Something New: Odicoat

I’ve been hearing about Odicoat in several Facebook groups recently and decided it was my turn to try it. I actually ordered a container before I had the water leak in my sewing room about six months ago. When I moved everything out to get the plumber in, I somehow misplaced the jar. When I realized there was no way I was going to find it during the school year (i.e. lack of time), I ordered another off Amazon. Here’s the link so you’ll know what I’m talking about. Odif coating

Sidenote: There are two products I see on Amazon, and I can’t tell if they’re the same thing in different containers, or what the deal is. The one above is what I got. Here’s the other one.

I make a lot of Sew Sweetness bags. The owner and designer, Sara Lawson, creates frequent videos for her thousands of followers. (Her Facebook group currently has more than 45,000 members!) She recently created a video explaining what Odicoat is and how to use it. If you’re interested in experimenting with Odicoat on your own, you might like to watch Sara’s video.

I treated some fabric on successive nights last week after getting home from rehearsals. You paint three layers of the coating on the fabric, waiting at least an hour between coats. Per Sara’s instructions, I painted the first one horizontally, the next vertically, and the last diagonally across the fabric. After the final coat, you wait 24 hours before pressing. I think I waited 48 hours. You wrap the coated fabric in parchment paper to press it.

A close-up look at the treated fabric. (Also look at the lining fabric in the previous photo.)

When you’re ready to sew, you cut it just as you would untreated cotton fabric. You just have to be careful with pressing.

I made my favorite gift-in-a-hurry bag, the zipper pouch from the JediCraftGirl blog tutorial. This tutorial is my go-to for quick gifts. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we’re headed to Columbus to the Jazzman’s niece’s house for dinner. I need four bags to take along for all the ladies who will be here (plus a spare, so they can choose their favorites). So I killed two birds with one stone—experimenting with the treated fabric and making a waterproof cosmetic bag for one of the college-age great-nieces.

My zipper pull is a furnace glass bead. It has a large hole, so I slid three small turquoise beads on the head pin before adding the larger bead. The smaller beads inside the hole keep it from wiggling on the head pin. Pulls like this always make me happy I learned to wire-wrap while living in Tucson.

Meet the Paladin

As I started writing this post featuring my newest bag-make, I wondered where Sara Lawson, the owner and bag-designer of Sew Sweetness Patterns, got the name Paladin. Google tells me that, over time, it has come to refer to high-level officials in imperial, majestic and royal courts. Here’s my spin—high-level court officials need to keep a lot of information under wraps, to not let their subjects know what’s going on behind the scenes. Paladin hides three pockets under one zipper, giving you a lot more room than you think you have when you first pick up the bag. It’s a handy little—or not-so-little—bag. The pattern comes in three sizes: small–7” long x 5” tall x 2½” deep, medium–9” long x 6½” tall x 3” deep, and large–10½” long x 8” tall x 3½” deep.

I put the Paladin Pouch together in 15 minute snatches of time during a two-three week period when I was in final preparations for a cabaret show with about 20 musical theatre students, a three-rehearsal gig for a semi-staged version of “South Pacific,” and near-final rehearsals for “Cabaret,” along with keeping up with the repertoire and rehearsal needs of my eleven students, musical theatre or classical voice students at the local university. I didn’t sit down and watch Sara’s entire video, which would have helped. I didn’t sit and read through the pattern before starting. I just cut, fused, and sewed. I made a couple of mistakes, but it’s done and it’s okay.

The bag has three pockets that are contained under one long zipper that extends beyond the edge of the bag, giving you the ability to open the bag wide so you can access everything in all three pockets. The middle pocket has a clever bit of stitching that makes it a smaller pocket. You can put change or a lipstick or some folded paper money or coins in that pocket. It’s a versatile design!

I will make the two larger sizes once I’m out from under the workload I’m currently carrying. These would be nice holiday gifts for shoppers to buy. I have a stash of great fabric that will make them good additions to a couple of consignment shops near me.

The fabric in this bag is designed by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit. I believe the collection is Modern Meadow. The exterior fabric is Dogwood Bloom; the lining fabric is Herringbone. The color name for both is Pond. You can find several vendors on Etsy who still carry this fabric. Or you can search for it on Google and find a few shops who have done a good job with populating their fabric databases. 😉 (Once a geek, always a geek.)

I’ll enjoy using or gifting this bag, and will look forward to a freer schedule so I can make more.

Another Carry-On Bag

Three years ago I cut out and prepared the pattern pieces for a Swoon Vivian carry-on bag. I carefully and adeptly inserted the interior zippered pocket, when I realized I had placed it on the exterior. Rather than just go with the flow, I determine that fabric would become the lining rather than the exterior, and I would buy some more fabric for the exterior. I went to JoAnn’s and got some navy cotton duck, and this became that bag. I used it a few times, then decided I didn’t really love it. Little things were not right, but when I showed it to a friend and said I didn’t want to keep it, she lovingly and willingly provided it a home.

