Saturday, June 2, 2012

Middle School Math

I'm always up for a sewing challenge....even when my schedule is when my husband came to me a couple weeks ago needing squeeze bags for his upcoming hunting trip, I jumped in...

First off, I had to find out what a "squeeze bag" is...well, a little research told me they are basically tubular bean bags that stretch vertically when squeezed. Used for long range shooting, you rest the stock of your gun on the squeeze bag...when aiming, you squeeze the bag and the pressure causes the bag to go up, raising and lowering your gun with steady it also provides comfort for extended shooting sessions. Okay, I guess that makes sense...

Next, I had to figure out how one was assembled. My husband's friend who is going on the hunting trip has one...but wanted additional sizes and a few I borrowed the one he has (shown in the top photo on the right side) and took some notes. They wanted the the circumference a little larger...the bags filled a little fuller...they wanted three height sizes - 4.5", 6.5", and 8.5" (all with the same circumference)....and they really didn't want or need the Velcro handles (good deal!). Now I have some measurements and an idea of how they are put together.

The next step was to get supplies - this step made me smile - normally, I can't get my husband to step foot in a sewing/crafting/quilting shop, but he wanted input on the fabric, so last Monday we headed out into my world - our first stop being JoAnn Fabrics. We needed a pliable canvas-type fabric - strong and sturdy yet soft and squeezable...and of course, it had to be in a "manly" color or print...after walking the entire fabric section, I showed him a camouflage fabric I thought would work...and after a quick call conferring with his buddies, we were at the cutting table getting a piece of Realtree Camouflage Twill cut. Great we have the we needed the "stuffing" - I had purchased several bags of poly pellets already, but after finding out I was making six squeeze bags, we decided we needed at least four more. Now here is where I start giggling - JoAnn's only had one bag in stock - so we grab it and check out....needing three more bags, we head to Hancock Fabrics, just around the corner - they only had teeny tiny bags that were way then we headed across the street to Michaels - and after walking the entire store on our search, we found them and were able to get the three additional bags needed. Yep, my husband had to go to JoAnn Fabrics, Hancock Fabrics, and Michaels all in one afternoon - it was too funny (and something that will probably never happen again in our lifetimes)!

Supplies and notes in hand, it was time to get to work. Here is where the middle school math has to kick in - I knew the diameter we were going to use for the circular ends was 5.5" with a .5" seam allowance added - so now I needed the circumference measurement to cut the pieces for the tubes...well, digging deep into my brain for those math skills from many years ago, I remembered that diameter x pi = circumference....hmmm, and I never thought I would ever need that in my adult life. So now I know the circumference is 17.25 and I had the height measurements they wanted for each bag, so I was ready to cut. First I fused a nice, soft, medium-weight interfacing to the back of the twill fabric, to give it a bit more stability and form...then I cut all the pieces - 12 circles and 6 rectangles. I started by sewing the rectangular tubes first, leaving an opening in the center of each for turning and filling...then added the circle caps to each end. Let me tell you, if you need practice with curved piecing, then making squeeze bags is definitely for you - by the time I attached all twelve caps, I was an expert! I then sergered all the seams, as these bags are going to have a lot of use...and let's face it, men are not delicate creatures - these bags are going to be thrown around and punished. Each bag was then turned, filled 90% full with poly pellets, and the openings hand stitched closed. It cost me and average of just under $10.00 to make each custom bag (the poly pellets were the main expense) plus labor (which I told my husband was going to be EXPENSIVE)...not bad, since a single bag sells for $25.00+ in hunting stores....and these were exactly what they wanted. Challenge completed...and plus my husband and his hunting/shooting friends are happy...

 As a little reward, I am taking the afternoon/evening off to go on a date with my hubby - we are headed to the Swine Festival - yes, you heard me correctly - the Swine Festival (where cork meets pork). It is actually an outdoor benefit event for the viticulture and enology program at Des Moines Area Community College -  fifteen of central Iowa's finest chefs prepare samples of gourmet pork dishes and fifteen Iowa wineries will pour samples and offer wine for live music and other assorted activities. It should be a fun evening and I plan to relax and enjoy myself...


  1. Well done on the squeeze bags, Belinda! They turned out great and I know that Travis and his friends are thrilled to have custom created squeeze bags (thanks for the lesson what a squeeze bag is).

    Hope you have a fabulous time at the Swine Festival!


  2. Wow...that was a amazing! You're husband is one lucky guy that you are so creative and gunho.
    Swine and wine....sounds great! Have a great time!

  3. Belinda, you are so amazing and well I can't wait for Lois to comment on your night events. This ought to put her over the edge. (lol). You deserve a road trip. Have a great night. Hugs, Mary A.

  4. ohhhh well done on the DH for tackling all those stores in one day .. bless him ... and way to go on the squeeze bag ... better not show my DH otherwise I will have to re read these instructions again and you will hear me from over here moaning at you hehehehhe love mouse xxxxxx

  5. I'm so glad my DH doesn't hunt anymore, though I do miss venison chops. Nice job! You'll be the hit of the hunting party. Vicariously, of course.

  6. Amazing use of your math skills! I guess the teachers were right that we would need them one day. Who knew it would be for sewing! They turned out great and am sure hubby was very happy and appreciative of your efforts.