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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sew We Got the Machine Out

We have a habit of dragging my mother with us everywhere.
Even Sri Lanka. Or the zoo. Either way, her new best friend, the transfer chair, had no style, no function, and was just a pain.
Now, you may not realize this, but sewing is a staple in this house.
I started hand sewing doll clothes as a kid, and moved onto draperies, slip covers, and my own clothing as a grown up. 
Patterns? Making your own is a cinch.
My children have no idea what a store bought costume is.
I sew.
My children do too.
Savannah's big gift this last Christmas was a Brother machine with a zebra decal so her projects would be EXTREME!
Well, you decide. The following post is a Vannah Production.
So I always start things with a sketch. It's all just measurements and rough shapes, but it helps us visual people.
This is our fabric~ Granny picked it out (since it's for her chair anyway), and we bought about two yards.
And here we have our fabric, the fabric we're going to line all the pockets with, and the sewing machine.
And here is Arthur. Isn't she just so adorable?! (She's for inspirational purposes, I swear!)
Okay, fabric!
Lots of fabric. For the main pocket, which is essentially just a really large rectangle of fabric folded over, we wanted our pocket to be about 22 inches across the top and bottom, and 16 inches tall. So the fabric was cut to be 22"x32" (plus about 1/2" of seam allowance on the sides). Of course, 32" rather than 16" so we could fold the fabric over (but of course you all knew that!).
Fold the fabric in half so the wrong side is showing and pin it!
For the beginners, the wrong side is the side that you don't want showing (but of course you all knew that!). It's usually the uglier or the more faded side. That's the side you want to sew on so all the nasty seams are on the bad side, and the pretty side looks pretty.
Pins are your friend. Yes, they really are. They're beautiful and amazing and they keep things in line. They're like the duct tape of the sewing world. ...And don't mind the red spots on mine, it's just hair dye, I promise!
(Mom's note: we use quilter's pins because of the big, colorful heads. If you drop one, you see it before it's embedded in your foot.)
Sewing machines. They are beautiful and amazing once you learn to use them. Mine is a Brother, and it's the best more cooperative sewing machine ever. Even to me, and most sewing machines hate me!
Now we just run our fabric through the sewing machine
Sewing machiiiiiine~
Stitches! I went with black thread because it hides well on this fabric, since most of the fabric is black.
Rinse, lather, repeat! (Or rather 'fold, pin, repeat')
Pretty seams on the pretty side!
So far so good, right? Right!
Now for our lining fabric. We're pretty much doing the exact same thing over again.
Fold, pin, repeat.
Fold, pin, repeeeeaaat...
Viola! (and, oh my, you can see my leg. *gasp*)
Mom's note: we actually say "viola" as opposed to "voila." We're not okay.)
Pretty seams!
Okay. To paraphrase Doctor Who, 'this is where it gets complicated.'
Sewing the lining and the proper fabric together. You want the proper fabric (the patterned fabric that's going on the outside) right side out, but the lining fabric wrong side out (with the ugly seam showing).
We're going to join them with the seams touching.
Put the lining pocket inside of the patterned pocket like so. (Ignore that wierd side with the red stitches; this used to be a bedsheet. Recycling!)
Fold down the tops of the fabric about 1/2" or so. Pin it.
Now do the same thing to the lining pocket and pin them together.
Like so. Isn't that pretty? Now when you sew it together, it will look good aesthetically (since this seam will have to be showing) and it won't fray.
Now, since this bag is going to get tied to the wheelchair handles, we need some ties. Mommy and I went with some blue ribbons since there's some blue in the patterned fabric. To make sure it stays in there really securely, we're going to sew the ribbon directly into the outer seam.
The ribbons were cut to about 15" so we had some room to make big fluffy bows. Cut four ribbons, of course; two for each side.

Now for the sewing...
I recommend that if your sewing machine has a 'free arm' mode that you use it. This makes it easier when you're sewing the lip of things, because it just spins around it. This makes everything. So. Much. Easier. (especially on hats, lol)
Sew, sew, sew!
Just sew directly over the ribbons so they get sewn into the seam~
See! So pretty!
However, ribbons like to fray.
So just give it a quick hem.
Now.... Mommy told me last minute that she wanted a pocket on the front to throw keys, phones, sunglasses in for added convenience... We can do this of course! Adding pockets is pretty easy~ Just cut a square/rectangle of fabric (this one is 8"x7" plus seam allowance), then cut a piece of lining fabric with the same dimensions.
Sew the top part with that cool 'fold the top seam down' thing that we did earlier.

Now fold the other edges down. Nothing fancy here, just fold all the other sides in about 1/2" on each edge.

Now, I have a ridiculous affection for the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine~ It's aesthetically pleasing, it's strong, and it works really well/looks really good in places like this. You can use a regular line stitch on your sewing machine if you want or if you don't have the zig-zag stitch, but this I love things like this so I'm going for it.
Just sew it on to the front of the main pocket, sewing right into the lining (but make sure you keep the lining of the main pocket in place, ie. make sure it stays where it's supposed to be and doesn't bunch up.)
There! Functional, easy to add.... Well camouflaged... I don't know about you guys, but I'd like to be able to see where this pocket is. Especially if it's just supposed to be an easy 'throw things in it' kind of pocket. Let's make it stand out!
Easy enough. Remember our pretty ribbon from before? Easily enough used as a top hem that makes the pocket stand out.
Awesome, dude! (Yeah, I just used 'dude.' I'm ashamed of myself, too.)
And there you go! I now have a great place to stash purchases while we're shopping.
This would adapt nicely to any stroller too, for you parents and grandparents. For me, I needed somewhere to stash purchases, because pushing Mom and a shopping cart is ridiculous.
Now, what about my mother's storage needs...


Michelle @ Dream Home DIY said...

The fabric you guys picked out is so pretty :0) Hey I have some window sheers that need altering....what was your address again? LOL

Keri {One Mama's Daily Drama} said...

Wow, this is a lot of pictures. Totally necessary though! I think it turned out great! I'm filing this under "ideas for future baby shower gifts".

Unknown said...

Wow, that's awesome! And you make it look so easy!


Jane @ The Borrowed Abode said...

Really awesome tutorial, Savannah!

PJ @ Planned in Pencil said...

Well glad that Blogger decided to finally allow photo uploads! Yours ended up having way more photos than mine, but still made both of our days easier.

Love that you, like myself, never both with that whole "iron your material first" rule! LOL, I don't even like to iron when it's made, I'm sure not going to iron it before it's made!

Heather said...

Wow! Another great idea. Summer must bring out the sewing in all of us, as I've been sewing a lot lately too. Your mom picked out some wonderful fabric for her very talented daughter to create an attractive but functional bag for all their great finds! Fantastic job and tutorial!

Alex said...

I love it Sunny! So I am curious, does this mean that you have multiple sewing machines in your house? If I was you, I would have sewing bees with your daughter- break out the ice tea & the feline overlord inspiration! I am making a purse tonight (with very complicated instructions). Hopefully it turns out well enough that I am not ashamed to post it on my blog! lol

Musings from Kim K. said...

I'm in awe of your family's sewing ability. I wish I had inherited that talent from my mother. What a beautiful and functional bag. It's nice to see your Mom featured on the blog too!!

Sherri B. said...

I love seeing your mom out and about and now she can go in style!!

Heather{Our Life In a Click} said...

Great job Savannah!! That's way too much sewing for me but I enjoyed your tutorial!! The zig zag stitch does look like fun, I'll have to attempt it. All sewing machines REALLY hate me!

lisbonlioness said...

Freakin' hell, Sunny, I don't even know what to comment on first, so let me start with the very first picture.
What the heck is that guy in the background doing? I've never seen anybody more enthusiastic about photographing a freakin' duck pond! :D
And then... thank you so much for finally showing off your Mum. I've been wanting to see her face for ages! In my darker moments, I actually figured you might have made her up to have a reason to make raised plant beds ;) The lady looks a lot like you, and I'm diggin' her style. Colours, and loads of them! I bet you had to superglue her to that chair thingie to keep her from dancing on the tables. She looks like it's her favourite pastime!
Would you please give her my regards?
Now, to the actual DIY- I am immensely impressed. Sewing is way out of my league, and a young lass like Vannah rocking the machine just like that blows my socks off! She's done a pretty amazing job there, I couldn't even do a pillowcase if my life depended on it.
You got yourself a pretty freakin' amazing daughter there, Sunny, and I know that you are just glowing with pride.
Again- thanks for showing pictures of your Mum, I am still not over the fact that she used to be the curator of a butterfly garden. That is exactly what I want to be when I grow up. Just in case I ever do.

lisbonlioness said...

... and directly @ Savannah- thanks for a tutorial I could actually understand, even though I can't sew for toffee! This post is now bookmarked, so once I actually gather the guts to tackle this last, big obstacle, I'll go back to it and learn.
Nothing wrong with "Dude", Jeff Bridges will back me up on this. Just draw the line at Duderino. said...

Great job! I grew up sewing. I sew everything. It comes in handy especially when you redecorate and change your mind as often as I do. I agree with you about patterns too. I rarely use them. I really like how this turned out. Great tutorial too!

Michelle L. said...

What a superb tutorial with so many details for a beginner. Thanks so much! I love the project and the fabric and the writing and the extremely cool kid. That Sri Lanka picture is amazing!