The Very Best Way to Remove Blood Stains from your Sewing Project

I had hoped this article would be “project complete” for the Yellow Weekender duffel bag. I almost got there on my birthday.

That was before The Accident.

I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let’s review the progress so far.

Finishing the Sides

The bag side panels have rounded decorative corners. The class instructor has you sew a basting stitch around the curve, 1/4 inch in from the edge, then fold/press around that.

That seemed a little loosey-goosey for me. Instead, I made a cardboard template from the pattern, with the 1/4 inch allowance removed, and pressed the corner pieces around that. I was amazed how remarkably well this worked; the canvas molded and shaped itself around the corners with the steam from the iron.

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After attaching corners and strap pieces, both side panels were complete.

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Inside view.IMG_1800

The Main Zipper

The main zipper sandwiches between the outside facing and the inner lining and joins the outer sides together. Again this went well, even though the lumps from the zipper pull created less than perfectly-straight seams.

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This is where the project starts to get difficult; many layers of fabric end up underneath the machine, and it gets difficult dealing with all the layers of bulk.  Also, the bag is now one large piece, making it difficult to handle it in a precise way.  The extension table on the Juki is a BIG help here in terms of stabilizing this big mass of fabric as I wrangle it through the machine, but having a dedicated work table with the machine sunk into the surface would be even better.

The End Panels

The end panels of the bag are yet more difficult. Not only are there bulky seams, but it’s sewing around a curve. Plus, the end panels have the linings turned inside out and the body of the bag is bundled burrito-style inside them. Finally, there’s an embedded loop for a D-ring that must be caught into the top of the seam.

In the photo below, I’ve traced in a line for a 3/8 inch seam allowance, and I’m using Wonder Clips at the top where the D-ring loop is caught at the main zipper point.  Pins were simply no longer sturdy enough to go through the bulk at those points.

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The good news is that the Juki F600 is proving itself a capable workhorse that plows through multiple bulky layers of canvas, interfacing, lining, zippers, and even doubled-up webbing with almost no complaints.

At the top points with sandwiched webbing + zipper + canvas + lining + fleece + interfacing, it only occasionally refused to sink the needle through the fabric.

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When that happened, I was not able to get the needle through myself by manually turning the handwheel – it felt like the needle was literally hitting a hard surface.  Backing up the item just a millimeter or two to allow the needle to sink somewhere else solved the problem.

Otherwise, the machine’s piercing power and feeding ability is really meeting the test on this project, and making it easy to work with.  The knee lift allows me to use both hands to position bulky seams under the presser foot, which is way handier than I could have imagined before having a machine equipped with one.

Though you baste the D-ring loops into place before attaching the bag ends, even so the end panel seam is treacherous.  I had to twice reposition one of the D-ring loops to get it centered with the zipper pull.  When I stitched on the end panel, the loop missed getting caught in the seam.  How on Earth did that happen?

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To fix it, I had to rip the seam at top, cut a new loop of webbing, reposition and restitch the end panel seam. I deliberately cut the new loop an inch longer than the pattern directions, basted the loop shut with a zigazag, and allowed it to extend past the end of the seam allowance as I restitched the end seam.  Then I trimmed the loop flush against the seam allowance.  I may just do it this way from the start on the second duffel bag.

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The other D-ring loop suffered from a related problem; the end panel missed getting caught in the seam allowance at top, allowing the end of the zipper facing and some of the interfacing to “leak out” at the seam.

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Again, the solution was to stitch over the same seam line with a slightly wider seam allowance.

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The D-ring loops ended up slightly off-center, but at this point I reassured myself Perfect is the Enemy of Good.

The Bag Base

The base of the bag goes on at this point.  After stitching the base, you end up with several three-way corners, where each seam leading into the corner has several layers of canvas and interfacing.  If there was ever a challenge to getting a pointy corner to turn out, here it is.

I got out the sharpest pair of scissors in my notions chest – my Gingher Knife-edge Tailor’s Scissors.  I bought these after hearing Kenneth D. King extol their virtues – and explain their features – in his Craftsy Class “The Carefree Fly-Front Coat“.  They really are truly sharp scissors that, like the Juki, have no problems at all going through several layers of canvas, lining and interfacing.

As I trimmed a corner while forcing through the fabric way harder than I needed to, the scissors completed the cut, and my excessive force carried them right into my left hand, where they snipped right into my left index finger.

I’ll spare you the graphic depiction except to say the scissors are very sharp and with such a precise cut, blood started flowing immediately.  After applying pressure and bandaging the cut, I discovered that the lining of the bag had been stained by blood.

The bag was never intended to be washed. I deliberately chose not to pre-shrink the outer canvas at the start, because I had just enough canvas in the primary colors (yellow, blue) and didn’t want to risk not having enough.  So laundering the bag at this point has a real risk of ruining the bag.  Similarly, dry-cleaning is likely not an option because the bag has an inner zipper made from nylon, which apparently can get dissolved by dry-cleaning solvents.

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Spot-removing the stains with concentrated laundry detergent (above) and a toothbrush was only partially successful.  Using my remaining fingers, I Googled and learned that hydrogen peroxide is effective against fresh blood stains that have not had time to set.

And yes, it was remarkably effective. The hydrogen peroxide took out the blood stains without bleaching the fabric.  You can see a trace of a stain just above the middle pocket, but that is due to the laundry detergent.  I think I can spot-remove the detergent with plain water without immersing the whole bag. But I’m also thinking that once again, Perfect is the Enemy of Good.

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Where next? The bottom lining must be attached, then the outer straps must be cut and attached, then finally the bag base is inserted and handsewn shut.  It truly is close to completion, and it looks really sharp.

But this project also been way more work than I initially expected.

 

16 thoughts on “The Very Best Way to Remove Blood Stains from your Sewing Project

  1. Corey

    Recommendations
    1. purchase an inexpensive singer 15-91/90 either with a potted motor – gear driven or with a belt, i have both, i use the belt driven one which i upgraded the motor to 1.5 amps and sew leather, bags .. you name it. The potted motor version i sew jeans with, but they could still do the heavy duty work. Your Juki F-600 has a 0.9 amp motor, save it for garment construction, home dec project (pillows, slip covers) use the 15-91/90 for heavy upholstery and jeans etc it’s a good machine in lieu of using an industrial walking food machine.

    You need to ensure you are choosing the right machine for the job, not every sewing machine is built to handle everything. Older vintage all metal mechanical machines can do this work.

    2. To get blood out, simply was your bag in the machine with COLD water and laundry soap, do not use bleach or hot water, the hot water will set the stain.

    Reply
    1. mportuesisf Post author

      Thanks – one of the goals of this project was to try out a new machine and understand what it’s limits are. I agree with you that a heavy duty straight-stitch machine would be better for making heavy bags than the F600. But, it is doing a pretty good job.

      WRT washing in cold water, I am trying to avoid shrinkage of the outer canvas shell, which has not been prewashed/preshrunk.

      Reply
      1. Corey

        As far as washing your fabric in cold water with some Woolite, will not shrink your fabric. Hang to dry, do not put it in the dryer. It should dry over nite. With most of my sewing projects anymore, i don’t even preshrink my fabric because, I never use hot water for washing anything. Cold water and a good soap works terrific, especially for removing blood stains. I have had blood stains on white clothing and they even come clean.
        You should really look into getting a 15-90/91 vintage singer sewing machines. It will handle all your tough sewing jobs. I just didn’t want you to wreck your Juki F-600, btw, the Juki 2010 tlq could handle your tougher sewing jobs of bags etc. It is still a home sewing machine, but it is what I would call “semi industrial” The purchase prices is about same as your F600. I always recommend vintage singers since they are tough, and can handle most if not all sewing jobs and I believe in saving things from the past. My vintage machines will outlive me.

        Reply
        1. mportuesisf Post author

          I tried out the Juki TL-2010q at a sewing expo about a week ago. The machine was amazingly fast and powerful. I don’t have the space or facilities to house a true industrial, but a machine like the 2010q could be in my future.

          Reply
          1. Corey

            I think the juki 2010 tlq will be a good addition for your sewing, my ideal home sewing lineup would be: juki f600, juki 2010tlq, juki 5 thread serger, and a 234 thread serger, and a separate cover stitch machine. The juki 2010 tlq i would even be able to use my vintage buttonholers on it with the right shank adapter. I am also going to look at the singer 580 for embroidery since it is a fraction of the price for anything similar (1K versus 10K) for the same features and functions. I will also get an industrial machine at some point. Everything depends if I decide to make my hobby for sewing and knitting into a cottage industry business.

  2. Gina Comer

    Loving your posts about this project. Your learning process and solutions have many applications beyond this project. So sorry about your “mishap.” When I began reading I was imagining a pin stick not a full fledged injury. Love your attitude, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Or finished in many cases! Many blessings!

