industrial machines

The Weekender

June 3, 2013

weekender bag

weekender bag

weekender bag

weekender bag

tank: J. Crew / jeans: GAP/similar / shoes: Vince Camuto

pyrite pendant necklace: Native Clutter / howlite necklace: Native Clutter / ring: Street Bauble

strap deets


bottoms up


This is the fourth time I’ve made a Weekender Bag. The first three bags, gifts completed years ago, were done on an entry-level Brother sewing machine with Joann’s home dec fabric. That machine did surprisingly well – I only sewed through my finger once and the finished products were really nice. This time around was a bit different.



  • Amy Butler Weekender Bag Pattern
  • 5/8 yd Pendleton remnant from Denver Fabrics
  • Half a cow hide from Tandy Leather – there’s quite a bit leftover!
  • 138 bonded nylon in gold brown
  • 69 nylon in gold brown and natural
  • size 21 and 23 leather needles
  • 3/16″ cording
  • magnet for a seam guide
  • binder clips
  • thimble
  • Eco-Flo leather weld – this stuff is AMAZING. I basted the whole bag with it. Aaaand used it a bit too liberally in some places. It’s a really great product. Mine was purchased from Tandy Leather.
  • purse stabilizer – not pictured, but critical to the project. I used it to line the straps and the bottom section instead of using timtex (too flimsy) or veg-tan (too thick). Also purchased from Tandy Leather.
  • timtex for the front panels
  • YKK #5 Brass Closed Bottom zipper cut to 30″ from Zipper Stop
  • Kai Scissors 7250 – also not pictured but HOLY SHIT you need to try these. I’m not even going to say anything else. Just find some and cut something. You’ll never be the same.
  • Probably more stuff, but that’s all I can think of for now.
  • WELT FEET! I used 1/4″ welt feet. Huge help.

What makes this one so different? Materials. 100%. I chose to use leather, wool and substantial thread. Most machines don’t even have the lift capacity to accommodate the enormous layers that I ended up working with. And honestly, it took forever because it was kind of intimidating and I had to hand crank a lot and then my arms got sore…

Digression: I had a customer who was complaining about getting all of these injuries from her industrial machine. She said she was bruised and her hands were all messed up. At the time I was thinking, “Whoa lady, you are probably not qualified to work on this equipment. Why don’t you try to make and sell something else? That sounds terrible.” And now, I kind of get it.

For the straps I cut four lengths of 1.25″ leather strips and two lengths of purse stabilizer in a slightly narrower size. I used the Eco-Flo glue to baste the leather wrong sides together with the stabilizer in between. Once they were dry, I used my 1/8″ topstitching foot set to get even stitching. All topstitching was done with 138 bonded nylon thread. The pattern instructions have you stitch the straps to the faces twice horizontally, but I did boxes for more visual interest.

There are flaws and issues, but I’m not going to dwell on them. I will say I wish I would’ve ended the piping at the start of the bottom panel. It becomes too thick and it’s obscured anyway.


My bag would not have been possible without the help of a Kingmax GC0302 drop-feed walking foot sewing machine. This beast is my new best friend. I feel like we can overcome all obstacles together. I have plans to expand my accessories line and this thing is going to help me get there. I’m still learning for sure, but I’m getting more and more comfortable with how it operates.

This bag is my most belated Mother’s Day gift to date. Sorrs ma! It’s on it’s way!


Phew! Now what’s next?!? I have a half-finished Archer, I’m contemplating Datura and I reeeaaallllly want to make some Ballet Dresses. That means my next post will be about none of those things.

Denver Design Incubator

March 14, 2013

When I moved to Denver nine months ago, I really wanted to work in a creative industry. While job hunting, I came across a want ad for an industrial sewing machine supply company. Luckily, the folks at Ralph’s liked me as much as I liked them. Soon I found myself peddling parts and being immersed in the manufacturing industry.

Next to Ralph’s is DDI, the Denver Design Incubator. Read about it on their site if you have a moment, but it’s basically a workspace for budding designers. The facility includes eight industrial machines – including a blindhemmer, a buttonhole, a coverstitch, a serger, a drop-feed single needle and a walking foot. There are also dressforms, a gravity iron, a dressing room and 12′ tables.


dressing room


I’ve learned that a walking foot is a machine, not an attachment. The one at DDI is perfect for sewing leather clothing, lightweight leather bags and canvas. And really anything else you can think of where you might need a size 20 needle.

walking foot

Blindhemmers use curved needles and no bobbins. My limited mechanical knowledge assumes they function similar to a serger.


And here’s the basic, drop-feed, single-needle industrial machine. Folks, you can get one of these new, with a variable speed motor, table and stand for well under $1000. Most of the basic presser feet are around $5 a piece!

drop feed single needle

Aaaand here’s the serger. Whatever you do, do not cut the threads. Knot and pull.


Space is definitely an issue since you can’t exactly pack the machines up and put them in a closet. That’s why DDI and other incubators provide such a great opportunity for those who want to manufacture a product, but lack the space or finances for an industrial machine.

Soon, I hope, I’ll be sewing over there. It’s taken a few training sessions, but I’m almost ready to make shitloads of tees with that coverstitch machine.


The conclusion of this whole post is that I spent a lot of money on my Bernina 240  and I’m pretty pissed off about it.

What’s your take? Do you have any experience in the manufacturing industry? Have you used an industrial? Are you interested in trying one?

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