A project for beginning sewists to learn the machine.
Over the years that I have taught people to sew, the one thing they all have in common is a curiosity for the various stitches and settings on the machine. While sewists mostly use the straight stitch, and occasionally the zig zag, there is something alluring about that guide to 100 unique stitches on the machine that just begs for a little experimentation.
Begin with a piece of any color fabric that is approximately 11″x18″. For this project (and when I did this in the classroom) I used a white cotton sheet. You will need several different colors of thread, and/or bobbins.
Place the fabric under the presser foot and begin sewing. Use curves and try pivoting to experience the way the machine stitches. Try different stitch settings on the machine and observe how the stitches change the fabric.
Change the color of the thread and/or bobbin several times. In this way, beginners will practice threading the machine and spinning bobbins. Most problems associated with the machine are due to threading and needle choice errors. Try changing the thread and not the bobbin, or vice versa to test the effects. For questions about machine use, I’ve found the following page helpful: https://www.marthastewart.com/1085057/common-sewing-machine-repair-tips
While sewing, be sure to change the stitch length and width to get a feel for each setting. Notice how the fabric changes as more stitches are added and think about how that might affect a garment project. Notice how the needle reacts to sewing over established stitches.
When the surface of the project has been sufficiently covered with a variety of stitches, fold down 1″ on one side and sew it down. This will be the casing for a drawstring; be sure to sew near the raw edge of the fabric to allow a drawstring to be inserted.
Fold the fabric so that the sides meet and pin in place. The edges of the the piece will no longer be square, so match them up the best you can and trim, if desired. When sewing the side, be sure to skip sewing the casing area. Begin at the line of sewing for the drawstring casing.
Refold the bag so the side seam is in the middle of the bag and sew the bottom seam.
Cut a cord for the drawstring slightly longer than the top of the bag. I used some cording from my camping supplies; the ends of the cording needed to be melted with a flame after cutting to prevent fraying. Insert the drawstring using a safety pin or paperclip and pull through top of bag. If you have hardware for a drawstring bag, attach it, although it isn’t necessary.
I call this project the crazy bag project and it is used to keep student pin cushions and other notions in one place. My sewing class has a strict no sharing of pins and needles rule, and this allows each student to keep their equipment secure between classes. It is a great way to begin learning about the machine and try out all those neat settings on the machine.