Friday, September 5, 2014

Maggie wants what kind of backpack?

So. You know that thing where you have lots of things to blog about, but you procrastinate actually writing, and the next thing you know, you're way behind and it starts to feel like a chore to catch up?

And then there's a big ol' earthquake that causes lots of property damage in the city where you work and you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to address a million different earthquake-related legal and insurance issues for several weeks? Which makes blogging seem like pretty much your negative one-hundreth priority?

What? No? This hasn't happened to you? Weird.

Anyhoo. Earthquake aside, things are good with us, and I've been keeping very busy! Not just sewing and learning about FEMA, but cleaning out and painting my children's future bedroom, and getting everyone ready to start a new year at Peter Pan, where apparently I am the parent of the oldest and youngest child in this year's class! Ha!

My main sewing project for August - and it was quite a project! - was Maggie's backpack. After all, baby girl is starting preschool this year, and I have standards to uphold; she needed a mama-made backpack. The only question was what type of backpack?

Joe: "Maggie wants a squid backpack, Mama."
Me: "What?! Squid? Um ... she told you that?"
Joe: "She wants a squid. Or an octopus."
Me: "Uh ... Sure, whatever."

I decided that was all Joe, and went and bought some adorable Japanese fabric with cute chickens on it for Maggie's backpack, along with matching notions and hardware.

Then I showed the fabric to Maggie, and she said, "NO!!" and (literally) threw it aside in disinterest and dislike. And walked away.

Now, given, she is two, and she says "No!" quite a lot. But still ...

Me: "Steve, Joe says Maggie wants a squid backpack. And Maggie didn't seem the least bit interested in this cute chicken fabric I bought. But it's so cute! I don't know what to do."
Steve: "A squid backpack would be way cooler."
Me: "But ...!"
Steve: "I think you should do a squid."
Me: "I guess I could maybe appliqué a squid ..."

Interlude. I spend way too much time on Pinterest trying to figure out what squids even look like, ahem. Then I tear my fabric stash apart, pulling all of the fabrics out looking for something that might work for an appliquéd squid. Because I sure as heck am not buying even more fabric for this project. Then I work up the nerve to freehand a squid shape and cut it out in fabric, fusible web, etc. This all takes about a week. 

I appliqué an orange squid to turquoise cotton piqué (what's with all the accents?). I show it to Maggie.

Maggie, pointing, approvingly: "Mah back-back."

Joe: "See, Mama? Maggie does like it."

Um, okay then! I am sorry I ever doubted my in-house older sibling toddler mind-reading/translation services!

Off to the fabric store to buy orange piping and zipper and nylon webbing. Do you know how hard it is to find bright orange notions? So there are four slightly different shades of orange in this backpack, but in the end I just to be like, whatevs, I don't have time to make my own piping or troll the internet for a bright orange zipper right now! 

Squid backpack


Here it is, finished, in all its squiddy glory! The pattern is Rae's Toddler Backpack, of course, the same pattern I used for Joe's backpack a couple years ago. It's a great little pattern - comes out looking so professional! - and the size is perfect.

Squid Backpack


I am pretty thrilled with how this turned out, but I have to say, I found my second version just as challenging as the first. This pattern is awesome, but - I'm just going to say it - kind of hard to execute! Specifically, getting the piping around the bottom, with the corners and thick layers: it is very difficult! For this backpack, I used heavy interfacing on the front, back, and side pieces, and two layers of batting on the bottom piece. I was going for extra-sturdy, especially because the cotton piqué I used for the body of the backpack is pretty lightweight, but this made for a lot of layers, and with the piping along the bottom, I could not for the life of me catch all of them in a nicely piped seam. So there were these ugly bits of fraying and batting showing through. See what I mean? Not pretty.



I ripped and redid this whole area about ten times, but it only seemed to get worse and the fabric was starting to fray and shred where I had ripped the seam so many times. Talk about a pain in the ass. I started to get a sinking sensation - a "this project is going to look like crap" feeling - you know what I'm talking about here. It makes me really grouchy! I went to bed in a foul mood.

