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        1. [rambling notes on] Mini Messenger

          Here is what was new in constructing the Mini Messenger bag:

          500 denier Cordura

          2″ dive belt webbing

          Coats DB-92 polyester thread

          For all intents and purposes this is a simple bag. The 500 denier Cordura was a good light-weight alternative to work with instead of using the 1000 denier body and Ballistics boot. Considering the size of this bag, and its intended use, Ballistics and 1000 denier would have been heavier than desired. The 2″ dive belt webbing made a much more complete bag. If seatbelt webbing had been used then the cam buckle would probably not (have) work(ed) as well. Seatbelt webbing is too thin, and with its smooth pliable finish, is prone to slithering its way out of your normal pinchers used in cam buckles. The dive belt webbing was easy to work with, with the 21 gauge needles and Coats&Clark “button & carpet” thread – not to mention (welcome the bias) dive belt webbing simply has a more secure feel, and trustworthy stance. However, as mentioned in previous posts, if you were to build a bag that had a two-sided adjustment using a larger 2″ side-release buckle (like on the Dow Bag), then the seatbelt webbing is a must, as dive belt webbing does not easily (if at all) work in a ladder-lock-sliding-type-situation. The DB-92 thread was a fantastic alternative to the previously used Güterman “extra strong” thread, it has a bit more tooth to it, was extremely strong to the pull, and the elastic quality was low*. Also, it makes a very clean looking stitch, so all the topstitching looks professional (as it should).

          Overall, construction of this bag was simple. The main compartment is the basic format, with the front panel comprising a little more of the entire girth of the bag, than the back panel. Across the front is a single billowing pocket with Velcro closure, lined with some of the 18 oz. vinyl coated nylon (also used for the main body’s interior). The only thing done differently with this billow pocket from the last few made, was that it was stitched together as two separate pieces, using bias tape all the way around (instead of using a “French seam” across the top, and bias tape only on the sides). The difficulty of using bias tape for this is how to turn corners (90 degree angles or not) and keep the shape precise. Bias tape can do it, as it often does, and even here you can see that it works very easily in large radius rounded corners like that of the flap. But it seems that this will be a trial and error exercise, with a lot more practice before it is perfected (any advice – out there – would be appreciated). Either way, the bias tape is still nice and tight, and certainly protects edges** and any other fraying from happening. The flap uses the common combination of Velcro and buckles. The Velcro was set up to be minimal to ease in how hard you had to pull when opening the flap (on the Dow Bag, you really have to pull on it due to the 4″ wide Velcro). One upgrade on the buckles is that there are a second set of anchor points for the straps, for, if and when the straps are not being used. This is becoming more common on current “messenger” bag designs, and entails placing two receiving ends of the same size buckle, into the top seam of the front panel of the bag. This is a fairly good idea, as half of the time (if not more) that these bags are in use, the straps are unnecessary, and this gives the buckles a place to be tucked away instead of them dangling about. The interior of the bag uses a simple 5 pocket set up. No zippers this time around, just a bit of Velcro on the largest compartment. Also, all of the inside pockets are lined with 1.9 oz. silicone coated ripstop, to keep things clean without adding too much weight. Finally, back to the shoulder strap. The cam buckle was installed with the 2″ dive belt, which is all one long piece that runs up from the cam buckle and then over itself again to the other side of the bag. Instead of using the Coats DB-92 thread on this last component, the needle and thread were switched out for the heavier Coats&Clark “button & carpet” and the 21 gauge needle to permit the stitching to pass. With everything in order the bag was complete.

          * One thing to consider in the thread topic, is how much does your thread stretch. One hypothesis could be that certain applications call for a thread with no stretch, while others call for lots of stretch. All subjectivity aside to applications like making a garment out of lycra, which would otherwise definitely call for a bit of stretch in the thread, what is more peculiar, is where and when this stretch factor might enhance the structure (or not). Take the Silk Jeans for example, that thread (100% silk Güterman) stretched at a rate of about 3% (in simpler terms, a fair amount of stretch for thread, but definitely not overboard), that was just enough to cause some of the seams to pucker up a little after they were stitched together, thus creating that somewhat specific look that factory hemmed jeans have, and often lose, when they are hemmed at home. Consider that the thread is being stretched a little bit every time it is on the uptake which means that the actual length of the thread, per stitch, is a little shorter than the length of the material stitched. Therefore when the thread is in place and pulls back against the weave of the denim (in this case) it causes it to bunch up a little (by little, that means hardly at all, but when all these thousands of stitches are added up, that accounts for a lot). The same scenario is true for very in-elastic thread, but with the opposite results. A good example is when sewing very light-weight nylon, like the 1.9 oz. ripstop used on this bag. Because this ripstop is so light it tends to be easily pulled in and out of position, so in order to keep it in place and not shift around, a thread less prone to stretching is desirable. If something more elastic were used, then when the seam is in place, the material will be pulled short from the thread contracting (because the denim was so heavy on the jeans, this factor is greatly decreased) causing poor alignment.

