June 2013 - Posts

Ever since I got my new Featherweight in early May 2013, I have been looking and planning to make a few "accessories" for her.  My goal is to make: 1) a cloth tote to enclose and protect the original case, 2) a 2-piece FW dust-cover (one to slide on the fold-up section and protect it from the face-place screw and a regular dust-cover for the entire machine), 3) a bag for the foot-pedal & cords,  and 4) an iron tote ... all hopefully in the same coordinating fabrics.

I started out looking on-line at what was available both ready-made and patterns.  I liked many of them, but didn't like the prices of the "ready-made"s and/or they often lacked features that I wanted.  Likewise, the free patterns I found were pretty simplistic and didn't have the features I wanted either.  I did luck-out with the iron tote pattern, or I should correct that to say DH did!  All of the free patterns I could find were not the style I wanted and I really did not want to pay the price for the folding-style pattern that I really wanted.  Well, surprise!!!  DH found it on-line FREE!  I was really surprised, but there it was and I was not going to argue...lol!


I live a full 2 hour drive (one way) from the nearest Jo Ann's and while I like to support my LQS, it was obvious the fabric I needed would not be available locally and Jo Ann's and a 50% off coupon were my best bet. I had already decided that if I could find a fabric I liked, I would get a pre-quilted (double-sided) fabric for the focus fabric...along with some coordinating cottons.  I really lucked out with an ornate gold print on black that really fits well with the featherweight color and decals.  I also bought tone-on-tone accent fabrics in a yellow/gold and black.  Now, I needed to develop my plan!

You may have already guessed, but for the fabric tote for my FW case and the dust-covers, I am making my own patterns.  (I guess I am a glutten for punishment, but I frequently find myself in this dilemna of not finding a pattern or thing that I want and end up making my own. I have been doing it for years!)  So for the last few weeks, I have been mulling this over in my mind as to how I was going to make the fabric tote for the FW case...which is my first project.  I started on the tote Sunday June 23rd late in the afternoon and I hope to have it finished by the end of this week.

I thought it might be interesting for people to see how I fumble through making a pattern for something like this.  I am pretty much a "trial and error" type designer...LOL!  So, I always cut a little larger than I think will be required...just in case.  Often that little extra saves my ...you know what!    And, I am hoping that watching my efforts might give some one else the courage to try their hand at designing their own project!

DEFINE WHAT YOU WANT!  (This is probably the most important step!)  A little preliminary info about what I want in this Fabric Tote:   1) Straps (strong) that go under the original FW Case to support it, 2)  Fabric (padded) that completely surrounds the FW Case to protect it from further damage, 3) Easy straps to carry the FW case over my shoulder (with case resting against my hip) or by gripping the straps by hand, 4)  A "Fabric Lid" that fits over the top of the FW Case and secures with velcro on the front and is attached in the back to the lower part of the Tote either by a fabric "hinge" or velcro...yet to be determined.



1.  I started by measuring my FW case, and then made a paper grocery-sack pattern for the fabric necessary to cover the bottom.  Basically like creating a grocery tote bag but in a size that would exactly fit the        FW case.  Here is a picture of my pattern:

I folded the paper around the case to verify my measurements (to be sure it was ample enough to fit around the case and allow for seams).  I originally planned to have one piece of fabric 22" wide by 27" long...with the 27" going from the back hinge of the case under the bottom and up to the top edge of the case bottom (by the locks).  The 22" width would be folded F & B to the center of each side and seamed there.  Two things became apparent at this stage:  1)  22" was NOT sufficient...I needed to increase the width to 22 1/2" and 2)  the fabric I was using was directional and for the motifs to be right side up on both the front and back of the tote, I would need to cut the 27" length in half (13.5" each) and make a 1/4" seam in the bottom.  (Note, this proved to be a "good" mistake for me as I ended up also changing the handle strap design and inserting them in this bottom seam for added strength.  Also, the 27" length proved to be long enough even with the 1/2" taken out for the seam.)


  a)  Fabric Tote Bottom - 2 pieces - 22 1/2" X 13 1/2" 

  b)  Straps (2) -  I cut my pre-quilted fabric in  4 2-1/4" strips (36") and joined two together with a diagonal seam to make two extra long straps.  

                         I also cut  3 lengths of the black accent fabric in 4" strips (41") and joined all 3 together with diagonal seams.  (This may have been over-kill, but I wanted very sturdy, strong straps and wanted to                            reinforce the pre-quilted fabric with another layer of cotton plus multiple rows of top-stitches.)

                         Press under 1/4" folds on both long sides of accent fabric; center pre-quilted strips on accent fabric and fold accent fabric to cover both sides and stitch with binding stitch or your favorite method. 