A day or two later, it came to me: The bottom doesn't really need piping at all. I literally just sewed it right into the seam, burying the piping inside (that seam is going to be uber-sturdy, what with the many lines of stitching, five hundred layers, and buried piping!). I mean, gimme a freaking break! No one (except me, and now you) is ever look at the backpack and think "why doesn't the piping extend all around the panel?" And by that time, I just could not rip that seam even one more time. That's how frustrated I was.

Squid backpack


In retrospect, I can't believe that Joe's backpack was my first try with piping, because it is definitely a harder-than average application of piping. And it actually turned out really well on Joe's backpack, which is amazing! (I did use softer interfacing and fewer layers for his version, which is a bit slouchier, but it was a little embarrassing to struggle so much with the piping on this backpack when I've become a piping fiend in the two years since I sewed my first one!)

But once I got past that hurdle, I have to admit, the results are so cute! The piping really does make this bag. (But if you're struggling with the bottom, you don't need it there!) Even after two years of piping all the things, I still find sharp corners and piping seams with multiple layers to be challenging.

Side pocket


As with Joe's backpack, I added a little gathered and elasticized side water-bottle pocket. Joe rarely uses his for a water bottle, but it happens to be a good size for plastic dinosaurs and toy cars, and isn't it cute? I simply eyeballed a wider rectangle, gathered the bottom, and used (yet another shade of) orange bias tape to create a channel for the elastic on the pocket. Easy.

_MG_0576


And believe me, if you make this pattern, you're gonna want to line it, because the inside is gonna look like a hot mess! But with a lining, no one will ever know! Yay! I used an awesome orange hatched print I have had in the stash for a while to line this bag and added a name tag (although I think it's safe to assume that most kids don't have an orange and turquoise squid backpack so the likelihood of confusion is low). I skipped the internal pockets that I included in Joe's backpack just because Joe never uses his.

Whew!! That was a lot of work! I won't lie, I may have grumbled "I'm never making another backpack again" and "after this, the kids can buy their own damn backpacks" more than once during this sewing project, but having finished it, I love it so much I am already starting to forget the pain. By next year, when Joe starts kindergarten, I may have forgotten it entirely. Or I may tell him to buy his own (damn) backpack. We'll see.

And here are Maggie and Joe this morning, all ready for school!


This was the least grumpy-looking photo of several grumpy photos! Haha! Let's just say: My children are not morning people. But they really love school. Joe has been complaining for a month "I don't like 'summer break.' Why can't I go to Peter Pan?"

Maggie's first day was yesterday and she had a blast! Being a younger sibling of a big kid, she knows her way around and already feels perfectly comfortable there. Joe showed her around and even sat down with her to eat snack! I think that the hardest part of both of them attending Peter Pan this year is that Maggie isn't going to understand that Joe goes four days a week, while she only gets to attend two days! Sorry, Maggie!

28 comments:

  1. They are such great children!
    You have put me to shame Inder, I have linen waiting ti be made into back packs but the though of bag sewing scares me to pieces.

    The squid back pack is a thing of awesomeness, well done you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Nicole! Bags are a bit tricky to sew - or at any rate, this one is. I've sewn some simple tote bags that were super easy, but this is a bit more advanced, to be sure. Still, you can sew circles around me, so I know you could easily do it!

      Delete
  2. Well, Inder, I appreciate the honesty! The good thing about sewing a backpack is that it looks really hard, so I think it gives you definite street cred. :) And I think the squid backpack is super cool + I really love the colors you chose! Oh and your comment on Caroline's blog was so funny too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oops i meant Carolyn's* blog. :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks Rachel! Street cred?! Really? Okay, I'll take it!!

      Delete
  3. Aww that is adorable. I went through a periodwhere I made like 10 of these and they never got easier. Now I really want to make a bigger version but can't even bring myself to start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They never got easier?!!!! Sheesh! I was thinking, okay, you know, I've only made two, and several years apart, so surely my next one will go more smoothly? Haha! Apparently not! That is too funny/painful.

