Let's just jump right in without any further delay, shall we?
April 9: Sew Along Week 2—Add exterior corners, accordion pocket, zippered back pocket (pattern steps 11–29)
The corners...just one of the details that makes The Betsy Travel Bag look professional. How do you get the finished edge so perfect? Well, I'll tell you. I measure EVERYTHING. I remember when I was an intermediate level sewist making garments. I had to turn an edge under 1/2" (1", 2" whathaveyou) but it never came out perfect and I could never find that slidey ruler thingy to help me get it accurate. One day, I realized that if I needed a 1/2" hem, I could use a fabric pen on the wrong size and draw a line 1" away from the edge. If I folded the edge to the line, I would have a perfect 1/2" hem! So, that's what I do. Double the measurement that the pattern tells you, draw it on the back of the fabric and press! Voila! Perfection every time. It's so satisfying. We'll use this trick throughout the Betsy pattern, so keep your eye out!
The accordion pocket is pretty straight-forward. Two rectangles placed right sides together and sewn all the way around, leaving a 4" opening at the bottom for turning.
It's important to pay attention to one-way design when deciding what is the top and what is the bottom of your pocket. The opening needs to be at the bottom. The reason is because the top-stitch is 1/2", which wouldn't end up closing the turning hole of it was on top. However, since the pocket is edge-stitched at 1/8" across the bottom and down both sides, it will close easily.
Follow the marking diagram in the instructions for pressing and folding the accordion pleats. You will stitch the center line, then the sides and finally across the bottom of the pocket. It is essential to pin the pocket in place really well to make sure there is no shifting and bunching of the pocket.
For the accordion pocket straps and strap tabs, as well as a few other things, you will be asked to stitch a "square and an X". I use a grid ruler to measure 1/8" up from folded bottom edge, draw a line. Measure the space between lines of stitching (about 3/4" or 1") measure that distance up from the first line and Mark. Connect the corners by drawing an "X". Start by stitching on the first line you drew, go up to the next line by carefully stitching over the existing stitches on the strap. Sew the full square before continuing to the first diagonal line. Go up (or down?) the original stitch line and stitch the next line in the "X". I hope that all made sense!
The back exterior zippered pocket seems to be really intimidating to most people. But, I'm telling you, YOU can do it! I just taught a class and most of my students were so nervous about this step. They couldn't believe how easy it was when they had it accomplished. Seriously, it's as simple as sewing a rectangle. You don't even have to put your zipper foot on (Gasp! Shock! For real...)
Place one pocket lining right sides together on the back exterior, follow the instructions for marking the pocket line; stitch on the rectangle. Then, draw a line down the center of the rectangle and cut it open. Feel free to trim some of that seam or leave it as is. If you trim, it'll be easier to pull the lining completely out of the rectangle and towards the back. If you don't, the lining will then wrap the seam and remain exposed, which is a pretty accent, in my opinion.
If you leave the rectangle untrimmed, as shown in above photo, the pocket lining will be all weird and puckery on the sides where the zipper ends are. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THIS! Simply adjust the seam allowance to cover it when you stitch the second piece to it. This is a hidden pocket and you will not see the seams, nor will the seam allowance make a difference in pocket functionality. Just trust me, this is one of those times in sewing where you get to be wild and carefree!
When installing the zipper, after pulling the lining to the inside, you don't have to pin it. Instead, I use either Liquid Stitch or Elmer's glue to hold it in place. For this reason, I almost always do this step first. It gives the glue time to dry while I work on the corners, accordion pocket etc. Apply a thin line of glue to the long edges of the zipper tape, then carefully center the zipper on the rectangle. If you place the zipper head face down, hold it with your finger, you can sort of roll the zipper along the opening line to make sure it's centered nice and neat.
Next up is the Week Three Post, which I will finish up right now. Stay tuned!