Sew-tember!

This morning I found out that September is National Sewing Month (thank you Jo-Ann Fabrics email blast).  Seems like a good reason to finally share my various sewing projects.  As I mentioned in my last post, I got a sweet sewing machine for my birthday last June.

It took me awhile to get the hang of everything.  Thankfully, I found a lot of helpful videos on Youtube to learn everything from how to wind and load a bobbin, to how to cut a straight edge.

My first big project: a reversible runner for our new living room coffee table.  At first I had only practiced stitching on scrap fabric – I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to cut the fabric straightly.  First lesson learned: a rotary cutter, a cutting mat and a quilting ruler are 3 sewing MUST-HAVES!

On to the results:
My first runner was relatively successful!  A little scrutiny reveals that one of the corners isn’t quite a perfect 90 degree corner – but otherwise, it looks pretty good.  After that, I made another runner – specifically for Fall on one side, Thanksgiving on the other.  On the Fall side, I stitched along the veins of some fabric leaves so that it looks like they’ve fallen on the runner :)  This runner is much neater than the first one. 

My first runnersMy first two reversible runners: one for year-round and the other for Fall and Thanksgiving.

I did buy fabric for a Christmas/winter runner – but never got around to it…because once I had 2 successful runners – I was ready to move onto something bigger….QUILTS!

The timing was just right – 2 of my closest friends were having their first baby, and I wanted to give them a special gift. I ordered a quilting kit which contained all of the fabric and instructions.  Next lesson learned: this fabric does NOT come pre-cut (wishful thinking).   Needless to say – quilting requires a LOT of cutting – which (for me) requires a LOT of cursing :P  Thankfully, this project really helped me become a more efficient cutter, and a believer in the phrase “measure twice, cut once”.  For my first quilt – I think it was a  big success (mainly because it survived it’s first wash AND it was a hit at the baby shower :))

I recently made my second quilt for my future nephew – William Thomas (I can’t wait to be an Aunt!).  To try something new (and to make it extra special) I used a plush fabric for the whole backside of the quilt (see below).  I thought it would be really difficult to get three thick layers of fabric through the machine – but all went well.  It’s all about guiding.  You’re not supposed to push or pull the fabric through – the machine does that – you just have to guide the fabric correctly to keep those seems straight!

My first baby quiltsMy 1st quilt: Emily’s jungle-animals. My 2nd quilt: William’s circus-trains [a trickier theme than jungle animals!],
with a plush backing.

In between my first and second quilts, I wanted to push myself a little farther.  I decided I wanted to try to make a tote bag.  A little Googling led me to a free tote bag pattern from this blog.

I’m VERY happy with the finished product!

My first tote-bagMy first tote bag complete with customized pockets
and owl-fabric on the inside :)

It has an outer pocket on each side as well as a row of pockets on the inside.  I’m especially happy my little touch of using contrasting colors for all of the visible stitches – it adds a lot of personality to the bag, and ties all of the different fabrics together.  A friend gave me the idea to add ribbon to the underside of the straps to make them a little more firm and hide the unfinished edges of fabric.

With each project I’m getting more comfortable with my machine, and learning different tricks and techniques that I keep reusing.  My biggest hurdle at this point is MAKING the time to sew.  I have lots of ideas (including some old black curtains that will be reincarnated into tote bags, more seasonal runners, slipcovers for my Dad’s chair, some Christmas gifts…) – but I tend to go months without sewing and then spend 2 weeks submerged in a project.  I need to start my next project ASAP, before I can start blaming the holidays for making me too busy.

Speaking of holidays – I’m looking forward to making my own [uber-crafts-y] gift tags this year.  I plan on working on them over the next couple of months, rather than frantically making them the weekend before Christmas :P  I look forward to sharing them here :)

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