Sunday, May 18, 2014

A tale of two sewing machines... and what it takes to make one bag

So, when I was at Camp Stitchalot Spring, we had two classes, one on Kirstin Link's tackle bag, and one on the Camp Stitchalot bag by Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness.

And then I mentioned I hadn't finished it, but I was close. And then.... well, nothing.

Now, let me tell you what really happened to my Camp Stitchalot Bag.

When I went to camp, I took with me the same machine I always take, my Pfaff Ambition 1.0 (Um, not to sound ominous, but... just to be clear, although I use this machine for almost everything, I'm not actually recommending it. I like that it has a big throat, and it has some other great features, but there are definitely things I don't like about it, too.)

Making the butterfly dress!
As you can probably tell, it is a huge electronic beast. It has things I use all the time, like needle down and the needle threader. It's got a drop in bobbin, which is amazingly easy! But, not so awesome, it won't run without the foot dropped, and shuts down when it's brain gets overloaded.

Which is why I never finished my bag at camp. When I got to the step towards the end where you have eight layers of vinyl to secure to the lining, the Pfaff would just balk and throw up an error screen. Time after time! Until I just put it away.

So, I said, well, when I get home, I'll put this through my mechanical machine, and see what it makes of it.

But, I didn't. I put it aside. And because it's so large, it didn't even make it into the WIP pile! It was sitting under the ironing table. Where it may have lived undisturbed for ages, except that I have never had my Pfaff cleaned (I've had it two months shy of two years), and having just finished some big quilts I wanted it all cleaned out and ready for the next Camp Stitchalot in a few weeks.

When I started doing the straight line quilting for One Third Street Neighborhood, that seemed a good time to get the Pfaff to the shop. Because one of the things I don't like so much about it is that integrated walking foot. (Actually, it's great for many things, like putting on binding. And I use it a lot, but it's not great for straight line quilting.) I do all my straightline quilting on my old Janome, with its proper massive walking foot:

Now, this machine is seriously nothing special, it's the least expensive machine you could get in a quilt shop ten years ago. But I used it for years and years, and when I got the new machine (that of course was going to do everything better!) I still held on to it, thinking, well, I could use it for classes...?

But it's not a good machine for classes, because I need the luxuries I'm used to, like needle down! But what it is good for, apart from straight line quilting, is punching through where another machine fears to tread.
It has no computer to confuse. You put your foot down on the pedal and the needle goes.

Enter the Camp Stitchalot bag!

Actually, after my Pfaff went to the shop, I tried piecing a quilt on the Janome, but it's just not... right, I don't know how to explain it, though I suspect there is some issue with the feed dogs - I'm ending up having to unpick the occasional seam where the fabric had slid to the right unexpectedly. So, I was casting about for a thing I could do with this machine, when it occurred to me that the bag was right there, 80% assembled, and I may as well shove it through and see what happened. And it worked, well, after a few moments where I had to be very hands on. But, a short time later, I had it finished!


inside - I found this amazing fabric at the thrift store, you may recognize it from this quilt!
The only thing I altered significantly is that I used larger binding tape than called for (but I probably would use the recommended size if I were to do it again.) And my pockets are lined in the back with solid fabrics, rather than using up my precious prints. (Also, I miscut part of the interior lining, so it has a design feature - a coral stripe!)

This bag... is a huge undertaking. Mostly it's just huge. I had to clear off my sewing table, or risk the bag pushing stuff on to the floor.

And now, it'll be a nearly week until my Pfaff comes back to me (I don't know why they need it so long? Maybe everyone who has been putting off servicing their machines over this long winter is finally taking them in? Maybe due to Quilt Market?) so I'll have to come up with something to do in the meantime, as I don't want to piece with my Janome. Cutting out a quilt? Making some clothes with my serger? Making another Super Tote? All things that I am considering... and more! (Catching up on my blogging, perhaps?)

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