Learning to sew – the tale of the drawstring bag

Sista and I have successfully completed our first sewing project.  A drawstring bag.  It was a bit of a gong show, but we’ve lived and learned and now I can share the secrets with you.


  1. When embarking on your first sewing project since your 13 year old horrible attempt at a pillow made from scraps in the High School Home Ec room – it’s important to have a mantra.  Sista and I agree, the best mantra in this case is – “It’s just a drawstring bag.”  This will get you through all the trials and tribulations to come.
  2. When you go to the fabric store, be prepared for short tempers and generally unhelpful staff.  Someone actually yelled at me.  It was not related to the drawstring bag, but if it was I would have said “Lady, relax.  It’s just a drawstring bag”
  3. It’s important to read the instructions.  Also, determining if you are reading centimeters but thinking inches is key as well.
  4.  A “Fat Quarter” is a piece of fabric that is about 50x56cm
  5. A Half Metre is a piece of fabric that is about 50x100cm.
  6. Here’s a handy diagram to demonstrate – A Fat Quarter is not a half-metre. Fat-Quarter-explanation
  7. Not even close. 
  8. When you have had it with the unfriendly staff, wrong fabric, and generally hideous options head to the city, find a local SMALL fabric store and browse there.  This will go much better. 
  9. Get some cord – for the drawstring.  As I learned – you should check to see if the length of cord that you have purchased is whole or sneakily cut and taped together with masking tape that happens to blend in.  You will notice that one side of the drawstring is significantly longer than the other… this is not a camera trick or the result of pulling it closed.  Sure the cut was roughly in the middle… roughly is the key word there.
  10. Choose a fabric, treat it (i.e. wash it) and cut out as per the instructions.
  11. It will quickly become apparent if you are a good straight cutter – as per Sista, or a terrible crooked cutter as per moi.
  12. Don’t worry – it’s just a drawstring bag.
  13. Make your marks to fit the drawstring
  14. Sew up some sides
  15. Iron.  No one likes a wrinkled drawstring bag – but if you forget this part don’t worry because it’s just a drawstring bag.
  16. Feed the drawstring through
  17. Voila.










The perfect drawstring bag
You now have a perfect drawstring bag… or you don’t in which case – don’t worry at least you tried.
My drawstring bag was intended to be Gordon’s travel bag but since I’ve made it she hasn’t really done any travelling.  Alas, earwax.  Drawstring bags also make great knitting project bags.  Not to ruin the surprise or anything but I’m predicting drawstring bags for everyone this Christmas!
Sista and I have finished our sewing class and I’ll write a couple more posts about our other two projects, a zippered pouch (which is basically a pillow case) and a skirt.  Oh the skirt.  You think I had problems with a simple drawsting bag – just wait.  Just wait.

Catching Up Alphabet Styles

I was randomly thinking of a friend the other day, that I hadn’t spoken with her since shortly after the holidays and now it’s the end of March, so I sent her a little email.  I started off with just a few things to tell her, but my bloggyness came out  and I ended up updating her alphabet styles.  She responded in turn, which made me laugh at my desk, and the result is a slightly modified blog post.

A. Gordon is huge
B. It’s mostly fur
C. She’s actually only about 9 lbs. (editors note: she gets groomed on Wednesday, get ready for some dramatic before and after shots!)
D. Our house is painted
E. With the exception of the upstairs bathroom and the two spare bedrooms (we painted the bathroom and our closet this weekend, LOVE the painted closet – what a difference, so now we have the two bedrooms and 4 closets)
F. And trim upstairs… a lot of trim
G. I’ll be very happy when it’s all done, but the difference already is awesome.
H. Work is Crazy-pants
I. As in really busy
J. I’ve continued to go the gym 4-5 times/week.
K. I’ve seen very few changes. (this is still true, although the Boy did call me skinny the other day… that was nice.)
L. Some changes I guess… but come on! Not impressed. (As a result of the skinny comment I weighed myself at the gym this morning… no change.  I stand by the not impressed)
M. I should go back to sleeping in and sitting on the couch.
N. I took my first sewing class yesterday, last Monday (second one is tonight)
O.  I’m not a natural.
P. All of my classmates (with the exception of Sista) want to be able to sew their own clothes.
Q.  The instructor encouraged this.
R.  I said I just wanted to know how to sew a pillow and some curtains because COME ON why are these things so expensive.
S. She laughed and said, wait until you see how much work goes into those – then you’ll understand.
T.  This was not encouraging
U.  I took this to mean that I should give up now and resign to paying $40/pillow.
V. But sewing your own clothes is reasonable?!
W. Give me a break.
X. I haven’t heard from you in a while – So I thought I’d say hi and see what’s new with you. (this now applies to all of you)
Y. Can you believe I made it to the entire alphabet?!
Z. Blog post?! I think so.
What’s new in your world this week?