Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Serger Purse

After completing my project for the charity sew for the Lansing Chapter of the American Sewing Guild, I still could not think of anything I wanted to sew for myself.  I decided to focus on learning something new, but I didn’t know what that something was.  I tried to think of some sewing technique I could learn and then incorporate it into a garment.  Still, no ideas.  I had all this time on my hands and could not think of anything to sew!  Finally, while I was entertaining myself by scrolling through Facebook, I noticed Country Stitches had featured some serger purse patterns from Deb Canham Studio.  I might be able to get interested in making a purse with my serger.  That would give me the opportunity to learn to use my serger for something other than just finishing the seams on garments.  I wondered if one of the purses had a zipper enclosure.  I don’t like a purse with a magnetic closure.  I much prefer the security of a zipper.  I called Country Stitches and Nicole told me the pattern required a zipper.  The pattern was “Flat Lock Purse on the Serger” by Deb Canham Studio.  I was familiar with the flatlock stitch, so I figured I would not have any problems.

I purchased my serger, a Baby Lock Ovation, about four years ago.  I took the classes to learn to use it, but of course I never practiced what I learned.  I started making a different serger purse a couple of years ago with a sewing group, but we never finished it.  It seemed complicated and overwhelming at the time.  This pattern looked a lot simpler.  Besides, I had plenty of time to figure it out because the “Stay at Home” order would be in effect until June 12th. 

Everything went well for a while.  I cut the purse out and got the outside pieced together using the 2 thread flatlock wide stitch.  I even inserted ribbon and added trim.  No problem.  Then I had to set the serger up for the chain stitch.  Of course, I did not remember how to do that!  I read the instructions in my manual and everything went well until I tried to lower the knife.  The knife would not stay down and it is impossible to do a chain stitch with the knife up.  So, I took the serger to Country Stitches to be repaired. 

After I got the serger back, I resumed my self-training.  I got the chain stitch figured out and quilted each section of the purse.   Then I moved to the wave stitch.  The instructions in the manual were clear, so I understood how to set the machine up to do the wave stitch.   However, there was a problem.  I needed to use decorative thread in both the upper and lower loopers.  I was able to get the decorative thread through the upper looper, but it would not thread through the lower looper.   I noticed the problem of threading the loopers with heavier decorative thread was discussed in the Techniques Section of the manual.   I thought I would just use regular thread because I did not want to take the time to learn to do that.  I tried using the regular serger thread on a sample of a wave stitch and it was not pretty; in fact, it was ugly.  I remembered I had nothing but time on my hands and the purpose of this project was to learn to use my serger.  I picked up the manual and read the instructions.  They were quite easy to follow. 

The zipper on the purse was installed using the cording foot and flatlock wave stitch.  I didn’t even know I had that stitch, but it was easy to do by following the instructions in the pattern.  It is amazing what you can learn by actually reading directions.

I made the handle using my sewing machine.  The pattern called for making the strap using the triple cover stitch and a belt binder, but I did not have one.  Now that I think about it, I wonder if a belt binder might be one of those many extra feet I have for the serger.  I will have to check that out and experiment with it if I have it. 

This was a great learning experience for me.  I learned a lot about my serger and a little about myself.  I learned my serger will not bite, so it is okay to try stitches when I am not sure how to do them.  It is also prudent to read the manual and not be “chicken” to try something new.  Pictures of my purse are shown below.  The pattern is actually a disk that you use to print out the instructions for the purse. 

I hope you are having fun sewing.  Keep learning!


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Fabric Shopping Trip

A few days ago, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to sew.  Some of my sewing friends were making t-shirts, so I browsed the internet trying to find a good source of knit fabrics to use for t-shirts even though I knew I had a stash of knits on hand.  I soon realized that even if I found fabric to order, it would be days if not weeks before I received it.  So, I moved to another project.  I decided maybe it was time to sew for charity.  The Lansing Chapter of the American Sewing Guild is sewing this year for a baby pantry in Lansing.  In ordinary times all of us would be making clothes for children to donate to this charity.  We would even schedule a day to sew together to make clothes for the pantry.  But these are not ordinary times and I haven’t heard much about this project.  I decided it was time for me to get started.

