Monday, 29 September 2014

Peg Bag II: attack of the pegs

For once I've actually made something I'm pleased with!

I made another peg-bag as a gift for a family member.

This is the second peg-bag I've made, as I fortunately decided to do a trial run by making one for myself first.  It was not a resounding success (see here), partly due to the terrible shape, and partly due to my using bias binding which too narrow and wasn't cut on the bias (so let's just call it "binding").  To top it all, the lack of quilting made the fabric sag, and the oval holes for the hanger and peg entrance were a pain to bind and stretched out of shape in the process.  Further still, in the process of using it, I found the hanger kept dropping into the main bag when my toddler was playing with it.  I also want to fold it up to store it so that the pegs don't fall out.

I fixed my problems (well, only the peg-bag related ones).

To fix the terrible shape, I busted out some maths.  Because I have darts for fullness in the bottom but not in the top, my pattern has to be almost trapezoidal in shape (wider at the bottom) so that when I've sewn it up I end with vertical sides.

Overlapping front pieces.  You even get a close-up of my binding because I'm not so ashamed of it this time around.

To fix the stretched ugly openings, I re-drew the front of the bag in two overlapping pieces.  The main opening is now formed from the curved edges of the two pieces and is lots easier to bind.  I also bound the hanger opening in two halves before constructing the bag.

Bound hanger opening.

To fix the nasty binding, I chose a wider width of 3/4".  I made the binding myself and cut it actually on the bias this time.  I'd been previously put off doing this by thinking that cutting such a narrow strip from the central bias of a huge piece of fabric would give a lot of wastage (two huge triangles), but then I found out about this method of cutting continuous bias tape.  I have given some thought to it and provided formulae to work out the size of square you need to cut in order to make the right amount of bias tape of any width.  I didn't have a 3/4" bias maker, but the Scientific Seamstress provides a cardboard plan for one in 1/2" or 1" sizes.  I measured her cunning design and calculated how to make myself the 3/4" version which works a treat.

Bias binding maker!  Thanks, past Alice, for saving the card from your wedding invitations!

To fix the saggy fabric, I decided to quilt two layers together with a layer of quilt batting between them.  I then cut out my pattern shapes and bound the opening edges.  Next, I stitched the darts and placed the pieces right-sides together and sewed round the edges into a bag.  However, this leaves nasty raw edges on the inside to chafe against pegs.  Not to fear - I used bias binding to enclose the raw edges of the darts and seams: nice bound seams!

Because everything takes 2 seconds in my head, I decided to patchwork 2" half-square triangles on the front and back of the bag.  Obviously this takes considerably longer to execute than I'd imagined (duh), and a lot of fabric.  I used 7 fat quarters in total: 4 patchwork fabrics, 2 inside fabrics and 1 binding fabric.  I don't have an awful lot left over, excepting some scraps and a bit of binding.  Thanks so much to my kind friend who gave my the pack of 6 co-ordinating fat quarters for a birthday present!  I know they're being given away again in a different form, but I've had a lot of fun with them and spent a LOT of time agonizing over their construction, not to mention the time spent chopping them into 2" squares and sewing them back together again.  Put like that, patchwork seems quite pointless doesn't it?!

Elastic loops to hold hanger in.  Also starring bound seam and diagonal quilting.  Cleverly hidden by photography: internal ugly patchwork from blue scraps where I ran out of white fabric.  Ha!

To fix my annoying hanger-drop issue, I attached two elastic loops into the top seam as I was stitching my bag together.  This holds the hanger in place, but it's still removable for laundering the bag.

To fix my storage issues, I added a little loop made from bias binding to the outside bottom of the bag.  This means you can slip it over the hanger wire when you fold the bag in half and everything stays put.  Nice!

Bias loop.  It's the little things that stop you having to play 52-peg-pickup.

So, that's your lot.  I can't believe how much thought I put into making a peg bag that looks totally ordinary and is functional.  It turns out it's easier to make something ugly and rubbish.  I'll now go back to cursing the prototype peg bag that I have to live with.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Continuous bias tape: a magic formula

I'm not going to start this post with an apology for not posting, because I don't have to!  Mwa ha ha!  I've been too busy with paid work and chasing a toddler around.

I have been knitting (as always) and I'm still sewing, but I can't post anything yet.

Nevertheless, I thought I'd spend a few moments in thought about continuous bias tape.  The Coletterie has a lovely tutorial on how to make continuous bias tape, which I highly recommend.  I'm not going to try and give you such a tutorial here when a good one already exists.  However, having followed their tutorial measurements to the letter a few times, I note that I do not get the whole number of 1" strips marked across the fabric as they show for their step 4.  The result is that I get less than the 100" of bias tape they propose.  This is probably because I do not edge-stitch as they suggest in step 2: instead, I use a 1/4" seam to match the one they suggest in step 6. 

I like the 1/4" seam and I do not want to do their flimsy edge-stitch.  Fortunately maths comes to the rescue and I bring you the magic formulas for cutting continuous bias tape.

For this method, follow the Colette tutorial, but substitute my measurements.  Also, use a 1/4" seam in steps 2 and 6.

I want to make a total length (T) of bias strip of width (w).

When I come to draw my lines on the fabric (see tutorial step 4), I'll need to draw enough to separate my fabric into n strips, where n = sqrt(T/(2w).  I'll have to round up to the nearest integer to make sure I get at least length T and I don't end up with half a strip.

I therefore need to start in step 1 with a fabric square of side D = n*w*sqrt(2) + 1/2".

So, to put numbers in my example, say I'd like to make 98" of bias tape of width 1".
w = 1"
T = 98"
So I need to draw lines in step 4 to separate my fabric into n = sqrt(98"/2") = sqrt(49) = 7.  I need to draw 7 strips.
n = 7
Now I need to start in step 1 with a square of D by D, where D = 7*1"*sqrt(2) + 1/2" = 10.4"
D = 10.4".

Therefore, I ought to have started the Colette tutorial with approximately a 10 3/8" square, not a 10" square.  No wonder it went wrong!

Don't stop there: use the magic to find the square size D for however much tape of whatever width you want!  THE POWER IS IN YOUR HANDS!