Friday, May 31, 2013

Sewing Scrap Hanging Bag Tutorial

Those of you who sew a lot might be familiar with this problem. Heck, I've really only been sewing for two weeks and my sewing space looks like this:

Lots of junk fabric, loose threads and other assorted crap. I thought, as a courtesy to my three (temporary) roommates, it might look better if, perhaps, our dining room table, which serves as my sewing space, didn't look so awful! So, I decided to simultaneously make a functional, easy project as well as test out the more swanky functions on my new machine :)

Here is what we're making:

Isn't it cute?!

1. Cut a rectangle of fabric, the dimensions of which can be up to you. just remember that it should be twice as wide as you want your finished project to be, as we're going to fold the fabric in half. And you should add about 1/2" to three sides as a seam allowance, if it matters that your dimensions are exact. For this, I used the leftover fabric from my early scrapped shirt project.

2. Hem the top.
Do this by folding it over about a quarter of an inch, and then folding that over again so that the cut edge is inside. Press with an iron. Then, sew! I sewed it pretty close to the bottom of the fold.

3. Next I cut the straps. I wanted mine to be about an inch wide, but you can adjust to whatever width you want.
Basically, just cut two straight strips of fabric.

4. Hem the strips all the way around. I didn't care if the backs of mine showed the wrong side of the fabric, because I'm just using this to store garbage, basically.
My hems are pretty small, definitely less than 1/4".

If you don't want to see the back sides of the fabric, then you'll have to cut out four same-sized strips. Straight-stitch them all the way around, right sides together. Leave about a 1" (or bigger) space un-stitched. Turn the strap right side out by pulling the fabric through the gap. You can push out the corners with a pencil (but be gentle!) to make them more corner-y. Then you'll just have to stitch the gap closed.

5. Now, I wanted to put buttons on mine, half cause I think it's cute and half cause I wanted to try out the buttonhole function on my machine!
This is how it turned out! I think that it looks soooo good, which is maybe mostly cause I didn't really know machines could do this. :) I think that each machine is different, so I won't go into detail on how I did it. But my machine came with a buttonhole foot, and you just put that on and change the stitch selection dial. It's really very easy. I just followed the directions in the manual.

6. Now, to open the buttonhole. In case you have never done this, it's simple. First, put a pin across the buttonhole just in front of the top line of stitching. This will protect you from accidentally severing the stitch and ruining your buttonhole! Then, use your seam ripper to cut the fabric. Like this:
It takes a little bit of wiggling and maneuvering to cut the fabric easily, but since the fabric I'm using is a simple woven cotton it took me maybe 20 seconds to do each strap. (I have no idea if it would be harder on a knit fabric, but then, I've never really worked with knits.)

7. Now it's time to make our actual bag. Fold you big rectangle of fabric so that the right sides are together. Match up the edges well! Pin them so they don't move, and then sew with about a 1/4" seam. You only have to sew two sides. Don't sew the folded side, and don't sew the side which will be the top (which you already hemmed). That stays open.

When you're done, cut a notch out of the seam in the corner so that it will be less bulky and more of a square corner when it's right side out. NOTE: only do this for one corner! Don't do it for the corner where one side is just the folded edge... cause then you'll have a hole in the corner!

8. Then, turn it right side out! It should look like this:

9. Now, attach the straps. I did this with just a short straight stitch back and forth on each one. This bag, for me, won't hold anything heavy so it doesn't have to be super reinforced.

I placed my straps on the top hem, so that my straight stitch was basically in the same place as the hem stitch. This just makes it look a little less messy, I think.

10. Fold the straps down and find where your buttons should go. I marked the positioning with a pencil. I also sewed the buttons on by hand, cause I'm not yet confident enough to use the button foot on my machine. Someday I will!

I chose to use two different kinds of button because I thought it was cute. You can use whatever you want!

And ta-da! That's your bag! It's both cute and functional, and easy to make. I think this would be good for any beginning sewer (sew-ist?) as a little confidence boost. You can do it! :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New, exciting things!!

YOU GUYS! Look what I went out and impulse-bought yesterday :)

Isn't it beauuuuuutiful?? It's a brand new Brother sewing machine! My old New Home, bless its ancient heart, did not work well enough to satisfy even my completely meager sewing needs. About the only thing it can do is straight stitch, which I learned when doing my pants tutorial the other day. A zigzag would work for about 3 stitches, then it would fail to catch the second point of the thread and end up being a straight stitch anyway. That isn't gonna fly with the projects that I have in mind, and I plan on becoming a competent sewer (someday!) so I wanted to put a little upfront investment into myself.

So far, this thing works just beautifully. I only tested it for a little bit last night, but tonight and in the coming days I plan on testing out everything it can do! Then I'll write a little review of it in case anyone in the world is interested.

So what projects do I have planned? Well...

I got the fabric that I ordered online yesterday! The yellow is a twill, which I'd like to make into a pencil skirt. The flowery one is a nice lightweight jersey, and the blue is more of a medium weight knit. I don't have specific plans for those yet but rest assured, when I do make something I'll share it here!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Flared to skinny pants tutorial

Hello! I hope that you all enjoyed your three-day weekend... I know I did! Today, the boyfriend and I went to Goodwill because I saw online that they were having a sale - 25% off everything in the store, for Memorial Day only! Obviously, I was all over that.

I got a lot of stuff (about 5 tops, a dress and 2 pairs of trousers for only $24), and I was really excited to find a pair of black stretchy ankle pants, from Gap. For $3 nonetheless! I've been looking for a while for a nice pair of ankle-length pants to wear to work during the summer, so that I can stay looking professional but not always have to wear dress pants.

