Well, I have jumped the gun on the Sewing Circle Tote project as I want to get a head start on this before heading off on holidays. As Cath says, there is a big investment in time in the cutting stage, but then there are some really quick bits, like the straps. I have never used interfacing before but have found this to be pretty easy. A number of the participants in the sew-a-long are experienced sewers, but I am not, so I thought I would jot down my thoughts on the process so far for those who might be in the same category as me and are a bit daunted at the idea of using elastic and zips:
- When you do a read through of the pattern, do not freak out if you don't understand some of the instructions. They make more sense when you get to the relevant step. Someone else who I consider to be a very experienced sewer also made that comment.
- Directional prints. Cutting the external fabric was not an issue, with the exception of the sides of the patchwork pockets, which you should cut according to the print direction. However the lining is another story and I would cut as you go. I have now abandoned the idea of all chevron lining and will use a combination of a solid and the print to make up for the fact that a couple of pieces are cut the wrong way and I also won't have to try and match the chevron stripes. Once I realised the direction of the lining was going to be a problem, I stopped cutting and have worked out that I can use what I have and repurposed some of the pre cut pieces of the print and should be right to make most of the interior pockets with what I have.
- Have plenty of thread. The quilting of the bottom of the bag and the quilt as you go approach to the patchwork pockets uses a lot of thread.
- Before you topstitch the patchwork pockets, make sure you have the pockets the right way up. I had the bottom at the top, so not only had to unpick the bottom piece, but because of the directional print, had to unpick the topstitching and the seams of the sides.
- When quilting the base of the bag, initially I used the guide on my machine to measure the distance between the lines. Take my word for it, it's much easier to mark the fabric and erase the lines later..
But apart from this, the project is proving to be a lot of fun and not difficult (having said that I am not up to the zips and elastic!). It is also very addictive; I have been sneaking in 'just one more seam' while I should have been doing other things over the last few weeks.
Here's a shot of progress to date - straps, bag base and two patchwork pockets. The rainbow stripe is the lining of the exterior pockets. It is all a bit of technicolour explosion but I think it will work when the time comes to put it together!
To be continued...