A few weeks ago, I found the pattern pieces I had cut out and never used, and decided to take that bag out of the Works-in-Progress stack. I think I followed the directions as written. The lining uses the drop-in lining method, which I don’t care for. If I make this bag again, I think I’ll leave the pocket bottom open and turn it through that hole.

I planned to use the bag as my carry-on for a recent trip to Dallas to hang out with my son. Alas, I like to have lots of clothing options when I travel, even for a four-day trip, so it was to small for my needs. But the next time I head up to Lake Erie to our friends’ lake house, this will be my go-to.

I used three different but coordinating prints from Cotton+Steel, when they were still being distributed by RJR. Pieces of this fabric can still be found on Etsy. I love the high quality that the C+S designers have insisted on for their fabrics. It has a wonderful hand to it, and lasts like, well, steel! My Spousal Equivalent didn’t love the print I chose for the straps, handle, and piping, but I thought it added some pizzazz. I like the looks of the piping, and will keep attempting piped bags until someday when I can get it right!

My son, who will turn 46 in a couple of months, plays “Beer League” hockey. I’d travel anywhere to watch him play. He lives in Lewisville, Texas, and plays on two teams. This game was in West Plano. The teams started together and ended together, which is what I tell my students when one of us messes up someplace in the middle of a song. All that matters is starting and ending together.

It’s a Surprise!

You probably know how I love trying new bag patterns, and how I love a bargain. Well, let me start this off by saying that I receive too many email newsletters (i.e. “come-ons”) from fabric stores. One that I have liked over the years is Connecting Threads. They’re located in Vancouver, Washington, and they have a beautiful, color-filled catalog that they occasionally send to my home for me to dream over. The trouble began when they had a sale. In their weekly newsletter, they offered me a kit to make a nice-looking bag for fifteen or twenty percent off the regular price. Okay, so they didn’t offer it just to me, but I heard them calling my name.

I answered the call and ordered the kit, which included all the fabric I would need and the pattern. The bag is called the “Surprise Bag.” Why? Because, according to the pattern description, the designer was “surprised by how much it holds.” As I’m writing this post, I’ve looked back at the pattern instructions and I notice, on page 2, a disclaimer by the Connecting Threads owners: “these patterns have not been independently tested by Connecting Threads.” First error. If any of their bag-making customers or staff members had tried making this bag before it was added to the catalog and website, I’m pretty sure it would never have made the cut.

Before I move forward, let me remind you that I’ve made a lot of bags in my sewing lifetime. I may have made over a hundred bags. I’ve seen very good patterns. I’ve seen so-so patterns. I’ve never seen a pattern this odd.

Now one of the main tenets by which I live is “be kind.” And I hesitate to denigrate all the work the designer, “Sewing Sue,” put into this bag. I’m sure she spent many hours designing the bag, making test versions, and documenting her work for the instruction sheet. But this bag is a major fail as it is written. It took me many hours of stitching and ripping, during the time in which I was having serious problems with my Bernina 330, to arrive at a finished bag. If I had not spent $30 or so on this bag kit, I probably would have thrown it in the trashcan. More than once.

See the two photos in the previous paragraph? So how beautifully that first bag is standing? That’s the photo I saw before purchasing the bag kit. See how, in the second photo, the bag is slouching. It’s the kind of bag to which Grandma would call out, “Stand up straight!” That’s your first clue. A bag that is properly interfaced and reinforced should not slouch like that. At least this type of bag. A bag that’s designed to be slouchy? Slouch all you want. Skimp on the interfacing. That’s okay. This is not okay. Compare those two photos from Connecting Threads’ website to the first two photos of my finished bag. Please tell me you can recognize the difference.

Notice how I quilted the lower front exterior piece to the fleece. You don’t want to know how long that took!

As I began reading the cutting instructions, I noticed the only fabric other than the quilting cotton was fusible fleece. Fleece interfacing is used in bag construction to give it some padding, to protect the items you’re going to carry around inside. Fleece is for blankets and jackets, not for sturdy bags. I use Pellon SF101, tradename “ShapeFlex”, to give the bag some shape! Sometimes I use fusible fleece along with the ShapeFlex, depending on whether the bag is going to carry my phone or my iPad. To NOT use ShapeFlex or a similar weight interfacing on a bag is asking for a disaster, for a useless bag. One other point: when I purchase fabric for a bag, it is high quality quilting cotton. It has some oomph to it. I do not buy a lower-priced soft cotton like I might use to make a blouse. I want my bags to last for years, to stand up to heavy useage. I pay more for my fabric and I get what I pay for. The fabric that came in this kit was not high quality quilting cotton. It needed interfacing.

As I began cutting out the pattern pieces, I made sure to interface each one, in addition to the fleece that I fused to the pieces that called for fleece.That’s the first Big Deal.

My second “What the Hell?” moment came when I made the zippered pockets on the outside. As I followed the designer’s zipper insertion instructions, I had to sew and rip several times before I said to myself, “This will not do.” I scratched my head, thought back to numerous (at least a hundred) zippers that I’ve installed, and made it work.

Another bit of quilting, this time on upper front.

