It's done! The rocket ship backpack is DONE! I finally finished it this weekend, and I don't think I've ever been this happy to complete a sewing project. It took me a whole week to complete, whew! Granted, this was a busy week, overwhelmed by single-parenting while my hubby was on a trip. But this project was also riddled with sewing machine issues and abuses of my seam ripper. After a grueling week, it is done and I am so relieved!
Here's the finished product:
Considering all the problems I encountered, I think it turned out pretty well and Ben is absolutely psyched. That being said, it could have featured mismatched fabrics, crooked stripes and exposed seams and he wouldn't have cared one bit. It is his very own backpack (cool!), with a rocket ship on it (super cool!) and made especially for him by Mommy (even cooler!) -- he is thrilled. And I have to admit, that makes all the obstacles worth it.
Before I go any further and begin my bitching session, I should clarify that Rae's pattern is super duper clear and awesome. This is just the type of project that is slightly too ambitious for me and a bit too demanding on my basic sewing machine. I've only done one zipper and attached piping once in the past -- both with less than satisfactory results. This project features both, plus thick fabrics to sew together. To add to this mess, I decided to add batting and a lining in order to make the backpack sturdy and "clean". Let's just say I complicated things for myself.
Anyway... Let's start from the beginning. I used stash fabric for this: a thrifted cotton tablecloth for the outside. I love the color scheme, the texture and the stripes. It worked really well with a small amount of thick brown linen left over from a previous project. I used an old Michael Miller polka dot print for the inside. For the piping, I made bias tape from Kona Cotton in chocolate.
To add to my challenges, my local fabric store didn't have the zipper I needed. Instead of a 14 inch, I bought an 18 inch zipper, and figured I could just cut it where needed. That actually worked out fine -- aside from breaking one machine needle when I careless sewed over the plastic teeth. Eek!
I got the zipper done correctly, including the lining on the inside. But for the rest of the backpack, I used the lining pieces as if they were just the back of the main exterior fabric pieces and sewed all pieces at the same time, resulting in exposed seams on the inside of the backpack (see further down). I didn't really think ahead properly.
With the applique completed on the front piece, I attached piping. That went okay, aside from the fact that, because of the thickness of the piping on the edge of the foot, my sewing machine couldn't "grab" all the layers and in some places, only sewed on the surface. I don't know if that makes sense. I probably should have used a walking foot or maybe a zipper foot?? Not sure. It was a big pain.
Despite all my complaining so far, most steps in this project were relatively straightforward. Making the padded bottom was easy-peasy, as were making the straps and handle, and attaching the sides to the top and bottom. I zig-zagged over the raw seams in the lining.
My next big challenge was attaching the front and the back to the sides. First off, my sewing machine missed some layers in the curves and I had to whip out the seam ripper to un-sew, re-sew and try to include all layers (again and again). Second, there was so much thickness in some parts that I had a hard time stitching in straight lines and close enough to the piping. Additionally, my thread also broke way too many times, but I couldn't figure out if it was a tension issue. In summary: UGH!
When the front and back were finally sewed on and the backpack was in one piece, I zig-zagged all raw seams on the inside. I ran out of brown thread by this point, so the zig-zags are beige.
And then, lo and behold, the backpack was done. Yeehaw.
So, final words on this project? It is probably one of the most strenuous sewing projects I've tackled, but I think it's due to my adding fabric layers and having sewing machine issues. I think Rae's pattern is as clear as can be. I was never confused. And despite my messiness and mess-ups, the result is pretty darn close to her prototype. So, I would conclude: success! I think Ben would agree.