First, welcome to my little sewing space. Take a look around?
My first pincushion! Care of friend and sewist, Melizza.
Melizza gave me one of her adorable handmade pincushions (in vintage teacups!) for my birthday. She chose just the right colors for me.
My sewing space as it appeared the first day I set it up.
A shot from above, complete with dog helper. Seriously, when this dog isn’t sleeping the day away upstairs, she’s hanging close-by. I kind of love it. (That business card? For a seamster shopkeeper in Greensboro who’ll teach me all I need to know about sewing!)
I use the cutting board and iron to press fabrics as I sew. The measuring tape is my stop-gap until I can find the metal ruler I know I have stashed somewhere in the apartment. The notebook: I plan to keep notes on each project I attempt; little learnin’ book. And finally, pins! I got the cheapest ones. I stood in front of the wall of options at JoAnn, staring at silk pins, glass-head pins, quilting pins, straight pins, curved pins … not to mention to the colors! These were the simplest ones I could find, until I know exactly why I’d want the glass-head pins, long pins, short pins …
My sewing machine, dressmaker's sheers, first fabrics!
The machine (a beauty!) was a gift from my parents. Did you know my dad’s mom made her living as a seamstress? That crosses my mind sometimes. The shears are a gift from a Durango-family friend (thank you, Mary! As soon as I get to know this machine, you can expect a gift of thanks). And the fabrics came at the end of an hourlong perusal with only a little hand-wringing.
And now to the sewing
I’ve been reading and watching how-to videos about sewing for more than a month. I built a little library of basic information in my brains, but there’s nothing that replaces actually running fabric under the presser foot.
My idea? Gather basic ideas from trusty blogs for how to construct a simple tote. And construct a simple tote.
This is a mini tote. I wanted to practice my basic skills before I dedicated a lot of fabric to the project.
I used this video, How to Make a Tote Bag, as my guide for my first attempt. Cute video, cute bag. And I think the only problem was that I don’t have enough basic knowledge to use it as my tutor. Evidence:
Oops. I did that.
This was before I realized that I could sew super close to the edge, and that I should double back on my final stitches to reinforce the seam. Consequence: it unraveled and looked sloppy.
Hmm, does that look right?
This is what I think the video tote bag probably looks like on the inside. Or maybe I should have done some extra sewing to “pin” the seam flaps down? In any case, I knew I ultimately wanted a lined tote bag anyway, so I went on the hunt again.
And I found this photo tutorial, Sewing 101 on Craft Snob.
Onto another mini version of the tote:
It looks so cute!
So, this version requires the sewist to kind of cuff the bag around the base of the machine to apply one of the final seams. This little guy was just too small to do that, so I ended up using straight pins to “finish” it and see if what I had done so far worked.
It did! So it was time for a bigger version:
I love the blue liner. *Love*
It worked! I did it!
See that pucker at the top seam? It wasn’t on purpose; I accidentally made the outer bag bigger than the lining. And see how the corners aren’t quite square? They were supposed to be square.
Which brings us to my biggest hurdle so far: apparently I have a hard time sewing a straight line — even though the machine does most of the work! (Feed dogs. They are the best. And I like that they’re called “feed dogs.”)
So after a noble but errant tote project, I set out to YouTube to figure out what I was doing wrong. And I came to this video (Sewing machine basics: sewing in straight lines): practicing straight lines by running paper under a threadless needle! Brilliant!
My first attempt to sew straight.
My practice sheets started out a little crooked. And I realized I needed to let go of the stress, figure out what the machine was doing (it veers stitches a little to the right), and trust myself to make the (very slight) corrections to keep the line straight.
I got better.
This was a clear reminder that half of my sewing education is going to be along these lines, repeating exercises to get me ready for the real show.
Next step? Revisiting the blue-lined practice tote …