! Prayers are much appreciated! We are home now and settling back into a routine. I LOVE having my daughter sewing along. Most of the time, I even like her choice of music! LOL Thanks for stopping by!