My first love is sewing, hard to believe when I almost always post about knitting or crochet ..right? ..well it’s true!
I got my first machine at 12 or so, a heavy-duty metal Kenmore in a hard plastic carrying case. No one in my family was a seamstress, my mom would repair missing buttons and mend holes, but didn’t sew for fun. I was never taught by anyone, one day I just taught myself. Making everything from clothes to quilts to pillows & toys. Back then most of my fabric came from old clothes and sheets, I used spools of colored thread pulled from my mom’s sewing box, that most likely belonged to my grandmother.
I remember breaking so many needles at first, once unknowingly I dropped a thin sewing needle on my bedroom carpet and one day while walking across the floor, I slid it into the ball of my foot, right between my toes ..ouch! Thinking I just poked myself good I walked on it in pain for a week, until my mom said lets go in, the doctor did an x-ray and sure enough there was the broken tip of the needle lodged between my toes! I had minor surgery to remove it. I still always sew barefoot, but keep a better eye on those needles!
Many years later, I have a new machine a Husqvarna, it’s lightweight (comparatively), so quiet & smooth, nothing like that old Kenmore, which is in need of a new cord, but still clunks along just like always. When I moved out at 18, I took my moms old metallic blue ironing board, which was also her mothers (still perfect & what I use to this day) & her Black & Decker iron (I’ve since upgraded to a super steamy ½ ton Rowenta).
Now days I mostly make bags, sometimes I use patterns, but most of the time, I just make them up.
I make little bags for my knitting & crochet projects & to hold gifts, like this simple pull sack with a hand crocheted lace drawstring. (Incorporating both my loves sewing + crochet.)
I make bags for friends & family. A simple heavy canvas tote made extra special with hand painting & a bird appliqué (from the excellent book Applique Quilt Revival).
Sometimes I make bags just so I can embroider or draw on them. This “Always” tote was inspired by one of my favorite Shinzi Katoh designs. I like to use fine line fabric pens & draw on the fabric before sewing it up, that way the design falls into the seam, instead of stopping at it.
I draw silly things, strange things or things that make my heartbreak.
I won first place in a design contest with my Velveteen Rabbit inspired “Really Loved” Linen bag. Later I found out someone tried to steal it from the display!
I love how this one looks like a big slouchy pillowcase! Made ultra feminine in a busy rose print & sweetly gathered along the top. It’s made using the slouch bag pattern from Linen, Wool, Cotton ..one of my favorite bag sewing books.
Even though I have access to a extremely well stocked local fabric shop, mill end outlet & the (worlds largest) Textile Center garage sale, I still am always on the lookout for beautiful or unusual sheet sets, old tablecloths & oddball pillowcases at thrift shops and rummage sales, you can’t beat all that yardage for cheap, you can easily work around holes & stains.
On this one I used an old feed sack for the outer & heavy weight canvas for the lining (same fabric used for the handles).
I love strong burly bags for hauling auction & thrift finds. Tough outdoor fabrics & upholstery fabrics make EXTRA sturdy bags!
The Left Bank Granny Bag from the book Carry Me, explains a really lovely way to inset a zipper. I acquired a load of zippers awhile back, so I have been sticking them in everything. I don’t really enjoy putting in zippers, so this is good skill building/numbing practice, that’s what I keep telling myself anyways. Sometimes they only open up into the tiniest little pocket for penny treasures, but I can’t help the color & sweetness a little zip adds!
I’m by nature a perfectionist, so I like my bags to be near perfect, so no fraying seams, unclipped threads or messy finishing here. I have a serger now, but before that I always lined my bags or used simple French Seams to hide the raw edges. Sometimes I will use ready made items like t- shirts, terry cloth towels or pillow cases (already finished seams!) and with minimal sewing, fashion them into one of a kind bags & pouches!
There are loads of excellent tutorials and books on bag making, if you have recommendations I’m all ears! Really, once you get the feel for bag construction, you’ll be designing your own in no time.
Couldn’t help linking you to death .. here are a few of my favorite patterns & books!
* Morsbag start a revolution & do your part! SAVE THE EARTH!
(for the AWESOME tote pattern click make one)
* Charlie Bag from Burda Style.
* Reversible Bag from verypurpleperson.
* Easy Drawstring Bag from The Purl Bee.
* French Seams from Sew to Speak.
* T-Shirt Bag from Martha Stewart.
* Carry Me by Yuka Koshizen
* SEW by Cath Kidson (her style & aesthetic is so lush!)
I also obsessively sew aprons, dresses, sun bonnets & kleenex pouches too!