See what I did there??? That’s how tired I am right now, those type of word plays amuse me. Well after sewing like a mad woman my Sewvivor Challenge 1 (you can vote for your favourite 5 entries by clicking this link) entry is done…
The challenge was to make something quilted that was inspired by “nautical”.
It’s the Naughty-cal Weekender! (And who doesn’t love a naughty weekend???)
I feel like I should collapse in a heap now. In a crazy mixed up twist of fate I made a bag for round one knowing full well that should a miracle occur and I make it to round two I’m going to have to make another bag – but I figured what the hell, they won’t see this coming!
I’ve had the pattern for this bag, Amy Butler’s Weekender Travel Bag, for months now and I’ve been squirreling away in the background planning out the perfect Weekender. I’d been researching tutorials and reading blog posts from people who’d made the bag and lived to tell the tale. I was going to take my time and make the world’s greatest Weekender.
Turns out life had other ideas and in a cruel twist of ironic fate my Plan A for this round met with “certain doom” and I was left scrambling for a Plan B. So on Tuesday night (a mere five days before the project was due for submission) I came up with a plan so cunning you could whack a tail on it and call it a fox; make a weekender!
Seriously, I have spent the last 5 days sewing through every waking moment that I had where looking after my beautiful baby boy wasn’t required. I woke up before everyone else and sewed. I stayed up after everyone else had gone to bed and sewed. I sewed during nap time, I sewed the minute HUBBY got home and could take over parental duties. I was a sewing ninja! It was totally worth it. I love my entry piece – LOVE IT!
I just adore the fabric, “Lost at Sea” by Alexander Henry, and had to come up with a way to feature it and I really feel like the improvisational patchwork has done this. It’s the first time I’ve ever improvised my patchwork and it was a real struggle, but I had so much fun doing it.
I love that there’s pieces of fabrics that are special to me (I actually cut in to some of my precious Heather Ross!) and have personal meaning to me. There’s fabrics by some of my favourite designers and fabrics that I got in destashes from some of my favourite people.
Each panel feels like it’s telling a story to me (about a young sailor that grows up to become a captain but loses his life when he falls in love with a mermaid). I really like the play of piecing with the anchor, the whale and row boat – it’s like the anchor has been thrown out and is dragging through a separate row of patchwork.
I love the simple yet the bold impact of the anchors on the ends of the bag. I love that it’s just not navy, red, yellow and white (all colours that I strongly associated with nautical). I love that it’s got a nautical feel, but it’s not overly masculine. I love the hints of purple and pink.
But enough about why I love it let’s get down to brass tacks…
What I Used to Make the Naughty-cal Weekender Bag
The pattern for the bag is Amy Butler’s Weekender Travel Bag.
Instead of using full pieces of fabric to construct the bag I used improvisational patchwork to make the side panels. I started with the feature fabric (which is bloody awesome) “Lost at Sea” by Alexander Henry (it’s the Tea colour palette). I decided to fussy cut the fabric to highlight my favourite parts of the print.
The lining of the bag is a cotton drill I found months ago at Spotlight, unfortunately I don’t have any makers details (selvedge just says “drill”) to be able to share with you so you can get some of your own. Sorry.
I quilted the panels with Aurifil 50wt in colour #2730 Delft Blue.
Now, here’s the really important stuff…
Hints and Tips for Making Your Weekender Bag
Piping: I used this technique from Jen at “Just another day in the lives of…” to make the piping. I tweaked it a little (because I didn’t have the product she recommended) and used Clover 5mm Wide Fusible Web. I also did two lines of fusible web instead of the one (so a line below the line of tape shown in the tutorial), I found this helped with getting the piping material to really hold while I manipulated it.
Clover Wonder Clips: Oh my gosh, do not attempt this project without these. I have no idea how anyone could pin this beast. The clips made it so easy to hold it all together and were really handy for holding things in place while I swore at the bag.
Vilene H630 Pellon (fusible fleece): This is what I used to quilt my patchwork with. I made the improvisational patchwork pieces and then fused the pellon to the back of the patchwork. I then used a piece of Kona Cotton (the only light weight cotton I had a lot of – normally I’d recommend just using scrap) as the backing and then quilted the panels. (This means that in one panel alone there is the patchwork, the pellon, the backing fabric, the peltex and the light weight fusible interfacing – it’ll take a typhoon to blow it over!)
Now, I ran out of H630 after making 4 of the 6 patchwork panels required and so I used H640 on one side pocket and main panel. It’s double the thickness of H630 and in my book not as good to use. I found the piping didn’t sit as close to the panel as it should have on these pieces. For my next weekender bag I’ll be using H630 only.
