Sunday, January 20, 2013

I sewed this cute little drawstring bag with fabric scraps!

That's right-- I sewed something! And it took about 30 minutes. Imagine how fast I would have been had I actually known what I was doing!

I used a leftover scrap from my recent barstool upholstery project.
The bag is very unrefined, but it works!
My mama is so proud.

Please bear with me in my excitement.  This is really the first thing I've ever sewn.  Well, except for a bunch of scrunchies that I made with my mother's sewing machine when I was in the 8th grade.  It was a short-lived hobby-- I think it lasted about a day.  But let me tell you, I made the hell out of some scrunchies that day.  Mostly neon colors, naturally.  It was the late 80s, after all.
Anyway, I just purchased this sewing machine on Craigslist a week or two ago.  It has sat and stared at me, looming ominously from the industrial-sized Pampers box in which it was delivered.  I swear I heard the theme from Jaws playing every time I walked by it.  A new sewing machine is scary!!

Anyway, I was determined to do SOMETHING with it today, so I swallowed my fear, took it out of the Pampers box, watched a few YouTube videos to help with threading, and grabbed some fabric scraps to practice my stitching.  This blog has some excellent tips for getting comfortable with your machine.

I started by practicing my straight stitching.  I failed.

Yep, I failed at making a straight stitch.  Over and over.  The top of the stitching was completely uneven and loose, and the underside was a tangled-up mess.  I started Googling possible causes for this, and came to the conclusion that my thread tension needed to be adjusted.  Well, I adjusted and adjusted and adjusted some more, and NOTHING worked.  I re-threaded.  Nothing.  I started to worry that my machine was a dud.  I called my mother and asked if she had any suggestions-- she said that I just needed to play around and work with it.

Well, I played around.  I worked with it.  I considered throwing it off the balcony.  As I approached the beginning stages of a meltdown, I noticed a key phrase on my computer screen.  Something about "lowering the foot."  I had tinkered with quite a few things on my machine in my attempts to "fix" it, but I didn't recall doing any foot-lowering.  I reluctantly peeked into the owner's manual, and there it was.

Yes, indeed, I had missed a pretty crucial step.  I had no idea I was supposed to do that.  I should probably actually read that manual at some point.  But not today-- ain't nobody got time for that!

Once the foot was lowered, I was straight stitching all over the place.  Feeling a bit like a boss, I skipped the rest of the practice tutorial and grabbed my fabric.  Earlier, I had stumbled across this tutorial for a simple drawstring bag.  It looked easy enough, and it was somewhat practical, so I decided that this project would mark the beginning of my life as seamstress extraordinaire.

I followed the instructions to a T, and it couldn't have been simpler.  A tip for getting the drawstring through the pocket easily: Fasten a safety pin to one end of the drawstring and run that end through first.  Pull and bunch, pull and bunch, pull and bunch until it comes out of the other end.  I also tied little knots at either end of the drawstring to give it a more finished look.

One thing that bugged me about the end result was that the entrance and exit holes for the drawstring are unfinished.  Looking back, I would have folded and sewn those edges before making the drawstring pocket-- but oh, well.  For a first-time project, it's not too shabby.

The photo doesn't offer much in the way of a scale, but the boards in the background are 3.5" wide.  The bag itself is about 10" long.  It kind of reminds me of a wine bag-- just a few minor adjustments to the fabric dimensions would yield a super-cute and easy way to gift a bottle of vin to the hostess at your next party!  I also think that this particular bag would look especially precious with a red satin ribbon as the drawstring.  I'm planning to do a little switcharoo tomorrow. :-)

So, that's that.  I am officially a seamstress!  If you're just getting into sewing, this project is pretty foolproof, and it is excellent for providing that little boost of confidence that you need to really get going.  Trust me-- this is coming from someone who didn't know she was supposed to put the foot down.  I did it, and so can you!

UPDATE: I replaced the original drawstring with a piece of red braided cotton twill tape.  (I think that's what it's called-- I'm still working on my seamstress lingo.)  Even cuter!