Quilted Fabric strip with diagonal seam:

Accent Fabric with diagonal seam:

Close-up of finished straps:

And these are long straps (they are doubled here):


3.  Assembling the Tote:

   a.  Pin the two halves of the Fabric Tote fabric together along the long edge (be sure if you have a directional fabric that your motifs will both be pointed "up-right" away from this center bottom seam.  Measure in 5 1/2" from each end of the seam; mark the fabric;  measure 2 1/2" and mark the fabric...like this:

   b.  Sew the first 5 1/2", back stitch; jump over the 2 1/2" space (for a strap); lock stitch and sew to the next 2 1/2" space (for a strap); back stitch; jump over the 2 1/2" space for the strip; lock stitch and sew to           the end of the seam; press seam open...including the openings for the straps.  (Note, I've stuck a couple of tools in the spaces so you can see they are open with no stitching.)

   c.  Flip the quilted fabric over (right side up) and begin to line up the straps for attaching to the tote base.

***Learn from my mistake!  I started out thinking that I would have one strap run from the same opening in the center seam (ie: left opening) up over the case and back down and into the same opening.  That way you would have one complete strap on the left and one on the right.  HOWEVER - when I pinned the tote together this way I made an important discovery!  When the straps are attached this way, when you slip the straps over your shoulder, the side (short edge) of the case is against your hip.  The case is most comfortable and most secure when the long (back) edge is against your hip and body!  So, back to the drawing board...LOL!    NEXT PLAN:  Change the straps around so that one strap goes from the left opening, to the front of the case and back down to the right opening.  The second strap goes from the right opening, to the back of the case and back down to the left opening.  With the straps configured this way, the case rests comfortably against your body and all is well!  YAY!

    b.  Lay your long ruler along the outside edge of the tote fabric and line it up with 5 1/2".  As described above, tuck about 1 1/2" of the straps into the openings and pin the straps in multiple spots for about six inches up from the center seam on both front and back...being sure the straps straight and 5 1/2" from the outside edge.  Remember, one strap should loop up and around the front and the other loop up and around the back!  

     c.  After you have both straps pinned in place, set your case, centered, on the fabric.  Then bring both sides together and overlap and pin roughly centered.  (This step doesn't have to be perfect, it's more to test your straps and see if they are the right length for YOU and your height.)

     d.  Once you have the fabric securely pinned around the case, left the case by the straps and put it over your shoulder.  Is it the right length for you?  Too low?  Too high?  (If anything, it is probably too low.)  Estimate how much higher you want the case to ride near your body and go back to step b. shortening the straps to your estimate...but keeping the 5 1/2" measurements from each side.  Once you are satisfied with the strap length, it is time to get straps ready to be sewn into the tote body.  

    e.  Remove the side pins from the tote body and go back to step b.  Double check that your straps are pinned on the tote body straight at 5 1/2" from each side. Go back to the bottom center seam...  Trim the extra strap length to 1 1/2" beyond tote fabric edge.  Sew the center seam again sewing through the straps - you may want to use a walking foot for this!  Iron the seam and the strap ends open.  Turn the tote over and carefully pin the strap ends in line with the straps on the tote surface.  I do a box around the ends where the straps are connected and then an "X" through the box for added stability.  Then I sew up both sides of each strap for about six inches, across the strap and back down to the center seam.  All 4 strap "bases" should be attached and reinforced in this manner.    Here are some more pictures:

Measuring and pinning straps:



Notice the trimmed ends of the straps on the inside of the tote:

In this picture, the straps have been re-adjusted (front loop & back loop) and the sides are pinned:

Close up of the sides pinned and ready for a "dry-run":

Ta Da...not too bad:   (This seems about the right length for me)




 Final sewing of the straps to the Tote Fabric (Note the directional fabric - motifs going to left & right)


Control those strap ends inside while doing the final stitching on the straps!


Straps all attached; tote turned inside out to pin side seams:








Ready for the binding on the top edge and the bottom of the tote is pretty much finished!

*** I have to mention here... this post was `missing` (like it QCA lalaland) after the infamous July 1st weekend crash).  I sent a message to Admin, but never received a response and after several checks had given up hope that it would ever be retrieved.  But SURPRISE!!!  Today, when I went to post pictures of my completed FW Carrier, this missing blog post was back!  (I am truly relieved, and would be inclined to thank QCA profusely...if they had only done me the courtesy of responding to my message and letting me know.  It would have saved me a lot of angst!)

Unfortunately, due to this missing blog-post I was not inclined to take more pictures - specifically of the construction of the lid of the fabric tote.  So, please go to the "My Featherweight Carrier" blog-post to see the completed tote.  Thanks! 




Posted by Donna B | 2 comment(s)