Friday, April 14, 2017

Ellen's Esplanade Sew Along - Week 1

This is one of the Easy Street Patterns from ChrisW, so feel free to move on ahead if you are on a roll and don't want to stop!

To start out, you need to have the Ellen's Esplanade pattern purchased and printed, pick out your fabric, and gather your supplies.
Judith made this awesome Ellen's Esplanade, looks like leather!
Easy Track:  Go ahead and cut out all your fabric pieces and interfacing and fuse it all together.

Fast Track:  Cut out everything, fuse the interfacing, and start sewing.  Finish sewing. Then make more.

Oh, you wanted a little more guidance?  Ok, here goes!

First off, sit down, grab a tasty drink and snack, prop up your feet and read through the pattern at least once.  It really helps!  If things don't seem to make sense, read again, and then just trust the pattern.  If you get truly stuck, we're here to help!  Decide if you want to add the extra pockets or not.  You can go simple with a slip pocket, but the extra ones are so cool looking and very nice!
Ellen's interior pockets on her Ellen's Esplanade which is named after her.
Now you are ready to pick your fabric and get it ready!  If you are using all quilting weight cotton, you may want to pre-wash your fabric.  I'm on the fence if I need to or not and most of the time I don't because I don't want to wait for it (or iron it extra)!  If you are making a bag you expect to wash in the future, definitely pre-wash!  If your fabric has a funky smell or feel, pre-wash.  If the fabric is custom printed, you should probably pre-wash because some of the printing processes leave excess ink on the fabric and you don't want that rubbing off on your clothes or skin!  If you are procrastinating on getting to the cutting part, pre-wash! ;)  When I do pre-wash, I always throw a color catcher sheet in with the new fabrics and wash on cold.  If you are worried about the tangled mess of the ends fraying, you can either serge it or use a zig-zag stitch on the cut ends.  I also dry on low heat.
This is custom fabric from the Snowy Owl, already washed and ironed!
If you are doing vinyl, leather, or pleather, don't pre-wash.  I once made the mistake of trying to wash a thrift store leather jacket.  I was young.  Now I'm older and wiser.  Or at least older.

If you are doing home deco weight fabric (Think fancy curtains and couches), I can't help you decide.  Most of those are probably dry clean only type stuff, so probably not a good idea to wash it.

Here's the odd thing I just learned recently - some people pre-wash their shape flex interfacing!  That seems excessive to me, but I guess it can shrink since it's a woven.  Obviously you can't dry it in the dryer (fusing to itself seems like a distinct possibility), so you need to have a lot of room to hang it to dry.  I've never tried this and I honestly don't think I ever will just because I go through so much and buy it by the bolt.  If you decide to wash your interfacing, let me know if it shrinks!

You also need to decide what kind of interfacing you'll use.  If you want a slouchy style bag, go ahead and use the fusible fleece.  I like my finished bags to have nice structure, so I'll be using some flex foam as my thick interfacing.

For the rest of this week (end) go ahead and cut out all your pieces and get the interfacing fused onto the back sides.  If you are a weekend sew-ologist (aka Bagineer) like me, you may just decide to go for it and get as far as you can. Feel free to work as fast or slow as you want, we won't judge you!

Make sure you post progress pics in the group, we love seeing how everyone is doing and also it is great encouragement!


  1. I'm one of those that prewashes all my fabric. Sometimes the cottons aren't the same and shrink differently, and my handbags always wind up in the wash eventually. I'm with you on the interfacing though, I buy by the bolt and have no desire to prewash it! I've never noticed any shrinking after the fact, but I do wash my bags on cold when I have to.

    1. Good to know! I used to prewash everything, but when I got a little fabric happy and was buying faster than I could wash, I lost track and just gave up. ;) I definitely prewash for clothing and baby items, but purses are hit or miss for the prewashing.

  2. I always prewash, too, because I am a garment sewist first. It made me really conscious of the prewashed fabric smell and feel (I like having my own scent on it, just like a cat would, LOL!). I have also tried my hand at pre-shrinking SF101. For me, the results were mixed. A piece from one bolt shrunk significantly, while the piece from the other one didn't. It really doesn't take a long time to do--it dries super fast, so a little pre-planning makes it possible. I make sure to Scotch guard all of the bags I make--it cuts down on dirt significantly.

    Thanks for hosting this sew along, Rachel! It was the motivation I needed to get another EE bag made! :)


    1. Interesting! I wonder if they changed their interfacing or it was just woven tighter? I leave the scotch guarding to the customer, that way I don't risk messing it up! ;)

  3. Great suggestions and direction in this blog!! Looking forward to seeing g all the great bags!!

    1. Thanks for letting me use your pics! I'm excited to see all the great bags too!


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