Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beginner Sewing

The Family of the Artist, 1895 
by Viggo Johansen,  Denmark  (1792-1870) 

This bag can be used for nature walks with children, to collect whatever the season provides. They are called nature bags and are used by home schoolers for their nature studies.

It would be helpful if someone could demonstrate up close, because you need to know when to work with the inside (wrong side) or outside (right side) of the fabric.  If for some reason, it does not come out perfectly, just consider it shabby chic or primitive, and use it anyway.

A pattern is not necessary. It can be made with any size fabric. If in doubt, take a piece of paper out of the copy machine, and use it as a pattern. Place it on folded fabric, and cut around it, leaving the fold intact. The photo above, shows the ends turned under twice, to make small hems. Use the iron to get a flat, straight crease.

For beginners who have no hand-sewing experience, it might be helpful to draw your stitching lines with a pencil, just to make it easy to follow with needle and thread.
Beginners can use a large-eyed needle, to make it easier to put the thread through. Thread the needle and tie a knot at the long end.  Search the web for needle-threading instructions. Push needle into the end of a line, and pull it back through from the other side of the fabric, to the other side of the stitch-line that is drawn with pencil.

Stitch both of the folded and ironed sections, all the way to the end of the cloth.
Finish by making several stitches over lapping, make a knot with the needle and thread, and clip the thread.

 Fold the fabric in half, with the hems showing, and stitch up the two sides, in the same manner. These two hems form the opening of the bag.

Turn the bag inside out and push the corners out with the scissors.

For the handle, cut a strip of fabric as long as you prefer, and iron both sides in toward the middle, as shown.

Fold in half again and press down firmly with hot iron. Stitch together with an over-cast stitch on the open edges.

Insert the handle inside the right and left corner of the bag.

Add trim and buttons, or leave plain.

Boys love to have a "messenger bag" or collectors bag, for rocks and sticks, arrowheads, and all kinds of treasures. You can make the one on the left by cutting out the pockets of worn out trousers and sewing together. To make a handle, use a seam, cut out from the same pants.

A collection of bags from fabric scraps and trims. There are numerous other uses for them.

These are made by children, from paper. The paper is folded in half, the sides are glued, leaving an opening. Handles are made from the same piece of paper and inserted inside the bags.  These could be used as special gift pouches for guests. Insert a pretty paper napkin, and a home made biscuit.


Anonymous said...

I love it! Cute!

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing this. Your work is so neat. I like this project and will definitely make a few.

I really like how you focus on crafts that are pretty and affordable.

Anonymous said...

Just discovered your wonderful blog and this post has inspired me (a non sewer) to have a go at making this. I would like to make little bags to put dried lavender in, with a drawstring top (perhaps a piece of ribbon) but don't know how to make the top.
A tutorial for that would be much appreciated, your instructions are so clear for a non sewer to follow.
Thank you,
Heather (Scotland, UK)

Lydia said...

Oh Karen, thank you very much for suggesting this. I want to have simple sewing tutorials but do not know what would be something others would be interested in. I like placemats, napkins, table cloths, runners, coasters, curtains, tea cozies, potholders, and such. It would be easy to make this same bag into a draw string bag. I will certainly try to get the pictures ready. I found the bag easy to do, and it took less than 30 minutes.

Lydia said...

I meant to address the anonymous in Scotland, but thank you both for your comments.

Karen said...

Since you mentioned not being sure of what to make for tutorials, I would like to suggest an idea. I would be interested in how to make a nice dresser scarf or table runner. It is nearly impossible to find these things in regular stores where I live now and I would certainly appreciate a tutorial if you were still looking for ideas.

I also recently saw some pretty but absurdly expensive name-brand patchwork pillows made with rose print fabrics in a store. They looked fairly easy to duplicate at home and I am going to try. Given the expense of the pre-made ones, perhaps a tutorial in making patchwork pillows would be something your readers would like.
Even if you just do a regular pillow tutorial, readers may like that as well. Good quality store-bought pillows are expensive!

The Hobbit said...

Have been following you on the recommendation of "pleasant view schoolhouse"blog and I have been pleased with your approach to homemaking.My children have moved on to their own homes now but,I remain involved and try to encourage them to find happiness from within and not at the mall.I never thought of using boys pant legs as a messenger bag.Thank you

Lydia said...

A man's pair of jeans or cargo pants have larger pockets. You can cut out the leg and include the pocket, if you want a really large bag.

Since a table runner is very easy, I would be happy to make a tutorial for it.

Lydia said...

