Monday, March 2, 2015

Staff Projects: Casey

My mother is Annie, so you can imagine that I have been around sewing machines since birth. As a toddler, I remember being literally terrified of going into her sewing room because I was afraid to step on a needle. Later, as a teenager, I recall being mortified when I snapped a needle off in the machine. Still, despite being so close to sewing for the first thirty years of my life, my projects we limited to hemming pants and patching holes.

All that changed in 2014 when I joined Annie and began working full-time with ByAnnie.com. Within six months after joining I bought my first machine and, not any machine, I bought a Consew 226-R with table and motor (all for $600). It is a work-horse industrial walking-foot sewing machine. It can move heavy thread, punch through thick material and work well with nylons and other slippery items. I wanted these characteristics because I wanted to sew heavier-duty bags for outdoor sports.

After much testing and learning, I finally got the tension right and the machine sewing like a champ. My next step was to put the machine to use on a bag. I had seen them made and played small roles in various bag-making projects, but I had never designed or made one all-by-myself.

Being the proud owner of my new machine, I decided to dive right in and develop a bag myself. The results are below. Without pattern, sample, guide, template or for an expert help I designed this little gym bag with mesh on one side for ventilation. It went okay and it will work, but boy is it riddled with mistakes. The mesh is too stiff to turn under the way I did, causing it to flex strangely and have rough edges inside. The zipper doesn't align. And worst of all, when I sewed on the red side panel I did it to the wrong side out, causing the raw seams to be outside not inside! In desperation I turned the seam over on itself, making for a very bulky seam and chunky look to the bag. (I later learned this is called French seam and is actually a standard application when you plan for it).

All and all, while the bag was not the shining success I'd envisioned, the experience was great. I learned to use my machine better, I learned to sew better, and I gained a greater respect for the great value of having a detailed pattern before starting a project. We'll see what is next!