Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sew, Sew and Sew

Hi Knitters,
First things first, Rachel, of Twist Your Stitches, is having a fantastic giveaway that involves luscious Blue Sky Alpacas Yarn, a Blue Sky pattern for a hat and mitten set, a Blue Sky Pretty Cheap bag (sweet muslin drawstring bags printed with a bird), handmade soap, and a children's book that involves sheep. This giveaway is only going on one more day! Quick, all you have to do is leave a comment and you have a good shot at winning these fantastic prizes. Enter here!

Okay, when you are piecing squares together (photo above), like for quilting I guess, what do you do with the seams on the back? Do you press them open? Do you trim and lay them flat in the same direction? I have no idea what the correct way is. Please let me know if you get a chance:)

Thank you for the bobbin help! With all of your help I actually figured it out and it was exciting. I jumped up and down and clapped and my kids thought I was so silly. Wow, I not only got comments, I got emails and emails and I even had an offer from a former sewing instructor in town to pop on over to help. I couldn't believe the willingness to offer help. Thank you. Touching. 
Lexie Barnes' Sew What! Bags is my new favorite book. Lexie does a fantastic job with this straightforward instructional book. What I love about it is that basically it is a template for a wide variety of bag patterns. It is done incredibly well, like all Storey book are. Even a complete beginner, like me, can pick this up and make beautiful bags. Lexie includes drawstring bags, reversible totes, messenger bags, wristlets, tissue and eyeglass holders, a backpack, an artist's roll, and a child's tiny tote and more. There is a great array of choices and the lay out is crystal clear. There is a helpful newbie, instructional section at the beginning which I have read through at least several times. I have learned so much from Lexie's book. I highly recommend it.

Here's the other point about this book. If you are interested in knitting your bags, you could totally use this book as, again, a template for your knitting. The pieces for each bag are clearly illustrated with the measurements. All you would have to do is knit your pieces to the measurements and stitch up and you could have all of these great bag patterns in knitted form. I think this is a perfect translation.
Here is my first reversible tote. I have a couple of stacks of Anna Maria Horner's Chocolate Lollipop and Drawing Room fat quarters. I am piecing together some tote bags for my girls and me using up these fabric pieces and scraps.
I did a bunch of applique work, which is so fun. I just kind of scribbled around with the straight stitch, which I am calling the "scribble stitch" because I think it looks like a little kid just scribbled around the pieces. I love the messy stitching.
Every side is different because I am using scraps and small pieces. My girls love the fact that every way you turn the bag you see something new.

Now, I added rounded gussets to the bottom corners, which are not in the original pattern. I like my bags to stand up on their own. I learned this gusset from my first bag, the Birdie Sling by Amy Butler. I had a lot of people email to ask where to get the Birdie Sling pattern so there is the link. I bought all of my Amy Butler fabric and patterns here. Those are some really nice and helpful sewing ladies in this shop. They have been incredibly helpful. But see with those gussets? I am already transferring my limited bag of tricks around.
My seams are a little uneven but I don't mind a bit and I doubt that I ever will. It is just a pure fun creative release for me and there is no need for perfection in my book. These bags are completely reversible with nice pockets included. Plus they are the perfect size.
I've already carried this bag around a bit and have received many compliments and then I always proudly think in my head, "I made it." I can't really believe it myself.
This one is the Collector's bag. She selected all of the fabric pieces and cut out all of her applique pieces on her own. Her name is on one side, she cut out the letters, and she cut out some hearts for the other side.
She absolutely loves it. She requested shorter handles. No problem.
This is my other daughter's bag. Again, it is reversible.
This time I cut out strips and stitched them together to form the fabric. They are all different widths and many are a little uneven and I didn't even really measure. This is more my kind of sewing.
Anna Maria's fabric is beautiful and fun. Her color sense is spot on. This bag turned out a bit smaller.
Happy little sewer! That's me. I feel pretty good about being able to sew a few simple things. I don't know how much time I will really have to sew in the upcoming months. I have a lot of things on my plate but boy, is it fun. I want to keep it up for sure. At this point I am not that interested in sewing garments. I like bags and funny little objects. Maybe some fabric toys are in line. I love it that you can just cut and you have your fabric instantly. With knitting you are creating your fabric stitch by stitch. However, much of the construction is the same. 

Knitting and sewing are alike and different at the same time, right?

Anyway, go and enter that giveaway today! 

Thanks for indulging me on my new sewing adventures, they will be few and far between. I actually finished writing a pattern yesterday that has been haunting me for awhile. 

Did you see that I posted the tiny crochet flower pattern on the other blog? Remember I stitched them to my chartreuse cardi? Look here if you want this simple pattern.

The sun is coming up and my kids will be up in a few minutes for that early, early swim team call. Have a great Wednesday, Knitters.
best, susie


Miss L's Craft Room said...

Great job! A couple of years ago I made all my girlfriends bags with Anna Maria Horner's Chocolate Lollipop fabric. Sewing rocks!

jill said...

Your creativity shows in EVERYTHING you do - the bags you are making are wonderful and love that applique.

When doing patchwork, generally you use 1/4" seam allowance a press toward the darkest fabric. If you are going to press the seams open you press them open before sewing the strips together. Is this is "clear as mud"?

Susan said...

So it's either press open or press toward the darkest fabric? I used a 1/2 inch seam and that is too wide I think. 1/4 inch would have been better.

Bowlby said...

Susan: Not to "muddy the waters" even further, but I think you press all of the seems from one row to the right, then the next row to the left. Repeat. I used this great tutorial from Diary of a Quilter for my first patchwork quilt, and it worked great! She addressed the pressing issue too.

I love your bags! You did such a great job. I need to check out that book.

candy knox said...

You are doing great! There is no pat answer to your question on pressing seams. You do use a 1/4 inch seam allouwance unless it is flannel or jean material and some quilts look better pressed to the dark, but I usually follow the advice of the pattern I am using at the time. There are some good old standby quilters Alex Anderson, Kaye Woods, Eleanor Burns, Billy Lauder and of course the bright new quilters also, but there is no steadfast rule, so enjoy, enjoy and sew.

Crys said...

I love your bags the look great. As far as seams go, unless the pattern says otherwise, I like to press seams open to avoid the bulk from the fabric being on one side.

Happy sewing.

Erin said...

Susan, press both seams towards the dark (the fabrics in your quilt could probably go either way). But I always press all blocks in the same direction too. Hope that helps.

MichelleB said...

I think that "old school" thought is to press all of the seams to the dark. Something to do with making the seams stronger, and not having batting migrating through the seams. Maybe because the first quilts were hand sewn? However, I just got the Modern Quilt book and they say to press the seams open. I know that Oh! Fransson presses her seams open, too. So really, whatever works for you! I dont think that there is a truly "right" way.

skaro964 said...

I would press open your seams espellay if you are going to stich in the ditch or very close to the seam (quilting) If you have one color that is darker and a very light color I would fold over to the darker color. There are so many varibles. I sometime will lay the seams open and put it up to the window to see how it looks, If I don't like it nothing is writen in stone and you can change it. Have fun.

Kati said...

There's no easy answer to the seam pressing question. Generally, I don't open mine b/c it can make the seam weaker - I just press either to the darkest fabric or in one consistent direction on each row.

If you are doing a heavily pieced projec where you will have a lot of seams intersecting - like a star - then I will open the seams or clip them so that it lays as flat as possible.

Hope this helps - I'm sure it is as clear as mud. :O)

Kati said...

There's no easy answer to the seam pressing question. Generally, I don't open mine b/c it can make the seam weaker - I just press either to the darkest fabric or in one consistent direction on each row.

If you are doing a heavily pieced projec where you will have a lot of seams intersecting - like a star - then I will open the seams or clip them so that it lays as flat as possible.

Hope this helps - I'm sure it is as clear as mud. :O)

Chris said...

I love your free-spirited appliques! I could learn from you about thinking outside of the box; I'm not so good at that. The bags are awesome!

kate-the-enabler said...

Despite all the great seaming answers already, I still feel compelled to add that sometimes, no matter what directions or intentions you may have...the seams themselves dictate where they want to go. On average - I've found it's best to give way to really opinionated seams. Otherwise, for the quilt you have pictured - the person who suggested doing one row one way, then the next row the other way may have a good point for you. Having the seams butt up against each other in the block pattern you've chosen may help to keep your seam lines perfectly straight.
Love the bags - especially the Collector's fabric choices. Yum.

Brittney said...

I prefer to press my seams open using a 1/4" seam. The 1/4" seam is pretty much the rule in quilting, with a few exceptions. I like to press seams open because then I don't have to worry about doing one row one way and the next the opposite way to make the seams lay smooth. And also, then you don't really have to worry about pressing to the darkest side when that might not be the right side to press to.. does this make sense?
I think in general, if you press seams open you will not be disappointed. There is no right or wrong way, just what works best for you. And if you are having trouble getting a 1/4" seam, they make special feet just for that purpose. My new machine came with a 1/4" foot and it has made all the difference in my quilting! Good luck!

knittingknirvana said...

I'm so glad you are sharing your sewing fun with us. I too have a desire to dabble in sewing. I will take a look at your book recommendation. Please keep the sewing fun coming!

BTW, who knew there were so many opinions about pressing seams? I was hoping someone would say that they don't need to be pressed. I am allergic to ironing. :)

kate-the-enabler said...

Fear not - there is an entire school of thought on 'finger pressing' seams. Works just fine, a lot of the time ;)

sumo said...

If you're going to hand quilt, follow the press to the side instructions. If you're going to machine quilt, press the seams open so everything lies flat.
But always, follow the 1/4" inch seam rule.
And mostly, have fun!
From a fellow Susan

lindagerig said...

Years ago you pressed the seams open but now they do it to one side . If you are putting them in rows, press one row to one side and the next row to the other side to distribute the bulk. does this make sense? Linda Gerig

peaknits said...

Love your fabric too! If you are doing strips of pieces where the seams will line up - it's nice to press the seasm in opposing directions, so that you can snuggle the seams together when you sew the strips of pieces together - does that make sense? (basically what Bowlby said:) Open works too. I love your bags!!

Betz White said...

Here is a technique I haven't tried, but I love the sound of it! Super easy, from Alicia of Posy Gets Cozy:

I'm glad you are having fun with your sewing!