Week 1 Complete: My Long-Awaited Lap Belt Backpack is Finally Finished

Two short weeks ago I challenged myself to complete one project a week for the next seven weeks.  I’ll be honest, I already kind of failed, but I figure if I have seven projects done at the end I’ll be proud of myself.  I made the rules after all right?

I say “kind of” failed, because my week one project took about one and a half weeks as it was a bit more complex than I had planned for.  If you’ve seen my Instagram, you know that a few weeks ago the two lap belts I ordered finally arrived and I was excited to get them onto a project.

I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make my week 1 project completing the lap belt backpack I decided to use the blue buckle on.  This was a fun and challenging project, because I had no pattern I was using for the project, just a collection of pictures from Pinterest I wanted to combine and make my own. Usually, I would take these pictures and make a detailed sketch of what I wanted my result to look like…

This time around I must have fell and bumped my head, because I never competed a full sketch of the project!  Instead I just started from what I knew how to make and strove to make it look as much like my main inspiration picture as possible.  It either says something about my reverse engineering skills or my sheer luck that the backpack tuned out as well as it did, but that’s a discussion for later.

uber cool bags made from recycled car seats and seat belts from rePack (on FB).

My main project inspiration

Looking at flap backpacks on Pinterest I figured that a flap backpack or drawstring backpack are in general nothing more than a tote bag with flaps and/or drawstrings added.  Luckily, I have making square bottom tote bags down to a science.  All I had to do was measure another backpack I had that I liked the size of and add some extra L X W for the seam allowance.

I decided I wanted the bottom of the bag cut on a fold so that the base would all be one piece and the sides would need to be stitched up.  Next, I added the accent leather (pleather?) fabric on top of the main upholstery weight leopard print fabric.  I debated putting an outside pocket on the back of the backpack, but in the end decided to leave that for the bags next improved iteration.

Embarrassingly, I accidentally stitched all the accent fabric on before adding the bottom half of the lap belt and had to remove some of the stitching, so I could slip in the lap belt.  It was no big deal but felt like a rookie mistake.

It was at this point that I took a break to think out the design more before I made a mistake that would be hard to fix.  Since I didn’t have a detailed sketch I spent a lot of time mentally working out the different options for reaching my end result.  I asked myself questions like: When should I add the flap, should the top half of the buckle go on top or underneath the flap, how do I keep the heavyweight Pellon interfacing in place at the base of the bag?Although these were important questions to ask myself, I think they were also mixed in with a good amount of procrastination.  In the end, I inserted the bag lining with an added pocket (see the cute bee print fabric) and then added the flap.  I decided on splitting the top portion of the buckle into two pieces.  I left the adjustable strap out and the part attached to the buckle was sewn onto the end of the flap.  I also used some of the leftover belt to make a grab handle on the top of the backpack.

The most stressful part of making any bag is always inserting the lining for me.  I’ve tried all the methods, but somehow, I always seem to misjudge the lining and must adjust. *Facepalm* The thickness of all the layers is also a stressor for me and with this bag it was especially stressful.  With my upholstery weight fabric, lining fabric, two-layered flap and two-layers of belt buckle I had my machine put to the test!

Ruby did remarkably well given all I (literally) put her through.  Honestly, all the needles I broke on this project are entirely on me.  I learned a whole lot about the right mix of speed, needle type and stitch length making this backpack.

Anyways, sorry there aren’t more pictures of the process!  I’ll do better next time.  I think with my lack of planning and extemporaneous sewing (is that a real phrase?) I was afraid the process would be especially ugly; I wasn’t wrong, but I’m sure now that would have only made it that much better to share with my readers.  Embrace the process and all that.

In the end, I ended up with a beautiful, heavier than standard backpack, that’s great for carrying the essentials and a light laptop or tablet.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  I’m already preparing a list of what I’d do better for next time.  See you in a bit, when I reveal how Week 2’s project went.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stay sweet, Sweeties!