      Delete
  4. That is a fantastic backpack. The squid is great and I love the colors together. I contemplated making one of these for my son since he started pre-school this year but then I took the easy way out and bought one. Maybe I will make one for Andrew next year. It sounds like I should start it now, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, even with all of my procrastinating and cursing under my breath, it only took me a couple weeks (and most of that it was sitting there untouched, because I was avoiding it!).

      Delete
  5. The backpack is adorable- I kinda want a squid backpack now! Sorry you've had to deal with the earthquake fallout- what a headache!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Meg! Headache is right. Dealing with insurance is never fun. But all things told, it was a minor quake, with virtually no injuries, just property damage. We have a few red-tagged buildings in Vallejo that will be very difficult to fix, the rest of it is crumbling chimneys and ceiling tiles and broken glass - so, easy to fix. The city will move on and this will be largely forgotten. So no big deal in the long run, and in the short run, well ... job security for me, I guess!

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Thank you!! Possibly ONLY squid backpack in the universe, but hey, I'll take it! :)

      Delete
  7. The back pack looks amazing and very professional. I love the colors and it is so funny she wanted a squid backpack. I bought a pattern book before I even had Stella just for the toad stool back pack on the front. I loved it and was going to make for Stella (who is also starting preschool this year 2 days a week). She didn't love it or want it. So I let her pick out fabric (that I don't care for that much) and made her a little toddler backpack. I used a different pattern without piping and had such a hard time with the side panels not puckering. I was rushing too which does not help. So hers isn't perfect but she loves it. That picture of your kids is super cute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Christine! Yes, I actually adjusted the side panel to fit the front and back panels - i.e., I took the seam between the side and bottom in until it was a good fit without puckering. There is still a tiny bit of pucker, but it would have been far worse if I hadn't done that. It's tricky getting it just right! Especially because this was so heavily interfaced, so it had no natural stretch or ability to ease - it was pucker city!

      Delete
  8. Wow! What a terrific back pack! Your squid is excellent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks mom! I totally stole the squid from a picture on the internet. :)

      Delete
  9. My comment just got et. Love blue + orange, love Maggie's cephalopod fascination. I think I gave you the fabric for the lining, after a futile search for more orange faux bois... damn I love orange.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, are people's comments being eaten? I hate having to filter for spam, because it means people have to sign in, and if they have to sign in, somehow the likelihood of eaten comments goes up. But the alternative is like ten spam messages a day. ARGH.

      You did give me the awesome orange hatchy stuff! I've used it in several projects recently and still have a lot left! It's so great. I love orange too.

      Delete
  10. The backpack is awesome!! I love the squid applique and the bright orange and turquoise.

    ReplyDelete
  11. blerg...my comment poofed into thin air :( love the backpack, squid and color combo! Great job! I agree that those little side pockets are fantastic for all kid treasures, that's what I always find in Violet's! Hope every one is enjoying school!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh, another eaten comment!!! ARGH.

      Thank you Jane! I think everyone is pretty much delighted to be in school. Preschool is great - I mean, what's not to love about playing all day? I expect we won't be quite as free from ambivalence as time goes on.

      Delete
  12. i also made a backpack for my daughter this year and i really should blog it. i just don't ever get to take pictures around here... i did use a sturdy home decor fabric though, so i didn't add layers of interface which made the whole sewing easy. it is not as stable as a bag with interface but sturdy enough to comfortably make it through a year of lunch carrying duty to preschool...

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is seriously awesome! From the squid to the colors you chose, perfection.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, that is precious!! How could she not love it? Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  15. BEST BACKPACK EVER! And awesome big brother points to Joe for knowing what Maggie really wanted.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I commented on this but it disappeared... just wanted to say that you would NEVER find a squid backpack in a shop, let alone one this cool. So despite all the hassles of sewing it, it was clearly well worth it!

    ReplyDelete

I love comments! I do my very best to respond to comments, by email or here, although I am often running late. I also try to follow and comment on my regular readers' blogs. So please let me know you were here!