Saturday, January 30, 2010

February's Newsletter

Yasou Sewers!

Wow, is it February already? What happened to January? I have been super excited with all that’s happening at the store; birthday parties, 4H sewers, Do-It-Green Minnesota and lots of classes!

I expect February will be just as fun starting with a birthday party for Peggy & Rachel who are turning 30 this year! Happy Birthday girls! A little known fact about Rachel; she is a contributor to the “One Yard Wonders” book. Her designs can be found on page 201 and 214 of the book! You go girl!

Mark your calendars for Feb 13 when I will host a “Sewing for Haiti” event at the store from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All items will be sent directly to Haiti to the Project Eden ( team members. As you know a vast majority of the victims of the earthquake literally lost everything! How comforting would it be for them to receive a shirt, skirt, blanket or tote made with love as they rebuild their lives. So come for the day or come for a few hours! Whatever you make will be greatly appreciated. I have put information on, and Sewtropolis’ Facebook page. I will continue to add more information as I get it. If you can’t come that day please consider making a donation of fabric, notions or money to help off-set the cost of shipment.

The kid classes continue to be a big hit! Some of the sewers are finishing up their second projects, as they get more comfortable using the sewing machines you can see a definite improvement. February’s kid sewing classes are just about full, but still plenty of room in March’s classes. Sign up early to reserve your spot!

Speaking of classes, February is the last month in which I’ll offer the Apron, Baby Blanket, Wristlet and Zippered pouches classes. If you’ve wanted to take these classes now is the time, as starting in March I won’t offer them for the next 4 months.

Here is the list of February’s classes:

3 Sewing Essentials

4 Pajama Bottoms

6 Tote Bag

9 Zippered Pouches

10 Yoga Bag

12 Sewing Essential for Teens

17 Sewing Essentials

18 Wristlet

20 Apron

23 Short Sleeve Top

24 Baby Blanket

27 Sewing Essentials

I received a few more bolts of fabric from the following lines/designers; Dolce from Tanya Whelan, Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt, Nicey Jane by Heather Bailey and a few more solids from the Amy Butler collection. Check out the Facebook page for pictures!

Don’t forget you can find Sewtropolis on FaceBook, at and of course!

Happy sewing!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sewing for Haiti at Sewtropolis, Feb 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

We have given monetarily, we have prayed; now it’s time to give of our talents.

We have all seen the images coming out of Haiti – they are truly heartbreaking! The country’s infrastructure is slowly being rebuilt and food, water and medical supplies are starting to reach their destinations. The next order of business will be to relocate those who are living in the make-shift tent cities to other areas of the Country – before the spring rains and Summer hurricanes. As the population moves from ‘survival’ mode into ‘sustaining’ mode they will need items to help ease the transition! That’s where we Sewers step up!

Most of the survivors of the earthquake lost everything – literally everything! Most survived with only the clothes on their backs! As they move to the next phase how comforting would it be for them to receive a new shirt, a blanket, pants, skirt or even a tote bag to contain the few personal items they are able to obtain!

If you don’t sew we still need your help! Come for a crash-course in sewing, or help with packing boxes and labeling them for shipment.

I am also seeking donations of fabric and notions so dig out your stashes and bring in what you can! If you have a sewing machine bring it – if not you can use one of mine. I’ll have tables set up for both sewing and cutting!

All items will be boxed and sent directly to Project Eden in Haiti ( Team members are currently on the ground and they have indicated there is a need for everything! So, come for the day or come for a few hours – any time you can volunteer will be greatly appreciated!

Please keep checking back as the dates get closer! I will continue to update the website, the blog and facebook as I learn more information! Have an idea? Please send me an e-mail at

We are in this together.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Upscaled Leather Bag

I just finished the leather bag that was inspired when a customer came in and showed me her beautiful bag she ‘upscaled’ from an old leather jacket. She didn’t like the way it looked so she took it apart and we redid it so she was a little happier with it. One of the things we learned; the less bulk you have the better the machine will go through all the layers of leather.

So, with that in mind, I tore into my leather jacket – taking out all the lining and interfacing.

I wanted to utilize the large pockets in the front of the jacket. In order to do that I had to overlap the front middle sections, even doing that made the bag a little wider than I would have liked, but at least I have the pockets. Since the front of the bag was wide, I ended up having to piece sections of the back of the jacket together to make the back of the bag wide enough.

I then sewed the bottom of the bag together and added a magnetic snap as a closure. I would have preferred a zipper, but being I wasn’t sure how this was going to go together I decided not to make it too complicated.

