Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for zippers and also Zee End

I never really like them. I had to insert one when making a pencil case in my needlework class in first year at high school. I didn't really get how I did it and it looked pretty lumpy and ugly as I recall. And it was stressful. And I didn't like it. AT ALL

I didn't do much sewing on machines after that class for many years. I enjoyed handwork... crotchet, embroidery and eventually cross stitch.

My first sewing machine was one my husband and I bought for $20 from a Lifeline shop in Sydney shortly after we were married. It was a treadle singer sewing machine He restored the machine, first smoothing off the wood then varnishing it. He painted the metal parts black and it became a beautiful piece of furniture Our small tv used to sit on it. I didn't sew with it. I think my husband used it more than I did. 

We've owned this machine now for over 30 years. The belt needs to be replaced for it to work again. Since restoring this machine wonderful Fixit Guy has also restored his mother's treadle sewing machine. She was going to throw it out. I said I'd have it. FG said why, and I said cause I love them. He ended up restoring it and giving it back to her. Its still in her home, after her death but the wider family know its mine! I have also now got my aunt's treadle sewing machine. no work has been done on it yet but I have high hopes for it. :) 

I hadn't realised what beautiful paint work the Singer had till getting it out to photograph for this post. Its beautiful... needs some attention (like a dust for starters)

The Christmas our second child turned 1 Fixit Guy bought me a Janome sewing machine. I don't know what prompted him to do it. I don't recall asking for it but perhaps I did. Shortly afterwards we moved to a new town. One of the first shops I went into was the Knitwit Shop... a specialty stretch fabric shop. It was owned by a friend of a friend and I had been asked to drop something off to her. On impulse I signed up for classes. I knew no one in town. I had no commitments. (Unlike where we had just moved from where I was super  busy with various things I was involved in) All I had to do was find some child care. 

I loved it. I loved being able to make things for myself and my kids. Sewing stretch was easy. No buttonholes. NO ZIPs. I was a regular at all the different classes they ran over the next few years till the shop closed. I kept making jumpers, pjs, track suits etc for the kids and myself till fashions changed and tracksuits were no longer considered designer gear (and I had 2 more kids to chase and no time or energy)

About 12 years after I became a Knit Wit  a friend took me along to a patchwork sewing class. I had no intention of becoming addicted to this form of sewing... but I did. I loved it. I loved the endless fabric choices and patterns and design choices. And again ... NO ZIPS. 

Last year I did a workshop with a tutor. Sue. We made Tumbling Blocks pattern and her suggestion was we turn my blocks into a Brick Bag... with a zip. I was nervous. She was persuasive. She stood by my side directing my every move. I sewed where she said. She pinned the next bit... I sewed as directed and... we ended up with a very nice Brick Bag. I was thrilled.

But... she left no written instructions and for the life of me I couldn't remember what we had done. Still I had made a very nice brick bag with a zipper. Clever me.

That was it. I thought.

Then at some point... some how... I came across this tutorial on YouTube from the Missouri Star Quilt Company for a little zipper pouch. I really like Jenny Doan. She explains things well. Simply. She shows you. She doens't pretend she's perfect and sometimes she has little errors and she shows you how to fix them. I loved this tutorial. I could do that I thought. So I did. I had a go. I played the video through. Again. I paused it. I did one step. I played a bit more and paused again. I sewed a bit more.

And lo and behold I had made another little zipper pouch. Cool. I made another one. I could watch the video again and off I went... I used up the zips I had. I had to order some more (Ebay is my friend)

Our quilt group went on a friendship visit to a neighbouring group and when they heard that I was part of a craft group sewing things for a charity they showed me all sorts of little things that they make to sell on stalls and at markets. Including a brick bag. So similar to the one I had made with Sue last year. Exactly the same. They explained how it was done and it all came back to me.

Back home again I sewed another brick bag. I had my other one there as a sample to help me step through the process.

And I did it. I made 2 more brick bags for the stall.

I found another pattern on Noodlehead's website that I really liked The Open Wide Zippered Pouch

Picture from Noodlehead website

I went a bit wrong with mine but I am keen to have another go. I had to wait for more zippers to come in. The ones I had ordered had all been on the small side ( 7" -9")

I ended up making 9 little zipper pouches for the Handmade With Love Stall at the Our Rainbow House afternoon tea plus the 2 brick bags. And there were 3 I kept for myself as well.

You can see my zipper pouches in the pile at the front of the stall. They sold well apparently

And you want to know something really funny? Someone one read my blog, saw my pictures of zipper pouch and other little things I had made on it and asked me to pattern test for a new book coming out in Fall 2016. I had my choice of patterns and I chose.... a cute bag with a zipper. I can't post pictures of it... but its super cute and I made it. So cool.

Can you believe it. I have bought 3 bundles of zippers.. the last one had 50 in them. Obviously I'm going to be making heaps of bags and zipper pouches. What a turn around


  1. You are a magician...magic hands weaving magic...keep the magic going... love your artistic work :)

  2. just visiting as a fellow A-Z er - am inviting people to put up their work on a gallery on my site - come and check it out!

  3. I'm afraid of zippers as well. I'll have to watch the video and go step-by-step like you did. Hopefully I'll get as good as you at it after a little while. Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

  4. Hello there.
    That vintage Singer looks like one my uncle used to own...they don't make them to last like that anymore...everything is all plastic! I am a self-taught newbie sewer and have yet to try zippers. I can only do a few basic stitches, which is really all I need for now (lol).
    Congratulations on surviving the A-Z Challenge! I didn't get to visit your blog during the crazy month of April so I'm popping over today from the Road Trip.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess