Sunday 24 April 2011

Bagged & Tagged Baby!

01 - Finished Bag
 "V" modelling her lovely new bag!

So, my friend V's gorgeous baby boy is a few months old now, and we headed over to her place yesterday for an Easter-time BBQ in the London sunshine - this will be the first time I get to meet the little man! I'd already made her a gift of some dummy/pacifier clips when he was born. And, around the same time I started work on a nice big denim bag for Mummy V to tote around all of his stuff in, I also offered to make a baby-carrier (and I bought all the supplies ready to make The Pea Pod Carrier as featured on the tutorial over on Sew, Mama, Sew!). Unfortunately, my offer slipped V's mind and she bought one from the shops (*sighs*). Ah, well my youngest brother and his lovely wife are expecting their first child very soon - so I'll make one for them instead (I can't wait to be an Auntie - lots of opportunities to make cute 'n' dinky kiddie stuff yay!).

I'd emailed V earlier last week showing her the x2 spotty fabrics I though would suit the baby-carrier (some lovely Amy Butler fabrics I got on Sale in the big John Lewis department store on Oxford Street). It was during this emailing to and fro that I found out that she already had a carrier - so we switched to plan B, and I made her the lovely bag below instead! And, it's the inaugural use of my labels (I was most chuffed to be able to use them)!

Amy Butler, Cotton Fabrics

02 - Fabric Choices

V needed something nice 'n' roomy to take all of baby's stuff to the beach in. So, I searched for a simple bag to make her, I found this tutorial for a 1-hour bag. 

The tutorial has you easily draft you own pattern onto an A4 piece of paper (I used my computer and did the drafting on my screen). The size was a little small for V's needs, so I increased it by 180%. This made it too long (LOL!), so I took out an 8 cm horizontal fold/tuck from the middle and redrafted the curve on the side.

03 - Pulling apart the wadding
04 - Fabric, pattern and tutorial

I loosely followed the overall steps in the original tutorial (see below).

Outline of original construction method:-
(Clipping curves/corners, trimming/grading seam allowances, and pressing as you go)
(1) Sew the pocket pieces together.
(2) Sew the pocket onto 1-side of lining.
(3) Sew the lining pieces together at sides and bottom only (leave gap at bottom to turn inside out).
(4) Sew wadding (batting) to each separate side of the outer/fashion fabric.
(5) Sew together the outer/fashion fabric sides - at sides and bottom only
(6) Sew the fashion fabric + the lining together at top (right sides facing each other).
(7) Turn right side out.
(8) Attach magnetic clip/closure to top-centre of bag.
(9) Sew the strap pieces + wadding together.
(10) Sew the strap onto the bag (at the sides) and add buttons.

I wanted more room inside of V's bag - so I needed to add some width. I did this by inserting a long grey rectangle of fabric (the finished width of the rectangle was 8cm) all around the sides and bottom. Also, I knew that a lot of stuff would go into the bag and I wanted it sewn on really strong to take the weight - so I changed how that was attached too. I also wanted to use ties vs. a magnetic-clasp as a closure, as I thought it might help to pull-in and control any tendency of the full-up bag from spreading open at the top. I used the grey/blue spotted polka dots fabric for the outer fashion fabric, and I lined it with medium weight cotton calico (Muslin). All the fabric was sat in my stash ages ago - all pre-washed and pressed and ready to go :)

05 - Forgotten something

MY Outline of tweaked construction method:-
(1) + (2) Same as above.
(3) Sew each calico lining piece to a long calico rectangle at the sides and bottom only (leave gap at bottom to turn inside out).
(4) Sew wadding to each separate side of the outer/fashion fabric + onto the long grey rectangle. 
(5A) Sew together the outer/fashion fabric sides to the grey rectangle - at sides and bottom only.
(5B) Sew up the x2 narrow straps/ties (20cm long each) from fashion fabric.
(5C) Sew 1-tie onto each side of the lining - at the top, centre (I sewed over 4 times for strength!).
Moved up in sequence = (9) Sew the strap pieces + wadding together.
Then... Sew straps to the sides of the fashion fabric - lining them up with the width of the grey side-sections carefully.
(6A) Sew the fashion fabric + the lining together at top (right sides facing each other).
(6B) Sew over the area where the straps are attached 3-4 more times for additional strength.
(7A) Turn right side out
(7B) Topstitch opening edges of bag.
(8) + (10) = [Not applicable in my version]

06 - Clipped curves at corners

To make the ties:-
- I cut x2 rectangles of the fashion fabric approx. 5-5cm wide, by 20cm long.
- I pressed the fabric half along the longest length (wrong sides facing one another).
- I then pressed 1 long raw-edge of the fabric into the centre (again wrong sides facing each other).
- Next, I pressed the remaining long-edge into the centre.
- Then I folded and pressed the fabric in half (to enclose the raw edges), and I tucked 1 of the short-ends in too (trimming the corners to reduce bulk).
- Then I topstitched all the way around (from the folded-in short-end, around the corner and along the folded-in long edge).

