September/October 2012 Summary

Hello sewists! It’s November, which means it’s time to put the shorts away and stay warm inside while you get started on some Christmas crafts! If you’ve fallen behind on Sew Me Your Stuff posts, here’s a recap of what’s been covered the last couple of months.

Need to go back further? Past recaps:

Sewing Patterns:

Sewing Machine Help:

Notions and other Tools:

A Bag’s Life:

Remember, if you ever would like to see a topic covered by Sew Me Your Stuff, just submit it here!

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Helpful Link: Sewing Patterns are Your Friend

I came across this blog post on Pinterest and thought it was absolutely great. I have covered how to use sewing patterns in a few past posts: Choosing a sewing pattern, A Bag’s Life parts 1 2 & 3, and this video on reading patterns.

I loved this blog post though and really wanted to share it. If you’re ever in a jam, it’s a helpful guide to reading all those numbers on the back of the sewing pattern.

Click the image to read: Tales of a Trophy Wife: Sewing 101: Patterns are your Friends

Learning how to use sewing patterns is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

A Bag’s Life Part 3: The Construction

And now the epic conclusion to the Sew Me Your Stuff saga of how to go from pattern to product – Market Tote Edition.  This post detailed the process of choosing an easy pattern for a beginner and finding notions in the store. This post will guide you through understanding the pattern and setting it up to get started. Now it’s time to learn how to turn that pattern into a finished craft!

The last step mentioned in the previous post was cutting out the pattern pieces needed for your project. The next step will be to trace the pieces onto fabric, but there’s a little preparation before you do that.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

First, you’ll need to iron the fabric to smooth out any wrinkles. Wrinkles can distort the traced pattern and cause your final product to be pretty wonky. This fabric that I’m using I picked from the home decor section of the fabric store, and it’s a simple woven cotton. I highly recommend a fabric like this for a beginner’s craft. It was great to work with!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next you have to flip your iron to a low setting and press your pattern pieces flat. The folds and creases in the paper can also distort your lines, so it’s very important that you completely flatten the pattern piece.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Before you begin tracing, lay the pattern pieces on the fabric to be sure that you’re leaving yourself enough fabric for both pieces. The pattern instructions will often contain a guide to laying the pieces that you can use to help you with this step.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

To help you trace the pattern accurately, you should pin the pattern to the fabric. If your fabric is folded, pin the pattern through all layers. This thin paper can easily be shifted while tracing, but pins will hold it in place.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next it’s time to actually trace the pattern. Because all of the edges are straight, I used a ruler to guide me. This isn’t always possible, but if you can then it will help you keep your lines accurate.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

You can see in this picture that I completely traced the outline of the pattern, but very importantly I also traced the markings on the pattern that indicate where the pocket and straps should go. Make sure you transfer all markings from the pattern to the fabric!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next it’s time to cut! With all the extra markings on the fabric, be sure you only cut the lines that you’re supposed to.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Repeat this process for all pattern pieces. It may be most time-effective to trace all pieces and then cut all pieces, but because of the layout of these pieces I decided to do them separately.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

From here on out I’ll be following the instructions included in the sewing pattern. It’s very important that you start with the first step and follow the instructions carefully. (I actually skipped the checkstand hanger loop)

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Midway through the process. Webbing straps are pretty easy to sew! Notice that all pins are perpendicular to the path of the sewing machine. Most sewing machines can tolerate horizontal pins like this, but if your pins are vertical it can damage your sewing machine!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Sewing the side seams. I had some crookedness in my stitches, but this fabric was very easy to move through the machine.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Cutting the last stitch!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

And voila! We have a bag!

Hopefully this series has helped you see how easy it is to go from cutting the pattern to putting your new tote bag (or other craft) to work. You can really surprise yourself with what you’re capable of making once you get the hang of sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

Notions to Know

There are a lot of crafts and garments that can be made with just some properly cut fabric and stitches, but to expand your repertoire you’re going to need to learn about notions. Notions are basically any non-fabric part of a garment or tool used to create a certain effect.

In this post and this post about buying your beginning sewing supplies, as well as in this video, you’ll find a lot of basic tools and notions that will help you construct a basic craft or garment. Now that you’ve moved onto sewing patterns and are getting a little more advanced, you’ll encounter patterns that call for specific notions to create specific effects. Here are a few that I ran into a lot as a beginner that left me confused or intimidated.

