Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ukulele Bag

My younger daughter, known here as Sprite because she flitted from one thing to another as a child, is deeply into music:  listening, singing and playing.  In the past year, she's started playing guitar after we gave her an acoustic guitar and she started lessons.  She used her birthday and Christmas money to buy a ukulele for herself and just recently, her Dad and I gave her an electric guitar for her birthday.

She has been taking the ukulele to school to practice for an upcoming concert.  The uke came with a thin nylon bag and I felt she needed a more sturdy bag to protect her favorite instrument.

I found this tutorial by Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night  and used it loosely to get an idea of what I wanted to do.  I didn't get a lot of pictures of my process and I rather wanted to recreate the original case.  The case in the tutorial opens up completely down the neck of the instrument, but Sprite's case only unzipped around the top.  As I didn't have a zipper on hand that would unzip that long, I opted to recreate the original case.

I had one yard of  quilting fabric that had black music notes printed on a white background from a local quilt store that I wanted to use for the lining.  For the outer fabric, I found an aqua fabric printed with silver butterflies that was quite pretty and suited Sprite's esthetic.

I started by tracing the uke onto posterboard and adding 5/8" to the outline. I started to trace the original bag but couldn't get it to lay flat for me, so I traced the instrument instead.

To make it identical on both halves, I folded my tracing and trimmed or added poster board to smooth it out and make it even.  Then I checked the uke for size:

It looks slightly off, but wasn't.  This view was photographed at an angle.

I notched the top and bottom of the uke and where I wanted the zipper to begin and end.  You can see the marks in the picture above.  From here on out, I completely deviated from the tutorial.  I also don't have pictures, so this isn't a tutorial, just a brief description of what I did.

First, I quilted the fabric using a loose stippling design around the butterflies.  This is still new to me, so my stippling is very much at a beginner level, but Sprite liked it.  Next I used string to measure from one notch to the other going on both directions.  The original bag was 2.5" deep, so I wanted to stay with that.  After adding 5/8" seam allowances, I cut two pieces that were 21" long and 3.25" wide.  Then I cut two pieces that were 2.5" wide and 17.75" long.  This would be the top piece with the zipper opening.

If you add this up, you can see that I've already made a mistake here.  I caught it as soon as I cut it, but it was too late by that time.

For my long piece, to get a 2.5" completed depth, I needed to add 5/8" (0.625) to both sides, or 1.25 to 2.5 to get a total cutting width of 3.75".  I calculated correctly, but looked at the wrong line on the ruler and cut 0.5" short.

The two pieces for the zipper opening were correct.  I divided the 2.5" depth by 2 to get 1.25.  Then I added the seam allowances back (0.625 * 2 = 1.25) to get 2 pieces each 2.5" wide.  To fix my error, I decided to use a 3/8" seam allowance and whacked off 0.5" after the zipper was inserted.

I also cut a 2" x 2" piece for a "pick pocket" and other 3" by 8" piece of the butterflies fabric for the handle.

Once the fabric was quilted and the pieces cut, the rest of the bag went together smoothly.

  1. Sewed a regular white zipper as a center lapped zipper.  My zipper was longer than my pieces, so I sewed a bar tack across the bottom and cut off the zipper.
  2. Stitched the sides together, then pressed the seam allowances to one side and top-stitched the seams.  I pinked the edges but the pinking shears really didn't like the thick quilt sandwich.  
  3. Pressed and stitched the pick pocket to the bottom piece of the bag.
  4. Pinned the bottom to the sides and prayed a lot that I had measured correctly and that I wouldn't end up with too much or too little side to the bottom edges.  Breathed big sigh of relief when it all fit.
  5. Stitched bottom to sides right sides together as I didn't like the white binding I'd bought and used my serger to overlock the edges.
  6. Sewed handle by folding in half long ways, stitching down one side and across the width, turning right side out (yea Tube Turner!), pressing and top-stitching. Eyeballed the handle placement and sewed down.
  7. Pinned and sewed top of bag to sides.  Overlocked edges with serger.
  8. Realized the bag was now completely inside out WITH THE ZIPPER CLOSED.  
  9. Spent 10 minutes perplexed as to how I was going to open that zipper.  Common sense prevailed -- I pinched the side of the bag on the zipper pull and managed to open it a little at a time until I could reach in and unzip it the rest of the way.
  10. Turned back right side out and  it was done.

Closed with ukulele inside.


Pick pocket

I should have pressed the seams -- it would have looked so much better, but I just ran out of time.  By the time I finished, it was 11 pm and I had to be up at 4:00 am for a 6 hour drive to our old house for her birthday party.  She's asked me to embroider her initials on the front, so I will press it then.

It was a success -- she loved the case and the ukulele fit perfectly.  She loved both fabrics and the pick pocket was a cute and useful addition.  Now, when she carries her instrument to school, it will be better protected and better dressed.

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