Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sewing Simply: How to Follow a Pattern

{First time checking out this series? Go HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for some background!}


Yesterday we started working on making this bag (the black one) by looking at how to read a pattern and cut out our pieces.


Today we’re going to make that bag. And I must apologize ahead of time. I chose this pattern because it said “easy” on it. At a glance, it looked easy. It didn’t have too many pieces to cut, which typically can mean easy. Um, yeah. Then I sewed the thing today. The bag may actually be easy, but following the directions was not quite so easy. Oh, and I broke the rules and picked up handles that are larger than the ones the pattern calls for (I wanted to make sure it would fit over my shoulder with a coat on). I think they may have specified their handle size for a reason. Oh well, the bag is done, and doesn’t it look cute?

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Ok, pull out those pattern pieces, stretch out those muscles and warm up your eyes because it’s time to get sewing! The best approach to this would be to pull out your instruction sheet and go back and forth between this blog and the pattern. Read the pattern’s instructions for each step, and then read my interpretation of it and look at the pictures. Then sew. Or re-read the pattern and re-read my instructions, and then read them again, and then stop to think for a little while, and then read them again and then sew (at least if you want to do it like I did. Just keep reminding yourself that this will give you so many new sewing skills that will last you well through future projects!).

And get that iron heating… you’re going to need it!

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Under the glossary (which I showed you yesterday) we’ll be following the instructions for BAG A.

1. Iron your interfacing pieces to the wrong sides of the main fabric for the front, back and bottom pieces (pattern pieces 1, 2 and 6… I didn’t use piece 5 because I didn’t use the magnetic closure). You’ll want the side of the interfacing with more texture and some gloss to be the side that fuses to the fabric. The wrong side of your fabric is the side that doesn’t look as bright. When ironing on interfacing, I put a light towel between my iron and the fabric and interfacing.

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I had a little extra interfacing showing around some of the edges, so I just trimmed it off.

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2. Place your front and back pieces right sides together and pin them in place like you did with the pillow (pointy side in). You won’t be pinning up the whole side, though. When the instructions tell you to stitch between the small circles, you’ll refer back to your pattern pieces. There are two small circles on the stitch line. Just put the pattern over your fabric pieces, and use the circles to know where to put your first and last pins.

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Then, line up the edge of the fabric with the 5/8” seam allowance marker, lower your needle, lower your presser foot, sew two stitches, backstitch, and sew until you get to the last pin. Backstitch again, pull it out and cut your threads. Do the same thing with the other side.

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3. Your fabric will now be like a tube. Slide the bottom end (not the one with the extra/odd shaped sections at the sides) over your machine so it kind of wraps around it. If you refer back to the glossary you’ll see that a stay stitch is when you sew 3 mm at 1/2” seam allowance. On my machine, that’s the edge of my presser foot. Your stitch line will be closer to the raw edge of the fabric than it normally is when you’re sewing a seam.

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I changed my stitch length to 3 (it’s default set to 2.5). This means I’m using a slightly longer stitch length than I normally do.

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Sew around the entire bag.

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4. Pin the bottom to the tube, right sides together. It’ll feel a little awkward.

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At this time I set my stitch length back to 2.5. Put your fabric (bottom/round side up) under the presser foot, line it up with the 5/8” guide line, lower the needle and presser foot, backstitch and stitch around the whole thing. Then trim any excess. I trimmed quite a bit.

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5. Turn right side out and iron the seams.

6. Get out your pocket piece (I accidentally cut two and it took me a few minutes to realize I only needed one. Silly me, I should have read that the pattern said “Cut 1” on it.). Face it wrong side up and fold it over 1/4” (use your tape measure if you need to) and iron it.

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7. Get out your pattern piece and line it up with your pocket. Fold down to where the top lines up with the “fold line” on the patter piece. Iron it down.

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Sew close to that ironed edge. I just lined it up with the left side of my presser foot.

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Fold all the other sides in 1/4” (or so) and press.

