Monday, December 30, 2019

Making a backpack

Oh my - what happens when you get two friends together to make a backpack. Actually, we were each making our own backpack. That was good because we couldn't have made the same one!

If you remember, I had quilted my fabric the day before and all went well with that. Ronda arrived and I threw her fabric on the long arm (again with the foam inside) and it quilted up beautifully.

This is the lining side of her yardage. She used a solid white. I quilted it with a dark blue thread. I LOVE, LOVE that texture and I love that you can see the stitching. I was tempted to make one side of my backpack plain just to get this effect, but I didn't. Something to think about for the future!! High contrast thread, small pattern.

The lining of Ronda's backpack

And we are so predictable. This was the outside. Mine was orange, hers was Maple Leafs. That's just way too damn predictable! Next time, we have to think outside the box.

The outside of Ronda's backpack

Here's the thing - this backpack has a lot of components to it. And if you add up the fabric, the foam, and all the hardware - it's not cheap either. So you better make sure that you're making it from stuff you LOVE.

The pattern we're using is from  It's called Back at Ya. Thanks to Christine, we got the pattern without having to order it. There are two different backpack patterns and several versions of each. I think this is the original pattern for the smaller backpack. A good way to start!

Back at Ya pattern by

After the quilting was done, it was time to cut. Ronda had hers cut out and she cut the interfacing for me and we were ready to sew.

Everything is cut and ready to sew

Let's just say that there are a LOT of pieces in this pattern. There's a page that you can photocopy so you can attach to each of the pieces to make it easier to find what you're looking for. That would have been too easy! Instead, we pinned the first page of the pattern with the cutting instructions so we could reference the cutting instructions as we worked at the ironing board.

The instructions pinned to a quilt
All I can say is that thank goodness those quilts were there so we could pin the cutting instructions and the pattern cover to them for easy reference. OK -- that's being silly, but who cares!

Now we're ready to sew. The first step was to make the outer front pocket flap. That sounds easy enough. There's a magnetic snap in this flap. It's got bias binding which I had to rip out the first time because I took too wide of a seam and it wouldn't fold to the front properly.

Then I laid both our flaps out to admire them. Actually, I was going to send a picture to Shelly (the professional bag maker) to show her we weren't slacking. OH MY GOD!!!!!

The bag flaps

Well, it turns out that I put the facing for the pocket on the WRONG side and so my lining was showing on the front, not the right side of the fabric. GRRRRR. So that bias binding that I already had to rip out? I had to rip it out yet again!!!!  OK - so technically Ronda, ripped this out for me. I can't remember what I was doing - OH working on the interior pockets I think. She wasn't going to add interior pockets to her bag - she's going to be sorry!!! So while she ripped, I prepped pockets. Now that's a sign of a true friend.

And here are the front pocket flaps. All done and done correctly!!!

Front pocket flaps

Things went more or less smoothly for a while. Then it came time to put in the zipper on the back outer pocket. We're using zipper tape and normally, it's easy as pie to insert the zipper tab. OK - not as easy as pie, but it's not complicated. Just tricky. Ronda, who had never done it before, pipes up within seconds. GOT IT!!!  Well, I struggled and struggled and finally had to ask for help!! It just wasn't my day!!!!

So then we got the zippers in. That was easy, but these zippers don't really have a line of them for sewing and I wasn't happy with the "straight" lines that I had sewn. Ronda made an oopsy when she topstitched the zipper in place and that had to come out. And then she made a big OOPSY when this happened.

Oh dear - a huge rip in the zipper

We had high hopes of completing the backpack yesterday. Then we revised our plan to getting ALL the components made. I must say that it took the two of us conferring over the instructions to figure out how some of the stuff went. Not the best-written pattern. I'd do more work on the formatting and a few words were mixed around. Perhaps that's why there's a THIRD version of this pattern on the market. However, we persevered.

At last, all the components were made except for some extra stuff that I was making. Ronda went for the minimal of everything. Me? I went for all the extra stuff. Hey, should we want to modify the pattern, we already took copious notes about how we would change the color choices for certain parts. Did you think that wasn't going to happen???

We had to make a trip to Fabricland so I could get some extra hardware bits. Ronda went home and I continued to work.

I got the zipper pulls made but not before I had to rip three of them out because I made them with too large of a seam and had trouble turning them.

Four zipper pulls

Then it was onto making the straps. That part was easy and I had no issues. Surprise - surprise!!!

The straps

I had to make some strap tabs. Those were also a piece of cake. I do have to admit that those high-end sewing machines (I was using the PFAFF creative Icon) went through all those layers like butter. There are two layers of webbing in those tabs and no skipped stitches.

Tabs for the straps

Then all the components were made for each of us!!! Phew!!! What a challenging day.

I looked at the first instruction for construction and that was to sew in a pocket, so I did that since Ronda wasn't adding pockets.

The first set of pockets sewn in

We've booked a day next weekend to FINISH the backpacks. I hope we can get it done in one day.

Here are all my bits! Ready for assembly.

Ready for the assembly process

Ronda left her stuff here as well and they are both waiting until next weekend!!! I'm not even tempted to go further by myself.

Our bits - waiting for the next sewing day

I have several gadgets that I don't normally use and there'll come a time when I need to decide whether to keep them or get rid of them. This was one of the gadgets. It's a series of circles in ¼" increments. It was going to go in the give away pile, but I've used the darn thing twice in the last couple of weeks. Guess what? It stays!!! And I might use it more now that I see how handy the darn thing is.

Circle templates

 I also managed to squeeze in some time to work on Stitcher's Garden. I got the applique stitches done on the green parts of this block. I have some work to do in the flower section. That's for later today.

Working on block 5 of my homework
Yep - that one is Block five of the seven blocks I said I would have done for our UFO club, which is weeks away!

That's because FOUR blocks are now finished. Here's one that was totally machine embroidery. DONE. 

Machine Embroidery block - DONE
 Here's the second block that was totally machine embroidery - it's also DONE.

Machine embroidery block - DONE

I think I showed you this one already, but it's one of the machine embroidery applique blocks - DONE.

Machine embroidery applique block - DONE

And here's the other machine embroidery applique block  - also DONE.

Machine embroidery applique block - DONE

Those four blocks are now trimmed and on the wall with the rest of the quilt. It still looks like big gaps to fill, but there's only three more blocks to add. Then a small section of half square triangles for each side and filler strips. Oh yes - the end is coming quickly!!

STitchers' Garden

I'm off to teach a private class today. And then I have to buckle down and get to work. I realized that I've got a LOT of work to do before next Sunday. There'll be no more fooling around with stuff - I have work to do!!! 

ACK -- do not panic!!! But amazing how things catch up to you quickly when you're having fun!!!

On that note, I'm out of here!!!

Have a super day!!!!


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