Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Thirty-One Utility Tote Liner Sew Along - Planning and Fabric Prep

Another year gone? Really?  I don't know about you, but 2012 took my family for quite a ride!  In all the excitement, I didn't get a few things on the blog that I had promised, and even more that I had planned.  So here's a look at a few of the projects that were completed, and the tutorials will make it to the stage in 2013:

- The Thirty-One Skirt Purse Skirt
- The Toothless Costume
- The Shark Costume
- The Chic One-Yard Apron
- The Burp Cloth and Receiving Blanket Gift Set

And many, many more cool ideas that are simmering, but I'm just not quite ready to share.

With the new year comes new priorities, and my priority is a fantastic little girl about to make her debut!  Our friends, B. and J., will welcome a new baby girl into this world in a matter of days, and I don't have her freakin' diaper bag done.  (Where did those nine months go? How did I get so stinkin' far behind already?!)

Anyone who's had a baby knows that each pregnancy is an incredible blessing, but for some, it carries deeper meaning.  My mother describes herself as a "fertile myrtle."  She said Daddy barely had to look at her for her to get pregnant.  SuperHusband and I had a harder time conceiving, but with just a little boost, before long Big Boy was percolating in my tummy.  B and J had a much tougher time.  The news of their pregnancy caught me so off-guard, I remember squealing like a total nut (in a public place, no less) when she told me.  So for them -- and for those of us who love them -- this baby brings with it so many hopes and dreams born from tears and prayers, abiding faith and love.  Such a star already...I can't wait to meet her.  :)

For this baby girl, I already made two burp cloth and receiving blanket sets, and I bought a Thirty-One Organizing Utility Tote for B. to use as a diaper bag (see the cover photo above).  These bags sport several nice pockets on the outside, and they come in pretty prints.  The only problem?  No liner!  Soooooo...

Time for a Thirty One Tote Liner Sew-Along!

Okay, so it's not a TRUE sew-along, because honestly, I don't have time to get everyone on the same page with fabric and there's no pattern to speak of.  I'm going to do this more like a "running tutorial."  I'm going to post a little bit every day until we get through it.  On the upside, you'll get to see my entire brainstorming and pattern-developing process.

Today's progress is in the planning and preparation department.  This bag offers some unique challenges.  The handles block any attempt to create a fold-over lining all the way around, and it has these nice little side grommets that could be used for something...

My considerations in planning were as follows:

- Create something with plenty more organizer pockets on the interior
- Make the liner easily removable and washable
- Make sure it will hug the sides of the bag so it will be functional and not constantly in the way
- Give it enough padding and body to seem professional and luxurious
- Put handles on the liner allowing it to stand alone -- increasing the capacity to 2 bags in a pinch!

I like to sketch out my ideas and then refine the details little by little.  I should buy stock in graph paper.  It's an obsession.  Really fleshing things out keeps me from wasting time and resources.  I can't stand wasting fabric.  I just started one of the Weeks Ringle classes on Craftsy, and one of the students talked about hesitating to experiment because she couldn't stand to waste her beautiful fabrics.  I saw myself in that comment.  Weeks responded that my fellow packrat needed to decide if she wanted to be a designer or a fabric collector.  But I digress...

If the project includes unique shapes, I make a pattern from freezer paper.  In this case, all the cuts are rectangles, so I'm just going to figure measurements and go to work.

The sketch above represents my initial thoughts about what I wanted to do.  The A and B panels represent the sides of the bag, the C panel the bag bottom, and D and E the pockets. 

The one below shows my final cutting list.  I refined the pocket plan.  The pockets will be lined, and I wanted the seam between outer pocket and pocket lining to fall 1 inch below the the top of the pocket.  That meant a little wrangling with measurements.  Keep in mind, too, that every panel must take 1/2 inch seam allowances into consideration.  So if the finished bag side should be 10 x 6.5, then the panels must be cut to 11 x 7.5.  Adding a seam?  You have to do the mental gymnastics there, too.  Make sense?

The plan so far only addresses the structure and pockets.  I haven't sorted out the handles or the way to secure it to the tote just yet. 

After I planned my parts and pieces, I tackled fabric selection and preparation.  For selection, I went through my stash until I found a group of fat quarters with the right color story...purples and yellows and greens in a complimentary hue. I had other purples, but they weren't the right purples.

I've written a dissertation (you think I'm kidding, but it was too long to post!...2500 words so far) on when to prewash and when not to prewash and why.  The long and the short of it is this:  Treat the pre-project fabric as you expect the project to be treated.  In this case, I want them to be able to remove the liner and launder it.  I know it may be exposed to spit up and poo, so hot water is a consideration.

So for fabric prep, I started by overcasting the raw edges with my serger (this post has a lot of information about overcasting) to keep the washer and dryer from wreaking havoc on my already limited fabric cuts.

Next I washed it on hot and dried it in the dryer.

And that's where I am as of the end of this posting.  Next step:  Cutting the parts!  See you in a couple of days!  :)

Here's the link to Part 2 of this tutorial! - Cutting and Interfacing the Pieces
Here's the link to Part 3 of this tutorial! - Preparing and Organizing the Pocket Pieces
Here's the link to Part 4 of this tutorial! - Attaching and Dividing the Pockets
Here's the link to Part 5 of this tutorial! - Constructing the Liner
Here's the link to Part 6 of this tutorial! - Inserting the Liner
Step 1 - project planning and fabric prep Step 2 - cutting and interfacing the pieces Step 3 - preparing the organizing pocket pieces Step 4 - attaching and dividing the pockets Step 5 - constructing the liner - See more at:
Step 1 - project planning and fabric prep Step 2 - cutting and interfacing the pieces Step 3 - preparing the organizing pocket pieces Step 4 - attaching and dividing the pockets Step 5 - constructing the liner - See more at:
Step 1 - project planning and fabric prep Step 2 - cutting and interfacing the pieces Step 3 - preparing the organizing pocket pieces Step 4 - attaching and dividing the pockets Step 5 - constructing the liner - See more at: