When I make patterns going forward, I’m going to be providing video tutorials along with a comprehensive set of illustrated instructions that come with the pattern pieces! The Convention Raider video may be found here:
During this year’s St. Jude PlayLIVE season, my Twitch community helped unlock a milestone through donations, which would have me design a new messenger bag pattern. I’m rather new to the “bag designer” scene, so these things make me nervous. Will the pattern be easy to understand? Are there enough illustrations? Should I provide a video? In any case, I landed on making a commuter-style messenger that is neither feminine nor masculine. It is a simple bag with many options for sewists of every level, though I do advise you have some experience with zippers before diving in!
The flap features a zippered slip pocket. I put this here, because the flap is massive and needed something to make it somewhat useful other than a decorative piece. Many of the messenger bag patterns out there have a short flap and look odd in a lot of ways. I wanted this flap to have a purpose. The slip pocket is great for a small wallet or phone (note: my iPhone 8s Plus fits!).
For the interior, I designed it to have another zippered pocket and an electronics slip pocket. It’s definitely big enough for a tablet device; however, larger tablets such as a Surface Pro or an iPad Pro 12.9″ will need to be held loose in the bag instead of in the slip pocket.
The dimensions of the bag are 11″ tall, 10″ wide, and 3″ deep. It can be enlarged or shrunk if sewists would like to make a larger or smaller version.
The Mighty Messenger sewing pattern is available now! 50% of all proceeds are donated to St. Jude PlayLIVE on the first of every month. As an added bonus, Lauren of MoreMeKnow.com is also running a special on a hardware kit, where she is also donating 50% to St. Jude PlayLIVE!
Mighty Messenger Pattern:
MoreMeKnow Hardware Kit: https://moremeknow.com/products/mighty-messenger-bag-hardware-kit
I’ve been considering doing runDisney events for a while now thanks to my friend and fellow streamer, Imperialgrrl. I’m a massive Disney fan (aka “Mousejunkie”) and an annual passholder even though I live in Texas. I signed up for the Princess 5k (a skant 3.1 miles) last Summer even though the race wasn’t going to be until mid-February. I also brought my mother with me for a kid-free getaway weekend. We were able to nab a 5k bib for her the Tuesday before the race, so she was able to do the event with me.
We got in Thursday morning, checked in to our resort and headed right for the ESPN center for the Expo. Each resort will have buses specifically for the Expo and race events. You just walk out to the main bus depot and they will be on the far end. From what we could tell, all of those buses were charter buses, not the typical Disney transportation buses. The Expo center is where you go to collect your bib, t-shirt, and any preorder items you may have purchased when registering for the race. It’s also the only way to purchase the official runDisney merchandise for the event. I didn’t purchase much, since I was only running the 5k and didn’t want to be a pleb walking around in a challenge shirt when I wasn’t doing the challenge.
We woke up the following morning at 2:45am. Mom wanted to wake up more around 2am, but I wasn’t going to let THAT happen. We needed to be outside and ready to hop on a bus by 3:30am. The race didn’t start until 5:30am, so I didn’t understand why until we got there and saw what was up.
Essentially, you get on the bus and head to the staging area for the race. The staging area has bleachers, entertainers hyping everyone up, food, beverages, medical care, etc. You won’t immediately be pushed into your corral. This gives you time to use one of the many porta-potties available and possibly get in line to meet some characters. Make sure to use the restroom… trust me! You can stop and use the ones in the parks, but on longer races, be prepared to have to peel off for questionable portable potties.
Ideally though, you want to head right for your corral as soon as the gates open up. The reason for this is simple: in timed races, you want to have as much lead time as you can get over the “balloon ladies.” Thankfully, the 5k isn’t timed. I opted to only do the 5k this weekend so I could feel out runDisney before committing to more, as they aren’t cheap. I also only opted to do the 5k, because I didn’t want to be a disgruntled sloth while also trying to show my mother around the parks after 2:45am wake-up calls 3 days in a row.
The race started at 5:30am, but being in corral B, one of the first few waves, we didn’t start until just after 6:00am. runDisney will release people in waves for safety reasons. Believe me, there’s a lot of people! For the 5k, a lot of people walk; however, I sank a lot of money and time into training and having good gear. Plus, I dressed as a pretty pretty Twitch princess. I didn’t want to walk. I wanted to RUN.
Our wave pulled up to the start line, the fireworks went off, and as I crossed, I began to run, and I didn’t stop.
