On August 26th, I was contacted by a person who had been scouring the internet looking for archival bags for queen size quilts. She had previously been able to find and purchase them without a problem, but the largest size she could find from her usual resources only fit up to a twin size quilt. Because she saw that I made simple drawstring bags to use as gifts for baby quilts, she took a chance and contacted me to see if we could work together. She knew that she needed at LEAST 10 bags, so I knew up front that the work was going to feel a lot more like a production job. I was definitely interested in seeing how the process would work out. One of the key features of the bag is that it has a vinyl exterior pocket that fits a standard 5″ X 8″ index card for noting pertinent information about the item(s) stored within the bag. I was excited to work with a new material and try my hand at something new that wasn’t a huge departure from techniques and skills I know I possess. 🙂 I found a You Tube video that I watched in preparation for sewing with vinyl: Making a Clear Vinyl Pocket. (Tip from video: use the tissue paper that the vinyl comes on to help keep the vinyl sliding along your sewing machine.)
In another act of kindness and trust, once we had tentatively worked out an agreement, she sent me one of her previously purchased bags. This turned out to be very helpful for me – I would never have thought to sew down a pieced of vinyl directly to the bag first and then to cover that with the “pocket” of bound vinyl. After the fact, it makes sense (the paper can easily slide on both smooth surfaces), but I do not think I would have done that without seeing the product in hand.
I ended up ordering all the materials I needed online instead of purchasing from a local store – I did try to find 28 to 30 yards of 36″ wide muslin in my local area, but most shops could only give me a few yards at most. Purchasing an entire bolt online worked out as a very good solution. The materials all arrived at the tail end of last week, and over the weekend I made a test bag. It turned out a bit shy of the final dimensions I was targeting, so after a quick adjustment in my initial cutting, I quickly set up a production line in my sewing room.
Overall, it took me around 13 hours to make 16 of these bags, and I am happy to see them shipped off to the customer. A few things that I did that really helped speed up my assembly process:
- I pre-made all the bound vinyl pocket covers. It took about 3 hours to get the binding prepared and sewn on, and I am glad I just got that work out of the way before starting on the bags.
- I quickly learned that muslin is not the same as quilting cotton. To ease my frustration with fabric cutting, I over cut when I cut Width of Fabric (WOF) x width of bag off the bolt. I then ironed the material flat, smoothly double folded, and trimmed to the exact panel dimensions.
- I purchased the cord stops sight unseen, and I had some really strong parachute cord on hand. When the cord stops arrived, my heart sank. I did not have any idea how I would get two ends of my parachute cord passed through… but after some initial trepidation, I found a great solution. First, I melted one end of the pre-cut parachute cord on my gas stove top. I passed that end through the cord stop and used the cord stop to feed the parachute cord through the drawstring pocket at the top of the bag. Then I used some masking tape to wrap the second end of the cord to the end already passed through the cord stop. I eased the cord stop over the tape (sometimes it took a bit of arm strength), and then removed the tape and melted the second end of the cord. See images below. Voila!
That was a grand new adventure for me, and now I am really excited to get back to quilting! I have some really fun projects in the queue. In fact, I am going to be working on 3 different queen sized quilts in the near future. One of them needs to remain pretty secretive, but I am going to be able to show a few sneak peaks here and there. I think I am going to work on the next instructions for the Foothills Mystery Quilt this afternoon to ease back into fun quilting projects, and then I might just add a 5th WiP for myself in the form of either a music lap quilt or a black and white lap quilt. Goodness, look at me piling on projects, that is pretty unusual for me!