After Jessica and I had such a great time learning how to sew a pillow last month, we had immediately signed up for The Workroom‘s second Sewing Machine Essentials class (also $55) which would teach us how to make a lined tote bag. We felt pretty good about our pillow-making capabilities, and we love tote bags, so we were excited for this next lesson. We had a list of materials to bring (or purchase at the shop), including fabric for our main bag, fabric for the lining, and matching thread. I found the striped fabric beforehand for the inner lining, and purchased the black fabric on site. Yes, I had decided I was going to make myself a (subtle) Slytherin tote.
While this was still a “Sewing Machine Essentials” class, we didn’t dwell too long on the basics of threading the machine. You’re expected to (relatively) remember how to do that from the first class. We had a brief refresher, and a printed guide sheet to help us along if needed but we were definitely given the maximum amount of time possible to get down to the bag creation. I liked having the grain and direction of fabric explained to me, like which way will be stronger versus stretchier. After measuring, cutting out and ironing our bag straps, we pinned our bag pattern onto the fabric and cut out both the main and liner. Luckily I had a solid colour fabric for the main bag but those that had a directional fabric (like Jessica), needed to take an extra step to ensure that both sides would be facing the right way up when it was assembled.
Pinning everything took a LONG time. It definitely felt like the most time was spent pinning all around the bag, many times, for various reasons while we were sewing it together. That being said, it’s very necessary. We didn’t pin our bag straps when we were sewing it, and the started to shift as the machine was sewing it along. Weirdly enough, both mine and Jessica’s had the same curve-up at the end of all our straps! 😳
Once we had the pieces, separately, sewn it was time to put it all together and that was a bit tricky making sure the right (or wrong) side was facing the proper way. To sew the straps on, we had to hold them down in place with some masking tape (Once again, I apologize to Jessica for forgetting to tell her to peel off the tape!). At least at this point, the bag was taking shape and we could see what this was going to look like. The final touch was pinning (again!) all the way around to ensure the lining isn’t easily visible from the top edge.
I don’t know if the tote bag was really that big of a jump in difficulty level, or if it was a different teaching style than our first lesson or that we were tired from the long work week (or a combination of it all) but this kicked our butts. The three-hour class took us four to complete the whole thing. There’s obviously a range of experience and comfort level with a beginner’s sewing class and I can’t speak for others, but for me, I didn’t feel as comfortable asking questions. I still did, mind you, because I wanted to make sure I was making the bag correctly but this class definitely left us exhausted.
All that being said, with the four hours of making this bag and the shared laughter (because at some point, there’s nothing you can do but laugh…), I’m really pleased with the end result. Plus, now that I know how to make them, it’ll be easier for the next ones… I hope! I might need to temporarily shelve my tote bag business empire for the moment though. 😉