I found a pattern in my stash that I think will be perfect for a small child.  It is one I purchased when my granddaughter was young and I never got around to make it for her.  She just turned 21.  The pattern is Simplicity 8948.  This pattern meets my needs because it is cute and quick to cut out and assemble.  The pinafore top is lined so there are no facings to cut out and sew.  It does have two buttonholes and two buttons.  That should be easy enough.  The panties have an elastic waist and elastic encased in the leg openings.  Only two pattern pieces are needed.  After sewing one of this outfit, I should be able to cut out several and sew them together as in a production line.

In order to proceed, I needed fabric for the first outfit and more fabric for the “production line”.  I found one piece of fabric in my sewing room I could use for the pinafore, but I needed another piece for the lining and the panties.   I realized I needed to shop for fabric that did not require waiting for shipment or pickup.  The only place I knew where I could get fabric instantly during this pandemic was right here at home.  If I didn’t have the right fabric in my sewing room, I probably had something I could use at my “other location”.  I decided to take a fabric shopping trip all the way down to my basement!  And wouldn’t you know, I found some fabrics I could use.  I traveled back to my sewing room and cut out the first pinafore and panties in a size 2 toddler. 

A picture of the completed project is shown below along with a picture of the pattern envelope,

I hope you are having fun with your sewing projects.  If you run out of fabric or other sewing supplies, remember that most fabric shops are doing curbside pickup.  That includes Country Stitches in East Lansing.


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Completion of Audrey Purse

No more artificial deadlines for me.  I set one for myself when the Covid-19 “Stay at Home” order took effect in Michigan almost nine weeks ago.  I decided if I was going to be home most of the time I could post on my blog once a week on Saturday.  You will notice I did not post yesterday.  I decided I will now post when I have a project ready or an Item I want to discuss.  That may be weekly, once every two weeks, or even once a month.  The deadline I gave myself of posting weekly was causing me to focus almost entirely on sewing.  Although I love to sew and I love to talk and write about sewing, there are other things in life that require my attention as well. 

This past week I was able to complete the Audrey purse that I started some time ago.  I stopped work on it when I thought I did not have all the hardware I needed.  As I explained to you in my last post, I telephoned Sew Unique Threads in Battle Creek on Saturday and by Monday I had the hardware.  I really appreciated the great service Sew Unique Threads provided.  This week I picked up the bag and began where I left off.  I was at the point of sewing the front and back pieces together.  I had previously quilted the pieces to the foam interfacing, so the pieces were pinned with the right sides together.  I got the two gun-metal 3-D rings from Sew Unique Threads and started to read the pattern to see how to install them.  Was I surprised!  They were already sewn – one to the right side of the front and one to the right side of the back.  That is why I couldn’t find them.  The purse was pinned together with the wrong sides out and I didn’t remember sewing them on.  Now do you understand why I am no longer giving myself a deadline of posting once a week?  I apparently was driving myself nuts trying to meet my own self-imposed deadline.

The pattern I used is Audrey by Sallie Tomato.  This purse was much easier to make than the large bag I posted last week.  It is a crossover purse with a zippered pocket on the front.  The zipper is covered with a flap so it doesn’t show.  The pattern shows optional metal handles.  The strap can be removed and the purse can be carried by the handles.  I have the metal handles, but chose not to use them on my purse.  I am thinking of making a purse for a gift and I may use the handles on that one.  I also think there may be an easier way to install the zipper at the top of the bag.  I may try to come up with that for my next “Audrey” purse.

I made two changes to the pattern.  The purse has an adjustable strap.  Even so, I still shortened the strap by 32 3/4".  It was just too long for me.  I also shortened the height of the purse.  The finished height of the pattern was 11 inches.  The finished height of my purse is about 8". 

Pictures of the purse are shown below.

I hope you are having fun sewing!


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Another Week Down

Well, here we are in the middle of the eighth week of the Covid-19 Stay at Home period for those of us in Michigan.  I am still not bored.  I have more than enough things to do to stay busy.  However, certain things are beginning to wear on me.  I am tired of constantly thinking about my health and that of my husband, family, and friends.  I am tired of making sure we have hand sanitizer and masks in the car before going to pickup groceries or prescriptions.  I am tired of ordering groceries on-line and then not being able to get what I ordered.  I know that will only get worse in the coming weeks.  I am growing weary of not being able to worship in church with our church family.  On the other hand, I am thankful that by doing these things we may be able to get to the other side of this pandemic safely.   So, I will keep my eyes on the prize; that being, getting through the spread of the Covid-19 safely and returning to most of the activities I enjoy with my friends and family.  I especially miss being able to sew with my friends! 

Dave’s raspberry plants have left my sewing room.  They now reside in one of our four gardens.  They looked great when Dave first transplanted them, but not so good now.  The cold, wet weather has affected them. 

The ground cherries are still with me.  They are slowing beginning to raise their heads above the potting soil.  I would show you a picture, but they are so miniscule that I don’t think you could see them. 

This past week I worked on making the bag I started last week when I discovered I didn’t have the hardware to complete the Audrey purse by Sallie Tomato.  I called the shop where I purchased the Sallie Tomato pattern and ordered the hardware I needed.  I ordered it Saturday and it was here Monday.  Thank you, Sew Unique Threads in Battle Creek, for the excellent service you provided! 

When I had to postpone work on the Audrey purse, I focused on making a purse with McCall’s pattern M6532.  Although I did not have the exact fabrics and interfacings on hand suggested by the pattern, I had some I thought would work.  While the pattern called for cotton or cotton blends, I used a red, navy, and light beige colored fabric that was close to a denim weight.  The pattern called for two interfacings:  single-sided fusible Pellon Peltex 71 and a light to medium weight fusible fleece.   I used Bosal In-R-Form Plus Unique Double-Sided Fusible Foam Stabilizer and 100% cotton batting which was not fusible. 

Throughout the process, I struggled with the thickness of the layers of fabric I was sewing.  I realize the cause of this might be that I was not using the exact materials required by the pattern.  At one point while I was stitching the thickest part of the bag, my machine, a Pfaff Creative Icon, put a message on the screen that read: “Your machine cannot sew through all layers of your fabric.  Please remove some layers before continuing.”  Obviously, that was impossible.  I was sewing the top of the bag to the main portion of the bag where the pull tabs were located.  I think I counted about 9 layers of various depths including the fabric, the Bosal In-R-Foam and the batting.  At that point I wondered if a mechanical machine might work better.  I set up my Pfaff Passport 2.0.  It sewed right through all layers with no problem.  This just proves you don’t have to buy the most expensive sewing machine to able to sew most items.  I hope I can remember this if I get tempted again.  I may be tempted to buy a good mechanical machine to use just to make bags and winter coats.  I like my Pfaff Passport, but it is a small machine with a narrow sewing bed. 

Another problem I created for myself was with the two interfacings.  Both interfacings required by the pattern were fusible on one side only.  I used Bosal that was fusible on both sides.  This created quite the problem when I tried to iron it on or press a piece after it was fused.  The batting I substituted for the fusible fleece was not fusible on either side, so that created a different problem.  I fused the batting to the fabric by using Mistyfuse.   I managed to make the interfacings work, but both substitutions were time consuming.

I finished the bag this morning.  I think the one thing I learned making it was I don’t want to make another one anytime soon!  I know I said I might see if I could reduce the size of the bag and make a smaller purse; however, that is not in any immediate plans of mine.

A pictures of the bag and pattern envelope are shown below.  The bag measures 18” x 12 1/2” x 6”.

 Keep sewing and stay healthy and safe.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Not So Productive Sewing Week

Before I tell you about my week, let me give you an update on Dave’s raspberry plants that I told you about last week.  They are doing great in my sewing room.   They are growing and getting new leaves.  There were four that looked like just bare sticks when they entered my room.  Now even those have new growth.   A picture is provided below.

His ground cherries seem to be doing nothing.  They are all still underground.  None have poked their heads out yet.  When and if they do, I will give you an update.   Also, the onions I planted for Dave are not looking well.  He said we may have to replant them because the cold weather has not treated them kindly.  I am not sure I am up to a replanting.  I am a sewist, not a farmer!

This was a not so productive sewing week for me.  I tried.  I really did, but sometimes even the best laid plans don’t work.  My plan was to complete the purse I was making and feature it in my post this week.  However, I had other commitments that needed to be met first.  I started my week with those.  I made more masks for some friends in Indiana.  Then I sewed a few scrub caps that I promised to do.  After those were completed, I began work on my purse.    I was using the Sallie Tomato purse pattern, “Audrey”.  I purchased it last year on the way to Lansing Clippers Sewing Retreat in Shipshewana with Stoney B.  We usually stop at Sew Unique Threads in Battle Creek on the way. 

I was at the point of putting on the D-rings and attaching the strap connectors.  That was when I discovered I did not have the appropriate D-rings.  I need ¾” gunmetal D-rings and I had none.  Those needed to be attached before I could proceed.  That meant the purse would not be finished in time for my post this week.  Today I called Sew Unique Threads and requested  a hardware kit for the Audrey purse.  The owner of the shop will mail it to me today.  Even though Sew Unique Threads is closed, they will accept phone or online orders for mailing or curbside pickup.  Maybe I can complete the purse before my next post.   A picture of the pattern is shown below.


I searched my pattern stash for a purse I could make in a couple of days.  I found one I liked and cut it out.  It is McCall’s M6532.  I am still searching my stash for fabric for the lining and pockets. Obviously, I did not complete it before writing this post.    I love the look of the bag, but am shocked at its size.  It measures 18” x 12 ½” x 6”.  I know that is too large for me for a regular purse.  I could probably use it as an overnight bag or a sewing bag.  My plan is to make one as a test and then perhaps I can cut the pattern down in size to use as a purse.   A picture of this pattern is shown below.

Another thing that took me away from sewing this week was ordering groceries for pickup.  That can be a time-consuming event, but is very necessary now that we are confined to our homes during the Covod-19 virus outbreak.  It is always a challenge to be able to get a pickup date from one of the stores in St. Johns.  The last time I ordered, I had to go to East Lansing to pick up my groceries.  This time I was fortunate enough to get a pickup date at one of the local stores for next week.  I look at ordering groceries as just one of the challenges we face during these “stay at home” times.  If we can just keep our health, I will be happy and more than willing to stay at home and face a few challenges.

Speaking of challenges, this morning I cut Dave’s hair for the first time.  I have been telling him to let me cut it before it got really long.  That way it would be a “trim” and not a “chop job”.  He didn’t listen to my advice.  A full-blown hair cut or “chop job” was necessary.  He had hair hanging over his ears, down the back of his neck, on his face and sticking out of his ears.  I took a pair of my best scissors and designated them as “barber” scissors.  I did a lot of chopping!  I am not sure he liked his cut, but he did tell me “Thank you”.  His mother taught him that.

I think we completed week number 6 of the “Stay at Home” request and are now in the 7th week.  I noticed more people out this past week when we drove through St. Johns, but most of them were wearing masks and staying 6 feet or more away from each other.  If you run out of supplies for your sewing projects, remember you can email or telephone some businesses like Country Stitches in East Lansing and have an ordered mailed to you or delivered curbside. 

Keep sewing and be safe!


Saturday, April 18, 2020

What Are You Doing?

What are you doing with all the time you have while you are advised to stay at home during the spread of the Covid-19 virus?  I have so many choices, I don’t know what to do first!  The last four weeks I was busy sewing and writing posts for my “Small Projects” series on this blog.  Each week I had to decide on a project to do, make it, and write a post.  I filled the time left over from that by making masks, cleaning cabinets, cooking, and doing other essential housekeeping chores.  Oh, yes!  I also helped my husband plant another 308 onions in our garden.  That was probably the most difficult task I did.  It required crawling on my hands and knees down the rows and covering the onions with dirt.  When I tired of that method, I bent over from the waist and leaned down to put the dirt on the onions.   That was just as painful as crawling on my hands and knees! 

This week started with no time constraints.  I could do anything I wanted as long as I had all the necessary items in my house.  I took Monday off from everything.  It was not my choice;  I simply could not move.  Because I hurt all over from planting those onions, I spent most of the day on the couch.  After resting Monday, I moved onto making more masks.  I also searched my stash for fabric for masks and surgical caps.  I came to the conclusion that the longer you keep fabric in your stash, the uglier it gets.  When I looked at some of that fabric, I thought “What was I thinking?” 

I decided my sewing room needed some attention before I could start another project.  It looked like a small tornado went through.  Both cutting tables were filled with leftover supplies and equipment from recently finished projects.  It took quite a while to put everything back where it belonged. 

There were also two t-shirts on my serger table that required some attention.  Both were finished except for hemming the bottom edges and sleeves.  I intended to do that several months ago, but never got around to it.  I think I was simply avoiding changing my serger over to a cover stitch.  It had been so long since I last did it that I had to look at my instruction book to re-learn the process.  Fortunately, I got it threaded and switched over on my first try.  I felt good about that!  Pictures of the t-shirts are shown below.  They may end up as pajama tops.

It became clear to me this week that I should share part of my sewing room with my husband.  He is trying to stay busy; however, the weather is not cooperating.  It has been too cold to plant most of his garden.  He had 20 young raspberry plants that needed a home until the weather gets warmer.  So, we squeezed them into my room next to a large window.  Then he decided to plant some ground cherry seeds in a plastic box and set the box on the end of my cutting table by a window and placed a lamp over it.  That’s okay.  I can share my room.  We are sharing a difficult time with the entire nation.  The least I can do is give my husband some space to pursue his hobby until the weather allows him to do it outdoors.

Next week I will make surgical caps for some nurses in Lansing.  That project is being chaired by Jeanie B., a member of the Lansing Chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  Her daughter is a nurse.   

I would like to work on some online sewing classes if time permits.  I know time will permit if I arrange my activities to include it.  What kind of activities are you doing?  Are you using your time to improve your skills in a particular area of interest?  Are you reading, sewing, cooking new recipes, or relaxing in some other way?  Whatever you choose to occupy your time during this stressful period, please do your best to stay safe and healthy.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Wrist Wallet

The wrist wallet is the fourth item in my “Small Projects” series.  I am trying to post some small projects that would be easy to sew during this time of confinement to our homes during Covid-19.  These are projects that don’t require a pattern.  The wrist wallet only requires a very small amount of fabric.  A 9” square of fabric is all that is needed.  The wallet is small so it will fit on your wrist, but it will hold your essentials, i.e. a driver’s license, a credit card, and a little cash.  So, let’s get busy making the wallet.

In addition to your sewing machine, you will need the following supplies:

9” square of fabric – Knit or other fabric that has enough stretch to go over your hand and fit around your wrist.


Zipper – At least 5” – You can use any length longer than 5” because the excess will be cut off after insertion.

Optional – Iron-on interfacing with stretch (tricot interfacing)


1.      If you are using interfacing, iron it to your 9” square.  Cut your 9” square into half in the direction of the greater stretch.  You now have 2 pieces that measure 4 ½ “ x  9“. 

2.   Place the two pieces right sides together and mark the middle (4 ½” from the short sides).  Using a 1/2" seam, sew the two pieces together along one of the 9” sides but stop at the middle mark and back stitch.   Leave the rest of the seam open.

3.      The zipper will be inserted in the open part of the 9” side.   Place right side of zipper down on the right side of the open side.   Pin in place and stitch close to the zipper teeth.  You can use a zipper foot to stitch the zipper or use a regular foot and move the needle close to the zipper if your machine has this capability.   I find it easier to sew the zipper if I unzip it when I begin.  After I am a little past the zipper tab, I leave the needle down and raise the foot.  Then I can zip up the zipper and begin sewing again.  Stop where the seam begins and back stitch.

4.      Using the instructions in step 3, pin the zipper to the other piece of fabric.  Make sure the short ends are aligned and then sew the zipper.

 Flip the edge of the fabric over the right side of the zipper as shown in the photo below.  Set your machine for a wide zigzag stitch and stitch over the zipper teeth several times using a short stitch length.  This will stabilize the zipper teeth.  Cut off the remaining length of zipper. 

6.      Top stitch both sides of the zipper.

7.      With right sides together, sew the two long edges together using a ¼” seam.

8.     Unzip the zipper.  Reach inside and pull the bottom edge up to the edge where the top of the zipper is.  The fabric will be right sides together.  Align the two short edges and the seams.  Pin in place.  Make sure the two top edges of the zipper come together at the seam so it will close properly when zipped.  Make sure you leave the zipper unzipped when sewing around the circle.  I find it easier to sew from inside the circle, so I place my pins there before I sew.

9.      After you sew around the circle, reach inside through the open zipper and turn the wallet right side out.  Your wrist wallet is now complete. 

Please note:  The type of fabric you use will make a difference in how the wallet fits your wrist.  If using a very stretchy fabric, you may want to reduce the size of your fabric on the side that will go around your wrist.  Another option is to add interfacing to your two pieces.  I tried that with the lavender wallet shown below.  I used a tricot interfacing with some stretch to it.  That allows the wallet to stretch to get over your hand.  I did not use any interfacing on the blue knit wallet.

This will probably be the last item in my “Small Projects” series.  I am anxious to start some new projects with the focus on clothing.  I may also feature some purses.  Let me know if there is something you would like me to feature in my posts. 

Please stay safe and healthy!