Sunday, March 6, 2011

Trying new Products

My newly sewn bag!

I find it difficult to try new products.  I'm not sure why this is.  Sometimes I see a new notion or technique in a book or magazine, or a demonstration by someone selling the product, and I am impressed.  Immediately I think it's great and have all sorts of ideas on how I can use it.  Sometimes Often, I buy the product and take it home, but then I let it sit there unused. 

So today, I decided that I would just wade right in and try out one of those products: "Soft and Stable".  It is a foam- type of interfacing that you use instead of batting or stabilizer in totes or handbags.
 And it is hard to try new things.  Even if you have low expectations. 

I like to make hand-bags, but I find that only about one in four that I make turns out to be one that I reach for to really use.  Not sure why this is.  I've been wanting to make one that has a lot of applique flowers on it using Japanese "taupe" fabrics. 

 This seemed to be overwhelming at this point. (Not least because the instructions are in Japanese)

Then, I browsed through my collection of hand-bag patterns and books to find something that looked not too hard.  It's been a little while since I made a lined bag, and it suddenly seemed very complicated, combined with the idea of using a different type of interfacing.
 I found one called the X-Bag that seemed do-able, and cut out the pieces for the outside and  such, but the construction technique seemed a bit confusing to me at this point.
So I put all this stuff into a rolled up ball where I can't see it right now.

Ultimately, I decided to go very simple and just use one fabric for the outside, and one for the inside, and to not do any piecing, or any embellishments, or pockets or anything else.  I just wanted to see how this stuff worked-- is it easy to cut? to sew? to iron? to turn inside out? whatever else came up.

So, I simplified the Japanese handbag pattern and made a cut-out pattern.
Then it wasn't too hard, but I still had a few decisions to make concerning the seam joins and how to put the lining into it. 
I ended up sewing the outer fabric down onto the "Soft and Stable" foam, by quilting some vertical lines.  Then I sewed the side seams, pressed them open, and sewed the cylindrical body of the bag to the oval base.
I sewed a lining and slipped it into the bag, wrong sides together, and then just put a binding made of a cloth ribbon around the raw edges of the openings.  (I hope that made sense, if not, just don't read it,--in the ultimate scheme of things, it doesn't really matter how it was constructed)

So, I persevered.  I just don't like trying new things.  But in this case, I'm glad I did, because it actually worked really nicely. 
Usually the bags I make with batting in them end up all slumped over if I don't hang them up by the handles.  This one stands up nice and firmly!! It is soft and pliable, and the foam was really easy to work with. I like it better than tim-tex. 
I'm glad that I just did a simple version.  Maybe I will try it again and put on a pocket.  Or perhaps I will try it by quilting all 3 layers together first and then just zig-zagging the seams instead of sewing a separate lining.  I also wonder how it might behave with a "boxed" corner construction. 

A note on the weather:  This is very strange: the weather report on-line says it is -18 degrees, but there is melted water running off of our roof, and the outside thermostat says -3 degrees.  Hmmm.


  1. oh thank you, michelle! i do the same thing...keep new techniques and supplies 'aging' until some alignment of the stars or somesuch dictates that i'm brave enought to try them. i make a lot of bags and so far all of them have been floppy (we just won't mention the tim-tex experiment, will we?) so perhaps i can give this new stuff a try...
    somehow it's always easier to try something new AFTER someone you know has tried it and succeeded!

  2. There's definitely comfort in staying with what's familiar, but your bag turned out really well! I like the fact that it stands on its own too. Will have to try the Soft and Stable - I have a cool woven fabric basket pattern that I could use it for. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

  3. yes, there is so much that you can do with what you already know that sometimes it feels superfluous to add on to it, but i agree that it is definitely easier to try when you know someone else who has done it or even seen the end result.

  4. Very cute! I love the picture with the appliquéd flowers, but you are right, the Japanese would slow me down too!!


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