A cushion would be something I could easily do, as well as how to make your own pillow cases for bedroom pillows.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this tutorial.I showed
it to my little daughter and she made
one today out of the bottom of a dress
we had saved that she'd grown out of.
I'm so proud of her neat little
stitches and she also did the ironing
by herself, threaded the needle and
made the knots.These are all skills
needed for more difficult projects.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness!

Lydia said...

I would be glad to post any pictures of this project, if anyone would send them to me:

If you use old garments or other things for this, you do not have to do so much sewing. I will show you what I mean on another post.

Lydia said...

I just found out that you can click on the pictures twice and get very large views, where you can see the stitch details.

candy said...

very pretty!

Anonymous said...


An idea for more table sewing; The french have a lovely custom of quilted 'bread baskets' made out of fabric that are formed into the basket by means of fabric tape ties. Picture a very squat Greek cross (short 'crossbeams' and a wide centre square, that is trimmed with fabric tape sewn, this tape extending to form the ribbons that draw up the sides. These are beautiful and would make a charming addition to any fabric table setting.

here are some examples.

I have one of these; a friend brought back from her Overseas trip as a gift; it is well loved and makes the simplest of tables look elegant.

Lydia, you'd be able to whip one of these up in half an hour!! So easy!! Such a perfect gift idea! Perhaps matching fabric serviettes, placemats and coasters could be given as a gift, or a delicious bread recipe nicely printed and included, or, a set of candles for the table...

These would make unusual yet delightful Christmas presents (for anyone starting to plan their end of year gift handmade projects).


Anonymous said...

I like the pillow case and cushion ideas. It is nice of you to post instructions so we can work on some pretty things for our homes while it is so hot out!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gooooodness! Lydia, I have those roses growing in MY garden!!! And the bag craft is useful...and I love your choice of fabric too. And the large views are dandy!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we could make these bags and sell them on our front yard during Fall Foliage Fairs, etc? I think they would sell, don't y'all?!!?

Anonymous said...

If you made the French cloth breadbaskets, these would walk off of the sales table of any Autumn festival activityes in your area!! bags would also; (but I've got a thing for the former, can't sew, disability prevents it, so can only encourage other sewers to catch my little sparks of inspiration and put them into practice...

bags would be an excellent lovely gift made with attractively printed or textured fabric, trimmed, with attention to the bag-straps -ribbon fabric, velvet fabric, even plaitted or braided narrow fabric pieces for a real 'bushcraft' appearance...

I also remember quilted tea-pot and toaster covers made of lovely fabric, edged with matching material tape trim that were readily available in retailers in the early 1990's; I wish I had purchased a stack of these!! They were available for various sized teapots and toasters, and made the tidy, attractive kitchen look really smart. I am sure if one looked about, matching canisters etc for kitchen benchtop storage would look excellent. .

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love it! This will be a great summer project for my daughter.

Janet W. said...

Dear Lydia,

I love this post and will recommend it to my little girls for their sewing class in the "Keepers of the Home" group I am starting.

Thanks to the Lord and your encouragement I've decided to mentor and teach a group of girls ages 4 to adult and their mothers on homemaking skills with character building based on the bible.

Bless you for sharing all this wonderful information and all the help and encouragement you have show me. Keep up the good work and the Lord bless you.

Sincerely, Janet.

Little Natural Cottage said...

How beautiful! I LOVE the Shabby Chic look! Our two little girls would enjoy this project... they are all about anything that is pretty and remotely resembles a purse! Thank you for sharing.

Blessings, Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

Lydia said...

Ladies its busy around here with planting and watering a couple of acres and I have not taken time to put up more sewing. I understand there is someone doing a week or so of painting-inspired dressing--maybe on the Sensibility board? I have a series on this here, and also if you need paintings, go to my other blog The idea is to make a dress that looks like one in a painting.

I am looking forward to making a tutorial for a runner, pillow, pillow case, coasters, placemats, towel, potholder, curtain, and other decorative items. I hope to get one up today. I also have more creative paper crafts. Its amazing what you can do with a paper bag...

Anonymous said...


You might like also to put up some origami links; the Japanese have taken paper craft needing neither scissors nor glue to sublime heights - Origami masters train for years to perfect their art, and, incidentally, not a small number of folk with vision impairment have appeared among their number.

I would encourage you to trial making a Provencale cloth bread basket also, when time permits. These are gorgeous!

Lydia said...

Remembering the problem I had with bias tape as a girl, while learning to sew, I think I will alter the provencale bread cloths somewhat and make them easier by eliminating the tape. I will try to provide a pattern to follow.

Jennifer C. Valerie said...

Very pretty and handy at the same time.

Lydia said...

Sewing abbreviations: yd means yard, and ft means foot, in means inch.