  • Buttons
    Buttons are a basic but important sewing notion for beginners who are learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    We all know buttons. But actually attaching them to a garment takes a bit of effort – you might want to look for a sewing machine with a buttonhole stitch to make these easier. Some machines even have a stitch to sew on buttons, but personally I usually sew notions like this by hand to gain more precision. There will definitely be a post or two in the future about sewing buttons!
  • Zippers
    Zippers are important basic sewing notions for beginners learning to sew. - Sew Me Your StuffZippers are important basic sewing notions for beginners learning to sew. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Zippers are a bit of a challenge to learn – even my mother never bothered to sew things with zippers because she never got the hang of it. Really encouraging for me to hear when she was helping me learn to sew. But with some practice and careful reading of the instructions, you can pick it up in no time. Invisible zippers are handy to learn, but sometimes you just need a basic zipper.  Once you learn the process of attaching a zipper, you’ll be opened up to a whole new world of crafts you can make!
  • Elastic
    Elastic is an important basic sewing notion for beginners learning to sew. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Elastic is generally used to fit a garment or create an effect and can be attached in different ways. You can sew a casing, push the elastic through, and sew it shut. Also you can sew the elastic directly to the fabric, which I find more challenging because sewing on a stretch is never easy for beginners. However, casings are pretty easy and can give beginners a lot of opportunities to get creative with projects!
  • Interfacing
    Interfacing is an important sewing notion for beginners learning to sew to learn. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Okay, this may not count as a “notion,” technically. If your pattern calls for interfacing, it’s usually listed under the fabric requirements. It’s bought by the yard just as fabric as well. Most patterns I’ve seen will call for fusible interfacing, which is attached to fabric using an iron. Non-fusible interfacing is sewn on. Interfacing is used to stiffen fabric and keep it from warping, such as collars or buttonholes. Once you use it a couple of times it’s no sweat at all!
  • Bias tape
    Bias tape is a sewing notion with a lot of great uses for a beginner learning to sew  - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Bias tape has many wonderful and handy uses, but full disclosure I haven’t really used it for any of them. You can finish raw edges with it, add accents, bind seams, and a lot more. It’s fabric that’s been cut on the bias of fabric so it won’t unravel and has much more flexibility than fabric that follows the grainline. Basically there are a million things you can use bias tape for, and I’m going to make a million tutorials to help you learn them!

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

A Bag’s Life Part 2: The Pattern

In a previous post I detailed the hunt for a simple project pattern at the fabric store. Now it’s time to look at how to use the sewing pattern, first by reading and interpreting it.

When you open a new pattern, it will have two things in it: instructions, and the pattern printed on drafting paper.

Before you start trying to cut out the pattern, let’s first look at the instructions.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

It is very important to closely read all of the sewing instructions that accompany a pattern, not just the step-by-step. They will typically define unfamiliar terms, specify the width of the seam allowance, and tell you important tips that might be omitted from the step-by-step instructions. Notice under “Layout & Cutting” in the picture (click the image to enlarge) the pattern illustrates how to lay out the pattern pieces on your fabric to trace. This pattern is pretty simple, but that is really helpful for more complex projects or projects where you have to consider the grainline.

After you have studied the instructions, it’s time to look at the pattern pieces.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

This bag can be produced in a small, medium, or large size, so the pattern has three different lines outlining the body of the bag that you can trace depending on the size of the bag that you want. The second piece of the pattern, the pocket, comes in only one size.

If you have a pattern that gives you multiple sizing options, be extra careful when cutting to be sure that you are being consistent. Many clothing patterns are printed in 6 or 8 sizes at once, so it takes some focus to make sure that you don’t mix up the lines and start cutting out the wrong size. However, once you get more advanced you may want to intentionally blend sizes to fit your body or tastes better – until then just stick to one size at a time!

I’ve decided that I only want a small bag, so it’s time for me to start cutting.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Notice that my scissors are cutting along the “small” dotted line. Alternatively, I could have cut along one of the bigger lines and simply maneuvered to trace the “small” line, but I decided to keep it simple.

And here are my cut out pieces!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

In the next post, I’ll show how these two pieces of paper turn into a cute tote bag!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

Video: How to Read a Sewing Pattern

Hello sewists!

I recently shared this post on how to choose a sewing pattern for beginners and this post detailing how I applied that to purchase a sewing pattern for a market tote.

Recently someone sent me this video that does a great job of explaining in-depth how to use a sewing pattern by showing the easiest way to read and interpret a sewing pattern. It’s a pretty long video but goes into detail about the process of finding and choosing the pattern you want to try.

Next I’ll be posting a series on sewing notions. Have a great day!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

A Bag’s Life Part 1: The Fabric Store

Earlier I shared a post helping you choose your first sewing pattern, which you can find here. Now it’s time to put it into action by demonstrating how to use a sewing pattern to create a bag!

I started by going to my local fabric store and heading to the patterns section, looking for the beginner section. The store provides books full of patterns that you choose from filing cabinets, but beginners get a special section with sewing patterns on display.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
I chose a pattern for a bag that was marked “Level 1” for beginner sewists. You can also look for Simplicity beginner patterns or patterns with a label saying “Yes it’s easy!” or something similar. Next I turned it over to check out the notions and fabric requirements.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
I’m choosing to do the Market Tote, so I ignored the requirement for the Produce Bag and the optional checkstand loop. Other than that, it seems the only notion I need is thread – perfect!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
This pattern calls for less than a yard of fabric, so it’s possible I could peruse the remnant rack for an appropriate fabric. It also calls for webbing straps, which can be found in the ribbon section of the store.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
I saw this woven cotton fabric and really wanted to use it, so I forewent the remnant rack and got a cut of this. I decided to do the Medium bag, so I cut 5/8 of a yard.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
This is a roll of webbing strap (or something close enough to it!) that’s cut by the yard. I actually got a little extra of this because there were 15 inches left after my 2 7/8 yard cut. If you agree to buy that extra portion, the store usually gives it to you at a discount.

I already have dark blue thread, but at this point you should make sure you have a matching thread for your fabric. Nothing worse than getting home all excited about a new craft only to realize you forgot to buy thread!

And that’s all it takes to get started! I walked out of the store with everything I need to make a new bag, and I can’t wait to get started and share the process with you! Next I’ll be demonstrating how to use the sewing pattern to create a bag.

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff