Learn to Sew: Lesson 3: Machine Stitching Practice

Using a sewing machine for the first time can be exciting, intimidating, and often frustrating.

With this lesson I hope to provide you with tips and instructions that will help you feel comfortable and confident as you begin to use your sewing machine.

Lesson Category:

  • Sewing Machine Basics

Lesson Topics:

  • Basic Machine Functions
    • A Brother Computerized Sewing Machine is used as the example
    • How to control the speed
    • Basic Stitches and Parts
  • Sewing Lines
  • Sewing Corners
  • Sewing Curves
  • Sewing with a Seam Allowance

It may seem strange, but the best way to start using the machine is to practice sewing on paper.

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This allows you to learn how to control your machine without having to deal with the complications that arise when using fabric and thread.

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We’ll learn how to sew corners and curves. We’ll also learn how to use a seam allowance.

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This lesson uses a Brother Computerized Sewing Machine for the example, but the principles can be applied to any machine. If you are using a different type of machine you may want to do some research or consult your manual to find your machine’s default needle position as well as how to use the seam allowance measurement guides so you can accurately read your needle plate.

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Stitching Practice Sheets:

Stitching Lines Practice by learncreatesew

Stitching Corners Practice by learncreatesew

Stitching Curves Practice by learncreatesew

Seam Allowance Practice by learncreatesew

Here is a Seam Allowance Measurement Guide for Brother Computerized Machines:

Brother Computerized Seam Allowance Guide by learncreatesew

Brother Computerized Seam Allowance Guide by learncreatesew.pdf

LESSON:

2 Layer Face Mask with Filter Pocket

I am constantly trying the think of new ways to improve face masks. I am going to be wearing these every day to work like many of you and I hope to create masks that are both comfortable and functional.

After making the 3 layer mask with a filter pocket I thought I would give this one a try. I was very pleased with the results.

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This mask uses my regular contoured face mask pattern, but cut at the pocket line, so it is a bit more narrow. This actually is nice because it’s not as hot since it doesn’t extend as far toward the ears.

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The channel for the nose bridge wire is optional, but is simply a row of stitches attaching the lining to the exterior fabric.

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I didn’t use any interfacing on mine, and I really like how lightweight it is, even with the filter.

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I also tried strap adjusters with this mask. They are handy and are quite easy to use. I like that they are small and not bulky.

Supplies:

8 x 10 inches Main Cotton Fabric (Dimensions work for all sizes. You may need less fabric for smaller sizes)

8 x 10 inches Lining Cotton Fabric

Straps (I used 1/8 inch elastic)

Filter (Optional)

Nose Bridge Wire (Optional)

Strap Adjusters (Optional)

Free Pattern:

Contour Face Mask Pattern with Filter Pocket by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

FACE MASK KEY CHAIN CASE:

The face mask key chain case is always a fun project 🙂 It’s a little tight fitting the nose bridge wire, and you have to fold the filter, but I like to store my mask in the case when it’s not in use, without the filter and wire. I find it keeps my masks nice and organized.

Water Bottle Holder

The supplies for making a water bottle holder have been sitting in my closet for quite a while, and I was excited to finally use them!

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I was walking through the Dollar Tree and found this super cute water bottle and thought it was just perfect for the water bottle holder that I wanted to make.

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This water bottle has an optional drawstring at the top. The pattern is adjustable and can work for water bottles of various sizes. The pattern has templates and measurements calculated for water bottles with diameters from 2.5 – 3.125 inches. You can also adjust the height and the handle length as you like.

So, whether you are using a disposable water bottle or one that is more durable, this pattern can work for you.

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I have been using this water bottle holder for a week now and I have to say that I LOVE IT! I have started carrying it around with me and have found it super handy 🙂

Supplies:

Exterior Cotton Fabric (1/3 yard should be enough for holders up to 9 inches tall)

Lining Cotton Fabric (1/3 yard should be enough for holders up to 9 inches tall)

Rattail Cord (Optional – Approximately 1/2 yard)

Spring Cord Stopper (Optional)

Here is the free pattern:

Water Bottle Holder Pattern by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

Learn to Sew Lesson 2: Rice Bags

The second Learn to Sew lesson continues to focus on hand-sewing. Most of the time when we are hand sewing we are not working with felt or yarn. As a result, it is very helpful to practice your stitch size and placement, as well as working with regular all-purpose thread.

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Recommended prep before this lesson:

Lesson Category:

  • Hand Stitching

Lesson Topics:

  • Careful Cutting
  • Identifying the Right Side of the Fabric
  • Using a Seam Allowance
  • Double Threading a Needle
  • Tying a knot
  • Sewing a Back Stitch
  • Blanket Stitch Applique
  • Stitch Size & Placement
  • Slip Stitch

Whether you have been sewing for a while or are picking up a needle and thread for the first time, rice bags are always a fun project 🙂

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For this project, you get to add decoration of your choice to really personalize your project! Decorative stitching can add dimension to any project and is a great skill to have even when sewing complex projects. These also make great gifts when you are finished.