Next I tackled the lining; if any of you have taken my Totebag class you’ll know that I like pockets. I used some scraps of the leather to make a pocket on the inside of the bag.

I still wasn’t happy with the width of the bag so after adding the closure I took in each side of the bag by making a pleat. I’m a little happier with the size of the bag now.

I then made the straps using the sleeves of the jacket. I cut 3” strips of fabric for the straps and sewed them together. This is where the machine got a little testy with me. I had to sew the straps together and then sew the straps to the doubled-over top of the bag; which is 4-6 layers of leather. It took some coaxing of the machine (and a few needles) to get over the seam humps.

Tips for sewing with leather:

1. Use a leather needle. These needles are thicker and meant for sewing through layers of leather (though maybe not 6-8 layers).

2. Really think about how the project will go together. Once you sew through leather you will have a permanent hole.

3. Use a seam ripper to take out seams. Leather tears.

4. Never pin the leather (see #2 above). Instead use paper clips, paper binders or even clothes-line clips. All of these can be found at the dollar store.

5. Go slow. I broke fewer needles by going slowly over the bulky parts. When the machine just couldn’t do it, I raised the needle and pushed the fabric forward to a spot the machine would go through. Plus, if you are going fast and break a needle you do not want the needle fragments flying and hitting you in the face or worse - the eyes! 

Here is the bag! I am happy with it – and will be using it as a computer tote. I will definitely be making more in fact, I still have a pink suede jacket and a red leather jacket. The pink jacket will be a clutch purse, I’m still pondering what to make with the red jacket. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Weekender It's a Wrap Top & Dress

Ever buy fabric that you absolutely love, but don’t have a particular pattern in mind to use it on? Last fall when I was shopping for fabric for the store, I bought some brown and white knit fabric purely because I loved the design. After I received it I thought it would make a very cute wrap style dress. just so happened to have the exact dress I had been thinking of so I ordered the pattern and recently made the dress.

First of all, you should know that HotPatterns does not include layout instructions. But I hope this won’t stop you from giving them a try. This pattern calls for “about 4 yards” of fabric for the size dress I wanted to make. After I assembled all my pattern pieces I quickly realized that I would need to cut them out in three different stages.

1. First I laid the fabric out selves together and cut the skirt front, bodice front, sleeve, back neck facing and the faux waist tie or bow. What also needed to be cut in this ‘batch’ was the front bodice facing and waistband; however these pattern pieces were not included with the pattern. I eventually ended up cutting a waist band 4” x 20” and using the left over fabric from the front bodice piece to cut the front facing piece. (in the picture it would be the 3” wide piece between the sleeve and bodice front).

2. Next I opened the fabric (wrong side up) and folded each selvedge edge in ½ way so that I had two folds. I then cut out the skirt back and bodice back – one on each fold.

3. Finally I took the remaining fabric and folded it so the selvedge edge was together. I then cut out the collar and under collar. I eventually didn’t use these pieces mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to attach them using the directions given, and because I thought the extra fabric would be heavy and uncomfortable in this knit fabric. If I make the skirt again (and I probably will in a lighter cotton fabric) I will figure out how to add this collar.

After I had all the pieces cut out, assembling the dress was fairly easy. The only ‘hick-up’ I encountered was the waist band and I think it was mainly because this was the point I discovered I didn’t have one. I also didn’t add the faux tie, again, with this knit fabric I just think it would have been too heavy and would have looked droopy instead of being a cute accent.

Over all the dress was simple enough to put together, I managed to finish it in one day. Cost was $28 for the fabric and $18.45 for the pattern for a total of $50.06 (including tax). Not bad for a ‘one-of-a-kind’ dress!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sew much to do and loving every minute of it!

Welcome to Sewtropolis' Blog.  I will use this format to talk about various things going on at the store.  For example; I've been sewing up a storm making class samples and one of the things I've noticed is the different techniques used by the different designers - some good, some not so good.  I thought I would try to show you how I put it together and if it makes it easier for you, great; if not then I hope to at least have inspired you to sew something. 

Before I get started with the first pattern I want to remind everyone that I am hosting a "Sit & Sew" this Saturday, January 15 from 1 - 3:00 p.m. at the store. (Sewtropolis, 5 West Diamond Lake Road, Minneapolis)   Bring your unfinished projects and I will try to answer questions you have in order for you to get that project finished!  If I can't answer the questions hopefully we have enough talented  and creative sewers present who can answer your questions!  Oh, did I mention refreshments will be served?