Getting a new sewing machine is exciting but also a little daunting – especially if you have never used one before. I just bought a new machine after the one my mother gave me when I graduated high school finally started to be a little too unpredictable.
Even though I am not new to sewing, my new machine made me feel like I was starting completely from scratch. I’ll be honest, I had some anxiety about it for the first couple of weeks and found it hard to embrace the all-too-new tool. Sewing machines are pretty different after almost 20 years of development… for one, my new machine is fully electric. (It’s a brave new world.)
My machine is a Brother CS6000i and I really love it. It has a LOT of stitches though (a lot more than I needed). Thanks to the wonderful videos for the CS6000i by SewingMastery.com on YouTube, I learned a LOT about the function of different options. I didn’t realize that not all of the 60 stitches pictured on the arm of my sewing machine were decorative – a lot had a function beyond this.
After I embraced the idea of starting from scratch, I came up with a great project to feel more familiar with the functions my sewing machine provides.
I decided to try them out and see what my machine could do. In the process, the perfect project for breaking in a new machine was born: a sample reference zippered bag for your sewing notions and supplies.
This project is pretty simple overall and while I feel it is easy enough for a beginner, I think it will provide a bit of a challenge for anyone with absolutely zero familiarity with any kind of sewing concepts. You will need to be at least somewhat familiar with the basics of how your machine works if this project is going to be successful, for example, you’ll need to know how to wind bobbin thread, change out machine feet, change your needle, and thread your machine.
Make Your Own Sewing Supply Bag
First and foremost, determine what size you want your final bag to be. I recommend looking at the dimensions of the (usually plastic) supply bag that comes with your machine if you want to use your final pouch for this purpose.
To calculate how big you want the bag to be, take the intended finished size and then add a minimum of 2 inches to this size to arrive at the dimensions for the fabric pieces. For example – if your final bag size if 5 x 7 inches, you’ll cut your fabric dimensions to 7 x 9 inches based on the instructions below. Don’t be afraid to add more fabric if you are feeling at all nervous about the bag assembly… it is easy to cut down further later on if you need to.
Alternatively, you can follow the instructions in the video embedded below (10.5″ x 6.5″) if that makes it easier.
- OUTSIDE: Cotton light-weight fabric (white or unbleached) – you’ll want at least 1/4 yard of fabric, later you’ll cut 4 pieces from this piece to the size determined above
- LINING: Cotton light-weight fabric (print or color) – cut 2 pieces of this one
- Cotton canvas (also called cotton Duck) – cut 2 pieces of this support fabric
- 1 spool of all-purpose cotton thread
- 1 jean-weight or mid-heavy weight rated sewing machine needle
- 1 zipper that is at least 2 inches longer than the width of your fabric pieces (example: bag width = 5″, fabric piece width = 7″, zipper length = 9″)
- Binder clips or pins to hold stuff together while you work
Before You Start
- Wash all fabrics
- Dry all fabrics
- Iron all fabrics
I think experimentation is part of the learning process with projects such as this so I’ll keep this pretty simple. First off, watch this video of how to make a zippered pouch before you ever get started. There are a lot of other video tutorials available online, but this is the one I personally used and I found it easy to follow. By watching this first, you will better understand how your finished sample pieces are going to be used.
Use the diagram below to assemble your two outer fabric pieces for your sample stitches. You will “Oreo” two of the white cotton (cookie) pieces around a (cream) canvas center piece. Doing this creates both a sturdier exterior panel for your bag and also enables more complex stitches to resist bunching up the lighter cotton fabric.
It is fine to just pin them together or – one of my favorite tricks – use an office binder clip to keep the three pieces stable. You can give yourself some stop/start guidelines on the edges of your fabric to help you with the next (most fun) part – testing your decorative and not intentionally decorative function stitches.
My advice is to use the basic default for each stitch when you start – this will give you an understanding of what you will be starting with on your machine. You can later adjust stitch width or length up or down if you need to fill more area on your pouch. With so many stitches available on my own machine, I had more than enough to cover the full height of both sides.
Once completed, you will have the 2 (single, sewed together) outer pieces ready for assembly with the 2 lining pieces and the installation of the zipper for your final pouch. Even if you have never installed a zipper before, this first step in making a zippered bag is pretty easy. You will want to make sure to watch the video carefully to ensure that the face of your fabrics are oriented in the right direction in relation to the zipper though.
When you are done, you will have the perfect bag for all of your sewing accessories AND you’ll be able to reference the decorative stitches available on your machine when you are contemplating adding something a little special to a project.
If you are anything like me, you will feel a little more comfortable with your machine after completing this pouch and you will have a safe and sturdy place for all of the items that came with your machine.