Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mary Poppins Bag Sewalong: Helpful Stuff and Things Part 1

By now, you should have purchased your hardware and your pattern. But what about the other stuff, you might be wondering. What do all of these things in this pattern actually mean???

Well allow me to unveil the mystery!

Before we do that, let's talk business.

First off, I'd like to thank Ms Sew Fearless for the cottage industry license printed in her pattern. At the risk of blowing up people's spots and making enemies, let me just say that I think it's odd for pattern designers to behave as if they have the right to tell you what to do with a product you've made. I understand that confusion has arisen from the fact that even Joann's prints on the selvage that you can't use their fabric for stuff you intend to tell and uhm, no ma'am. Personally, I would prefer not to sell finished products created from someone's pattern only because I don't want to plant seeds of bad will in the sewing community. But it's a rather simple fact that if you make something, you can sell it. So kudos for that acknowledgement.

Secondly, this, as most of you know, is my first sewalong and I did not create this pattern. So you'll understand when I say that as much as I want to make this experience as simple as possible for all of you who are so kind as to sew along with me, I don't want to be giving away all of Ms Sew Fearless's secrets. My goal here to give you enough info and pictures to help you out but not so many that you don't need the pattern or her wonderful instructions. So I'll do my best and if you're still confused, leave me a comment and I'll help the best I can.

So sewing terms and techniques you'll need.

1. Basting: I think most sewists know this one. Long stitches that are easy to take out. They keep things in place, test placement, and otherwise ensure you are happy with what you're doing before you do it permanently and make yourself cry. My machine has a basting setting because I'm a lazy heifer who enjoys button pushing but if yours does not, just set your stitch length long as hell and you'll be ready to go. You could also do it by hand but 

2. Topstitch: Just what it says. You stitch on top of your seam or to the right of it or whatever so make it look all pretty and professional. If you look at the seams on your jeans, many of them are topstitched. According to the pattern, you can just use regular thread but topstitching thread which is a bit thicker, looks fabulous, imo. I'd planned to use some but I didn't find it in a color I liked, so regular thread it is.

3. Whipstitching: I hate whipstitching. Probably because it's a sewn my hand stitch and why do I have a sewing machine if I'm going to sew by hand? (Please remember I said this when it's time to sew up that Chanel-esque Marfy suit so you can point and laugh appropriately.) Despite the smack talk I do about whipstitching, it is really easy and it's pretty quick to boot. Here are some down and dirty examples so you can tell me to stop being such a damned baby.

4. Understitching: This one is sewn on the edge of your seam on the side that will be hidden close to the line of stitching you just did to make everything stay on its side the way you wish small children would on a road trip. It's also better explained via video so just go there instead of looking at me like that.

Are you with me so far?

Good! It's a pretty heavy post but I think you can do it. Are you ready to discuss the list of stuff you must acquire?

If you are an avid sewist, even a beginner one, you'll likely have the following things on hand. If you're a procrastinator, a horrible housekeeper, and a general loser of stuff, you may not know where all of these things are. Here's a list so you can spend the next 24 hours locating things you couldn't find six months ago yet no longer need because you replaced them and not being able to find the things on this list and having to replace those . . . you know, so you can find them in six months while looking for those knitting needles you could have sworn you bought.

Oh is that just me?

The list then.

  • Scissors
  • pins
  • marking pens of some sort. I prefer my trusty double sided fabric of which I have several due to the process I described above.
  • seam ripper (yes, the seam ripper. Don't worry, I have no idea how often you use the thing and you'll have no idea how many times I use the thing.)
  • ruler (yes, you do need one. Some of the pieces are given by measurement and not a piece in the pattern. Do not let this scare you. Math is not completely frightening unless letters are involved. Some of you may be giggling over this, you smart math people. I'm wishing extra passes with the seam ripper on both your houses.)

  • An iron. Oh, you don't iron? Yes, you do. Trust me, you do. If you don't, there's no point in continuing. Now if you're one of those dreadful, I don't iron people, I totally get you. I used to be there. But let me say this as gently as I can. Nothing you sew will ever look quit as nice as it could, no matter how carefully you try if you continue to hide from your iron. I pinky promise I will allow you to take short cuts where you can, I often do myself. But you can't skip ironing, okay? You just can't. If you do, I don't want to hear about it. 

  • Sewing gauge and/or measuring tape. Did I mention there's quite a bit of measuring? Because there's quite a bit of measuring. Be brave, be strong! You can do it!

So there, you're good, right?

Alrighty then.

Next up: The Materials List! I will try to post that tomorrow but it might not be until I get home from church. It's probably not a good sign that I'm starting this off with an apology but I thank you for sticking with me. We shall have bags, I swear it!

Let's do this.


  1. The fabric store near where my house always suggests ding heavy duty thread for topstitching - it comes in great colours and is thicker too (and is often cheaper than topstitiching thread.) Anyway, I use it and have never had a problem with it.
    And I am almost ready to go.I have my hardware and pattern...now I just have to buy some fabric. I am thinking upholstery fabric...

    1. As soon as I find my velveteen, I'll write up the post on fabric choices. Upholstery fabric is an excellent option. Personally, while quilting cotton is a perfectly acceptable choice, I think you'd want to use something more durable if you're going to put time and money into this kind of bag, especially given the cost of the hardware, kwim?