Birthing a bag!

Many of you are amazed at how I “make” a bag – and honestly, I am too sometimes. When I began sewing bags, I was amazed at how they are made with so much thought into every step of the process, as with any sewing pattern. But bags were different – there was BIRTHING involved. Yes, I said BIRTHING! It is literally when you make a bag and birth it through a small opening that you “saved” during the making of the pattern. So basically you sew up the exterior and interior (lining) parts of the bag separately. In the example pictures below, Sew Yours – Sweetheart Shoulder bag, the external part is put INSIDE the lining so that right sides are together. Then I clip the hell out of it and make sure my seams are matching up and sew around the top. Of course I MUST remember to keep the inside zipper pocket unzipped for turning later. Yep – Just a 10″ zipper pocket is what this entire bag is going to come through.

Now that we I it clipped and sewed around the top, I realized I had the handles sewed in which they should have been stuffed in the bag during the sewing! I picked all the stitches between the two handles, stuffed the handles down into the linging of the bag and


Lines at 2:30 AM

About last night – I woke up in the middle of the night, wide awake! I finally also had the DESIRE to sew which was awesome since I had been struggling all week for motivation. I decided to tackle the Michelle bag by Dig the Bag which involved quilting the front slip pocket. I decided to take on the project – yes, at 2:30 AM. I had a good laugh because I was doing lines in the middle of the night.

Here are some photos of the process:

1st you have to draw lines on the vinyl (fabric) to create the quilted pattern. Then you make sure you have PLENTY of bobbin thread – thus the video of me winding the bobbin. You don’t want to run out of bobbin during a line! hahahaha! Then you just sew, following the lines. Oh and there is foam underneath the fabric to create the puffiness.

My first week with my Juki DNU-1541S

I guess prior to beginning documenting my last 24 hours with my Juki DNU 1541S, I should tell you how my story became.

My sewing journey began in my early adulthood after I graduated from college. I made an impulsive sewing machine purchase – Pfaff Select- but had no clue what a fine machine I bought! I loved that sewing machine – she was my ride or die! Prior to the pandemic, I found Indy, size inclusive sewing patterns which reignited my sewing flame. I loved the clothes I made and I gained body confidence in the process by being able to make stylish clothes to fit my plus size figure. My love affair with sewing took off and I mostly wear me-made clothes today.

THEN one day, I found bag making. Lindshandmade Twofer bag pattern was my very first make. I was beside myself in aww over what I made! If that wasn’t enough, I gave the bag to my mom who doted on it AND has gotten tons of compliments from even strangers. Unfortunately as my bag making flame grew bigger, my Pfaff became unrepairable. It was a sad day! My sewing machine repair guy had a low-end Pfaff model for $50 so I bought it from my experience with the Pfaff name and carried on. Unfortunately though, this Pfaff stopped behaving so I was off to finally find a good replacement machine. I chose the Janome HD1000 due to its easy availability at Joann’s (I am impulsive, remember), price point, mechanical, and Heavy Duty to deal with sewing bags. I have fallen in love with her over time but she grumbled at some of my thick layers as I progressed to using Vinyl AND the stitching wasn’t pretty when going through thicker layers.

Through the various bag making FB communities and watching YouTube videos, I learned about industrial machines that would make bag making better and leave you with pretty stitches. Of course I was intrigued BUT couldn’t fathom paying $2000 for a sewing machine to JUST sew bags (Its a myth – watch Sandcastle Designs video). I realized how much sewing has brought me joy and it is my hobby which costs money. Through various posts of my bags on my personal FB page, I have received so many compliments and requests for an Etsy shop. On 1/24/2022, I decided to finally purchase the Juki DNU-1541S after a lot of research. Sandcastle Designs’ had the best advice when I was trying to settle on a machine – Get one you can grow with and can do more than you are doing now! Well I knew Leather was of interest so I went with the Juki DNU-1541S. I purchased it late one night at Carolina Forest Vacuum and Sewing website in Myrtle Beach, SC. The next day I found out that it was a 4-6 week wait!!!

Fast Forward to 2/23/2022 – Southeastern Freight dropped my Juki DNU-1541S. I was so nervous about managing setup and getting it into my house but read lots of posts where people did it by themselves. Oh and of course I took the next two days off work to play! That night, I unpackaged the pallet from its saran wrapped protection. The table came fully assembled so I chose to start there (plus it was light). I had to move it from my garage to the living room not far away AND only 2 small steps. The table was a cinch to move and get in despite the servo motor being attached. Next up – the heavy beast – the head of the machine! Luckily the box had these wonderful rope handles so I dragged it with these handles to the steps into the house… pulled it up the steps and into the house… Wooo hoo! I pulled up the Jukie Junkies YouTube video Part 1 to watch what to do next. I removed the parts box and dug in. It wasn’t so bad after all! The most difficult part was lifting the HEAVY head of the machine onto the table. SUCCESS!! By this time it was late and I was exhausted from all my work so decided to finish the rest in the morning.

The next hardest part of the setup – making sure you are picking the right screw for the step you are on of the setup on the head of the machine. By they way, I paid for assembly and literally thought that mean everything (including the head assembly pieces) would come put together with the exception of putting it on the table. They also forgot to provide my Caster wheels so I contacted Carolina Vacuum and Sewing where I bought it and they explained the assembly was for the table (apparently there are a TON of screws and things to putting it together so it is worth the cost of assembly). They also started the process for getting me the Caster wheels, so I thought! I received an email exactly a week later from Carolina Vacuum and Sewing asking me to MAKE SURE I didn’t miss this box. It really irked me because on the phone with her the previous week, I looked AGAIN all over to search for these elusive caster wheels! They hadn’t “appeared” since the last time I looked THOROUGHLY!

One caveat to not getting the caster wheels is that the foot pedal/bar on the T style table juts down a little but would clear the floor if there was the 2″ caster wheel. I got real resourceful here and used old textbooks and yearbooks to provide the height the wheels would have for a short term solution – I mean they don’t really think I could wait to play with it for the wheels to come!?!?!?

One clever tool I did use for assembly is a rivet tool to set the little nails into the rubber parts that protect the machine from the table (He recommended using a screw driver but I didn’t have as good of luck as with the rivet tool.)

Next up threading the Juki – I watched several videos on this to get it threaded. I also watched videos to wind the bobbin – both went off without a hitch. By the way, you get a FULL thread bobbin with the machine! Remember they tell you to HOLD your tail threads when you start sewing – well I did this but apparently not good enough so it unknowingly sent it into the safety lock because of the thread nest I created. From my experience with my machine when I get a nest, I just cleared it and thought I could keep going. ONE PROBLEM – It wouldn’t pick up the bobbin thread. Frustration set in as well as my Google search powers which lead me down to rethreading it several times in hopes of fixing it. I knew it wasn’t the needle since it was brand new. Somehow I landed on how to “reengage the safety mechanism” and remembered this is what the S in the model number! Steve at Sewing Gold has an excellent YouTube video on this that explained it the best! All you do is press the silver button on the table part of the head, while pressing it down, roll the hand crank back until the silver button clicks (you hear it and you can feel the silver button descend further which is the sound/feel of success). Once this was corrected, my bobbin holder was able to turn again and the bobbin thread picked up without a problem.

Next up – sewing! I was working on the Kaya Papaya Sunset Beach Tote so this was a good project to work on. The only thing was, this bag pattern was VERY domestic machine friendly. I found that I had to use my Janome for the quilted cotton parts but where there was vinyl, I used the new beast! I swear I had the biggest cool-aid smile on my face! It reminded me of the same feeling I had when I took my first ride on my new jet ski! I knew I was happy with this machine and the money I INVESTED! Also no thread tails were harmed after my initial mishap!

One thing I was most nervous about was the speed of the machine. Mine can go fast but I am learning that it is kind of like driving for the first time… Eventually you get the feel of the pedal because I was able to sew at a slow enough speed until I gained experience with the machine. I literally have it set on whatever setting the manufacturer had it at when they assembled my table.

Also I had purchased several feet in anticipation of needing a more narrow foot. The foot that comes with the machine is not a problem at all so far. I am sure I will figure out how to use the feet and when as I learn the machine.

Things I had trouble with

  1. The Knee lifter wasn’t working but I also haven’t spent time to research the issue because the foot lifter on the back of the machine is what I am use to anyways. I will research this though and figure it out
    • One of the bolts wasn’t tight enough.
  2. Speaking of the foot lifter on the back of the machine – I hope she loosens up because it is like flipping a breaker to lift the foot up and down

So what next – I am going to finish my Sunset Beach tote and start an all vinyl Estrella by OroRosa Patterns.