Review: Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale, Sewing and Embroidery Machine

A few months ago I entered a Joann Fabrics and left with the Designer Ruby Royale Sewing and Embroidery Machine.  This combination sewing/embroidery machine is great for anyone who plans to sew and/or embroider and sell goods and wants a lot of automated features.  With the machines large touch screen, deluxe Stitch System (adjusts to the best embroidery settings for your project as you go) and large embroidery/sewing area I feel like I got a major upgrade.

img_2602

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For some background, before this, I had the Brother LP6800 Sewing and Embroidery Machine, Project Runway Addition.  For an introductory and sewing machine, I can’t complain too much about my old machine.  It had a lot more power than the standard Brother sewing machine I had before.  It was awesome for the tote bags I made with Duck Cloth.  Plus the needle threader is out of this world.  However, I felt I needed a upgrade for many reasons; the main ones being more reliability when embroidering (the embroidery wasn’t always flawless, I ran into issues more than I would have liked) and larger embroidery and sewing space.

Image result for Brother LP6800 Sewing and Embroidery Machine, Project Runway Edition

 

So, although, I had no major complaints about the machine, it is a machine that is more suited for those who just want to do simple small embroidery designs; introductory and intermediate sewing/embroidery.  Whereas, I wanted to begin to sell my creations and launch my website SewStrawberrySweet.com.

FEATURES:

I think the biggest draws for me and anyone who is making a similar machine upgrade are the automated features, large embroidery and sewing area and on-screen features.  I’ll skip over the “basic” features in this written review like lots of fonts to choose from, hundreds of stitch selections etc., but know that this machine does include all those features. Follow THIS LINK to see all the features and benefits Huqvarna calls out on their website.

Automated Features for Sewing and Embroidery:

When it comes to sewing, the machine includes what Viking calls the “Exclusive Sensor System™,” which senses fabric thickness for even feeding and great presser foot.  There is also an on-screen Sewing and Embroidery Advisor that provides guidance that optimizes sewing and embroidery.  You can also click the question mark icon on the top right of the screen and then click any other on-screen icon and a box pops up to explain what that button/feature is. That feature has  come in handy a few times for me.

Large Embroidery/Sewing Area:

The machine comes with two embroidery hoops a 360 x 200mm and a 120 x 120.  For those of us that don’t speak metric (ahem, Americans) that larger hoop gives you about 14″ x 8″ of space to embroider.  That was simply unimaginable for me, my Brother only had a 4″ x 4″ embroidery space.  Of course, the ability to embroider a large area also translates into lots of room for sewing.  I imagine the machine would have no trouble holding a roll of even the bulkiest quilt.  You can see an example from Husqvarna’s site below.

img_2481

On-Screen Features:

A big part of machine embroidery, of course, is what you can see on the screen before you embroider.  The Ruby has a “large (5.7″), clear full-color wide view touch screen with
high resolution (640×480).”  On screen, you can change thread colors, adjust design position and size and much more.  I could not tell you how much being able to change the thread colors on-screen has helped me.  It makes telling which portion you are embroidering next so much easier.

There is also a little “+” sign on screen that shows what part of the design you are currently embroidering.  This is awesome, as sometimes embroidery designs seem to have no rhyme or reason in the approach they take to stitching out a design until you’re able to see more of the full picture.  With the little “+” sign leading the way, it is super easy to keep track of where you are in the current design.

Layer Embroidery Designs on Screen:

I love the Ruby’s ability to layer designs.  For instance, you are embroidering a throw pillow with the first letter of your name, but want to add a little pzazz.  You can add that letter onto the screen and resize, re-color and move it to your liking; then go back to the menu and add another design to the screen like flowers or a heart.  You name it!

Smart Save Embroidery:

Smart Save; this feature can seem a little tricky at first, but all you have to do is go into the menu and check the box to turn it on.  Once enabled, you can stop wherever you are in an embroidery project and turn off the machine.  When you next turn on the machine you go into the heart menu and you can upload the design and it’s ready to go right where you left it.  Just be careful that you don’t open another embroidery design before you load your last or your project will be lost!

