February 10, 2012

make it yourself: the I-can't-sew-a-straight-line tote (+ added machine embroidery fun)

I read this in the comment section all the time: I love this project but I can't sew a straight line. This always makes me laugh a little because there is no way that I'm the kind of girl that can sew a straight line. I am not a precision stitcher. I do my best but my best lives about 12 blocks away from professional. That being said I thought it might be nice to create a very simple tote tutorial that would require minimal "straight" stitching. However, this one will keep you at your machine for a little bit so maybe while you're there you two can do some bonding and find your sewing confidence.

What you need:
2 17"H x 15"W pieces of heavy canvas
2 20" straps (I cut up a lightweight thrifted belt)
printed heart template (optional)
thread to match canvas
contrasting thread for machine embroidery
sewing machine
pencil or disappearing ink pen

1. Using a pencil (with a light touch) or a disappearing ink marker map out your heart design. You can free-hand it or use a template.

2. Using your contrasting thread stitch around your heart several times. Do this enough to make your stitched heart visible from a few feet away. When you finish make sure you back stitch about half an inch, pull threads through the back and tie off.

3. Place fabric pieces right sides together and pin along the sides and bottom edge.

4. Sew along the three edges with a straight stitch. To keep the edges of fabric from fraying sew over the edges with a zig-zag stitch (or you can serge it if you want to get super fancy about it.

5. Put a zig-zag stitch around the top edge of tote.

6. Fold in the top edge about a 1/4" and iron flat. Use a straight stitch to finish the edge.

7. Create a U shape with one strip of handle and place on the inside of the bag. Be sure to pin on the outside of the bag. Very slowly stitch a rectangle and reinforce the handle by sewing an X on the inside of it. Repeat on the other side of tote.

8. You're done! Give yourself a high five for getting over your straight line phobia.