Nov 082017

Last week on the internets, I saw a sewing project that had impressive interior structure, but also looked soft and squishy. I suspected a foam and asked the sewist what she used. Surely enough, her response was Pellon Flex Foam. This is a thin (.125″) foam sheet that can be sewn, pressed, manipulated, whatever. Like interfacing or batting, but simply open cell foam. Ever in need of new things to try (true) and in dire need of more creative supplies (diametric opposite of true) I hopped on to Amazon and got a roll of Flex Foam in the non-lined, non-fusible version. The lined and fusible version are probably easier to handle and more convenient to use, but I didn’t know what I was going to use it for and the bare, naked foam on a roll version would offer the most options. Plus, it was available immediately and was WAY cheaper.

While I waited for delivery, I thought of ways I could use the stuff. Some obvious choices are shaped containers, like wine bags, pouches, etc. Not being a drinker, I started thinking about bags and pouches, but didn’t want to use the same old non-foamy methods as usual. For those I use lining, interfacing, batting, stabilizer, etc. in varying combinations depending on the item. To make the foam easy to insert or use, I thought I’d go for French seams. And hey, while I’m at it, I haven’t used the snap dies for my press for a while. Why don’t I make them with snaps instead of zippers – I’ve used plenty of zippers this year.

This is how I get myself into trouble. A new, unfamiliar interlining product, French seams I don’t usually use, and forcing snap closures or additions. I can’t do anything easy.

Nonetheless, I carried on and whipped up a couple prototypes when the foam arrived. I am a big believer in sharing failures alongside successes because how else can one learn? I hate going to blogs where folks casually show perfect finished products in flattering lighting and stylish props with no indication of the effort to get there. Save that shit for your Etsy shop! I need to see how you fucked it up! I want to see the chewed up seams that wouldn’t get through the presser foot, the crooked alignments that forced you to change your pattern, and hear all about the challenges you overcame to get that product to do what you wanted.

We all have different priorities.

Thus, the first tries:
Foam lined, snap pouches, with flaps closed.
A simple, French seamed, foam lined, snap closure pouch in blue print on the right, another in stripes on the left. Since they were made from the first scraps I grabbed that didn’t look hideous, they are odd shaped and sized. If something fits in these nicely, it is by pure chance alone.

Foam lined, snap pouches, with flaps open.
Same pouches with flaps open.

While I consider these failures, they aren’t really. They’re merely NOT GOOD ENOUGH. The one on the right was attempt #1 and I rather miscalculated (which implies I calculated at all, which I didn’t, everything is freehand) how much SA (seam allowance) would be eaten by the seaming and the foam puff, so the foldover flap is noticeably larger than it needs to be. It isn’t terrible, but it bugs me. Also, the lining fabric is not adhered to the naked foam anywhere but the edge seams, so the fabric … I don’t know a word for this .. it exists away from the foam. It doesn’t lay flat, or next to it. As the pouch moves, the lining moves and the foam doesn’t. Improvement choices are to make the lining tighter so it can’t move or to attach the lining fabric to the foam so there can be no excess when the seams are sewn. And I don’t like French seams inside the pouch. You don’t notice them at first because they’re fine, but once you notice them, they bug you. Or, me, at least. As well, doing boxed bottom corners with French seaming was new to me and I fucked it up, ripped it out and redid it. The seams ended up a bit fatter than they ought to have been if I’d done it right.

On to attempt #2 on the left. To make the flap SA match the pouch SA, I did the flap with French seams, then the pouch, making sure to aim inward on the lining fabric as I went to help with the loose lining fabric problem I had on the #1 pouch. These worked; the flap is not significantly bigger than the pouch, the lining fabric is snugger, and I finagled the boxed corners with French seaming better (seam edges first, box, tuck raw edges before box seam). I still don’t like it.

So, that sucked. I do realize I set myself the hardest, rockiest path up this hill, so I am not surprised. For the next attempt, I took away one of the restrictions, the French seams – since I like them the least. Also, French seams on pouches with flaps removes any fast or easiness from the seaming. I mean, really. Why do French seams which are best for fast, clean, interior seams that are enclosed when a third of your project must be seamed and turned out before you can assemble the body? It is illogical. I’ve found (from a few minutes of reviewing blog “tutorials” on this subject) that the people doing them this way are also simply seaming the edges up and leaving them with an exterior seam showing. Yuck. No thank you. That would be fine for giveaway-freebies or initial children’s sewing projects, but I don’t want that. It is also NOT GOOD ENOUGH and I’m going to die. I don’t have time to make expectedly lower-quality work.

I’ve gone on for a while now, so I’ll need to show attempt #3 tomorrow.

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