So here they are...
I don't know that it's very easy to tell from this picture, but they are slightly flared at the bottom. NOT the best look for an ankle-length pant! So, my mission was to make them skinny. I love the look of a skinny ankle-length pant. I think it is professional but still fun-looking. So here's how I did that!

First, I put my pants on inside out. You can see on the waistband that they're a curvy fit... generally, I'm bigger on the bottom than on the top (I'm trying to lose some weight) so a lot of the pants I buy have a curvy fit. I find that sometimes these are a little wonky, where they look more like a flare than a similar cut jean which has more of a "straight" cut. So maybe that was the problem here. Anyway...

I figured out where I wanted to start taking them in - for me, it was at/just below the knee. I pinned them from there to the hem. Then, carefully take them off - don't stab yourself with needles!! Also, it is important to do this on the inside seam of the leg, not the outside seam. According to every tutorial I've seen, it will look pretty bad if you do it on the outside seam.

I also used a marking pencil to make a faint line along the pins, just to give myself some better guidance when I was sewing.

Then, straight stitch from the already-existing seam all the way down to the bottom. Your new seam should align better with the existing seam than mine does.. see how there's like a lumpy-looking seam area? You should come into the existing seam at a gentler angle, so it looks more straight. It's easy to see mine cause I had to use white thread... my novice sewing kit doesn't contain any black... but obviously you'll probably want to use black so it looks better!

After you've done your one leg, carefully try them on again and see if you like the fit. If you don't, you can sew it a little tighter. Or, if it's too tight for your liking, you can rip the seam and try again. It's easy at this point, with only a straight stitch.

Do it on both legs! You can see here that the seam on the right (which is my left leg) is shorter than the other one. I had to go back and fix that because it looked weird.

This is what it looked like once I fixed it... haha, oops. At least it's on the inside so that nobody can see it!

After I had both legs sewn to the correct width, I cut off the excess fabric. Then, I did a zigzag stitch as close to the new edge as I could. My old, ornery machine has a problem with zigzag stitch for some dumb reason... so I did a tricot stitch instead and that seemed to work.

Ta-daaaaaa!! Forgive the poor lighting, I don't know what happened there. But they look so much better! No longer do I have pants that look like I simply bought them way too short. Now, they look like they're meant to be ankle length!

Hopefully that helped if you have any pants you've been needing to make more narrow. There's no reason why you couldn't do this along the entire length of the pants leg, you'd just have to make sure you followed any shaping along the knee, and that you didn't take in the crotch in a weird way.

Leave any questions in the comments, and I'll answer them the best that I can! Happy short work week!

Friday, May 24, 2013


Do you like sundresses? I like sundresses. So do all the fine folks around the internets! And today I saw that over at Melly Sews, they are doing a 30 Days of Sundresses for June! So I thought that I would just post a link to that. The page I've linked to also has the patterns from last year's sundress-a-palooza.


Following the shirt tutorial!

Ta-da! Here are some pictures of what I'm up to with this shirt tutorial.

This is my behemoth machine... it's ridiculously heavy, plus I have no arm muscles, so it's hard to transport. But it gets the job done (mostly)!

Now, on to the project.

This is the bottom (skirt) part pinned onto the back part. The corner doesn't match up too terribly well, as you can see (maybe) in the top of that picture. I straight stitched it and then I used a zig zag stitch, which...
Did this. Can you see? Sorry for the bad quality picture, it didn't look blurry to me when I took it. But see how it's all puckered? I am not sure what happened there. Is something wrong with the tension? Did I pull on the fabric? It's a mystery to me!

For the record, I have more pictures, but my phone is being resistant to uploading them. So I'll do that later!

Here is my total progress so far on the top:

 The skirt part on the bottom kind of flares out, it doesn't drape like the fabric in the tutorial because that fabric is a knit. As I said before, I was both too impatient and too cheap to buy a knit when I went fabric shopping. The square looking part above that is the back piece, which is kind of a mystery to me because in the tutorial there is little to no instruction on how to cut it, and there's no picture of it. C'est la vie!

UPDATE: And then... I decided maybe not to work on this anymore, because I got in a big order of actual apparel fabric that I'd ordered online!

I was wondering though, whether anyone had followed this tutorial and gotten good results? I didn't think it was very well explained and even though it looks easy, maybe I should have followed something with clearer instructions.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What am I doing?

This is what I am currently trying to do. It is my first sewing project (since I made a stuffed frog in 7th grade home ec, which I was and still am way too proud of) and, uh, I guess it's going?

My problem with this was finding fabric. I went to JoAnn's, because Milwaukee doesn't have any awesome fabric stores that I found in my approx. three seconds of online searching. And their apparel fabric section is, I guess, limited. So, rather than settle for $12/yard jersey, or wait for any online order to ship, I thought "I MUST SEW NOW!" and went with some (adorable) calico. Which, you know. Isn't for clothes. But, I will soldier on, and even if I decide never to wear what I end up making, it's okay. Because it's practice. And the fabric was on sale.

Later I will post pictures. Once I have made more actual progress.

This is a new blog, I guess

Hello, strangers of the internet!

I'll be surprised if a living person actually reads this, but I wanted to have something on here so I could see what this thing looks like while I set it up.

This is supposed to be a blog about my attempts at learning to sew. I'll probably add a lot of tutorials I find elsewhere to begin with, but the hope is eventually to add my own things.

Ok, bye!