18 November, 2013

The bag-sewing drama

New sleeping bag bag.
Following up on this post last weekend about sewing bags for camping. I finally finished this relatively simple job last night.

At least it should have been a relatively simple job. Just two draw-string bags.

But I encountered several problems.

After sewing one and a half seams of the purple sleeping-bag bag my sewing machine pedal stopped working! We completed the seam by manually manipulating the sewing machine, then gave that up as a bad idea. So I asked a friend if I could borrow hers.

She'd been given her machine by a friend who was leaving Japan (common story of acquisition amongst missionaries). But she'd not tried out the machine since she'd received it. I don't think it's been serviced in a while. It clunked! And, rather than working, it broke threads and a needle. I threaded and rethreaded. I even unscrewed some bits to see if there was anything out of place, but nothing seemed to work.

In the meantime I realised that the circle I'd cut out for the bottom was too big, so I had several goes at trimming it, pinning it, re-trimming, re-pinning, until I got it all right.

Then the second machine finally sewed one seam (the final seam of the purple bag).

I then changed projects and changed threads. The machine wouldn't sew anything else for me!

New tent bag
So I vented my frustration on Facebook. And another friend offered her machine, which I picked up by bike yesterday before lunch (she was surprised, but I never even considered taking my car one km down the road, obviously I'm becoming somewhat Japanese).

This machine was shiny, new and electronic, but I'd forgotten to ask for the manual. So I had to figure out a new machine, especially the thread tension. That took a while.

But then, it sewed! And I was powering through the tent bag yesterday.

Then I realised that we wanted to plunder the old bag for extra straps and an handle. So I had to unpick that from the old bag, then figure out how to sew it onto the new bag.

Finally I got that sorted and sewn on (although the thread tension was still weird, so it isn't pretty on the inside).

I quickly sewed the draw-string casing at the top and headed for the final task: sew the bottom onto the bag. This time I discovered that I'd given the wrong circumference to one of my mathematical sons to figure out the diameter of the circle. It was too small! Choice time: cut out another circle or taper the end of the bag to the right size. I chose the second (PS if I could go back, I'd choose the first). I tapered, then pinned, then re-tapered, then re-pinned and did that one last time when it finally fit. And the machine sewed!

Because I was nearly at the end of the project I skimped on how much thread I put on the bobbin and paid for that: having to rethread it several times throughout the project. But finally, at 10pm last night I finished. I insisted that we put the cord in and then the tent into the bag to prove that I had actually achieved my goal.

In conclusion:
I'm happy with how it looks and the fact that they work. But I wouldn't get an award for efficiency or neat sewing. It took way too long! But it's done and we have two new bags to go camping with next weekend!

I'm also happy that I have a community around me who I can ask for help. It's what friends and neighbours do, isn't it? Borrowing sewing machines! I love it that God's given us so many friends (even if their sewing machines don't always work).

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