Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shop That Shit

I don't know why it's taken me so long to make myself a shopping bag, but it has. Ha. 12x7x14 This color is gross...I don't know why I ever bought it. I was probably fabric crazed, or something...


Here's my version of the increasingly popular chip-bag backpack. 15x17x7.
Cordura & Top Gun. I think it turned out pretty well.

Love the wedged bottom.
Small side pockets for a pump or bayonet or whatever.

Straps galore.
I'm likin' these shoulder straps okay. I've been using them on my own backpack for a while, and they're good riding straps. They're two inches wide, which is the classic Jansport/Eastpak width...but for a hiking bag, you'd probably want to go wider...unless you're tiny.

Double bottom.

Removable padded back/doc poc.

Ah! which way is up?

Almost done.From paper to fabric.

And here are the dimensions of the pattern. NOTE: This doesn't have the seam allowance added, so if you're gonna make it, take that into account. I use a three-quarters inch SA, but I think half-inch is pretty standard.
And the side view. The arrows are where I put my compression straps.


Postdiluvian 22incher This is the shiniest Cordura I've every seen...I'm starting to wonder if it's Cordura a'tall...I got it from Perfect Fit McDonald. Yep.
I forgot to take a closeup photo, but this bag has a cinch loop on the side for bottles or whatever you want to stick on the side of your bag. Pretty cool. Most bottles these days have some sort of loop on 'em, so you can just put a 'biner on the strap and hook 'er on. I think it's a pretty good minimalist system.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Here's an apron I made for my friend Mike. Pretty sweet.
This has a side-release buckle on the apron "strings"...which is awesome.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Sewing Machine! Redux

We're learning things here at Leif Labs...learning things the hard way, the expensive way. ...Introducing my second industrial sewing machine: The Tacsew T111-155, walking foot needle feed, fo' shore. The Sailrite Professional that I purchased in September did not meet my sewing needs (I'll explain below) so I bought the 111. Now I have more sewing machines than bikes (four--I also have a Kenmore domestic machine). Ha.

It's a race!
The Tacsew is a copy of the Singer 111w-155, and from what I can tell, the Singer was a heavy-duty contender for some time. [Note: as I learn more about the Singer 111w155, I've come to realize these machines are quite different, despite the shared numbers. The Singer has a vertical-axis hook, belt drive, and no oil pump. Go figure.] This machine is also similar to the following machines (in how they feed fabric): Sailrite 111, Seiko STH-8BLD-3, Juki DNU-1541, Consew 206RB-5, Yamata FY5618, Rex RX6-7D, Artisan 618-1SC, Singer 411U967A, Durkopp Adler 867-190040, Durkopp Adler 267-373, Pfaff 1245 6/01 CLPMN8...and more, and more. I can't believe how many industrial machines are out there. Damn.
(Note, the European brands often use a different needle system than the Ameri-Asia case you were wondering. Ha.)

I'm pretty sure Tacsew is part of the industrial sewing branch of the Tacony Corp., whose central offices are located right here in Missouri (Saint Louis 'burbs). I bought the machine online from Hazlet Sew Vac Inc., aka Industrial Sewing Machine Man (ha) in Jersey, who had it drop-shipped from the Lou. After I ordered the head, Richard from ISMM called me to make sure I knew I was just ordering a head, which was a sweet thing to do. Aw.
Oh, and they have complete Juki DNU-1541's for 1400 bucks, shipped, which is the cheapest I've seen 'em. (Note, this does not have the safety mechanism. That's another $50.)
If I had to do it again, I'd probably go with the Juki or the Seiko and just use my Ultrafeed for zigzag work. I got the Tacsew 'cause it has the same bed size as the Pro...and I'm not sure how I'm going to set up the Pro just yet. And the 111 is pretty cheap. Yeah!

From the Tacony Web site:
"Tacony is a primary importer and distributor for most of the famous brand industrial sewing equipment, including Tacsew, Juki, Brother, Singer, Consew, Pfaff, Kenquilt, Sussman, Thompson, Pacific, Naomoto, Johnson and Yamata."

Fyi, I'm pretty sure walking foot needle feed is also called unison feed and compound feed...but I could be wrong...