Baking Paper Template: I made up a template out of baking paper (because I could see through it) and used this for the placement of my patchwork and to make sure I didn’t put something I wanted to see where the handles were going to go. It worked a treat… but I did forget to include the half inch seams in my calculation and so I lost some of the details I wanted around the edges. Something to remember for my next one (oh yes, I’ll be making more!).
Pocket Placement on Side Panels: Because I’m a tight arse and I didn’t want to waste my good fabrics where they wouldn’t be seen I only patchworked about an inch or so under the line of the side pocket on the main panel (this will make sense when you see the pattern). I used my goldfish lining fabrics to finish off the bottom of the main panels. This means that when you open and look into the pockets you see gold fish swimming around. If you do this, make sure you go at least an inch (maybe two) below the pocket line so that if you make a mistake with your measurements you’re not seeing lining on the panel and should you’re pocket get pulled down a little (or bulge out) you’ll have enough patchwork to give the illusion it goes all the way to the bottom (of the jar! Sorry, advertising for Vegemite from my childhood taking over there…).
Piping on the end pockets: The pattern doesn’t call for piping to be added to the end pockets, but I really loved putting piping in and I think the anchor panels really needed something to give them a little more impact and so I added piping. I love it. It’s easy to do – you just follow the same process as you did for adding piping to the main panel pockets.
Basting: Now, I don’t normally baste anything. (Nothing, not even a chicken!) But on this project I did and it made a huge difference. When it comes to joining the main panels to the zipper section I treated my first go around the bag as basting and then folded it out had a look at how it was working and went back and stitched closer to the piping in a number of places. It’s totally worth it and I recommend doing it.
Speed kills: This is by far my most valuable tip – take your time! If you have a sewing machine with a speed control – use it! It’s so easy to just put your foot to the metal and go crazy, but it’ll cost you. If you take your time and ease the pieces in under the needle you’ll find it so much easier.
Change your needles: You have to use a jean’s needle for this and that’s great, but unlike when I do other projects I changed my needle twice during this project. A fresh needle made a world of difference. I didn’t break a single needle (despite coming close after jamming a needle in the teeth of the zipper!) during the project, but it did take 3 needles to make it. (Totally worth it!)
I am so enamored with this bag – seriously, it’s a little sad. I had never done improvisational patchwork before (and now I have a new and special appreciation for those that do improvisational patchwork and do it well) and I’d never attempted anything on this scale before. (There’s a 30″ hidden zipper in that bag – do you know much zippers scared the carp out of me!?!)
But I did it, and not only did I do it I did it under pressure (so much pressure). I worked it out and there’s 25+ hours of sewing in making that bag and it was all done in 4 days.
I couldn’t have done it without my fabulous support crew – HUBBY (who helped look after our son, brought me chocolate, kept me on track and kept the house running), Little Man (who gave me cuddles whenever I needed them and danced with me when I was crazy with delirium and needing a music pick me up), Raylee (who lent me her baby for a whole day in the busiest period of the quilting season only to have me not use the quilt for my entry), Melissa (who kept me sane while I sewed late into the night), Caroline (who was the voice of reason, encouragement and brutal honesty when I just wanted to be hugged), Gemma (who talked me round when I wanted to quit), Cassie (who kept texting me to check up on my welfare and make sure I was looking after myself) and the most amazing Instagram followers a girl could ask for (who left amazing messages of encouragement and support – and one Instagrammer in particular who gave me eye candy and a laugh at just the right time). I feel like this is the Weekender that the internet built.
Voting is now open for Round 1 of Sewvivor. The Top 16 entries have been revealed and now the public gets to vote on their favourites (the public vote counts for 50% of the results – the tribal council (judges) the other 50%). Only 10 of the 16 contestants will go through to the next round. You can vote for your TOP FIVE in this round (which is handy as they’re all so amazing choosing just one would be torture!) You can vote via this link – CLICK HERE TO VOTE! Voting is open until Wednesday 13 August at Midnight EST (which is 2pm AEST Thursday 14 August for us Aussies).
I would really love to go through to the next round, but what I’d love more is if you all went and checked out the Top 16’s entries and voted for the one(s) you love – regardless of whether it’s mine or not. For me this whole experience is about meeting new people, sharing what I love and finding other cool peeps that are making awesome stuff too and so all I ask is that you show these talented people some love and vote for the project(s) that speak to you.
Thought I’d end this post the same way I started it… with a bad word play. *big grin*