When you’re training, you’re in your neighborhood, on a track, or on a gravel track behind your office building because god forbid you use the gym treadmill. Training is boring. Disney isn’t. People were happy, walking, strolling, power walking, prancercizing their way around Epcot with the biggest grins on their faces. Fun costumes and volunteers cheering you on with cowbells and whistles were at every step to greet you and push you forward. The energy was palpable.
I walked only a little bit of the full 3.1 miles I had to cover. As the route took a sharp left at Test Track, I slowed down to a walking pace, because the concrete there was wet and people were slipping. It was dangerous and I didn’t think it was worth the risk to shave 30 seconds off my pace.
I ended up finishing the whole thing in 38 minutes. I kept up a 12:37 minute mile pace. That’s pretty darn good, seeing as how in all of my training, Runkeeper and my Apple Watch kept telling me I was more a 13:30 minute mile. I don’t think I’d push myself this hard at the 5k level if I was going to do the 10k and the Half marathon throughout the weekend though. That would have been a bit dumb for a newbie runner.
I’m absolutely in love with runDisney and look forward to going back in April for the Star Wars Rival Run. I’ve signed up for all three races and the virtual, so I should walk away with six medals that weekend! I only have a mere 33 days left to get trained up. A full VOD of my review can be found here:
As far as lessons learned, here’s a list of what I took away from this weekend: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/388594660
- HYDRATE – depending on where you’re from, training is likely under different conditions than murky Florida weather. It was pretty darn hot and humidity levels were above 90%. Even being from Texas, I wasn’t prepared for the humidity. Drink lots of water, consume electrolytes leading up to the race weekend. Remember: plants crave electrolytes!
- If you’re of the female persuasion, or just love skirts, grab Spark Skirts. My mother and I bought four during the expo and wore them through the weekend. Seriously the best thing ever. The compression shorts underneath have pockets large enough to fully hide an iPhone 8s Plus.
- Go to bed early. I regret not hitting the pillow until 10pm on Thursday night. From now on, it’ll be an 8pm lights out for this runner!
- Eat a protein bar or banana before heading out to the bus, or while waiting for the corrals to open. You don’t want to eat it too close to the start time, because you want food to settle, but it’ll help on a longer run. Even with the 5k, I felt a bit weak there at the end and scarfed back the food box at the end.
- Lots of people walk. Do not feel ashamed if you have to stop to rest. It’s a fun run, not a run for money or prizes. If this were a timed race (10k+) you’d need to keep a 16 minute mile. That’s a literal walking pace. You’ll be fine.
I am an open book when it comes to where I source my supplies, because I want these smaller businesses to succeed! Here is a list of my suppliers for my various bag-making exploits:
WonderClips: http://tinyurl.com/h2uxnrk (a great alternative to pins!)
Zippers: http://www.zipperstop.com (specifically I grab the #3 dress zippers, sometimes #4.5 with handbag pulls for larger purses.)
Glitter Vinyl: http://www.mikriworldllc.com
Metal Hardware: I source things from multiple places, but largely I grab magnetics just from whatever I can find on Amazon Prime and buy in bulk from Country Brook Design (http://www.countrybrookdesign.com).
Industrial Sewing Machine Supplies: Oil, needles, and specialty feet for my Juki DU1181-N can be found at Gold Star Tool (http://www.goldstartool.com).
Acrylic Patterns: http://www.topsandbobbins.com/
Interfacing: Just good old fashioned Joann Fabrics! I wait until a 50-60% coupon is available and buy it by the bolt. Note if you want Vilene’s version of Decovil I or Decovil Light, you need to see Barb’s Interfacing (http://www.gotinterfacing.com).
Custom Fabric Printing: I tend to order the Kona Cotton or Linen Cotton Canvas from Spoonflower (http://www.spoonflower.com).
Custom Metal Bag Tags: I sourced these from a company in China through Alibaba (https://gztopwin.en.alibaba.com/?spm=a2700.details.cordpanyb.1.5869b9db1nMBOU). They took about 20 days from start to finish to ship. Bear in mind that orders like this should be done in bulk (e.g. 200+). Pricing will depend on the size and complexity of your logo design, but I paid about $0.50 per tag plus the cost of the mold. The mold is a one-time fee. Reorders won’t require it.
I get asked all of the time during my streams what are good machines and projects for beginning sewers. I feel myself repeating a lot of the same things, so I thought I’d put it in a blog post so we can link back to it. Oftentimes this question depends on the kinds of things you’re interested in making. I’ll cover some of the general sewing topics. More specific discussions will happen in later blog posts.
