Learning How to Sew (week two)

Following my initial adventures in sewing from last week, I felt enough comfort in using a sewing machine that it was time for my first real project.  After a bit of searching the internet, I decided to take a shot at this Zipper Pencil Pouch Sewing Tutorial by Amy at Positively Splendid.  By completing this project, I was aiming to accomplish these specific goals.

  • Gain experience with measuring and cutting fabric.
  • Incorporate my first zipper in a project.
  • Practice fabric and seam alignment.
  • Practice stitching with consistent seam allowances.

My first task was to find all the materials needed for the project.  A quick stop at Fabricland allowed me to pick up zippers for my project.  I wanted at least two in case I made a mistake with my first one.  Seeing they had a deal for three, it gave me peace of mind knowing that I had the opportunity to make at least to really bad mistakes without having to go back for more supplies.  (On a side note, I think this notion of expecting mistakes and gaining comfort in acknowledging that they will happen is very important when learning new things.  I often work with students that are risk averse and are afraid to make mistakes in their learning process.  This makes learning more arduous and can result in high levels of anxiety.  Establishing an environment where students can take risks and feel comfortable in taking them is one of the priorities I have as a teacher. I feel it’s an important part in my learning environment.)

Once all my materials were gathered, I proceeded to cut the necessary pieces using a cutting mat, a cutting wheel and a straight edge.  I learned that it’s much easier to cut freshly pressed fabric than wrinkled fabric.  From now on, I shall press all my fabric before I start working with it.

Photo 1

With everything cut, I proceeded with my first stitches and everything worked great.  This was going to be a breeze!  (Little did I know it was not going to be so easy.)

Photo 2

After sewing the first side of my zipper, I installed my second paned and pined it into place.  I learned that pins are a fantastic technology that really helps in keeping my fabric aligned and properly positioned.  From now on, I will not hesitate to pin things in place.

Photo 3

Boom!  My first mistake.  I sewed my second panel, that I has taken so much care to align and pin, facing the wrong way.  The finished side had to be face down as opposed to face up.  With much shame, I had to ask my wife for the seam ripper which, with an evil smile gladly handed to me.  Luckily this setback only took a few minutes to address, but I had to make sure I paid more attention to the instructions provided by the tutorial I was following.

Photo 4

Great success! The zipper is installed!

Photo 5

Epic fail!  When I started applying the finishing stich on either side of the zipper, my initial stitch on the left side went well although I had sewed-in a small wrinkle at the top.  I gave myself a pass and turned my attention to the right side.  I don’t know what happened, but something in the machine jammed, my piece wasn’t feeding through the machine, everything bunched up and got tangled.  This mess was so bad that even the trusty seam ripper couldn’t fix it.

Photo 6

Lesson learned, if something unexpected happens, STOP!  Evaluating the situation, I decided to press on and keep this mess as a reminder that I’m a beginner and that there is always room for improvement.  As I started regaining momentum and stitching more panels together, something didn’t look right so I STOPPED!  (Hey, I’m a quick learner!)  Upon further investigation, it was obvious that I had ran out of thread on my bobbin.

Photo 7

I had two new skills to acquire if I wanted to finish my project, transfer new thread to my bobbin and thread the sewing machine.  The trusty manual I had printed last week came in handy and guided me through the first task quite well.  Achievement unlocked!

Photo 8

Threading the machine went just as well and after making a few test stitches on a scrap piece of fabric, I was back in business!  The last few stitches were made and after a quick inside out flip, my glorious creation presented itself to me!

Overall, I’m quite pleased with my first creation and it really works as a pencil case!  Time to take things to the next level and undertake something a bit bigger and a bit more complex.  Lessons were learned and I’m sure more lessons will present themselves in the future, but I have to admit there is always a lot of satisfaction in seeing a finished product.  I achieved all of my goals for this phase of my learning project and even learned a few new tricks of the trade.

2 thoughts on “Learning How to Sew (week two)

  1. Congratulation, Daniel!!! It is so amazing to see you accomplish the goals you set and successfully deal with all the expected and unexpected challenges. I feel this learning process is similar to our everyday lives having to remind ourselves constantly to STOP and investigate before we run ahead.
    Thank you for sharing and looking forward to seeing your following creations! 🙂
    Melinda

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