Friday, November 14, 2008

Scrappy Denim Rag Quilt Bag

Note: This is another excerpt from my personal blog. I think this subject matter fits better here than it did there, so I've decided to include it here, too.

The real reason I'm online is to put up a few photos of the finished rag-quilt-style bag. I did the last bits of sewing this morning, then cut it (to make the raggedy fringe), washed and dried it. I might still add a few decorative buttons and snap closure; we'll see. . . The bag is made of denim from old jeans and a green cotton button-up shirt. There's no batting or interior layer of fabric.

Here's one photo. If you'd like to see a couple more, you'll find them in my Flickr photostream.


It turned out ok-- good enough that I'll probably do more stuff like this in the future-- but I think I need to refine my sewing skills. They're pretty rough, still, and while that's not too noticeable in a design that's meant to look like it's been dragged halfway around the world and back, I'd still like to improve. I think I learned a few things working on this project, at least:
  • Trying to piece together a project out of scraps is time-consuming.
    • Seriously, unless you're down to your last penny or you just get a kick out of whipping something up out of (almost) nothing, save yourself a lot of trouble and don't do what I just did. ;o) It was fun knowing that I was using a bunch of pieces that might otherwise have been useless, but it took some creative thinking to find just enough of everything (without cutting into the other pairs of jeans I was saving for bigger projects).
  • If my thread is all messed up (and loopy) on the underside when I'm sewing, I should rethread the needle.
    • Even if I'm sure it's done right-- even if I'm convinced that it must be a problem with thread tension. Otherwise I'll just waste a lot of time tweaking the tension and growling at the machine.
  • I shouldn't judge a raggy project until it's completely finished.
    • They all seem to go through an ugly stage, but in the end, they turn out fine. Just keep going!
  • If I think something looks "off", I should trust my instincts.
    • Though maybe that seems to contradict the last "lesson". . . Anyway, the flap on this bag is a little skewed and goes down a bit farther on one side than the other. I should have-- well, could have done something about it before, but at this point it'd be too much trouble. Besides, I'm not going to be taking this into fine dining restaurants and fancy dress parties, so I'm not that worried. But it is a little annoying. I like things to be perfect, even if they hardly ever are-- especially when I make them myself! ;o)
  • I ought to slow down during the sewing.
    • I think this is where a lot of my sloppiness comes into play. I tend to hurry though the sewing part. (Well, it's hurrying by my standards; to an experienced seamstress it might be creeping along. . .) If I take a little more time, I think my seams will be straighter.
  • Washing the bag in a pillowcase worked just fine!
    • Or at least I think it did. . . The washer drain didn't clog, and when I checked in the middle of the washing, I didn't see any loose fibers. After washing, I took the "unopened" pillowcase outside, took off the rubber band I'd used to close it, and shook everything off as thoroughly as possible. (There was a lot of lint and larger loose threads, so it's a good idea to do this in some out-of-the-way corner of the yard.) I dried the bag and pillowcase together (but not with the bag in the pillowcase) and checked the lint filter a couple of times during drying. There was quite a bit of lint, considering the size of the bag. (When I made my first bag, I hadn't heard of using a pillowcase to catch the loose threads. I just hand-washed it, then threw it in the dryer. I think I prefer this method. I think it probably "rags" the exposed seams more effectively.)