July 13, 2010

My Brother and I Need an Intervention

OK, OK. I have a Brother sewing machine.  

There is nothing more delightful to me than a play on words.  Remember...I am a word geek and you choose to read my silly blog...SO THERE! And I actually have 3 brothers.  And none of us need intervention. 

But I am serious.  I can not use it. I am horrified at what is produced when I attempt to use it. I actually lost sleep over my complete ineptness in all things sewing machine.

Let me back up.  My girls are having their birthday party at the end of this month.  Wait, have I told you that they have birthdays two weeks apart?  I think I have but if I have failed to tell you this, I am so sorry. They do.  So since I am FANATICAL about birthday's they must share a party or I will craft myself to an imminent death.  And I have this cute favor idea I want to do inspired by this tutorial for reverse applique bean bags.  They are so stinking cute!

Let me show the heinous creations I have made...(could I be more dramatic?)

Now don't look at these too closely.  It will look like someone who is legally blind and can not see the BIG E on the eye chart with the naked eye put these together.  

Oh wait.  

That would be me. 

True story.  When I was little and needed glasses I kept saying I could not see the biggest letter on the chart.  Me being the jokester from the womb, my mom thought I was making a funny for the nice doctor and kept saying under her breath...(quite menacingly I might add..."KNOCK IT OFF!"  Sadly, that E was a big blob of smeared ink for me.  I was telling the honest to goodness truth. 

Yet, I was wearing my contacts when I produced this...

Um, what on earth?  
It looks like I was a bit of a lead foot. And what made me think a project such as this should be my first endeavor after accomplishing only a "sort of" straight line using a sewing machine?  But I had to show you this because I still plan on giving this to little children that I assume will not be examining my sewing skills and will only delight in beaming this at someone in close proximity.  (Not it's intended use)
In this photo, one that would make any seasoned sewer proud,  the rice is spilling out where I have failed to sew a hole.  So instead of starting over, I go over and over and over it again until it looks...well, like THAT.  I basically cut the fabric underneath the circle a tad too small.  To add insult to injury, I did not pin it since I am the most impatient person and arrogantly deem that prep work is for amateurs.  Which I have gloriously proven in this magnificent piece of work. Oh, the horror.
Oh, for the love of all things crafty. If I could just stay away from the blasted fabric!!! But I must say the circle actually looks like a circle rather than a crazed, haphazard sewing frenzy. Sort of.

Do you hear the hallelujah chorus?  LISTEN! I think...I think I am actually improving!  
By golly I think she's... Alllllmost got it. 
Still went wayward onto the fabric.  I am driving myself crazy. Oh and just so you know, the original tutorial has the circles kind of messy on purpose.  And I DO like that.  But not my kind of messy.

So.  All you sewers out there. Wait...even if you at least know how to thread a machine, you must leave me a comment.  For the love of all things SEWN WELL you must give me guidance. Yes. I am begging.  

Do I just need to practice?  Am I trying something too difficult?  I admit I have not used one of these mean things in YEARS! Was that shocking?  

Do you think I should just go for it and keep going even if they are not perfect because they are still, kinda, sorta, cute?  Be honest.  I don't want to give away the favor idea yet since every parent of the kids read my blog...and I don't want this post to make them...cough cough...call in sick for the party.

Help a novice sewing girl out. Please.


  1. I have some advice for you. I'm not an expert sewer, but I have a machine and I'm not afraid to use it. I have accepted that I am going to mess up, and each project gets me closer to being the sewer I dream of being.

    1. Take a deep breath and try to give yourself words of encouragement during the process. Even listen to worship music. The point in this is you need a calm, relaxed and stress free environment.

    2. Do you have some scrap fabric you can do some sample stitching on? If so, do it. When I first began I was lousy at straight lines. Not perfect still, but I'm getting better.

    3. Accept in advance that they will probably not be perfect.

    4. Don't be afraid to sew difficult areas by hand.

    5. Take your time. Don't forget to breathe.

    6. If your edges don't look as you wanted them to don't be afraid to use pinking shears for a different finish. Just make sure you don't cut out your seam. :)

    7. Be flexible and go with the flow. A change in design mid project to hide a mistake is not the end of the world.

    And now I am going to tell you the truth. Are you ready? Those are so stinkin cute! Had you going, didn't I? I overlooked your link so I assumed you were showing us the tutorial picture guide. Don't be so hard on yourself. You'd be surprised at how many people will be amazed at your work because they can't sew. Personally, I think you're off to a wonderful start. Don't give up girl, YOU CAN DO THIS!!

