At the end of last term, I made a promise to myself that I was going to get a proper school bag. Before then, I’d been lugging folders, books, my lunch etc around in any bag I could find at home. Not great for my back or keeping track of my stuff. I wanted a very specific style of bag – a messenger bag. It’s perfect for keeping my planner in and all my other bits that I need for school every day. But when I looked about, I couldn’t find one that I wanted or one that I liked. So, I thought, lets make my own!
I had a look about on Pinterest for a suitable pattern and came across this tutorial. It was straightforward to follow and broke down the different stages really well. When I’d bought my fabric, a lovely blue corduroy for the outside and a gorgeous spotty pattern for the inside, I set about cutting out the shapes I needed from baking parchment.
Once I’d cut the shapes out in fabric, it was surprisingly quick and easy to put the pieces together. Instead of having the bottom and sides as one whole piece, like the strap, I cut them into three and joined them individually. For me, that was easier to manage. I decided not to put any pockets or embellishments on, as I won’t use them.
While the bag isn’t perfect, I found sewing the strap in a bit tricky, it’s not bad for a first go. I did buy enough fabric to make a second one if I needed to, but I’m happy with it enough to stick with this one. If I could shorten the strap, I would and I might try to find a way to do that, as it is a bit long, meaning the bag hangs lower than I would’ve liked so I might change that when I get some time. But overall, I’m pretty pleased with it. Using something that I made everyday is pretty cool too!
Recently I’ve been going to the dressmaking class at the Darn It & Stitch workshop, Pinworks, in Oxford. I decided that I either had to learn how to use my sewing machine with confidence or I needed to get rid of it. Plus, I’m always rather envious of the sewers on the Great British Sewing Bee. The ability to use a sewing machine so confidently and are able to turn beautiful fabrics into great garments. I wanted to be able to make something to wear and improve my sewing skills.
I chose to make a skirt, as I wanted to be able to make something simple and straightforward. Most of the other class members made dresses, but had to do some work in between lessons. I didn’t want to have a project that I had to work on outside of the class. We all finished our garments in the seven lessons we had. I picked my fabric and pattern up from Masons in Abingdon and used the Simplicity 1109 pattern. While my sewing still isn’t perfect, it’s come a long way. Not only has my sewing improved, but my confidence and understanding has grown loads. I can’t believe I’ve made something that I can wear, and have worn. I’ve got my sights set on a few other things, including this gorgeous pattern from Tilly & the Buttons! I’ve definitely rediscovered my crafty mojo.
Last summer, my sewing machine and I had a huge falling out. Reluctantly, I’ve admitted that it was my fault. I blame Pinterest, with its gorgeous images and promised of easy projects – I couldn’t go wrong. Right? But I did. My impatience to make things quickly was my downfall. I didn’t measure, I didn’t press my fabrics and I didn’t take the time to think my projects through. And I expected my sewing machine to make up for my failings. It didn’t. So with my machine in a prominent place in my newly decorated craft room, I either had to make amends or move on. I decided on the former and signed up to a dressmaking class at Darn It and Stitch.
Armed with a relatively simple skirt pattern and the recommended amount of fabric (all bought from Masons in Abingdon), I headed to my first class. Everything’s going really well and I’ll share the finished product in a few weeks when it’s all done. I already feel so much more confident using my machine and troubleshooting the pattern that I know I’ve got a summer of making ahead of me. Instead of dreading using my machine, I’m looking forward to it and have loads of ideas in my head, including more skirts!
I don’t know about you, but I have been well and truly transfixed by this year’s Great British Sewing Bee. The standard of sewing has been impeccably high, making my own sewing skills look non-existent! I have no idea who’s going to win, as they’ve all made some amazing things.
For me, the show highlights how difficult and time consuming it is to make clothes, the skill involved and the fact that clothes shouldn’t be cheap and disposable. The amount of time, care and attention that goes into everything they make is inspirational – it makes me want to be a better sewer, though I have a feeling I’m a lost cause! One of my favourite things they do is the alteration challenge. I would love to be able to buy some clothes from a charity shop and alter them to fit me properly or make something completely different. Who knows, I might just have to give my old sewing machine another try to see if we get on this time!