Things I had to fiddle around with....
- My wadding was pretty thick - but I found I could carefully tear it into 2 thinner layers (I kept it thick for the strap though).
- To be economical when cutting out the wadding for my rectangular side-section, I cut it out as too halves. I then zig-zagged the 2-pieces together over the top of a small scrap of calico to piece them together.
- I adjusted the strap width to match my new grey side-sections.
- I decided to use 2-threads for topstitching from the top needle thread  (pale-blue thread along strap, browny-grey thread along the top-edge of the bag opening) - this gave me a nice thicker looking line. 
- I used a longer stitch length for the topstitching to make it stand out more too.
- I needed to use a Size 16/100 Denim needle to topstitch along the strap and bag opening (as well as when I sewed the straps on extra strong LOL!) - it had to be a thicker needle to cope with all the layers of fabric and wadding.
- I hand-finished the topstitching at the ends of the bag opening (I left long tails of thread at each end to do this). Back-stitching would have looked a bit bulky and untidy otherwise, and as the topstitching was for "looks" only this was a nice way to finish it off.
- I tried to pin my label in place on the pocket (which is small and tricky to sew accurately on the machine) but it looked all bumpy and misshapen pined like that. So, instead I hand basted it in place and then stitched with white thread on top in a very short stitch length as close to the label's edge as I could get to make it look very posh (hehe!)
- I had to figure out a new strap length. Because I'd changed the dimensions of the pattern the original strap length would no longer work. I used masking tape to temporarily attach my tape measure to one end of the bag. I then stood in front of the mirror and moved the position of the tape up/down to find the NEW correct length :) (Sorted!).

Errors I made along the way...
- I got tired and careless at one point during sewing-up the side-seams and I veered off course on my seam allowances. I had to go back and unpick it and start again (that's late night sewing for you ha!)
- Again, when tired I forgot to sew the wadding onto the grey rectangle side-section. So, instead of unpicking and re-sewing the [now already clipped corner-curves] I hand-basted the wadding to the seam allowances instead.

Here's some pics of V,  and the new bag :)

 01 - Finished Bag  07 - Label inside bag

Post Title: Bagged and Tagged Baby!
Bagged = the bag
Tagged = 1st use of my custom-made labels
Baby = Small, cute human infant ;)

Friday 22 April 2011

Sewing Machine Surgery

... of the cosmetic kind LOL!
Image Source:

Disclaimer: Electricity is dangerous stuff - fact! This post is in no way a tutorial, or a set of instructions on how to carry out alterations or repairs to your sewing machine(s) or other electrical appliances. I do not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever for any losses, damages, injuries, accidents (or any other outcomes) to persons, possessions or to property as a result of anyone reading my post (or my photographs/images) who has then duplicated in full (or in part) my alterations (as shown here and/or elsewhere) upon their own (or upon someone else's) equipment. Persons who do so, do so entirely at their own risk and liability. Electrical work and repairs should always be carried out by an appropriately qualified, registered and insured professional.

One of my machines is a lovely sturdy Novum Deluxe IX (sometimes also known as a 'Novum New Mark IX'), a zig-zag model built from a solid metal frame (and *less-than-sturdy plastic base). But unlike my modern Brother sewing machine she has no power-switch, so once her power cable is plugged into the mains electricity she is "on" all the time, and I have to crawl under the table to turn her off. I don't like to leave her switched on when I'm not using her - this is because I reckon the bulb must be pretty old and I don't want it to burn out on me from over use (plus then I don't have to hunt down a new bulb to fit it hehe!). Also, where the power lead (a **Janome make lead) slots into the pins on the machine it tends to be a little loose - so if I adjust the positioning of the foot pedal on the floor then the power lead tends to "ping" out of the machine = most, most annoying. And, lastly whenever I seem to plug her into the sockets at home the lead is never long enough, and I end up with a massive spaghetti junction of cables and extension leads going on which a) looks ugly, and b) is a tripping hazard!

03 - Old cable set up
 My old power cable / lead - too short for my needs!

So, a few weekends ago with the help of my sexy 'n' gorgeous assistant (aka Hubby) I decided to address these issues in one fell swoop. So, a little shopping trip in the electrical section of my local Wilkinson's store and ***Maplin's and a rummage in the tool box at home yielded me all the supplies and materials I needed. For the princely sum of £6.29 GBP/$10.40 USD (or more precisely £5.00 / $8.25 if you count cost per unit for multiple items in a packet) I upgraded my machine a little :)

01 - Tools and Supplies 01 02 - Tools and Supplies 02
Tools & supplies I used for my DIY

My plan?
(1) Add an in line on/off toggle switch to the power lead.
(2) Lengthen the lead between the mains socket plug and the machine.
(3) Lengthen the lead between the machine and the foot pedal.
(4) Change the mains socket plug for a new one, and update the fuse too.