    I don't suppose you know how to do a free hand drawing of a silhouette of a flamingo? I need a pattern.. :)

  2. Ok so this is what I would do ( and I sew ALL the time!) I would make the inset a square, much easier to sew than a circle. If your machine has cute embroidery stitches, use one. It would make it look fancier AND covers up not perfectly straight lines. You also could fringe cut the edges ( you'd have to leave a wider seam line) that would hide imperfect cuts. I make baby blankets all the time like that and it really does cover up lots of oops!

    These are super cute and I WILL be stealing this idea some day!!

  3. OK I have very little patience also, but I have to tell you that pinning makes all the difference in the world. Remember when I was making those bags for the Art Auction? And I was sewing everyday for a long time? All night long it seemed? I just had to get over thinking of the pinning as wasted time because it really, really helps. Unless you run over a pin and break a needle. Then you just want to cry.

    Second, I had a Brother. And it hated me. We never seemed to get along. (Kinda like my real brother except he doesn't hate me. And we get along now that we're both grown ups. Kinda...) I had major issues with the bobbin tension, the top tension, could never get it to use any stitch but the straight one, etc. (I finally threatened to throw it down the stairs and got a new machine for Christmas. And it loves me. And I love it.) BUT if your Brother loves you more and will allow you to use the zig zag stitch, use it! It will make them stronger, keep the rice in better, and look cuter while covering a few mistakes.

    And I agree with Becky. Make a square in the middle. Or a star. Or a triangle. Or any other geometric shape as long as the lines are straight. And use the zig zag there, too. Except if you do a star, you should probably just use a straight stitch because that's a lot of turns to make.

    Finally, don't make it harder on yourself by cutting the "inside" fabric too small! I hate waste and always want to use up every tiny piece of fabric I have left but at this point, it will just make you frustrated. Honestly, you could put the felt on any size piece of fabric, sew the "hole" shut, and then cut it to size. It may make it faster to pin a bunch at a time that way, also.

    Plus, let me tell you, people are super impressed just to hear I can sew. They never see the flaws I see. I don't know if they are just not as detail oriented as me or if I see the flaws just because I made them and am arrogant enough to think I can and should create something perfect. Because, you know, I'm God. For me, the hardest part of sewing is knowing when to accept the mistakes and when it's too much and I need to drag out my seam ripper. And possibly cry. Because I was ALMOST done with ALL my bags and then sewed the strap on the wrong side of the bag... : )

    PS Has there ever been a longer comment?

  4. OH MY WORD! I actually WANTED to use the zig zag and it would not let me! Could this failing relationship be HIM? I might need a NEW MACHINE? And I love both you and Becky suggesting an easier shape. Which I did want to do...but I heart the circle so much more. I must let it go. And I have more circle shapes in my home so I don't need to make a square template. See? Lazy. Hmmm....the girls may have something in their play doh bucket...all 3 of you have given me FABULOUS advice. Thank you so much!

  5. ok, just cuz I can make a bag, means nothing, so I would NEVER attempt something so small!! So really you did good. The inset fabric in the felt circle? I think the above gal was saying make that square, that will make it easier so you don't have to try and keep that little circle in line with the felt circle. I would for sure give these away, but not the rice leaking one, ha ha!! Can you imagine if the kid got it home and threw it for fun, and the rice went everywhere, and then the mom started cursing and had to get the vacuum out!! just kidding you don't feel bad do you??
    pinning? what's that? I never pin, like you say, it is one more thing I don't want to waste time on! I've got you fooled don't I? I'm disguising myself as a handbag designer. But I really don't know a darn thing about my brother machine either, what's an embroidery stitch on it? I call the fancy ones, cute stitches.
    ya did good, ya did darn good!

  6. I immediately sent this over to my mother in law. You know I have no tips for you. Bella probably does. She has her own machine and just sewed two new summer dresses with my mother in law. They are adorable. Anyways, if you get a comment from "roberta", then it was her. She is amazing. You should have a "play date" one day!! Anyways, we're back from Orlando. Let's chat tomorrow and plan our next day. By the way, Greg ended up getting sick and was sick the entire time.

  7. Why don't you see if someone near you has a machine you can borrow? If it works out better for you, use it to finish this project and then start saving your pennies! : ) If all else fails, you could read your manual and see if you can adjust some settings or something... But, yes, it may be the Brother... I'm happy to know it wasn't just my machine that was faulty!

