Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Don't Bleed on Your Sewing Project

Don't Bleed on Your Sewing Project

I have made some good progress on the Ultimate Travel Bag, although I made a dumb mistake on the front zipper/slip pocket that was the result of me failing to pay attention to what I was doing. The side pockets and the top of the front pocket called for a 1-1/2” border of contrast fabric. In my bag, that’s the red-and-white polka dot fabric. After sewing on the border fabric, those pockets get a binding on the top edge, also out of the polka dot fabric. The binding fabric is 2” wide. I mistakenly sewed the binding piece to the top edge of the zipper/slip pocket instead of the border piece. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover I had done that until after I had trimmed the front zipper pocket to match the length of the slip pocket that sits behind it. Then I had to cut another binding piece. Oh well. It just means the front zipper pocket is 1/2” shallower than originally planned for and the border is 1/2” deeper. Dumb, but not critical to the overall construction.

[I’ll have a better picture of that part of the bag later in the assembly process.]

After messing up that pocket—and admonishing myself sternly not to go woolgathering while I am working on this bag—I sewed the strap tabs with the D-rings to the bottom gusset, sewed on the side pockets, then carefully marked and cut the bottom gusset with the correct shaping. It went from a rectangle to this:


I am very glad I have a video to accompany this bag pattern. I am getting good at anticipating what needs to come next based on the pattern itself, but it’s nice to have the video for verification.

I found the limits of the Janome; it balked at sewing three layers of foam. Rather than push it, I moved over to the Necchi industrial and sewed those parts on that machine. It went through them like a hot knife through butter. I likely will do the final bag assembly on that machine, too.

The construction of this bag is very well thought out, with no raw edges showing. This is the inside of one of the side pockets:


I like how the strap tabs go all the way to the bottom of the bag and are secured there. I don’t plan on loading this bag down with rocks, but theoretically, I could carry a portable sewing machine in it.

The zipper tapes are topstitched down over the raw edges, which makes for a nice finish on the inside:


And on the outside:


I am slowly getting the hang of using a stiletto when I sew, although what I didn’t show you was the drop of blood on the zipper tape where I accidentally stabbed myself. A little bit of hydrogen peroxide took care of that. Eleanor Burns is a big proponent of using the stiletto when piecing quilt blocks. I haven’t used one until this project. It was a big help with keeping the zipper tape in place while I sewed it down.

The top zipper has been installed:


I still need to cut the zipper gusset to shape before sewing it to the bottom gusset. The lines are marked, but I didn’t want to stitch and cut them until I had a good night’s sleep.


I am waiting to start the Noodlehead Redwood Tote until I have zippers. However, I find shopping for zippers almost as frustrating as shopping for wool pennies. The pattern calls for a 6” metal zipper for the front pocket and a 12” metal zipper for the top opening. Part of me wonder why the bag isn’t of a size to use a 7” front pocket zipper and a 14” top zipper, because those are much easier to find. A 6” metal zipper? Not so much. I went looking, and this is what I found:

Wawak—an absolutely fabulous supplier for all things sewing—has 6” metal zippers in 20+ colors but no 12” zippers. The Noodlehead store sells 6” zippers, but only in four basic colors. Zipit, on Etsy, which is one of my favorite zipper suppliers, has a few 6” zippers and a few more 12” zippers, but not much that matches unless I do black or white. They carry lots of 7” zippers, however. I found another Etsy seller that carries matching colors of 6” and 12” zippers, but the gauge is slightly lighter than what is called for in the pattern (#3 as opposed to #4.5). Also, that seller only sells zippers in groups of three, although they can be a combination of three different colors.


I’ll convo the owner of the Zipit store on Etsy and ask if she’s got the combination I need. I did that with the Ravenwood bag and she came through with what I was looking for.


My mother sent me a box full of books:


These are from her library of needlework books, most of which now reside at my house. (I have all of her Threads Magazine issues from all the way back to issue #1.) As she noted, I should now have the instructions for every embroidery stitch ever invented. This is awesome.

Putting the Ultimate Travel Bag Together

Putting the Ultimate Travel Bag Together

Taming the Raspberry Patch

Taming the Raspberry Patch