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!


Friday, April 3, 2020

Small Bag with Zipper – The 3rd in the Easy, Small Projects Series

Just recently, most of us were notified we will be confined to our homes because of the Corona Virus (Covid-19) for at least another month.  If you haven’t started sewing yet, this is a good time to start.  We all need something to take our minds off our situation for a little while.  This third project is a small bag with a zipper.  It is quick and easy to make. 

In addition to a sewing machine, thread, rotary cutter, and scissors, you will need the following supplies:
2 rectangles of fabric for outside of bag -  7 ½” x 10 ½”
2 rectangles of fabric for lining of bag -  7 ½” x 10 ½”
1 zipper 12” or longer  (The zipper can be cut off after it is installed, so it is okay if it is longer than the width of the bag.)

I used 100% cotton for both the bag and the lining.  You can use other fabric, but 100% cotton is easier to sew than some other fabrics.  I used the print for the outside of the bag and the red for the inside.

Zipper Installation
Place the zipper right side down on the right side of one of the outside pieces of fabric.  Align the end of the zipper to one of the longer edges of fabric.  Let any excess zipper hang off at the end with the tab on it.   Stitch close to the zipper teeth.  You can use your zipper foot for this or you can use a regular foot if your machine allows you to move your needle position to the left and right.

Stitch the other edge of the zipper to the other piece of the outside fabric in the same manner as described in the preceding paragraph.

Attached each piece of lining to the edges of the zipper in almost the same manner as above.  Place the wrong side of the lining to the wrong side of the bag fabric on the zipper with the tab of the zipper facing up.  Sew the lining close to the zipper teeth.  Sew the second piece of the lining in the same manner to the other outside fabric piece and zipper.

Lay the bag right side up with the zipper in the middle and a lining piece under each of the outside pieces on both edges of the zipper as shown below.  Top stitch along both edges of the zipper.  Unzip the zipper about three quarters of the way.

Fold the bag so the outside pieces of the bag are right sides together and the right sides of the two lining pieces are together.  Make sure the ends of your zipper are together.  Sew around all sides using a ¼” seam leaving a three to four inch opening in the bottom of the lining.

Before you turn the bag to the right side through the opening in the bottom of the lining, you have a choice to make.  Do  you want to square the corners so the bag stands up or do you want to leave them and have a flat bag?  If you choose to square the corners, you can do that as follows. 

Place a see-through ruler on one of the four corners as shown in the picture below.  Pull the edges apart on the side seam and the bottom seam.  Press them open with your fingers and align the two seams together.  Check to make sure they line up by pushing a pin through one side to the other.  Then lay the ruler on the point where the seams meet and move the ruler until it shows you have one inch on both sides of the seam and one inch from the point.  Then draw a line with your chalk marker and pin the fabric in place.  Sew across the chalk line. 

Repeat the above procedure for all four corners because you need to square the corners of the lining as well as the corners of the bag.  Pull the bag through the hole in the lining and sew the opening closed at the bottom of the lining.  You can do this by hand or with your machine because it will not be seen on the inside of the bottom of your bag.  

After you sew the opening in the bottom of the lining together, push the lining down into the bag and your bag is complete!

Now you have the skills to make a lot of different bags.  You can make pencil bags, change purses, cosmetic bags and purses.  You just need to change the size of the bag and lining pieces.

You could make the pieces larger and quilt them together.  Add some pockets and a strap and you have a purse like the one below.  This one doesn't have a separate lining because the lining was quilted to the outside pieces before the bag was sewn.

Have fun sewing.  Please do all you can to keep safe and healthy!