I continued on through the instructions, interrupted over the months by rehearsals for “Into the Woods” and voice students’ lessons and performances and end-of-semester juries; by a quick road trip to Newport, Kentucky, to meet some of my closest cousins (per DNA); by the last-minute decision to go work at Interlochen Arts Camp in the dance department for three weeks; by the vagaries of my Bernina when it comes to bag construction; and by the decision, while at Interlochen, to take advantage of a Juki sewing machine sale at the Sew Deja Vu fabric store in Worthington, Ohio. Now I’m settled in with my new Juki TL-2010Q. It is a simple straight-stitch machine that is dedicated to bag making. And this bag maker is very happy.

An interior slip pocket. My phone will fit there or in one of the small exterior zippered pockets.

I have a couple of commissions waiting to be started, one for a Crews cousin in Georgia, and one for a musical friend in the next county over in Pennsylvania. Before I dug into those, I wanted to clean off my sewing table, which involved finishing up this “Surprise Bag.” The state in which I had left it before I drove to northern Michigan was with the lining of the side panels half done. Why half done? Because I couldn’t figure out what in the hell Sewing Sue’s instructions meant. I stared at the bag repeatedly and finally fiddled around with the unsewn seam and some pins and hand sewed it in place. Then all that was left to do was the top edges where D-rings would be placed for connection to the adjustable strap. Again, I stared and fiddled and finally made it work. (Channeling Tim Gunn here. ❤️)

For the past few days, as I’ve been doing my mental wrangling with this bag, I wondered what I would do with it. Would I put it on my Etsy shop to hopefully sell? Would I just post it on Facebook for my friends to see and tell them the first person to make a $30 gift to their favorite charity could own the bag?

The side pocket. It’s just large enough for a water bottle.

And last night I finished it and took pictures. The fall semester at YSU began yesterday, and now I’m in the throes of getting twenty or so singers ready for their auditions for the fall production of “Cabaret.” I had always wished my music bag that I made about three years ago had a shoulder strap, but I never made that modification. And as I was finishing this bag yesterday, I realized that, as much as I detest this pattern and wonder about Sewing Sue’s background as a bag designer, the description of this bag is correct. It’s going to hold a whole lotta stuff! It’s going to be able to carry my iPad Pro, my page-turn peddle, all my chargers, my semester organizer, and my music glasses (mid-range of my trifocals, designed to enable me to easily read the music on the music stand). One of the small pockets on the back can hold granola bars and other such snacks. The other small pocket can hold my iPhone. And when I’m walking in from the parking deck to Bliss Hall, I can either wear it crossbody or over my shoulder, using the great adjustable strap.

I traveled, really from yesterday morning to last night, from a despondency (Why did I waste so much time with this damned bag?) to Wow! (Look at this great new bag that’s going to ease my life.) Sorry, all of my Facebook friends who thought they were going to get a great new bag for the price of charity. It’s M*I*N*E!!!

P.S. Disclaimer: If I were choosing the fabric for this bag, would I have chosen this collection of fabrics? No, probably not. (Definitely not, when considering the “hand” of this collection.) I’d love to see a similar bag in a couple of companion batiks, even those batiks I brought back from Bali last year. But this was a learning exercise, so it is what it is. And what it was was a very painful learning exercise. But I survived. Oh, and let me repeat, “It’s M*I*N*E!”

Edited 9/13/2019, after using this bag to carry all my collaborative pianist “equipment” in it for almost a month. I LOVE the size, shape, and capacity of this bag. I still can’t recommend anyone use this pattern, but if you’re a wannabe bag pattern designer, figure out how to make this bag without the wonky side pieces, with more logical zipper instructions, and with all the extra interfacing and foam I used in mine, and you’ll have a winner.

Digging Into the Singapore/Bali Stash

Tessuti patternLast summer (2018) was spent traveling, including two weeks in Bali, bookended by a couple of days in Singapore, and a couple of weeks in Japan. The time in Bali included significant fabric shopping. The time in Singapore included one wonderful visit to Poppy Fabric, which is one of my favorite fabric shops in the world.

A few days ago, I saw a blog post for Tessuti Fabrics’ Eva dress pattern, which I have made a couple of times. I still don’t feel like I’ve mastered it, and I do like to have #success experiences when sewing. Seeing that blog post and remembering I had made it several years ago made me want to make it again. When I looked in my Bali box, I remembered my Poppy purchase of a silk ikat from India.

Tessuti EvaNote: One of the things I learned in Bali was that ikats from Bali are cotton and ikats from Japan and India are almost all silk. This silk yardage from India doesn’t feel like silk—it doesn’t feel “silky.” It could easily be mistaken for a lightweight linen or a cotton. But it’s a lovely, very wearable silk.

Over the weekend, I was able to carve out the time to dig into Eva. I finished it early this morning and put it on for photos. I love it! I have yet to figure out how to style it, but that will be the fun part. I love this dress! And when my oh-so-chic daughter-in-law saw it on Instagram this morning, she immediately declared her love for it and said she needed one. I love this woman so much that I will definitely be making one for her after I finish a couple of commissions.

It appears I have my sewing mojo back. Now, once I get my fall semester schedule, can I keep carving out sewing time? I hope so.