Thursday, August 12, 2021

flamingo elina backpack

I bought a new sewing machine! I’ve been sewing on my little Pfaff Smart 100S for over a decade. Although it handles thinner fabrics well, it’s not powerful enough to manage thicker fabrics like denim, coating, or canvas. I decided to use my overtime pay from back in the spring to buy a Pfaff Ambition 620. This is my first time sewing on a computerized (vs purely mechanical) machine, and I’m looking forward to some of the features like automatic buttonholes, tie-off, and thread snips! I am surprised at how much of a learning curve there is with a new machine, though. My first project took longer than usual because I had to look up how to do EVERYTHING. Change needle? Read the manual. Thread machine? Read the manual. Load bobbin? Read the manual. Slowwww progress.

Anyways… I decided to christen the machine by making a backpack for Mae! This is the Elina Backpack pattern by iThinksew. It comes in two sizes, and I made the smaller one.
I spent a while hunting down a water resistant, sturdy, cute fabric. This Terrasol indoor/outdoor fabric met all my requirements. Mae loves flamingos, so the print was perfect! I "fussy cut" the front and back pieces to get the flamingo placement just right. Mae modeled the backpack for me while wearing her flamingo flippy sequin shirt from Grandma.
The pink webbing and ladder buckles are from JoAnn. The bias binding for the inside seams was left over from binding Mae’s quilt. It was exactly the right amount! The lining is a quilting cotton from JoAnn, interfaced with Pellon SF101. I ordered the #5 zippers from MarieAngele on Etsy. This was my first time using zipper-by-the-yard. It comes as a long roll of zipper tape that you cut to size and then attach the separate zipper pulls. It was surprisingly easy to use and comes in tons of colors! I was not particularly careful about which direction zips and unzips each pocket; hopefully it's not too annoying for Mae. Next time, I'll pay more attention to install all the zippers backwards to make it easier on my little leftie. The main pocket is a two-way zipper, so that one should be easy enough for her.
The backpack assembly itself was pretty straightforward. I read a few negative reviews of the pattern, but I found it pretty straightforward and easy to follow. I’m not a huge fan of the seam finishing; there are exposed (overlocked) seams in the front pocket, and I’m sure there’s a neater way to finish the lining seams besides bias binding. But, these methods seem somewhat common across other bag patterns I looked at. Other than that, I only wish this bag had instructions for a water bottle pocket on the side.
I made only tiny modifications. I shortened the back straps 2.5” since they are the same size for the large bag and the small bag. I topstitched the seam allowance on the front pocket, and I’m debating top stitching the main zipper also. If I made this bag again, I might add a little padding to the back straps. I would also pay better attention to my seam allowance when sewing the zipper on the front pocket. I ended up with less width on the pocket gusset, which made it a bit harder to attach.
I would consider making this pattern again… maybe when Colin needs a backpack. I did struggle a bit with managing the bulky fabric through the machine, even though it sewed well. The bias binding attachment inside is pretty messy, since I was maneuvering the entire assembled bag around the machine at that point. Thank goodness for the new machine... my old one never would have made it through all the thick layers of fabric!

I noticed while sewing the zippers that the alignment of the foot on my new machine wasn’t quite right. I took it back to the store for an adjustment. I was so stressed about it… it was frustrating to have spent a bunch of money on something and have it not be quite right! Fortunately they were able to make the adjustment and it’s back home safe and sound now. I hope it doesn’t give me any more issues. (My serger is also in the shop right now. I miss it.)

Mae loves her new backpack (or packpack, as she calls it.) I hope it holds up well to the rigors of Kindergarten!

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