Monday, December 3, 2012

Crafting projects

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, when we went to visit my in-laws, I decided that I needed to take advantage of the availability of a sewing machine. I've had so many sewing projects which I've wanted to try out but, without a sewing machine, haven't been able to. I'm a terrible sewer, not having had much practice. I can barely say that I know how to run a sewing machine, and to call myself a novice still implies a bit more experience and knowledge than I have. I think I've only used a sewing machine maybe three times before? Still, with excellent help from my BIL's girlfriend, M (who has been teaching herself to quilt and sew and makes AMAZING, beautiful things) I managed to get through my projects. I figure that if I could manage to do these, pretty much anyone else can too.
The first project to tackle were simple drawstring bags, which I wanted for use when I go grocery shopping. Since I do so much shopping from the bulk section, and since the plastic bags break after one or two reuses, simple drawstring bags seemed like the best option. I loosely (very loosely) followed these instructions and made seven drawstring bags of various sizes.
I used fabric I already had, from an old set of curtains I had made (by hand) for our cabin. They don't fit any of the windows in our current apartment, however, and the fabric had merely been sitting taking up space while I tried to think of what else I wanted to do with them.
On the advice of M, this is the stitch I used on the inside, then a straight stitch over the top to make sure it's extra sturdy.
This is how the top looks from the outside, the puffy area is where the drawstring goes through.
And, the finished product, before putting a drawstring in it. It's a square! (I just had my iPod and couldn't figure out how to get a decent picture of it looking like a bag, rather than a square. Sorry.) I found that the easiest way to thread the drawstring through is to attach a paper clip so that there's something firm on the end to grab.
I've now used these bags several times at the store and they're fantastic! I even bough flour yesterday and used one of them. I was a little worried that flour might come out the top so after drawing the string tight I wrapped it around the top of the bag, under the drawstring, and tied it tightly. This, and keeping the bag upright, prevented any spillage of flour. When I got home I transferred the flour to a glass jar and the bag will go in the wash. Since flour and water makes paste, I'm going to turn it inside out, get as much flour out of it as possible and then put it (still inside out) in the wash. If it still makes paste and gets gunky and gross, I'll be sure to update this to let everyone know.
My second project was a set of sandwich wraps. I saw an idea a while ago that I thought was fairly brilliant, the only problem being that it still uses plastic. There are hundreds of tutorials on how to make these sandwich wraps (the link above is just for Google search results) and some of them use plastic, others don't. I didn't want the plastic but I did want something sturdier than simple cloth, so I used canvas instead. I tried to find oilcloth and couldn't. Oh well.
I made these about as simply as possible. They're just squares over squares. I did a simple straight stitch to attach the canvas to the other fabric, then folded over the edges (twice, so the true edge of the fabric was tucked in) and sewed those down.
I put Velcro on two opposite corners, one small strip on the inside edge of one corner and a much longer strip on the outside of the opposite corner. (I used double-sided Velcro, very easy to use.) The reason for the longer strip is so that it can be adjusted to fit a variety of sandwiches. Whether square or round or sub-style, these wraps will work.
I actually got to try it out the first Monday we were home, since we didn't have anything in the house for lunch except sandwich stuff. It worked well, although it did leak a little. It was because of the sandwich I made, which has pineapple. (Honey ham, a bit of mayo, pineapple slices, and basil, NOM! So good!) I think that for anything less wet than pineapple it will be just fine. And it certainly kept my sandwich together, which plastic bags don't. (I have also occasionally used our Pyrex containers, but unless I have a round sandwich those sort of fail.) Project success!
The final project I worked on were dog booties, but that will have to wait for a second post since this one is so long already and that one's a bit wordier than these were.

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