Today it’s my pleasure to introduce Kerry, a brand-new sewist and a talented member of the Interweave design team. A few weeks ago, Kerry started showing up in the office with the most wonderful sewn projects, each one more impressive than the last. She seemed to be having the kind of success and enjoyment of sewing that sometimes eludes beginners. I asked her if she would write about one of her projects and how she approached it. She shared this story of designing and making this cute bag (at right)–her second sewing project ever. I hope that Kerry will be back to share more of her projects (yesterday she arrived at work with a sensational wallet and card case). If you’re a new sewist, or even an experienced one, I hope Kerry’s success will encourage you to be confident, to challenge yourself with things that seem difficult, and to be persistent if things don’t turn out perfectly on the first try. While it’s always good to get your feet wet with a simple project, you don’t have to limit yourself. Use fabric that you love and that inspires you, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and have fun.–E.L.
I think the best thing about being a beginner sewer is that I don’t know enough about techniques to be intimidated by them. I don’t yet have a concept of how difficult things might be, so I’ve been just jumping right in–and that has led to some fearless attempts and some fantastic results.
My good friend Alicia has been my sewing mentor since we started several weeks ago with a simple pillowcase. The rush of pride when testing out my finished product for the first time created such a wave of confidence that I decided to go bigger and better for my second project-a purse. I already knew what style I wanted: a replica of an old bag I had worn out through years of use. It is a great credit to Alicia that she didn’t tell me I was crazy for wanting to create my own pattern, or for suggesting something simpler.
We examined the old bag to figure out what the basic shapes were and how we could put it together. We assured ourselves that this would be a “practice bag,” and bought inexpensive fabric in the name of experimentation. I drew the pieces on regular printer paper. I learned how to use interfacing, how to sew curves and pockets, how to topstitch. Most of the time we spent making the bag, however, went into thinking about the design, how to make it work, and how to overcome problems. And there were certainly problems! The zipper had us stumped for a while, and so did the part about attaching the strap to the rest of the bag, which we redid several times. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to see what worked and what didn’t as we basically made things up as we went along.
My “practice bag” has become the purse I carry every day. Though it is not without its flaws, I get excited every time I look at it over the sheer possibilities of what simple fabric can turn into and what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it. Fantastic! What’s next?
Images: Top right, Kerry’s bag with front pocket; top left, zipper, lining, and inside pocket; center, Kerry’s sketched pattern piece, showing different possibilities for the shape as she worked out the design; lower right, back of bag showing zipper tab.