  8. Aw Jess! I think you did good girl. I can be impatient at times with the sewing stuff too, but I have forced myself to be patient because it means less stitches to rip out at the end. Keep that seam ripper close and let it be your incentive to go SLOW so you don't *have* to use it. And if you DO end up needing to rip the stitches out, use a lint roller to get all the strays up. WAY faster and easier than picking them all out with your fingers when you're already frustrated.

    P.S. You're first couple commenters gave you some great suggestions if you do want to improve. With that being said, KIDS WON'T CARE! They are the best people to sew for because they are easily pleased and can get creative and have fun with pretty much anything you give them. Keep on keeping on. And save your pennies. Having a good machine makes sewing SO much more enjoyable. :)

  9. 7. Be flexible and go with the flow. A change in design mid project to hide a mistake is not the end of the world.

    Thats how I play it!
    I think its all just practice. I've gone from not sewing for years to doing lots in the last few weeks, and the improvement has been dramatic. They still look hand made, but in a quaint way, not a scary way :)

  10. You guys are all sooooo great! I love your feedback and it means so much to me that you each took the time to give me LOTS of suggestions. I LOVE IT! And just for the record, I am a self taught sewer. Well, a self taught CRAFTER. I just wing it. And I love to hand sew everything but the combination of hand sewn and rice filled bags were a frightening prospect to me. But I really, really want to learn. And your encouragement has only spurred me on. Thanks sewing sistas! I was ready to throw in the towel until you all LITERALLY intervened! I had my intervention! Love it!

  11. in HS I got a big fat F in sewing !! HAHA
    cant give you any tips here..
    It so sad ..my Grandmother is a master seamstress LOL
    i have to laugh about it.. or else i would cry :(

  12. They are absolutely adorable. I love them. Love them, can't wait to have one of my own! I mean... can't wait for my kid to have one of HIS own. of course.

    Then again, here's how it's going to go down.

    Drew, Mr. Too-Cool-For-School, will upon receipt of your adorable, slaved-over, diligently sewn, heart-poured-into crafts and say (as politely as he can muster it), "No thank you!" like he did at JN's party the other night when she was passing out her goodies (or when, on camera, he refused to wish the BABY birthday boy a happy birthday). ON CAMERA!!!!

    At which point I'll die a thousands deaths of humiliation. And all the while, sweet Cati will be standing by Drew as he gets in trouble just to make sure her friend is ok.

    Thank goodness I have a sweet girl coming along...

  13. Jess that so made me laugh! I have the same problem :) I hate that thing but I want to get stuff done! We fight ...my machine & I ...it often wins but I don't like to give up either :) Too funny & I am seriously glad to see I am not the only one...but this time...you TOTALLY WON!

    Sewing Machine 0
    Jessica 1

  14. You are a riot--and I am not sure I would ever want to drive with you--some issues with the pedal maybe? Kidding!! These are great and the kids will LOVE them. It's all about practice and you are so smart to start practicing on little people who know what's important--the fun toy and not inspecting the stitching. Enjoy!!

  15. i got how i can help you! bring it on! i'll have you sewing in no time! i know the basics and can help you get started and you'll be sewing circles around me and i'll be jealous of more things you make that i don't have (like....that flower ring!)

  16. Those are soooo cute. Keep up the good work.

    Everyone has given great advice.

    I took sewing classes in high school, but it was several years later before I touched a machine again, and when I did it was a different brand and I had to learn all over again. So, I'm no expert, but here's my advice. Sew slow. Barely touch the presser foot, giving you time to maneuver the fabric. If this does not help, then it's the machine. Whenever my lines get messy it is usually cause I'm sewing too fast. I hope this helps. Can't wait to see the end results. And again, the kids won't care.

  17. Ok, as someone who barely knows how to turn a sewing machine on, let me say I love the little bean bags and think they will be appreciated by non-sewing children. But what do I know? :-)

  18. I know this post is forever ago, but I had an idea that would prevent the problem of cutting the circle too small. (I am a sewer by profession)

    Cut the pretty applique fabric in a square to match the felt. Only the cut-out will be seen from the outside, and you won't have to stretch the shape in weird ways to get it to line up pretty. :)

    My best advice for sewing in general is patience and practice. And don't let your machine bully you.

  19. I stubbled across your fun and interesting site this morning and found this old post. Too funny. It seems you have no problem stitching the square around the outside, why not sew a square instead of the circle for the inside of these? Even though YOU this they are not perfect, I am sure the kids LOVED them!

  20. Sorry, my previous comment should have read..."Even though YOU thought they were not perfect, I am sure the kids LOVED them!" BTW.. I would love to see more sewing projects.


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