Step 1: Get a Machine
First off, you do not need a $15,000 sewing machine like me, nor do you need a serger. Those are luxury items for people who are absolutely bat-s**t-crazy for sewing. You’re in the beginning stages. Don’t be me and go all-in until you know you love sewing so much you’re willing to forego eating anything but ramen for a year. You can pick up a very good sewing machine for less than $100. If you really want to stretch, you can go a step further and even get a machine that has embroidery options for around $350.
The Brother XM2701 is a great beginner machine and it’s $99.99. It has all the basic stitches you need, including buttonhole options! This is plenty to learn on. However, if you have any interest in embroidery, I always recommend the Brother SE400, which is the same machine that TockCustom uses. Embroidery is a whole different ball of wax though, so we’ll talk about that in a separate blog post later.
EverSewn is another lovely little brand of machines that I also recommend. They have all metal parts on the interior, are stupid simple to use, and have great stitch quality! Amazon does carry these, but if you have a local dealership (usually one that sells Bernina), you should buy there. Most dealerships will offer you free classes! If you have the extra cash to spend, this is your biggest bang for your buck purely because you get classes in addition to a machine. Their machine prices start at $129.00. Slightly higher than the Brother, but again, buy locally and you’ll probably get free classes!
Step 2: Acquire Fabric and Thread
You cannot sew without fabric, so you’ll want to pick up something that’s easy to work with and learn on without causing you to slam your fist through your table. Easy fabrics to start off with would be quilting cottons. They’re stable and are typically what beginner projects use. You don’t need anything with a designer label attached to it. Just hop down to your local fabric chain store and pick up a couple of yards of something from their quilting section. One thing to note is that quilting cottons are woven. This means they will fray on the raw edges where you’ve cut. Before washing, you can take your machine and use the zig-zag stitch to sew over the edge and it stops it from falling apart in the wash. Cottons in general are always good, though make sure to pre-wash anything before you work with it since cotton has this nasty habit of shrinking. For now, avoid knit (stretch) fabrics. That way lies madness, and it’s a whole different blog’s worth of issues to document.
Thread is the only thing I’ll yell at you about not going cheap on. For thread I also suggest people buy Gutermann branded threads. You need to get Sew-All (All Purpose). It’s not much more expensive than Coats & Clark, and it will ensure you don’t have an unsatisfactory experience dealing with clogged bobbins or broken upper threads.
Step 3: Necessary Notions
Aside from thread and fabric, you’ll want the following items from the notions aisle at your local fabric store:
- Tailor’s Chalk or Disappearing Ink Fabric Pens
- Fabric Scissors (I’m linking to the fancy Ginghers because you don’t want endless frustration with dull Fiskars. It’s worth the investment!)
- Measuring Tape or a clear acrylic ruler (see the quilting notions for that one)
- Handsewing Needles
Some not-so-necessary notions, but that are really nice to have would be:
- Magnetic pin cushion
- Sewing Basket
- Wonder Clips (TM)
- Wonder Tape (TM) – Double Sided Water-soluble Tape
Step 4: Choosing a Project
There are a LOT of different projects you can do when learning how to sew. I say first off, start with perusing YouTube about your machine. Oftentimes you’ll find that people have put tutorials up on the brand and model that you’ve purchased. They show you the basics. After you’ve learned how to operate your machine, start first by taking a scrap piece of fabric and drawing lines either with chalk or disappearing ink pens (they do exist, check the notions aisle!) and stitching down these lines. Make some curves and learn how to stitch those as well. Learn how to feed and guide the fabric through the machine. NEVER yank on the fabric or you may pull the needle at just the wrong moment and wreck everything. Literally… everything. Again, don’t be like me.
Some projects I’d suggest for beginners:
When you get more adventurous and want to leave the sewing nest, you can take on a few new techniques such as zippers, fitting clothing, etc. Here are some suggestions:
Craftsy also has a ton of awesome sewing classes for when you want to learn specific techniques!
The biggest thing you can do for yourself is TAKE YOUR TIME! Don’t feel like you have to rush through a project. If it takes you 10 hours to make a napkin, so be it! At least you’re learning. Picking up a new hobby should be fun, not work. If you’re not having fun, put the project to the side and pick up something else. Whatever you do, don’t be me and put your fist through your sewing desk when a project frustrates you.