Here's a few pics of what I did (loads more on Flickr).
NB: I've not shown how to re-wire a UK mains plug, as there are plenty of DIY books/stuff on the web to show that already :) I simply wired up the new mains-lug and changed out the 13A fuse it came supplied with for the 3A fuse I'd bought.

04 - Positioning the new switch 05 - Positioning the new switch 42 - New power switch in place

It took me about 2 hours of fiddling around with wires 'n' dinky little screws etc. (I reckon if I hadn't of been photographing the process as I went along then it would've been half the time).

I'm very pleased with the finished look, and it's sooooo much easier to use her now too :) The first time I turned her on post-surgery the light came on (you cannot independently turn off the bulb) but the motor didn't work when I used the foot pedal (nooooo!). I checked all the wiring (all ok, nothing loose), then I checked the inside of the pedal - and I realised that the metal-copper widget attached to the upper part of the pedal casing was meant to slide up/down against the metal coil of the transformer (house on the lower/bottom part of the pedal). So, when I slotted the pedal back together post re-wiring I had omitted to connect the copper part back properly (doh!). I amended my error easily and bingo - she lives!

Alternative way to lengthen cables/leads
If you don't fancy opening up the pedal and fiddling around inside (I don't blame you it's time consuming and tricky to boot!), then maybe this would be easier, safer and quicker instead?
(1) Buy some new cable + an in-line Terminal Cable Connector block
Cable Connectors
(2) Cut the old lead no less than 10-15cm (4"-6") from where it enters the pedal. (You can cut it anywhere along the cable - just not too close to the pedal or it will be to awkward to work with!)
(3) Strip wires (see how in my Flickr photos), and attach the short end to the inside of the cable-connector. (One colour or cable goes into each of the 3-different metal terminals inside of the connector).
(4) Next, strip wires from one end of your new cable.
(5) Attach the exposed wires from the new longer cable, to the terminals inside of the Cable Connector.
(6) The new cable is attached to the empty terminals (the ones on the opposite side to the cables/wires from your old cable - which is still attached to the pedal). It is vital that the colours are matched-up: BLUE with BLUE (NEUTRAL), BROWN with BROWN (LIVE), and GREEN/YELLOW with GREEN/YELLOW (Earth). If the colours are mis-matched it could be dangerous, the motor may stop working, or some one'll get hurt!!
(7) Screw shut the top of the cable connector.
(8) Attach the raw end of the new cable to the plug that goes into the back of your Sewing Machine motor (see photos 7-14 in my Flickr set).
(9) Bingo now there's a longer cable to your foot-pedal!

Repeating the above steps to lengthen the cable between the machine and the mains plug would work too! 

The connectors cost under £3 from hardware stores (e.g. Wickes) or they are cheaper on eBay.

Here's the full slide show - all 42 glorious technicolour images (there's text in the "Set" version vs. the slideshow one)

Sewing Machines - How They Work / Other DIY Repair Links:
Oh, and I found some other interesting Sewing Machine Repair/DIY sources of information that might come in handy for me in the future below too :-
How to repair your sewing machine at home? (A couple of pointers)
Replace Foot Control (Video)
How to install a cord on a sewing machine's foot control (Video)
And re: working with Capacitors (which can be dangerous!)
QUOTE: "Since capacitors can store electrical currents for an indefinite period of time even if it is not hooked up to any power source, then a capacitor can be extremely dangerous when not discharged correctly. So if for some reason you will need to have the capacitor uninstalled or removed, it has to be discharged properly and completely. This is so accidental electrocution which could be potentially fatal to you can be avoided." QUOTE

*When I purchased her from eBay she had to be shipped to me from the North of England to my home address in London. Sadly, due to lack of bubble-wrap her plastic base became badly cracked and pieces have splintered off boo! She still rests on the base and is usable (although I have to be extra careful when I pick her up & move her around or the base falls off LOL!) - but it looks none too pretty and I'm looking to replace the base and the carry case-lid at some point in the future. The seller placed her directly onto the bottom of a nice strong cardboard box, but there was no padding underneath her - so every time her 19.8kgs mass (43.7lbs) was jostled or bumped around during transit then those knocks transferred straight to her case and hence the damage :(
**Presumably the machine came brand new from the factory with a "Novum" branded power lead and foot pedal, so I guess that at sometime during her lifetime the lead was replaced with the current Janome one?
***Nope - NOT the fictional retro holiday camp of BBC TV fame ("Hi-de-hi!!!" LOL)