Sewing Skill Builder: French Seam

A French seam provides a great finish to many projects. In a French seam no raw edges are visible, as they all become trapped inside a small casing.

This can be a really great feature as you won’t have any frayed edges. I have found this seam to be very helpful on projects that are going to be washed a lot, which usually creates a lot of strings. I also like to use a French seam on projects in which the inside will be visible.

To sew a French seam you actually sew twice.

You sew first with the fabric WRONG sides together. This can seem strange since we usually sew with right sides together.

Then we trim, press, fold with the fabric RIGHT sides together and sew again along the same edge with a larger seam allowance.

Now, on both the right and wrong sides of the seam, no raw edges will be visible.

Once you get the hang of it, a French seam is fairly simple, and it’s a great skill to have in your Sewing Bag of Tricks ๐Ÿ™‚

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO:

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 โ€“ 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:

Sloth Plush Video Tutorial Part 2 and Backpack

Part 2 of the Sloth video tutorial is finished and ready to share! I hope you are excited to complete this project!

Sloth Supplies:

  • 7 x 48 inches Faux Fur or Fleece for body and legs
  • 4.5 x 18 inches of fleece for the face and claws
  • Scrap felt for face details
  • Two 16mm Safety Eyes (You could also use felt circles or buttons if you prefer)
  • Embroidery floss
  • Magnets, Velcro, or Snaps (optional)
  • Scrap fabric to cover magnets (optional)
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Poly-fil Stuffing

Helpful Tools:

Files:

Sloth Quick Overview:

Sloth Video Detailed Instructions PART 1:

Sloth Video Detailed Instructions PART 2:

BACKPACK

When I made the sloth plush project I always intended for there to be accessories to go with it. So, here is the first!

This is a tiny little backpack that is just adorable on the sloth project!

It could easily be adapted for other dolls and stuffed animals by adjusting the elastic straps.

You can choose to make the backpack out of a single layer of fabric (like my denim example), or you can make it with lining (pink example). There are also two different options for the lower straps. Loops that go around each leg, or a single strap that goes around the belly.

Overall, I was really happy with how this one turned out. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Supplies:

  • 4.5 x 18 inches of Main Fabric
  • 4.5 x 18 inches of Interfacing (optional – I used Pellon SF101)
  • 4.5 x 18 inches of Lining Fabric (optional)
  • 1.75 x 4 inches of fabric for the trim
  • 3 inches of 1/4 inch wide ribbon (optional)
  • One 7 inch Zipper
  • 3/4 yard (27 inches) of 1/4 inch wide elastic
  • Coordinating Thread

Files:

Backpack Video Instructions:

Skill Builder – Finishing Seams

One thing that comes up frequently in sewing is finishing seams. This can be just as important on simple projects as it is on garments and in more complex construction.

Having a bag of tricks for finishing seams can remove the need for linings and can simplify projects. It can also provide a more polished and professional look.

In my video I will demonstrate four different methods of finishing seams.

PINKING SHEARS

This is the easiest method for finishing seams. It takes very little time and is really convenient. However, it does require a nice pair of pinking shears and they can be a bit pricey.

Zigzag Stitch

This method is very convenient as well. Most sewers are comfortable with the basic zigzag. It doesn’t require any special tools or accessories and it gets the job done.

Zigzag Over the Edge

This is a quick substitute for the overcast stitch if you don’t have the overcast foot available. However, depending on the weight of your fabric the edge may roll a bit when it is met with the tension of the stitch. I find it works well on heavier weight fabrics. The fabric shown in the example is a mid-weight flannel.

Overcast Stitch

This stitch provides the most professional finish. Since it is actually designed to go over the edge it is great for finishing seam allowances. However, it usually requires a special foot for your machine, and depending on your machine the stitch may or may not be an option.

Watch the video and learn how to use these seam finishing methods!

