Riley Blake Designs markets our fabrics under Stephanie Hunt as the designer. When purchasing or searching the Riley Blake website it's actually easier & more efficient to find the Bella Blvd fabrics under "Stephanie Hunt" as the artist.
Sewing 101: My first lesson- The Drawstring Bag, by Tiffany Hood.
When my mom was teaching me how to sew, the first actual project I ever made was a drawstring bag. It’s a great project for beginning sewers because it teaches a few basic but very important skills and techniques that you use in many things you sew. I got the idea to make Trick-or-Treat bags for my kids because when I was a child my Trick-or-Treat bag was a fabric drawstring bag just like this one, and I loved it because it was different and unique, but also because it held a lot more candy than my friends’ plastic pumpkins!
I thought it would be fun to teach you how to make this simple project. As long as you know how to set up and thread your sewing machine and how to run it, you can probably do this as one of your first sewing projects.
First things first, there are a few tools every seamstress should have.
- The first (besides a sewing machine) is a good pair of fabric scissors. You can’t use your everyday paper scissors for fabric. We actually won’t use scissors for this project, though, unless you don’t have item #3.
- Second, an iron and ironing board. Not only will you use this to make your seams nice and straight and crisp, but you should wash (or at least soak) and machine dry any cotton fabrics that you think may be washed later (like if you make clothing or blankets, bags, etc) and you’ll want to iron them after they come out of the dryer. The washing and drying step makes it so that later when you wash the item you worked so hard on, it doesn’t shrink.
- Third, a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. These can be a little pricy so for this project you can have the fabric store cut your rectangle for you if you don’t have these items.
- Fourth, a seam ruler. I’ll show you a picture later in the tutorial. They’re only a few dollars and you’ll use it all the time.
- Straight pins and safety pins. You’ll use a safety pin or two for this bag.
- A seam ripper (also only a couple of dollars). Most sewing machines come with them. They’re for undoing your sewing when you make a mistake.
- And of course, thread and cute fabric, like Bella Blvd’s Too Cute To Spook fabric by Riley Blake! And about 40” of ribbon or cording for the drawstring. You may want to melt the ends with a lighter to keep the edges from fraying.
First up, cut a 18” tall by 30” wide rectangle from your fabric. Always remember: Measure twice, cut once ;)
It should look something like this.
Get used to seeing the wrong (back) side of the fabric. Most sewing is done inside out! So flip your fabric over now. Then, along the top of the shorter edge of the fabric (the 18” side) fold the fabric in just a hair (maybe ¼ inch) just 3 or 4 inches long and press with an iron.
Repeat on the other side.
Now, you’ll sew down the center of the fold to hold it down. Repeat on the other fold.
Now we’re going to work with the top edge (the 30” long top edge). Fold the edge down ¼ inch all the way across this time. To make measuring easy, use a seam ruler. Press down with your iron.
It should look like this.
Now, fold the same edge over again, ¾ inch this time. All the way across and press with the iron.
And then it looks like this! You’re creating a nice, clean, no-fray seam.
***You can sew right along the bottom edge of the seam now if you want to (leave enough room inside the seam to get a safety pin through) or you can wait to sew the seam until a few steps later like I did.
Now we fold the bag in half with front sides of the fabric touching each other. Fold so that the two shorter sides line up and the folded seam you created with your iron in the last few steps stays at the top.
The fold creates one side of the bag, so you’ll just need to sew along the bottom and up one side. Stop when you get to the seam. Don’t sew it closed. Use whatever size seam you want (inches from the edge). I just put the edge of my presser foot along the edge of the fabric and go. It’s typically a ¼” seam if you do that with a regular foot.
When you begin, you’ll want to backstitch. Back stitching means that you sew forward about an inch, then keeping your presser foot down sew in reverse (press the reverse button) and then sew forward again and keep going. This creates strength and keeps the thread from pulling out and your item falling apart.
When you get to the folded seam you made earlier, you’ll just want to sew a stitch or two onto it and then back stitch to finish. Don’t sew the top edge closed. You’ll need the open holes to put your ribbon or cording through.
Now we’re on the last step of sewing! And you don’t have to do this step if you already did it after step 10. Just sew along the bottom edge of the folded seam. Backstitch when you start and when you stop. Just leave enough room to get a safety pin through.
And now you can (finally) turn it right side out! Use the tips of your closed scissors or a skewer or a pencil to push the points out. Iron to press all the edges flat.
Here’s where you’ll use the safety pin. Attach the pin to one end of your ribbon or cording. Insert end of safety pin into one of the open holes at the top of the bag.
Push the pin along inside the seam.
And keep a hold of it while you pull the fabric straight and continue pushing the pin through. You can use this technique to re-thread all those hoodies and basketball shorts that have lost their drawstrings when they went through the wash.
And eventually it will come out the other hole! Just make sure not to pull so much that the other end ends up inside the seam. Then you’ll have to start over.
****A good tip is to put a safety pin on both ends of the ribbon so that in case you pull too hard the other end will stay out, where it belongs.
Then, with the drawstring bag open all the way and both ends of ribbon lined up together, tie a knot so that the ends won’t accidentally pull out. Melt the ends of the cording or ribbon with a lighter so they won’t fray.
Halloween Table Runner, by Kathy Frye.
Featuring "Too Cute to Spook" fabric along with a few pieces of "Puppy Park". Get ready for Halloween with this easy colorful Halloween table runner. The fabrics are so darling, so I just showed them off in a variety of stripes. I added a few cute appliqués, but overall kept it simple. The runner is quilted with straight lines next to the piecing seams. The quilting detail is in the pumpkin and the stars. Can't you just see it with bowls of treats and some pumpkins....ready to party!