Zipper Pocket

I have been making a lot of bags lately and one feature that I use almost all of the time is a zippered pocket.

These are super cute and convenient on both the inside and outside of the bag!

To create a zipper pocket you need one zipper, fabric for the pocket, and the fabric panel (either lining or exterior fabric) where you want the zipper to be placed. You begin by placing them fabric pieces right sides together. You then sketch a rectangle for the zipper window on the wrong side of the pocket fabric. I like to make the zipper window at least 1 inch below the top edge of the pocket fabric and at least 1 inch from each side. I also like to make the window 3/8 inch tall. (You may need a taller rectangle if you are using a zipper with larger zipper teeth.

You then stitch EXACTLY on the rectangle. This is super important! For years when I tried making a zipper pocket it always looked sloppy because I wasn’t careful about stitching the rectangle. To help myself be more precise I now use stitch length 2.0. I also slow down as I approach the corners and make sure I pivot with a 90 degree angle. Another trick that helps is to count the number of stitches you use to show the first short side and use the same number of stitches on the other short side. This will help make a nice even rectangle.

TIP: If you accidentally stitch too far, or mess up, I recommend taking the time to go back and fix it. It makes a big difference. Avoid simply backstitching to correct the error if you go too far. This actually makes the pocket harder to turn and it won’t lie flat in the end.

Next, you will clip the center of the window. Cut a line horizontally down the center of the box. About 1 cm from each end angle off to the corners. Clip very close to the stitches but be sure not to actually cut the thread!

Before I turn my fabric I really like to press. I find this helps the fabric to lay flatter and creates a better rectangle.

I fold the pocket fabric down along the top of the row of stitches of the rectangle and press. Then I do the same, lifting the pocket fabric up and pressing on along the bottom edge of the rectangle. And repeat for the left and right. It helps SO much!!!!

Then after pressing, I turn the pocket fabric through the opening, shaping the rectangle and press. I like to press from both the pocket side and the main fabric side.

TIP: Using a tailors clapper to help press is also really nice! It helps trap in the heat and set the folds.

Finally, you are ready to add the zipper! Simply lay the zipper right side up and place the window you created right side up on top of it. You can use pins, fabric glue, or double sided wash away tape to hold the zipper in place. Then stitch around the rectangle with a 1/16 – 1/8 inch seam allowance.

TIP: Before you start sewing make sure you know where the metal stoppers for your zipper are placed. You don’t want to accidentally stitch on one. It could cause damage to your tools and./or injury.

Once the zipper is attached it’s time to make the pocket! Simply fold the bottom of the pocket fabric up so that it touches the top of the pocket fabric, with right sides together. Pin around the edges (of just the pocket fabric) and sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You will have to move the main fabric out of the way as you do this.

And the pocket is finished!

Below are video instructions for how to create the zipper pocket! There is both a Quick Overview and Detailed Instructions.

QUICK OVERVIEW:

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

Happy Sewing!

Pleats

Pleats create fullness to your fabric and are a good alternative to gathering. Instead of scrunching up the fabric along the stitch line, you simply create folds.

Pleats can be a lot easier than gathering. They are quick and lie really flat. However, you do have to make sure they are consistently sized and placed, and that can be the tricky part. Often times patterns will have pleat placement guides which indicate the size and position of the pleats! This is really nice and takes out the guess work of pleating. So, as we practice how to make pleats we will use placement guides.

Free Pleating Guide Samples:

If you don’t want to make the pleats by hand you can use a Ruffler foot on your machine. They can be a bit tricky to use at first, but are a great option if you are planning to pleat anything that is really long such as the edging of a pillow, etc.

To create pleats you need two guide-marks, where the pleat starts and where it stops. In the first sample I marked this guidelines with sharpie to make them super obvious (NOT what I would do on an actual project!), but you could do something similar with fabric markers or chalk, something that will wash away.

You can also use pins of different colors as guide-marks. In the second sample, I used green pins to represent the start of the pleat and red pins to indicate the stopping point.

When you pleat, you fold the fabric at the starting point and bring it over to meet the stopping point mark, hiding the fabric between the two marks and following the direction of the arrow.

There are many many ways pleats can be arranged. Common placements include pleats all going the same direction, half going one way and half the other, or two pleats that meet at the same point going in opposite directions. Just be sure to look at your pattern or guide for the correct direction and placement.

Here’s what that process looks like with pins instead of marks.