Ease of Saving Designs on the Machine:

Speaking of saving, saving is a wonderful thing on the Ruby Royale.  I wasn’t able to find online exactly how many designs you can save on the machine, but I have uploaded quite a few designs since I got the machine and have received no warnings that I was running out of space.  The machine comes with a 1GB flash drive you can use to upload designs for easy transfer from computer to machine and to save space.

An added bonus of the large color screen is that once the designs are given a moment to load you can easily see what design is what.  You can edit designs names right on screen.  You can even create additional folders to help organize your designs!  Pretty darn cool.

Flawless Embroidery:

This machine does beautiful work.  You’ll find that each job you finish looks professional and is something you want to share with the world.  I have done the smallest of embroidery and the biggest and the Ruby Royale has yet to let me down.  It looks awesome while doing it too.  This machine really has a way with thread.

Applique with Ease:

The Ruby has tons of built in features and stitches that help you to make beautiful applique designs.  It’s ability to sense the fabric and it’s large embroidery area have helped me to do some really cool things.  I have yet to find a thickness this machine did not like.  When you follow the on-screen instructions about the best needle and foot to use for the job, you should not have any issues making something gorgeous.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lots of Light:

I may be young, but my eyes are already not what they used to be.  This machine is very well lit with wide reaching LED lights.  You’ll find there’s plenty of light for the more detailed tasks.

Large Foot Pedal:

The foot pedal is wide and grips well on most surfaces.  It also has an awesome retractable cord.  I cannot tell you how many times I have brought my machine to a friend’s house and realized I had the pedal, but not the cord or vice versa.  Problem solved!

Loads of Accessories, Included and Optional:

When I tell you the invisible zipper foot changed my life I am not lying…  Only exaggerating a bit.  It hasn’t quite changed my whole life, but it completely changed the way and the speed I am able to insert invisible zippers.  I bought the invisible zipper foot at my local Joann’s and it works so well I almost only want to exclusively use invisible zippers, even in tote bags!  Trust me on this one, if you have this machine you are going to want to get the invisible zipper foot.  It’s magic.

img_2482

Here’s a look at everything that comes in the box(es).  The slide in arm storage on this machine is great; there’s a place for all the feet and a few bobbins.  The best part is it’s completely accessible while sewing.

It’s as Pretty as a Ruby… Almost:

I say almost, because it’s hard for a manufactured item to compete with nature, but Viking gave it it’s best shot.  The machine is very pretty to look at and fits in beautifully in my sewing space.  There are no awkward parts that stick out and the cords and ports are well thought out and placed.  I created a custom recessed desk for my machine to sit in and it seems the manufacturers thought out the placement for the ports so they don’t bump into the edges of the desk or get in your way when you’re using the machine.

img_1896

THE BEST FEATURE:

Drum roll please…  It all comes down to this; the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale Sewing and Embroidery machine is a major time saver.  You might say, “That’s not a feature!”  However, you would be like, so wrong.  Think about it, time is money and this machine cost a whole lot of money, but the many features that have saved me time have contributed the most in making me feel all that money was worth it.

The Ruby Royale’s on screen Sewing and Embroidery Advisors, sensing tech when embroidering and the ability to thread a bobbin with the second motor while embroidering at the same time, have saved me some major time.  Tasks that used to be frustrating on my old machine, now have a new luster to them.  Time is money and this machine has given me a whole lot of that sweet currency back.

WHAT I LIKE THE MOST:

The Designer Ruby Royale is clearly a machine that was made by someone who sews or who clearly had them in mind.  Many companies can make a sewing machine.  Shoot, I’m sure General Motors could if they wanted to, but few companies know how to make a sewing machine that is made to work in the way a sewist will use it.

Many features on this machine I did not know I needed them until I was presented with them.  It is truly the simple stuff that makes this machine a gem… A ruby.  When I use my Ruby Royale I feel like the machine was made for me, a sewist.

WHAT I LIKE THE LEAST & COULD USE IMPROVEMENT:

Okay, you have probably been thinking to yourself this whole review, “Is there anything she didn’t like.  This machine sounds perfect and that simply cannot be.”  You’re right; the Ruby Royale is not perfect.

The “Automatic” Needle Threader:

The needle threader is not so automatic.  For instance, my very top pet peeve is the needle threader.  It irks me even as I write this review.  The needle threader works fine.  Just fine.  It’s automatic, but only so much.  When it comes to threading the needle my $300 Brother machine blows it out of the water.  I could pull one lever on that machine and bam, needle threaded.

My Ruby requires much more of me, not too much, but enough that I get frustrated that for all the money I paid that it isn’t a one step process.  It’s the standard pull down the lever, tuck the thread behind, let the lever go and pull the loop from the needle threading process.  It’s interesting Viking could not follow in Brother’s steps here, but maybe there is some product patent I am not aware of.  Who knows?

The Wasteful Bobbins:

Don’t get me wrong, they hold a lot of thread, but they seem a bit wasteful.  They have two compartments/sections, where I assume the top is for sensing when the bobbin needs refilling and the bottom section holds the thread that feeds into your project.  However, when you get your warning that it is time to refill the bobbin the top portion of it is still full of thread.  You can keep sewing/embroidering if you like, but be prepared for the pop-up to be back in 3.5 seconds of continued sewing.  The only way around this I have found is to leave the pop-up on the screen when I start sewing again.  However, this stops the machine from warning you when the bobbin is all out of thread (for real this time).  Feels less wasteful though. *Shrugs and continues to live life on the edge*

The Pricey Embroidery Software:

Sure, the machine itself will get you off to a good start when it comes to the basic manipulating of embroidery designs.  However, if you really want to do some damage and create your own designs you are going to have to reach back into that pocketbook and invest in some digitizing software.  I would recommend considering investing somewhere else than into the Premier+ Software that is made into the machine.  It’s super pricey and I’m not so sure it is superior enough over other options, like Embird, to be truly worth the $800+ price tag.  I’d love to test it for myself, but alas my wallet is empty.

VALUE & PRICING:

This machine is expensive.  There is no other way to put it, my wallet is still crying.  You will find the machine at your local dealer or on eBay ranging somewhere near $5,000.  That’s a lot of dough.  That kind of money could buy you a used car.

The Ruby Royale can help you make money of course, but it’s still going to cost you on the front end.  I should also note here, that most dealers offer a financing option which makes this pricey machine much more attainable.  I got special 0% interest financing for 36 months through Affirm.  And through some witchcraft the financing doesn’t even show on my credit report.  Yeah, I don’t know either, but it’s fine with me.

There are also a handful of warranties that cover the machine; just make sure you take the time to register the machine.  Along with this you can also download a free version of the Premier+ Software that allows you to view your embroidery designs as icons in the folder they are saved in (love this feature!)  You can also view designs in the program and print them out at scale for use as templates or dielines.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Not for the Hobbyist:

I cannot recommend this machine for everyone who sews or embroiders.  If you are just a hobbyist who sews once a week or less I’m not so sure you can justify the price tag on the Ruby.  I would say this machine is well suited for someone who plans to sell goods and use this machine at least three times a week, if not everyday.

Time Saver & Your Very Own Sewing Coach:

This machine will make the simple stuff easier and the harder stuff seem easy.  You can save lots of designs and edit them on screen.  You have plenty of space for embroidering, sewing, and quilting.  The machine is well built and has plenty of power for the more heavy-duty jobs.  The on screen advisers and sensors will help you along the way.  Plus, you are going to get some high-quality results in all that you do.

As a side note, I would also add that most dealers offer some free classes when you buy the machine to help you get started.  I found the learning curve on it to be a little steeper than expected.  However, once you clear the curve you’ll find the machine is more than intuitive and a joy to use.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Are you now itching to buy the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale? Or has my review convinced you to put it on the back-burner or look for a sewing/embroidery machine elsewhere?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.  It’s always sweet to hear from my readers. Until next time, stay sweet, Sweeties!

Ps. I wanted to hurry and get this review published, but stay tuned for a YouTube review!

One Project a Week: Will I Succeed?

You ever feel like you have too much fabric?  If you’re a sewist, that’s very much a rhetorical question.  What’s the fun of having a hobby if you’re not doing the absolute most and living your best life?  Plus, you never know when you might need two yards of that green and white gingham print knit!

Anyways, my excessive stash is what’s led me to my decision to challenge myself.  The holiday season is coming up too, so I figure this is the perfect time to give sewing from my harvest a chance.  Each week leading up to Christmas I am going to complete one sewing project a week, using only fabric from my plentiful stash.

Now at this point you may be reading this blog and thinking, “This sounds like a fun challenge!  But can she do it?!?”  Honestly, I’m asking myself the same, but really looking forward to the fun that is to be had.  I can finally get around to making those bags and things I keep meaning to make for myself, plus I can make some interesting handmade Christmas gifts!

The other result of this I’m looking forward to with this is curbing my shopping addiction.  I love to shop for bags and I love to go to Joanns.  If you follow along on my Instagram (@sewstrawberrysweet), you’ll know that my recent move means I am now within walking distance of a JoAnn Fabrics.  So close in fact, that the other day I realized I still have a bit of a WiFi signal from my apartment!  The temptation is high to be at JoAnn’s every second of the day.  Working from my stash will give me chance to use all the fabric that I bought without a purpose in mind.

I have also been feeling like I’ve hit a low motivation point in my sewing journey lately.  I was going really strong there for awhile, even amid moving cross country to the South.  I think focusing on some new projects should help give a jump start to my motivation!

I’m sure by this point, you’re wondering just what I’ll be sewing; that’s where I need your help.  Starting this Monday, I will be posting pictures on my Instagram of my fabric along with project options and asking for your help in deciding what projects would be best.  Think you’re up to the task?  I sure hope so.  I can’t do it without you!

I’ll leave my Next to Sew Pinterest board below ,that I have been adding to for just about the last billion years.  Let me know in the comments what projects you want to see come to life with my own personal flare.  Or even better, let me know if you’re in for the challenge!  Just use the hashtag: #SSS7in7challenge

Stay Sweet Sweeties!

My Crafting Space is Complete!

Bigger and Better – Craft Desk Expansion:

If you’ve been following my Instagram (@sewstrawberrysweet) you know for the past month I have been hard at work building my sewing/craft desk bigger and better than ever before.  I made my first craft desk about two years ago, but decided a fresh start was needed since I was making a big move to a new place.

A Great Start:

Below are some pictures of my old sewing table (ignore the mess) that I made for my Brother LB6800 Sewing and Embroidery Machine.  I got two cube shelves from Target for the base/legs.  Fun fact: that second cube shelf is actually brown not black…  I didn’t want to paint it, so I covered it with black wrapping paper and sealed it on with ModPodge.  It gave it a really cool look, but I still can’t decide if that was wisdom at work or not.

I absolutely fell in love with my first sewing desk.  I was so proud of myself.  I bought a jigsaw and power sander and cut the hole in the top myself.  Plus, I went in the with the washi tape and really gave it a personal flair.  I added magnetic knife racks from IKEA to the fronts so I could keep my little containers of notions and things super handy.

My favorite part though, as always, has to be the lace painting I did.  Lace painting is my favorite painting method and it is was easier than it looks.  You simply paint the surface with the base color you want, black in my case, and let it dry for a bit.  Then you lay your lace fabric over it.  You can secure it with some painters tape or something underneath if you like, but I personally like the depth that comes from having the fabric lay a bit less flush in some spots.  Then you just take spray paint and paint over the lace.  Bam, let it dry and you are done.  You can take the lace off and lightly sand for a textured look with a smooth feel.

So, all this is to say my original sewing desk was really awesome, but I wanted something bigger and better.  I really needed it too, because a few months before my move I upgraded to the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale Sewing and Embroidery Machine.  I needed a desk that could support (quite literally) such a gorgeous (and expensive, ugh) sewing machine.

A Failure to Plan is a Failure to Succeed:

The first step of any project is planning of course, so I made note of what areas I could improve on my new desk.  The top one was space.  My old desk was really just a sewing/embroidery desk, because there wasn’t much room for much else.  The first go round I used 2′ x 4′ pieces of wood.  My bedroom in my new apartment is by no means small, but if I was going to put my sewing space in there I knew I wouldn’t be able to push the width of the desktop any wider.  I decided on upgrading to (roughly) 2′ x 8′ mdf wood for the desktop.

The next thing I wanted in my table was functionality.  The magnetic knife racks on the front of the desk were pretty nice, but I wanted more.  More! Of course this meant heading over to Pinterest for inspiration.  See my Sewing/Craft Spaces inspiration board below.

After consulting Pinterest I deciding adding a trash chute and in table power strip were must haves.  I probably had the most fun with this part of the project.  Making the holes with my hole saw attachment on my new powerful corded drill was exhilarating.  I swear the table almost caught on fire from the friction. Don’t worry, my dad warned me if the table was getting that hot I just might be doing something wrong. *shrugs* I had fun though.

Don’t Try to Fix What’s Not Broken, Build it Up:

There were also features of my original desk that I knew were too good to change.  I’ve seen sewing tables built ten different ways on Pinterest, but I think I might have found the easiest and most functional way to do it with my two tier design.  Instead of trying to figure out how to attach a platform to the desk for my machine to rest on so it was properly recessed in the desk… I found an easier route to the same results that also allowed for extra storage underneath the desk top.

I bought two identical pieces of 2′ x 8′ of MDF wood and cut six pieces of wood I measured to the right height to make my sewing machine flush with the desk top. I then placed the pieces at each of the four corners and two in the center of the desk for extra support.  Below are some pictures of the table after I added the corner supports, but before I added the desktop.

This design allows for space to store cutting mats, rulers, a laptop, embroidery hoops or whatever else you want.  This means the spot the machine rests on isn’t adjustable, but this wasn’t a drawback for me.  I made the hole in the desktop custom to hold my sewing machine, so it’s unlikely I would ever need the machine rest at any other height.

Once the basics of the table were built it was time for me to add the trash chute and and round surge protector.  I ran into a small issue with the trash chute I ordered as the fit was a bit too snug, but it was nothing I could not fix with my handy sanding drum drill attachment.  I was also concerned with lining the base desktop with the main desktop, because the space between them made it a bit hard to tell when they were aligned.  However, I found that placing the trash chute into the holes was a great way to line up the layers.

It’s All About the Aesthetics:

After this my focus was on aesthetics.  I added the washi tape around the edge of the desktops like last time, but decided to use ribbon on the cube shelves.  I would definitely recommend this for anyone trying to recreate the look of my table as pulling the fabric storage bins in and out would rip the washi tape over time.  I also had to add a cube shelf to the center of the desk for support, so I added washi tape to the front and sealed with ModPodge before adding the magnetic knife rack.

I used a white ruler washi tape on my last desk, but wasn’t a huge fan of the huge space that was between ever 12″ increment.  I used some PeelnStick paper ruler tape I bought at Hobby Lobby this time around.  It stands out nicely against the desk top and had normal spacing between the 12″ increments.  Like everything else paper I used in this project I sealed it with matte ModPodge glue.

Behind Every Great Custom Table… Is a Beautifully Decorated Wall:

Once the desk itself was complete it was time for me to put some creativity into the wall behind it.  If you look on Pinterest, every single craft table that was created seems to have a pegboard nearby.  I couldn’t break with tradition, but I didn’t want to anger my landlord with the kind of hardware that’s necessary to support a pegboard.  Especially a metal pegboard, which I had decided on, because I wanted to be able to attach magnetic items to the pegboard.

So, I attached the pegboard to the desk itself by drilling through the desktop and aligning the holes in the bottom of the pegboard.  Then I used a smaller screw and washer to secure the board, so moving the desk later wouldn’t be an impossibility.  I leaned the top of the pegboard back a bit and secured it with two screws into the wall.  However, with how sturdy the pegboard already was I think the same impact could have been had by placing command strips on the back, but you live and you learn.

From there it was easy sailing.  I added my thread racks on either side using command strips and filled the pegboard.  I found a some pretty cool strawberry bookends at Target that were perfect for my Sew Strawberry Sweet branding that made an awesome addition to my desk.

And Then She Finally Showed Us the Darn Desk:

Well, enough talk…  Here’s the finished product!  Let me know what you think in the comments or if you have any questions on any part of the process.  Anddddd there will be a video tour of my craft space that I’ll post on my YouTube in a bit here!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

My Dad is My Best Friend: A Tale of Independence and Self Definition

It’s funny referring to him as that: my best friend. He’d never say the same about me, but not in a it’s one-sided way, more like, it’s just not the way his generation would refer to their kids kind of way.

As I worked on building my sewing/craft desk, I realized how I wouldn’t have been able to do any of what I was doing without my dad teaching me how. I think I was only like eight when he taught me how to change drill bits in a power drill. He’s also the reason I remember “righty tighty and lefty loosey” when I’m trying to remember which way to turn a screw.

My dad is also the same man, who, when I was about ten, promised he could fix my sewing machine when it broke. I didn’t believe him. I was thinking, “You’re a boy. Boys don’t sew.” However, my dad, with his distinctive deep voice, told me, “Sarah, I’m a machinist! I can fix anything.” And wouldn’t you know it, he did! He fixed my sewing machine.

He’s also the same man, who every Mother’s Day would say, “In order to be a father, you have to be able to mother a little bit.” Maybe he was half kidding, but the way he approached things… The way he taught me and my brothers, he showed the truth in that funny saying.

If he can plant beautiful flowers around the yard AND lay the bricks that surround them. Then I can sew something amazing AND build the desk my sewing machine sits on. I learned I don’t have to fit into someone else’s box; I can build my own.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. Or define what being a woman, a man, a daughter, a son, a human looks like. You do you. I’d wager you’re the only one that can.

I’ll tell you like my dads told me time and time again (he has the tendency to tell the same stories over and over, luckily they’re all good), you can do anything, it’s just time that’s the barrier, that’s limited. So budget your time and achieve something great; whatever great means to you.

Stay sweet, Sweeties!

How I Started Sewing

Bear with me, Sweeties, because it’s been a while. But today I’m going to tell you how I got started sewing…

I think I started around 8 years old. It’s funny how as you get older you may still remember things from years ago, but time has a way of messing up the timeline in your head.

However, my earliest memory of sewing is my mom getting me one of those little sewing machines that are meant for little kids (me). I loved that thing! It was super loud and so tiny, but for 9 year old me, it was everything. I used to take it with me to the summer camp (daycare, lol) I went to that was inside a woman’s house. Me moms coworkers daughter and I along with some others there, would spend the day sewing. I honestly can’t remember anything I made, but it was tons of fun.

Sometime after this I went to “Camp Mary,” my Aunt Marys house for the summer and enrolled in a week long (?) sewing camp with another girl my age (around 12) from my Aunt’s church. I had so much fun that week making a beach bag, cup coozie and other beginner items. To this day I credit that beach bag for inspiring me to get really serious into sewing and even start creating my own patterns.

A little while later my mom let me use her old sewing machine. It was a beautiful old Singer. We had some good times together, that machine and I, until one day I was sewing and it broke! I still feel guilty, but it’s hard to say if it was me or the machine was old… Luckily my mom wasn’t too mad.

My mom mustn’t have totally given up on my sewing because that Christmas she gifted me a Brother Project Runway sewing machine that had so many stitch choices I didn’t know what to do with them. Sometime after this I took a Home EC class at school with one of my friends. I think that class is the reason I still don’t like making clothes. Ugh!

Sometime after that, circa 2013, I entered the dark times of my sewing hobby. A friend of my brother asked me to do a sewing job for him that seemed simple enough, but OMG it was not. He sent me about 20 ties and asked me to turn them into bow ties. Simple. Not! I’ve always had sewing talent, but this project tested me. Not to mention my procrastination, which I recently realized was my anxiety taking form (can’t mess it up if you don’t start, right? Not!)

What seemed simple enough at first got so stressful and complicated. I made a few prototypes to start and asked for the requesters approval. He had many requests. One of which, was to make sure the design of the tie was horizontal so it wasn’t turned on it’s side when it came time to tie. Maybe it wasn’t impossible, but it was impossible for me. There’s only so much fabric to work with when you’re taking a necktie apart, not to mention the fabric constraints and working with the bias.

Honestly I’m nauseous just remembering the disastrous saga that was the bow tie project. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a year to finish. And oh boy was the guy heated. I was too far into the project to stop and too far from finished to find it worth it. Long story short. I did it! I even still got paid too. Check out the pics. I may be embarrassed of the journey, but the final product is definitely something I can be proud of!

The Before

Anyways, I was downtrodden for a while. During that whole year with the bow tie project I found myself unable to sew anything else knowing I had that huge project looming over my head. Ugh, but with the completion of that project came inspiration to really start sewing.

I’ve never been a real beach person. Like the beach is awesome, but it’s not really my thing. However, I do enjoy time spent outdoors and the fashion that comes with going to the beach. This inspired me to create a pattern for a beach bag and make my own.

Of course this meant I had to head straight to Pinterest. I love Pinterest and Pinterest loves me, haha. The great database that Pinterest is inspired me to get creative with the fabrics I chose.

Burlap is an awesome fabric. It’s seems so boring and rough at first. But you can really make a bag stand out using it. I have the very first beach bag I made using burlap and duck cloth somewhere… Here’s some low quality pics for your enjoyment. Ignore the mistakes. Just kidding, they made me the BA sewist I am today. *flips hair*

The burlap accented beach bag led to the tote bags I started to make that use the same idea of wide burlap ribbon with a duck cloth binding. Here’s one I made one of my aunts.

I love these bags! I left a gap where the strap crosses over the burlap so you can stick your sunglasses through.

Well, it’s been fun taking a look back at my sewing journey with you Sweeties! There’s certainly more I could say. But I’ll leave that for another post. This one was about how I got started sewing after all and I’ve already taken you through my first ten years of sewing.

Hope you enjoyed reading how I got started sewing. Leave a comment and let me know how you got started sewing or if you don’t sew, what you’d like to see me make next!

My Sewing Bucket List

Every sewist, or anyone that does any kind of DIY, needs a Sewing Bucket List! Creating a Sewing Bucket List has been on my, well, bucket list, forever.  So here is the day!  I bring to you, Sweeties, my Sewing Bucket List!

I’ll put the list here, but if you want to see what is my inspiration for completing this list go see the Pinterest board I’ve linked to this blog post.  I may have colored outside the lines a bit as the list includes sewing, embroidery and related DIY projects.  Sew here’s my list…

  • An avocado backpack
  • Guitar shaped backpack
  • Convertible backpack purse (can you tell I love backpacks?)
  • An applique tote bag
  • An embroidered wool cape
  • A tote bag with wood handles
  • A rolling tote for my Designer Ruby Royale
  • A full skirt winter coat
  • The ultimate sewing table (check out the My Creations page on my website for my current sewing table)
  • LBD (Little Black Dress)
  • A high-waisted swimsuit
  • An ombre quilt
  • A high neck, low cut back wedding dress
  • Festive Applique Fabric Banner

Be sure to follow my Pinterest board to see what else I add to the list!  Let me know in the comments what’s on your Sewing Bucket List.