We spend a lot of long *long* days on the road for business. A great blessing of being self-employed and homeschooling is that we always go together (and because it’s at least an hour to get anywhere, it’s a great adventure). When we travel for business, that means the laptop has to travel too. And I’ll admit, I’m slightly on the clumsy side. I’m always afraid I’m going to drop the silly thing, or spill something on it. I knew it needed a home to keep it cozy, safe and warm (because I certainly don’t want it to suffer from hypothermia). Well, this has been on my to-do list for a while, but it just didn’t seem “fun” enough. I finally decided it needed done though. Then I realized, after I finally found the inspiration, I couldn’t make it too feminine because computer on business means hubby has to carry the bag. Phooey…….but fortunately I had this great orange polka-dot. I thought it to be a good compromise.
I pulled measurements off my laptop and made the pattern. I will be working on a tutorial to do this shortly as I plan to make a second bag of similar size.
Supplies: Riley Blake fabric (autumn line), Duck Cloth from Walmart, heavy interfacing and batting, Pattern (self-designed)
Cost: About $22 including all fabrics, interfacing and padding. Not exactly cheap, but cheaper than a purchased computer bag and certainly much prettier!
For Beginner Sewing:
I’ve been questioned a little bit about the process of learning to sew. I wanted to share a few brief thoughts about it, and my journey. I learned on my own, my Mom taught me a few things (like a french seam), but most things I’ve just figured out by trial and error on my own. So here is my list of tips for beginners who desire to learn to sew. (Note: I’m certainly no expert, just some self-taught lackey who wants to encourage others that if I can learn to do it, you can too. Mind over matter).
1) Practice!! Really, the old adage is true: practice, practice, practice. If someone wants to learn to play golf, they don’t just pick up the club and hit a hole-in-one on the first swing. No, there is practice and training involved. Practice running fabric through the machine to learn to control the fabric and stay on the guides for seam allowance. Don’t watch the needle, watch the edge of the fabric at the seam allowance guide. Trim off that piece and try again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Then do again practicing curves. And again, and again. And just for fun,
once fifteen more times.
2) Pin Yes, these little boogers are for more than just dropping on the floor awaiting their first innocent victim. Buy nice quality pins (I prefer a big colorful head so I can easily find them) and use them. Pin everything together, often and well. Once you are a more skilled seamstress, you won’t have to pin with such a fervor, but to learn, let the pins to the work for you. Yes, I learned this the hard way. I called myself the “lazy seamstress” for a while because I was too lazy to pin. With much frustration, my items never turned out well. Ironically, when I started pinning, the difference was incredible! Pinning well will hopefully make you need the next item less.
3) Seam Ripper Buy a nice, comfortable seam ripper. A fun color helps! Don’t be afraid to use it. The first several things you make, you’ll be needing to rip out the seams often. But don’t be discouraged by that, I have to use this little guy about a tenth of the amount I had to while I was learning.
4) Iron Again, let the iron do the work for you. Pressing seems open, pressing folds in place (especially when working on curves) allows you to sew them together with much more accuracy. This is another thing I learned the hard way through my “lazy seamstress” days. When you embrace the aid of an iron, you have to use the little guy in #3 much less often!
5) Good Quality Fabric While learning, purchase good quality, 100% cotton, stable fabric. Yes, this one might seem to be a bit contradictory because one wouldn’t want to spend $10 a yard on fabric to learn to sew. But trust me, it is much easier to work with a stable good quality fabric than a cheap fabric from a big box store. If you have a hard time spending that much on a project that might just end up in the garbage, then shop the sale bin. It doesn’t really matter if it’s the ugliest fabric in the store at 90% off if it’s going to be in the garbage anyway. But it will allow you the ability to learn how to use your machine on fabric that does what you want instead of what it wants. My favorite brands are from my local quilt shop and they include: Riley Blake Designs, Moda and FreeSpirit. I have very limited access, so I can’t recommend anything from a bigger store like Joanns, Hobby Lobby etc.
6) Cut with Precision Be sure to pin your pattern well, and take your time cutting your fabric so it is cut accurately. It will make building the garment much easier.
7) Walking Foot If your machine has an available walking foot accessory, purchase it. It’s extremely helpful when sewing thick things (like the bag above). My machine came with it, but I found some online for my machine for about $25. Worth every penny.
8) Machine I have a Brother machine, not the cheapest, certainly not the most expensive. I just bought it last month when I found a good deal. I had been looking at a few other machines, Pfaff and Husqvarna, but they were above what I was willing to spend at the moment. But you know what, I made a few dresses on my old broken brother that I bought for $50 on Black Friday. While a nice machine is nice to work on, as long as you machine works correctly, you don’t need an expensive, fancy machine. The skill of the seamstress is just as important as the machine I believe (I can relate this to my husband who makes beautiful cabinets, he’s been told by high-end contractors that they are the best cabinets they’ve seen. All of his tools are modest, relatively inexpensive tools, and yet he can do phenomenal work (while most shops use minimum five figure CNC (computerized) machines). The skill of the craftsman is more important than the tool. You can see his work here). Don’t feel that you can’t learn unless you have a very nice machine. That’s just an excuse.
I hope that these items give you a place to start, to build the confidence that you *can* do it!! And when you do, I’d love to see what you create! Sharing the passion, one stitch at a time xx