          ** Because the Brother DB2-B791-015 is a needle-feed machine, the issue of using “folders” for trim/bias-tape/edging, is questionable. Surely there are “folders” for this machine, as the bed has the right anchor points tapped into it. However, that kind of tool is hard to find for such a specific machine and will have to wait until the next inflow of cash comes in, and maybe even the next trip to the Los Angeles Fashion District’s industrial machine shops. Definitely, in this case, a good “folder” for 1/2″ tape would be ideal for making bags like this one. You could use real nylon ribbon too, which would be much more durable than the cotton type we’re using now, found at the fabric store.

          <<< Excerpts from earlier rambling drafts. Construction materials: 500 denier Cordura Nylon for the main body, interior pockets, and outside billow pocket – 1000 denier Cordura Nylon for the bottom boot – 1.9 oz. silicone coated ripstop for the interior pockets – 18 oz. vinyl coated polyester for the main interior – 2″ dive belt webbing for the shoulder strap – Coats DB-92 polyester thread for all stitching except for using Coats&Clark “button & carpet” for the shoulder strap and adjustment buckle. Other misc pieces are the usual side-release buckles, Velcro, bias tape, and nylon webbing (in this case 3/4″).

          Although this bag was intended to be a bit lighter weight than the usual, using 500 denier Cordura was an economically based maneuver. Unfortunately due to timing and availability of the particular color set, this combo was shifted resulting in the heavier vinyl coated nylon interior (18 oz.) and of course the 500 denier in place of an all 1000 denier shell. Originally the bag was going to be 1000 denier all the way around, with a 10 oz. vinyl coated nylon interior. So, albeit a bit lopsided (material weight-wise), the bag is still a success. The 500 denier Cordura was great to use, and despite a projected shorter life when it comes to abrasion, no other limits seem to be at stake. Using the 1000 denier boot will also prevent any pre-mature wearing of the 500 denier.>>>

          10 Comments so far

          1. Dave October 10th, 2008 1:34 am

            I also have a b791, and love it too much. No… scratch that… there is never too much love for the Brother! I am also having difficulties with finding a “folder”. Why is it that folders wont work on a needle feed system? What about a folder foot?

            Keep us posted if you manage to find a folder that will work for the Brother!

          2. admin October 10th, 2008 9:31 am

            Well, we can only assume that the difficulty in having a folder for a needle-fed system is that the attachment around the foot would need a slot large enough (elongated enough) to allow that movement of the needle fore and aft. However, considering that there are all sorts of folders, binding attachments, and welting feet for walking-foot machines, there must be binding attachements for needle-fed machines. We are on the lookout for some, and will certainly post if we find some. The first place to look will be Dunlap Sunbrand, they stock pretty much everything else for Brother machines, so it seems a likely source.

            As always – cheers to the Brother –

          3. Debby March 2nd, 2009 6:42 pm

            I am looking for the bias tape or ribbon referred to in this article. Would prefer the nylon ribbon. Could you give me a source?

          4. admin March 9th, 2009 11:25 am

            The bias tape used here is your standard “Wrights” double fold bias tape, which is a polyester based material. For better, more durable nylon bias tape, go to seattlefabrics.com or other outdoor gear supplier, the only catch is that these tapes will require a “folder” or “binding” attachment for your machine, otherwise lining the tape up can be a nervous experiment. But if you have very steady hands and amazing vision (i.e. x-ray vision) – you just might be able to get the nylon tape to line up properly from front to back.


          5. Diane July 15th, 2009 6:11 pm

            What kind of inside material is it? ( orange color ). Is it double sawed with the blue Cordura Nylon? Thanks

          6. admin July 16th, 2009 12:47 pm

            The inside material (orange side) is an 18 oz. vinyl coated polyester (VCP). it is very abrasion resistant and extremely water proof. If by “double sawed” you mean double-sided, then no, it is not double-sided, the VCP material is separate from the Cordura exterior.

            Thank you,

          7. Matthew Mahler August 9th, 2009 10:04 pm

            I want to make a diaper bag soon. I like the cam lock buckle idea. Where can I buy this buckle. I’ve tried a plastic cam lock before with a different bag, & it would pop open when I loaded it up. Does your cam lock work better. I’d like to try a different brand.
            Thank you!

          8. admin August 10th, 2009 9:38 am

            The best (and they are plastic in the generic sense) cam lock buckles are made by ITW Nexus. There is a link to ITW Nexus in the sidebar of this site. But, here is a link to speed up the process > http://www.itwnexus.com/catalog/index.php/dw/op/a/3/c/0/p/30 < this link should display their 2" eccentric cam buckle, that's the one you want. Also you are in luck as ITW Nexus will provide a certain number of free sample, so you can get one for free by contacting them. There is one catch though: in our experience the only webbing that works securely with the buckle (due to it's burly character) is true dive belt webbing, here is a link to some of that > http://seattlefabrics.com/webbing.html#Nylon_Dive_Belt_Webbing < this webbing is not sewable on a home machine, beware. You may be able to get away with two layers of seatbelt webbing, but even that can be too slippery, and end up moving on you a little. So, in short: ITW Nexus > cam buckle
            Dive belt webbing

            We hope this helps, thanks, NFCO

          9. daksha mistry August 23rd, 2009 1:48 am

            Require micro adjusting buckles for swimwear about 8 mm. Can you you help.

          10. admin August 25th, 2009 10:36 am

            Sorry, we are not a wholesaler of this kind of thing.

            Thanks, NFCO