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9. Pin the pocket to the right side of one of the lining pieces. Center it on the piece, and then line the pattern piece up so it lines up with the middle. Make sure the pocket is in the right place by lining up its corner with the circle on the pattern piece.

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Pin your pocket down and sew close to the turned/ironed edge. I’d say I had about a 1/8” seam allowance on this.

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If you’re making it like I did, skip steps 10-14 because they’re all for the magnetic closure.

15. This is when it got a little more complicated. The pieces in the picture blow are laid out ready to pin. However, the curves will go the opposite direction when pinned together, because when you fold it up after sewing, the curves need to go the same direction (does that make any sense?). I did it differently on the two pieces, I’ll show you how I did both and you can decide which one you’re more comfortable with.

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Clip small cuts (I’m demonstrating on the the wrong side, oops!) about every 3/4” on the small, interfaced piece. This will help it curve.

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Start pinning in the center.

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Work your way down one side first, awkwardly pulling and stretching the piece as you go so it lines up correctly with the curve of the lining fabric.

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When you’re done pinning it’ll look like this (although you really don’t need to put the last pin (closest to the edge) in, because you only have to sew as far as the square on the pattern.

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The other way you can do it is clip the lining fabric (same way you would have the interfaced piece), and curve it/pull it along as you go. This way was a lot easier for me. Once again, start in the middle.

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Sew together, at 5/8” seam allowance, between the two squares on the pattern piece.

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Iron over the top of them, with the seams pointing down (rather than separated).

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16. Pin one side of your lining piece to one side of your outside piece, right sides together. Your main body is sewn together at the side seams, but your lining is not. You’ll be pinning two separate sections together because of this.

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Sew together with 5/8” seam allowance.

17. Turn right side out and iron along top, newly sewn seam to press it down.

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Then press the sides of the lining fabric under about 1/4”.

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18. Put your fabric (right side out) through one of your handles. (Now we’re really getting tricky). Fold the raw edges in (they should be pressed to make this easier). I pinned it at one end first to hold it in place.

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And then did the same thing on the other end.

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Then I put it in the machine, handle side out, and lowered my needle right in the crease (where the brown fabric meets the pink fabric). Backstitch and then slowly sew along that line until you get to the other end. My fabric got caught a few times between the handle and presser foot, so if you get hung up here or there, just check on that and work it out.

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And there you have it, one handle!

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Do the same thing with the other side. This is where having larger handles made it more difficult. The handle couldn’t fit in the opening on my machine, so I had to sew it half way, back stitch, pull it out and go at it from the other side.

Breathe a sigh of relief and know that you’re almost done!

19. Pull your back so the whole thing is wrong side out, both ends out (meeting in the middle at the handles). Stitch up the side seams of the lining by sewing between the two circles on the pattern.

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20. I was getting impatient, so I skipped this step. Just do the same thing for the lining as you did for the outside back in step 3.

21. Pin the bottom lining piece around like you did for the outside (seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?). This time, though, leave almost one whole side open and unpinned. You’re going to need that hole to pull things through (like we did on the pillow when turning it right side out).

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Pull everything through the hole so you can make it all right side out.

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At this point I skipped ahead to 23. We’ll come back to 22, though!

23. Pin under the open, raw sides of the bag and sew them up (you’ll be doing this 4 times because you aren’t sewing the front and back together at this point—you want to make sure you’ll still be able to look in your bag and pull things in and out).

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Take a moment to admire the fact that this looks like a finished bag!

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22. (I forgot to take a picture… it was getting late) Like we did for the pillow, hand stitch the opening in the bottom of the lining.

And you’re done!!!!!

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I felt like mine still needed a little something since it was just so brown. So I made three fun flowers and glued them on.

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How does it feel to know you just followed a pattern? And a somewhat complicated pattern at that? Wahoo! Good job!

In the future, if you want to take it easy, I’d suggest using Simplicity (and their other line, New Look) patterns. They live up to their name!

Come back tomorrow and we’ll be refashioning/making clothes!!!

If you have made any of these projects, I’d love to see them! One person already sent me pictures of her pillow. Just send them to me at nolanandjill {at} gmail {dot} com.


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