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Supplies:

5.5 x 11 inches of Cotton Fabric

Scrap Felt

1 Cup of Rice

Coordinating All-Purpose Thread

Here is the free pattern:

Owl and Sloth Rice Bag Patterns by learncreatesew

LESSON:

Blanket Stitch vs Buttonhole Stitch

Yesterday I was working on a project that I had hoped to have ready for you today. The project involved a lot of blanket stitching, and as I was in the middle of sewing it I realized that without noticing I would randomly switch how I made the stitch.

It got me thinking…what stitch am I actually sewing? This led me to do some research. Come to find out, the blanket stitch is often confused with the buttonhole stitch. I practiced both for quite a while and as I did so I found a stitching method that worked great for me for both stitches, and allowed me to distinguish between the two.

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I realized after doing this that I had actually been using the blanket stitch the whole time, I would just every once in a while switch to making the stitch backwards. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if I always did it that way, but going back and forth isn’t the best method. So, I made a consistent routine that helped me keep my stitches uniform. Since this helped me with my sewing project, I thought it may also be helpful to others, and decided to share it with you today.

The Blanket Stitch

The Blanket Stitch is often used for decorative edging, embroidery, and in felt crafts. You can sew the blanket stitch on the edge of fabric for decoration or to join to layers together.

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It’s a little tricky at the corners, but not too bad once you know the process.

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I most frequently use the blanket stitch for applique. This is when you sew one piece of fabric on top of another, usually for decoration.

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The video will explain how to change your thread if you happen to run out or want a different color.

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To help me remember the correct way to stitch a Blanket Stitch I think of this…

FRONT to BACK…UP and OVER.

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The Buttonhole Stitch

The buttonhole stitch is stronger than the blanket stitch. While the blanket stitch hooks over the next stitch, the buttonhole stitch actually wraps around it.

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This stitch is not as commonly used, but you do see it in embroidery, as well as actually constructing buttonholes. When making the buttonholes, you don’t leave space between the stitches. You stitch them side by side. This creates a really strong edge with all of the “knots” right next to each other.

To remember how to sew the Buttonhole Stitch I think of this…

BACK to FRONT…AROUND and DOWN.

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I hope you find this information as helpful as I did! Happy Sewing!

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW: Blanket Stitch vs. Buttonhole Stitch

Lace Overlay Face Mask

I just had to give this project a try, I couldn’t help myself. I normally do a lot of costuming, and when I had the idea to branch away from cotton fabrics for the mask I couldn’t resist!

This was a lot of fun to make 🙂 I don’t think it would be my everyday mask, but for special occasions or when I feel the need to be a bit fancy, this mask would be great.

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This mask uses my contoured face mask pattern with adjustable ties. I used 1/8 inch ribbon.

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This mask also has a satin lining. It’s a little bit trickier working with specialty fabrics, but I was really pleased with how it turned out!

Supplies:

These dimensions will work for all sizes. Actual size needed may be smaller if you make a smaller size. Make sure the fabric can be washed and pressed.

About 8 x 15 inches Main Cotton Fabric ( I used satin)

About 8 x 15 inches Lining Fabric (I used satin)

About 8 x 15 inches of Lace

About 8 x 15 inches Interfacing (Optional – I used Pellon SF101.)

Elastic, Ribbon, Bias Tape, or Fabric for Ties

Here is the free pattern:

Contoured Face Mask Pattern by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

Thanks for Watching!

 

Sewing Skill Builder: Slip Stitch

I am happy to share with you today my first Sewing Skill Builder video. There are a lot of essential skills in sewing that if mastered, make your projects beautiful and professional looking. However, when those same skills remain a mystery sewing can become a challenge and at times frustrating. In this series I hope share with you essential skills that you can use and build upon as you make projects in the future!

The slip stitch is also often referred to as a ladder stitch or invisible stitch.

The slip stitch is used to close pillows, linings, stuffed animals, and more.

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The slip stitch comes up again and again in sewing regardless if you are making bags, plush toys or garments. Being handy with a slip stitch is extremely useful.

When you slip stitch you are usually joining or closing two folds.

We make our stitches parallel to the folds, essentially hiding the thread inside.

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Your stitches often begin to look like the rungs of a ladder, hence the name.

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Once you pull the thread, the layers will join making the stitching invisible.

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It helps when slip stitching if you use a thin sharp needle. I also like to double thread my needle so I don’t have to worry about it sliding off.

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DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

Contour Face Mask with Nose Bridge Wire and Filter Pocket

If you are looking for a face mask that provides additional protection, then this may be the mask for you. Nose bridge wire allows for a more personalized fit, and a filter will make your mask more effective.