When sewing pleats in place it is important that they remain flat. As a result, I like to use a sewing tool to hold them in place while I sew. My favorite tool to use is That Purple Thang, but a sewing stiletto or the back edge of your seam ripper also works. Just remember to stay safe and keep your fingers clear of the needle, a sewing tool helps ensure that and protects your fingers.

When you are done sewing, pressing is really helpful! You can press just in the seam allowance, all the way to the bottom of the fabric, or somewhere in the middle depending on your preference or the directions in your pattern. If your fabric is really thick, or composed of multiple layers, it may also be helpful to press before sewing. Just be careful not to press your pins 🙂

In the end, pleats are a quick fun way to add detail and decoration to a project!

Free Pleating Guide Samples:

SKILL BUILDING VIDEO:

Happy Sewing!

Gathering

Gathering can be found in many sewing projects and is used in everything from basic crafts to garment construction.

There are several different ways to gather, but my favorite way is using two rows of stitches.

TIP: USE TWO ROWS OF STITCHES

Creating your gathers with two rows of stitches provides a safety net, just in case the worst happens and a gathering thread breaks. It may save you from having to start all over again. The two rows also helps the fabric to lay flatter. This is a plus when you need to sew the gathered fabric to something else.

When sewing gathering stitches always use a long stitch length. The longest stitch length on your machine is usually best and can range anywhere from 4.0 – 7.0. I find 5.0 – 6.0 is usually my go to stitch length for gathering. The thicker your fabric, the longer the stitch length needed.

The two rows are stitched with a gap between them. I find it most successful when I use a 1/4 and 1/2 inch seam allowance for the gathering stitches. This leaves a wide 1/4 inch gap and provides a little bit of leeway for small errors in the seam allowances size. (If the rows of stitching get too close together it may stop the fabric from sliding along the threads.)

When you gather you do not backstitch (this would create a knot) and you leave the thread tails long.

TIP: SLIDE DON’T PULL

To create gathers we hold the two bobbin threads and slide the fabric. Our instinct when gathering is to pull the threads to create the gathers, and if that doesn’t work, we pull harder. Uh oh…then you hear it…snap! The thread breaks. This is a particularly dreadful noise when you are gathering, especially if it is something large. Having the two rows of stitching instead of one could save you, but not always.

So, instead don’t pull…slide. Simply hold the thread tails in place and slide the fabric along. See the video below for what to do when it won’t slide anymore! Pulling the threads isn’t the answer, as there is too much of a chance of that thread breaking. But if you remember….slide, slide, slide! It helps 🙂

TIP: USE TWO DIFFERENT COLORS OF THREAD

When you are just learning how to gather, identifying the correct threads to hold can be tricky. If you thread your bobbin and top thread with two different colors it makes it super easy to find the threads you are looking for! The bobbin threads become obvious and you won’t make the mistake of holding the wrong pair of threads. I used yellow thread for my main spool, and blue thread in the bobbin.

TIP: GATHER FROM BOTH SIDES

Sometimes when we are on a roll and gathering quickly we accidentally slide our fabric off of the threads entirely! At that point, there is nothing to do but begin again. To avoid this, gather half of the fabric from the left, and half from the right, so there is no danger of sliding the fabric too far.

See the video below for a detailed tutorial on basic gathers!

SKILL BUILDING VIDEO:

Happy Sewing!

One Hour Easy Zippered Purse

I absolutely love the project I am sharing with you today! I few years ago I was rushing to get ready for a vacation and my purse would NOT fit in my bag. I had one hour before I had to leave for the airport. What was I going to do? Well, being me, I decided to sew a new purse!

This is what I came up with! And since then I have used this purse absolutely all the time.

This purse is very lightweight and super handy to have around. I love to use this when I travel so I can fold it up in my luggage. I also really like to use it when I go for walks. It is the perfect size for a cell phone and smaller items.

This is a great first zipper project, so if you are just beginning with zippers this is a great place to start because you don’t have to worry about linings. Since the purse doesn’t have a lining it can be made quickly and simplifies the project. This is definitely a casual bag and I have enjoyed making this using both cotton and flannel fabrics.

Free Cut Layouts are available for two different styles, narrow and wide.

The black confetti purse is the wide version, and the cotton print is narrow.

Once you are comfortable with the process of how it is constructed it is super easy to adapt. By changing the length and width of your rectangles you can change the size of the bag. You can also use the same process to increase the number of zippers! I love the look with 3 zippers!

The wide bag measures approximately 7.375 x 9.5 inches and the narrow bag is approximately 6.375 x 9 inches.

SUPPLIES:

  • 2/3 yard cotton or flannel fabric (Makes 2 if the fabric is at least 40 inches wide)
  • Two – Three 9 inch zippers (for each purse)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Fray Check (Optional)

Tools

  • Sewing Machine
  • Basic Sewing Tools (Pins, scissors, etc.)
  • Ruler and marking tool (to draw the rectangles from the cut layout)
  • Iron

Free Cut Layouts:

DETAILED VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

Happy Sewing!

Pocket Rice Bags

I love these little rice bags! They are super quick, great for beginners, and are an awesome way to use that pile of scrap fabric that’s lying around.

I prefer to use flannel for my rice bags. I love the soft texture. You want to make sure to select a fabric that can be ironed.

These bags are stitched twice, which adds a cute little border around the edges.

I like to make my rice bags in pairs, creating a set of two. Great for each pocket!

SUPPLIES:

  • Flannel or cotton fabric ( 1/8 yard or Scraps – two 4.25 inch squares needed for each rice bag)
  • Rice
  • Coordinating Thread

FREE PATTERN:

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS VIDEO:

Happy Sewing!

Fur Pom Poms

With all of the stress of this year weighing heavy, I decided to take up a new hobby to help myself relax. I decided to learn how to crochet! I had crocheted before, but it had been several years. My mom came to visit with her assortment of crochet projects and I just couldn’t stop myself from exploring the craft again.

One of the first projects I made were these Half Double Crochet Beanies. These were simple and quick and a lot of fun. But they were definitely missing something…the fur pom pom! Hence this tutorial.

I thought I would share with you how I made the pom poms for the top of the beanies.

All it takes is faux fur fabric, poly-fil, needle and thread.

I think it adds a lot of character to the beanies! These pom poms have long ties that can be used to attach the pom poms to any project you like.

SUPPLIES:

  • Button thread
  • Faux Fur fabric (8 inch square or less)
  • Poly-fil stuffing

FREE PATTERN:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

How I made the Beanie…

CROCHET PATTERN:

YARN: Serenity Premier Chunky – Weight 5

Hook: 7.0 – 9.0 

     A larger hook will require fewer stitches, but they will be more spaced out.

     I used hook 7.0 for the burgundy beanie and 9.0 for the black beanie.

Size: Teen/Adult

Terms:      Ch – Chain             

                 BLO – Back Loop Only

Hdc – Half Double Crochet

Chain 34 – 42

     The number of chain stitches you need will vary depending on the size of the hook you selected.

     You want your chain to be 11 – 14 inches long, not including the chain 2 at the end.

     Mine (the burgundy beanie) was 12 inches long. I chained 36 stitches and measured stitches 1 – 34.

Leave the thread tail long.

Row 1 – Beginning in the 3rd chain from the hook Hdc in each stitch. Hdc in back loop only. [Total Stitches: 32-40]

     The total number of stitches should be 2 less than your chain.

     Check the length again after completing row 1. You want your row 1 to be 11 – 14 inches long.

      Mine was 12 inches long and I had 34 total stitches.

      You should have the SAME number of stitches in every row from now on.

Row 2: Ch 2, turn, Hdc BLO in each stitch [32 – 40]  

     Don’t forget to skip the turning chain when you begin your stitches.

Row 3+: Repeat Row 2 until your work is 17 – 20 inches wide. 

You can test the width by wrapping the beanie around your head. It should be about two inches or so shorter than the circumference of your head.

Mine ended up being 12 x 19 inches. (The circumference of my head is 21 inches). Since this is a large yarn and a big hook it will stretch.

A smaller width will give a more snug fit.

STOP ON AN EVEN NUMBER OF ROWS.

Your working yarn should be on the opposite end from your starting tail. Cut the working yarn to be about 1 yard long.

Fold the beanie in half with wrong sides together. Sew the edge together. You should end with the working yarn next to your original thread tail. This will be the top of the beanie. Tie the thread tails in a knot.

Stitch through all the raised stitches around the top edge and pull closed. Tie in a secure knot. Weave in the thread tails.

And then add your fur pom pom!

Happy Sewing…and Crochet!

Christmas Gnomes

Happy Holidays! These little Christmas Gnomes are a great addition to your holiday decorations.

They are quick and easy to make and super cute!

I used flannel fabric for the hat and felt for the body. My favorite part is the sparkly pom poms I found for the tops!

The beard is faux fur and gives the little gnomes a lot of character. I also picked up a mixed set of wooden beads at Walmart that work great as noses!

Each gnome is filled with polyfil and poly pellets to weigh them down.