So oily.Sweet, this has two tension knobs. I had to pretty much max out the top tension on the Pro to get proper tension when sewing webbing, even with a stronger spring. Oil pump! Hot.
Big bobbin. And you can see the oil wick there, too.

So this is my main problem with the Pro: look at the feet: they're almost squared off in the front, and there aren't any teeth on 'em. Needless to say, this machine won't ride over thick seams, and when it does, the top tension goes out (usually only while sewing near an edge, though). Boohiss. Similar machines to the Professional: Artisan ZH-305, Reliable MSK146B, Tacsew T146RB, Consew 146B. I'm not exactly sure who makes the Pro for Sailrite. I don't think it's Tacsew, as their factory is in China, while the Pro is made in Taiwan. Hmm...
I think this kind of machine was developed for sewing wet suits. And it'll also make a good sail machine, I think, because it zigzags like a just doesn't climb as well as it should for bagmaking, even though it's a walking-foot machine.
Now look at the 111's feet. They're ramped and they have teeth. The Utrafeed's feet look a lot like this, but they have even bigger teeth. Oil bath!What's underneath? The built-in knee lift is pretty sweet on this...not that I've used a lot of knee lifts. I used a pedal lift on the Pro, which was pretty nice except for the occasional old-person-hits-the-gas-instead of-the-brake-and-runs-into-a-Taco-Bell mistake. Vroom.
And that's the SCR servo motor made for Sailrite there with a cogged belt--super nice slow-speed control and power. Yeah. It's pretty quiet, too. I've heard that some servo motors are kinda noisy at slow speeds, but not this. Though, for the price, it should grant me wishes or play music. For my Pro, I'm thinking about getting a Reliable SewQuiet 4000...I've read some good things about it...but we'll see. My sewing machine has an eye. Nice. Too bad it's not red...then I could call it Hal. This machine can take a size 23 needle (right), which is huge. I use a size 20 (left) for sewing T90 thread. The best 88 cents you can spend if you sew. Ha.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Here's a tool pouch I made for my friend Dan. He made the mistake of letting me pick the colours, hence the somewhat goofy palette. Folded design. And in typical Leif Labs fashion, the pattern is overly complicated. I don't think it needs the rounded flap...but it does make it look like a tiny messenger sexy.
I probably made these too deep. I think five inches would've been better (these are six).
3D inside pockets. I like making pockets like this--where I sew the bottom edge first and then fold it up. I think it takes some stress off of the bottom stitching...especially if you're putting sharp things in your pockets.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Duraflex au No No

Ouch! You be broke.
This is why I use ITW buckles and not National Molding's. This is from my friend's bag. Granted, this buckle was made four years ago and was used daily...but still, I've had a few of these buckles break on an old JanSport bag of mine.
Though, I'll probably have an ITW buckle break one of these days and I'll look like a dick.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Kraftwerk 2!
This is a bag for my pal Liz. She and her other half, Lance, own & run Permanent Records, one of the sweetest record shops in Chicago (Ukrainian Village, 1914 West Chicago Avenue). Go down there and check it out. They have the cutest in-store cat ever, Zaireeka.
Another right-shoulder bag. It seems a lot of my friends like these...ha.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dino DNA

I just made this hot apron for wear at work. And I think Leif Labs just got itself a power animal.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Leif Labs in Ecuador!

My friend Jay just got back from down south and brought back these awesome photos of his bag in action. Thanks, Jay!

Hey Babe

I was trolling through some old photos the other day and found this pic.
Proto-Leif Labs in Cork, Ireland. That's the great grandfather of the current 15incher.
Good times.

Saddle Shower Cap

Here's a seat cover I made for my friend's Brooks. Two layers of lightweight Gore-Tex. Woo.
I made one of these for my Brooks saddle a while ago but just used Velcro to attach it...which works kinda okay (I need to put some more Velcro on it). The drawstring works a lot better, though.

Baby, I Love The Way You're Shipped

Two hundred yards of seatbelt webbing. Yeah!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


19incher. Acrylic tartan, Cordura nylon, Top Gun polyester.
Yes ma'am!