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This mask uses the same basic pattern shape as my regular Contour Face Mask, but has additional features. The updated pattern, with pockets, is linked below.

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Adding nose bridge wire will let less air escape from the top of the mask and will force more air through the filter. I have heard it also helps minimize the fog you get if you wear glasses.

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I made a size Medium and my purchased filters that I found on Amazon fit quite nicely inside. The filters are 4.72 x 3.15 inches. Smaller sizes may need filters or filter fabric that can be trimmed.

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Supplies:

These dimensions will work for all sizes. Actual size needed may be smaller if you make a smaller size.

About 8 x 15 inches Main Cotton Fabric

About 8 x 15 inches Lining Fabric (I used cotton)

About 8 x 13 inches of Pocket Fabric (I used cotton)

Elastic, Ribbon, or Fabric for Ties.

Nose Bridge Wire (Mine is 9mm wide.)

Filter or Filter Fabric

Here is the free pattern:

Contour Face Mask Pattern with Filter Pocket by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS

Contoured Face Masks

I really like the look of contoured face masks! Making a pattern has been on my to-do list for several weeks, and I am happy to share it with you today!

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With many of the patterns I tried, I found that the mask would move around a lot when I spoke. This drove me crazy, and as I result this project sat at the bottom of my stack for a while. But this week I found new motivation and tested it out again.

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Lo and behold I made a pattern that works! This mask has a great shape, but allows me to talk without worrying about having to adjust my mask every two seconds. Since you are supposed to touch your mask as little as possible, I think this is a big plus!

This pattern makes two different styles of mask. Masks with either fixed ties or masks with adjustable ties.

FIXED TIES & ELASTIC

I have to say,  I definitely prefer fixed ties. Maybe it’s because I have made so many masks that I know exactly what size works for me, and since the ties don’t move I feel like I always get a really good fit.

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Even with fixed ties you still have plenty of options for the ties that work best for you. There is the single tie back mask, elastic, or the basic two tie option. Also, with fixed ties you use less elastic, so if you have a limit supply, that is something to consider.

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ADJUSTABLE TIES & ELASTIC

While fixed ties are my favorite, there is no question that there are definite advantages to using adjustable ties. If you are planning to use elastic, and you want to donate the mask to a charity, friend, or relative, adjustable elastic is great as the wearer can adapt it to their preference and size.

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You can also make a single fabric tie that is adjustable.

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While this option looks great, I found this to be one of my least favorite options, as I had a hard time tying the mask to fit just right, but I know a lot of people prefer this design. 

You can also use two basic ties on the side to tie behind your head or ears. If you are planning to tie behind your ears, I would definitely choose a thin ribbon.

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All of the masks fit in my key chain carrying cases, which I always love 🙂

MY FAVORITES

My overall winner for comfort and fit was the single tie back mask. I don’t know what it is, but it is just comfortable! I never have to worry if it is going to fit right.

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For convenience you can’t beat either of the elastic masks. They are still really comfortable if you make the elastic the appropriate size, and so easy to use. There is nothing better if you need something that is a quick on and off. Plus you don’t have to worry about the long ties when storing or washing.

 

Supplies:

These dimensions will work for all sizes. Actual size needed may be smaller if you make a smaller size.

About 8 x 15 inches Main Cotton Fabric

About 8 x 15 inches Lining Fabric (I used cotton)

About 8 x 15 inches Interfacing (Optional – I used Pellon SF101 for some of the masks. The black and gray mask has no interfacing.)

Elastic, Ribbon, Bias Tape, or Fabric for Ties

Here is the free pattern:

Contoured Face Mask Pattern by learncreatesew

FIXED TIES – DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

 

ADJUSTABLE TIES – DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

 

FACE MASK CASE:

 

Hand Sanitizer / Lip Gloss Key Chain

I am so happy with this project!

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I have been wanting to make a lip gloss key chain for a while and finally had the chance to do so. I LOVE IT! They turned out just the right size 🙂 I was very pleased.

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Once I had the lip gloss version done I was very happy to find a similar size spray bottle that works perfectly for liquid hand sanitizers! It would be awesome for perfume as well.

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Once I had this key chain ready, I couldn’t resist making another size for larger hand sanitizer bottles. This works great for many 1 oz flip top bottles that usually hold gel hand sanitizers.

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Since this project is so small, I used my purple thang a ton while sewing.

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I used them for the first time today and I already love them. Perfect to add to your key ring or purse. These are also super cute as gifts! And since they don’t take much fabric, they are very affordable.

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Supplies

1 key ring

2.5 inches of 1/4 inch elastic (for wide version)

6 x 10 inches of cotton fabric (or scrap fabric)

Here is the free pattern:

Lip Gloss Hand Sanitizer Key Chain Pattern by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW (FLAT POCKET):

QUICK OVERVIEW (ELASTIC POCKET):