How To Sew A Drawstring Bag

It’s been raining in Philly lately, which until recently would have been a real bummer. Now I get to spend time working on my rain project! (In case you missed it, I’m teaching myself how to sew.) My first project last week was sewing a table cloth for our dining table. I found a great black linen fabric at Jo-Ann Fabric, and I am really happy with how it turned out.

A few days later, I decided to up my sewing game and make a drawstring bag. I again found the fabric (and string) from Jo-Ann. I knew I’d need a pattern to work from, and Purl Soho had a beautiful pattern tutorial that I decided to use. This project was easier than the table cloth in some ways (less fabric to manage), and harder in others (more intricate details in the sewing). I’ve learned something new about sewing in both of these projects, and I’m pretty excited to continue learning more. Next up: a cafe apron! I’ve already picked out my fabric, and it’s sitting pre-washed and ironed by the sewing machine.

I’m not going to write out a DIY tutorial for this drawstring bag because 1) I followed Purl Soho’s directions almost completely, and 2) I don’t feel strong enough in my sewing skills yet to be able to relay a project in my own words. If you’d like to make a bag like this one, head over to Purl Soho for their tutorial!

PS) Purl Soho recommends using this drawstring bag for shoes, but I say it can be used for all kinds of things. Use it in your travel suitcase for more delicate items, wrap a gift in it, or use it as your knitting bag! It’s versatile and fun to make. Happy sewing!

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Rain Project

A few weeks back, I temporarily inherited a sewing machine that’s been in my family for over 30 years. I say temporarily because it’s my mom’s sewing machine. My grandpa–who was a custom tailor at Bergdorf Goodman–sewed many a things on this machine for my sister and me growing up. If you haven’t realized through reading Scissors & Sage yet, my grandparents have been a big influence on the person I am becoming. Their values and morals–and good taste in music and in food–shaped me over the many years they came over to help take care of us.

When my dad dug out this sewing machine from our basement at home and brought it down to Philly, we hesitantly set it up on my drafting table, plugged it in, and flipped the switch. The light came on and it was ready to be used–almost as if it were waiting to be used. We read through the instruction manual and learned the basics. I’ve since tested out a few stitches on scrap fabric, but now I want to really get going with it.

That’s where my rain project comes in. The point of a rain project is to choose something that you have been wanting to get started on, but haven’t found the right moment for. It should be a project that is both ongoing and has no deadline. Work on it on days that it is raining, and time spent indoors feels cozy and right. It could be a new skill, like learning to sew, or knitting a big blanket for the first time. It could even be teaching yourself how to bake, working your way through a cookbook, or organizing every closet in your home. It’s up to you. The only requirement is that you take it nice and slow. Your rain project might turn into a snow project (yay snow days), and then back to a rain project come spring.

I’ll certainly be reporting back regarding my sewing progress. I have two projects in mind that I think will be good for a beginner like myself. (Sixth grade sewing club feels mighty far away right now.) Do you sew? Do you have any patterns that you’ve found especially satisfying and fun? Please send them my way!

Will you be joining me in your own rain project?

DIY Felt iPhone 6 Sleeve

I am of a certain belief that hoarding, to some extent, can be a good thing. More times that not I find myself saying, “Wow, I am so glad I kept that!” for whatever it is I am working on. Today’s project uses materials I already had, so once again, my pack rat tendencies have paid off!

Last week I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my cell phone from an iPhone 4S to an iPhone 6. While I’ve had my 4S for several years and it was almost as good as new, I ultimately decided to recycle it with Apple for a faster and larger phone. Anne and I are traveling to Greece this summer (!!!!!!!), and I wanted to have a more reliable phone that takes great pictures for our journey.

To complement my new cell phone I decided, of course, that it needed a cute home. I didn’t want to go the route of a case, and thought a sleeve might be a nice alternative. Plan A was to visit the local art supply store and pick up a swatch or two of felt, but when they didn’t have any nice color options, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a Plan B. I sat on my couch when I got home and brainstormed how else I could make a cell phone sleeve. I didn’t have any other materials on hand that would work for this project.

And then it hit me! (Enter: hoarder.) I keep a whole drawer of gift wrapping materials by my drafting table for this very reason. I had the PERFECT item to reuse and repurpose: a felt pouch from Madewell! My aunt gave me a bracelet in it for Christmas once.

I should again stress that I really do not sew. I did, once upon a time in 6th grade, join sewing club, but that was eons ago. I can sew on buttons, and recently embroidered a card, but my sewing knowledge really stops there. That being said, I think that any crafter can make this cell phone sleeve. I’ll walk you through it!

DIY Felt iPhone 6 Sleeve

Materials:

  • Felt (one or two colors)
  • Embroidery thread
  • Sewing needle
  • Scissors

Step 1: My step 1 might look different from your step 1 because I was working with an item I needed to deconstruct before I could re-construct it. I began by carefully taking out the stitches in the felt pouch and lying it flat. I laid my phone down over the felt to eyeball where I needed to cut. For an iPhone 6, measure your swatch to be 3 1/2 inches x 11 5/8 inches. (Note: This pattern can easily be adjusted to fit any cell phone, tablet, or personal device.)

Step 2: If you want to make a secondary pocket, cut another felt swatch of identical measurements. This could be the same color or a complementary color. Then, fold this swatch in half short ways and cut a diagonal line through both halves of the felt. (Since I didn’t choose the color of my felt, I decided to spruce things up a bit with fun coral-colored embroidery thread!)

Step 3: Place the diagonally cut felt over the rectangular felt and carefully line up the edges. If anything does not line up correctly, this is the time to fix it. Thread the sewing needle with embroidery thread and begin sewing up the first side of the sleeve. You can use any stitch for this, or even a sewing machine if you know how to use one! I decided to stick to the basics: in one side, out the other, etc.

I used an invisible stitch to begin and end the two sides so that there wouldn’t be any visible knots or loose string (this sleeve is two-sided, after all!). When beginning, I entered through the inside of the sleeve, and at the end, I tied a knot between the two pieces of felt. These are very much “Victoria stitches,” as I truly had no idea what I was doing and made it up as I went. Much to my surprise, these stitches seem sturdy!

Step 4: Make sure that everything fits nicely in your new felt sleeve! I wanted my phone to fit snugly in the pouch so that it doesn’t fall out if held upside-down. The beauty of not having a top closure is that you can charge your phone and/or listen to music with headphones while it is in the sleeve! It will make the perfect companion for your jacket pocket, bag, or purse.

The best part about this project? It cost me $0. All because I saved that felt pouch from Madewell. Here’s to hoarding crafting supplies forever… and ever.

Be sure to tag your own DIY projects with #scissorsandsage!

Design inspiration for this project came from Poppytalk.