Sew: bagged

Today was class #2 for new sewing machine owners at our local JoAnn. We were scheduled to do it sooner but the flu got in the way. Now that we’re better, we have no excuses for not using our amazing new machine.

the amazing new machine

the amazing new machine

It has a handy dandy manual, but it’s been really helpful having Amy (the teacher and manager of the the sewing machine department) helping us learn how to use it. She’s incredibly patient and I think really amused by a couple coming to class together. After one woman in today’s class remarked, “I couldn’t drag my husband in here,” I realized how lucky I am to have someone to help me as I remember how to thread this bad boy and even change the needle (I broke one today — doh!).

Bruce making cute decorative stitches

Bruce making cute decorative stitches

Today’s class was really about learning how to use decorative stitches. We made a small bag. Β Amy explained that once we mastered making this bag, we could make our own wine bags for gifts. SCORE! Again, something truly useful learned at sewing machine class. So, if you invite us over for dinner and we bring you wine in a decorative bag, please admire the bag despite any imperfections because I may have made it and I need positive reinforcement. If it looks perfect, Bruce made it.

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Practicing decorative stitches

Our machine makes fun things like cars and campers in it’s decorative stitching library. I think we disappointed Amy by choosing blue embroidery thread versus following her pink Valentine’s day hearts and flowers bag. But we were pretty excited about the camper and some of the groovy 1960s style border-type stitches so that’s what we practiced. I have a feeling we’ll get more mileage out of that instead of the hearts.

Practice makes perfect!

Practice makes perfect!

Our machine really makes it easy to sew. In fact, Amy had to keep reminding us NOT to touch the fabric while the machine was making little cars or campers or the fun 1960s borders. After practicing, we decided to use the little cars and a sort of Egyptian looking repeating stitch just for shits and giggles. Let’s be real, this little bag may actually be pressed into service, but only to hold sewing stuff. We knew from the start we were just going to go for it and worry about finesse with the next attempt.

sewing the side so the bag won't unravel

sewing the side so the bag won’t unravel

Bruce and I just made one bag so we kept trading off — luckily the bag had two sides. We also learned how to make box corners which as Amy said make the difference between a $1 bag and a $10 bag.

Don’t worry, friends. We’ll be giving you a $10 wine bag, it just might have 2 Buck Chuck chardonnay or pinot in it because box wines come in their own gift packaging. Just kidding, our wine selections for dinner parties are classier than what we drink on Friday nights when Godiva is sick (she’s absolutely fine now as she usually is the day after one of these episodes).

Making fancy corners

Making fancy corners

My job ended up being to finish the top edge of the bag so it would not unravel. This photo shows me trying to make sure that I actually sewed the bag, not the presser foot or any other part of the machine. And it was taken seconds before I broke the needle and Amy had the opportunity to teach us all how to replace a needle — and upsell us all a cool tool that helps with needle change out. We bought one of course because it was really neat. Good job, Amy!

look at the concentration

look at the concentration

New needle in place, I continued to sew. These new machines do not like their humans to help much. You’ll notice in the photos that I’m not really holding the fabric. Every time I held the fabric, I messed up the stitch! “Hands in the air,” is what Amy repeated to me more than once. More like trust the computer. It’s like sewing using my Macbook or iPhone.

All better now

all better now

Once I finished that part, Bruce got to finish off the bag with a pair of decorative stitches to hold the draw string. I thought this would involve sewing then cutting a little hole for the ribbon, but I was wrong! Bruce sewed a straight reinforcing stitch, then another right above it.

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Bruce got to finish the bag by making the decorative stitches that would hold the ribbon for the draw string closure

Then we learned a big secret: you can insert a draw string using a double headed needle. Because I’m sure we’re going to be invited to a lot of dinner parties, we made sure to purchase this handy tool (good job once again, Amy).

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double headed needle: the secret behind making good drawstrings for wine bags

Bruce threaded the blue ribbon on one end and pulled the ribbon through the space between the two decorative stitches and pulled out one side. Amy suggested knotting the two ends of the ribbon together, not only to make it look pretty but also to keep from losing the ends in the bag. You could get fancy and add a little charm or beads, but we just made a knot today. Adding a wine glass charm might be a good way to hint that our dinner host could collect a whole set of interesting charms in addition to getting our $10 bags and interesting wine choices. As you can see, the gears are churning from today’s class. I’m ready to turn the $10 bag into a $12 one.

Here’s what our little bag looked like:

The finished masterpiece

The finished masterpiece

If you look closely, you can see where we were definitely “learning”, but I think it’s pretty good for a first attempt. I’m thinking about taking the class again. Amy said I can take it as many times as I like — some people take it as many as 4 times to build their confidence.

Today’s class inspired me to make a “happy bag” for my 96 year old grandmother so I picked up some cheerful red microsuede remnant that was on sale (cost me less than $3 for 1/2 yard). I’ll pick up some inexpensive rice and she’ll have a lovely microwaveable heating pad for her neck in no time. I bet I could make it in under 1 hour.

So no date night last night, but today’s “date” was fun and we learned a lot together. Bruce was nice and patient with me when I forgot how to thread the machine’s needle. And he carried the machine to and from the car!

knowing the sewing machine will help George too

knowing the sewing machine will help George

The 3G Network will love my new-found sewing skills. Bruce picked up some toys for Godiva and George (Guinness doesn’t like toys much) yesterday and gave them to them this morning, post walk. As you can see, this one is coming unstuffed, thanks to the tug of war game Godiva and George had prior to this photo. I have the feeling I, or rather the machine (which I really need to name — suggestions?) will resew many a toy for them.

And like this weekend started, our best laid plans have changed again. Post sewing class, the weather changed dramatically. I spent time outside with the garden, but it was too windy and cold for the table and chop saw. Maybe next weekend.

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