Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

I have been absolutely ecstatic to try this project since I pinned it a few months ago.  This is the photo and website where you can find the tutorial for these adorable tote bags:

http://www.purlbee.com/the-twenty-minute-tote/

And here is my result:

Not bad!  I was pretty proud of the result.  Certainly not flawless (oh my no!) but my very own creation.   The instructions were easy to follow and I ran into very few threading issues, thanks to some helpful comments from my friends.  And in case you are wondering if it really is a 20 minute tote … it took me four times longer.  But I am a beginner.  For all of you experienced ones, it probably would take 20 minutes!  


I enjoyed this project so much, I decided to make another one.  Here it is:

Isn’t it beautiful!?  I love the soft muted colors and vintage-y pattern.  I wanted to give it away as a drawing to celebrate one week of sewing, but I had some seaming trouble and it is really kind of shameful to give as a gift.  So I will fix it and stay tuned for a better one with the same pattern to be given away.


Well, this is the end of my first week of the thirty day thread … here’s to a few more weeks and hopefully several more successful projects.  Or at least lessons learned.  


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  • Darla - You've done amazing!! I'd use it proudly, with with seaming issues:-) Who looks that close at a tote anyway? I just drag it around with diapers and wipes in it πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Catina - They look so good!ReplyCancel

  • Teresa - maybe you should try and sew those cute bibs. I will give you some material and you could practicing sewing and make me a few!?ReplyCancel

  • the industrial cottage - very cute! I love themReplyCancel

Learning to sew has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for cutesy crafting and handmade gifting.  I decided to do some pinterest perusing to see what I could add to my “to-do” list.  Here are some of my favorites:

http://www.marthastewart.com/375157/beach-cover-ups-almost-anything?czone=crafts/sewing-cnt/sewing-projects&center=326405&gallery=274690&slide=375157
http://prudentbaby.com/2009/12/baby-kid/diy-pocket-bib-2/
http://www.purlbee.com/the-twenty-minute-tote/
http://www.make-it-do.com/sew-it/in-search-of-a-mate/
Stay tuned to see if I can tackle these adorable projects.  Let me know if you have any fun projects on your horizon, sewing or otherwise!  
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My sewing box is now filled with projects that need to be completed.  I have so many things that have needed repair for a while but have been unable to repair them; until now.  


The first project of the night was to fix the straps of a pj dress.  The straps were just too long resulting in more of a smock than the little dress it was supposed to be.  


I think the repair went ok.  Over four inches came off each strap.  One side looks better than the other because I chose a more optimal cutting location.  But all in all, mission accomplished.  

The second project of the night was another pj project: hole repair.

I was proud of the end results.  My lines seemed straighter, and my backstitching was directly over the first stitches instead of in no man’s land as many of my other ones have been.  PS, I am still using the dark blue thread so I can better see what I’m up to.



I was still in a sewing mood and decided to just practice sewing straight lines.  Here is where I encountered some problems:



I literally watched helplessly while one of the extra side threads incorporated itself into the fabric.  And the backstitch got stuck and puckered up my work.  



Here is another example of how I keep adding the extra thread from the bobbin and needle into whatever I am working on.  Still not really sure how to fix it; it seems rather hit or miss for me.


Oh well.  There is some improvement.  The last side was sewn pretty straight and the backstitch was as well.  Not horrible.

 I took a picture of how my machine is set up in case anyone spots any glaring errors.  If you have any advice, please share!





In summary, one step forward (straight lines!), two steps back (still can’t operate machine effortlessly).   

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  • Whitney - sarah – is your top thread UNDER your presser foot? From the pictures, it looks like it is on top of the foot….that could be part of the problem. (Like I'm some sewing genius! ha!) I always hold (or pinch down) the the top and bobbin thread when I do my first few stitches…hold it to the side – out of the way and keep it taught. I didn't know that step for a while and kept getting my threads all knotted. Maybe that helps! πŸ™‚

    good job on persevering! (I've been working on my mending pile today too….canaan and the right knees of her pants keep me in business!)
    whitReplyCancel

  • the industrial cottage - You are inspiring me to get to my mending pile! keep it up!ReplyCancel

  • Darla - I noticed what Whitney suggested too…I usually lower the presser foot, and manually turn down(and turn back up, when I'm done) the needle into the fabric…hope that makes sense.ReplyCancel

  • Teresa - yes, the top thread has to be pulled in between the presser foot and down and then both threads pulled together to the side. hope that makes sense. I will send you a picture if it doesn't. Loved your new bag!!ReplyCancel

I went to the library in search of a sort of all-encompassing, how-to-sew, instant success kind of book.  They didn’t have much, but I did find something to bring home.

So while my baby boy slept I warmed up my leftover coffee from that morning (am I the only one who does that?), grabbed a sweet snack (honey teddy grahams, thank you very much), got cozy in my favorite couch corner and perused the tips.  It made for a decent read in my newfound-ish hobby and was a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.  And hopefully I learned a thing or two.  

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Around Christmastime I read this really adorable blog about a woman who was hand crafting all of her children’s Christmas gifts.  One of the gifts she made was a set of beanbags in really great fun fabrics.  I didn’t think it seemed like too lofty of a project so I decided to try my hand at making bean bags.  


I couldn’t find the exact blog, but here is a different one with the same project.  


The only scrap fabric I had on hand to practice with was this cottony, flannelly white stuff that I had purchased at the thrift store for ninety-nine cents.  Not very pretty or fun, but I thought it would be fine for practice, not to mention the fact that my navy colored thread would really show up and allow me to see how well (or not!) I was doing.  


I started out with two back-to-back 5″ squares.  I threaded one side but was again running into the problem of mixing my “tail” threads with the stitches.  

Argh!  I kept rethreading and cutting and trying, but all three sides ended up pretty much the same.  I called my parents (the machine belongs to them), and my dad suggested tightening the presser foot.  


Before finishing the beanbag, I filled it about half full with rice.  Now you serious seamstress types are going to totally laugh at me about this next part.  I knew I needed to finish the bag with a blind stitch.  I knew there was a machine setting for such a stitch.  But what I envisioned (a machine stitch on the inside of the bag) and what happened (a very visible stitch on the outside of the bag) were very different.  See for yourself:

Gross.  Anyway, at this point I was feeling really discouraged so I had some chocolate and a glass of milk.  Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a stress eater.  

Feeling rejuvenated by my mini pity party I decided to give the beanbag project another go.  And do you know what?  It actually turned out much better!  Ha!  Seriously.  No weird threading nonsense, the backwards finishing feature worked, and I didn’t have to rethread after every inch or so of sewing.  And my stitches were somewhat straight even!  

Yay!  After the first fiasco, I realized that hand stitching was in my near future.  So I gathered up my handy dandy sewing kit, queued up this video, and finished my project.  I was pretty excited about the result:

my blind stitching

Crooked, but cute.  I have realized that I just need a lot more practice using the machine and just becoming more familiar with the whole process.  So everyone I know will be getting beanbags in the next few weeks haha!  Just kidding.  But I really am especially excited to give these babies to my little boy in the morning.  I know he’ll love them.  

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  • Darla - My kids'll take a bean bag or two:-) So glad you're giving it such dedication! You can do anything you set your mind to, with the help of youtube of course:-)ReplyCancel

  • the industrial cottage - very cute! Bean bags are great no matter what the age. They just get thrown with a little more force and speed as they get older.:)ReplyCancel