I recently had the inspiration to try my hand at making a zippered pencil case... I'm a sucker for these things, and there are always pencils/pens around that need a nice home.
After a bit of surfing on the web, I found this tutorial for making a gusseted pencil case that looked totally amazing. Reading through the (detailed) instructions, I was excited by the prospect of learning a few new techniques, in particular the construction of a lined and zippered bag.
And as a first try at doing something like this, I think the results are pretty good. I particularly love the pattern I chose to use when quilting the fabric... utilizing the pattern already present in the design. And that hidden gusset is so awesome.
But, oh, there is so much I will do differently the next time I make one of these (which I really think I should do so I can be sure that I've gotten down the techniques). Let me list the ways:
- The zipper. The instructions don't state this, and at the time of purchase, I didn't actually realize/know there was a difference, but you're supposed to get a non-separating zipper! I only realized this after I had purchased the zipper and started the project. The way I "fixed" this was to sew a bunch of tacking stitches above the end of the zipper to act as a stop. But that was a hack, and I think a non-separating zipper would lie better and allow for proper stitching to the bag. Lesson learned.
- I obviously need to be more precise about my stitching of the seams... because I discovered as I started piecing this together that the gusset appeared to be smaller than the edge of the bag so they didn't come together perfectly. I didn't have a nice bold fabric marker, and I think that was part of the problem. Next time I will be sure to trace the seam allowance lines on everything and follow those religiously. You can see that the bag has a good side (see photo above) and a bad side (see below)... on the bad side, the piping is puckered in a nasty way and you can see some of the stay-stitching I made (which, if I was following the seam allowance lines, should have been perfectly hidden).
- My sewing machine sucks a bit. That is just a reality I cannot change. This bag would have looked FAR WORSE if I had done all of the zipper foot stitching on it. My zipper foot worked okay for sewing on the zipper, but I have discovered that I cannot adjust where my needle goes (center, right, left) for straight stitching, and because of that, I cannot get a seam that runs extremely close to the edge with the zipper foot. That means that when I went to the step of sewing the outside, gusset and inside together, I had to do it by hand, otherwise too much of the piping fabric would have shown. It is very disappointing to find this out about my machine because I know I won't be able to get a new machine anytime soon, and it means that any type of work that involves a tight zipper-foot seam will need to be done by hand which will slow me down.
- The ribbon tags... they're just a bit too long for my liking. Next time, I'll make them shorter.
- The zipper... darn if I can find cool funky zippers like this or this at local stores. Or a ring-pull zipper. Even looking for them on the internet is proving to be difficult. But if I had my druthers, I'd use a cool zipper like one of those.
I'll say that the instructions are wonderful. Joanne is obviously a perfectionist (in a good way). She includes lots of details that are easy to follow. The hardest part was wrapping my brain around how the bag is constructed, but her step-by-step instructions guide you through that process. If I didn't have that, I'm sure I would have found myself totally frustrated. And now that I know the general construction techniques, I can try to create a pattern myself.
I can't wait to try another one of these to see if I can correct the mistakes I made before.