Supplies:

  • Felt Fabric (Body)
  • Flannel Fabric (Hat)
  • Faux Fur with a long pile (Beard)
  • Pom Pom
  • Wooden Bead (Nose)
  • Polyfil Stuffing
  • Poly Pellets (or another filler to weigh down the gnome)
  • Coordinating Thread

FREE PATTERNS:

The Medium sized gnome body is approximately 8.25 inches tall when finished. The Large sized is 9.25 inches. These measurements are WITOUT the hat.

DETAILED VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

I hope you enjoy this project!
Happy Holidays!

Christmas Stocking Embellishments

At this holiday season, I want to express my gratitude to all of my followers. Thank you! Thank you for supporting learncreatesew.com and subscribing to my YouTube Channel. Having the opportunity to share my love of sewing with so many is a great privilege and an opportunity I never thought I would have.

Thank you for making all of this possible and encouraging me to keep creating.

And for you, here are my next videos!

I had a lot of fun adapting the Christmas Stocking pattern for you! I don’t know about you, but I love options. But what if I did this…or this…? That is what I am always asking myself. As a result, I wasn’t satisfied with just the basic stocking. I wanted to expand upon it to provide more great options for creativity.

The first video explains how to add a contrasting cuff, if you wanted the fabric of the lining to vary from the fabric of the cuff. The stocking shown here has a sherpa cuff but a flannel lining.

The next video adds a burlap overlay to the main fabric as well as decorative embellishments.

I hope these videos inspire creativity, and I hope you have a lot of fun making your own stockings!

See the Christmas Stocking page for the free pattern.

Christmas Stocking

I’m so excited to share this project with you today! It has been quite a while since my last post and I am happy to finally share with you a fun holiday project.

Life and work caught up with me the last few weeks and it took the excitement of Christmas projects to motivate me to get back to sewing!

This is a quick easy Christmas Stocking.

It is fully lined and has a fold over cuff!

The free pattern is available in several sizes.

The pattern works great with flannel, fleece, and cotton fabrics.

If you enjoy this tutorial keep an eye out for future posts in which I’ll show you a few quick alterations to the same pattern.

SUPPLIES:

  • Coordinating Thread
  • Ribbon (4 – 8 inches)
  • 7/8 yard (or less) Fabric for the Outside of the Stocking (Cotton, Flannel, or Fleece)
  • 7/8 yard (or less) Fabric for the Lining and Cuff (Cotton, Flannel, or Fleece)
    • The project works best when the lining and outside fabrics are the same type of fabric.
    • The amount of fabric needed varies a lot depending on the size of the stocking you make and the direction you need to cut your fabric.
    • I recommend reviewing the pattern sizes in the table below if you would like more specific measurements.
    • Remember you will need two lining pieces and two outside pieces.

A bit more on yardage:

For instance, if I want to make a size small I know I need two pieces of outside fabric that will fit the pattern (which is 8 by 16.25 inches). If the direction of my fabric doesn’t matter 1/4 yard would work…but if I have to follow the selvage, for example on fabrics with words or a specific direction, I may need 1/2 yard.

Enjoy!

FREE PATTERNS:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

DETAILED VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS:

Learn to Sew: Lesson 6: Drawstring Bag

In this lesson we will learn several topics that are applicable in a wide variety of sewing projects. The drawstring bag introduces how to make a casing or channel that can be used to hold, a drawstring, elastic, ribbon, and more. This skill is used everywhere from bag making to garment construction and makes the drawstring bag a great project for beginning sewers.

Lesson Category:

  • Machine Sewing – Straight Seams

Lesson Topics:

  • Making a Drawstring
  • Making a Casing
  • Sewing Straight seams
  • Finishing Seams
  • Pressing

This bag measured approximately 13.5 x 15 inches when finished, but could easily be adapted for other sizes.

The bag features a 1/2 inch wide drawstring made by piecing and folding 2 inch strips of fabric.

This project was designed to only use 1/2 yard of fabric, and as a result the drawstring is pieced, but you could use more fabric if you prefer to make the drawstring out of a continuous piece of fabric rather than multiple pieces.

It has a wide casing for easy threading of the drawstring. I’ll show you a quick way to make sure the sizing of your channel is consistent.

It also introduces finishing seams, which is a great skill in general. If you are interested in learning more about finishing seams check out my Skill Building Video on the topic!

In the video also introduces tips for how to turn a corner exactly, how to finish the edges of the drawstring channel and more.

Supplies

  • 1/2 yard cotton fabric
  • Coordinating thread

Helpful Tools

Instructional Video: