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Shopping bag

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Just finished this bag, a gift for a friend. I'm really happy with how it came out! I made a few minor mistakes, but for the most part it looks way better than any other project I've ever made. Part of it is my seams are much straighter than I've ever been before. I had this perpetual problem of sewing too fast, which would make the seams all crooked. I was talking about how frustrated I was about not being able to figure out how to stop doing this on Facebook, and a friend suggested I turn the foot pedal sideways, which she said would make it easier to control the speed--strange trick, but it actually worked! So I'm really happy to have solved that problem, cos that's been driving me crazy for as long as I've been sewing!

I'm making a bunch of these bags, belated (way belated, now) Christmas gifts for people. I've been dragging my feet on getting them done, but everything went really smoothly with this one for the most part, so it only took a few days. And because things were going so smoothly, it was really fun to make! So I think I'm going to finally be ready to get the rest of these done now.

Needle won't move

Any ideas for why a needle would be refusing to move? When I try to sew the flywheel spins around but the needle won't move. I thought it might be a problem with the way the machine was threaded so I threaded it again. It sewed just a couple of stitches and then stopped again. I'm really frustrated, because I was hoping to finish this project tonight!

Loop turner getting stuck

I sewed my mom a bag last month, and now I'm sewing the same bag for my dad. I have to use a loop turner for the straps, and I was already convinced these things are evil, but now even more so! On the first strap it took quite a bit of frustration to get it to work, but I did eventually. But now on the second strap, it keeps getting stuck halfway through and i can't figure out why. There isn't anything weird about the strap that I can see, and the fabric is obviously wide enough for the turner to get through because I was able to bunch it up onto it. I tried massaging the hook but it was still stuck. Any ideas?
I'm sewing shopping bags as (now belated) Christmas presents for a bunch of family and friends. I thought they would be faster to do than they are, and I feel like I've gotten myself in way over my head! But my mom (the one person I've finished one for so far) really loves hers, and it felt so nice to give her something handmade. I think people appreciate a handmade gift a lot because it really has your heart in it.

Anyway, I'm starting on the second one now, and I'm having a couple of sources of frustration. The one is one of the fabrics I'm using for it (I'm using three different fabrics for each one so it looks more colourful and fun) is a knit. I got a bunch of knits at a swap meet last year, because they were cheap and I liked the patterns. I'd only ever sewn with cottons before, but I figured it would be basically the same thing.

Well, turns out sewing with knits frustrates the hell out of me! The actual sewing is just the same as cottons, but all the prep is so difficult because of how stretchy the material is. It's like impossible to pin the pattern and cut the pieces out, and the disappearing ink pen that I use to trace pattern pieces on cottons won't show up on knits. Is there some trick for making all of this easier? And how do I trace the pattern pieces onto the fabric if the disappearing ink pen won't work? What I did this time was just leave the pattern pieces pinned onto the fabric and cut around them, but doing that makes me nervous because I'm worried about accidentally cutting a tiny bit off the edge of the pattern piece, and I know you're never supposed to cut anything but fabric with your fabric scissors.

My other question is about my flywheel. I've always had a hard time using the backwards stitch lever on my machine because (I don't know if other people's machines are like this) you have to be pushing down the lever the whole time, so I can't be holding the fabric with both hands to guide it. So the fabric doesn't go very straight and the reverse stitch often wouldn't go exactly over the part I'd already sewn for beginning or end of the seam.

I was talking to my mom about this problem, and she suggested that when I'm at the beginning or end of a seam I turn the fabric around and just sew a few stitches back over the seam by turning my flywheel. So I tried to do that tonight, but I ended up with some really big loops of thread on the underside of the fabric. Is it supposed to do that??? I thought it would be just normal stitches like when I'm sewing with the foot pedal. I don't want to have those big loops on the fabric, both because it looks dumb and because it seems like it would be easy for them to get caught on something and break, ruining the seam. But if I could get the flywheel to just stitch normal stitches, it seems like this would be a better way of starting and ending seams than using the backwards stitch lever.

As always, any help is much appreciated!
So I'm sewing all my Christmas presents this year. I'm still mostly a beginner at sewing (hence all my questions here!), but I am getting better, and I really liked the idea of giving everyone something handmade.

I'm making this shopping bag I made in a sewing class a few years ago. It's a really useful bag, I use mine all the time, and I have tons of cute fabric already that I can use. I think everyone will really love them, and I hope they'll be forgiving of the small mistakes I'm making.

Anyway, here's my question. The directions on the handout from the class say to finish the bag I sew the two halves together and then use an overcast stitch to finish the seams. I couldn't remember what overcasting was, so when I have questions like this I look to my (amazing!) learn-to-sew book. It just explained how to do it if you're sewing by hand, but I knew in the class we used a machine for everything.

So I googled how to overcast with a machine, and the tutorial I found on a sewing blog said you should be using an overcast foot, which I don't have. I'm really broke right now from all the Christmas expenses this month so I'd rather not be buying something else if I can help it. Is it possible to overcast without an overcast foot? If not, is there some other good way I can finish these seams? The ways I've finished seams before have always been ways you can only do if the seam is at the edge of the fabric, not if it's contained within two parts like it will be with this bag.

More loop turner problems

I'm still not able to get my loop turner to cooperate with me. I can now get the tube to start turning, but about halfway through I stop being able to pull it through. What am I doing wrong?

EDIT: Well I got it to work successfully, which is really exciting because it's been frustrating me so much!!! But I'm gonna have to use it a bunch more times cos I'm making these bags for Christmas gifts for a bunch of people (using it for the straps), so any ideas for why it was being so uncooperative before would still be appreciated in case it does it again.

EDIT AGAIN: Another problem I'm having is it keeps becoming unhooked. Is there any way to make it less likely to do that?

Loop turner tips?

Does anyone have tips for using a loop turner? I'm trying to use one for the first time and I can't get it to work. I read a text tutorial and then watched a video but it's still not working. I can't manage to do the initial pushing the first bit of fabric over the hook successfully. Both the tutorials I looked at said that part can be difficult and I'm like "No kidding!" Are there any tricks for making it less difficult, or do I need to just keep trying?

Pocket for phone

Tonight I sewed an entire project, yay! I have little pockets I've sewn in the back of my messenger bag (my normal everyday bag) for keeping important stuff like my wallet and my keys in so I'm not digging through the tons of other stuff I keep in there trying to find them. I just got my first smartphone and it's too big to fit in the pocket with my wallet like my old one did, so I had to sew a new pocket for it. So I did that tonight. The whole thing only took about an hour and a half, and it would've been faster if I hadn't had some frustration with my thread breaking. The needle kept coming unthreaded and I thought I just wasn't pulling out enough extra thread like you're supposed to do to keep that from happening, but eventually I figured out that it was actually breaking cos it's cheap. I'm going to throw out all my cheap thread and buy some nicer stuff from my neighborhood fabric store cos apparently it really does make a difference. Other than that it was smooth sailing though. It's so much easier to sew now that I figured out how to get the feed dogs working and keep the thread from bunching up under the fabric, which were always my two main frustrations with sewing.

Anyway, the pocket came out great! I made it exactly the right size and the fabric I used is supercute. And it'll be so easy to have my phone right there.

Here's the pocket:

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And here it is in my bag with my other ones for other stuff:

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Yay!

Teal Tribal Print

I LOVE THIS DRESS!  I have added it to my typical week wardrobe for work!  This is seriously the first time I have been able to line up prints correctly AND not have any puckering in the sleeves! If you click on the picture below, you can see more about this dress.



Ok I lied, I was soo excited, here is another