I first developed my slapdash ways as teen rebellion when my mom was teaching me to sew. One of the things she insisted on that I absolutely loathed was that I had to finish all the edges. To this day, my mother does not own a serger as she fears the threading. So all those edges were finished with zigzagging. Zigzagging takes forever and is ugly to boot. So in my rebellion, when I sewed unsupervised I did NOT finish my edges. It was liberating.
I actually never had a garment fall apart, surprisingly, but at some point in my later teen years I came around to my mom's side and started finishing all edges, a habit that persists to this day--though I now blessedly have a serger. I might even go overboard in finishing my edges. I know that many people don't finish edges that are protected by lining but I do: both the fashion fabric and the lining have every edge serged. Unless I am doing a very narrow hem, the enclosed edge of the hem is serged. Every.edge.
You can imagine my annoyance, then, when after the sticky of some mango sticky rice I purchased a street fair leaked all over my backpack and I put it in the wash I pulled it out of the washing machine looking like this. Argh! Because the edges of the pocket bag had not been finished, they just disintegrated beyond the stitching line in the wash.
I was especially annoyed because only a couple weeks earlier I had finally gotten around to fixing the bottom. It had a rip in it from law school (let us note that I graduated from law school 10 years ago last month), from carrying sharp-edged binders in the same place and same way. The hole had finally gotten to the size where things were going to fall out of it. I cut a double layer of rectangles in the heaviest fabric I could find in stash, a linen(ish) tablecloth purchased at a thrift store several years ago. I stacked the rectangles and attached them to the seam allowances on the inside so the weight would be supported on the already proven seams rather than the hole-y bottom. Then I stitched around the hole to secure it to the fabric. Voila! Good as new.
Some might say I should have taken this as a sign to just get a new backpack, and I was tempted. This is not my every day backpack, a black affair that is more "professional" (lol). I commute on foot or by bike, grant me the backpack. But I use this backpack weekly for grocery shopping and other schlepping. It would be a justifiable purchase.
Nowadays, backpacks--like iPods--are available in a variety of colors to express your personality (I mean, so cute, right?). Back in the dinosaur age when I went to college, backpacks were like Model Ts: you could have any color you wanted, so long as it was forest green. (They might have also had black, but I'm pretty sure that is the extent of the choices available.)
This is actually not the first iteration of this backpack. Jansports have a lifetime guarantee, and I actually ripped an identical hole in the bottom of another backpack with the same binders in law school. I believe the original backpack was purchased for college. In law school I was too poor to buy a new backpack, so I used the lifetime guarantee to send old ripped backpack to Jansport (after trying unsuccessfully to fix it myself) and they sent me this one in return, basically the same as the old one, in the same forest green color.
I thought for a while about how it would be fun to have a cute backpack instead of a dinosaur-age non-self-expressing forest green one, but damn it, this backpack is perfectly good (other than the ripped bottom and shredded front pocket). The materials and workmanship (other than failing to finish seam allowances) are still in perfect condition--which is why Jansport offers a lifetime guarantee!
So I bit the bullet and took a couple of hours to fix the shredded pocket and zigzag every last exposed edge in the entire backpack. For the pocket, I first trimmed off all the shreds, then zigzagged the edges. Then I sewed the pocket edge back onto the backpack, approximately following the still-extant original stitching line. You can see in the lower right how much seam allowance was originally used for this operation--I lost nearly an inch in the shredding incident. It took time and patience but wasn't difficult.
And now it's as good as new! Or close enough for my taste. I am sure someday something irreparable will happen to the old forest green dinosaur and I will replace it with something self-expressing in the turquoise or floral family. But the old forest green dinosaur has lived to see another day, and will cart home groceries for years to come.
Consider this your PSA, when you find yourself mind-numbingly bored while finishing your seam allowances: Yes, it really does make a difference!
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