Learn to Sew: Lesson 5: Felt Carrying Case

Thanks for your patience for this latest post! I am a full time teacher, and with school starting back in full swing I haven’t had as much time to devote to new posts as I would like. Don’t worry! I still plan to post new content. However, it just may not be as frequent as it was over the summer. I hope you enjoy the new projects as they come and until then check out my free projects that are already available!

This is a fun quick project that helps practice sewing straight seams. It also introduces bag making basics with boxed corners.

Lesson Category:

  • Machine Sewing – Straight Seams

Lesson Topics:

  • Essential Tools
  • Cutting Rectangles
  • Sewing Straight Seams
  • Boxing Corners

This project uses large sized felt fabric, since the pieces are larger than the standard sized felt sheets available in most stores.

Felt is a great fabric to start with for your first projects because it doesn’t fray. You don’t have to worry about raw edges and it will look nice inside and out!

The top of the bag is made with two layers of felt stitched together for added strength and to provide contrast.

It also has boxed corners. Boxed corners can be a bit of a challenge, but it adds a lot of great features to your bag.

It provides space at the bottom of the bag so it is no longer flat.

In this case it also allows the bag to stand up. Once you learn how to add boxed corners it is a great feature to add to many different types of bags and cases.

Lesson:

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,ย  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.ย 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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):

Dish Towel Apron

A special thank you to my Aunt for giving me the idea for today’s project! This is a cute little apron made from a dish towel. It’s pretty fast to make and doesn’t take a lot of fabric. It is a good way to practice sewing pleats and pockets.

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It works best to have a dish towel with a general pattern design, rather than something that is directional, as the towel will be arranged horizontally along the waistband.

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The width of the hand towel is adjusted using pleats to give the apron a skirt like feel.

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It also has a good sized pocket that fits a cell phone and more.

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This project was a lot of fun to make! It’s also pretty simple compared to many aprons. The only difficulty really lies in working with the terry cloth itself. I would rank this project a 3/10 for difficulty.

Supplies

1/3 yard cotton fabric (Fabric may shrink in the wash. I like to purchase a few extra inches just in case.)

1 dish towel

1/4 yard lace trim (optional)

1/2 – 1 yard fusible interfacing (optional)

Coordinating Thread

Here is the cut layout if you need it.

Dish Towel Apron Cut Layouts by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

Flat Zipper Pouch

This is a classic zipper pouch! It is a great project to start sewing zippers if you want to learn.ย These make great pencil bags. They are also fun to fill and give as gifts.

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This is also a fun project to use decorative stitching on. I love adding a cute stitch to the contrasting bottom panel.

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This is a flat pouch, kind of like a pencil pouch. So, it does not stand up on its own.

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That said, it still holds quite a bit!

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You can easily adjust the size of the rectangles to make the bag as bid or small as you would like.

The bag I made has final dimensions of approximately 6 x 9 inches.

Supplies

Two 7 x 10 inch rectangles for the lining fabric

Two 7 x 10 inch rectangles of lightweight fusible interfacing (optional)

Two 4.5 x 10 inch rectangles for the outside TOP fabric

Two 3.5 x 10 inch rectangles for the outside BOTTOM fabric

One 11 inch Zipper

Here is the free pattern if you would like it.

Flat Zipper Pouch Pattern by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

Needle Book

This is a cute fun little project. It is super fast to make, and handy to have around the sewing room, especially if you do a lot of hand sewing. These also make really cute gifts.

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It doesn’t take much fabric, so it is a good way to use up your scrap fabric!

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I love the little pockets. You can store thread, needle threaders, needle grips, and even tiny travel scissors.

This book measures approximately 3.5 x 2.625 inches when finished.

Supplies:

Scrap Cotton Fabric (or 1/4 yard)

Felt

12 – 14 inches of narrow ribbon (I used 1/4 inch wide)

Featherweight Fusible Interfacing (optional)

Cotton Batting (optional)

Here is the free pattern:

Needle Book Pattern by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW: