Where I’ve Been And What You’ve Missed…

Ok, I know. Where have I been? The truth is…. I’ve been too busy. Who would have guessed that it would be difficult to learn another language in 12 weeks time in an academic setting? I had decided to take on 13 credit hours over the summer (By the way, 12 hours is considered full time during a normal, non-accelerated fall or spring semester.) We had 30 online exercises due every other day and a test every 3rd day. I was super stressed. The good news is, I got straight As, now two semesters in a row! I am very excited about it and even dare to take 15 credit hours this fall… which, if you are wondering, started yesterday. Just in case I am biting off more than I can chew, I thought I’d better get online and update you on what is going on before I disappear into the world of college once again.

I have only had three sewing sessions since you heard from me last and of course decided to spend what little time I had available sewing instead of blogging about why I can’t sew.  I may have mentioned this previously, some friends and I have been talking about getting together for some sewing sessions. Two of these friends are at least somewhat familiar with sewing, another one got a sewing machine as a gift years ago which was still unopened and figured, “Why not?” So we did more talking about it than doing it. It doesn’t help that we all live 20-30 minutes away from each other and are without the means to transport our sewing equipment. Which reminds me, anyone know where I can get a cute wheelie-tote to transport my sewing machine that doesn’t look like something made specifically for grandmothers?

So summer classes finally come to an end and we decide to do this! Attempt one included my cousin, Jessica, and the friend who has yet to open her lovely gift from grandma, Ashley. My cousin is only 16, is very artsy, and can sew the best out of the three of us. She does not however have a machine or a car and lives 45 minutes away from me. So we make this a slumber party, because, well… with 13 years between us, we didn’t have that chance to connect as much over the years and what better time is there than now? So I pick her up and we all meet up at the local fabric store, Hancock Fabrics. I take Ashley on her first shopping trip, remembering how nervous I was on mine. (Didn’t want to look like an idiot.) We get everything she will need, except of course bobbins. Those aren’t important are they?? 😛 So we go back to my apartment. Set up Ashley’s machine and my own. Jessica sits down at mine. Ashley at hers. I have become the teacher without a sewing machine. Jessica had basic questions on getting started and random questions throughout the evening on changing settings. Ashley, like I was, was starting from scratch. Luckily she had a bobbin in the box. I helped her pick out the pattern (She opted for the same one I started with by Michael Ann Made… see April posting.) I helped her as she set out to cut out her fabric after which she decided she was going out… way too much work and stressful 😉 Of course, she couldn’t leave without saying she sewed something so I taught her how my sister-in-law-to-be showed me. I never got a pic of her cut out or finished bag (which we did during session 2) but I did get a pic of the initial practice round:

All the while Jessica is sitting on the other side of the table, sewing away. She decided to sew some pillows as gifts for her sister(s?). At this point in her sewing knowledge, I believe pillows were the extent of it. They actually came out pretty cute and while sewing those she was paying attention to what Ashley and I were working on and decides she would like to learn how to sew a tote as well.

  So after Ashley is done and heads out, that leaves the two of us. First I think, I can use a machine now! But then I realize that if this is something I actually want to be able to give away I had better do it right, starting with washing my fabric. Meanwhile, my cousin sets out to start her first tote. I already had material to use that she liked so we completed the whole project in one sitting.

Working together on her bag, figuring out just how to complete each step and having to look up plenty as we go, it took us until 1 in the morning to finish her bag. In the end though, she was very happy. Not bad for someone’s first bag. Even though I didn’t get a chance to sew anything myself, I think doing a project first on my own, and then showing someone else how to do it, really helps ingrain some of the details into my head. It was definitely easier for me to figure out certain steps of the process and of course, it always feels nice to be the one able to help someone else through the issues. 😉

Day 2: The second meeting to finally sew included Ashley again, this time to actually get down to sewing her tote, and our friend Sarah, who is probably the most experienced sewist in our group, but of course, at this point, that isn’t actually saying much. We started of with a shopping trip. Those definitely get less overwhelming as you start to figure out a bit of what you are doing. 😉 Finally got all the supplies that Ashley was going to need. Sarah picked up some basic beginner necessities as well. I picked a gorgeous teal thread that I have nothing to go with at the moment… mostly because that was all I could afford this time around and because I already have a ton of fabric and thread to do my starter projects… BUT I absolutely love that color! 😛 We spent most of the day shopping instead of actually sewing but once we got back to my apartment, we were able to at least get some of it done. I actually got work on my project, the bibs! That being said, I completely failed at getting pictures of everyone else’s projects. For a first project, Ashley’s bag came out pretty good. Only real hiccup was the handles… that she sewed into one long strap instead of two individual ones. Sarah is working on a handkerchief quilted ….something. Oops, I guess I forgot :-/  I’m sure this will come back up in a future post. After helping her figure out how to set up her machine, she was on a roll! I can’t wait to see her finished project.

And now finally my bibs! I have been dying to have some time to finally work on my project. I know now why they say it is important to have a little station set up that you don’t have to worry about putting away each time. I think the biggest deterrent I ran into was the time and effort it was going to take to set everything up again. The problem is, I just don’t have the space for it yet. But during the min-break from classes, I at least had some motivation

I was excited just to be able to finally cut out the pieces of fabric! This was my first time using a pattern and I was completely nervous about it. I think I did alright though! Then I followed the instructions, sewing it inside out… I had no idea how difficult and frustrating it would be to try to reverse it though. I left the gab on the side as instructed and while struggling with it thought that maybe I didn’t make the gap big enough but once I help it up to the pattern it was the exact size.

The reversing of the fabric was probably the longest part of the whole process. I even played with the idea of giving up. I did not thing of using a chopstick, even though it was mentioned in the tutorial that I might find that helpful. About half way through reversing it I claimed I was making an anteater the whole time, hence the upper right corner of this picture 😉
In the end though, I am pretty proud of the end result. I only had two mistakes really, there is one little area where the fabric wasn’t sewn down right but that could be fixed with some hand stitching, and secondly, I forgot to cut off the excess fabric near the sewn line before reversing. Of course, I didn’t figure that out until I COMPLETED the reversal and there was no way I was going to undue that!!

OH! I almost forgot. So novice sewist that I am, I didn’t think about the fact that velcro is sticky (or can be?) and I went to sew it on as the tutorial said to do. The stickiness got all over the needle and was therefore collecting all the tread into a ball/knot as I tried to sew. I struggled with it for about 10 minutes, constantly trying to sew and undoing it, and trying again, until I finally figured out what was going on! I can’t believe I completely forgot about this! I was so frustrated. I thought I broke my new machine and I didn’t even know where to start to fix it. I was so upset. In the end I used some rubbing alcohol and all what right in the world again. And I survived my first sewing machine troubleshooting.

So now the bib is mostly done. The only steps I have left to do are a final outer stitch and some parts by hand, which I know nothing about, so I  decided to save that for another day. It is quite cute and I hope to have a day real soon to work on some more. I’m not sure if I will donate this particular bib but I think I have learned a lot and will be able to donate the next ones. Plus, I have three prego friends/family members at the moment 😉

I know now that a goal of blogging once a week was a little too extreme for my schedule so I am going to aim for at least once a month during school. (11 more months until I graduate!) I think that is a doable goal to strive for. So again, sorry it took me so long, but hey, I’m back now 😉

Here is the (almost) finished product:

Now its time to study, I’ve avoided my homework long enough. Until next time, happy sewing.

Note:

Although I have given credit in other posts already:

The tote design and instructions come from: Michael Ann Made

The bib design and instructions come from: Sew-Funky

 

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