    Reply
    1. mportuesisf Post author

      Thanks! I’m glad you’re finding the posts interesting and useful. The amount of comments to my posts fell off sharply when I switched from pants fitting to bag making, so I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying this series.

      Reply
  3. John Yingling

    I feel your pain, my friend, both in sewing and getting cut by scissors. Making well constructed canvas and leather bags similar to the one you are doing takes a lot of physical strength to wrangle all that fabric through the throat of any sewing machine, domestic or industrial. After a few hours of cutting and sewing such a protect, you are literally exhausted. I say it feels like I’ve been wrestling an alligator!

    When I worked as a cutter for a trade show exhibit manufacturer, I was on the table trying to cut a wide piece of fabric with my 10″ Mundial very sharp and pointy scissors. With my left arm holding me up, knees on the table, and right hand quickly slicing through the fabric, it cut faster than I thought, and sliced right into the palm pad of my left hand. In a few seconds I realized I was staring at a bloody hand with a very deep cut. A few hours later after a visit to the local urgent care clinic and several stitches to close the wound, I was back at work. It was scary and I learned to be a little more careful while cutting on those tables; a tale tell scar reminds me every time.

    Reply
    1. mportuesisf Post author

      I have started the second bag, and though it’s progressing faster than the first, it’s still a lot of work. Precision work with heavy, bulky fabrics is definitely tiresome, like you say.

      And also thank you for sharing another story – I’m sorry to hear of your mishap, but it does make me feel a little better knowing that it could have been worse! In my case, the scissors made an oblique cut to the finger. If the cut had been more direct, I would have been in urgent care.

      Reply
      1. John Yingling

        I’m sure you’ve been considering getting a true industrial machine, and if you want to continue to sew heavy fabrics and even leather, you’re gonna’ need one. With industrials, you have three choices, lockstitch (conventional up and down, feed dogs move the fabric), needle feed (the needle moves in a somewhat circular motion, and with the feed dogs, moves the fabric through), and walking foot (normally for sewing leathers where you have two articulated feet that moves the fabric through along with the feed dogs). OK! I have all three types, and each has it’s virtues, but when the going gets really thick and bulky, the Brother walking foot makes mincemeat out of that thick stuff. If I could only get one, it would be a heavy duty Juki industrial needle feed machine. Check your local Craigslist for availability and cost.

        Reply
        1. mportuesisf Post author

          I have considered getting a true industrial, until after I read the threads about it on PatternReview.com. I have very little work space in my home; one little corner of an office, and one desk that I swap things in and out as I work on a project. For instance, to do assembly work on a project, I often have to swap out the wide table on the sewing machine, or sometimes the entire sewing machine itself. For large projects, such as pants, I do cutting and tracing on the floor.

          Industrials come with their own work table, they have their own maintenance requirements (such as an oil reservoir that must be filled and sounds messy), and are difficult to fix if something goes wrong; I’d have to call a service person into my home. Depending on the model (clutch versus servo) they can also be consistently loud during use.

          I think given my constraints, I’d probably be happier with a “semi-industrial” straight stitch machine like the Juki TL-2010q or the Brother PQ-1500s. Or a vintage machine that everyone swears will sew through tank armor.

          At some point I may have to bite the bullet, and replace the Anthrocart computer desk that has served me so well for all these years with a dedicated sewing station. But then, I’ll have the problem that with a dedicated sewing station with embedded machine, I’ll have no work space for cutting and assembly.

          Reply
  4. Josie

    Hi Michael,

    Sorry to hear about your injury. Hydrogen Peroxide is great for wound cleaning, and bloody clothes too. However, be aware that too much of good thing may ruin your project. H2O2 works as an enzyme, if you let it stand for a long time without water. It will put a whole in your clothes. I have done that. Take from a nurse.
    Keep up the good work. Love your new machine stitches, you work looks very professional.

    Thanks for sharing

    Aloha

    Reply
    1. mportuesisf Post author

      I took a scrap of the lining fabric and soaked in full-strength hydrogen peroxide and let it dry. It didn’t have ill effects.

      The lining, in the area where it was scrubbed, now has some interfacing bubbling in that area. Not ideal, but better than a blood stain.

      Reply
  5. Michael Theisen

    I enjoy your posts on all the sewing topics, both garments and household items. I’m also thankful your injury was relatively minor: I fear slicing a tendon or artery with a slip of the rotary cutter. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  6. SJ Kurtz

    I admit I read the entire post, anticipating the blood letting. Will it be the needle? The seam ripper?

    Not the GINGHERS!!!!!!
    Love hydrogen peroxide. Great bag, btw!

    Reply

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