Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sewing Lessons: What was the first thing you ever made?

Tuesday afternoon, 2 girls that work with Nick came over for a little informal sewing lesson. I had met them at the restaurant staff party a couple weeks ago and they were really interested in hearing about the kind of things I make and said they wanted to come learn. Of course, I thought they were just saying that, but wouldn't really want to take the time for that sort of thing. But I was wrong. They called and we made plans and they said they'd bring lunch. Fantastic.

So I rearranged the sewing room a bit so that I could set up both of my machines again. (It really came in handy that they each had their own to work on.) They said they wanted to make tote bags, so in my mind I planned the most basic bag possible- like two rectangles of fabric sewn together flat and straps stuck on top.

I really should have had higher expectations for these gung-ho ladies. When they showed up, they had been to Joann's and each bought colored duck cloth. They also bought patterned accent fabrics and matching thread. I was way impressed, as I was just expecting to let them use what they wanted from my stash. Not only were they uber-prepared with supplies, they had also designed their bags in their minds. They wanted them lined, with boxed bottoms and contrasting bands of fabric on the bottom. One wanted her straps going all the way down both sides of the bag, and the other just wanted the straps to come out the top, but wanted to add pockets on both sides.

Turns out, their plans were much more fun than mine. We spent well over three hours getting them used to the machines, learning to measure and cut, and figuring out how to make the bags up to their specifications. It was really fun, and they were really excited about it. I'm so mad at myself for forgetting to take pictures of their finished totes, because they really looked amazing! (Plus I hate putting up a post with no pictures. I'm falling asleep just writing this...) You would never have guessed they were first-time projects. I might have to recreate one for myself and possibly make an instructional to go along with it for you guys.

Anyway, we made plans for another session in a week or two. Here's where I wanted your input. What other beginner's projects should we tackle? What was the first thing you ever sewed and what inspired it? My first project was a pair of curtains for our apartment 3 years ago, and that was just because I didn't like the curtains I saw in stores and wanted to pick my own fabric. (I'm already sick of those, by the way, and really want to make new ones!)

One idea I had is to make pillow covers, both envelope style and with zippers. I figure it might be good to get over the zipper stigma early. We could also tackle piping and bias tape pretty soon, but all I can think of right now is kid's clothes and home decor items. These girls are single with no kids, and I think they live with their families, so what other projects would they want to learn? Give me your ideas and any links to things you have made that had fairly easy instructions!


  1. Definitely something with a zipper. What about a little zippered wallet with a buttoned strap (buttonholes!) that can hang from one of the straps of their bag? (Does this make sense? I made a big tote bag for myself with a matching zippered bag, but I toss it in the bag and it falls to the bottom and I can't find it, so I wish I'd made a strap for it.)

  2. The first thing I made w/ a sewing machine was a mat to go underneath it that hangs down a little in front. Just 2 rectangles w/ batting inbetween trimmed w/ bias tape and I added pockets. I've only been sewing since 1/2011 but everytime I need tweezers or scissors I'm so glad to have them right there in the pockets of my sewing machine mat.
    I'm sure you've seen them but mine looks a little like this one

  3. I'ld love to learn how to make a spring top for myself that doesnt make me look preggers :) So maybe a simple spring top sew-a-long. You could gettogether w/ the girls and take pics along the way and post them to help the rest of us newbies.

  4. Mine isn't probably a good example. When I was 8 years old, I decided I wanted a new pair of PJ's and I raided my Mom's fabric drawer and made myself a new pair of shortie PJ's, using no pattern. That started a life-time of sewing.

  5. I just seriously love the squid softy in the previous post...too, too fun!
    Kristina J.

  6. I personally am just learning to sew.. and all these projects seem way too complicated for me.. I was thinking of just some accented with fabric flour sack towels.. good beginn project!

  7. My first project was a pillow when I was really little. It might have even been hand sewn. I started adding lace to the edges soon after. I think a great project for a beginner is an apron. It will get their feet wet on a little pattern making/using and you can add piping, ruffle, lace, pockets trim, bias tape, and gathers in the top like this one on "delia creates"
    Aprons are super fun and totally customizable.


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